She was utterly determined to have a son. The fact that to do so would make 70-year-old Omkari Panwar the world’s oldest mother didn’t even cross her mind. Her resolve was matched by her husband Charan Singh Panwar, 77.
Grandmother Omkari Panwar has given birth to twins at the age of 70
Proud parents: Omkari Panwar, 70, with her husband Charan, 77
Omraki Panwar recovers in hospital after delivering her twin via Caesarean section
The world’s oldest mum, who gave birth to twins at 70 after IVF, proudly showed off her son, then admitted:
Now I’ve got another daughter to feed too. Omkari Panwar, and her husband Charan Singh Panwar, 77, underwent IVF all for the sake of producing a male heir to take over the family’s smallholdings. The elderly Indian couple, who already have two daughters in their thirties, and five grandchildren, are near destitute after mortgaging their land, selling their buffalo and taking out a loan for the £4,400 fertility treatment.
Omkari and her twins (a boy with white hat and a girl) on the day after they were discharged from hospital, Now the pensioner parents will rely on family handouts and the charity of fellow villagers to bring up the little boy they so wanted, and the little girl they didn’t.
But the Panwars, who live in a tiny community in Uttar Pradesh, North India, were delighted to finally see and hold their two babies, now weighing a healthy 4lbs, six weeks after they were born on June 27. ‘We have not been able to see or hold them all this time,” said frail Omkari.
“They had to stay in the hospital because they were so small.’We could not afford to stay there, so we had to leave them.’ And she added: ‘We paid all this money to the doctors for a son, but now we have the extra burden of another daughter as well.’
Boys are cherished in India because daughters are not allowed to inherit property but leave to marry and become part of their new husband’s family. The twins were born at 34 weeks by emergency caesarian section at a hospital in the nearest town of Muzaffarnagar. They weighed just 2lbs each and had to be rushed to the Jaswant Roy Speciality Hospital which has a neonatal intensive care unit.
The twins were born at 34 weeks by caesarian section and weighed just 2lb eachOmkari, who saw her babies just once, a week after their birth, said: ‘I could only just touch them lightly with my fingers. ‘They were so tiny, they would have fit into the palm of my hand.’ The Panwars had to scrape together a further £500 to pay for part of their children’s medical care and are now almost penniless.
Their little boy is now likely to take over a tiny piece of land with a large mortgage still to pay on it.But Charan insists the cost was worthwhile, after he became a laughing stock in his village because he had no son to carry on the family name. ‘I’ve finally got what I wanted and I can die a happy man now,’ said Charan.
‘My wife will look after the babies when I am gone, and after she dies my other daughters will care for them. ‘It will be an honour for them to raise their new brother. ‘Now my daughters will have a family home to return to on religious days and special occasions.’
It is tradition for sons to remain in the parental home with their wives. On festival days the daughters of the family come to visit with their own husbands and children. Villagers welcomed the jubilant pair back to the village, which lies 20km from Muzaffarnagar, with numerous gifts for the new babies. The twins will be named at a special Hindu ceremony next week when the whole community will celebrate their arrival into the world.
‘It is customary to name the babies after two weeks,” said Omkari, who does not have a birth certificate, but insists she is 70-years-old. ‘We have not seen the babies all this time, so we haven’t been able to hold the naming ceremony. ‘Now, we can arrange one, but cannot reveal their names until that day.’ Omkari suffered a personal heartbreak more than 40 years ago as a much younger woman, when she miscarried a baby boy.
‘For more than 40 years I have thought God did not think I was fit to produce a boy,’ she said. ‘But fate works in funny ways. It must have been meant to be that I waited all this time.’ The couple do not even understand the fertility procedures carried out to allow Omkari to give birth so long after going through the menopause.
It is likely donor eggs were used to allow her to carry a child, but the Panwars simply do not know what happened when they went to a fertility clinic in Meerut last year. Omkari, who remembers being nine when India gained independence in 1947, said: ‘We saw a doctor at the Baby Shastri Nursing Home and I was given treatment. ‘Later we were told I was carrying twins, a boy and a girl.’ Screening embryos to discover the sex of the baby is illegal in India, following the outlawing of female foeticide – the aborting of girls – more than 10 years ago.
The couple do not even know such medical techniques exist and they do not think anything was specifically done to ensure they would have a boy. ‘We just count ourselves blessed that we have a boy. We prayed for it to happen,’ said Charan. ‘We don’t know how. We’re just glad the doctor was right, and we do have a son.’
The world’s previous oldest mothers were Romanian Adriana Iliescu, who gave birth to a daughter, aged 66 and 320 days in May 2005, and Spanish woman Carmela Bousada, who was 66 and 358 days old when her twins were born in December 2006.
Omkari does not care that she has broken the world record and said: ‘If I am the world’s oldest mother it means nothing to me.’I just want to be with my new babies and care for them while I am still able.’