A MUM of four teenagers was left in disbelief when she discovered she was pregnant with her fifth child aged 46 – after mistaking symptoms as the start of the menopause.
Rachel Hodgson was stunned when doctors told her she was almost five months pregnant with her fifth baby – 20 years after having her first daughter.
Rachel, now 47, from Melbourne, Australia, and her husband Paul, now 48, welcomed their youngest daughter Peggie Jean into the world in November 2020 – just months after Rachel thought her periods had stopped due to the menopause.
When Peggie was born, her parents already had three girls aged 20, 18 and 16 and a teenage boy, aged 14.
The couple who have been married 24 years, call Peggie, now 16 months, their little miracle and have shared their ‘older parent’ highs and lows online.
Rachel said: “I was 46 when I gave birth to Peggie.
“We were decades past nappies and night feeds, our baby days were long over – we thought the next stage would be grandchildren as we had four teenagers.
“I was 19 weeks pregnant when doctors told me but I didn’t look or feel pregnant.
“I simply assumed my periods had stopped because I was 45 and entering menopause.
“I never for a second thought I could be pregnant.
“I’ve been open and honest about our initial feelings – I devastated at the time.
“We never thought it was the direction our life was going in.”
Rachel added: “I was modelling, wearing my usual sized clothes, working full time, and we were loving having a more independent lifestyle.”
Rachel was 25 when she had her first daughter Isabella, now 22.
She added: “I had my older children when I was 25, 27, 29 and 31.
“I thought I was old having my ‘last’ at 31.
“I cried a lot at first, but we decided it was meant to be and I accepted it.”
Rachel and Paul now have five children, Isabella, 22, Molly, 20, Olivia, 17, Will 15 and little Peggie.
Rachel added: “Peggie is our change of life baby, she certainly keeps us young and in the end it’s been the best thing in the world for us.”
Despite it being 15 years since her last pregnancy, Rachel had an easy pregnancy and birth.
She said: “Due to my age I was high risk, but thankfully all the tests were ok and I had no high bloods or diabetes.
It was an incredible day for us all.”
“I was very lucky I am fit and healthy.”
Once the couple were over the initial shock, they announced their news.
Rachel said: “Friends were so shocked but supportive.
“No one could believe I was pregnant. We were the couple with teenage kids and child free weekend breaks.”
“The kids were very accepting and excited for a baby sibling.”
Peggy was born in lockdown and the couple made the emotional decision to allow their eldest daughter Isabella to be Rachel’s birthing partner as she was studying to be a midwife.
Rachel said: “I could only have one support person and so Isabella helped delivered her sister.
“It was an incredible day for us all.”
Since giving birth, Rachel has reflected on the changes in pregnancy and looking after a baby since she had her eldest 22 years ago.
Laughing she said: “A lot has changed between my first pregnancy and last – including gender reveal parties, baby showers, maternity photoshoots and twinning mum and daughter outfits.
“I loved taking belly pictures. I never had a smart phone back in my day and I have loved being able to document Peggie’s life so easily.
“We had never done a gender reveal before and I got to have a bump shoot which was amazing.”
Despite the new technology, Rachel said parenting basics have remained the same.
She said: “Looking after a newborn felt familiar and new at the same time.
“The basics are the same but we have much fancier gadgets.
“In some ways I felt like a first time mum again. We never had a steriliser or a video monitor with the older kids.”
Despite the age gap between the siblings, Peggie has settled in well to the family.
Rachel added: “Peggie is so spoilt.
“She is queen of the house and the kids adore her.“
Rachel does worry about the impact on Peggie in later years and said: “I’m always doing the maths, working out how old will I be when she is at school etc.
“I’ve not yet been mistaken for her gran, but I’m waiting for it.”
Rachel added: “I would like my story to be a message of hope to older women, those trying to conceive and a voice of reason to those with an unexpected, later in life pregnancy.
“Having Peggy at 46 is a reminder to me that age is just a number.
“She is our little miracle and she has taught me that everything happens for a reason.
“She is my greatest lesson in life.”