Sur­prise! Twins at 50

Manda was over the moon when her dream fi­nally came true

that's life (Australia) - - Contents - Manda Ep­ton, 50, Syd­ney, NSW As told to Sarah Firth

Star­ing at the photo, I felt an in­stant con­nec­tion with her.

With pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyes, we looked so alike.

In her 20s, she was artis­tic like I was, and she shared my English-Scot­tish back­ground.

This is her, I de­cided. This is my egg donor.

As my 50th birth­day ap­proached, I’d al­ways as­sumed I’d be mar­ried with a fam­ily by now.

Life didn’t work out like that, though.

When a long-term re­la­tion­ship ended at 34, I started to feel the tick-tock of my bi­o­log­i­cal clock.

There’s still time, I rea­soned, read­ing sto­ries about ac­tresses hav­ing bubs in their 40s.

Dat­ing, how­ever, I found many men al­ready had fam­i­lies.

‘I don’t want any more kids,’ they told me, hon­estly.

So I de­cided to go it alone.

Book­ing an ap­point­ment at an IVF clinic, I ex­plained my dream of moth­er­hood.

‘You’ve got a five per cent chance of hav­ing a baby, even with IVF,’ a doc­tor ex­plained bluntly.

It was the first time I’d been told the truth – by now most of my eggs were gone.

But with a seven-year wait to adopt, I still wanted to try.

Start­ing my IVF jour­ney, us­ing donor sperm and my re­main­ing eggs, I crossed ev­ery­thing.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Heart­break­ingly, I suf­fered failed cy­cles and two mis­car­riages.

Bawl­ing my eyes out ev­ery time, it was in­cred­i­bly painful. To make things harder, the busi­ness I ran had been asked to de­sign a teddy bear.

Or­ders flooded in, and now I was vis­it­ing baby shops selling our soft toys.

Faced with ba­bies and bumps ev­ery­where, I felt des­per­ate.

Why can’t it be my turn? I won­dered.

Af­ter plough­ing $75,000 into IVF, I still didn’t have a bub in my arms.

Step­ping out­side the shop, I’d sob and sob.

Then my friend told me she was us­ing donor eggs to have a baby.

The clinic, Cape Fer­til­ity in South Africa, was much cheaper than an Aussie one.

Would it feel the same if the baby wasn’t ge­net­i­cally mine? I won­dered, in­trigued.

But the fact is, many older mums use donor eggs – it just isn’t spo­ken about.

‘If you needed a kid­ney, you’d take it, wouldn’t you?’ my friend said. ‘You just need that bit of DNA, but the baby will have your blood, hear your voice. It’s you bring­ing it into the world.’

I de­cided she was right.

Near­ing 50, I con­tacted the clinic, who said I was a suit­able can­di­date be­cause I was still very fit and healthy.

Send­ing them child­hood and cur­rent pho­tos of me, I was cu­ri­ous about who they’d find. And they’d done an in­cred­i­ble job.

Now, I just needed a sperm donor.

Get­ting my friends round for a glass of wine, we looked through the pro­files.

The clinic wasn’t al­lowed to show me pho­tos of the men as adults, so in­stead we pored over their baby pics and de­scrip­tions.

‘How about this one?’

I said.

‘Dan­ish, tall... likes read­ing...’ I read. ‘And it says he looks like Matt Da­mon!’ I was sold!

So, in De­cem­ber last year, I headed to South

Africa to have two em­bryos trans­ferred, in the hope one would take.

Deep down, I knew this was my last chance.

If it fails, I’ll find happiness through my friends, I de­cided.

Back in Syd­ney, I ner­vously went for a blood test seven weeks later.

My sis­ter, Jo, was stay­ing with me, but I wanted to go to the clinic by my­self.

Look­ing at my re­sults, the doc­tor smiled.

‘You’re preg­nant!’ she said. Ec­static, I could have jumped in the air.

Rush­ing home, I burst in. ‘I’m hav­ing a baby!’ I cried, hug­ging Jo.

Still, I was anx­ious about whether ev­ery­thing would go smoothly.

But it felt dif­fer­ent this time, know­ing both the egg and sperm were from young and healthy donors.

When a scan soon af­ter showed I was hav­ing twins, I couldn’t be­lieve it.

‘I’ve al­ways wanted two chil­dren,’ I beamed.

It was an in­stant fam­ily! As my bump grew, I was so ex­cited about meet­ing my lit­tle ones.

Telling my par­ents, both in their 70s, I felt ner­vous.

What would they think about me be­ing a sin­gle mum at 50? And to two bubs!

‘It’s amaz­ing what they can do these days,’ Mum said, happy for me.

In fact, ev­ery­one has been so sup­port­ive.

With us liv­ing longer and health­ier lives, I knew I’d be just like a younger mum.

In Au­gust, my wa­ters broke at 36 weeks and my friend, Si­mone, came to the hospi­tal with me.

Taken in for a C-sec­tion, it felt sur­real as my baby girls were lifted into the world.

Hear­ing their cries, I burst into tears. Then they were both laid on my chest to­gether and held onto me with their tiny arms.

They’re beau­ti­ful, I sobbed. Now eight weeks old, my ba­bies are the light of my life.

I’m shar­ing my story to try to spare other women my years of an­guish.

If you’re plan­ning to start a fam­ily, think care­fully about fer­til­ity, maybe get tested to check your egg count.

Be­ing a mum is not about ge­net­ics. It’s about ev­ery­thing else. My girls will know they are very wanted and very, very loved.

Be­ing their mum is my dream come true.

‘You’ve got a five per centchance of hav­ing a baby’

My girls are the light of my life

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