Watch: 'Having IVF baby as single 50-year-old means I'm not missing out on partying'
A single mum who had a baby at the age of 50 via in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) has shared the benefits of older motherhood, saying it was "the right time" for her to become a parent.
Kelly Clarke, now 52, from Crawley, Sussex enjoyed a high-flying career in travel while her friends were starting their families.
But despite always wanting to be a mum, she hadn't met the right person, so, as she approached her 50th birthday, Clarke decided to explore other paths to parenthood.
In 2020, she flew to Athens for IVF treatment using a sperm donor, with a test 12 days later revealing she was pregnant.
Her daughter Lyla Rae Clarke arrived in March 2021 weighing 7lbs 8oz, with Clarke explaining that becoming a mother has been the "best experience of my life".
Clarke worked as a flight attendant for 23 years before working in high-profile roles at Gatwick Airport, including as the North Terminal manager.
But her career, which involved flying around the world, made it tricky when it came to relationships.
Clarke also believes her former job wasn't conducive to being a parent, instead she believes welcoming a child in her 50s means she is now better equipped to deal with life as a parent.
"Now I don't feel the need to be travelling and partying, I just feel the need to watch every minute of Lyla Rae growing up," she explains.
"My life is good right now to be a mummy. I feel super blessed that with the life experience I have I can better guide Lyla Rae now than I would have in my younger years.
"I can focus solely on her as I am content with what I’ve done. I don’t have to rush her youth to be able to carry on with mine.
"Everyone is different, that’s just how I feel about the way round I’ve started my family.
"No one’s right or wrong this is just how my journey to motherhood came about and was right for me."
Another benefit of her situation, Clarke says, is the fact she doesn't have to co-parent, which means she can bring Lyla Rae up in her own way.
"I'm happy not to co-parent as I can bring her up as I see fit and not have to disagree with anyone or have a partner do the opposite of what I do when I’m not there," she says. "I also get to spend all my time with her."
Clarke says she was met with some resistance from her family when she first mentioned her plan to try to have a baby at 50.
"They were worried about me and the implications of using a donor," she says. Now that Lyla's here they are incredibly supportive and couldn't be a better family to her. I don't know what I'd do without them.
"She has two amazing cousins who adore her and who she adores, a fantastic aunty and brilliant grandparents, so as far as I’m concerned, she is very grounded."
The first time mum says she knew she'd made the right decision to become a solo parent as soon as she saw her daughter and is now loving motherhood.
"I couldn’t ask for anything more," she adds. "She's so funny, so incredible," she says of her now 19-month-old daughter. "I didn't realise how deeply in love with her I'd be."
Clarke, who has now retrained as a swimming teacher, signed an agreement with the fertility clinic agreeing to tell her daughter the truth about her conception.
"When she's old enough to understand the situation, I’ll explain it to her," she says. "I’ll be honest, upfront and she’ll know that everything’s in place."
Despite feeling it was the right time to become a parent, Clarke admits she sometimes thinks about the fact she’s an older mum.
"It has hit me that in 20 years' time when she’s 22, I’ll be 72," she says. "Those kind of things about life insurance and a will are now in my mind which they weren’t before.
"But I haven't got too much left to pay on my mortgage and once that's in place that's hers. One thing’s for sure, Lyla is going to know she is loved and how much I wanted her – she'll know the lengths I went to bring her into my world.”
Additional reporting SWNS.