The “world’s oldest mother” made headlines after giving birth to twins at the age of 73 in 2019.
But now Yerramatti Mangayamma faces the rest of her days as a single mother after husband Raja, 84, died of a heart attack, leaving behind his wife and two 12-month-old daughters Rama Tulasi and Uma Tulasi.
“It makes me very emotional when I think about him being gone,” said 75-year-old Yerrametti from Andhra Pradesh, South India.
“He only had 12 months with his girls, but at least he tasted the joy of fatherhood before he died.”
In the early years of their marriage, Yerramatti and Raja tried everything they could think of, consulted a number of specialists, and experimented with various drugs, but nothing worked.
Then their fight ended heartbreakingly when Yerramatti entered early menopause at age 40.
“It was a terrible time,” said Yerramatti, who married farmer Raja in 1962 in an arranged marriage.
“It felt like a door was closing. We thought about adoption, but in the end we didn’t make it.”
In addition to her pain, Yerramatti shared how neighbors called her “the childless woman” and how she often caught relatives clapping behind her back.
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The feeling of grief and loss never left her. Then, in the summer of 2018, when Yerramatti was 72 years old, she heard that a woman in her thirties in her village had given birth after IVF.
“I had never heard of it and was dying to find out more,” she said. “Knowing how much I wanted a child, she passed on the details of the clinic. I knew IVF would be difficult, but I wanted to try.”
Yerramatti contacted Dr. Umashankar Sanakkayala from the Ahalya Nursing Home in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, South India. And in November 2018 they met for the first time.
She continued, “The doctor did some tests to check my health and when they came back positive he agreed to help me. I cried with joy.
“My pregnancy journey up to this point has been so negative, but receiving even the slightest positive attitude has been overwhelming.”
Yerramatti and Raja paid Indian rupees 65,000 (£ 660) from their savings for their first course of treatment. And since Yerramatti did not produce eggs, a donor was used and fertilized with Raja’s sperm.
Then, in January 2019, they got the news that they would never come – Dr. Umashankar Sanakkayala confirmed that Yerramatti had fathered, and after three months she found that she had twins.
Rama Tulasi and Uma Tulasi were born on September 5, 2019 in the Ahalya Nursing Home by caesarean section and each weighed just under 2 kg.
Yerramatti said, “It was wonderful to hold her for the first time. We were held in the hospital for a few weeks so the doctors could make sure the three of us were healthy, but luckily we were allowed to go home.
“It was difficult at first. The doctor told me not to breastfeed as it would put pressure on my body, so I used milk banks. The sleepless nights were relentless, but I found meditation helpful.”
Dr. Umashankar Sanakkayala, 46, from the Ahalya Nursing Home, has made it his life’s mission to provide those in need with access to IVF.
He said, “When I opened my clinic, I wanted to make IVF affordable for everyone, not just the rich. I wanted to help everyone have a family because family is everything in India. And when people can’t afford it , then we will arrange financial aid. “
However, at first he had no idea how old Yerramatti was before treating her.
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“I actually thought Yerramatti was in his fifties because many of the older generation in India don’t have birth certificates,” said Dr. Umashankar Sanakkayala.
“I only found out she was 73 when she was eight months pregnant and I was totally shocked. But she was very healthy.
“I only help women who have passed their medical tests, and she did. Fortunately, she had a direct pregnancy and the birth was a magical moment. It was a very special day for us when the twins were born. “
Sadly, Raja’s longed-for taste in fatherhood was short-lived, and he died last October at the age of 84.
Now forced to ponder her own death, Yerramatti has appointed a family member to take care of the girls when their time comes.
But right now, her overwhelming love for the children she thought she would never have is helping her overcome her grief.
She said, “It’s hard without him, but my family and friends are close and I have savings to help me out.
“I’m determined to be here to watch my girls grow up, but I have chosen a family friend to raise them if something happens to me.
“I’m just so excited that after all these years of being heartbroken without children, I had to become a mother.”
What do you think of Yerramatti Mangayamma’s journey into parenthood? Share your thoughts in the comments below …