She was over 40 when she realized she wanted to be a mum — but her boyfriend, who was older than she, didn't want to have any more children. Then Corinne decided to risk the relationship — and have children on her own. — I was 46, she says — and reveals the details about her life and the turn it took.
Femina.se (Swedish), 9 Jan 203 | Dagbladet.no (Norwegian), 23 Mar 2023 | Aino Oxblood | Photo: Private | Translation into English by Anna Svarinskaya
You can read this article in original on Dagbladet.no (Norwegian):
and on Femina.se (Swedish):
For many years, Corinne Henriksson had worked hard to reach the top of her career and become a successful businesswoman. Her hairdressing salon “Corinne and friends” was one of Sweden's most famous, she worked with "Top Model" and Melodifestivalen. As a single woman, she could devote all her time to work, with all that entailed – long working days, travel and client dinners.
In her social circle in central Stockholm, she was not the only one who focused on career instead of family.
— I wasn't quite sure if I was a person who wanted to have children. Time goes by fast when you have a high pace, and I didn't have time to stop.
But suddenly, after turning 40, Corinne noticed that something was changing in her social circle. More and more people were getting engaged and having children. She started to ask herself whether she should put her career on pause and think about her wish to become a mother.
— In Stockholm there are many singles. But then it went quickly, you noticed that some people began to bond, some got engaged and had children.
47-year-old entrepreneur, runs the company “Corinne”, which sells hair accessories. Lives in Sweden and Portugal, has a son Vince, and is a bonus mum of two.
In the spring of 2016, Corinne starts dating a Portuguese man. They commute back and forth between Sweden and Portugal. In the same period, she also begins to think about how she wants to develop her company, aiming more towards product development instead of running the hairdressing salon. In 2019, she takes the decisive step and sells her company to start a new one where she sells her own hair accessories and tools.
— When I made the decision to sell, I ended up in a form of identity crisis. It was a big adjustment, she states.
He didn't want to have more children
Corinne comes to the conclusion that she wants to give birth to a child and become a mother, and realizes after much research that she would probably need help to get pregnant. But her boyfriend is not as interested in it all — he is 14 years older, has been married and has two adult children.
— I couldn't let go of the thought of becoming a mother and having a child in my life. I did everything to try and persuade my boyfriend, thinking he should change his mind. I got him to join me for one try, but then he didn't want to do it anymore. It became burdensome for our relationship, says Corinne.
The two continue to meet as usual while Corinne thinks about what she wants to do. She's stubborn – once she's made up her mind, she will not give up. Therefore, she makes several major life changes to increase her chances of getting pregnant. She begins to live a healthier life with less stress, better food and more sleep, and takes breaks from alcohol for long periods to cleanse her body. She also chooses to exercise a lot and go to acupuncture to find peace in the important decision.
— I told him that I had come to the conclusion that I was not willing to give up the dream of becoming a mother. Of course, it was still my greatest wish that we could make this journey together, but when he refused to be persuaded, there was no alternative but to do it on my own without him. I hoped until the end that he would change his mind, but he didn't. Our relationship worsened, it was a very tough decision to make.
Once Corinne has decided that she wants to try to have children again, she researches the various methods and starts asking other women in similar life situations how they had done it. In the end, the choice falls on the Olga clinic in Russia, St. Petersburg, known for its high rate of successful pregnancies. Celebrities such as Mikaela Laurén from Sweden have been open about having received help from this clinic to become pregnant at a more mature age.
— The Olga clinic felt like the best choice, they had the biggest "success rate". They advise against using your own eggs if you are over 44. I chose to listen to their advice and came to the conclusion that I don't have the luxury of trying three or four times, and most people said there was little chance with own eggs at my age. It was a great sadness that I had to process. But after talking to other mothers who had made the same journey, I chose to see the positive: that there was still a possibility for me to get pregnant.
In the spring of 2021, when the corona pandemic finally calmed down, Corinne contacted the clinic and was ready to start the process. There are many methods today to increase the chances of becoming pregnant, where one focuses on finding the best embryos to increase the chances, and with the help of medication the embryos are made to attach better.
At the Olga clinic, Corinne feels that she gets help all the way, and feels that they care about her health and that everything will go well. The pregnancy goes as normal until just before the birth, when Corinne suddenly falls ill with covid-19.
To the emergency room
— I had corona before I was due to give birth, and I went to the emergency room. Then I got scared. The doctor wanted to start the labor earlier than planned, but I did not respond to the tablets, which they thought was because of the corona. In the end it had to be a caesarean section, because my son's life might have been in danger.
But with the help of the doctors' efforts, her son Vince was finally born safely, and today Corinne has a healthy and beautiful son.
— Is motherhood all you dreamed of?
— Yes, it certainly is. However, I have to admit that it has come with more challenges than I might have understood or thought beforehand, but it is the most amazing thing I have ever done. It is extra special that I have made the journey alone and have my own company at the same time, she says and continues:
— Others said "she will see later, when she has a baby, how much everything changes", but I have lived pretty much as usual since the day he arrived. I have been lucky that he is quite calm and content. It's quite incredible, but I've still been able to do things at my own pace, more or less. It sometimes strikes me how big a responsibility it is, but I have managed most of it on my own, so I will manage this too, — she says, adding that she has had the help of a nanny to get a job and motherhood combined after her son turned six months.
While Corinne was pregnant, she and her boyfriend saw each other less often, although they did not end their relationship. He did not want to stand in the way of his loved one's dream of becoming a mother, but at the same time had no interest in becoming a father for the third time. But Vince's birth has changed the situation, the couple feel they are stronger together than ever. They do not live together full-time, and still live their own, separate lives. They don't stress about deciding whether or when they will possibly move in together and become cohabitants.
— Now, when my son has arrived, my boyfriend has welcomed him very warmly, he is very excited about him. You can tell that they are getting a stronger bond every day, she says.
At the same time, the division of responsibility is crystal clear: Vince is Corinne's son, and she is the one who decides and has responsibility over him.
— Should we, for example, stop meeting each other or not see each other every other week, or it comes that I am not able to live in Sweden full-time, or need to move to another country, he doesn't need to feel pressure about it. When he thinks it's tiring, I take over. It's a perfect arrangement for us.
She is open to a change in the future and does not see it as impossible that Jose will be the father of her son one day. But Jose and Vince have already developed a deeper bond when Jose became one of Vince's godparents this autumn. Her friend Camilla, Corinne's sister Elina and Corinne's brother-in-law are also his godparents.
— Who knows where this will lead us in the future, it may even feel natural that Jose adopts Vince. But for me that's not the most important thing, we're doing so well now.
If Corinne wants Vince to have a sibling, she has until the age of 51 to decide — that is the maximum age for the treatment. But Corinne is far from being certain that she wants another child.
— Right now I am so grateful and feel that this is quite good for me to be able to handle everything without having to change too much in my life. I want to be able to work, travel and exercise, live a fairly normal life.
Would like more people to talk about IVF
Corinne wants to be open about her journey in order to be able to help others in the same situation — and to remove the stigma she believes still exists around IVF treatments. It took her a long time to realize how common it really is.
— For me, it feels important to support and encourage other women in the same situation. I had many female clients as a hairdresser, and many had their first child when they were over 40. Very few said it was with the help of IVF or egg donation, no one directly talked about it. I naively thought that getting pregnant at an older age with the help of medication worked, since it was so common around me.
While Corinne was often irritated by those who said that you can't be happy without children, she hopes that anyone who is unsure about having children will think it through. For her, the decision ended up being easy, as she felt there was a greater risk of regret if she didn't try.
Today, she is also grateful that her friends supported her in taking the plunge.
— I recommend thinking it through carefully if you are in doubt. I felt that I wouldn't regret having a child, but that I might regret it if I didn't try. I didn't want to risk it. Then I would have become bitter both at myself and at my boyfriend. It was a difficult decision with both opportunities and risks, but with hindsight I am so grateful that I chose the path I did and got Vince.
This article is also published in the Swedish magazine Femina. Femina, like Dagbladet, is owned by Aller Media.