Ruth Archer is apparently pregnant. She and David have three children, Pip, Josh and Ben, who at 12 is the youngest. The Archers website tells us that Ruth was born in June 1968 which means that she will be 46 this year. Her pregnancy, an unexpected shock, is still only seven weeks duration so early days, but once again The Archers in giving us a post 45 baby is not helping to dispel the myth that pregnancy in the second half of a woman’s forties is common and easily achieved. In fact, the chances of a first pregnancy after age around 43 without donated eggs is only about 2 per cent. And that is the fascinating thing. This is Ruth’s 4th pregnancy and it appears that the chances of conceiving a late forties child are much greater if you have had several live births already. How unfair is that? Cherie Blair had Leo (her fourth) at 46; a friend of mine conceived her fifth child at the same age. And I have heard many other similar stories.
Last year, on the Archers, garrulous Brummie accented Vicky gave birth to a baby with Down Syndrome, something that happens more often with older mothers. She was 47. The story was handled beautifully and the baby is much loved. I wonder what dilemmas they will be giving to Ruth. What feels very important is that Ruth, a very unlikely celebrity, is not in the minds of the general public put in the same bracket as Hollywood ‘A’ listers who appear to produce their first offspring (usually twins, surprise surprise) without any help in the second half of their forties.
PS: for overseas readers – The Archers is a v e r y long running radio soap opera about farming families that takes place at 7pm for a quarter of an hour six nights a week. EVERYONE in the UK knows about The Archers, even if they don’t listen to it, or won’t own up to listening to it. Sorry.
Update at 30th March: We were out and missed Friday’s episode but it is clear from tonight’s story that Ruth has suffered a miscarriage. Very, very sad but only too common with pregnancies in older women…probably a chromosomal disorder because of ‘older’ eggs. Now she and David need to grieve together. Well done story editors for a realistic rather than a fairy-tale ending to this late pregnancy.