Once birthdays were a time for celebration. Now for me and other women of my kind they are just a flashing beacon that time is running out. It’s sad really because there’s nothing prettier than a cake with lots of candles. All things being equal, I’d enjoy blowing them out. But, these days, the symbolism of extinguishment is a little too much to bear.

So was it serendipity that last Monday (on the eve of getting another year older and not feeling great about it), I met a wonderful woman who had her first baby aged 56. And there was no doubt that her son – the gift of a younger egg donor – was better than any birthday present she’d ever been given. We shared a special evening over soft shelled crab and sushi talking about four of my favourite subjects: food, swimming, life and art.

In my book, The Pursuit of Motherhood, I wrote: ‘It’s all about the number 43. If you haven’t had children by then you can basically get on with the rest of your life and stop thinking about it.’ Well, scrap that. This week I’ve learnt that if it’s important enough to you then motherhood is available in all shapes and sizes. So who cares if I was 44 on Friday – there’s still hope that one day there will be cause for cake, candles and celebration.