I was 34 when I first heard about a woman choosing to have a baby on her own. It was over margaritas with my friends one night. One friend told us about a co-worker who was 40, single and had decided to try to have a baby on her own. I remember the moment vividly, my eyes wide and terrified that was where I was headed if I didn’t buckle down and find a man. I thought, “I can’t let that be my life.”
Four years later, as I am in the thick of trying to conceive (TTC), I’ve gone through a lot of emotional processing and grieving that comes with choosing single motherhood.
My first part of grief came when I was 35 and froze my eggs. I did it as a way to buy myself time and hopefully relax in my dating process. But I remember feeling depressed that I had to go to such lengths to preserve my own fertility. It was a very real reminder that I was not where I thought I would be in my life. And while it did take some of the pressure off of dating for a few years, I always knew in the back of my mind my frozen eggs were not a guarantee.
When I had my fertility tested at age 34 and found out my levels weren’t that of a typical 34 year old, I had to look at a realistic timeline for myself. I journaled that if I wasn’t in a relationship by the fall of 2021 when I was turning 38, I would start the steps to having a baby on my own.
So, being the punctual woman I am, in September of 2021, two months before my 38th birthday, I started my research. I called my RE and made an appointment for a consultation and bought books. I spent hours googling SMC and trying to gather as much information as I could. I felt shame and embarrassment around the path and an intense grief over accepting that my life had not turned out the way I had always imagined. I spent nights crying and tossing and turning, knowing that if I went down this path, the fairytale happy ending of having a baby with a man I loved would be gone. It felt like I was making the biggest decision in life, one where there was no turning back.
I started figuring out if I could afford it and putting together a pro and con list. After seeing how much longer my pro column was, I knew it was time to share the idea with my mom and sister. I cried as I told my mom what I was considering and asked for her help. She told me she would support me in any way I needed and thus, the to-do list started.
I didn’t know there would be so many steps before you even try to get pregnant. I thought I would schedule a couple IUI’s and boom, be pregnant. But the road ahead was bumpy, with lots of emotions and tests I had never even heard of before. Unexpected expenses and results. For two months, I couldn’t sleep through the night, my mind constantly racing. Could I really do this? I had a really hard time when it came to what people would think of me. “What’s wrong with Nicole that she has to resort to using a sperm donor to have a baby? Why can’t she find a man?”
I had to push other people’s views out of my head and focus on what I wanted in my heart. I knew I was ready when the thought of what I’d be losing was worse than the thought of what I’d be giving up.
From here, I went full steam ahead. I booked all of my appointments, did the procedures, and bought the sperm within a matter of 2 months. I started my first round of IVF four days after my 38th birthday.
And the weird thing was, once I had my first IVF cycle in motion, I felt a calmness around my decision. The anxiety and sleepless nights vanished, and I was able to see clearly. I was excited.
As I write this today, I am awaiting the PGS results from my 2 embryos. I know I still have a long journey ahead of me, and no guarantee that this first IVF cycle will work. But the internal grief has risen, and I am happy and excited for what lies ahead as a single mother by choice.
Nicole from Once Upon a Bebe