A single mother who had a baby at the age of 50 through IVF says it was “the right time” because now she’s not partying – and she can “bring her up as I see fit and not have to disagree with anyone”.
Kelly Clarke, now 52, flew to Athens for IVF treatment but was met with a “huge amount of resistance” from family, she claims.
They were concerned at the thought of her being an older mother and using a sperm donor to welcome a child rather than a co-parent, she says.
But she knew that being a mother was what she wanted and she welcomed Lyla Rae Clarke in March 2021, weighing 7lbs 8oz. The first-time motherm said Lyla Rae was “the perfect baby”.
Kelly, of Crawley, Sussex, said she didn’t realise how “deeply in love” with now 18-month-old Lyla Rae she would be. The former Gatwick Airport manager said: “My life is good right now to be a mummy. Right now, I’m the best mummy I can be to Lyla.
“It’s been the best experience of my life – she’s so funny, so incredible and I didn’t realise how deeply in love with her I’d be. I’d been met with a huge amount of resistance from family for deciding to become a single mum at 50.
“They were worried about me and the implications of using a donor – but in that moment I knew I’d made the right decision.”
She added: “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.”
Kelly worked as a flight attendant for 23 years before working in high-profile roles at Gatwick Airport, where she met a host of celebrities, including Tom Jones, Kate Moss and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Despite always wanting a family, Kelly says having Lyla Rae in her later years was “the right time” due to her previous life in the sky.
She said: “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.”
Despite many of her friends having children when they were younger, Kelly doesn’t feel that she’s had Lyla Rae too late and thinks that she is now better equipped to deal with life as a mother.
She said: “I am pleased they can start new chapters. But for me, 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.”
The mum-of-one also says she is “glad” that she’s not co-parenting as it allows her to bring up Lyla Rae in her own way.
She said: “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. I get to spend all my time with her.
“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.
“She is 19 months old this month and already sings nursery rhymes, counts to five and says the alphabet to F.
“She knows her colours and also traffic lights. So I think the two of us are doing very well.”
After being made redundant during the Covid-19 pandemic, Kelly was forced to turn to universal credit, which she says was the “most difficult” thing.
Wanting a job that would fit with her new life as a mother, Kelly decided to retrain and became a swimming teacher.
Kelly signed an agreement with the fertility clinic agreeing she would tell her daughter the truth about her conception and admits that she sometimes thinks about the fact she’s an older mother.
She said: “When she’s old enough to understand the situation, I’ll explain it to her. I’ll be honest, upfront and she’ll know that everything’s in place. It has hit me that in 20 years’ time when she’s 22, I’ll be 72.
“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.”