I became a first-time mum to twins at 52 – critics say I'm selfish & mistake me for their gran but I have no regrets | The Sun

PLAYING in the park with excitable three-year-old twins Noah and Jasper, to many nearby mums Amanda Foo-Ryland looks just like their doting grandma.

However they couldn't be more wrong, as the 55-year-old isn't the twin boys' nan – she's their mum.

After becoming a first-time parent at 52, it's a presumption Amanda is so used to, her wife Sarah even bought her a jokey T-shirt, saying 'Yes they are all mine'.

And while Amanda laughs it off and believes age is just a number, she admits she has received negative comments as a result of becoming a mum in later life, with some even implying it's 'selfish'.

However becoming a mum later is a growing trend, with the ONS report on births for 2021 showing the average age of mothers in England and Wales is now 30.9 years – the oldest on record.

Additionally, births in women over the age of 40 are now double those of teenagers. 


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Amanda – who is originally from Halifax, West Yorkshire, and now lives in Portugal with her wife Sarah, now 42, and their two boys – says: “I’m 56 this year and they’re nearly four.

“People have said it’s a bit unfair because by the time they’re 20 I’m going to be 72, but I don’t see what their point is.

"When people say stuff like that I do challenge them as what they’re effectively saying is we’ve gone into this selfishly and we haven’t – we gave it all an enormous amount of consideration.

"I have a 70 year old friend still running marathons and I have another friend who died in their fifties – age is just a number and I don't worry about not being around when the boys grow up.

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"I think when you lose somebody suddenly you begin to realise that you can’t control anything.

"So while it’s my intention to live well into my 90s if not 100 in a healthy way, we never know what’s around the corner.

"What I need to do is ensure that I’m being the best I can be when I’m around my boys and keep myself strong and healthy as I possibly can."

Speaking to Fabulous for We've Been Shamed, our exclusive new series, she adds: “People also assume I’m their grandmother. They aren’t being unkind, they just see I’m very connected to the boys, and know I’m someone close, so they just assume. 

"I don’t feel I’m not strong enough or young enough to keep up at all – we just have to go to bed very early sometimes!”

Finding love

Qualified hypnotherapist and trainer Amanda met Sarah through work in 2011, and Sarah initially became good friends with Amanda’s now-late husband, Keith, who she met in 1997 and wed in 2000.

Amanda says: “We were all great friends, and then Sarah moved away to be closer to family. We were sad to see her go but we stayed in touch.

"Then Keith was devastatingly diagnosed with stomach cancer and sadly passed away just six months later, in 2014.

“He was 23 years my senior and died when he was 70, but it was still a shock.

"I was so angry, and it seemed so unfair. We’d had a long and happy life together, which I felt so lucky to have had. 

“Before he died, he asked to Sarah to please be there for me and she was such a support."

'We kissed and realised we felt the same'

Despite never having a relationship with a woman before, six months after Keith’s death Amanda realised she was falling in love with Sarah. 

Amanda – author and founder of coaching business Your Life Live It – says: “It sounds soon, but actually I’d already started grieving before Keith had died as we knew he didn't have long left. 

“I told Sarah how I felt and we kissed and realised we both felt the same.

“It was instant, and like a Hollywood movie, we said we loved each other, and wanted to get married and have children. 

“The next day she flew to Australia, and two weeks later I flew out to meet her and we moved in together and began telling people."

The pair wed a year later in 2016 in front of 65 guests in an extravagant three day vineyard ceremony in Portugal. 

'I'd always wanted to be a mum'

They both knew they wanted children, and after a period of travelling together, they began the IVF process in 2017.

The process involved using Sarah's egg and an anonymous sperm donor whose DNA reflected Amanda's physical and personality traits.

For Amanda, becoming a mum had been a lifelong dream, but for a long time she didn't think it would ever be realised.

She says: “Growing up I’d always wanted to be a mum, and I had tried for children with Keith previously but it just never really happened for us. 

“Keith was older and had three children in a previous marriage so he’d already travelled that road.

"We did discuss IVF and he was supportive of the idea but I realised it was a bit unfair.

"I made the decision not to have IVF and respect the fact I wasn’t going to experience that in my life. 

"When I made that decision I went and volunteered in an orphanage for a month and decided if I couldn’t have my own I’d support other children instead with the idea."

'Most were becoming grandparents at my age'

In October 2018, they were delighted to find out they were expecting.

Amanda says: “When we found out we were pregnant we were overjoyed, although some people were shocked that I would be 52 by the time they were born.

"Most people were becoming grandparents at my age – and at that point we had no idea we were having twins, let alone two boys!"

While family, friends and medical staff were always very supportive, Amanda did experience negative comments from acquaintances.

She says: “I’ve experienced my fair share of criticism. 

“Family were all very supportive, but comments came more from acquaintances, who would say ‘Oh my god I can’t believe you’re having kids at your age, it’s a young person’s game.

"People also said we’d struggle to keep up and would be exhausted, which was true, we were!

"But I think any new parent finds that regardless of age.

"No one’s ever prepared for that – and we had two!"

“People said I was too old, and I would find it really hard – but I have energy and run marathons so I knew I could do it."

'Becoming a mum was a shock'

In May 2019, the twins were born naturally after a nine-hour labour, weighing 6lb 4oz and 6lb. 

Amanda says: “Like any new parent, when they arrived it was a shock for both of us!

"For the first eight weeks having two of them and the sleep deprivation was a shock.

"We were feeding every two hours and there was two of them so it was very full on until we got into a routine."

'It must be lovely for you nana'

Within weeks however people began to make assumptions based on Amanda's age.

She says: “We took the boys for a walk in the park when they were babies and people always stop when you have twins as they’re a novelty. 

“We were just chatting to a couple of other mums who were in their thirties. 

“They turned to me and said ‘It must be lovely for you Nana’. 

“I corrected them, and Sarah felt dreadful.

"She actually had a T-shirt made for me because it happened so much, which said ‘Yes they’re both mine’ which made it into a joke. 

“I wasn’t upset, as I know people just make presumptions and need to just tread a little carefully and they’re just being a bit ignorant and a bit naive.

“Initially I was a bit p***ed off but they feel terrible when I correct them. 

"Now, I get in there early and tell people I’m their mum before they have a chance to make the mistake."

Just a number

The twins turn four in May, and neither have paid any attention to Amanda's age, and have benefitted from a loving family environment and are developing their own personalities.

Amanda says: “They’re very different. Noah’s blonde like me, while Jasper has dark hair like Sarah.

"Noah’s much quieter, and is happy to sit and read a book and daydream and loves marine animals, while Jasper is so chatty and emotionally very intelligent, sensitive and very loving.

“They might notice later that I’m older but they haven’t noticed yet – Jasper says I’m 12 if we ask how old I am!

"He doesn’t understand age yet.

"They’ve started to ask why they don’t have a daddy, and I’ve just said some have two daddies, while others have two mummies, so that’s how we address that. 

“As time goes on maybe they will ask, and realise I’m an older parent but I think that’s wonderful – I’ve got more time, wisdom and resources to give them the best possible life. 

“We know the values we want them to have, and know how to treat others well – and age has no impact on that.” 

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