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With advances in IVF, more women are choosing to have kids on their own

More women becoming single mothers by choice
More women are choosing to have children on their own 07:14

Advancements in fertility treatments and the expansion of medical insurance are leading more women to choose to become single mothers. One of the producers for "CBS Mornings" decided to do just that.

At 40 years old, Wendy McNeal gave birth to her daughter, Harlow. She said having a child was a lifelong and important dream of hers, so she decided to do it without a partner.

"I had an aching to be a mother. I had a longing to be a mother," McNeal told CBS News. "I said to myself, 'In 15 to 20 years, would I be more upset that I didn't have a kid or more upset that I didn't fall in love and get married?' And, I was like, 'If I didn't have a kid, for me, I feel like my life wouldn't be as fulfilled.'"

She picked a donor and went through three rounds of fertility treatments. Most of it was covered by her insurance.

With baby Harlow in her arms, McNeal said she made the right choice.

"Even when she's like this and gets a little fussy, I'm grateful that, like, she made me a mother," she said.

When New York psychotherapist Jane Mattes became pregnant 40 years ago, fewer women were having children on their own.

"I was 36 and all my friends were actually having fertility problems," she told CBS News. "And it occurred to me that I might not have this opportunity again."

So Mattes decided to have a baby, knowing the father would not be in the picture. To get the support she needed, she created her own village and started Single Mothers By Choice.

"You really can't raise a child alone," Mattes said. "But you can make sure that, as a single parent, you have a lot of people in the child's life who love that child."

Over the years, the network has connected 30,000 women. Mattes attributes the growth in mothers choosing to have children on their own to better fertility treatments, more inclusive medical insurance, a change in societal attitudes and higher incomes for women.

As for Mattes' son, he's started his own family, making his mother a grandmother.

Meanwhile, brothers Mackenzie and Cooper Schoenthaler were born to a mother who had them with the help of the same donor more than two decades ago. She was 41 and 45 when they were born.

"My genes were chosen," Mackenzie said.

"We loved our childhood, like, we have a very caring mother," Cooper replied when asked if he missed not knowing his father.

Although they have an extensive medical profile, the brothers only have a few demographic details about the man who contributed half of their DNA.

CBS News asked the brothers: what would you say to your biological father?

"I would thank him for giving away his sperm because I know that can be sort of just an odd thing for someone to do, knowing that they have potentially 10 or more kids running around the world," Cooper replied. "I would also thank him for being tall."

"He's given us nothing but genetics, and that's crucial," Mackenzie said.

As for baby Harlow, she can decide if she wants to know who her donor is when she turns 18 years old. Until then, McNeal said she's prepared to answer questions.

"I'm always going to be open and honest and transparent. You know, she doesn't have a dad. She has a donor," she said.

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