'My life is over,’ I wailed, crumpling into a heap on the sofa. My marriage of 24 years had just ended.
With four beautiful children, Emma, 25, Samuel, 23, Charles, 22, and Amy, 19, I’d imagined a happy retirement. But with my relationship over, I was facing a lonely future.
To numb the pain, I threw myself into night shifts at the local hospital as a nurse. When I wasn’t there, I headed to the gym to keep busy.
I’d always been fit, having spent 11 years in the navy. I’d even done a few marathons in my younger days.
So when my kids talked me into signing up to an online dating site, I wanted to keep myself trim and terrific!
I was worried no-one would want to date a woman my age. Would I be alone forever?
I was thrilled when a man named Stuart got in touch. I was also surprised – he was 15 years younger than me! Could I really date someone like him? I wondered.
But in spite of our age gap, we clicked instantly.
I spent hours applying fake eyelashes and hair extensions to look my best
After chatting for a few weeks we decided to meet for drinks.
I spent hours carefully applying fake eyelashes and hair extensions to look my best and when I finally caught a glimpse of his amazing muscles and handsome smile, I was smitten.
He was a gym bunny like me and we hit it off comparing notes on protein diets and press-ups.
After a few months, we’d both fallen head over heels...
Stuart knew my age from the start and it didn’t faze him – in spite of the fact his mum was only seven years older than me! He thought I looked good and my confidence soared each time I walked down the street next to my handsome toy boy.
I was thrilled things were getting serious between us. But there was one downside. ‘I’ve always dreamt of being a dad,’ Stuart confided.
By now I was 51, so we knew it might be a problem.
But I would do anything for Stuart and didn’t want him to miss out on having a family of his own so I headed to the GP the next week for some tests.
I was heartbroken when it was revealed to me that I’d already gone through menopause.
‘I can’t give you children,’ I sobbed, collapsing into Stuart’s comforting arms as I broke the news.
‘I’ve gone through the change without knowing it.
I don’t have any eggs left.’
'I can't give you children,' I sobbed
But Stuart was determined this wouldn’t be the end of us.
‘There must be something they can do,’ he said, desperately trying to console me. ‘You could get pregnant using an egg donor. They can even match the donor with your looks.’
Looking into it further, we discovered we could use IVF to have an embryo implanted into my womb using Stuart’s sperm and a donor egg.
But at my age, the chances were pretty slim.
After two stressful rounds, we’d spent over $30,000 and still had no baby.
By now I was 54 and time was running out.
So in July last year, we travelled to an IVF clinic in Cyprus. It was our last hope.
To increase my chances of falling pregnant, four embryos were implanted in my womb.
Back home two weeks later, I excitedly took a pregnancy test. It was positive! I couldn’t believe I was 55 and pregnant.
Stuart was over the moon too.
A few weeks later, we eagerly went for a scan and there were more surprises.
We were expecting triplets!
I was absolutely thrilled, but the doctors weren’t optimistic. ‘We recommend you abort one of the babies,’ they told us. ‘It will give the other two a better chance.’
But that was never an option for us. We had faith they were all going to make it. Despite my age, I felt incredible!
‘Here comes the trooper,’ my colleagues would joke when I showed up with my tight uniform stretched across my belly.
But in January I started bleeding. Rushed to hospital, I was petrified that I was losing our babies.
‘You need to rest,’ the doctors told me.
For the next 11 weeks I did my best to stay put, but I was going out of my mind.
I was used to being very active. So I nipped out one afternoon to get eyelash extensions and even a little jab of Botox.
After all, I didn’t want our babies mistaking me for their grandma!
Then on March 21, we finally welcomed our precious babies into the world.
Mason, Ryan and Lily were absolutely perfect.
‘That was the most incredible, amazing and terrifying moment of my entire life,’ Stuart gushed, cradling all three of our tiny babies in his arms.
Now, we’re back home and loving family life.
My older kids regularly come to visit. My youngest grandson is only five weeks older than the triplets too!
I’ve also since discovered I’m Britain’s oldest mum of triplets.
Having the babies has made me even more determined to keep myself healthy.
The last thing I want is people thinking I’m their grandma at the school gates.
I might be 55, but I’m young at heart.