To outsiders the toddler with the golden cherubim locks playing under the watchful eye of the older woman at the beach doesn’t raise an eyebrow.
The matching hair, skin and eye colouring mean the pair are routinely assumed to be grandparent and grandchild.
But at 65 and SuperGold Card in her wallet, she is not a generation removed but a mum enjoying her second chance at raising a family well beyond natural child-bearing years.
It’s more than 14 months since the retired professional became the oldest woman in New Zealand to give birth after travelling across the globe in late 2019 to have a blastocyst from two anonymous donors implanted in her post-menopausal womb at a Georgian fertility clinic.
After delivering her boy by Caesarean Section at Auckland City Hospital in October 2020, the woman is cherishing every moment with her adventurous toddler.
“I have no regrets whatsoever,” she says. “It gives you so much to live for.”
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said having a child later in life had afforded her the opportunity to raise him in a way she felt she could not with her previous four children.
“This is the first time I’ve really been a stay-at-home-mum and able to sit back and enjoy it and watch all the stages of development.
“A generation ago it was seen to be the greatest thing to have a career and a career was put in front of children. I ended up not having a choice. That is one of the reasons I chose to have another baby because I felt I had actually really missed out.
“You think, ‘Oh, I could have done that better, here’s my chance’.”
She said her little boy was an active child, and as soon as he was able to walk was up to all kinds of mischief.
“He’s a very energetic, physical boy and likes climbing on top of things.
“He was doing 12 steps at 12 months and very confident walking at 14 months.
“Last weekend I was calling out to him and found him sitting in the car driving it.
“He’s a terrible 2-year-old monster and he’s only 1!”
And despite using donors, the familial likeness between the pair was uncanny.
“Remarkably, the little kiddie looks like me. He’s got the same hair, skin and eye colour which makes life very easy because 50 per cent of people either think he’s my son and the other 50 per cent think he’s my grandson.”
She said her son was now growing up alongside other children in the wider family and regarded as a cousin to nieces and nephew aged older than him.
“Their mum told her children to talk about him as their cousin, not their uncle. It’s only outsiders who sit down and calculate out and kind of do a little laugh and say, ‘Oh, look, he’s your uncle’.”
Unfortunately, August’s Covid-19 outbreak meant his baptism, which was to take place on his first birthday, had to be rescheduled until a few weeks ago when church services were finally permitted in the relaxed protection framework.
It was a chance for the family to celebrate the religious milestone and appoint his godparent.
Having become eligible for superannuation since giving birth, the Auckland woman describes her situation as “an absolute luxury”.
“I don’t even have to say I’m on the DBP, I’m on national super. I have a ‘Super’ baby funded by the Government. I don’t even have to feel bad about staying home living off this money because the richest persons in New Zealand gets it. I can stay at home, have quality time with my baby. I think it’s a complete dream.”
Yet the year hasn’t been without its challenges including being accused by hospital kitchen and security workers of stealing her days-old infant, and weeks of surveillance by Police and Oranga Tamariki after a member of the public lodged a complaint which was eventually dismissed.
“It almost put me in a state of depression. It was like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you had succeeded in having this child and you’re 64 then they said maybe you’re not mentally suitable for having this child because you have to be insane to have a child at 64.”
She said there remained double standards in society between older men and older women having children.
“I don’t want to dwell on the negative side of things but there’s been a whole range of reactions from people in the community about me having a baby.
“I guess it is new and breaking down barriers and changing what we think of as normal. To me an IVF baby is normal.”
But after an unsettling start she said having her baby boy had given her a fresh focus for the coming decades.
“In terms of mental health this has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.
“Would I do it again? I definitely would but with Covid restrictions I’m very much living for the moment.
“I no longer think about retiring, slowing down, going to a rest home and dying. I think about what’s happening in the New Zealand education system, what’s happening in politics, what’s happening with freedom of speech. It matters because I just don’t have two grandchildren in New Zealand, I have a son as well.
“I’m checking out local schools. I’m doing just what other mums do really, increasing his learning opportunities, going to playgrounds, going to the beach, playing with his cousins.
“I can’t conceive of dying in the next 20 years now.”
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