‘A man of 65 can have a child, and yet they question a woman: why?’

Spain’s oldest new mother has spoken out to answer her critics and justify her decision to give birth to twins at the age of 64.

'A man of 65 can have a child, and yet they question a woman: why?'
Photo: pixavril/Depositphotos

Mauricia Ibáñez, a retired civil servant from a village near Burgos in northern Spain, gave birth to twins, Gabriel and Maria de la Cruz on February 14th after fertility treatment in the US.

News of the birth, which was announced by the hospital without revealing the identity of the mother, sparked furious debate in Spain over the ethics of becoming a mother well past the normal age of retirement.

“How old is too old?” asked on survey on Spanish website 20 Minutos.

Controversy was further stoked when it emerged that the new mother had previously had a child removed from her custody by social services for neglect; a daughter, Blanca, whom she gave birth to at the age of 58, is now cared for by relatives in Canada.

But in a revealing interview with El Pais, Ibánez addressed her critics and described her joy at becoming a mother to twins.

“It’s all been worth it. The mistakes, the anger, the uncertainty… They are a gift. They’re a miracle,” she told the newspaper from her home in Palacios de la Sierra, a town with 700 residents 70km south of Burgos.

She sought IVF treatment using donor eggs in the US, because clinics in Spain refused to assist on account of her age.

“I decided to become a mother because the experience of having Blanca, my first child, was fantastic… I’m not worried at all about my age. I am old, but it has been possible for me to get pregnant: science and medicine are the last opportunity we older people have,” she said.

“A man of 65 can have a child, and yet they question a woman: why?”

She explained that even her own family had been against her seeking fertility treatment. After taking early retirement from the foreign office for a paranoid personality disorder a decade ago, her own sister sought a court order to prevent her going abroad for treatment.

But a judge refused after psychologists testified that her condition did not prevent her from “looking after herself or a child.”

Ibañez is one of the oldest in the world to give birth, but is still two years younger than the current holder of the record, fellow Spaniard Maria del Carmen Bousada Lara, who also gave birth to twins.

Bousada, who was born on January 5th 1940 gave birth by caesarean section to twin boys, Christian and Pau, a week before her 67th birthday at the Sant Pau hospital, Barcelona, Spain on December  29th 2006.

Unfortunately, her sons were orphaned at two-years of age when their mother died of cancer.

Ibañez revealed that although she did have some fears about becoming a mother in her sixties, she refused to dwell on them.

“Do I think they could be orphaned? Yes, but I don’t want to think about it. If I had thought about it, then perhaps I wouldn’t have made the decision,” she admitted.


These are Spain’s most popular baby names

The most recent data revealing Spain's most popular names suggest a shift away from biblical traditions.

These are Spain's most popular baby names
Photo: Despositphotos

According to 2017 statistics from Spain’s national statistics office (INE), Lucas and Lucía are the most popular baby names in the country. With traditional names, such as María and Daniel becoming less common, names with an international feel are opted for more regularly. For example, Lucía, Sofia, Lucas and Martin are all popular Spanish names that are pronounced the same in English.

Current statistics show continuity in the shift away from biblical names such as María Jesús, María Concepción and Jesús that were popular for babies in the 1950s and 1960s. It was only in 2004 that María was beaten to the top spot for female baby names in Spain.

Lucas has been the top name given to baby boys since it overtook Hugo in 2013, which is now is second place, followed by Martin, Daniel, Pablo, Alejandro, Mateo, Adrian, Alvaro, Manuel and Leo. Lucía has been the most popular name for girls since 2002, and is followed by Sofia, María, Martina, Paula, Julia, Daniela, Valeria, Alba and Emma.

Former Queen Sofia speaking with her namesake, Princess Sofia, pictured with Princess Leonor. Photo: AFP

Regional trends

In the southernmost regions, María still heads the leaderboard in popularity for girls. For boys, Manuel is the frontrunner in Andalusia, and Pablo sits at the top in Murcia. In the more central regions, of Valencia, Castilla – La Mancha, Madrid and Extremadura, Lucas and Lucía remain popular choices along with Daniel and Sofia.

New parents are opting for Lucas and Lucía as well as Martin and Sofia in the northern regions of Aragon, Asturias, La Rioja, Galacia, Cantabria and Castilla y Léon. Although Julien for a boy and Irati for a girl are the most popular choices in Comunidad Foral de Navarra, which boarders the Basque Country.

Marc and Julia are the most popular names in Catalonia and the top Basque baby names are currently Markel and June. In the Spanish communities of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco, Mohamed and Amira are the most common choices.

In the Balearic islands, Marc and Emma top the list, while in Canarias, Lucas and Martina and the most popular choices.

The most popular surnames in Spain

Currently, García remains the most common surname in Spain, followed by Rodríguez which has been in joint second place with González since 2018. Next on the list are Fernández, López, Martínez, Sánchez, Pérez, Gómez and Martín.
The most common names throughout the whole population

Antonio and María Carmen are the most common names in Spain, according to 2018 INE data, more traditional choices in comparison to today's most popular baby names. The move away from religious and long-established names has been a trend since the 1970s and 1980s. 

678,425 men in Spain are names Antonio, and their average age is 55.9 and 656,276 women are named María Carmen, with their average age being 57 years old, whereas runners up in both categories are younger.

Runners up for male names are José, Manuel, Francisco, David, Juan, José Antonio, Javier, Daniel and José Luis. The remainder of the top 10 female names are María, Carmen, Josefa, Ana María, Isabel, María Pilar, María Dolores, Laura and María Teresa.

By Alice Huseyinoglu