Kate Garraway: Am I being selfish to want a third baby at 45?

Am I being selfish to want a third baby at 45 Doctors say she'd be putting herself and her baby at risk. But, TV presenter Kate Garraway aches for another child

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UPDATED:

08:11 GMT, 4 September 2012

The doctor looked at me with a mix of consternation and bewilderment. She had not diagnosed an incurable disease. She had merely informed me, crisply yet patiently, that at 45 my chance of having a baby was minuscule.

‘You just have to face it. The odds of conceiving are very low and in the unlikely event that you did become pregnant, statistically, the risks to you and your baby would be great.’

'Besides' — and here came the coup de grace — 'you’ve got two lovely children already . . .' Her voice trailed off, the thought unspoken, but clearly she was suppressing the urge to point out that I should be grateful.

Two won't do: Kate with her children, Darcey and Billy

Kate Garraway attends the UK premiere of Yogi Bear with her husband and children

Two won't do: Kate Garraway with her children, Darcey and Billy (left) and with her husband Derek Draper (right)

And, of course, I am. Supremely. I have a happy marriage and two much-loved children: a daughter, Darcey, six, and a three-year-old son, Billy.

So why did I feel this maelstrom of fury, sadness and guilt Why did I burst into tears and want to thump that poor, blameless doctor

The answer is because I yearn for a third child. It is like a gnawing pain, this ache to be pregnant; to experience again the extraordinary free-falling thrill of giving birth and starting afresh with that blank sheet: a new life.

Am I selfish to want to add to my family I know millions of people will say I am. Why can I not just be thankful for the children I’m blessed with

I have tried to quell the terrible pang of regret and envy I feel every time I see a mum pushing a newborn in a pram. But I fail.

Instead, I rage against my diminishing fertility. I feel I’m stranded in limbo between fecund motherhood and the menopause.

Much is written about parenting — its
joys and tribulations — and then about the transition into hot flushes,
night sweats and (if we’re lucky) a new life as a grandmother.

But
what about the purgatory we women in our mid-40s endure No one speaks
about that, but I believe it is a rite of passage as much as
adolescence. But this change is emotional rather than physical.

And I’ve reached it. I am not menopausal and it may be a decade before I am. But I hover in a no-man’s-land.

Kate with her five week old daughter, Darcey pictured in the GMTV studios, with fellow presenters Fiona Phillips (left) and Andrew Castle. She has revealed that she would lvoe another child at 45

Kate with her five week old daughter, Darcey pictured in the GMTV studios, with fellow presenters Fiona Phillips (left) and Andrew Castle. She has revealed that she would lvoe another child at 45

Each month my period taunts me with the notion that I might — just — be able to have a baby.

But each month its arrival also signals the fact that I’m not pregnant. It presages a fresh flood of tears. I’ll sit down, watch a weepie, then trawl through my baby photo albums. It’s almost as if I’m turning the knife in the wound.

Derek, my husband, is a psychotherapist. He wouldn’t put it this way, but clearly he thinks I’m bonkers, poor love.

He adores our two children, but for reasons he would describe as 'logical' does not want another baby. And he tries, kindly, to cajole me out of the slough of despond.

But I am mourning, not just the end of
my fruitful years, but also what I sense is my dwindling sexual
attractiveness. Derek does his best to assure me he still finds me
desirable. But, perversely, I believe I know better.

Men are programmed to be attracted to young and fertile women and now, in my lowest moments, I fear I am neither.

Yet
for years I felt, irrationally, that I was impervious to ageing. I felt
lucky to look young for my years. And the fact that I fell pregnant
with Darcey easily and relatively late, when I was 38, seemed to confirm
that I had magically circumvented the ageing process.

Then
Billy arrived when I was 42, bearing out my daft delusion that I could
outwit Mother Nature. So — silly as it sounds — it was a shock to
discover that day last year at the Well Woman clinic that I wouldn’t and
couldn’t.

So how did I find myself there, asking naively why I hadn’t
been able to conceive, though I’d been trying to since Billy’s birth

It
started when I married Derek in September 2005. I was working as a
presenter on GMTV and was (just) pregnant with Darcey, who had been a
happy surprise.

Kate craves another baby while her husband Derek doesn't

Kate craves another baby while her husband Derek doesn't

Derek and I agreed, to start with at least, that we wanted a big family: four children who would fill the house with noise and happy anarchy, and once they were grown, would return for huge family get-togethers on high days and holidays.

Darcey’s arrival confirmed my passion for motherhood. She came into the world with a look that said: 'Who the heck are you and what’s going to happen now'

She was Derek in a pink Babygro; a bundle of ceaseless energy: cheeky, inquisitive, endlessly defiant. Of course we were, and are, besotted with her.

Like all newborns, she threw our lives into chaos. I went back to work when she was 11 weeks old, and because my day on breakfast TV began — as it still does — long before dawn, I existed in a blurry, sleep-deprived, twilight world.

Derek and I shared the childcare with Darcey’s wonderful quartet of grandparents; even so, it felt as if we were constantly passing each other on the doorstep.

As I arrived home from work mid-morning, sweeping Darcey into my arms for her breast-feed, Derek would rush out of the door wiping baby sick off his lapel.

My brain was addled with tiredness. On my first day back at work, I made all sorts of gaffes. I remember introducing the latest Johnny Depp film as the Pirates Of Penzance instead of Pirates Of The Caribbean.

I was in milky-mother mode, padded up to the hilt and wearing a bra that looked like one of those conical creations by Jean Paul Gaultier.

I started the show as flat-chested as Kate Moss, but my breasts would swell to Dolly-Parton-like proportions within a couple of hours. I’d have to do an inelegant sprint to the dressing room to express milk during the advert breaks.

Baby blues: It all started when Kate was a presenter on GMTV and pregnant with her first child Darcey

Baby blues: It all started when Kate was a presenter on GMTV and pregnant with her first child Darcey

Some nights I didn’t sleep at all and when I think back to the stupefying exhaustion of those early days I should be put off. But, of course, I am not. Ridiculous though it seems, I still crave another baby.

When Billy came along in 2009, I felt I’d — almost — cracked the art of motherhood. He was a placid, easy baby; smiley and amiable.

I had relaxed into the role of mum, and Billy was biddable. But I also imposed on him a stricter routine of bedtimes. Even now he sleeps better than his sister.

When I started work again three months after his birth, we employed a nanny: it didn’t seem fair to ask our parents, now in their 70s, to look after a boisterous child and a baby.

But two children also brought us more than double the pleasure of one. I revel in the joy of seeing Darcey dressing up her little brother as a princess or festooning him in plastic jewellery like a Christmas tree.

I do not mind the fact that our two-bedroom townhouse in North London (now extended with an attic conversion for Billy) is bursting at the seams.

I willingly forego the pleasure of drinking a glass of wine in our very small London garden for the infinitely greater joy of watching Darcey and Billy smashing any remaining flowers with their bats and balls, and inventing games in their luridly pink playhouse that has commandeered most of the space.

Logic and common sense tell me a third child would stretch our house beyond capacity. Where would we put a baby They would have to sleep in a cupboard.

But who cares Plenty of people have three children in far smaller homes than ours, and anyway, my desire to have a third baby is not diminished by such practical arguments.

For the past year I have been juggling two jobs: entertainment editor at ITV breakfast show Daybreak, plus an interim one as presenter of the programme. But I begin a new role as host of the relaunched Daybreak’s Friday show from this week.

I get up each weekday, as I have for years, at 2.30am, stumble out of bed — usually stubbing my toe on a Lego brick or falling over a rollerskate — and set off for the studio.

Frankly I’m knackered. Bring a new baby into the mix and I’m sure that I’d be practically delirious with fatigue.

So why do I still stubbornly mourn my dwindling fertility I suppose I feel I have unfinished business.

I believed, when Billy arrived, that I was on the cusp of learning how to be a proper mum. I’d stopped being an amateur. I’d almost got the gist.

A third baby would clinch it: I’d do it properly; savour every precious second of those early years without worrying about whether I was doing it right. In fact, I’d be a perfect mum, juggling home life and work with consummate ease.

There are those who say the more children you have, the easier parenthood becomes. I’m inclined to believe them.

Derek does not. He does not want to revert to the bedlam of sleepless nights, the endless round of nappy changing, and the lugging of prams and the whole panoply of infant paraphernalia we have to take with us every time we leave the house.

He also thinks we should not push our luck: he knows we are fortunate to have two healthy children, and he desperately wants me to just get on with enjoying the children we have.

Hard as he tries to empathise, he doesn’t get it, you see. How could he Men don’t face losing their fertility until they are drawing their pensions, or beyond.

After Billy was born we had endless debates about having a third child. As I came out of hospital cradling him in my arms, I remember seeing a mum-to-be going into her ante-natal class, and feeling, in that instant, a surge of envy.

Already I was thinking about having another child. And I did not try to prevent myself from getting pregnant thereafter. But nothing has happened.

So I went to that clinic appointment last year to find out why I’d had no success.

Of course the simple truth had not dawned on me: there was nothing wrong with me — other than a deficiency of vitamin D caused, no doubt, by the fact that I’d seen so little sunshine during my years of working such strange hours.

No, there was no mystery other than the confusing array of female fertility statistics the doctor fired at me. There’s a simple name for what was happening to me: it’s called getting older.

Of course, I could try IVF. But having watched my friend TV presenter Clare Nasir go through it, I know how tough the journey is. Emotional fool I may be, but even I can see that’s too selfish a course of action to impose on my family.

So I know I should just accept graciously that I’ve been endowed with two adorable children, but I persist in feeling short-changed.

My rational mind knows I am blessed. So many women — some of whom I’ve interviewed over the years — endure infertility and childlessness.

There are those who can’t afford mortgages or homes, and for whom the idea of starting a family is an unreachable goal.

They would doubtless consider me pathetically self-absorbed and spoilt. And on some levels, I concede that I am.

But I have a feeling, too, that there will be those who empathise. I believe there is an army of middle-aged women who will have wept quietly and irrationally for a baby they will never have.

Even now, though the weight of medical evidence is stacked against me, I hold a slender hope that I will defy the odds and become pregnant again.

For this reason I refuse to give away the bags of baby clothes that clog my parents’ attic.

Neither will I relinquish my sturdy, carriage-built Mary Poppins pram. I keep them just in case.

After all, you hear of women who have miracle late pregnancies, don’t you Many would be horrified by the prospect. But I’m one of those who would positively embrace it.

Interview by Frances Hardy

Kate Garraway presents Daybreak every Friday on ITV between 7am and 9.30am.