A single mother who had a baby at the age of 50 through IVF says it was ‘the right time’ because now she’s no longer partying – and she can ‘bring her up as she sees fit’.
Kelly Clarke, 52, a swimming teacher from Crawley, Sussex, flew to Athens for IVF treatment and claimed she was met with a ‘huge amount of resistance’ from family.
The swimming teacher’s family were apparently concerned at the thought of her being an older mother and using a sperm donor to welcome a child – and not to co-parent, she says.
52-year-old Kelly Clarke from Sussex pictured with her one-year-old daughter Lyla Rae Clarke – she says it was ‘the right time’ to have a baby and flew to Athens in 2020 for fertility treatment
Kelly smiles after the birth of her daughter, Lyla Rae Clarke in 2021 weighing a healthy 7lbs and 60oz
Despite her age, Kelly knew that becoming a mother was her dream, and she welcomed Lyla Rae Clarke in March 2021 weighing 7lbs 8oz.
The first-time mother said Lyla Rae was ‘the perfect baby – and she couldn’t ask for anything more’.
Kelly, of Crawley, Sussex, said she didn’t realise how ‘deeply in love’ with now 18-month-old Lyla Rae she would be.
Kelly, a former North Terminal manager for Gatwick Airport, said: ‘My life is good right now to be a mummy.
The mother travelled alone to Athens to have treatment at the fertility clinic at the age of 50
Kelly Clarke pictured waiting to fly back to the UK from Athens having just had embryos implanted, the scan shows the womb after the implantation
The swimming teacher and now mother of one documented her pregnancy after the IVF was a success
Kelly from Sussex during her pregnancy in 2021 at the age of 50, after catching a flight to a fertility clinic in Athens
”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 signed an agreement with the fertility clinic agreeing she would tell her daughter the truth about her conception
The former flight attendant admits that sometimes she worries about her daughter having an older mother
Kelly’s family tried to dissuade her from having Lyla Rae due to her age, but Kelly is adamant she made the right choice
Kelly and her daughter Lyla Rae Clarke, who was born last year after her mother flew to Athens to have IVF
Despite being a single parent, the swimming teacher is happy she had Lyla at a later age as her lifestyle ‘wasn’t suitable’
Kelly worked as a flight attendant for 23 years before working in high-profile roles at Gatwick Airport – where she met a whole host of celebrities, including Tom Jones, Kate Moss and Princess Diana.
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 friend’s 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.
The former flight attendant said: ‘I am pleased they can start new chapters.
The 52-year-old loves her new role as a mother to Lyla Rae and says the way her journey to motherhood came about was right for her
Ms Clarke feels blessed that she has life experience she can use to guide Lyla Rae better than she would have in her younger years
‘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 mother-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.’
Lyla Rae Clarke(pictured) at nursery, is now a happy, healthy one-year-old that mother Kelly calls the ‘perfect baby’
Lyla Rae, who is now one-year-old explores – her mother will be 72 years of age when her daughter is 22
After being made redundant during the 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 mum, 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 mum.
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.’