Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) was founded by Jane Mattes, L.C.S.W., a psychotherapist and single mother by choice. She provides a network of support and information for women who are thinking about becoming single mothers, as well as for those who are in the process of trying to conceive or adopt, and those who are already mothers.
So this is how I made the decision: I had planned a weekend away with my mother and my goal was to have made a decision – one way or another – by the time we were flying home. We had fun, we enjoyed the vacation and we talked. It was the most wonderful experience of my adult life to share everything I thought and everything I felt with my mother without hesitation and without filtering anything. I’m 35yr old (financially stable, professionally successful, home owner) and although she had initially thought I should wait until I was closer to 40, after really sharing with each other, she is the one who helped me decide to start trying. She is now 100% supportive and excited. And has an opinion about everything!
Last weekend I sat down with the rest of my family (which is no easy feat), my father, my twin brother and my younger brother and sister (twins also) individually and discussed the topic. Everyone knew I had been thinking about this for years, but their initial surprise that I had made the decision quickly turned to joy and happiness about a new baby. It was an unexpectedly amazing and enriching experience to feel the love and support from my family. I chose to talk to everyone separately so no one felt pressured or uncomfortable sharing their own reactions. I’m so glad I did.
The one thing that truly shocked me: once I made the decision, I was no longer anxious or afraid. I didn’t realize how much pressure I’d been feeling just by not knowing what I was going to do. Now, I feel lighter, peaceful and genuinely happy.
Last week, with the help of my mother & sister, I chose the donor from my “final four”. I’ve been back to OB-GYN, had the routine tests, and if all goes as planned, in about two weeks I’ll be a “tryer”!
Thank you again to everyone for their posts on the SMC Forum, and for letting me feel a part of an ever-growing community of single mothers. I wish everyone the best of luck in their decision-making and hope you find the same joy and excitement I’ve found in making my decision.
I never pictured myself as a single mom; but then again, I didn’t always picture myself as a mom, period. Unlike some of my friends who were always talking about having babies during their 20s and 30s, I said things like, “I’ll have kids if I marry a guy who I know will be a great dad, and who really wants to have kids,” but I wasn’t obsessed with being a mother at all. I wasn’t even comfortable around children, and didn’t think they liked me very much. In fact, before I had Jayda, I’d never changed a diaper, and could count on the fingers of one hand how many babies I’d actually held. And yet, as soon as the nurses put my newborn child on my chest, I knew I was put in this world to be Jayda’s mom and care for her.
There was a point in my mid-30s when I had an epiphany and realized that I’d feel incomplete if I never had a child, and that I’d just been suppressing my desires for fear of never meeting Mr. Right. I was flooded with maternal feelings and became baby-obsessed almost overnight. It took a lot of thought and planning to have Jayda (as well as plenty of drugs and monitoring and money, since I didn’t get pregnant on the first try), and so I can hardly allude to the process as “plan B”. “Plan B” to me implies second-best, and having Jayda was an ideal plan for me, because I can’t imagine my life without my amazing daughter in it.
I didn’t find Mr. Right while I was pregnant (though I did date during the first two trimesters), and I still haven’t found him now that Jayda is about to turn three. But that doesn’t trouble me at all, and I hate the implication that a woman “needs” a man to be a good mother. Or that having a husband is always the ideal “plan.”
Most of my friends did find their Mr. Rights before they had children—or at least they found someone whom they thought was the man they’d be with forever—and I can’t say their lives are all better than mine. A few of my friends are going through nasty divorces now—and are battling over custody issues. Several others actually married someone as their “back-up plan”—fully knowing the man wasn’t exactly what they wanted or needed in their lives—but rushed to settle down because they felt their clocks were ticking. Those friends (and their spouses) are all pretty miserable.
And then there are my friends who are happily married (or at least appear to be), but just about all of them admit that having a relationship is a lot of work, and they’re forced to divide their attention between their children and their spouse. There’s nothing wrong with that—and I know having a good spouse is a worthwhile investment—but I can’t say that these women’s children are thriving more than mine is…or that the moms are so much happier than I am. We’re all just experiencing life the way it happened to us…and most of us are realizing that you can’t plan everything, especially when it comes to being a mom.
Plan A…Plan B. What’s the difference? Life is what we make of it—and just because our lives aren’t as we always pictured them, doesn’t mean they’re second-best. Mine certainly isn’t. It isn’t movie-perfect, either, but I don’t really know anyone whose life is.
When you become a Single Mother by Choice (SMC), you expect to do a lot of things alone. In fact, a lot of the thinking and trying stage seems ALL about being alone. Deciding alone to go for it. Attending fertility appointments alone. Being pregnant alone. Most of us have our SMC network, supportive friends and family, but when we hang up the phone, log off the chat, close the door, climb between the sheets, lay in the dark, we are alone again.
Thank God I’m one of those people who think that’s a good thing. Being alone through my journey has meant I’ve been able to take it at my own pace. I’ve been happy when I wanted to be happy, grouchy when it felt right, pregnant and lazy and elated and calm. Whenever I wanted, I felt what I needed to feel, did what I needed to do, with no one to second-guess my decisions, resent my emotions or influence my thoughts.
Which is all well and good until I needed to put a leaf in my dining room table for my daughter’s 3rd birthday party. I do a lot of things alone. I made the cake alone – double layer chocolate, in a strawberry shape, with pink and green icing. Masterful. I hung the streamers from corner to corner to corner to corner alone. Blew up 23 balloons alone, bravely continuing even after balloon number eight burst in my face after one breath too many. I wasn’t quite alone when I did the fruit and cheese trays, but the presence on my hip of daughter #2, seven months old, is less helpful than you’d hope. I cleaned the house alone and wrapped birthday presents alone – no problemo. But the dining room table stymied me. To open it to insert the leaf, you have to pull from both sides of the table. Pull it from only one side and the whole table simply slides toward you. The last time I’d opened it had been for a family dinner, and said family had been there to help. This time, well, not so easy. The table is solid and stiff, with one broken leg that falls off when the table is moved so much as an inch. I tried to pry the table open with a screwdriver, but risked damaging the wood. Finally, the kids long since in bed on the night before the party, I lay on the floor under the table and put my toes in the crack in the middle of the table, with my back against the floor. I braced my hands on two of the table’s legs and pushed with my feet, slowly prying the table open like a weightlifter doing a leg press at the gym. Voila! Genius.
The party was a roaring success. Seven preschoolers decorated sugar cookies (that I’d baked ahead of time, alone) and played without conflict and sang happy birthday, and my girl was thrilled by it all – the cake and the candles, the balloons and streamers, the presents and the song. She said please and thank you and expressed only delight even when she got two books and a play-doh set that we already have. (Having requested previously loved and regifted presents only, getting doubles is guilt-free for me, too). The other parents helped hold the baby and serve the cake and clean up afterward, and it was a lovely two hours.
But the damn dining room table faced me again when everyone went home. I ignored it all day, but it was too big and the leaf needed to come out. This time it was even harder. It needed to be yanked from both sides to release the leaf, and then pushed back together, from both sides, to restore its smaller size. I waited until after the baby was in bed and the 3-year-old was safely in front of Dora before I tackled the table that night. I pried it carefully open from beneath the table (where scratches would not show) with a screwdriver and my fingernails to release the leaf, and lifted the heavy slab out. To push it back together, I moved the whole table against a wall so I’d have a brace, and muscled it slowly, smoothly, inchingly, back to its former size. Moving the broken leg inch by inch during the whole operation only added to the fun.
The funny thing is, I didn’t end up doing it alone. As I wrestled with the table, my big little girl drew away from Dora and Swiper, watchful and intrigued by mommy’s activity in the dining room. She played with balloons and talked to her dinosaurs and did the things that 3 year olds do, just at the periphery of my table project. She’s been underfoot for three years, and there is often a baby near by, and I am so used to NOT being alone anymore that I didn’t really register her presence until I pushed the table across the room and back together with a soft clunk. And before I could even stand back to bask in my small accomplishment, before I could quite register my triumph, my newly three year old, my watchful, funny, chatty little girl piped up and said “You did it, mommy!”
Where did she come from and who knew she cared? When did I go from being alone all of the time to never being alone at all? How is it I’ve now got two little companions to keep me company, to cheer me up, to cheer me on? I have no idea how I went from being an autonomous woman, a Single Mother by Choice, to being captain of this little band of people, this dream team, my threesome of girls. But I’m glad I got here. I honestly never minded being alone. And now? Now I never will be.
I have just recently made my decision NOT to become an SMC. I should also preface this by saying that I came to this quandary late. I am 46.
Letting go of the dream of having a traditional family, i.e. a husband and kids, is a very big deal for most women. That’s probably one of the first steps in deciding to become an SMC. And that’s a rough one. I always had this assumption that it would happen, so it was hard to face the fact that it might not just “happen.” What if it doesn’t? How could it not? How long do I wait?
All kinds of people meet their mates and start families. My confidence about myself as an attractive, smart and lovable woman is a bit tangled up in that dream. I never wanted to visit the possibility that it might not happen. It’s negative. It goes against the idea of having faith. But as time went on, I had to start to untangle my sense of self and my specific hopes from that dream. And I thought long and hard about starting my non-traditional family on my own. But for me it was also the ease of a traditional family that I needed– having someone else to share in everything–emotionally, practically, financially. And lucky me, I’d finally found that — a partner to share in everything — it’s just that he already has teenage kids, and is not up for any more.
At age 36 (had I seriously considered this then) my decision could have gone the other way. I always trusted that I would meet that fella I wanted to share my life with; I just assumed it would happen sooner than it did. I was never willing to go it alone…until the point when it became very real that I may never have children if I didn’t do it as an SMC.
So I weighed everything– financial feasibility, flexibility, willingness to make whatever change necessary, priority of motherhood, etc. For me, the partnership with a soul mate always came first. That may not be the case for everyone. You could go ahead and become an SMC and then meet someone afterward (there does come a time when the age appropriate men who are looking for age appropriate women aren’t necessarily looking to become a first time dad, and would welcome someone who’s already got a child).
It’s so hard to know. And yes it’s scary, it’s a huge leap of faith, but as they say, with great risk comes great reward. I would encourage everyone to read as much as possible, and to talk to as many women as you can who have gone through this before making a decision. The women in Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) are a fabulous resource.
I sifted through my Sunday paper one morning, pulling out the usual bits – coupons, TV guide, Target ad, and USA Weekend. On the latter’s cover were pictures of the characters from the debut of a new tv show, and the corresponding story inside was titled “The Postmodern Family.”
“The Postmodern Family?” Really? How could I resist?
The article talked about the multitude of upcoming shows based on non-traditional families. TV historian Tim Brooks notes that television has often presented us with non-traditional families, as it reflects what’s already going on in our current society. For example, The Brady Bunch in its time reflected “the trend of a blended family,” where adults with children from previous marriages came together to form a new family unit.
This particular example rather amused me, as I just had a Very Brady Summer Vacation…
Back when I was pregnant with my son, there was a story on one of those news shows- 60 Minutes or 20/20- about the Donor Sibling Registry and families who had found each other through it. These were families who had used the same donor in order to have their children. The story was about a set of half-siblings whose families had contacted each other with the help of the Registry, gotten to know one another, and eventually not only met, but went on a family vacation together.
I was amazed and impressed by the story, but at the same time was somewhat taken aback. “That is great for them,” I thought to myself, “but I cannot imagine me doing that. I think I would feel a little weird.”
The whole idea of using a donor, of having a child on my own, was so new to me at that point. And while I was curious about other families that had used the same donor and was not above communicating with them, even meeting with them, I could not really picture myself hanging out down the shore with them. It just seemed a little “out there” for me.
Nearly six years later, Little Man and I found ourselves on a plane to the West Coast for vacation. Where were we going? To meet two of his siblings and their moms and hang out at a beach house…down the shore…for a week. Wait, what?
Explaining this to outside folks, hearing the words coming out of my mouth, it sounded so surreal. It was so interesting, fascinating. People were fascinated. Truly. And excited. Excited at the opportunity for Little Man and for the mystery of it all. Perhaps we three Moms should write a pilot for our own show. I bet it would sell, too. We have tons of material.
We had actually already met one of the siblings twice before, as he and his mom live in a nearby state. The other one we had never met. We were going on vacation with people we had never met before. A little voice in the back of my head screamed, “what are you thinking?!” Yet the rest of my brain, the bigger, louder, more intuitive part, somehow knew it would be alright. That it was right. We have all kept in contact for so many years through FB, that in an odd way I did feel like I knew them.
Still, as we sat on the plane, eating our complimentary peanuts and drinking our tomato juice, little black clouds of doubt appeared in my mind, like pop-up thunderstorms in the summertime: what if the boys don’t get along? What if the moms don’t get along? What if they don’t like him? What if they don’t like me? What if we don’t like them?
And yet, it all seemed to fall into place. We met Brother 1 and his mom at the airport and proceeded to our rental car, following the directions to meet Brother 2, the one neither of us had met before. We immediately discovered that two boys born three days apart are LOUD. Being a one-child family, that was the first of many revelations. The boys were all so excited to meet each other, and spent quite a bit of time (after bonding over Angry Birds) running around shouting “Brother Hug!” followed by a sort of pile-on brother sandwich. They got along surprisingly well, although not without the typical arguments that ensue when you have both children of a similar age and siblings. We got a brief yet sufficient taste of what it might be like to have triplets.
Overall, it was a typical family vacation. We got lost going somewhere we were sure we knew how to find. We got sunburned at the beach. One brother spiked a mystery fever a few days in and was out of commission for two days. We went to an amusement park. We lost power and spent ½ an hour searching for candles and matches and flashlights with dead batteries. We took TONS of pictures. We bought souvenirs. We laughed a lot.
And in the Very Brady tradition, the boys decided to put on a play, which they wrote and performed for us.
All too quickly the week passed by and as the time came to leave, I felt as though I was parting with friends I had know for a long time. As Gonzo says, “there’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.” At the end of the week, the “three brothers from other mothers” went their separate ways, back to their individual families, yet having a clearer sense of a larger familial bond out there. There is still a brother and three sisters we know of that we have not yet met. I wonder what other family outings lie in our future?
And that was just our FIRST summer adventure. Upon leaving our beach home, we met up with my mom and set off even further west, to visit my brother and his wife. Well, that sounds like a ‘regular’ family vacation, right? Ummmm…yes and no. So, both of my parents were married before and each had a son from their previous marriage. I grew up in the same house with the brother we were going to visit, although I had not seen him since I was a junior in high school. He was in the military for many years and was overseas for much of that time. He had seen our mom more recently than me, although it had been far too long for her, too. We write occasionally and talk on the phone at Christmas. He and my sister-in-law were married in the Philippines where she is from while they were both in the service, and we had never met her although they’ve been married for several years. My son as not met either of them before.
And so we sat on yet another plane, crossing the Pacific, headed for a new week of a very different family vacation. Once again, the scene was surreal as I headed out to spend another week with someone I had never met before. It just did not really seem to be happening. When I told people about this impending trip, they were excited, but also in disbelief. How could I not have seen my own brother for so long? I mean, what was wrong with us, anyway? No one said that, of course, but I could tell that some people were thinking it.
And you know what? I didn’t really care. Circumstances were what they were and we simply did not have the funds on either end to make it happen. It was only by a bizarre twist of fate that I was able to make it happen now (but that story will have to wait for another post). The point was, it was happening now.
We finally got to meet my brother’s wife at the airport when they came to pick us up. I haven’t seen my brother in such a long time I actually walked right past him at the baggage claim (although, to be fair, I was distracted by my mother who was fretting at the time over how we were going to find him), but the minute I heard his voice, I whipped around. My son was just beaming with excitement. He hugged his uncle and auntie, just thrilled to be in their presence.
It didn’t take long for these pieces to fall into place, either. Before the end of the day, Little Man and his Auntie were snuggled together on the couch watching PBS. My brother was cracking jokes and our mom was giggling hysterically. We settled in and were made to feel completely at home.
Overall, it was a typical family vacation. We got stuck in tourist traffic. We used lots of sunscreen. Mom had tummy trouble. We went to an amusement park. My SIL had a problem with a client and had to stay home for part of our adventures. We took TONS of pictures. We bought souvenirs. We laughed A LOT.
Again the week flew by and I found it hard to believe that it was already time to go. We had not seen each other in so long, yet it felt as if no time had passed at all between our visits. Having been surrounded by so many people over the past two weeks, it seemed a little odd to be heading home, just the Little Man and me. Yet as much as I enjoyed our travels, I was happy to soon be back to our own little house in our own little beds. It’s always nice to come back home again.
At home, we were met at the airport by yet another part of our family, what we refer to as our “extended” family, which contains honorary uncles and aunts who have been friends of mine for many years but are so close they might as well be official family members. We recounted to Uncle Charles as many of our adventures as our sleepy heads could conjure. He dropped us at our house and left us both with a hug and a kiss, and the promise to meet up with him and Uncle Stuart soon to recount the many stories we had to tell.
The USA Weekend article in the paper talked about how the new season’s shows “push boundaries” in their depiction of families today. My family may not be “traditional,” but I assure you I’m not actually trying to push any boundaries; I’m just trying to live my life.
What is “the new normal?” It’s quite simple, really. My family, in all its variations, is full of love and that, to me, is exactly what a “normal” family should be.
Sometimes I hear members of Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) talking about the “dreaded Daddy questions” but I don’t think it needs to be a “dreaded question”. In fact, I set things up so it wasn’t a question at all. By that I mean that from the time he was born, I told my son “our story” about how there was a mama who was sad because she didn’t have a baby, and she didn’t have a husband to be a daddy. So a nice man called the donor gave the special seeds to a doctor who put them into the mama to make a baby with her eggs, who of course turned out to be my son! (That was my version of it, I never bought any of the books on this topic). When he was around 3, he could tell the story back to me and it was just an inherent part of his self-identity, so he never had to ask the question of where his father is.
So far, at age 6.5, it’s not a big deal to him and he is pretty matter of fact about knowing he doesn’t have a dad. Sometimes I even push a little bit, to let him know that if he’s sad about not having a dad, he can talk to me about it. The last time (just a couple of weeks ago) he went into an overly fake boo-hoo routine and then said “that’s how I’d be if I were sad about not having a dad but I’m not!”
There was a time when I didn’t talk about it as much because I didn’t know how much he would start talking about it at pre-school, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted him to trigger questions that he might not have been prepared for. And we’ve revisited and revised the details as he’s gotten older, particularly after he started talking about eating the eggs and seeds to grow a baby inside his own tummy! lol!
To me, this is very similar to being open with a child about adoption. I think it should be something they understand organically, that never has to be a “I need to tell you something” conversation because they just have always known it and it’s not some secret.
I’d suggest that rather than waiting for a question that might come at a time when you are caught off guard, to think about what you feel comfortable saying, and then practice with your infant, before s/he has any idea what you’re saying. Then go ahead and initiate the conversation at an age-appropriate time. You can clarify the details as s/he gets older.
As a single mother by choice I expected the “Who’s the daddy?” question to come up. I’ve actually been surprised at the restraint people have shown when I’ve told them I’m expecting while not wearing a ring and still going by Miss. Sure, in some ways it’s none of people’s business, but as someone who is at times overly inquisitive herself, I understand it’s also natural to wonder.
Since I’ve been so open throughout my journey to single motherhood, I didn’t mind the not-so-subtle fishing of some acquaintances. (Saying, “Oh, you and your husband must be so happy!” or “Are you Miss or Mrs.?” when these topics have never previously come up, is not exactly subtle, but I appreciate the attempt at politeness.) And while some single mothers by choice are sensitive to it, I’d never be upset or angry with a stranger for assuming there’s a daddy in the picture. My getting pregnant did require some male assistance, after all.
That said, if someone brings up the topic, I’m not comfortable pretending there is a dad.
I won’t smile and nod and let people think their assumption that all families include a mom and a dad is correct, because it’s not, and people need to be exposed to all kinds of families in order to understand and accept them.
Yes, it would be easier not to explain that I’ve chosen to become a single mother to complete strangers at the doctors’ office or the maternity store, and it might be more comfortable for them, too. But then I wouldn’t be comfortable. I’m not ashamed of the way I’m starting my family and not speaking up would feel like I had something to hide.
More important than my feelings though, are those of my son. There will be a day when a stranger says in front of him, “Oh, he must look like his daddy.” Again, it might be easier for me just to agree. After all, my son may look like his donor, and to a stranger what’s the difference? Nothing. But to my son, there will be a difference. I want him to know that while he doesn’t have a dad, his family structure is just as legitimate, and special, and loving as any other. If he thinks I’m not comfortable talking about it, how can he ever be comfortable with it?
I also want others to understand that while they mean no harm in their assumptions, times have changed, and the language we use to talk about families needs to change with it. According to some statistics, ‘non-traditional’ families now outnumber ‘traditional’ families. That doesn’t mean we need to stop talking about families with moms and dads, but it does mean we need to start talking more about other kinds of families. And that starts with those of us willing to be forthright gently reminding those who ask, hint, or assume that we exist and are not ashamed or uncomfortable with whatever make-up our families consists of.
So, no, I won’t lie or even smile and nod to make others feel more comfortable. Because while they may be mere acquaintances or even complete strangers to whom the truth means little, my child needs me to tell the truth, not only to him, but to the world. Because the truth will help shape the world he grows up in—and I want that world to be educated and accepting of all the types of families that exist. Ours included.
I am 39 years old. I am single. I have never been in a long term relationship. I am facing the reality that it is just not going to happen for me in time to have a baby.
I have always wanted kids. When I was a kid I wanted to be a mom. I used to love to babysit. I don’t so much love babies, per se, as kids. I am great with children. I have 3 little brothers who I have essentially helped raise. They are now 16, 13 and 8. I am lucky to have them in my life. And now I want my own.
I am now facing the reality of having a baby on my own. By myself.
I am terrified. I have been thinking about this for years but it is starting to form itself into a reality. I have been thinking a lot about what it means to raise a child who has no father. This is tearing me up. I am really close with my dad and couldn’t imagine not having a dad. This has been the main hindrance in making my decision. There is so much to think about and my head is swirling and I feel really good and relieved and really scared all at the same time. There is much to write about. I feel instinctively that this is the beginning of a whole new journey.
Unless you are nearing or over 40, single and childless, you cannot imagine how I feel and that’s not your fault – we are just living different experiences. I have not been able to express to my friends how it FEELS to be in my situation, but I am now connected with other women who TRULY understand what it’s like to want a child so much that they will do it on her own – even when deep down they really want the whole family package. Seriously, if we were given more time biologically, we would wait for the right relationship, but we don’t have that luxury.
It means so much to me to have access to people who are going through what I am going through and to share their experiences too. The more I read on the members’ Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) Forum, the more convinced I am that I am making the right decision. I didn’t “wait” to have children. I was not delayed by desire or drive to advance the corporate ladder or obtain some high-powered career. The opportunity to start a family with the right man just never came up. Now that I am older, men my age are either married, divorced and jaded or want younger women. Most have already raised their children and are done with that part of their lives. I don’t have much interest in younger men – I guess it depends on the man, but mostly we don’t have a lot in common.
I STILL want the man to come into my life. I find this to be true of many of the women I have spoken with (well, read about) so far. I knew I wasn’t really alone; I knew I was not the first woman to make the choice to be a single mother. It’s just so nice to read that my feelings, hopes and fears are shared by so many others. I learn a little from each woman’s experience, even those that are heartbreaking. I hope that I, too, can share my story and help inspire other women as I go through my own journey.
I am so grateful to the Single Mothers by Choice organization. Without them I would still feel lost. While I am still a little uneasy about my choice, I know that with the help of women who have been through it I will make it through too. Next up…. I have no idea….something will come to me I’m sure.
There are many reasons TO become a Single Mother by Choice (SMC) and many reasons NOT TO. It’s such an individual decision to make. It is difficult to be a single mom, very difficult, but I think it’s also difficult to be a married mom. This decision isn’t one to be taken lightly, and it helps to really look at your whole life while you decide whether being a SMC will fit into it. When I was thinking I worried endlessly about what might happen. What will I say to people when I can’t hide my pregnancy anymore?” How will I tell my family? What if people judge me? What if I meet “the one” right after I get pregnant or after I have the baby?.
What I found out (much to my surprise) was that all those worries disappeared pretty quickly once I became pregnant. I had one or two people show disapproval when I announced my pregnancy, but they weren’t people I cared much about so it didn’t matter to me. I was so thrilled to be pregnant, and once the bulk of the telling was over, I just reveled in the experience as much as possible. My family took a while to warm up to the idea, but I understood (from reading posts on the SMC Forum) that while we spend months and sometimes years getting ready to take the leap, thus feeling comfortable with the concept, the same can’t be said for our families.
My dad and sister (mom died years ago) love my son without question, and there is no awkwardness associated with the means I used to bring him into the world. I was not raised in a conservative family, but I do have SMC friends who were, and most of their families have eventually come to accept and even embrace the decision these women have made. Not all families come around, but most do on some level or another.
I haven’t met “the one” yet, but the other thing I figured out is that if I do meet him he would need to be the kind of man who would welcome my son into his life. It does happen. Women find partners who love both them and their child. Some even go on to have a second child with the man they meet.
Sometimes people make insensitive comments, often well-intentioned. When I told people I was pregnant, several questioned my choice to go this route – they couldn’t understand why I hadn’t found anyone. At first it bugged me because I saw this as such a “Plan B”, but now I see it simply as my life’s path, full of all sorts of experiences, both challenging and rewarding. I’m a MUCH stronger, more self-assured, confident person now and attribute that to having to really put my priorities on the line and stand behind them. I have become so confident in my decision that I don’t feel like I “settled”.
Yes, I still want the whole deal: mom, dad, 2 kids, etc., but I’ve had to make compromises. I waited a little too long (because I fell in love at 38 years old just as I was going to try to conceive, and it cost me a precious 2 years) to have another child, but I’m coming to peace with that as well.
So if you’re on the fence, listen to your heart, and make your decision based upon what you know you want/need, not on the “what if’s” of life. You don’t know whether you’ll meet someone or how your family will react or whether you’ll have regrets or feel like you did something wrong. Maybe these worries will come true, but maybe they won’t. But, if you truly question whether you are ready to take this step, then I suggest spending a little more time thinking. Maybe see a therapist who has experience with SMCs (I did, and she was a lifeline through the whole process). If you haven’t joined the SMC email lists, that would be a good thing to do. You’ll be able to see how the conversations shift – from worrying about external things to becoming invested in becoming a mother.
Becoming a mom is hands-down the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can’t count the days I have sat rocking my 17 month old, crying at the thought of what life would be like if I hadn’t taken the leap and become a mom. I’m tired all the time and my house is a mess, but my heart is full of love and joy I could never have imagined before I became a mom.
Good luck to you (and all the other women who are going through this difficult decision-making process)!
I’ve always wanted to have children, always wanted to mother. I’ve been an au pair to other families, spent time with all of the kids of friends and family. I hoped and assumed, of course, that I would have a family of my own when the time came.
I suppose that’s the tricky part – that time thing. Like many, I’ve been in a series of long relationships that have not withstood the tests of time. A long medical training that I started when I was twenty-eight ended ten years later. And there I was, at thirty-eight, for the first time seriously thinking of having a child on my own.
So many questions came to mind – how could I do it? How could I make it work in time and money and love? And most importantly, would it be, could it be fair to bring in child into the world who would not know his or her biological father? These are tough questions, and every SMC I know has struggled with them. But at the time, now many years ago, I was just plain sad that I did not have a partner to undertake this endeavor. What I had always imagined – love, marriage, baby – hadn’t happened for me yet, and there was a melancholy quality to my view of single motherhood. I knew that a heavy heart could not care for a infant or child, could not offer the kind of life I would want to give to my child. So I waited. Threw more baby showers. Held more babies. More time went by, another relationship developed and sadly faltered around the issue of having children.
Single again and now pretty secure in my career as a psychiatrist, I asked those tough questions again, and decided to move. It took about a year from the time of my decision to try to have a child to pregnancy. A long, scary year filled with the statistics I knew about, somewhere in the back of my brain (after all, I was in medicine) but had really avoided. After some tough sessions with a wonderful reproductive endocrine group, I decided to jump right in and try IVF. The chances of having a healthy baby using my own, 43 year-old eggs, they told me, were about 7% (who knows where that number came from, but I swear that’s what I remember).
There is much I could say about the decision to proceed given the tremendous cost IVF and low odds of success, about the process of two rounds of IVF; these can be tough, tough times for women and couples. But there was a meaningfulness in it for me, because I was finally doing something that I had wanted for so long.
Pregnancy was easy, and that was just plain good fortune – those hormones were just right for me! I received warm and enthusiastic support from friends, family and professional colleagues. My daughter was almost born on the local bridge, because, the obstetrician announced admiringly, I had the uterus of a twenty-year old.
I have the warmest memories of pregnancy and delivery, which is probably both a statement about dumb luck and the distortion inherent to memory. My daughter is now a school aged child, and my only regret is that I waited so long. Life is very, very full.
There is much I could say about the experience of parenting, and parenting without a partner. I am incredibly fortunate to be so supported in my professional life as well as my personal world. My professional life is very, very busy: days and nights seem to fly by. But every parent of babies and toddlers struggles to fit everything in. I had years in which time was spent on myself – this very different time is filled with a joy and a wonder that all the night life, swell cuisine and great culture couldn’t really bring me.
To do it all again – I’d still prefer to have had a partner, I struggle with how my daughter and I will discuss and understand her biological father (an anonymous sperm donor). But this is absolutely the sweetest time of my life. And this little girl – her own kind of miracle..