I never thought that I would be a single mom by choice. It just kind of worked out that way. Life has a way of doing that. I always knew that I wanted to have kids but I thought my life would be like the “perfect family” which I believed at that time included the perfect husband, the 2.2 kids, the dog and the big house in the suburbs with the white picket fence.
My vision of a single mother used to be of a woman who lived below the poverty level, had no life or any time to herself and was so busy all the time cooking and cleaning and taking care of the kids. But most of all this vision was of an unhappy and destitute woman. Well I am happy to say that is not true and becoming a single mom by choice was the best decision I ever made.
There were many factors that led me to this path
I guess the thought of becoming a choice mom didn’t really enter my thoughts until after my divorce. I had to consider the well-being of my children and myself, my options, age, finances, my reputation and the workload.
I was with my ex-husband for about 5 years but we were only married for 16 months. I was almost 35 years old when we separated. I knew my quest for children would not end because of the divorce so I had to prepare my future; I decided to go back to school and become a teacher. I felt that the work schedule of a teacher would be conducive to raising a family whether it was on my own or with someone. I had previously worked as an executive business manager and realized the hours required to be successful in that position were too demanding if I wanted to dedicate my time to being a mom. Also, teaching allows me to use my experience to help influence and motivate others. I love my job as a teacher; it’s the second best job in the world next to being a mom.
In the next few years after my divorce and while going back to school to become a teacher I had a couple of relationships
Still in hopes of finding “Mr. Right”
I discovered that when you are dating in your late 30’s it is very hard to meet a man that is eager to have a family. I thought too much about wanting children and thought that I might make the mistake of getting too serious too quickly with someone just to start a family. After already being divorced and with the divorce rate so high, that was a fear. Also, I grew up with an abusive father and the thought of me creating that environment for my children frightened me. As a young child I always wished my father would just leave. All the frustrations of his life were played out on my siblings and myself in a very negative way. It was important for me to create a positive and loving environment for my children free from any abuse. Doing it on my own assured that would be the case.
Furthermore, I guess I just happened to meet the wrong men at that time. Even though they said they wanted children, they really didn’t in the end. One of the guys even told me after dating for almost a year that he only said he wanted kids because that’s what I wanted to hear and he wanted to go out with me. Another guy I dated; we moved in together, bought a house together and we went to the fertility clinic together. He was supposed to be the sperm for my first attempt at in vitro. I knew by this time in vitro was the only way I could get pregnant as my ex-husband already had a daughter right after our divorce and my then boyfriend and I never used protection. But, just prior to the retrieval and insemination date he said he wasn’t sure about our relationship and backed out so I had to quickly find donor sperm. By this time the having to have a man involved with this endeavor just became frustrating. It seemed the ones that wanted to have children were already married and having them.
The reality of not meeting the right man was becoming clearer to me.
I continued to date while still attempting to conceive via in vitro. The process of in vitro involves months of preparation; birth control pills, self-injections for over a month then to the clinic drugged and prepared for the insemination. After the second failed attempt at retrieving my own eggs I was devastated. My in vitro attempts failed because during the retrieval process the medications I took were supposed to multiply the number of eggs my body would produce but for some reason, it didn’t work and only the one egg appeared (that is your normal one a month which if not fertilized becomes your period). The clinic would not attempt to do in vitro only using one egg. Unfortunately, on both of my attempts, only one egg was to be found. It would not make sense for me to try this process again.
But I could not accept not having children in this lifetime as my only choice.
I remember taking a course when I was in business and the exercise was to write your own obituary. That exercise confirmed in my mind that I would have children and that I will pass as a loving mother. But, after not being able to conceive using in vitro with my eggs, I thought that there were no other alternatives at that time. Fate works in miraculous ways as that was when I met my coworker who was then pregnant with her daughter via donor egg and sperm. She was very pregnant at the time, we were chatting in the staff room and she asked me if I had any children. I told her about my failed attempts at in vitro. She quickly pulled me in the back photocopy room and told me about her donor egg, donor sperm process and encouraged me to not wait any longer and get impregnated using that method. This option was never presented to me prior to this time.
In my mind, my own children meant my egg, my blood, my genes.
The concept of having a donor egg as well meant that I had to dismiss my dreams of my own biological children. Offspring that have my looks, my quirks, my humour, etc. Funny but that concern doesn’t even cross my mind now… all I think of is how wonderful my children are with their own beautiful traits and how I wouldn’t wish them to be any different than who they are now. The probability of conception using donor egg and donor sperm was and is very high, I think it was close to 80% at the time; so this was pretty official that I was to do it on my own if I signed up for this program. I guess in the back of my mind I always was thinking Mr. Right is just around the corner.
But once the age of 40 was quickly approaching…
I had come to terms with being a choice mom, I began to realize all the benefits it entailed. By being a single mom by choice I don’t have to agree on parenting styles, I don’t have to concern myself with the stresses of a relationship, my children will always be mine (I’d never have to have them only half time if my relationship ended), and I have the flexibility to go and do whatever I like with my children. I don’t need to consult with anyone else on the upbringing of my children.
Fortunately, finances have not really been a concern as I can be quite the frugal person and I am a great bargain shopper. It is expensive trying to conceive and having so many failed attempts really hit the pocket book. The sperm, medications, procedures, etc. are very costly and my medical benefits only covered very little. I decided to maximize my rate of pay as a teacher by obtaining my Master’s degree just before my insemination. So now I am on the top of the pay scale which allows me to not worry about how to support my children. I also have invested in real estate in the past and I don’t live above my means so I only have minor expenses besides the children’s cost of living.
My reputation and the concern of being a choice mom was not much of an issue.
Luckily, because my co-worker had already had a child on her own it paved the way for me. Other teachers knew that I just did the same thing as the other teacher and when students asked about my situation I would just say I did the same thing as the other teacher. Thankfully my coworker was very open about her daughter and students just accepted the reason. What may be unusual in our generation may become the new norm in the next generation. Coworkers went through the ups and downs with me and students and coworkers were so happy for me in the end.
The workload of being a single mom did worry me at times but I am a very hard worker and can handle a great deal. I also have the luxury of having a mother willing to help as much as she can. When I moved seven years ago I knew it was important to find a home close to where my mother lived so that it would be easy for her to come over and help. I also knew that if the struggles of raising the three children were too much I could also hire a nanny for the first year or so just to stay sane. Luckily for me, the children have been great babies and I never needed a nanny.
I prepared my career, my home, my life into such a way that I could become a single mom.
The lack of any potential suitors and my age finally convinced me that it was time and I was ready to be a choice mom.
Thank you for listening and please join us in the next episode on “what were my hesitancies in becoming a choice mom.”