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World's oldest mother 'thought it was cancer'

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Sunday, September 09, 2007 | 0 comments

The world's oldest natural mother has told for the first time the astonishing story of how she fell pregnant at the age of 58.

Dawn Brooke has revealed how she initially feared that the aches, cravings and feelings of exhaustion were the signs of cancer.

The retired civil servant, now 69, said that she was so worried about her health that she rushed home from a holiday in America to have urgent hospital checks.

The tests revealed that she was actually 16 weeks pregnant making her the oldest woman on record to have conceived naturally.

Mrs Brooke, who is married to Ray, 74, a former businessman, said: "I just thought I'm a 58-year-old woman, this can't be happening. I feared the worst.

"The word cancer shot into my mind because I was at an age where unexplained symptoms can be extremely serious.

"I'd rushed home from a holiday in America desperate to know what was wrong with me and faced an and agonising wait."

Later that year she gave birth to a healthy baby boy called Harry, who turned 10 last month. He has been brought up by the couple at their £1 million home in Guernsey and goes to school on the island.

Mrs Brooke, who has two grown-up children from a previous marriage, said: "We never dreamed there would be an addition to the family but I'll never forget the feeling of looking into my baby boy's blue eyes after giving birth.

"There were no regrets then or since."

As she looks very young for her age, she was able to keep the fact that she was the oldest natural mother a secret from the media for more than a decade.

Her story only came to light last month and immediately attracted global interest.

Mrs Brooke, who previously worked as a secretary for the Foreign Office, said: "I kept myself to myself because I knew the pregnancy was a big deal and I felt embarrassed. Very few people knew of the unusual nature of the pregnancy because people always presumed, and still do, that I'm a lot younger than my age.

"And I never disagreed with it."

Despite her age and the associated health complications that could have occurred during the pregnancy, Harry John was born on August 20 1997 weighing a healthy 9lb.

Mrs Brooke gave birth by Caesarean but did not require any other special treatment beforehand.

She added: "In fact it was a very easy pregnancy. I wasn't sick and I didn't have any made cravings."

"I get upset when I think that I might not watch him get married, see his children."

The couple are fully aware that they will miss much of Harry's adult life and have set up a special trust fund in case they die before he reaches the age of 18.

Since Mrs Brooke gave birth, several other older woman have fallen pregnant following IVF treatment.

The world's oldest mother is Carmela Bousada, from Barcelona, Spain, who gave birth in December seven days before her 67th birthday.

She had lied to doctors about her age in order to undergo the fertility treatment. The oldest mother in Britain is Patricia Rashbrook, who gave birth last July at the age of 62 following IVF.


Image: What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir, by Alice Eve Cohen. Publisher: Viking Adult (July 9, 2009)What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir
by Alice Eve Cohen
--A personal and medical odyssey beyond anything most women would believe possible

At age forty-four, Alice Eve Cohen was happy for the first time in years.

After a difficult divorce, she was engaged to an inspiring man, joyfully raising her adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming. Alice tells her fiancé that she's never been happier. And then the stomach pains begin.

In her unflinchingly honest and ruefully witty voice, Alice nimbly carries us through her metamorphosis from a woman who has come to terms with infertility to one who struggles to love a heartbeat found in her womb - six months into a high-risk pregnancy.

What I Thought I Knew is a page-turner filled with vivid characters, humor, and many surprises and twists of fate.

With the suspense of a thriller and the intimacy of a diary, Cohen describes her unexpected journey through doubt, a broken medical system, and the hotly contested terrain of motherhood and family in today's society.

Timely and compelling, What I Thought I Knew will capture readers of memoirs such as Eat, Pray, Love; The Glass Castle; and A Three Dog Life.

Image: Buy Now on Amazon.comPaperback: 208 pages
Click to order/for more info: What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir

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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost our precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted there will be no more babies in our house.

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