Women using artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization to have babies later in life are bucking more than one family convention, as more women are also choosing to go it alone to have their kids.
Cassandra Bach, 45, is expecting her first child in April after in vitro fertilization, or IVF. The Ottawa woman said she is also a single parent by choice.
"A huge obstacle for me was to let go of that...idea of family and really embrace the idea that I would be a family on my own," said Bach.
Bach is one of the older members of an Ottawa support group for single mothers starting a family without a partner, a group that has grown to about 75 members since it began a year ago.
Michelle Dennehy, a member of the group, said she had looked into adoption but found it was difficult as a single woman to adopt. She tried artificial insemination seven times without success before trying IVF, and was successful on the first time. She now has twin boys.
"Single mothers by choice are kind of like reluctant revolutionaries. They want to do this badly enough to go against the norm," said Dennehy.
Tanya Berger used donor sperm to conceive her son through in vitro fertilization. She said with the choice came the awkwardness of explaining it to the people around her.
"I kept saying it's not that I got knocked up and somebody left me... I actually knocked myself up," said Berger.
Berger said as individual families change, so too does the social structure around the family.
"It takes a village to raise a child and then you create your village with the [other mothers] with their kids," she said. "This to him is going to be normal because a lot of his friends were conceived this way."
With age comes risks
Ottawa Fertility Centre Psychologist Patricia Gervaize said she's seeing more older, unattached women looking for help. She said many of the women she counsels make every effort to establish a home for a would-be child, and said it is disappointing when they are not able to have children conventionally.
More older mothers are having babies in Ontario, according to a recent report from Born Ontario, the province's natal registry.
But there are increased risks of complications related to pregnancy when having children later in life, said Deshayne Fell, the report's author.
Cassandra Bach said she is ready to deal with any consequences.
"There's a higher chance of having a child with some kind of disability or what not when you're having a child at my age...I don't fear it," said Bach.