I met my friend Rhonda through a local chapter of the national organization Single Mothers by Choice (SMC). She and I both joined around the same time. The first time we met in person I got out of my car, and I was greeted by a tiny woman in a shimmering magenta jogging suit, her eyes hidden behind big round black sunglasses. We nervously shook hands and began talking about who we were and where we came from and how far along we were in our journey as we walked a 3-mile loop that winds along the Mississippi River and back downtown.
The second time we met we sat in a crowded coffee bar, and I drank a decaf latte a week after my second insemination. I played with the lid on my drink and told her that I didn’t want to sound terribly shallow but I was afraid of what being pregnant would do to my body, of my boobs sagging to my knees before it’s all over with. Her eyes got big and she leaned forward and she said, “I know!” And we have been friends ever since.
SMC is a national organization made up of women who have decided (or are in the process of deciding) to have a child on their own, knowing they will be the sole parent. Typical members are career women in their 30’s and 40’s who have come up against their biological clock and still want to have families. This organization has been a godsend to me as I forge ahead alone doing something that most people do in pairs. My local chapter is particularly amazing with monthly meetings and additional subgroups that get together for fun and games and field trips with their kids. Meeting a few local SMCs and seeing how happy they were really helped me feel more confident in my own decision to become a mother despite not having a man in my life.
Saturday Rhonda and I ventured to our second SMC gathering. And as we turned off the highway I said to her, “Ready? Take a deep breath. We’re going in.” After months of being friends, we understand each other and the way we want our own children but aren’t necessary excited about being around lots of other people’s children. As we pulled up to the house, only a few cars parked out front, I told Rhonda it makes sense that we’re earliest. “People with kids are always late,” I said. “But we’re going to be different.” And so began the start of our list, the things that all people say BEFORE they have children that they will never do. Buy a mini-van. Gain weight. Buy too many toys. Eat Wonder Bread.
I am so grateful for this organization and all the brave women I’ve met who have gone before me. Michelle, the nurse midwife who tried to conceive for 3 years before finally having the most adorable little girl named Tara. Ramona, the flight dispatcher whose 18-month-old Maya has the whitest natural blonde hair I have ever seen. Helen who has a 4-year-old boy named Mitchell who becomes Mitchell Michael whenever he misbehaves. Jeanne and her three children who are traveling to Denmark this year to celebrate everyone’s birthdays. Joyce, the local chapter president, whose daughter Emma is nearly 8 and has to be dragged out of the swimming pool. Holly, who was the first SMC that met me in person, taking time to answer my questions over pie while she was very pregnant with her son (who is now an adorable 8-month old).
Saturday Rhonda and I set up our lawn chairs in the sun next to the pool, and we were quickly joined by Laura who is 22 weeks pregnant with a boy after 5 years of trying, and Rhonda and I felt lucky to be pregnant within a year of starting. Laura told us about her 8 IUIs and the 3 IVFs followed by 2 frozen embryo transfers, and everyone who arrived seemed to know her and celebrate that she had finally made it, that little Landon was alive and well and kicking inside her. As pair after pair (and some threesomes) of mother and child arrived and introduced themselves, the three of us became known as The Pregnancy Club. Over and over again we recited our due dates and current status. 22 weeks with a boy due October 23rd. 13 weeks with a boy due Christmas day. 7 weeks due February 11th with the heartbeat ultrasound this Monday.
It is so nice to have Rhonda to share this journey with, someone who understands my fears and anxieties, someone to listen without judging when I tell her how afraid I am of becoming huge, someone to understand when I say, “Now that I’ve made it this far I’m starting to think, holy shit, what have I done,” someone to remind me that everything is going to be okay even as I do this alone.
Rhonda seems to have more luck with the man thing than I do, continuing to date and find men who are interested in sticking by her through the morning sickness and growing belly. Four years ago I couldn’t have imagined doing this alone, but now I can’t imagine sharing this with a man I barely know. And when I start to worry about who will teach my son to shoot a fade-away jump shot or to slide into third or to pee standing up, I just have to have faith that it will all work out, that it will be okay. Rhonda and I have gotten each other through miscarriage and failed inseminations and indecisive men and heartache and weight gain and hormonal mood swings and lonely Saturdays watching other people walk around in pairs holding hands. Every day I am grateful for Rhonda and the other brave women of SMC who help me to remember that becoming a mother is going to be an amazing journey that will change my life.
Update: Barb, who wrote this piece several years ago, now has two children.