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First Time Mum Aged 57 Has No Regrets

There have been many reports over the last few years about women being 'Britain's Oldest Mum' and Susan Tollefsen falls into that category as one of, if not the oldest mum in Britain to give birth to her first child Freya at the age of fifty seven years old.

Susan and her partner, forty six year old Nick Mayer who is a warehouse manager, live in Essex and the couple has no regrets at being parents later in life and feel blessed to have her in their lives.   They named their 6lb 6oz daughter after the Norse goddess of love and fertility, Freya.

Susan who is half Norwegian had been married previously for four years but had no children.  After her divorce she put her life on hold to care for her sick parents and at the age of forty seven met Nick on a blind date and it was only then that she had the desire to start a family.  She worried that Nick might have a problem with her age but it was he who showed Susan an article about older women who had gone abroad to become pregnant and the couple decided to give it a try.  They did look at adoption but were informed that due to their age they would only be approved to adopt an older child and adoption from abroad was too expensive.  They were also restricted within Britain as their age was too high for fertility clinics so going abroad was their only option.

Miracle Baby

After spending fifteen thousand pounds on IVF treatment Freya was finally conceived during a third course of fertility treatment in Russia where they used Nick's sperm and a donated egg.

Susan didn’t actually find out that she was pregnant until she was thirty weeks gone when her GP had sent her for a scan to check for ovarian cancer after he found a hard mass in her abdominal cavity.  Susan didn’t even consider the fact that she could be pregnant as she miscarried following her IVF treatment but one of the babies had obviously survived.   The couple was certainly not expecting this type of news and stated that they were overjoyed and stunned after being told.

The shock announcement left the couple only a matter of weeks to get used to the idea of becoming parents so they began making preparations for their new arrival straight away.  Susan did worry about how she would feel knowing the baby wasn’t biologically hers but never gave it a second thought when her daughter was put on her chest right after being born.  She spoke to Freya about how long they had waited for her and she was completely overwhelmed with feelings of love for her new baby.

Initially when Freya was born by caesarean, Susan was very poorly for over a week and was unable to see or care for her newborn baby.  She stated that just for a very short time she did wonder if having a baby at this time in her life was the right thing to do but this was due to the fact that she was so ill and just looking at her daughter dispelled all her fears.

Problems That Come With Being an Older Mum

Since giving birth to her daughter Freya in March 2008, Susan has been taunted by younger women, some of it vicious in nature and she has also had some health issues to deal with.   As a mature mum Susan will no doubt come across some situations where she will be unable to care for her daughter by herself and one of those issues came up last year.

In August 2008 Susan found herself unable to get up out of her bed while her daughter who was five months at the time lay in her cot.  She was in terrible pain and as Nick had already left for the day she resorted to calling a neighbour to see if they could call for an ambulance and of course take care of Freya.  Susan was understandably terrified and anxiously thought about what would happen to Freya all the way to the hospital.  On arrival at the Queen's Hospital in Romford she was diagnosed with a ruptured peptic ulcer and was informed that had she waited any longer she could have died.  Nick arrived at the hospital just before Susan was taken for emergency surgery.

Since the operation Susan has retired from her job as a special needs teacher and educational adviser to enable her to spend as much time with her daughter as possible.  She joined a gym and has been working to build up and maintain her fitness level.

Susan has also had to cope with being deaf in one ear, a back complaint caused by a fall on holiday nearly twenty years ago and a knee replacement operation.  In fact in the space of just five months she has undergone three operations.  Luckily Freya is a contented and happy baby which aided Susan in her recovery.

Public Opinions

Susan and Nick are well aware that there are plenty of people who do not agree with someone of her age becoming a parent and consider it a selfish act on their part but Susan feels that people do live longer nowadays and as long as the children are cared for and loved there is no reason why a person of her age should not have children.  She makes reference to awful cases like Baby P where the mother is a lot younger and states that age does not define a good mother.

Both the couples family and friends have all been supportive in their quest to become parents but the general population has not been so kind.  Susan is reminded by younger mums about the age difference and how old she will be when her daughter reaches a certain age or a particular milestone.  She is also mistaken for Freya's grandmother which is an easy mistake to make given the age difference.  It is upsetting for Susan of course but she hopes that Freya will not be embarrassed by the large age gap.  Even when Susan was in hospital after giving birth there was a young teenager in the same room and one of the midwives made a flippant remark about which mother she would of preferred if she had the choice.

Nick agrees that everyone has their own opinion on the matter but pays no attention and focuses all his attention on the 'apple of his eye'.

The Happy Family

Susan, regardless of her age, is still a woman who thought she would never have a child and now as a first time mum is feeling all the wonderful emotions that come with being a mother.  The happiness she feels on hearing her daughter call her mama cannot be described and all that she wants is for her daughter to be happy and loved.  Like any new parents they have felt overwhelmed about caring for a newborn baby all by themselves but they have worked it out together and are not afraid to call on their family and friends for help and advice.

Other ‘Mature’ Mums

There are many other women around the world who have babies later in life.  For most of them it is not their first child and they usually conceive following some form of fertility treatment.  They spend a fortune not only on the treatment as most of them will have multiple treatments but also on the travel costs if they are having the treatment abroad.  Following are some ‘older mum’ examples:

  • Liz Buttle, a Welsh hill farmer gave birth at sixty years old to her son Joe in 1997 after lying to a fertility clinic about her age in order to quality for IVF treatment.  Liz was at the time the eldest woman in Britain to become a mum.
  • Doctor Patricia Rushbrook was claimed to be Britain’s oldest mum in 2006 when she became a mum at sixty two after having IVF treatment in Russia using a donor egg.  Her husband John was sixty years old.
  • In 1996, Arceli Keh from California became a first time mum to a baby girl at the age of sixty three years old.
  • In 1994, sixty three year old Rosanna Dalla Corte from Italy had a baby boy using donated eggs.
  • In 2003 after receiving a donor egg from her niece a teacher from India, Satyabhama Mahapatra gave birth to a baby boy at the age of sixty five years old.
  • Adriana Iliescu from Romania was sixty six years old when she became a first time mum to her daughter Eliza Maria in 2005.
  • Also in 2006 in Barcelona, Carmen Bousada became one of the eldest mums in the world after giving birth to twin boys at the age of sixty seven.

Is There an Age Limit?

According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) there is no age limit for a woman to receive IVF treatment however, individual clinics can and do state a limit in an effort to avoid any complications that may arise due to their age, health and of course their potential for the future care of any child born.