With her wrinkled features and frail form, she might be a great-grandmother taking her favourite granddaughter's little girl to the park.
But Adriana Iliescu, who celebrated her 70th birthday on Saturday, is actually a first time mum, proudly spending every waking moment with her three-year-old child.
She supports herself and daughter Eliza on her £250 a month pension and some extra money she makes from working part time as a university professor.
Adriana has no family or close friends left to help her - and there is just one person with an interest in Eliza's future welfare - her godfather, the IVF doctor who brought her into the world.
Now, speaking fully for the first time about her life, Adriana insists: "I'm fit and healthy and I've never had any illnesses.
"I don't smoke and I don't drink. If I live as long as my parents did, Eliza will be 20 by the time I pass away.
"I think I still have a lot to give her."
The frail pensioner shocked the world when she announced the birth of her IVF baby on January 16, 2005, when she was 66 years and 230 days old.
Now three years later, Adriana, who used a sperm donor, has gone back to her lonely life in Bucharest, Romania, where she lives alone with her daughter in a tiny high-rise flat.
She is proud of her place in the Guinness Book of Records for being the oldest mum to give birth, until being beaten by Spanish woman Carmela Bousada who had twins on December 29, 2006, at the age of 66 years and 358 days.
As Adriana walks the streets with Eliza on her way to the park, or market, groups of teenagers shout 'granny' at her.
But she seems not to notice and insists everyone she speaks to is positive and supportive of her decision.
"I have never suffered any prejudice," she said.
"Nothing unpleasant has happened, at least never to my face.
"In Romania, people who have children are very admired."
Adriana still goes to Bucharest University seven hours a week for lectures, plus extra tutorials and seminars, and Eliza goes to a local creche.
But the 70-year-old is already receiving extra dispensation from the local council to help her deal with being a mum.
A taxi is sent to her house in the mornings so she can take Eliza to creche and it comes back at 3pm to collect her again.
"The creche is a little way away and it's difficult to get the bus and a long way to walk," she said.
When she is not at work, Adriana has a few hours relaxation, sitting down quietly with a book, while her daughter is cared for by nursery staff.
"Right now it's hard to have time even to wash my hair," she admitted.
"When she sleeps, and I sleep, I'm still very focused on her."
For the first two years of her life, Eliza, whose twin died before her birth, would regularly wake in the night.
She has a chest complaint which would leave her coughing for hours on end.
"I had to keep her in my arms because when she always wanted to be very close to me," said her elderly mum.
Eliza, who is advanced for her age, can count, do simple sums, and loves reading and painting, even picking out her favourite artists.
"She is a child with a great personality," said her mum. If you put it negatively she is a bit stubborn."
The elderly woman had regular help from babysitters when her daughter was still a baby.
But now, she rarely sees anyone, and there are no family or real friends she can turn to in an emergency.
"It is quite sad, but there were misunderstandings in the family," she said.
"It was about some bits of land and property in the country. I didn't want to sell but they did and then conflicts arose."
In her younger years, Adriana had an abortion at the age of 20, shortly after her wedding to another student in Bucharest.
"It wasn't planned," she said. "I was in the third year at university and I also had just recovered from a bout of TB.
"The doctors advised me to not have the first child because they weren't sure that it would develop properly."
The couple divorced a short while after because of problems caused by political conflict during the harsh Communist years.
"I became a substitute teacher and then began working at the university and publishing my books," said Adriana.
"I always wanted a child, but I was so busy, I never had a partner. It's only in recent years that IVF became available in Romania."
Adriana has considered what will happen to Eliza when she dies.
"If my daughter is 16 by then, she will have the right to work," she said.
"If she is younger, my hope is in two things, the state child protection services, and my doctor Prof Bogdan Marinescu, who is her godfather.
"People can die at any time. Eliza's other godfather, who is a friend, died suddenly at the age of 49, leaving four children."
But she hopes Eliza will not repeat her mistakes.
"I would advise my daughter to have a child before she is 30," she said.
"Having a child is a wonderful thing. To think that you haven't live for nothing.
"If you have a child you don't have death. That's what Plato said: 'Happy is the person that has someone to bury him'."
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
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