Britain's oldest new mother Sue Tollefsen was struck by a life-threatening illness that made her realise she may not live to see her daughter grow up.
Sue, who had her daughter Freya when she was 57, said she now wishes that she had had children sooner.
Now aged 61, she revealed to Closer magazine that she was recently hospitalised after contracting a blood infection which left her unable to cope with her four year-old for several weeks – including over Christmas.
She said the experience has made her believe that the cut-off age for having children should be 50.
The retired teacher told the magazine: "It's so true that you learn from your mistakes, and my mistake was not having her sooner.
"I was so ill, I literally thought I was dying. I kept thinking about Freya – and for the first time, I realised I might not be there for her any more.
If I'm completely honest, my experience has taught me that 50 should probably be the cut-off limit for having children. But, until you have them, it's almost impossible to appreciate that.
Sue, who lives off her pension in a two-bedroom house in Harold's Wood, Essex, also told how her decision to become a mother in her late 50s has seen her facing a backlash from other parents.
Rex Sue and 13-month-old Freya with her ex partner
She caused controversy in 2008 when she had Freya, via IVF, using sperm from her partner and a donor egg.
Critics blasted Sue, saying she was too old to become a parent – but at the time she claimed she had no regrets, and even said she would love to have another baby.
Now she is feeling the strain of looking after her daughter, especially after splitting from her partner Nick Mayer, 49, a warehouse manager, last year.
She also revealed how she has been openly criticised by other parents, with one mother at Freya's crèche telling her that she was 'selfish' because Freya would be bullied.
"I was in tears, it made me feel very vulnerable," said Sue. "Once, I took Freya to see a health visitor and she thought Freya was my granddaughter. I was so embarrassed."
Sue revealed the strain of being an older parent to an energetic youngster.
At my age, I get exhausted easily – especially since I've been ill. I was 57 when I had Freya, but I felt very energetic and able to cope
"I thought I would feel fit and healthy for ever.
"I hope I live to see Freya go to university and get married and have a family of her own. That's my only wish now."
Sue became pregnant in June 2007 after three rounds of IVF. She and her partner had spent £15,000 on fertility treatment in Russia after they were turned away from British fertility clinics because of her age.
Russian doctors decided she was fit to bear a child using sperm from Nick, but that she would need to use a donor egg.
Freya was born in March 2008 by Caesarean section.The little girl stays with her father every other weekend, and he looked after her when her mother was ill.
The infection which made Sue ill last year is still in her blood and could damage her heart if it returns. It was at first misdiagnosed, and doctors said she would have died if she had left it longer to be treated.
If Sue should die, she has arranged for Freya to be looked after by her niece in Norway as her ex-partner works full-time.
In November Parentdish.co.uk reported
how Sue had said there should be no upper limit on mothers having babies. But recent experiences have certainly changed her opinion.
Earlier this week we reported on the sad news that Britain's oldest dad had died
at the age of 78 before his youngest child's first birthday.
Tell us what you think
- Marcia Cross
Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross was 44 when she gave birth to twin daughters Eden and Savannah three years ago. The actress and stockbroker husband Tom Mahoney are rumoured to have undergone <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/celebrity/famous-parents-who-struggled-to-conceive-ivf-adoption-fertility/" target="_blank">fertility treatment,</a> but haven't made an official statement on the subject.</p>
- Annette Bening
The American Beauty actress was 42 when she had her fourth baby, Ella Corrine. The story goes that Warren Beatty asked Annette, "Do you want to have kids with me?" on their first date. Her answer was yes - and they went on to have four children together.</p>
- Brooke Sheilds
The American actress had her first baby, Rowan Frances, at the age of 37. She went on to have another girl, Grier Hammond, with husband Chris Henchy at the age of 40. Brooke, who suffered from post natal depression after the birth of her first child, said the second pregnancy had been "a lot easier."</p>
- Celine Dion
The Canadian singer, 42, and husband Rene Angelil welcomed twin boys - Eddy and Nelson - to their family in October after undergoing several rounds of fertility treatment. The couple had their first child together, Rene-Charles, when Celine was 33.</p>
- Cherie Blair
The ex-Prime Minister's wife also had a baby later in life. <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/12/01/was-pregnant-cherie-blairs-phone-hacked/" target="_blank">Cherie</a> was 45 when she had her fourth child, Leo, back in 2000. She and Tony already had three teenage children at the time, Euan, 16, Nicky, 14, and Kathryn, 12.</p>
- Courteney Cox
Just like her Friends TV character Monica, Courteney struggled to conceive, suffering several miscarriages before having baby Coco at the age of 40. "I get pregnant pretty easily, but I have a hard time keeping them," she has said, adding that she and her ex, actor David Arquette conceived by IVF.</p>
- Dannii Minogue
The 38-year-old X Factor judge and model-turned-fashion designer gave birth to her first baby in Melbourne last summer. <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/11/22/dannii-minogue-takes-bonny-baby-ethan-out-for-a-stroll/" target="_blank">Ethan Edward </a>is the first child for Dannii and her boyfriend Kris Smith, a former England rugby league player.</p>
- Geena Davis
The Thelma and Louise star was 47 years old when she gave birth to twin boys - Kian William and Kaiis Steven – back in May 2004. The Oscar-winning actress started late in life – she was 45 when she had her first child, daughter Alizeh Keshvar, with surgeon husband, Reza Jarrahy.</p>
- Halle Berry
Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry became a mother at the age of 42, giving birth to a daughter, Nahla. On becoming a mother, Berry said: "When I looked at the stick and saw I was pregnant ... I was so happy. I thought I knew love before, but I never knew anything like this."</p>
- Helena Bonham Carter
Helena was 37 years old when she had her first baby, Billy Raymond, with director husband Tim Burton. The couple welcomed a second child, daughter Nell, to the family three years ago when Helena was 41.</p>
- Holly Hunter
Saving Grace star Holly Hunter was 47 when she gave birth to twin boys, Claude and Press. Hunter, now 52, is very private about her family life with actor husband Gordon MacDonald, and has said she doesn't discuss her children with the media.</p>
- JK Rowling
The mega-rich author was a single parent on benefits when she wrote the first Harry Potter book at the age of 37. She recalls writing in cafes while she tried to get baby Jessica to sleep. She had a second child, David, with her new husband Dr Neil Murray at the age of 39.</p>
- Julianna Moore
The actress says: "I was determined to have a baby by the time I was 36. My son (Caleb) was born the day after my 37th birthday. It was like the universe was laughing, saying, 'You see, you can't control things.'" Julianne was 41 when she had her second child, daughter Liv Helen.</p>
- Kate Silverton
The presenter and journalist gave birth to a baby girl, <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/11/11/first-pic-proud-mum-kate-silverton-shows-off-new-baby-clemency/" target="_blank">Clemency Florence Rose,</a> in 2011 aged 41. Clemency was conceived naturally following four failed rounds of IVF. </p>
Madonna was 41 when she and Guy Ritchie welcomed son Rocco to the world. The Queen of Pop is also mum to Lourdes, 9, from a previous relationship, and adopted Malawian orphans David Banda and Mercy James, both aged four.</p>
- Mariah Carey
Mariah was aged 41 when she became a mother to twins with husband Nick Cannon. The singer chose the unusual names,<a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/05/04/mariah-careys-twins-names-revealed/" target="_blank"> Moroccan and Monroe</a> for her new arrivals.</p>
- Samantha Cameron
Samantha Cameron, 40, became a mum for the fourth time when she gave birth to baby <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2011/08/25/david-and-samantha-cameron-show-off-baby-florence-in-cornwall/" target="_blank">Florence</a> in August last year. She and David have two children, Nancy aged six and Arthur Elwen, four. Sadly their son Ivan, who was born with a rare combination of cerebral palsy and severe epilepsy, died aged six.</p>