When I turned 40, I decided that I needed to think hard about becoming a mother on my own. I spent a good 6 months in the ‘thinking’ stage, another 6 months in the ‘planning stage,’ and at 41 took the leap of faith, picked a donor and started the process. I completed 2 IUI’s and then went directly to IVF with PGS testing, which gave me 2 chromosomally normal embryos. One created my son who recently turned 1 years old and the other one I am going to try for baby #2 soon when I turn 43 years old. For me, the process wasn’t too hard. Coming to Shady Grove Fertility’s support group meetings got me through it! The hardest part was picking the donor. I could write a book on sperm banks at this point, but the time and work I put in was worth it in the end.
When other women ask me if they should do it, I always start the same way – yes, do it! I spent a long time in the thinking stage, struggled with the decision, had to mourn my “Plan A” and face all my fears in becoming a single mom by choice. In retrospect, yes, I probably needed to go through that process but now I have no idea why I had so many issues with the decision. It was hands down the best decision of my life and my son is by far the best thing to ever happen to me. I feel more joy and laughter and unimaginable love than I ever thought possible. It is not what I thought it would be, as it is so much better in so many ways. Being a mother is transformative, and honestly all the things I worried about in the thinking and planning stages are a distant memory and nothing that comes up now in any way. Once you have a baby, most of those things don’t matter. I really don’t miss having a partner because I haven’t known it any other way. I have a network of other single mom friends which happened by chance, and non-single mom friends through a local new-moms group. That is my support network. A community I cherish that I didn’t even know I needed.
What I think helped the most was setting up my life in the best possible way to be a single mother, and the planning was well worth it. I changed jobs to a nonprofit that offered more flexibility and moved closer to work so my commute was shorter. I have family that moved to town to help, which has been such a great help. I know not everyone has this as an option but something to think about if you do. You never know, maybe they are willing to move if you ask them! And if not, there are many excellent child care options, which I’ve witnessed first-hand. Even daycare options I had feared in the past, I have friends who are having great experiences. And honestly, I am going to put my son in full-time school next year just to get the socialization.
Does your life change? Yes. Have I not had a mani/pedi in months? Yes. Are there some sleepless nights? Oh hell yes. Do I have to budget and watch my spending? Yes. But all of this is nothing compared to the pure joy I feel on a daily basis. The laughter and the milestones and the tears I am getting just by writing and thinking about the happiness my son brings me, it’s worth every last challenge. It is actually easier than I thought it would be, but I think some of that is about getting real with your life and setting it up in a way that makes it more conducive to being a single mom. The biggest surprise for me, being a very Type A, ambitious executive, was that I really think I could now be a stay at home mom, which is something I never thought I would consider. I miss my son while at work much more than I thought and can’t wait to get out of work and be home with him. That was a welcomed surprise, but difficult to deal with.
What has helped me the most with challenges?
- Having a flexible job and understanding boss.
- Having a short commute.
- Having a support network (for me it is family and mom friends).
- Understanding that your friendships and single life will change but making other friends with kids can fill the void. Honestly, you say they won’t change but they totally do change. Most people don’t really want to go to brunch with you and a toddler on a regular basis.
- Saving money and accepting second hand EVERYTHING. I honestly think people can do this on a shoestring if they are careful and too many women decide not to do it for financial reasons. That is not the case! You can get hand-me-downs for everything!! Also, it is helpful to have a night nurse in the beginning if you can afford it, and money for a babysitter to go out occasionally if you don’t have family.
So, I return to how I began, Yes, Do it!! When you hold your child for the first time, nothing else really matters in the world and you both can conquer whatever challenges come down the road. You got this!!
Coming soon: Amy’s Story