IVF mum admits: I was wrong to have a baby at 57
Susan Tollefsen says she fears her daughter will be taken away when she dies. Photo: File photograph
A woman who became one of Britain’s oldest mothers after IVF treatment has called for an age limit to be placed on the procedure.
Susan Tollefsen, who caused controversy when she gave birth at the age of 57, said an upper limit of 50 should be imposed after admitting she struggles to bring up a child now she is in her sixties.
She also told how the ‘‘shock’’ of having a baby led to the breakdown of her relationship.
Mrs Tollefsen, who had IVF treatment in Russia, said the pressure and responsibility of motherhood placed excessive strain on her life and led to a split with her boyfriend, Nick Mayer.
In an interview, she claimed he refused to compromise on his devotion to soccer team West Ham United, adding that he ‘‘didn’t want his life to change at all... even though mine had changed completely’’.
Mrs Tollefsen, 61, had daughter Freya three years ago to become what was then the oldest first-time mother.
But she said: ‘‘If I’m completely honest, my experience has taught me that 50 should probably be the cut-off limit for having children, but until you have them it’s almost impossible to appreciate that.
‘‘It’s so true that you only learn by your own mistakes, and my mistake was not to have had her sooner.’’
Mrs Tollefsen conceived Freya with a donor egg and sperm from Mr Mayer, who is 11 years her junior. She told a Sunday newspaper that having a child was ‘‘without doubt the best thing I have ever done in my life’’, but added: ‘‘With the benefit of hindsight I recognise that perhaps some of my critics were right’’.
She went on: ‘‘I get a great emotional feeling when I look at her and a sadness when I realise that time’s running out. If I could change just one thing I would wish to be younger so I could enjoy watching Freya grow up, get married and have children of her own.
‘‘I’m doing my best to raise her to be completely independent but the prospect of her being taken from me, if I die, particularly when she’s still young, breaks my heart.’’
Mrs Tollefsen also admitted that her daughter’s arrival disrupted the rhythm of her life, saying that she has recently moved out of their home in Laindon, Essex, to bring up her child alone.
‘‘I felt as if my whole world revolved around Freya and yet Nick was passionate about West Ham,’’ she said.
‘‘I felt there was four of us in the family - me, Freya, Nick and the Hammers. Every Saturday he wanted to go and watch them, either home or away, and some weekdays. I felt as if he didn’t want his family life to change at all after Freya came along, even though mine had changed completely.’’
She also spoke of the pressures of parenting at an old age, saying she often felt alienated from other mothers.
‘‘One thing I didn’t realise I would encounter is the difference between myself and some of the other mums at the school gates,’’ she said.
‘‘They are nice people but we are so different - we are from different generations.
‘‘I have little in common with most of them. Sometimes I envy them, their youth and infinite chances.’’
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