By the age of 58, most people are preparing to become grandparents but for one woman, she was just getting ready to welcome her first child into the world.
Appearing on British ITV talk show This Morning, Carolyne Ness, who now lives in Sydney, explained that she gave birth to her son Javed last year after forking out £4,500 (AU$7,899, US$5,711) in IVF treatment. In a process called embryo adoption, Ness chose an egg donor and a sperm donor from a set of profiles, but still gave birth to her son.
Originally from the UK, Ness was told she was too old for the procedure there or in Australia, so travelled to New Delhi for the risky operation. During the interview, little Javed was squirming around, leading host Eamonn Holmes to say he didn’t know how Ness managed.
“I actually found from a man’s point of view, it [raising a child] exhausted me more at 42,” he said. “How are you finding it at 58?”
Ness claimed she was coping, noting her son sleeps throughout the night and that she’s always had plenty of energy in her own life. She explained that she had fertility issues in her mid-30s and that she’d been longing for a child since then.
As co-host Ruth Langsford pointed out that many women would label her decision selfish, and claim she’s too old to start motherhood, Ness dismissed the idea.
“I didn’t focus on it too much when I was younger. I think I tried to fill that gap with other things,” she said. “I travelled a lot, I socialised a lot, but I always felt there was something missing.”
Since giving birth, she said her life is now complete and she’s happy she made the choice to go ahead with the IVF.
Holmes said that Ness has less years in front of her than behind her and asked whether she was worried about the day where she will no longer be there for her son.
Ness explained that her sister was willing to take Javed in if there were any problems, while her best friend, who is 10 years her junior, is also happy to help. Still, she explained her family is very well-lived, with her own father still alive in his 90s.
“I expect to be around for quite a few years yet,” she said. “I’m just enjoying my time with him day-to-day and making the most of it. I have a lot of spare time I’m giving to him, whereas a younger mother may be busier and not have the time.”
Langsford, 58, said she would also have a child at an older age if she didn’t have them already and said most of the judgement towards Ness was coming from those who already had kids.
“Often people are in a privileged position of having children saying, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t do that, you’re too old’. But when you have that longing for a child, I don’t feel I’m too old.”
Holmes described a child at his age as his “worst nightmare”, although there are plenty of people becoming parents at older ages.
Celebrities in their 50s, 60s and 70s are welcoming additions to their families. These include Sonia Kruger, who welcomed a child at 50 and 55-year-old Brigitte Nielsen. Meanwhile, actor Rowan Atkinson became a father again at 62, while Rolling Stones legend Ronnie Wood was 68 when he welcomed twin girls into the world.
It comes as the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report the average age of women in Australia giving birth is now 30.3, compared to 29.7 in 2005.