While many married couples around the world have failed to get pregnant after exhausting every resource available to them, one Indian couple has done the impossible. As a result, 74-year-old Yerramatti Mangayamma (some news media reported she was 73) and her 82-year-old husband Sitarama Rajarao have not only been able to get pregnant, but the couple gave birth to twin girls. The baby girls are the couple’s only children.
Though it’s unexpected for retired couples to turn a new leaf and bring a baby into the world, the couple decided to try their luck with modern medical interventions to escape the stigma they faced in their village for being childless since 1962, when the pair first got married.
As Yerramatti and her husband Sitarama turned to IVF as their last resort after years of trying to conceive, doctors used donor eggs. Speaking about giving birth to babies in her old age, Sitarama said, “We tried many times and saw numerous doctors. So this is the happiest time of my life.”
According to the CDC, infertility is a common problem in the United States that affects about 19% of American women aged between 15 and 49, whereas 26% of women find it difficult to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to full term. However, infertility also affects as many as 10% of American men. Most couples who wish to have children either adopt or, like Yerramati and her husband, turn to IVF treatments though success is not always guaranteed.
However, as Yerramati presented her birth certificate to the doctors, the Washington Post verified that she was 74 years old and thus the world’s oldest new mother. As no pregnancy is ever risk-free, the twins were safely delivered by c-section, and to the doctors’ surprise, the pregnancy term was smooth with no complications whatsoever. Nevertheless, pregnancy poses a real risk to older women as serious complications such as blood pressure and diabetes are some of the many life-threatening conditions that can arise during pregnancy.
Sadly, the dread of old age became a reality for the couple when Yerramati lost her 82-year-old husband a year after the twins were born. The loss made her the oldest single mother in the world. Yet, reflecting on her loss, Yerramatti showed optimism when she said,
“It makes me very emotional when I think of him gone. He only had 12 months with his girls, but at least he tasted the joy of fatherhood before he died.”
While neighbors will no longer call Yerramati the “childless lady,” her advanced old age means that her challenges as a single mother in India are frightening. However, having endured decades of being childless, getting pregnant at 74, and then becoming a widow shows that Yerramati's strong will endures despite the challenges she faces every day.