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Cathy Donnelly: 58-year-old Ontario woman pregnant with her own grandchild

A 58-year-old Ontario women is pregnant with her own grandchild. (Thinkstock)There are mothers who make sacrifices for their daughters, and then there's Cathy Donnelly.

When the 58-year-old London, Ont. woman learned her daughter, Shannon Fischer, would be unable to conceive due to a scarred uterus, the grandmother of six offered to act as a surrogate for her seventh grandchild.

"I felt bad for them," she tells the London Free Press. "I just figured, 'What's nine months of my life?' and they're going to have a child for the rest of theirs."

Donnelly is currently six months pregnant with Fischer's baby, a little girl due in February.

What makes the story even more extraordinary is that Donnelly had already gone through menopause. Both mother and daughter submitted to a rigorous roster of fertility drug treatments before the pregnancy succeeded.

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When she received the phone call that it did, Fischer recalls bursting into tears while standing in line for coffee at White Oaks Mall.

"I was just bawling," Fischer tells the paper. "People must have thought someone close to me died."

Though many doctors advise against getting pregnant after age 45, there have been numerous instances of grandmothers carrying their own grandchildren.

In September, the Associated Press told the story of a 53-year-old woman who successfully delivered her granddaughter in a Chicago hospital.

New parents Emily and Mike Jordan had been to the same hospital two years earlier when they learned Emily had cervical cancer and would never be able to conceive after her life-saving hysterectomy.

Her mother, Cindy Reutzel, in terrific health and even better shape, offered to be her daughter's surrogate.

Doctors began the in vitro fertilization process that would allow Reutzel's body to carry the child throughout her pregnancy, including a steady supply of hormonal shots.

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And in August, a Maine woman gave birth to her healthy seven-pound, 14-ounce grandson.

Dr. Helen Kim, director of the in vitro fertilization program at the University of Chicago, tells the AP that the birth of the world's first test-tube baby 34 years ago opened up new avenues for post-menopausal pregnancy.

"If you could help a menopausal woman in her 30s, could you help a menopausal woman in her 40s? And then it became, 'Can you help a menopausal woman in her 50s?'" she says. "And the answer is yes."

Beyond the miracle of science, however, lies the miracle of the mother-child bond.

"We were close before, but it's just on a whole new level. I want to be like she is to my own daughter, that caring and willing to do stuff for her," says Fischer.

With the precedent her own mother set, no doubt she will.  

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