Table of Contents
A TALE OF TWO WOMEN
The desire for motherhood creates an extended family beyond the norm, but full of joy.
“What to do about the frozens?” It is a subject line that I had seen pop up cyclically over time in my different online moms’ groups. Coming out of the haze of the first six months as an only parent to twins, I suddenly realized the question was now relevant to me. My boys were half a year old, my hands were more than full, and I realized that my family was complete. In terms of children, two was the magic number for me. But I had frozen embryos in cryostorage, the result of my one and only donor sperm/donor egg cycle (anonymous donors). Suddenly I saw there were decisions to be made— donate to a couple, donate to a single woman, donate to science, allow the lab to thaw and discard, or simply do nothing and pay the annual storage fee again, which was about to increase.
Looking at my sons, I was intensely aware of the gift they were—to me, to the world. They were a phenomenal blessing, all goodness and hope. As I began to ponder the quandary of what to do with
my stored embryos, my friend Marna said something to the effect of: “Why wouldn’t you want more of that goodness to be in the world?!” It somehow felt right that I should “pay forward” the incredible opportunity that had been given to me, someone who had been told by the doctors, much to my surprise, at age 42, that I had only at most a 2 percent chance of bearing a child. It became clear to me that the right thing to do was to give these remaining embryos a chance to manifest life—and share them with someone else who had been wrestling with infertility. Even better, doing so could bring another person into the world who would bear a special genetic connection to my boys. Given that I’d used anonymous gamete donation, this could be the only full genetic link they would have in their lives—other than the one they share with each other.
Once I made this decision, the next layer of questions unfolded. Who would get the embryos? I quickly decided against donating them anonymously, through a clinic or agency, as I wanted the boys to have the option of knowing any child born as a result. I decided to offer them to a couple, dear friends facing their own fertility issues, who happened to live 3,000 miles away.
The next month, I walked into my local monthly Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) group meeting in a small-town New England church hall. Late as always, I went to the only open seat in the circle and started unbundling my twins. Handing one to the woman sitting beside me, I only half-heard her story of international adoption doors closing one after another. She held Finn throughout the meeting, and we struck up a conversation when the meeting broke up. I liked this Lily and my heart went out to her, as well as my admiration, for her determination to become a mom, one way or the other.
When my West Coast friends decided to pursue a different path to parenthood, I found myself facing the decision yet again. I was intrigued by the notion of having a child who shared my boys’ genetic material living near enough to actually build a relationship over time. But walking down that path was fraught with potential complications. A successful recipient would likely travel in similar circles as I, either intentionally or not—as I was leaning toward talking with other single women in our local group. How would we be received? More important, how would our children feel about this, and how would they be treated by those who knew our story? Would it be a burden for them? We wouldn’t want them looked upon as some sort of social experiment.
I had gotten to know Lily through our membership in the SMC group, and I had come to like and respect her for who she was and her determination to become a mom…as well as the way that she treated my boys. She took such unabashed delight in playing with them, while at the same time, she had a solid sense of strength, calm, and purpose in the way that she helped me with them when play time was over. I KNEW that she would be a great mom, so I decided to offer my frozen embryos to her. I had the jitters about whether she would accept the offer, reject it, feel that it was too forward of me, or view it a weird speed bump or detour on her journey to motherhood. I knew she was open to pursuing the donor egg option, but I didn’t know how she would feel about accepting donor embryos. But I trusted Lily, and this option just felt right. I decided to look for the best opportunity to broach this subject with her.
As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mother, and every holiday that came along, I would think, “Oh next year will be much better because I’ll be on my way to being a mother. Maybe I’ll even be one, and then I can REALLY enjoy Christmas/birthday/whatever.” As relationships came and went, that thought stayed with me. At 40 I began to research other options. The genetic connection was not the most important thing to me—being a mother was. My first choice was adoption from Guatemala, but after completing all the upfront work, the program there became jeopardized so I started to look elsewhere. I looked first to myself. I went through six cycles at a clinic using my own eggs but had no success, so I began to research adoption from Azerbaijan. As often happened in international adoptions, Azerbaijan abruptly closed its program—my paperwork had just been completed and was ready be submitted, but it was too late. I took a break from trying, while still holding onto my thoughts of how I would enjoy my life so much more once I would become a mother. I was giving serious thought to adopting from China or even domestic adoption as my next move—but first I needed a break.
The Path Finds Me
A single mothers’ meeting is an eclectic mix of single mothers by choice, meaning women who intentionally have begun their families without a partner, as well as those thinking of becoming single mothers and those trying, either through carrying a child or through adoption. As is typical, everyone in the room tells her story in a nutshell—where she is in the process, the path or paths she’s on, or the path or paths she has taken to motherhood. As I poured out my story of longing, a woman with twins sat down next to me. I automatically reached for one of the two children whom she was juggling. This little bundle of joy sat on my lap and provided me with warmth and happiness throughout the meeting.
The story I heard in Sue’s introduction was so heartwarming, of her motherhood to these wonderful children through egg donation—of putting an end to the longing. I had never heard much about egg donation, but as this woman shared her story—their story—I began to get excited. I went to my clinic and inquired about their egg donation program, but I wasn’t thrilled with their statistics. At another meeting I continued my conversation with this wonderful new friend about the program she had used, which was all the way across the country.
On what would in retrospect become one of the most important days of my life, Mother’s Day 2005, I went to Sue’s home to visit, instead of going to the SMC monthly meeting. I didn’t think I could handle being in a room full of moms and children on Mother’s Day; the pain of not yet being a mother after trying so hard for so long was more than I could bear. At the same time, I wanted reassurance that being a mom was still possible—I needed a little dose of the twins. As we played with Legos and trucks, made music and laughed, my friend offered the most unbelievable gift to me. She asked if I would have any interest in attempting to give life to the embryos that she had left in storage.
Sue was quite clear about the things that were important to her for the life that would potentially be created as well as the unique extended family that could result. It was a bit overwhelming, but it felt so right. I had come to have so much trust and respect and love for this family that joining them as some unique form of a relative seemed like a bonus. Yes, the thoughts of what I would tell my child about his origins and his relationship with these children did wake me up in the middle of the night on occasion, but it didn’t deter me.
The week before I left for the embryo transfer at the clinic, Sue gave me a card wishing me God speed, with two little handprint outlines from the twins. I packed it along with my other “good luck” objects. The thought that I might be starting a process that could result in my having my own child was the best feeling I had ever had. I got onto my flight to the clinic in Portland, Oregon, with a powerful sense of hope propelling me on this journey to motherhood. Nine months later, those embryos became my child, the adorable, lovable boy who is now the center of my universe.
We all get together as often as possible, in the midst of our busy lives as full-time professionals who are single moms of growing boys. Living only 25 minutes apart, we take trips to the aquarium or the children’s museum, enjoy afternoons on the beach, or lunch or dinner together on the deck with our three boys. The feeling of camaraderie is special, even precious, each time. At the same time, we share the typical trials of teething and earaches and how to balance work and home, universal experiences and quandaries of so many women who are mothering young children. But neither of us lives in the longing for motherhood. We no longer face the fertility struggle. We just live the fact of motherhood day after day.
The boys, who are about two years apart in age, know each other now simply as friends, sometimes as “special friends.” Questions arise for us as moms, as time passes, and together, we try out different ways of answering them. Together, we anticipate the questions that will come to the boys. We don’t have the labels straight yet—“brothers” doesn’t seem right; “genetic siblings” seems so clinical; “like cousins” sometimes feels right. We may have to invent the correct term. There are many answers we don’t have as well as many questions we don’t even know to ask yet. We feel clear that this story ultimately belongs to our sons. The story of their conception is theirs to tell—or not to tell.
Our story has just begun. We DO know that we five ARE connected and, being single moms, we take this as a source of support and joy. Our commitment is to be the best moms we can be and to nurture our connection, to celebrate it, with compassion and joy. We stay true to the miracle of these boys and the blessing of having become moms, against the odds. We move forward together, with trust, curiosity, and courage, as we create and discover the meaning of our shared stories, of family.
Editor’s Note: Although this story has been written anonymously, the authors are willing to be in touch with women who have more questions. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in touch with these groundbreaking moms.
BUYING PAPER PLATES
This is my secret to being a great mother. What’s yours?
By Catherine M. Anderson
When the slipper hits me squarely in the jaw, I’m not considering how seeing me with the baby might subconsciously be bringing up Samuel’s anger at his birthmother [the author adopted her son at birth, driving from Maine to North Carolina to meet him when he just 36 hours old]. Samuel is weeks shy of his third birthday, and instead of a bicycle, I bring him a baby brother. It’s not lovingly occurring to me at this moment, with my cheek stinging, that he might be processing his abandonment with the one safe person who could handle it—in the form of flying blue terrycloth and rubber. No, all I can think about is how to get him into his timeout without interrupting nursing or bursting a blood vessel because I feel so angry.
I breathe. I remind myself that we have made it this far and that this is the first slipper incident. I don’t want to entertain the possibility of my hating him right now. Let me rephrase that: That I hate how hard this is for him— and me. (Later my brother will applaud Sam’s choice. He will tell me that Sam had an entire selection of winter boots to choose from in the foyer. I won’t find this as funny as he does. Instead I’ll contemplate hiding the boots.) Calmly, I inform Sam that he needs to go into his room for quiet time and that I will come get him when I’m ready. I use the scary-low register—the tones a Daddy might use, the calm, slow voice. Then my eyes bead and persuade Sam that going into his room without further encouragement is the best option. I’m stunned that this works. I exhale, and try not to cry.
I reassure myself that I’m doing something right and that we’ll be okay. His baby brother, Marcel, is nursing furtively and is oblivious and happy. After two, maybe three minutes, the squeaky door to Sam’s room announces his return. “Mom, I’m ready now.” I pause, trying to determine if I’m ready. “I’m ready to not hit you with slippers now.” My smile gives him the permission he needs to climb up on the oversize chair and cuddle next to me. We’re all being held together by something larger than our physical selves, keeping that cuddle perfectly balanced on the chair.
LABOR OF LOVE
Marcel was delivered by caesarian section after 28 hours of laboring. His cord was around his neck, which was compromising his heart rate severely. In signature SMC style, a catheter and major surgery wasn’t going to keep me in bed one second longer than necessary. I was walking the halls several hours later, holding this little beauty to my chest as I shuffled down the hall with my IV pole. Finally, one of the amazing nurses who was there during my delivery the day before, took the baby and put a big sign on my door that read DO NOT DISTURB. She then ordered me to rest. I hadn’t slept in almost four days. It was time.
I ached to see Sammy. We’d never been apart for more than a night, and I had already been in the hospital for three days. My longing for him was so intense that I knew something else was at play. One of my birthpartners, Sage, is an adoptee. With her help, I uncovered a deeper understanding for Sammy’s loss of his birthmother 36 hours after his birth. I wept for her loss—and for his. I looked at baby Marcel and tried to imagine letting him go into the arms of another woman for longer than five minutes—for the rest of his life in fact— and I sobbed. In birthing my own son, I touched a new layer of the loss of adoption. I felt it inside my skin. I wanted to hold Sam, but I ached to have birthed him too, I wanted to take away all of his loss and hers.
I finish Sam’s Lifebook three weeks after I get home. It’s only eight pages long. It’s simple and to the point. We’ve read it at least 75 times so far. He loves the pictures of me holding him on the plane and of his birthfather, who he is certain is a basketball player like him. He skips over the pictures of his birthmother in the hospital holding now. I can only begin to imagine what emotions that brings up. He always wants to feel the raised letters of his name on the picture of his hospital bracelet.
I’m changing Marcel’s diaper when I say, “There you go Stinkey Patinkey,” a nonsense phrase I’d made up somewhere along the line. Sam hears this from the other room and comes in screaming; “He is not Stinkey Patinkey. I am Stinkey Patinkey!” I assure him that I would do my best to come up with an original post-diaper moniker for Marcel. Of course, it’s not about the words, but I don’t know how to reassure him anymore than I already have that Marcel will never ever replace him.
I tell Sam how I miss it only being the two of us sometimes. It helps to tell him that. It also helps me. Otherwise it’s like carrying a dark secret inside. I miss the feeling of knowing that Sam and I are just that. The two of us. Having a third seems to dilute the intensity of our bond, but time will absorb that. Eventually it will be the intensity of the three of us. I’ve had glimmers of that and recognize its truth. But Marcel needs to develop a personality first. All he does now is blow bubbles and get fat.
People ask me how I do it. I tell them that I buy paper plates. If they looked confused, I say, “I’ve gotten good at it—like playing soccer when I was in elementary school. When I finally found something I was unequivocally good at, it was easy to practice all the time because I was already successful.” I’m good at the work of mothering. In fact, I take pride in it. I use paper plates, so I have time to give Sam a bath while the baby is nursing. Then Marcel sleeps while I read Sam his story. This leaves no time for dishes. Instead of birthday presents that we don’t need, I give my family a deposit slip for the kids’ 529 plans. I keep a stash of favorite things in the car, so Sam always has something he is jazzed about for show and-tell Wednesdays. I have friends who stay the night on a regular basis, so I can have company after bedtime or while doing my workout in the morning. I eat healthy. I praise myself out loud: “Your mom is an excellent parallel parker, Sam, did you know that?” I tell my friends how lonely I can get and how sometimes I envy their relational status. They tell me how annoyed and frustrated they can get with their relational status and how sometimes they envy my choice to go it alone. I tell them to buy paper plates. I make time to write, so that I have someone other than me to convince that being a single mother by choice twice over is not only doable but absolutely doable.
Marcel is transitioning to daycare this week. That word tastes like rust under my tongue. On the first day he cried himself to sleep and wouldn’t take the bottle. Today I left him arching his back, screaming. I was crying too. I went home to tie up loose ends— sterilizing breast pump tubing, washing bottles, unearthing “work clothes” from the dark corners of my closet, returning two-week-old phone calls, scheduling doctor appointments for everyone, and finally remembering to put the now mostly evaporated but well aerated water in the goldfish bowl. On the radio the DJ plays a song from the 1920s. I find myself gently pulled into the marginal static of the old record’s edges. I’m floating in that space, weightless and lost. When I snap back, I feel the tingling of my skin from crying so hard. Leaving Marcel at daycare feels like a rupture and a betrayal to him—and to me. I let myself feel it. I let myself hate this uncivilized country that disallows mothers and children to remain together for the first year. I feel shame about being an SMC temporarily. I resent not being able to rely on someone else’s income while I stay home. I’ve never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom until this week. “It’s your hormones,” my mom says. “It’ll be okay in a few weeks,” my mommy friends reassure me. But when one of Marcel’s teachers tells me that “it’s okay to have my feelings,” I want to deck her. It’s not my feelings that are the issue here. My son won’t take a bottle, and he has no idea where I am. Several hours later, they call to tell me Marcel came up with an odd position, but it worked for him, and he drank 2.5 ounces. That’s my boy.
Sammy comes out into the kitchen to tell me that his nails need trimming. It hurts him, he says. Because it was too long. I forgot to cut them, he says. It is 9:45 p.m. He has been lying in bed for half an hour coming up with what he thought would be a viable excuse for leaving his bed. Did I say his bed? His egg crate mattress on the floor of my room. It was an agreement we reached when the “family bed” was driving me crazy. Sam sleeps like the hands of a clock. I’m impressed with the originality of his request and tell him so as I put him back in his bed for the fourth time. Since he hates having his nails cut, I empathize with how desperately he wants me to stop writing and go to sleep. Minutes later, the baby is asleep on my bed and Sammy is asleep next to it.
I am Catherine and Sons now. I picture that stenciled on the back of the slick red pickup I fantasize about owning one day. But instead of
plumbers, we’re a roving family of writers, musicians, and scientists.
DEAR MS. ESSIE
I know it’s not politically correct to say that you have regrets about having a child, but are there any out there? And if so, what do you regret? To a lesser extent, maybe a good question is, “What’s the hardest thing for you about being a single mom?”
My only regret is that I didn’t start earlier. I was a foster mom when I was 35 but didn’t find it fulfilling enough. In hindsight, I realized that I wanted to be a MOM, not a foster mother.
The only thing I find hard on a regular basis about having a child as a single mom is not having a second income. Even that is okay, most of the time though, and otherwise I think there are things that are easier and things that are harder about being single versus married. But for the most part, it is what it is. I can honestly say I have never regretted having my daughter even for one minute.
I do miss my single self sometimes. I don’t consider myself single anymore because I just don’t have the time or energy to think about dating or bringing a guy into my life. I always knew that when I had a child, sacrifices would be made with my time and finances. My parents did that for me and I just think that is what I owe my child. I’ve had great adventures and it won’t kill me to be here for my daughter the first couple of years of her life until we can travel and learn new things together. I do regret not having my baby’s daddy to share some of these precious moments with or to share finances or chores. It would be nice to work late knowing that a father was home with the baby.
I regret I don’t make enough money to have another. I regret that my high-risk pregnancy means that I should not have another. I regret the times I want someone to wait in the car while my child is sleeping and I just want to grab something quick. I regret when I need help carrying in bags from the car after shopping. I regret that I don’t have someone to go to the store for me when I don’t want to. This is the single best thing I have ever done in my life. The most peaceful, centered, and content I have ever been. My only regret would have been had I never done it.
It is overwhelming. You have to be prepared to be overwhelmed. My married sister had a baby on Monday and we just sat together on Saturday and cried. Partly hormonal, partly just overwhelmed. It all just seems too hard. What-if questions were bouncing around her brain. I remember that feeling. Now, my child and I run around all over the place and nothing is beyond us. But it’s all a huge learning curve.
I can firmly state that I have no regrets having my daughter on my own. She is a medically fragile child with developmental delays due to her extreme prematurity. She is the center of my life and brings absolute joy to my days. My only regret is that I don’t have the power to make her a healthy child, but I can help to make her a happy child.
Do I regret having my daughter? Never! Do I regret having to have her on my own? Sometimes. Being a mom is hard, and being a single mom is no different. There are definitely things that are easier—no arguments over what to name the baby or on how to parent, no having to share cuddle time. Naturally, some things are harder. I’m dead tired and my parents have plans tonight and tomorrow, so I’m on my own. There’s no one else to get trash out or fold some laundry or do the dishes. I do worry that I won’t be able to instill a sense of belonging in my daughter. That she will hurt over a lack of father in her life. I still hope to find the right man and get married some day, but I worry that he won’t love my daughter the way I do or that if he and I had a child together, my daughter would feel left out.
The hardest things for me are finances. It feels like I am always struggling and trying to just make it financially—and being away from my daughter while I working full time.
No regrets here. I can’t imagine not being my daughter’s mom. The hardest times have been when one of us is sick. My daughter ending up unexpectedly in the hospital was the hardest. Now it’s my turn going through surgery. Though the logistics of being single and needing coverage for my daughter at the end of a school day and for me too, as you can’t leave the hospital without an adult companion. The second income factor is a huge one for me (or perhaps I should say sufficient income). I know may SMCs hire help, but that was never in my budget. I regret the lack of time factor—I have to acknowledge that I can’t do everything, so a lot doesn’t get done at all, and sometimes that is hard to accept.
I never thought I wanted to be a mom. Then my dad died and this thought came: “Oh no. I never had a child.” After grieving the loss of my dad and the loss of the perfect relationship, I was ready. Sort of. What eventually brought me over to the other side? A comment from a friend who said: “You wouldn’t be doing it alone. You’ll have people like me, who will be there whenever you need us.” That turned out to be the last piece of the puzzle. I’ve been amazed at the people who have stepped up to help me now that my son is born. Any regrets? Wishing I’d had the perspective of a second-time mom the first time around. And that I’m in the worst shape of my life and I’m trying to figure out how to work out with an infant/toddler in tow.
My greatest stress is having a child who’s challenging. My daughter has incredible strengths and weaknesses. She’s always on the extremes of every issue. A lot has to do with her beginnings—I adopted her from a baby home in Russia. I’ve learned a lot about what is needed to parent a child with her background, but it’s been on-the-job training. If I knew then what I know now, I might have been better able to nip things in the bud or to know what kind of intervention was needed.
I am 45 years old and have a wonderful son. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner. I am a “good catholic” and was waiting for marriage. Then I lost my mom and lived through 9/11 all within the same year. After working through survivor’s guilt with my therapist and overcoming some medical issues, I conceived my son. I would have loved to conceive additional children. But I have lots of love in my heart and my son has brought so much joy to me. So now I am doing what is necessary to adopt a domestic infant. I am a single black woman so want a black or mixed-race newborn. So no regrets. Even on the tough days, I know it was absolutely the right decision for me.
I have 5-year-old triplets conceived via donor egg/donor sperm. It took me five years, off and on, to have them and a good deal of financial and emotional investment. I don’t have any regrets. I don’t have any time to spend regretting. What’s the hardest thing? Well, after having been on home rest and bedrest for a couple of months while pregnant, taking three months off after they were born, and using lots of sick leave that first year of preschool, I don’t have much leave left at work, and I could really use a vacation! Another thing I’ve had trouble with is juggling all that needs to be done and getting enough sleep.
No regrets here but I would understand regrets from someone who had children because they were married and it was the obvious next step but didn’t really anticipate the upheaval, the loss of control, the impact on the relationship, and so on. I didn’t fall into that—I planned it over many years. The hard bits are not having anyone to take over when I’ve had enough and being sick. Being single is hard—you end up becoming so independent because you have to do everything for yourself. I think it’s pretty good training for being a parent.
I found that, among all the challenges a single mom faces, being the only person to make sure your children have quality of life physically, emotionally, and mentally creates anxiety for me. I have two boys 7.5 years apart and their needs on these three aspects are different. I have to work hard to make sure that one of them isn’t being ignored while I’m concentrating on the other. Sometimes I feel that I’m the only person to cheer them up. However, my key point here is that I never have a single moment to feel regret. It’s just not there, no matter what situation I’m in.
I also have no regrets. What I do have is minor aches and pains about how my/our life isn’t “perfect.” Money is a struggle, but I was struggling before I had my baby. The hardest parts for me are about how wonderful it is and how there isn’t anyone to share it with there’s no one to poke in the middle of the night when she’s sleeping peacefully to say, “Look what we made!” There’s no one as invested in her toes and teeth and dimples as I am. There’s no one who thinks her farts are adorable.
Editor’s Note: In this feature, the wit and wisdom of our very smart and together SMC—Ms. Essie Emcee—is tapped to answer some of the question that SMCs may face. Other sources of extraordinary wisdom can be found on the SMC listserve groups. It was from the Mothering list, in fact, that this question and the answers were shamelessly stolen. If you have a question you’d like Ms. Essie to answer, email email@example.com or mail it to Box 1642, Gracie Square Station, NYC 10028.
IT DON'T COME EASY
Thoughts for Thinkers and Women Facing TTC Challenges.
By Holly Posin
My journey started quite innocently. I ran into an acquaintance a few years back who told me she had had a child on her own. She had gotten pregnant “by accident” and decided to raise the child alone. She told me about Single Mothers by Choice.
A few months later, went to an SMC meeting as a thinker. The women encouraged me to make my decision, and that if I decided to go forward, I should move—pronto. I was 42 at the time. Get your FSH tested, go aggressive with the meds, hurry, hurry, you don’t have any time to lose.
My pragmatic side cautioned me not to jump. I was a new thinker, unsure if I wanted a child on my own. But I was impressed that a few of the SMC women had less means than I did and were making single motherhood a reality. I found a lot of strength in that meeting.
It had never occurred to me that I could have a child on my own. I’m not sure why. My gynecologist did me a disservice, I believe, though I’m not blaming her for my challenges. One friend’s doctors had told her flat out, “You want a child, get moving. Now!” I thought at the time that he was mean, my doctor never said that. She never discussed my running out of time. But why hadn’t I realized it myself?
I think I was caught in a sort of inbetween group of late Baby Boomer women—well-educated career women, many of whom simply missed the Family Train as it was leaving the station. Just 10 years ago, society hadn’t caught up to the idea of single women creating their own families. It didn’t seem as accepting, as run of the mill, as it does now.
At the age of 43, I started trying, but only after I went through a deep depression for a few weeks. I had to process giving up that age old dream of having the conventional family… husband first, then children.
I quickly got aggressive with meds and produced a lot of follicles. I did one medicated IUI after another, more than 16 inseminations. My reproductive endocrinologist encouraged me. My body was fine. At my age, we were looking for that one good egg. I had so many disappointments, so many breaks to recoup and regroup and rethink. I spent so much money, so much time. I experienced so many heartbreaks. I went through so much therapy. Was my desire for a baby that overwhelming? For me, it all came down to one question: Could I be happy for the rest of my life never having had a child?
I plugged on. I did acupuncture and Chinese herbs. I drank no caffeine and no alcohol. I meditated daily and practiced yoga. I even stopped reading and listening to the news to limit negative energy. The only thing I didn’t try was drinking wheat grass.
We doubled my meds for an IVF cycle, but when I didn’t produce anymore follicles, I hit the wall, emotionally and physically. I was drained. After the first try failed, I had no more feelings. I became numb. Did I want a baby that bad? But something, some inner urge, kept pushing me forward. The third IVF worked! I had been trying to get pregnant for more than two years and a half years. I was so conditioned to negative news, I wasn’t sure of how to react to a positive test. I found out I was pregnant the day before my 46th birthday.
My pregnancy was relatively easy, considering my age. But even after trying for so long, the question still nagged at me: Do I want this? Watching friends go on exotic trips, I felt pings of regret for a lifestyle I’d no longer be able to lead.
Ava was born in March. People asked if I was totally in love with my newborn infant. But I was too overwhelmed to answer. I knew that I was supposed to say yes, but I didn’t feel that way, and I felt guilty because of it. An SMC once told me that she was totally in love with her daughter in utero. What was wrong with me? Did I love my daughter? After all this, was I supposed to be a mother?
At an SMC meeting, with about 10 moms and babies, the noise level was pretty high. One mom asked me how old Ava was. “Nine weeks,” I replied. “Oh,” she said, “that’s when you still don’t like them very much”. The room went deadpan silent, all eyes on her. “Don’t get me wrong, I love my children madly. It’s just that the first twelve weeks, I just didn’t like them very much.” Maybe some mothers were shocked, but I was grateful; she gave me the freedom to feel what I was feeling. I wasn’t a bad mother!
By 16 weeks, I was past the numb feeling. I felt part of the worldwide sorority of mothers that I always longed belong to. I began to fall in love with my baby and feel the happiness of motherhood. When I’m rocking her to sleep at night, singing her soft songs and lullabies, I’m the most content. It’s during those tender moments that I know that not only was I meant to be a mother but that I needed to be a mother. I had made the right decision.
21 THINGS TO DO ON FATHER'S DAY
Yes we are all regaled with joy and good will and sticky kisses and handmade heart cards on Mother’s Day. But when that day in June rolls around, many of us feel caught a little short. What are we to do? How are we to celebrate? Here, some ideas that should keep everyone involved and happy.
1. Have your child make a card or gift for his/her grandfather or close uncle.
2. Celebrate twice. Call it Mother’s Day all over again and tell the folks in school to address the cards to Mommy.
3. Attend the Father’s Day activities at school yourself.
4. Have your child call you Daddy all day long, after all, you do all the “dad” stuff, too.
5. Have your child make a card for his/her donor.
6. Read your child’s donor profile together.
7. Write down five wonderful things that you do together as a family.
8. Play hooky on the day that school is working on the Father’s Day project. Make it a special mom-and-kid day.
9. Rename Father’s Day [your kid’s name here] Day and do anything he/she wants to do.
10. Act excited about Father’s Day and proudly wear the necktie that your child brings home.
11. Start a tradition—going to a favorite restaurant or seeing a baseball game—that happens every year on Father’s Day.
12. Rename it FUDGE Day—Friends, Uncles, Dads, Grandfathers, Etc.
13. Call yourself Ms. Dad and see how loud you can belch.
14. Celebrate the day with your own father if possible. Let your child see you wishing him a happy Father’s Day.
15. Acknowledge your child’s feelings. If he/she feels sad, just looking him/her in eye and saying, “I know how you feel” can ease a lot of pain.
16. Host a Single Mothers by Choice meeting and raise a glass to your wonderful selves.
17. Release a balloon or two. Designate them for those who made your life together as a family possible, whether it was a birth mother, birth father, or donor.
18. Celebrate family diversity. Read Todd Parr’s The Family Book.
19. Make it a movie day—rent your favorite movies, eat popcorn dripping with melting butter, and giggle together under the covers.
20. Bake a cake and dedicate it to each other.
21. Start a time capsule and each year pick something that commemorates that year for you as a family
WHAT'S THE BUZZ
Many companies provide corporate matching funds to nonprofits such as SMC. This is an easy way for you to double your donation (or more!). Please check to see if your company has an employee matching program, and if it does, contact your Human Resources department to find out if your SMC donation is eligible for a corporate match. SMC is an educational 501(c) nonprofit organization and meets federal eligibility for these programs. We have also set up a Children’s Fund to help the children in SMC families whose lives have struck by tragedy. If you would like to contribute to either fund, please send your tax-deductible contribution to SMC, Box 1642, New York, NY 10028 if you are paying by check. If you want to pay by credit card, you can do so via PayPal by using the “send money” feature with the SMC email address firstname.lastname@example.org as the designated address. Indicate whether the payment is for SMC itself or the Children’s Fund.
Lauri Ames is the new Contact Person for Arkansas. She can be reached at (501) 538-8185, email@example.com.
Kathleen Hayes is the new Contact Person for Chicago. She can be reached at (773) 505-8537, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aimee Heller is a new Contact Person for Miami, FL. She can be
reached at email@example.com
Maureen Kelly is also a new Contact Person for Chicago. She can be reached at (847) 864-9936, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rivka Seeman is the new Contact Person for White Plains, NY. She can be reached at (914) 437-5381, email@example.com.
Valerie Simpson is a new contact person for Fresno, CA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SMC WEST COAST VACATION
For the sixth year in a row, a group of SMCs will be vacationing together in Santa Barbara at the Family Vacation Center at UC Santa Barbara. This year, we’ll be going during Week 3, July 12 to 19. Reservations can be made directly with the Family Vacation Center. The place is fabulous, the staff is incredible, and our kids have loved the kids programs. The kids programs (including infant care) are included in the overall price. If you’re interested, you can register online (www.familyvacationcenter.com; go to Rates and Reservations) and send a deposit to secure a room. Be sure to note “SMC Group” on your form and drop me an email (email@example.com) so we can add you to our egroup. The rates include all meals and many activities.
Ages 13+, $859; 8-12, $789; 4-7, $759; 1-3, $629; under 1 $379
The SMC Newsletter is now available via email for those who prefer to receive it that way. It’s exactly the same as the paper version, without the paper. If you’d like to sign up for email delivery, instead of receiving a paper copy, write to the SMC office at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be put on the email list for the newsletter. Also let us know which email address you’d like us to send it to. If you’ve already notified us that you’d like the email version, there’s no need to let us know a second time.
Please send all birth and adoption announcements to email@example.com. Include all relevant information—birth date, weight, your name, arrival home date, siblings—and I’ll put it in the next issue of the newsletter. Congratulations to all our new moms.
Claudia Cummins joyfully announces the birth of Graham Martin Cummins. He was born on August 28, 2007, and was 7lbs, 7oz, and 20 inches. Hours after Graham appeared, big brother Liam proclaimed, “Oh, mother, it is SO much more fun to have a baby than it is to just have a big, big, big belly.” How true!
Bridget Flaherty and big sister Mia Rose are thrilled to announce the arrival of Aidan Finn and Nora Bridget, born November 13, 2007. Both weighed 2lbs, 13oz. They are both finally home and are true miracles.
Eileen Keller and big brother Ryan (2.5) are thrilled to announce the birth of Emily Grace, born December 16, 2007, at 7:40 a.m. She was 7lbs, 7oz, and 20 inches and is absolutely beautiful. I am amazed every time I look into her big blue eyes and perfect little face and in awe of what a wonderful and loving big brother Ryan is turning out to be.
Monica Kipiniak and son Max (4) are thrilled to announce the birth of Max’s little sister Adelaide Rose on December 15, 2007. She was 7lbs and 19.25 inches. She, along with her brother, have made each day the best day of their mother’s life.
Cheryl Scoglio announces the happiest day of her life: Her beautiful daughter Sara Agnes was born on March 23, 2007 at 1:03 p.m. She was 8lbs, 9oz, and 21 inches. (Her middle name is in honor of my mom who told me about becoming an SMC.) Sara is a healthy happy baby, almost one year old as of this writing and I must say this has been the most incredible year of my life! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful baby and I love being a mom!
Dawn Stevens announces the birth of Jacob Freddie on October 2, 2007. Born a week early with umbilical cord around his neck, he was 6.5lbs and 18.1 inches. He’s now growing with leaps and bounds to make up for the small birth weight. Jake wasn’t a month old when he had to spend a 48 hours at CHKD for a high fever. He is so healthy now, you can’t even tell that he had this experience in his short life. Would not give up this bundle of joy for anything.
ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER
This newsletter is published quarterly by Single Mothers by Choice Inc., a nonprofit founded in 1981. Annual subscriptions to this newsletter are included free with a membership ($55 for first year, $35 for renewal) or by subscription at $25 per year. Give a friend a gift. We are a nonprofit 501(c) corporation, and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
We welcome submissions of original material. All material is published at the discretion of SMC and may be edited. SMC claims sole editorial authority and responsibility for the contents. Articles published in this newsletter represent the views of the author and not necessarily that of SMC. Send submissions to Nancy Nisselbaum at the SMC office or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SMC accepts advertising at the rate of $1,000 per page (adjusted proportionately for fractions of a page). Classified ads or announcements from our members for noncommercial ventures are accepted without charge. Jane Mattes, CSW, the publisher of the newsletter, is the founder of SMC and author of Single Mothers by Choice: A Guidebook for Single Women Who Are Considering or Have Chosen Motherhood. Jane is also a psychotherapist and can be reached at (212) 988-0993, at email@example.com, or at the SMC office at Box 1642, Gracie Square Station, New York, NY 10028.
Nancy Nisselbaum, firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 897-3413.
Mico Promotions, Inc.
Entire contents copyright © 2008, Single Mothers by Choice Inc. All rights reserved