Nina Davenport always wanted to be a mother. And she believed that after age 42, it would be nearly impossible to become pregnant.
So after dating throughout her 20s and 30s, all the way up to her self-appointed deadline, she asked a male friend to be a sperm donor, and she became pregnant.
"I was 41 when I started the process," said Davenport, a New York-based documentary filmmaker who created "First Comes Love" to record the experience of having her son Jasper, who is 7 now. "If you find someone and have a great relationship and that works out, that's great and that's the ideal, but the ideal rarely exists," she said.
Technology is available for having a baby without a romantic partner, including freezing eggs, sperm donation and adoption. But the most agonizing part of all may come down to giving up the hope of having a partner to share it all.
That's one of the reasons Jane Mattes founded New York-based Single Mothers by Choice in 1981.
"The first difficulty is usually that they need a support system because it's not built in," said Mattes, a psychotherapist and author of "Single Mothers by Choice." "There's no husband, no in-laws, and they're not necessarily near a family," she said.
Mattes became a single mother by choice 35 years ago. Her organization has more than 2,000 online members and provides a support system through local chapters and get-togethers in most large cities.
George Sachs, a 47-year-old clinical child psychologist in New York, is attempting to gain a support system by co-parenting with strangers.
He posted a profile on Modamily, a website founded in 2012 that helps match people interested in co-parenting but not necessarily looking for a romantic relationship. The site has 20,000 members worldwide, the majority in the United States. Many connections have been made, with at least 50 babies born.
Sachs is hoping to co-parent with an educated woman or with a lesbian couple in New York because, he said, while he isn't against marriage, he doesn't see it as a prerequisite to having a child.
"I see many divorced clients in my practice that struggled to find common ground on raising their child," Sachs said. "This co-parenting process removes many of the mysteries of how your child will be raised."
Sachs wants to share custody with his co-parent 50-50, and he desires a friendly, respectful and communicative relationship.
While Sachs found a creative solution to the support dilemma, Mattes said it still might be tough.
"It's really difficult to co-parent when you're madly in love with somebody, so it's more complicated when you don't have that bond," she said.
But when time is running out biologically, it might be time to start thinking of alternative options. Mattes recommends that women begin considering the idea of single parenting by the time they're 32 or 33.
"If you don't start around then, you're really up against a clock," she said. "A lot of women used to say that they wished they had done it earlier because they wanted two (kids). These days, a lot of women are doing exactly that."
Mikki Morrissette was 35 when her relationship with the man she thought would be the father of her children ended.
"I had a well-paying job in New York City publishing, owned my own apartment there and was ready financially and emotionally to go ahead and have a child on my own, rather than wait to find a new partner and the X number of years before we might be ready to consider children," Morrissette said. "My daughter was born just after my 37th birthday."
Her biggest fears, other than a one-night meltdown when she was in her first trimester, occurred after her daughter was born and included learning how to use a diaper genie and how to give her a bath without breaking her.
Losing regular contact with her single, childless friends and colleagues was daunting too, she said.
And losing her job was another thing she did not expect.
"My employer job eliminated me while I was on maternity leave, which was a major financial wrinkle that I did not anticipate," said Morrissette, who is the founder of Choicemoms.org and owner of Be-Mondo Publishing.
Morrissette transitioned into a more flexible lifestyle, decided to have a second child and relocated to Minneapolis. She now lives in a seven-bedroom house and makes extra income by renting out her spare bedrooms.
But being a single parent of two isn't all rainbows and unicorns.
"Compared to peers with a spouse, my self-employment life as a writer means I have a very precarious financial life," Morrissette said. "I wish I had a second wage earner and someone to help me with the upkeep of this large house." Nonetheless, she says, "my kids are doing great."
Those who are on the fence about becoming a single parent need to talk to people on both sides, said Mary Casey Jacob, professor of psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
"Talk with single parents by choice; talk with childless single people," she said.
There are also practical factors to take into consideration. Jacob said to look into the costs of becoming a parent and the costs of being a parent, and see if you can manage those costs. She said to also think about who will help you if you are sick or need other assistance with your child.
Jacob said there's one key question to ask when you're considering making this step: "Will I regret it if I proceed? Or if I do not?"
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Looking for a support group here in Charlotte? Check out Charlotte Single Moms by Choice