'As long as I'm healthy, I don't see a problem': Post-menopausal California woman, 54, on her Indian IVF baby… And why she's planning to go back for another
17:28 GMT, 26 June 2012
Patricia Bohanon was 51 when she flew halfway around the world to have an Indian embryo implanted in her womb.
Now, at the age of 54, the former teacher, from North California, is raising 20-month-old Carolyn, an adorable little girl whose Indian heritage is clear to see.
And she is hoping to return to India later this year to have a second embryo transfer, in the hope of having a little brother or sister for Carolyn.
New mother: Patricia Bohanon, 54, gave birth to Carolyn, now 20 months, after flying to India for IVF
Patricia, who also has two grown-up daughters, said: 'I'd always wanted more children and now I have the chance to raise a family for a second time.
'It is possible to have babies in your fifties and sixties, and as long as I'm fit and healthy I don't see any problem with that.'
Patricia underwent IVF at Dr Malpani's clinic in Mumbai, in January 2010. As she was already post-menopausal at the time, she could not provide her own eggs, so used an embryo created from an egg and sperm provided by Indian donors.
Patricia says she was not concerned about having a child who would be a different race to her.
'There are lots of benefits of having IVF
in India,' she said. 'The clinic is very modern, very clean and well
run and it is very successful. Women in their seventies have been able
to have children.
'I always felt I had a lot of love still
to give. I'd encourage other women in my position to
investigate this as a possibility for having the family they want'
'It is considerably cheaper than having embryo transfer in the U.S. I paid $8,000 for treatment in India, compared to $23,500 in America.'
She explained that the lower cost of treatment in India allowed her to realise a long-held dream.
'I had wanted to try for a baby for a long time, but I thought I'd never be able to afford it, until I read about embryo adoption in India,' she continued.
'I'd previously looked into adopting a child but many agencies will not consider you once you're in your fifties. Adoption is also incredibly expensive and takes a long time and a lot of paperwork, particularly international adoption which can cost up to $36,000.'
While she was pregnant with Carolyn, Patricia, then 52, met and fell in love with a 47-year-old man from the Philippines, and the couple are now engaged.
'He was there when I gave birth and
has supported me and Carolyn since the beginning. He has become like a
real father to her,' she said.
often assume my fiance is Carolyn's father as he has similar colouring
to her. When we go out together as a family, people accept Carolyn as
our daughter without questioning it.'
Growing family: Clearly besotted with Carolyn, Patricia now wants her daughter to have a younger sibling
Now the couple are planning to marry, and want to return to New Delhi to have a younger brother or sister for Carolyn. If possible they will use Patricia's fianc's sperm, so he will be related to the new baby.
Patricia had two difficult marriages in her early twenties and late forties, but they were short lived and so she never had chance to have a larger family.
She first contacted Dr Malpani's
clinic in 2008 at the age of 50, but only had the opportunity to undergo
IVF treatment two years later.
'The birth was actually a bit easier
than when I was in my twenties, but it took me a bit
longer to recover afterwards'
stayed in India for three weeks, taking medication to increase her
levels of oestrogen and other hormones to prepare her body for
pregnancy. Four embryos created by Dr Malpani were implanted in her womb
and she flew back to the U.S. the following day.
'I was really worried as I knew this was my only chance, as I couldn't afford another round of treatment,' she said.
But a month later Patricia was delighted
when a pregnancy test showed she was expecting, and her first
ultrasound scan confirmed she was having just one baby, rather than
twins or triplets.
'The pregnancy went really well and
there were no complications,' she said. 'I told my obstetrician I had
undergone IVF in India, but apart from that there were no other
'When I went
to prenatal classes, I was treated like any other mom and no-one
commented on my age or asked anything about how I became pregnant.'
Patricia gave birth to Carolyn naturally in October 2010, after an eight-hour labour and the baby weighed a healthy 7lb 3oz.
Indian heritage: Carolyn's parents are determined that she learn about the culture of her biological roots when she is older
'The birth was actually a bit easier than when I was in my twenties,' she said. 'But it took me a bit longer to recover afterwards.'
She admits going through sleepless nights in her fifties was difficult, but rested in the day time when Carolyn had a nap.
'Now Carolyn is older it is easier,' she said. 'But she has a lot of energy so we take her out a lot to the park. I've started exercising too, so I can stay young and healthy, and lose a bit of weight before my next pregnancy.
'I've joined local mother and toddler groups and none of the other moms has asked about my age, or mentioned that Carolyn looks different to me.'
Patricia is also planning to find work as a childminder to help support her family, and is considering selling some property to pay for the second embryo transfer.
'I get so much joy from Carolyn. She understand conversations and is very bright. She is always chattering to people,' she added.
'We will tell Carolyn about her roots when she is older. I'd like to be able to take her to India so she can learn about the culture of her biological parents.
'But at the moment, she is too young, and my fianc is keen for Carolyn to think of him as her father.'
Patricia and her husband-to-be are not concerned about being older parents and expect to be around to see Carolyn grow up and have her own family.
'I think if you look after yourself, there is no reason why older women shouldn't have a family,' she said.
'I definitely feel like Carolyn's mother. I carried her for nine months and gave birth to her. We're related, even if not biologically…
'I always felt I had a lot of love still to give,' she admitted. 'I'd encourage other women in my position to investigate this as a possibility for having the family they want.'