Mum, 54, who flew to India to have embryo implant wants second IVF child
Now, at the age of 54, she is raising 20-month-old Carolyn, an adorable little girl whose Indian heritage is clear to see.
She is hoping to return to India later this year to have a second embryo transfer, in the hope of having a little brother or sister for Carolyn.
Patricia, who also has two grown up daughters, says: "I'd always wanted more children and now I have the chance to raise a family for a second time.
It is possible to have babies in your 50s and 60s, and as long as I'm fit and healthy I don't see any problem with that.
The former teacher, who lives in North California, underwent IVF at Dr Malpani's clinic in Mumbai, in January 2010, using an embryo created from an egg and sperm provided by Indian donors.
Patricia is post-menopausal so could not provide her own eggs but was not concerned about having a child who would be a different race to her.
"There are lots of benefits of having IVF in India," explains Patricia. "The clinic is very modern, very clean and well run and it is very successful. Women in their 70s have been able to have children.
It is considerably cheaper than having embryo transfer in the USA. I paid £5,000 for treatment in India, compared to £15,000 in America. I had wanted to try for a baby for a long time, but I thought I'd never be able to afford it, until I read about embryo adoption in India.
"I'd previously looked into adopting a child but many agencies will not consider you once you're in your 50s. Adoption is also incredibly expensive and takes a long time and a lot of paperwork, particularly international adoption which can cost up to £23,000."
While she was pregnant with Carolyn, Patricia, then 52, met and fell in love with a 47-year-old man from the Philippines, and the couple are now engaged.
"He was there when I gave birth and has supported me and Carolyn since the beginning. He has become like a real father to her," she says. "People often assume my fiancé is Carolyn's father as he has similar colouring to her. When we go out together as a family, people accept Carolyn as our daughter without questioning it."
Now the couple are planning to marry, and want to return to New Delhi to have a younger brother or sister for Carolyn. If possible they will use Patricia's fiancé's sperm, so he will be related to the new baby.
Patricia had two difficult marriages in her early 20s and late 40s, but they were short lived and so she never had chance to have a larger family. She first contacted Dr Malpani's clinic in 2008 at the age of 50, but only had the opportunity to undergo IVF treatment two years later.
Patricia stayed in India for three weeks, taking medication to increase her levels of oestrogen and other hormones to prepare her body for pregnancy. Four embryos created by Dr Malpani were implanted in her womb and she flew back to the USA the following day.
A month later Patricia was delighted when a pregnancy test showed she was expecting and her first ultrasound scan confirmed she was having just one baby, rather than twins or triplets.
"The pregnancy went really well and there were no complications," says Patricia.
I told my obstetrician I had undergone IVF in India, but apart from that there were no other questions. When I went to pre-natal classes, I was treated like any other mom and no-one commented on my age or asked anything about how I became pregnant.
Patricia gave birth to Carolyn naturally in October 2010, after an eight-hour labour and the baby weighed a healthy 7lb 3oz.
"The birth was actually a bit easier than when I was in my 20s," says Patricia. "But it took me a bit longer to recover afterwards."
She admits going through sleepless nights in her 50s was difficult, but rested in the day time when Carolyn had a nap.
"Now Carolyn is older it is easier," says Patricia. "But she has a lot of energy so we take her out a lot to the park. I've started exercising too, so I can stay young and healthy, and lose a bit of weight before my next pregnancy.
"I've joined local mother and toddler groups and none of the other moms has asked about my age, or mentioned that Carolyn looks different to me."
Patricia is also planning to find work as a child minder to help support her family, and is considering selling some property to pay for the second embryo transfer:
"I get so much joy from Carolyn. She understands conversations and is very bright. She is always chattering to people. We will tell Carolyn about her roots when she is older. I'd like to be able to take her to India so she can learn about the culture of her biological parents.
"But at the moment, she is too young, and my fiancé is keen for Carolyn to think of him as her father."
Patricia and her husband-to-be are not concerned about being older parents and expect to be around to see Carolyn grow up and have her own family:
"I think if you look after yourself, there is no reason why older women shouldn't have a family. I definitely feel like Carolyn's mother. I carried her for nine months and gave birth to her. We're related, even if not biologically. I always felt I had a lot of love still to give.
"I'd encourage other women in my position to investigate this as a possibility for having the family they want."
What do you think of Carolyn's plans?
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