And so, the news is out: Sienna Miller is having a baby with her 26-year-old boyfriend, Oli Green. It will be the second child for the 41-year-old, who shares a daughter (Marlowe, 10) with her ex, Tom Sturridge.
But this time around is inevitably going to somewhat different to the first. Not because of the actor’s age, nor because of the difference in partner. No. It will be different because of how those things subvert societal expectations of how a woman is supposed to have children.
A decade ago, news of Miller’s pregnancy was received like all other celebrity pregnancies: with congratulations, praise, and countless articles about her maternity style. All of that is happening now, too, of course – but there are those in certain corners of the internet who will sadly not be quite so thrilled.
Online commentators have already made their views crystal clear, with some criticising the 15-year age gap between Green and Miller (“I don’t see them growing old together”) while others went so far as to accuse the actor of “sucking the life and future out of” her partner, writing that she is “too emotionally immature” to be with someone her age. And those are some of the nicer remarks.
As well as highlighting some good old-fashioned rampant online misogyny, the comments reflect a well-worn mentality: that women are supposed to have children before they turn 35 with a man their own age or slightly older. Anything outside of those parameters is considered subversive and, therefore, morally and socially repugnant. It probably doesn’t help, of course, that women having children over the age of 35 are referred to medically as having a “geriatric” pregnancy.
Archaic medical terminology aside, why are people clinging onto these narratives in 2023? Nobody knows what’s going on behind closed doors, but Miller looks pretty happy in those photos, as she has done in almost every photo she’s had taken with Green since they started dating last year. If the roles were reversed, and Green was the older one in the partnership, their age difference wouldn’t even be questioned. It would simply be considered normal.
Then there is the fact that she’s having a child over the age of 40, again something that society can’t seem to wrap its head around. “How could a woman be so audacious?” they’ll say. “Isn’t it selfish to have children so late?” they’ll ask. And “oof, aren’t you worried about complications?” they’ll smarm.
And yet, according to the Office for National Statistics, the number of women in their 40s getting pregnant is on the rise in England and Wales. I might only be 29, but this is wonderful news to me.
On the precipice of turning 30 as a single woman, I have already noticed a significant uptick in the number of people wanting to quiz me about whether or not I want children. And if I do, am I not a little worried about the increasingly loud tick of my so-called biological clock – a term that seems to only ever be used as a scaremongering tactic.
The truthful answer is that I don’t know. What I do know is that I would like to be able to have children if and when I want to without feeling judged, pressured or scrutinised. I would like to live in a society that celebrates pregnancy at all ages and realises that, if anything, women who have children later in life are doing so with greater economic and professional stability. That is surely something to be embraced, rather than frowned upon.
Of course, Miller is not the first famous face to have children over 40. She follows Kourtney Kardashian, who is having her first child with husband Travis Barker at the age of 44. Meanwhile, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman and many, many more have done the same.
Let’s celebrate them as opposed to questioning their every move, and putting pressure on women to have children at a certain age. After all, this isn’t Gilead.