If anything will help one of India’s oldest mothers, Daljinder Kaur Gill, aged around 70 (she is not sure of her age), to raise her baby boy, it won’t be energy drinks, age-delaying pills, yoga or a nanny but her faith in God. She invokes him every few sentences, perhaps with reason.
“How could I have become pregnant, at my age, if God hadn’t destined this for me?’ she asks, speaking to Fairfax Media from her home in Amritsar, northern India.
Despite having failed to conceive during 46 years of marriage, Mrs Gill, a devout Sikh, says she never gave up hope. “My grandmother told me something I always remembered. She said ‘as long as you have breath in your body, keep trying to fulfil your dreams’.”
In a society that places great value on marriage and children, they were an unusual couple. Many an Indian woman is abandoned by her husband if their union remains “issueless”.
But her husband, 79-year-old Mohinder Singh Gill, has been committed to her and never once blamed her. He says that no one ever made them the butt of jokes or snide remarks. “How could they? Everyone knows that all couples want a child, so how could they say anything mean about us?” he says.
Adoption was dismissed by both of them out of fear of how a child of different genetic material might turn out. Eventually, they opted for IVF treatment at a clinic in the state of Haryana in 2007.
Mrs Gill says that Dr Anurag Bishnoi, owner of the National Fertility and Test Tube Baby Centre, tried repeatedly to dissuade her, saying her body was too old and that the stress would be too great, but she insisted.
Two attempts using her egg and her husband’s sperm had previously failed. Even then, they kept hoping. “We said that we must keep trying as God would not want us to give up on him. Everything is in his hands,” says Mrs Gill.
On April 19, she gave birth, through caesarean section, to a healthy boy who has been named Arman, meaning wish or desire. Some doctors say the impact of a pregnancy on a 70-year-old body is far too onerous but Mrs Gill says that hers was smooth and carefree.
On the line from her home, she struggles to be heard against the background noise of festivity. Although it has been almost a month, relatives, friends, and neighbours keep invading their living room to celebrate their good fortune and the media attention.
The case is not the first in India. A 72-year-old Indian woman gave birth in 2008, through IVF at the same clinic.
The Gills are undaunted at the prospect of raising a child at their advanced age, saying that “happiness gives you strength”.
Mr Gill says that he helps look after Arman, getting up at night, giving him his feed and rocking him to sleep. But as they get even older? Do they expect to be around to see him in his teens? They say they will take it day by day and are not worrying about the future.
When they go to drop off their son at school, will they be embarrassed, with their grey hair and slight stoop, at being mistaken for his grandparents? “All I know is that he will go to school. I haven’t thought about anything else. I know that God will take care of everything,” Mr Gill says.
Nor are they worried about who will look after Arman after their death. They will not nominate any relative as guardian.
“God has a plan for everything. Who would have thought I could have a baby at my age? It happened because God willed it. If we die, God will have a plan for taking care of our son,” Mrs Gill says.
The only cloud in her sunny blue sky is the fact that her mother did not live to see her attain motherhood. She knew of the pregnancy and was very happy for Mrs Gill, but died a month before Arman’s birth.
“If she had lived to see him, my happiness would have been complete,” she adds.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald