Why It Does and Doesn’t Matter That Meghan Markle Is a 37-Year-Old First-Time Mom
This week, Meghan Markle became a mother — but not just any mother, the mother to the seventh person in line for the throne, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Her lot in life has been shaped by the fact that she fell in love with Prince Harry in a movie-worthy American-girl-meets-British-prince story. It sounds like a romantic comedy involving two realms of life that regular people don't often have access to — Hollywood and royalty — yet I've felt a special kinship with Meghan over the last year.
You see, I just gave birth a few months ago to my first child at the age of 37 — the same as Meghan. I'd heard from other new moms that when you're pregnant, you feel this closeness with the other pregnant women around you, including celebrities, so when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were expecting in October of last year, I was thrilled. I'd get to see someone I admire go through the same things around roughly the same time as me (I was a few months ahead of her in my pregnancy), and I'd hopefully get some maternity fashion inspo. But the biggest reason I felt close to her was because of our ages.
I wasn't here for the commentary on Meghan's age, having heard it myself, because the age a woman chooses to have children (should she choose to have children at all) is deeply personal. I'm very open about it; I didn't meet my husband until I was 31, we got married when I was 33, and then I wanted to be married for a few years before we had a child. I could have started trying a lot sooner, but I needed to be sure that I really, really wanted children and that my husband was the right partner to raise a kid with. So for me, it was not so much that I chose 37 as the perfect age to get pregnant, the chips just fell into place at that point. Of course, knowing fertility declines for women in their late 30s was on my mind before I got pregnant, but once I was pregnant, I relaxed about it. And I expected others to, too. Even knowing my own thought process when it came to my age and my own childbearing, I would never deign to assume I knew Meghan's. It's one area I think we can leave alone, and instead focus on speculating on the fun stuff: how Meghan and Harry chose Archie's name, their modern approach to parenting, and what kind of dad Harry will be.
On the other hand, there's another part of me that hopes her age does make it into the conversation. There's a stigma against having kids when you're older — I've heard countless women justify their decision to try for kids sooner rather than later because they didn't want to be 'an old mom,' and I remember getting advice from a family member that having a baby was a lot easier at 27 than 37 . . . when I was already in my 30s. (I know.) Let's not even talk about the fact that some doctors still call it a "geriatric pregnancy."
Because Meghan is such a huge public figure, her having a child at 37 normalizes it. Like Diana before her, who popularized hospital births, Meghan sets an example for the world. I'm not saying that because of her, women should put off having kids — again, it's a deeply personal decision — but they should see that they can make any decision they want. That they can prioritize a fulfilling career before kids, that they can take their time, and that they can meet the right person to have kids with first, rather than settling for someone else because they think time is running out. Meghan having a kid in her late 30s destigmatizes it for the rest of us. Like her flawless taste and kind-hearted philanthropy, it's one more thing we can thank Meghan for.