Single Motherhood at 40

single-motherhoodThe CBC has a new article that explains why Single women are increasingly pursuing parenthood on their own. The title is misleading as they are talking about older, never married women, who are electing to have children without a partner. What do CBC have to say about this trend?

Myriam Steinberg was 40 and fresh off a breakup when she realized that if she wanted a baby, she’d have to go it alone. Four years later, she is now 12 weeks into her fifth pregnancy; she lost the other four.

Which is why, if you want children, you should not wait until you’re 40 to make the decision to do it. At 40, it is hard to conceive.

She is part of a small but growing number of single women across Canada who are pursuing parenthood on their own. Research shows that most of them are doing so because they haven’t yet found the right partner.

As opposed to women who are single parents due to divorce or to having children with a man out of wedlock.

B.C.’s largest fertility clinic, Olive Fertility Centre, says the number of single women coming in to inquire about their options has more than tripled in the past five years. Other clinics across Canada report similar increases.

A 200% increase seems like a lot. Infertility has been increasing in Canada, according to a government study. Between 1984 and 2010, infertility among women aged 18-to-29 increased from 5% to between 7% and 13.7%. This increase is dwarfed by the difference in fertility between younger and older women. In 2010, the infertility rate for women over 40 approached 90%.

“Women are now able to choose the right partner for emotional and parenting support — not just to conform to social norms of marriage or to survive financially,” said psychologist Judith Daniluk. “That’s a good choice for women to have, but it does potentially have unforeseen consequences. If you’re waiting for Mr. Right and he doesn’t come along, then what do you do?”

Actively looking is probably a good idea.

Steinberg was in her early thirties when she decided she wanted to have kids.

This is already late in life to decide to have children. Women are at peak fertility at age 24.

But she was also in the throes of an 11-year stint producing the now-defunct In the House Festival, which presented concerts and shows in people’s homes. “I just kind of forgot and I just let time slide,” she said.

And that was a bad idea.

Steinberg broke up with her boyfriend when she was 40. She gave up running the festival and booked an appointment at a fertility clinic. She did consider adopting, but the costs, years-long wait lists and no guarantee of getting a child meant that wasn’t an option for her. She also wanted the experience of conceiving and bearing a baby.

Waiting until she had a ten percent chance of conceiving.

Steinberg estimated the costs of all these procedures, including alternative treatments like acupuncture and vitamins, at about $80,000 to $100,000. She covered the costs with a combination of savings, renting out rooms in her home through Airbnb, and contributions from her parents.

Ouch.

Daniluk said women who seek motherhood later in life often face criticism for “choosing” to delay having children.

And I see why. They have taken the hard way.

But the reality is many women delay parenthood until they’re financially prepared. Today that takes much longer.

Which is why, in the past, women have always relied on men to provide for their financial needs.

Researchers at the Generation Squeeze project, a campaign that raises awareness about the economic pressure faced by younger Canadians, say young adults are facing more years in post-secondary education, larger student debts, and higher housing prices. Those who do become parents also face exorbitant daycare costs.

Making a career in trades, living in a more affordable small town, and living within the means of a single income, seems like a good idea to many men.

Most women also want a relationship with someone equally committed to parenting, Daniluk said.

What do you mean by “equally committed”? If you’re looking for a man who is committed to doing an equal half of all parenting activities, good luck finding one. What men find emotionally fulfilling is not under their conscious control, nor are their proclivities entirely socially constructed.

“We really are talking about trying to change societal attitudes about women who choose to delay childbearing or choose to then have a child on their own because they haven’t found the right partner,” she said. “It’s really about seeing that as being the more responsible choice as opposed to being selfish.”

How is it a responsible choice to have a child who will never have a father?

In fact, because fertility treatments are so expensive, Daniluk said provincial governments should cover the costs so they’re available to women from all income levels. Currently, Quebec is the only province that does.

Why should we pay for women who make the choice to delay having children? The money would be far better spent on cancer research, or reducing the waiting list for surgeries.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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