I Chose To Have My Twins At 50

"Why would you want to do that?" It's not the usual response you get when you tell people you're pregnant. But Diana Williams paid out thousands of pounds to get pregnant, despite being 50 and on her own.

"In the main, friends were supportive, but some were surprised," admits Diana, especially when she told them she was having twins, who are now nine months old.

But whilst people often assume it's emotionally harder to be both single and older, Diana believes the opposite is true in her case. "For instance, with couples opting for an egg or sperm donor, I've noticed that it can sometimes upset the person whose genes would not form part of their baby. I have also seen how difficult some of the decisions around fertility can be among couples, whereas I only had myself to think about," she explains.

As for Diana's age, she says she has good genes. "Anyway, I am lucky that I don't look my age, so I don't tend to get raised eyebrows and can't imagine anyone saying anything to the boys about it."

Diana adds that she has lots of energy. "So I'm not worried about running around after a couple of toddlers and I'm young in my outlook too, so I am hoping I relate to them throughout their childhood, including when they are teenagers."

It's not that bringing up two babies on her own is a breeze, admits Diana. "They're both on the move in a big way and are into everything. It can also be challenging to make sure I share my time between both boys. If one is more demanding than the other, for instance, I don't want to give that one all my attention because the quieter one still needs me. It's not as if twins develop at the same rate either, so whilst one is into trying to walk at the moment, the other is into teething."

With no family around – they live in Birmingham, whilst Diana has settled in London – it's not as if she has relatives on hand to help. "But I do have supportive friends, particularly those in my church community. And I find people are really helpful around town too. For instance, the bus drivers know me and always look out for me and even strangers in shops and cafes always seem to be so friendly. Just the other day, I was trying to get one boy in a highchair while his twin was getting niggly and someone came over to help."

It would be easy to assume that having a baby was all Diana ever dreamed about. "But the truth is, I didn't think much about it in my 20s and 30s. I had a good job in the civil service and was just getting on with life."

Deep down, she thinks she probably assumed she'd get married and have kids, but it was by no means a burning issue and as it happened, Diana never met Mr Right. "I had a couple of long-term relationships, but even those didn't involve living with anyone for years on end and neither of them were men I ended up wanting kids with."

It was in her 40s that everything changed. "I took a career break to do voluntary service overseas and I don't know why, but seeing the mothers out in Africa carrying their babies around on their backs all day did something to me, bringing out a strong maternal instinct."

Diana ruled out adoption because she wanted the birth experience. "So I visited a London fertility clinic at the age of 44."

There, Diana was told that her eggs weren't viable. "I wasn't surprised, but I wasn't that disappointed either because I knew I could go down the route of donor eggs. Because I was on my own, I also needed to think about the sperm donor route. There was a third challenge too. Because I'm of Caribbean origin, it wasn't easy matching the egg and sperm donors to my own ethnicity. I was warned by the clinic that, due to the limited number of ethnic donors in the UK, it might be a long wait."

Two years later, in 2010, she was indeed still waiting. But then she heard about IVI, an international fertility clinic in Spain. "When I discovered they had a large bank of eggs and sperm from a wide range of donors across many ethnicities, I travelled to their Madrid clinic for treatment," says Diana, explaining that it also appealed to her that, unlike in the UK, egg and sperm donors in Spain remain anonymous.

Diana's first visit involved being given hormones to thicken her womb in preparation for the first attempt at the transfer of embryos. "I then had the two-week wait before a pregnancy test," she explains. "There was a mixture of great excitement and anticipation the first time round, but the second time I was more relaxed, albeit disappointed when the result was still negative."

It was then that Diana decided to give her body a break from all the hormones and became a volunteer for the 2012 Olympics. "The following year, I decided to have one last go with a different donor. I'd always said I'd stop trying at 50 and only had one year left."

When, after the second of her final two attempts, Diana discovered she was pregnant, she tried not to get too excited. "It was early days, at just six weeks, but by 13 weeks, I'd found out it was twins and that's when my delight really kicked in. That's when I told people too. I hadn't wanted to bore them with all my attempts before that."

The pregnancy wasn't the easiest due to high blood pressure, but Diana loved her time of carrying the twins nonetheless and at 36 weeks, her mum accompanied her to have a C-section. "It was like a party in the ward. Everyone was so happy and although the boys only weighted 4.7lb and 4.2lb, they had such great medical care and were right as rain in no time."

Diana says she'll always be open with her sons about her journey to pregnancy. "I made a little book called 'Our Story', which tells them all about it, and I already read it to them."