I am a single mother by choice. No, I am not crazy. Yes, it is a lot of work. No, I have no regrets. Yes, I’m totally and madly in love with my son.
I had thought about having a child on my own since my early thirties. It's not how I imagined I would have a family when I was younger but my reality is that I’m just not relationship girl, and I never have been. I have dated over the years but nothing ever stuck. And so I found myself staring at 40 on the horizon with my ovaries persistently reminding me that they were there and they would like to be put into service, thank you very much.
In anticipation of embarking upon single motherhood, there were a few things I wanted to check off of my To Do list before my focus shifted to a wee one. I set off on a few backpacking adventures to various parts of the world, I finished the degree I’d started back in 1992, I had long-overdue reconstructive surgery on my ankle. Done, done, and done. Time to alert the ovaries: The sperm is on its way!
Let's get this party started
First, to find the other half of the equation. Picking a donor was a whole thing, and it took me months. I liken it somewhat to online dating. Only, you don’t have to worry about what to wear and when to introduce him to the family. The donor profiles had far more information than I had anticipated, including photos, and I found myself pondering if it mattered what type of music he listened to, what his hobbies were, and whether or not his aunt had ever been diagnosed with allergies, seasonal or otherwise.
After weighing out physical attributes, medical history and personal details, it finally came down to six lucky finalists and the deciding factor was the audio file. To actually hear the various donors speak stripped away a lot of the static that I had waded through in the written profiles. “Um… so, yeah. Why am I doing this? Well… you know, I figure I’m a catch and really it would be a shame if I didn’t spread my seed... ya know?” I’m not even kidding. I ended up choosing a donor who spoke well of his family, his little sister in particular, and his love of the outdoors and forest stewardship. He sounded calm, confident, kind. All qualities I hoped to foster in my future child.
Taking the plunge
I began trying to get pregnant in January 2011. After all of the tests and doctor's visits, the preparatory acupuncture and massage therapy appointments, giving up caffeine (!!!) and refined sugars for months ahead of time, making efforts to get enough sleep and getting out for more exercise, I had done what I could do. I was focused on treating my body well and getting it ready for what surely was going to be a long process. I had recently seen a few friends of mine struggle with attempts to become pregnant and had witnessed how emotionally draining that could be so I wanted to have my body and mind ready. I had already decided that I was going to give myself a year of trying and then I would look at other options, namely adoption. And if it didn’t happen at all, I had a good life and would continue to do so with or without children.
My parents, who were very supportive of my journey, knew that I was going to start trying and my mother had offered to come with me to the first intrauterine insemination (IUI) appointment, but somehow it felt like something I needed to do on my own. If everything went well, I was going to have to be prepared to be a single parent and so this seemed like the first test of my resolve. Of course, it wouldn’t happen on the first try so, really, this was just a dry run. Just a chance to wrap my head around the idea in practice rather than in theory alone. Embark upon the “trying” process, as it were.
Let the games begin
So, I obsessively peed on ovulation sticks and charted my basal temperature until I got the result I had been waiting for and I went for my first IUI treatment. I ducked out on my lunch hour from work, mumbling something about an appointment on my way out the door.
Into the exam room, paper gown donned, confirmation of donor number, stirrups, nurse, turkey baster, done. It was clinical and quick, not unlike a pap test. Less than half an hour after I stepped into the office, I was walking out the front door again. I admit it felt somewhat anti-climactic. I went to my car and, thankful for the tinted windows, lay down on the back seat with my legs in the air, just to give the little swimmers an extra push. I felt ridiculous but I figured it couldn’t hurt, despite the nurse’s assurance that, “they only swim in one direction.”
That was January 31. On February 13 I took my first pregnancy test and…
Pregnant. What? Wait! I wasn’t serious. Can we just… How about if I put this on hold… I was hoping to work a bit more, save more money… And that wedding in Cancun I have in a few months, where I’m maid of honor… And my job is super busy right now… And… what have I done!? I’m so excited! And terrified! But mostly excited! Ooh. I think I feel sick.
And so, 40 weeks later, after my fair share of barfing, back pain, stretch marks and emotions, I welcomed my beautiful and long-awaited baby into this world. So far it has been exhausting, invigorating, terrifying and absolutely fulfilling. And we’re just getting started.
Are you thinking of embarking upon a solo parent journey? Single Mothers by Choice is a national organization with local chapters in many North American cities. They welcome women who are “beginning to consider the possibility of becoming a single mother, are trying to adopt or conceive, or are already a single mother by choice.”
Are you already an SMC, or the child of an SMC, and interested in connecting with parents and their children from the same donor? The Donor Sibling Registry “was founded in 2000 to assist individuals conceived as a result of sperm, egg or embryo donation that are seeking to make mutually desired contact with others with whom they share genetic ties.”
MamaSolo lives in Canada with her 19-month-old son. When not pulling him down off of high ledges and other precarious perches, she works part-time at an entertainment research company. The rest of her days are filled with walks in the park, play-dates, grilled cheese sandwiches, navel contemplation and laundry. Lots and lots of laundry. And she wouldn't have it any other way. You can follow her on Twitter @MamaMamaSolo