What it's like to become a mother at age 70

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Becoming a Mother at 70 in India

Transcript of a video report by BBC's Divya Arya

In 2008, 70-year-old Rajo Devi from India claimed to have given birth to a baby girl after a course of successful IVF treatments. Her husband, Bala Ram, was reportedly 72 at the time. Devi is often referred to as the 'world's oldest mom.'

Now, Devi is 75. She opened up to the BBC about what it's like to be a first-time mother so late in life.

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ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Rajo Devi Lohan, 72, the world's oldest mother and her 18-month-old daughter Naveen at their home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
Mother Rajo Devi, 70, holding her daughter poses with her husband Bala Ram, 72, right, at the National Fertility Center in Hisar, India, Monday, Dec. 8, 2008. Rajo Devi who claims to be about 70 years old has given birth to her first child, her doctor said Tuesday. The baby girl, conceived through in vitro fertilization treatment, was born on Nov. 28 and was in good condition, the doctor said. (AP Photo/Devendra Uppal)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. World's oldest mother, Rajo Devi Lohan, 72 takes rest at her home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Rajo Devi Lohan, 72, the world's oldest mother and her 18-month-old daughter Naveen at their home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Naveen, 18-month-old daughter of world's oldest mother Rajo Devi Lohan, 72 and her nephew Parveen, 11 play with a toy car at their home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Rajo Devi Lohan, 72, the world's oldest mother and her 18-month-old daughter Naveen at their home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Naveen, 18-month-old daughter of world's oldest mother Rajo Devi, 72, is given Indian chai (tea) by Omi Lohan 60, (second wife to Naveen's father) at their home in Alewa village, near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Naveen, 18-month-old daughter of world's oldest mother Rajo Devi Lohan, 72, and her nephew Parveen Lohan, 11, at their home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Naveen the 18-month-old daughter of Rajo Devi Lohan, 72, the world's oldest mother with her father Balla Ram Lohan, 73, (Left) ) and (L-R) her nephews Seenu, 8, and Sahil, 9, on a charpoy at their home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Balla Ram Lohan, 73, husband of the world's oldest mother Rajo Devi, 72, at his home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. World's oldest mother, Rajo Devi Lohan, 72 takes rest at her home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - DECEMBER 17: EXCLUSIVE The World's oldest mother Rajo Devi Lohan (70) with father Ram Devi Lohan (72) and daughter Naveen at their home on December 17, 2008, in Badhu Patti village, Alewa, Hisar, Haryana, India. Rajo and her husband Bala Ram, 72, have been trying for a child ever since they married when she was 15. The couple prayed to Hindu fertilty gods at local temples and sought help from various doctors for 40 years without success. Bala, a farmer, also took Rajo's sister Om Pati, 60, as a second wife, but she too was unable to bear him a child. Last year when they read a news story about the Hisar National Fertility Clinic which had allowed a 60-year-old woman to have twins. The couple took out loans and mortgaged their crops to pay for £2,000 fertility treatment and Rajo fell pregnant on the second attempt at IVF after a donor egg fertilised with Bala's sperm was implanted into her womb. She gave birth by caesarian section on the 28th of November 2008 to a girl Naveen Lohan, who weighed 3lb 4oz. Now the extended family, which includes numerous nieces and nephews, are celebrating the birth and will help bring the girl up. (Photo by Barcroft India / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - DECEMBER 17: EXCLUSIVE The World's oldest mother Rajo Devi Lohan (70) with father Ram Devi Lohan (72) and daughter Naveen at their home on December 17, 2008, in Badhu Patti village, Alewa, Hisar, Haryana, India. Rajo and her husband Bala Ram, 72, have been trying for a child ever since they married when she was 15. The couple prayed to Hindu fertilty gods at local temples and sought help from various doctors for 40 years without success. Bala, a farmer, also took Rajo's sister Om Pati, 60, as a second wife, but she too was unable to bear him a child. Last year when they read a news story about the Hisar National Fertility Clinic which had allowed a 60-year-old woman to have twins. The couple took out loans and mortgaged their crops to pay for £2,000 fertility treatment and Rajo fell pregnant on the second attempt at IVF after a donor egg fertilised with Bala's sperm was implanted into her womb. She gave birth by caesarian section on the 28th of November 2008 to a girl Naveen Lohan, who weighed 3lb 4oz. Now the extended family, which includes numerous nieces and nephews, are celebrating the birth and will help bring the girl up. (Photo by Barcroft India / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. General views of Alewa village, near Asandh which is home to world's oldest mother Rajo Devi on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. World's oldest mother Rajo Devi Lohan, 72, takes rest on a charpoy at her home in Alewa village, near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Naveen, 18-month-old daughter of world's oldest mother Rajo Devi Lohan, 72, plays with a toy car at her home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Naveen, the 18-month-old daughter of Rajo Devi, 72, the world's oldest mother with her father Balla Ram Lohan, 73 at her home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
ALEWA, INDIA - MAY 26: EXCLUSIVE. Naveen, the 18-month-old daughter of Rajo Devi, 72, the world's oldest mother with her father Balla Ram Lohan, 73 at her home in Alewa village near Asandh on May 26, 2010 in Haryana, India. The world's oldest mum Rajo Devi Lohan is seriously ill after suffering complications following childbirth. The 72-year-old from Badhu Patti, Haryana, India, gave birth to daughter Naveen in November 2008 by caesarian section after undergoing fertility treatment at the Hisar National Fertility Clinic at the age of 70. She is now bed ridden and is not expected to live more than five years due to the severe strain on her body caused by the pregnancy and the operation. Rajo recently underwent surgery to remove an ovarian tumour and has been on medication since the birth. Rajo's husband Balla Ram, 73, has now married her sister Omi, to help care for her and Naveen. (Photo by Simon de Trey-White / Barcroft India / Getty Images)
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Like many children, her 5-year-old daughter always wants her mom's attention. But at 75, Devi can't run around after her long-awaited daughter.

She said that living without a child was 'life in darkness. Only a child could bring light.' She was shunned by her family for not being able to get pregnant, and she says that villagers didn't want to see her face because she was infertile.

Her husband's brothers also looked down on her and said hurtful things. So, when Devi and Ram were 70 and 73 (note that while the BBC reports that Ram was 73, The Daily Mail reports that he was 72) they took their life savings of about $5,000 to a private fertility clinic, and Naveen was born.

The only time Devi admits that this is not really what she wanted at her old age is when the camera was turned off. She says, "after all, it is a man's world. Women here have no choices."

The couple went to one of nearly 2,000 unregulated clinics in India that provide IVF to older women.

Dr. Anurag Bishnoi at the National Fertility Centre said that he will, on occasion, turn people away. "We exclude hypertension, we exclude Diabetes, any sort of long illness. If the female is physically fit, then only we take that patient."

Doctors agree that some risks of IVF for older women are minimized if they use eggs donated by younger women, but there's increasing concern about the health of the mother and the right of the child to good parenting.

Now, India's national regulatory body is working on a law that will coer all aspects of assisted reproductive treatments, including, for the first time, an upper age limit.

"The health of the infertile couple, infertile woman, is also at risk," Dr. R S Sharma of the Indian Council of Medical Research explains.

Though Naveen dreams of becoming a doctor, her parents are already years older than the average life expectancy in India. They almost certainly won't live to see her daughter achieve her goals.

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