They say 50 is the new 40, so perhaps it is no wonder that more and more women give birth at an age that they once cared for grandchildren.
It was not until last month that Tracey Britten was in the news by becoming the oldest woman in Britain to give birth to quadruplets. When she was 50, she was the same age as singer Janet Jackson was when she had her first child last year.
Some wonder why women such as Tracey – who is already a mother of three grown children and grandmother to eight – choose to return to diapers and night food at a time when those of a similar age will enjoy the freedom that an empty is nest and brings threatening retirement.
One person who can answer that question is the highly skilled divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag, who gave birth to her fourth child only six weeks ago – at the age of 50 – and controversially says it is actually the best time of life for a baby to get.
Divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag (pictured), 50, brought her fourth child into the world only six weeks ago
Superficially Ayesha seemed to have everything for the birth of her youngest son. For the past 15 years she has her own successful law firm, Vardags, specialized in high-profile litigation.
Every year she oversees about 500 divorce cases, with royalty's, celebrities and billionaires among her clients.
She juggles her career with an equally busy family life, with houses in London, Hampshire, Italy and Dubai.
Four years ago she married her second husband, the 46-year-old Stephen, an astrophysic who became an entrepreneur.
Among them they already had five children from previous relationships, but they did not feel that their offspring was complete. Hence the arrival of their son Orfeo.
Ayesha and Tracey are not alone. The number of women over the age of 50 in the UK has more than quadrupled in the past two decades, from 55 in 2001 to 238 in 2016.
There are significant health risks associated with pregnancy in later life – including miscarriages and birth defects – and even the most optimistic young mother knows she is in a really exhausted time.
So why on earth did Ayesha decide to turn her life upside down again, while most of us would rather enjoy some well-deserved relaxation?
Happy family: Ayesha and astrophysicist made entrepreneur Stephan the baby with baby Orfeo
Her answer will shock mothers everywhere. Here, in a challenging manifesto for the (very much) older mother, Ayesha defends her decision to have another child and reveals why she believes that motherhood is easier than ever at her age.
Her secret? An army of helpers including her mother, a full-time assistant, a nanny in Dubai and two housekeepers in the United Kingdom. And of course her fortune of several million pounds also helps.
Role model or just potty? Decide for yourself …
Ayesha & # 39; s story …
So why another baby at my age? Why not?! If I were a man, no one would doubt my decision. Certainly, my husband Stephen is never asked about it and I can not understand why this sexist prejudice still exists.
Of course it is easier for men to reproduce far into the middle and later life – my own grandfather had his last child at 70. But because I could become pregnant, my body was obviously very willing and able to to carry another baby. .
For this pregnancy I had arrived at the point in life that so many mothers will recognize – my children were all preparing to leave the nest.
My oldest Jasper, 23, recently graduated from Cambridge and now starts his own career, and my second son, Felix, 21, is in his final year at University College London.
Meanwhile, my 14-year-old daughter Helena becomes more independent and Stephen's two children divide their time between us and their mother.
Before this pregnancy I had arrived at the point in life that so many mothers will recognize – my children were all preparing to leave the nest, writes Vardag
Orfeo is the most extraordinary blessing for all of us.
To the no-sayers I say this: being a mother at 50 is considerably easier than when I was younger.
When I got my first son, I was 27 and I was in the middle of completing my legal education at a city office.
Run by men, with rules drawn by men, there was enormous pressure on me to perform. Within weeks of my birth I was working at my desk again on 12-hour days while my son was at a babysitter or at a daycare.
Come in the evening and at the weekend, my first husband and I were exhausted and wanted a moment together, but could not afford childcare yet.
When my second son was born two years later, there was still no delay and I am sure that this was a factor in our later divorce when the boys were small.
By the time I had Helena, I was 36 and although I was plotting Vardags by then and calling the photos, it was incredibly fraught.
When she was a baby, I worked up to 20 hours a day, including networking in the evenings to drum up customers. I smoked and drank far too much, never had time to exercise and I gained a lot of weight.
There was a constant conflict between having to work as a beast to build the business to support my family and to miss my children terribly.
Forward 14 years and motherhood the fourth time is infinitely more relaxed. There are many reasons why.
To begin with, Vardags is firmly established. Our reputation as a leading process agent means that customers come to us and I no longer have to hunt them.
If I were a man, no one would doubt my decision … Baby's are so happy I would have a dozen if I could
I do not smoke or drink anymore, and with more free time I run, swim or ride my horses every morning. I am healthier than ever in my 30 or 40 years and I have a lot more energy.
In addition, Stephen and I have been working at work for so many years, now more money and can afford to pay extra help.
I am very fortunate to have a full-time assistant who travels with me when needed, a housekeeper in Dubai who also functions as a nanny for Orfeo while I work or call, and a couple who takes care of our farm in Hampshire and helps with childcare when we are there.
But because I manage my own diary, I can always be with him if I want to.
If babysitters are always on hand, it means that Stephen and I want to go out in the evening or at the weekend. Although it may sound complacent, making time to be a few is essential for the happiness of a marriage.
Through my work as a divorce lawyer, I constantly see couples floating away from each other after having children. In fact, it was one of the reasons why Stephen was reluctant to have a baby for the first few years of our relationship, worried that this would be detrimental to the beautiful life we had created together.
But by the time we married in 2014, four years after our meeting at our local pub in Winchester, our respective brothers became more and more integrated and he agreed that having a baby would be great.
Ayesha Vardag juggling her career with an equally busy family life, which includes homes in London, Hampshire, Italy and Dubai (pictured in her office at 10 Old Bailey, London)
Of course nature dictates that the fertility of a woman in particular decreases with age, so it took much longer than we had planned. But after years of trying, I finally got the positive result of the pregnancy test earlier this year. Because I had already given up hope then, I was so stunned that my first words were not printable!
Stephen and I were enthusiastic, although there were inevitably moments of legitimate concerns, including his old fears that I might become obsessively stupid and never want to go out alone with him.
So one week after my planned caesarean section, I went back to work, but this time happy in knowing that I have more strength in the workplace and the luxury of flexibility and paid help. It all means that I can stay close to my baby and spend the whole day with him on a regular basis while I am still running my business.
To reassure Stephen that he will not lose me in a pile of baby giants and diapers, we went out to eat and drink when Orfeo was ten days old, and he admitted that he felt relieved and happy.
Orfeo is the sweetest little boy who has brought immense joy to our family. Although I am a career woman, I have always loved motherhood and the feeling that I have so much to give as a mother, now as much as ever.
Ayesha Vardag: Because I could become pregnant, my body was obviously very willing and able to carry another baby
I am not stupid enough to ignore my age. But my concern is not that I am too old to raise another child – what nonsense! – it is that I have to stay as healthy and energetic as possible for Orfeo and all our children.
Nobody seems to beat an eyelid when Orfeo and I are out and about together. Many strangers stop to ask if it is my first baby and I am astonished when I show that he is my fourth, which I would like to say I look younger than my age.
My own mother is 74 and still rides on horses and drags hay bales around stables.
She runs the school often with Helena and can very well manage a child herself, so I do not worry how I will save it when I reach the 60s and beyond.
The hardest thing for me is to wake up several times every evening when Orfeo wants a diet. But that was the same in my 20s and 30s, it has nothing to do with my age. The beauty is that as children grow up they become more fun and interesting, they take their friends and your house is full of laughter, messing around and chatter.
I look forward to having it all again at Orfeo.
Growing up as an only child, raised by my mother and grandmother, I had a fairly solitary existence until I was 18 and went to stay with some of my father's relatives who had seven children.
We played laps together, went camping and walked away to buy ice creams.
I had never experienced such company before and dreamed of someday having a big, bubbly, noisy, loving family someday. At that moment I decided that I wanted at least six children.
When I count my stepchildren, I have reached that number now that Orfeo is here. Yet babies are so happy and make me so happy that I would have a dozen if I could. Although I think my chances of having a baby in the future are small, let's say the door is open and I certainly do not try to prevent it from happening.