I met my sperm donor backpacking in Brazil and gave birth for the first time at 48 – The Sun

WHEN Rachel Rigby's marriage broke down at the age of 41, she was left devastated and convinced she'd never be able to have kids.

The finance writer, who lives in London, packed her bags and went travelling around South America.

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Hiking in rural Brazil, Rachel struck up a friendship with a local bloke, who offered to be her sperm donor - so she could achieve her dream of finally becoming a mum.

With his help, Rachel gave birth for the first time at the age of 48 - to a baby daughter.

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous Digital, she tells her story...

I've always wanted to have kids, I feel like it gives you a purpose in life.

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When I got married in 2010, I was 39. We'd discussed having kids in detail, stuff like which schools to send them to.

We got married two years after meeting and I wasn't getting any younger, so I wanted to start trying straight away.

But my husband always had an excuse for why we couldn't. I was miserable, crying all the time, then one day he told me he definitely didn't want kids.

I'd put all my investment into this guy and having kids with him. After two years of marriage, I'd had enough.

I had to leave him, I had no choice, I couldn't see myself growing older without a child.

He said he had always wanted a baby too, so we came up with this crazy idea he could donate his sperm and be my child's father

So in September 2012, when I was 41, I got a backpack and left. I still had my flat in East London, but I was renting it out so I couldn't go back there.

You can't get divorced when you're still living together. I needed to get away, so I quit my job.

I've always wanted to see South America - it's a whole part of the world I'd never been to - so I travelled to Mexico, Cuba, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia and Panama.

I went for nine months, which is ironic, because it takes nine months to have a baby. I definitely thought my chances of having a child were over.

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Becoming an older mum

The age at which women have their first child is rising.

Here in England, the average mum is just over 30 when she conceives her first child, while many are much older.

One in five births are now to a woman over 35.

Most couples will get pregnant within a year of trying for a baby.

Women get less fertile as they age, and one in seven couples in the UK have fertility issues.

There is a higher risk of certain complications in mums over the age of 40.

Both miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy are more common. The risk drops if you use donor eggs.

I couldnt get happy when my friends were announcing their pregnancies, I was jealous. About 10 friends got married the same year as me, and they were all having kids afterwards.

It was so hard for me to see that. I should have been happy for them, but I wasn't.

I thought travelling would help me get through the divorce, but there were some really tough moments.

I hadn't really considered how I would be feeling emotionally. I went on group tours but I felt like I had no-one to talk to, I wished my friends were there.

Eventually, I made really good friends on those tours and I told them my story. They were really supportive. A few of my mates from home came to visit, but I was alone a lot.

I figured this was my last chance. If it didn't work, I thought I could adopt, but that's a complicated process as well

Then I was diagnosed with endometriosis, which would make it even harder for me to have kids.

After a couple of months abroad, I took a tour to a nature park in Brazil and I met this guy in my hiking group. He was Brazilian and we became friends.

He said he had always wanted a baby too, so we came up with this crazy idea he could donate his sperm and be my child's father.

I didn't want an anonymous donor because it didn't seem right to have a baby without a father, I'm very close to my dad.

We have a platonic relationship and he sees his little girl for two months of the year.

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We had known each other for about three years when we started the IVF process. I had moved back to London but we were in regular contact. He came to visit London and I went back to Brazil.

In 2017, we went to an IVF clinic in Prague. From the age of 42, your egg count declines dramatically, so the doctors said 'your chances would be much better if you had a donated egg'.

Getting IVF in Prague was cheaper and meant the donor could be kept anonymous.

I thought if Im going to give birth to this baby, Im going to raise it. I didnt want to confuse the child too much.

The whole process cost around 6,700 (8,000) - including drugs, treatment and trips to Prague.

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But it was a bit of a disaster. I only had two good eggs from the donor and I missed my flight out for my first appointment.

I had a morning flight before a 2pm insemination in Prague. My train got held up, one stop away from Stansted Airport, for an hour.

By the time I went to check in, I was three minutes late. Ryanair wouldn't let me in, even though the plane was still there.

The next flight out was that evening and the clinic had already hatched the egg - it can only survive for so long.

I still went that night and tried the insemination the next morning, but it didn't work.

Six months later, I flew out again and went two days early to make sure nothing scuppered my plans this time.

To prepare, I got a personal trainer, went to the gym more, drank less, everything to optimise my chances.

I figured this was my last chance. If it didn't work, I thought I could adopt, but that's a complicated process as well.

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I found out I was pregnant on November 16, 2018. I was shocked, I didn't think it would work because I'd heard so many stories about people trying again and again.

I really didn't think I would be so lucky. She was born on June 15. I couldn't do it alone, but I have help from her father and a nanny.

She's amazing, I'm so lucky. It's a big adjustment from being single and going out a lot, to staying in all the time.

There's moments where I'm worried about the future, it's a big change in lifestyle, but I'm so happy, I still can't believe it.

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Sometimes I do feel bad about being an older mum, she'll be 30 if I'm lucky enough to live to 80.

But it's getting a lot more common to have an older mum. I have a lot of friends who had kids at 42 or 43. I'm quite young spirited, I like to think I can keep up.

We recently spoke to a mum who has fostered 30 kids, had seven miscarriages and nearly died from ectopic pregnancy but finally had three kids of her own.

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I met my sperm donor backpacking in Brazil and gave birth for the first time at 48 - The Sun

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