Becoming a mother is undoubtedly one of the most incredible journeys that a woman can experience in her life. Having a baby to raise and to love unconditionally is a very important life goal for many. However, for some women that experience doesn't happen until much later in life, for many different reasons.
Pregnancy can be daunting for any mother, but when a more advanced age comes into the equation things are definitely made more complicated. With increased health risks, disapproving family and friends, and the issue of actually being able to conceive, having a baby later in life is no small challenge. Then there's the question of ethics -- there are many people who question if it is morally right to bring a child into a world that you will not be part of for much longer.
Despite all of this, as these incredible stories prove, there are still women who will go to great lengths to have a baby no matter what their age, and the results can be shocking, heartwarming and even tragic.
15 Daljinder Kaur
When Daljinder Kaur gave birth to a baby boy in India 2016, she became the world's oldest mother. Although she is not sure of her exact date of birth, she told doctors she was around seven years younger than her husband, who was 79 at the time. The couple had been married for 46 years, but were unable to conceive naturally during that time.
They therefore made the controversial decision to undergo IVF using anonymous donor eggs at the National Fertility Centre in Haryana state, which specializes in helping women who have already been through menopause.
Daljinder Kaur said of the birth: “Everyone asked me to adopt a baby but I never wanted to. Now I have my own child. We will raise him and give him a proper education. I had faith in Almighty that I will have my own baby, and Waheguru [God] answered my prayers.”
14 Rajo Devi Lohan
Rajo Devi Lohan set a new record for the world's oldest mother when she gave birth to her daughter Naveen in the remote village of Hissar, India, in 2008. She was 69 when she became a mother for the first time following IVF treatment, and as a result of her advanced age she nearly died from complications after the delivery.
Rajo lives with her husband Ballo, and his second (and younger) wife Umi. She said in 2012: "The only reason I am still alive in spite of my illness is Naveen. She is a gift to me from God and until I get her married I cannot afford to die."
"I will get her married when she turns 15-years-old, but until then I simply cannot die. Naveen does not need to worry about her future, she has her other mother, Umi, her uncles, relatives and father to look after her."
13 Omkari Panwar
Omari Panwar already had two daughters when she decided to pursue IVF in her late 60s. Despite having five grandchildren, she and her husband were desperate for a son to take over the family property. Their wish became a reality in 2008 when, at the age of 70, Omari gave birth to twins; a boy and a girl weighing in at just 2 lbs each. The couple had used their life savings and also took out a bank loan in order to have IVF treatment.
The delighted mother said at the time: "We already have two girls but we wanted a boy so that he could have taken care of our property. This boy and girl are God's greatest gift to us."
Her husband Charam Singh, added: "The desire for a male child has always been there, but God did not bless us with a male child. Now, we are very grateful to God, who has answered our prayers."
12 Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara
Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara was the world's oldest mother when she gave birth to twin boys in 2006, at the age of 66. The shop assistant had travelled from Spain to the US to undergo IVF, later admitting that she had lied about her age in order to be eligible for the $35,000 treatment. She had also not informed her family of her decision to undergo the procedure, which was controversial due to her age.
However, things took a sad turn as Maria was diagnosed with cancer soon after the birth, and less than three years later in 2009 she succumbed to the illness. She had previously said she hoped to live as long as her own mother - who died at the age of 101 - in order to see her boys grow up. Her two sons, Christian and Pau, are being brought up by other family members.
11 Adriana Iliescu
When 66-year-old Adriana Iliescu became pregnant in 2005, her decision to have a child was branded ‘grotesque’, ‘horrifying’ and the ‘ultimate act of selfishness’ by religious and ethical groups. The Romanian university lecturer had been unable to conceive naturally and had been undergoing fertility treatment for nine years before she finally became pregnant with triplets.
Sadly two of the fetuses died in the womb, and her daughter Eliza, was born early weighing just 3 lbs, and had to be kept in intensive care as a result. Thankfully she recovered and grew up healthy. Adriana since said of her decision to get pregnant so late in life:
"Eliza is energetic and fun — a very happy child. She is everything to me and nothing else counts or matters. The child is mine and that’s all I care about, but medically it is not impossible for me to have another child. I don’t smoke and I don’t drink. If I live as long as my parents did, Eliza will be 20 by the time I pass away. I think I still have a lot to give her."
10 Elizabeth "Lizzie" Adeney
At 66 years old, factory owner and successful businesswoman Elizabeth Adeney is the oldest woman to have given birth in the UK. She became pregnant in 2009 after years of unsuccessful attempts via IVF. She had to travel to Ukraine to undergo another round of the $15,000 treatment due to her age; clinics in the UK do not treat women over 50.
Her son was born via Caesarean section at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, weighing only 5 lbs 3oz. Despite the criticism surrounding the birth, Elizabeth defended her decision to get pregnant, saying at the time:
“It doesn’t interest me that I am going to be the oldest mum in the country. It is not my physical age that is important, it’s how I feel inside. I don’t have to defend what I have done. It’s between me and my baby and no one else.”
9 Harriet Stole
Harriet Stole from North London, UK, gave birth to a baby boy in 1999 at the age of 66. However, she wasn't set to be the mother of the child -- she was actually acting as a surrogate for her daughter-in-law, who had been unable to naturally conceive. Doctors implanted a fertilized egg from her adult son Ross, and his wife Lucy, into her uterus through IVF, following post menopausal treatment.
Fortunately, the procedure was a success and Harriet gave birth to Henry Thomas eight months into the pregnancy. Though he weighed in at just four pounds and five ounces, he made it through just fine and hasn't had any medical problems since. Despite the unusual story - how many women can say they gave birth to their own grandson?! - the family largely remained out of the public eye and did not give interviews during the pregnancy.
8 Annegret Raunigk
Annegret Raunigk from Germany hit the headlines in 2015 when she gave birth to not one but four babies at the age of 65. What made the story even more intriguing was the fact that the new mother already had a total of 13 children, who were between the ages of 10 and 44 at the time.
The quadruplets were conceived via IVF after Annegret travelled to Kiev for the procedure, amongst criticism from doctors who were unsure if her body would cope with the strain of more children. Thankfully, the three boys and one girl were all healthy, despite being born at 26 weeks and weighing the same as a bag of sugar each.
Annegret said of the birth: "This is not about egotism and it is not selfishness. I like children - they keep me young. You get more tolerant the older you get. I would never dream of telling anyone to do this or that. I am looked after, consulted, observed. I was fit to have them and I am fit to care for them."
7 Haya Shahar
Haya Shahar had been trying to naturally conceive a child throughout her 46-year marriage to husband Shmuel, but it wasn't until she was 65 that she finally gave birth to a baby boy. The couple underwent treatment for IVF, although it is not clear whether they did this abroad or in their native Israel, where it is illegal for a woman over the age of 54 to undergo the procedure.
Haya gave birth to a healthy baby boy by Cesarean, and the couple credited the event to their Rabbi's blessing three years prior. However, doctors at the Kfar Saba hospital where the child was born were wary to warn against other older mothers taking the same route. Obstetrician Dr. Tal Biron told The Jerusalem Post:
“We do not recommend this. It is illegal to perform in-vitro fertilization on a woman of this age, and it is dangerous. There are many possible complications. Pregnancy is an unnecessary burden on the mother’s body.”
6 Memnune Tiryaki
Memnune Tiryaki became the oldest mother in Turkey in 2006 when she gave birth at the age of 64. Memnune and her husband, 62-year-old Omer Tiryaki, had been trying to conceive for 35 years without success before managing to convince their doctor to permit them to undergo IVF treatment. After using a donor's egg with Omer's sperm, their son was finally born with a healthy weight of six pounds.
Omer Teriyaki told reporters of his and his wife's delight at discovering they were finally going to have a child:
"When we saw in the first tests that she was actually pregnant, we couldn't believe it. Our relatives told us that it wasn't a real pregnancy, but we never gave up. In the end, our baby has been born. I am retired, and so my wife and i will bring our baby up together. "
5 Arceli Keh
Arceli Keh was 63 years old when she gave birth to a daughter back in 1996. She and her husband Isagani, who was 60 at the time of the pregnancy, had been married for 16 years but hadn't been able to naturally conceive. They then decided to undergo IVF - and spent a monumental $50,000 on the treatment before daughter Cynthia was born.
The couple, who had immigrated from the Philippines to California, told reporters at the time that they were "far from wealthy", with Arceli adding: ''We are working people. I only retired to have my baby. Our age doesn't matter. We feel young at heart and we love our child. Isn't that what counts?''
In 2011, with their daughter now 14, Arceli described how having a baby later in life had given her a new outlook: "I’m more energetic than most women my age because I have to be. I prayed every day of my life for Cynthia, and I’m so grateful she’s in the world."
4 Wu Cheng
Though most of the older mothers on this list became pregnant later in life due to problems conceiving naturally, this story is very different. 60-year-old Wu Cheng and her husband decided to have another child after the sudden death of their 28-year-old daughter Tingting, who died in a suspected gas poisoning incident a year earlier.
The Chinese couple travelled to Beijing to undergo IVF treatment, though they were told their chances of having a baby would be incredibly slim. However, Wu gave birth to twin girls in 2010, who, despite being born prematurely at 34 weeks, were both healthy.
"Their cry resembles my late daughter," Wu said of her new twin daughters, who were born by Caesarean section. "The girls give me and my husband the courage to live on. Despite the fact that we are old, we have the confidence to bring them up."
3 Rosanna Della Corte
Rosanna Della Corte was left completely devastated when her 17-year-old son Riccardo was killed in a motorbike accident. Desperate for a reason to go on living, Rosanna and her husband Mauro began to look into adopting another child. However, when no orphanages would allow them to take on a child due to their age; Italian law forbids adoption for those over 40 years old.
Undeterred in their quest for another child, they turned to a controversial IVF doctor who used an egg from an anonymous donor and Mauro's sperm. The pregnancy caused a sensation in Italy; the Vatican referred to it as an affront to God. However, six years after the death of their first son, their new son, whom they also named Riccardo, was born on July 18 1994.
Despite the criticism, Rosanna said that her advanced years are of no importance; "We don't talk about age in this house," she said. "Riccardo sees me as his mother, that's all."
2 Janise Wulf
By the time Janise Wulf gave birth to baby Adam in 2006, she already had 11 children, 20 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. The 62-year-old from northern California and her husband, decided to have another child via IVF so that their three-year-old son would not grow up as an only child.
Janise, who has been blind since birth, has children between the ages of three and 40, but told reporters she is not concerned about her advancing age;
"I believe personally that age is just a number," she told NBC television. "When I became pregnant we were absolutely thrilled. And I think that. A friend of mine expressed it well. He said: 'If you can feel you can do it, go for it'. I think I'm a much better parent now than when I was younger. I'm not working. I'm not under stress. I'm ready to enjoy them."
1 Jeanine Salomone
The case of Jeanine Salomone rocked France in 2001. The 62-year-old millionaire wanted an heir to her $2.5 million fortune, so decided to produce two babies. The first, created using IVF, caused a huge controversy due to the fact that it was her brother's sperm that was used to fertilize the donor egg that was implanted into Jeanine. The doctor of the US clinic where the procedure was performed stated that he was unaware that the pair were brother and sister.
Jeanine also paid a surrogate mother to carry a second baby in order to increase the risks of creating an heir. Each child cost around $65,000, something that did not go unnoticed by critics of the family who questioned the moral implications of the case. The children were taken to Southern France to live with the family, including Jeanine and her brother's mother, then in her 80s.
Sources: telegraph, dailymail, bbc, independent, latimes