On Becoming a Single Mother by Choice

I was born to be a mom. I’m sure that anyone you ask who knows me well would completely agree.  I was a mother’s helper when I was seven years old, and I got paid $.50/hour.  I started babysitting regularly for a family with a three month old and a three year old when I was ten years old.  (I look back and think that family was crazy for hiring me at such a young age, but in my defense, I was a mature ten year old.)  My jobs growing up and my major in college were all kid related. At functions that kids and adults attended, I always found myself hanging out with the kids (even as an adult). I gravitate towards kids, and they gravitate towards me. My mom has referred to me as a Baby Whisperer. My friends have commented that I can somehow love anyone’s kids (which many of them can’t do).  I was meant to be a mom.  I just never imagined that my journey to motherhood would be so unconventional, although I think my story is similar to so many other stories that Single Mothers by Choice (SMCs) have.  And so begins my journey.  Of course it begins with the woes of a man…

I uprooted my life and moved to a new state when I was 29 years old for the man I thought I was going to marry. Life and our relationship took an unexpected turn, and I found myself single again at almost 32. My dreams were shattered and my future looked bleak. It took me a long time to heal from this break-up and losing the man of my dreams. After a long time, I found myself ready to starting dating again. Unfortunately, dating became very frustrating for me as I couldn’t find that guy with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Sure there were guys that were great, but I wasn’t willing to settle. I was beginning to think my standards were too high, but I felt like he must be out there somewhere.

When I turned 34 and Prince Charming was nowhere in sight, I began thinking about becoming a single mom (at the time, I didn’t even know there was the term “Single Mother by Choice”). I didn’t want to give up on my dream of having a husband, so I continued searching while always tucking the idea of being a single mom in the back of my head. When I turned 36, this idea was becoming more real because my biological clock was ticking loudly and quickly, so I began really exploring this idea. I honestly felt like there was a hole in my soul and something was missing. I questioned my existence in life and what the point of life is—not in a suicidal kind of a way, but a philosophical kind of way. I realized that I had such a yearning to have a child and that was the missing puzzle piece in my life. I kind of became obsessed with all of it for about a year, and at some point during that year I started a blog to help me process everything because writing has always been therapeutic for me.

I sat down and really analyzed my finances. I called about ten daycares and several in-home daycares to find out how much daycare costs for an infant.  I priced diapers, wipes, and formula at Babies r Us,Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart. I kept a list of prices for everything in a notebook. I took my monthly check and broke it down expense by expense until I realized this baby thing could be possible. When I began wrapping my head around all of this, I opened an account for a baby fund and started saving for daycare. (By the time my son started daycare, I had about 15 months saved.) The financial issue was appearing less intimidating as I realized that I’m pretty money savvy, and that I wasn’t and wouldn’t be financially strapped if I had a baby.

While exploring this option, so many things ran though my head day after day about being an SMC. Is this the “right” thing to do? Would I miss not having a husband during my pregnancy? Would I miss not having a husband to help me in the middle of the night with a crying baby? Would I miss not having a husband and celebrating when my son crawled for the first time?

When I finally shared my desire to have a baby with a few close friends and family, I could not believe how supportive and excited they were. So many people said if anyone can do this, I can. The support I received gave me more confidence in my decision. However, the fact of the matter is, I am truly alone in this journey because my family does not live in the same state.  While I had the support of the most important people in my life, I had to have the confidence in myself and not expect friends and family to help me along the way. I am extremely independent and wanted to do this on my own and not be a burden to those around me. I felt like I needed to prove to my manager, possible skeptics, and myself that I could do this alone. Going into this with that mindset made me hesitant to take that leap of faith because even though so many people had my back, I didn’t want to go into this thinking they’d all actually be there for me if I needed them. I felt like they all had their own busy lives, so neither I nor my baby was necessarily going to be high on their radar; therefore, I had to come to the realization that being a SMC was possible, and I would be doing it entirely on my own, beginning the day I brought my baby home.

When I “announced” on Facebook and in an email to my colleagues that I was 16 weeks pregnant (yes, I waited as long as I could), I was very open about what I did. I wanted to be honest with people and prevent any rumors that might start. I didn’t want people to think I was irresponsible, had a one night stand, etc. I wanted people to know how much I wanted this baby, and how much I had planned for it. Again, the support from people was incredible. The open door I created enabled people to ask me whatever questions they had and I loved that! I’ve had such great conversations with people along the way. When I was 18 weeks pregnant,  I was sitting at a round table for dinner with about eight colleagues, and a guy across from me with whom I was have a conversation blurted out, “So, where exactly did the sperm come from?” At that moment, everyone stopped their side conversations, and I had eight sets of eyes staring at me for an answer. Instead of being embarrassed, I was proud to tell them about my “Pick my Baby’s Daddy Party”, which opened the door to so many more questions because they were curious about my decision to become an SMC.

It took eight inseminations and a lot of glitches along the way until I finally conceived my son. My goal was to be pregnant by my 38th birthday, and I succeeded just three days shy of that day. I haven’t given up on my dream of finding a husband, but right now, I’m enjoying being a Mom to an amazing one year old boy. I am in love with him right now. I am hopeful that one day my son will have a sibling either via a pregnancy with my future husband or by my future husband’s previous marriage. But right now, none of that matters because I’m just enjoying the ride. 

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“I've been part of the SMC community since I was thinking about getting pregnant. They always have my back with useful, nuanced advice, trustworthy info, and personal experience. I feel honored to be a member, and to see all the children grow up alongside mine.”

– Sophie Holland