Table of Contents
From The Editor
Often we SMCs look towards the future, at the joys and challenges ahead. There is so much excitement and pressure to be ready for the next challenge, that we sometimes forget how far we’ve come. But sometimes it is important to look back on the progress we’ve made, the challenges we’ve surpassed, and all the little, wonderful moments that have defined our journey.
In this issue of the SMC Newsletter, some of our members look back on their experiences to reflect on their journey to SMC-hood, and we share an article from Issue #1 of the SMC Newsletter as a reflection on how far we’ve come.
Our Members Look Back
It’s Just A Date: How Pursuing My Dream of Having a Child Made Dating More Fun
I had often assumed that some women, unlike me, were able to date lightheartedly. Unconcerned with a hoped-for long-term outcome, these women could treat a date as just a date. They found a way to relax and have a good time. These women, I further suspected, were free to be themselves with their dates and so were the ones finding the right partner.
As these musings might indicate, my single dating life was often riddled with worry. When dating a man, I was rarely fully present. My mind ran the back story. I’d size him up, then rocket mentally into an imagined future. Is he the right fit for me, and I for him? Is he commitment-phobic? Am I? Are we wasting our time?
Of course, sometimes, there was true hope and love. But the stifling “what-ifs” commanded my attention. Revelations. Then about a year ago, a crossroads moment appeared. My father was in the hospital, in what would turn out to be the last month of his life. I was about six months past the most painful breakup of my life, and about six months away from 40. While chatting with a friend during a business trip to New York, I blurted out to her, apropos of nothing, “I think I’m going to become a mom on my own. Do you know anyone in our field who’s done this and how on earth they did it??” She grinned at me. The biggest, most joyful grin I have ever seen. I knew in that moment—we were in a bar, but I’ll take revelation where I can get it—that motherhood was where I was headed. That I was going to do this.
For many women, the decision to become an SMC comes with intense mourning for “the dream,” that happy imagining most little girls grow up with, of a traditional marriage and family—or whatever version fires one’s personal aspirations. Giving up the dream was one of my roadblocks. I tried to focus on letting go only of the order in which the dream would take shape, but it was hard. In my pained and somewhat perfectionist heart, I was letting go of ever finding love, before or after motherhood.
And for a while, I lived this out. In the initial trying months of fertility tests and treatments, dating was the last thing on my mind. Regular appointments with the vaginal ultrasound technician can do that to a girl. My thoughts were directed at my ovaries and the vials in my doctor’s deep freeze.
As difficult as my trying to conceive phase has been so far—including unexpected surgery and other things—the rebirth I first felt when I committed to becoming an SMC has remained. Out from under that pressure to find a mate, I have made space for lots of other types of fulfillment in my life. I’ve learned to better appreciate my friends, and I enjoy them more than ever before. No longer does every sighting of a traditional-appearing family cause envy and anxiety. My focus and confidence at work has improved, even as I mentally rehearse methods of fitting a child and my career together. The last thing I expected at the (previously dreaded) age of 40 was to blossom, but that is exactly what I felt. More than 20 years of dating and not quite getting what I wanted and hoped for were over. I was going to give myself what I wanted. It was a new era. Opening Up.
My feelings about men have become delightfully uncomplicated—for the first time in my adult life.
In addition to all this, my feelings about men have become delightfully uncomplicated—for the first time in my adult life. Obsessing over which class or volunteer cause might have the highest male/female ratio was no longer occupying my thoughts. I’ve even found that I’ve been getting a lot of male attention—without really trying. Again, not what I expected at 40, and certainly not what I expected in the pursuit of SMC-hood.
Pregnancy and early motherhood won’t easily accommodate dating, and, no doubt the grounding experience of parenthood will temper the near-euphoria I often feel these days. But I am, for now, while in the trying to conceive stage, enjoying an unexpected gift. I no longer look across the dinner table at a man and size him up as a future partner. I simply size him up as a person that evening. He need not meet my dreams of “the one,” although if this happened by chance, great. If he and I stay in touch, I just let those encounters add to my impression of him. Unknowns regarding his (and my) commitment potential can remain unknown unless he and I decide otherwise. This feels more natural and human than any other moment in my dating life. I can be my authentic self, “rules” be damned. Some women friends say I am finally getting to “date the way a man dates.” Whether that’s true or not, I certainly feel like I am more fun to be with. I am finally one of those women who can treat a date as just a date.
Perhaps most important, and ironically, I feel much better equipped now to recognize who is or is not a potential “keeper” (perhaps a divorced dad I meet with my child on a playground, or maybe someone I’m dating now, who knows?) than I was before I was regularly in touch with a sperm bank. I feel truly romantic on the dates that I do have. Go figure.
What seemed at times to be one of the darkest moments of my life, letting go of a life plan I had held close since childhood, may yet yield more hope than I ever would have imagined. There are so many side benefits when you give yourself what you truly want.
An experience I had this evening left me thinking about how far I’ve come from the scared (okay, terrified) almost-40-year-old woman who started tentatively on the road to single motherhood 4 years ago and I wanted to share it, since many of you may have had similar experiences.
When I decided to move forward with this crazy plan, the thing that scared me most was what on earth I would tell people about my “status” as a single, pregnant woman. I see similar posts on the SMC organization’s “Thinking” section of the online Forum, and my heart always goes out to those women. I want to reach out to them and reassure them that in the larger scheme of things it really won’t matter after a few days or weeks or months. At least, it didn’t for me. I embraced my pregnancy with such joy that by the time I needed to come out of the closet I did it with pride and confidence. I’ve maintained that level of comfort with my decision, and it has been interesting to me to see how people have just accepted my “status” as normal or at least not particularly shocking. It’s especially surprising since I live in the Western US – one of the most conservative areas in the country. I know some people I work with don’t approve of my decision, but I truly believe my comfort and confidence have left them in silence. Which is fine with me.
The bigger surprise has been the women who have asked me about how I approached my decision, what steps I took, how difficult and expensive the process was, all (they eventually disclose), because they too have had thoughts about becoming single moms but didn’t know it actually was an option. I answer their questions thoughtfully and honestly, without going into intimate details about my son’s conception or his donor.
Tonight we were visiting with a new friend, a 30 year old, attractive and educated young woman who I never imagined would show an interest in SMC-hood. I told her about this wonderful organization, how its members have encouraged and supported me though my journey, and I encouraged her to follow her heart, wherever it leads her. She told me after all the years of dating and not meeting “the one”, she was coming to the conclusion that maybe she would need to take a different approach to having the baby she dreamed of.
I send out a heartfelt “THANK YOU!” to all of you who have supported and encouraged me and held me up when I think I can’t make it one more day.
My Journey To Motherhood Via Adoption
I am single by choice. Did you know weird girls in high school who never wanted to get married (and/or have children)? That was me. I had my own philosophy about what marriage does to a woman’s career choice and trajectory, self esteem, independence, you name it. My mother worried I’d never “get a man” with that attitude.
Though I knew I didn’t want to marry, I was on the fence about becoming a parent. I put it that way because I never wanted to birth a baby. I always knew that I wanted to become a parent through adoption. At the age of 40 – two failed marriages later – I recognized I did indeed want to be a mom. So I dated while preparing to begin the adoption process.
Like many of us, I went the online dating route. My criteria were pretty strict: no kids, wanted or would consider having kids, age difference no more than +/- 5 years. It seems that most men in their late 30s/early 40s seek younger women if they want kids. One even said, “I like you, but I really want kids, and I don’t know whether you’ll be able to produce them.” I chuckled and advised him to get a health check from a “young breeder” because age doesn’t guarantee a woman can conceive or deliver a baby.
Anyway, I met a wonderful man (4 yrs my junior). His profile listed “undecided” in the kid category, but he said during our second date that he was leaning more toward no kids. We talked about my adoption plan during that date. I was very clear that I wasn’t looking for a co-parent. Fast-forward two years when I informed him that I was beginning the adoption process. I gave him the opportunity to bail before the madness started. He just laughed.
Now, 4 months and 1 day into being a single parent at the age of 44, I know I did everything just right! I have an amazingly beautiful baby *and* an incredible boyfriend. I am a single mom by choice! I should have stuck with Plan A all along!
Ask the Doctor
“Ask the Doctor” is an exciting new feature in our Newsletters. The column will be written by experts who are affiliated with the wonderful sperm banks and fertility centers who are our long-term advertisers. If you have a question to ask our doctors, please send it to SMCemail@example.com.
This Quarter, we connected with Dr. Spencer Richlin, of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT). (See Below for full Bio)
Factors to consider when making treatment decisions for conception: How many Inseminations should I attempt before switching to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
By Spencer Richlin, MD FACOG
Prior to starting any treatment plan, patients undergo diagnostic testing. Testing includes an ultrasound, ovarian reserve testing, and a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). The ultrasound evaluates the uterus for any significant fibroids or abnormalities while the ovaries are also imaged for an antral follicle count noting their position in the pelvis.
Ovarian reserve testing is one of the cornerstones in evaluation of a woman’s fertility potential. There are 4 features that are taken into account when evaluating ovarian reserve. These include patient age, antral follicle count, anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and a day 3 follicle stimulating hormone measurement. A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is obtained on day 6-10 of the menstrual cycle to assess the fallopian tubes. After the above testing is performed we decide with our patients between IUI and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). For the vast majority of our patients, testing is normal and we start with IUI. In rare cases when the fallopian tubes are blocked or ovarian reserve is low, IVF becomes the treatment of choice.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycles use either known or donor sperm, and insemination can be during a natural or medicated cycle. Patients with regular menstrual cycles can time insemination using ovulation predictor kits or by inducing ovulation with an injection shot to induce ovulation when the follicle reaches the optimal size (around 20 mm). During a natural cycle, one oocyte (egg) is released from the ovary and is picked up by the fimbriae of the fallopian tube. Sperm is placed in the uterus mid-cycle and a pregnancy test is performed in 2 weeks. It can take up to 8 months to become pregnant with natural cycles with IUI, but pregnancy often occurs sooner.
A more aggressive option is to use ovulation induction medications which produce and release 2-3 oocytes. Since multiple oocytes are released, patients become pregnant faster but are at a small risk of a multiple pregnancy. Most of our patients are pregnant within 3-6 months when using ovulation induction medications to super-ovulate the ovary.
For women with irregular cycles a natural cycle with IUI is not possible as many are not ovulating or are ovulating inconsistently. Ovulation induction medications are needed to help with follicle development in order to time IUI. With ovulation induction, pregnancy rates are based on the age of the patient. Pregnancy often happens within 6 months.
Every patient is unique and special. The physician and patient will develop a treatment plan of action which will usually include the number of IUI cycles recommended before moving on to IVF. In general, pregnancy occurs within 3-6 cycles of IUI. If pregnancy is not achieved within 3-6 cycles of intrauterine insemination we would recommend a patient explore in vitro fertilization (IVF).
IVF pregnancy rates are significantly higher than IUI cycles and are also dependent on age and ovarian reserve. IUI is dependent on the oocyte being picked up by the fallopian tube with fertilization in the tube prior to the embryo’s movement and entry into the uterus. The patient who does not become pregnant with IUI due to tubal infertility will do excellent with IVF as the embryo is placed directly into the uterus with a catheter bypassing the fallopian tube all together.
As a reproductive endocrinologist, I want my patients to become pregnant within 1-3 IUI cycles and 1 to 2 cycles when using IVF. Ultimately, I want all of my patients to be successful, and at RMACT, we do everything in our power to maximize your chances for success.
Please send us your questions for future columns of Ask the Doctor. Write to SMCfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Spencer Richlin is Surgical Director and a Partner in reproductive endocrinology at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT). In addition, he is Division Chief of Reproductive Endocrinology at Norwalk Hospital. Dr. Richlin is board-certified in both Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility and Obstetrics & Gynecology. In addition to treating couples Dr. Richlin has enjoyed helping single female patients navigate their path to starting a family over the years. He will recommend the best course of treatment that will lead to successfully taking home a baby, whether that treatment is minimally invasive or involves more medically-advanced forms of assisted reproductive techniques (ART).
Dr. Richlin is a 2011 US News Top Doctor, Castle Connolly 2015 New York Metro Top Doctor, 2015 Fairfield County Top Doctor and a 2015 Castle Connolly Top Doctor.
Dr. Richlin has published numerous abstracts, articles and book chapters. His most recent contribution was as a writing member of The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology PROLOG Seventh Edition for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility (2014). PROLOG is a personal study resource for the practicing obstetrician-gynecologist. It is used as a study tool, reference guide and a way of obtaining up-to-date information in the specialty of reproductive medicine.
In 2015, he received The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology National Faculty Award.
SMC Looks Back
SMC Roots – A Long Way, Baby
It was October of 1981 when Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) had its first meeting. Of course we were not SMC at that time, just a group of seven women, half of whom were expecting or mothers, responding to an interview that had appeared in the NY Daily News featuring two SMCs in their late thirties. One, Jane Mattes, had gotten pregnant with a man but had no expectation the father would marry her; the other was trying to conceive but had run into fertility problems. We met at Jane’s apartment. It was her idea to form a group for multiple purposes: sharing information and experiences with those who were thinking about single parenting, meeting other women who had chosen the same path to discuss common issues, and exposing her son to other children with a similar background.
We were all anxious to connect with others who felt the tug of motherhood. Communication flourished, and questions like how do you make the decision, how did you get pregnant, what’s it like to do it alone, were asked and answers freely given. There was friendly but serious comparison between mothers who knew the fathers and those who elected to conceive by donor insemination. A spirit of honesty prevailed. After three intense hours we decided to meet again in November. A bond had been formed; we knew we were not alone.
The next four or five meetings continued along the same lines. New members found us and joined us. The meetings became a free-for-all question and answer sessions. After a while, those of us who were mothers or mothers-to-be didn’t feel the need to live and relive our decisions, pregnancies, and deliveries. We wanted to discuss issues like living with a newborn, the expenses of childcare, how to deal with the loss of freedom and so on. By May of 1981 we recognized the need to A) split into two segments, one for mothers, expectants, and those trying to get pregnant, and one for thinkers, and B) choose pertinent topics to discuss and a leader to run the meetings.
One of our members found a church whose pastor offered to let us use the facilities, which included several rooms in their basement that functioned as a nursery school during the week. Flyers were passed out and members were encouraged to spread the word amongst interested friends and acquaintances. After several meetings and much debate, we finally named our “baby”. We decided on Single Mothers by Choice because we felt it best described us. There were numerous support groups for divorced or widowed parents, comprised of people who did not plan to raise children on their own. We, on the other hand, were considering or had made a conscious decision to become single parents.
We discovered that there were five of us who were willing and able to devote our free time to organizing SMC. Starting off as a steering committee we began to list topics of interest, set up a volunteer committee to respond to media requests, and help new SMCs in other areas to set up local chapters. Eventually we coalesced into a 501c3 non-profit organization, and began the tedious task of putting together a national program. We arranged for a telephone line and, at this writing, are awaiting formal notification of our incorporation.
The local mothers’ meetings began to take shape. We have discussed a dozen or so topics that we felt were strong single mother issues. These included: How to get back into the social swing, dealing with the “Overload Syndrome”, thoughts about having a second child and so on. At a recent meeting on legal issues such as wills and custody, an attorney specializing in this field appeared to provide information and answer our questions. All members are encouraged to participate in the discussions. We find that we really listen to each other because someone else’s way of dealing with a situation can help us to cope if the same arises in our lives.
At this point SMC is just beginning to make an impact. Due to various articles which have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, New York Magazine, and appearances by members on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and other national and local TV and radio shows, we have received many inquiries from women around the country who would like to form local chapters. Our dream of establishing ourselves as a credible, unified segment of society is on its’ way to becoming a reality. We predict that a countrywide network will be built, linking from coast to coast those women who believe in their right to bear and raise children on their own.
What's the Buzz?
We would like to thank you all for being so patient and understanding as we made some big changes to our website throughout the last few months. We’ve now made all of your SMC resources available online, allowing us to update directories more frequently, and provide you with the most helpful, secure, and up to date information possible.
We understand there has been some confusion regarding our new “2-system” login, especially due to our resent hack and password reset, so we’d like to help clarify the login process, password requirements, and a few other difficulties our members have run into. We’d also like to give you a better idea of how you may access all of the available resources on each profile.
Here’s a breakdown on each system:
SMC User Profile:
You may login to your SMC User Profile at this link: http://dev.singlemothersbychoice.org/member-login/
Once you’ve logged in, you can click on “Member Home” under the “Member Resources” tab in the green task bar on all of the SMC.org webpages. In “Member Home” you can access a list of popular SMC resources by clicking on any of the green links at the top of the page.
If you scroll down on this page, you will see a list of regions. Click on the region that contains your state (from the address you registered with), and you will be brought to a page containing the local contact person directory, as well as the full members directory for your area. Please note, not all of our members choose to be listed on our members directory, so if there are not many members listed on the directory, that DOES NOT mean there are not members in your area.
Newsletters, and the SMC Newsletter archive is also available in this login system. Once you’ve logged in, you may click on “Newsletter Archive” under the “Member Resources” tab. **Please note, due to repairs on our site our newsletters are currently unavailable. We hope to have them back up and accessible as soon as possible.**
If you wish to change your password or update any personal information in this system, you may do so by clicking “Edit Profile” under the “Member Resources Tab”
SMC Members Forum:
You may login to your forum account at this link (also found under the “Members Resources” tab by clicking “Forum”): https://forums.singlemothersbychoice.org/
This is a separate login system than the SMC User Profile, so you may need to update your password in order to successfully login. You may do so through our “Forgot Password” system. *UPDATING YOUR PASSWORD IN EITHER THE SMC USER PROFILE OR FORUM LOGIN WILL ONLY CHANGE THAT LOGIN SYSTEM, NOT BOTH* That being said, we encourage our members to set their SMC User Profile password and Forum password to be the same in order to avoid future confusion.
Another important note about our forum login: If you attempt to login multiple times unsuccessfully in a short period of time, you will be locked out by our security system. Unfortunately, this is not something we can override, so you will need to wait 1-2 hours before attempting to login again.
Once you’ve successfully logged into our forums, you will be redirected to our forum homepage. Here you can see all of the major topics being discussed on our forums. These categories are set up to keep the huge number of discussion organized and easier to locate. Click on the main topic you are looking for, and you will be taken to a list of “sub-forums” that discuss more specific issues. You can either respond to a thread that is already present, by clicking the “Post Reply” button in a particular discussion, or you may want to start your own thread, by finding a main category and clicking “New Topic” at the bottom of the page.
If you wish to change your password or any personal information such as location, signatures, or pictures, you will need to click on “User Control Panel”, and then click on the “Profile Tab”.
How do I change my Passwords?
SMC User Profile:
If you do not remember your current password, please try going through our “Forgot Password” system, and logging in with the information you receive. The information you are sent WILL ONLY work for the SMC User Profile login.
Once you login, Hover your mouse over ‘Member Resources’ on our main page, and click on ‘Edit Profile’. This will take you directly to the edit password page. Simply enter your new password, scroll down, and click submit. You should receive an email confirmation after you’ve changed your password.
Forum Login page:
Once again, if you do not remember your password, you will need to go through our “Forgot Password” system a second time, and login with the information you are sent. The information you are sent WILL ONLY work for the Forum login.
Once you’ve successfully logged on, highlight ‘Members Resources’ on our main page and click on ‘Forums’. Login using the temporary Information that you signed up with. If you are unable to login this way, go through our ‘Forgot Password’ system, and login with the temporary information you were sent.
Scroll down to the list of forum topics, and click on “User Control Panel” in the upper left corner of the forum homepage, highlighted in a green box.
Click on the “Profile Tab” (in blue), and then “Edit Account Settings” on the left task bar also under the solid blue sidebar. Here you can enter a your new password, and click submit.
We suggest you keep both passwords the same to avoid any confusion. You may also email us in the office (email@example.com) should you like us to reset your passwords manually.
We hope this is helpful in clarifying some of the details about our new system. Please know that you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any further questions or difficulty with our system.
Please welcome our newest Local Contact People!
Rhonda Dodds (Tucson, AZ): email@example.com
Andrea Houston (Austin, TX): firstname.lastname@example.org
Marla Hochman (Mountain View, CA): email@example.com
Christine Miscione (Hamilton, ON Canada): firstname.lastname@example.org
The Things Kids Say!
You can find more of our “Kids Quotes”, or post your own on our forums, here.
<Checking on sleeping son before I turned in for the night; feeling sheet for wetness>
G: Mamaaaa, what are you doing?
Me: Do you need to go potty?
Me: Are you sure? It kind of smells like you pee’d a little
G: Nooo, it’s just my personal scent.
Saturday, while be-bopping around in Old Town Arlington with the ever-wonderful Robyn, I say to Judy “Hey! Where’s my valentine?”
To which she replies with complete indifference and total nonchalance “Mom, Valentine’s Day isn’t till tomorrow. I still have 24 hours to disappoint you.”
My 4.5 yo so. Climbs into bed with me most nights. He came in about 4:30 am today. I asked if he had to use the bathroom (he’s very well night trained, but taking no unnecessary chances in my bed). No, he does not. About 30 minutes later- “mommy, I have to use the bathroom. “Ok, let’s go.”
We get to the bathroom and he hops up, sits on the toilet in his pajamas (we keep the seat down) and in a completely wide awake voice says, “Ok, Mommy. I *do* have to use the bathroom, but the real reason we are here is so *you* can brush your teeth.”
Mommy, is there a garden of children at Kindergarten?
While watching Beyonce and Bruno Mars perform during Superbowl halftime show;
G: They are so in looove. I’m jealous.
Me: Why are you jealous?
Me: Do you want to be in love one day?
G: Mama! I am in love! Remember?
Me: Oh, Tessa. But you haven’t seen her in a long time (since the summer). What if she doesn’t remember you?
G: I’ll break her up.
G: I’ll break her up if she found another man. Then she can be with me again.
My flaming redhead has complained that people keep saying that her hair is red, when in fact it is “major orange.”
Planning the week ahead I told A that he and C would be going to my parents Wednesday for dinner and to play.
A: why? where are you going?
Me: I have to go to the accountant about taxes – you won’t have any fun.
A: like on Sesame Street?
Me: (thinking maybe they talked about taxes but really) sure…
A: I like the count he is funny!!!
While playing with a new plastic screwdriver;
‘Momma, I am going to be the best screwer when I grow up.’
At a restaurant that features peanuts (to eat) when you sit at the table, James loudly, with great excitement, “YAY! I LOVE penises!” Yes, dear, I know, but these are peanuts.
“Mommy, pretend you’re not married, and I don’t have a dad, and I’m really annoying.”
My son Bryce Thomas was born on October 30, 2015.
Lisa from North Carolina
If you would like to include a birth announcement in our next newsletter, please email them to the office at email@example.com