Monica Thompson, a widow from Las Vegas, US, gave birth to son Jayden Anthony Willie Edwin Ratliff earlier this year. Little Jayden was born prematurely at seven and a half months.
The cook had spent 16 years trying for children with her late husband Kevin Thompson, who died in 2016 – but the couple never managed to conceive.
"We did everything we could but we weren’t in a financial position to try IVF,” she said. “When I turned 40 I became content with being a dog mother.”
When Thompson met partner Jason Ratliff through a dating app in 2017, she had already put her hopes of having children aside.
"We moved in together in October 2017 so it was really quick but we didn’t consider the idea of becoming pregnant.”
Nor did her periods stop – usually a the telltale sign of pregnancy – although she says they became lighter and more erratic than usual.
And, while most pregnant women experience significant weight gain, Thompson had recently dropped 20 pounds thanks to a fitness regime she had recently embarked upon.
That’s why, when she was rushed to hospital with nausea and cramping, she didn’t suspect she could be soon to give birth – believing she had already entered the menopause.
“They didn’t have the equipment to do an ultrasound, but they asked me if there was any way I could be pregnant.
“I said, ‘No way’. I believed I was starting menopause because I was having a little trouble with incontinence.
"Or at least I thought I was but actually it ended up being amniotic fluid that was leaking.”
She added: “They did some blood work and they came back and told me I was pregnant. I was shocked and in disbelief. I thought I couldn’t have babies.”
Less than 24 hours later, Thompson went into labour: “They told me I needed an emergency C-section which was frightening.”
While Thompson was understandably shocked by her surprise route into motherhood, she said it felt “right”.
“I couldn’t see the baby until the next day because of my surgery but when I did see him for the first time he was covered in wires," she said.
“I got to hold him for the first time a week later, and it was surreal. I thought 'Wow, I’m a mom'. It felt right. I felt complete.”
However, she does admit she felt “a little robbed” of the experience of being pregnant: “I never felt my baby move and I never got to have that ultrasound moment where I saw his heart beat.”
Now nine months old, baby Jayden is doing well.
"He’s crawling and walking and he’s into everything now," said Thompson.
"He’s teething at the moment but usually he is so good. He doesn’t cry unless he is hungry or tired.
"I think it’s extra special to become a mom at this age. Of course I would like to have been younger, but I know more now.”
While, at 46 years olds, Thompson is older than