Table of Contents
From the Editor
I’ve become that mom who doesn’t worry about much other than bedtimes, toys and all things diaper-related. I am solely interested life as a single mother and how it goes for anyone willing to share their perspective.
I thought a time would come when how I had my sons would no longer be relevant. I thought a time would come when I would just be “a single mother.” Not “a woman who used a sperm donor to have a baby.” I can’t be sure if that was a hope or simply something I thought would happen eventually. Did I mention my kids just turned 2? So in theory, this “eventually” is a long ways away.
Here’s the thing. That eventually is now. Or rather, it’s whenever I want it to be. A coworker recently asked if my kids look more like their father or me. Now I could have unpacked all the donor-dad-baby-pictures-only thing. I could have. Instead I chose to say “I’m not exactly sure yet…” followed immediately by guilt at not taking the opportunity to …stand up for my kids and me? Honor my decision and my freedom to make that decision? Educate others on the whole SMC concept? Sigh.
You certainly can choose to educate and speak out if that’s for you. But don’t let the how of being an SMC weigh on you. That’s the most common worry I hear from Thinkers and the most common question I get from others. How do you tell people? Are you worried about reactions?
Here’s what I’ve learned:
-Don’t worry until your child worries. Your priority is yourself and your child, in whatever state of SMC-ing you’re in. As soon as you’re okay with your decision, everyone (including family) who wants to be part of your life will be ok too.
-You absolutely do not have to be a poster woman. Becoming a mama is a wonderful thing. Not a cause. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
Happy New Year, Courageous Ladies! Be strong. Be kind. Be happy.
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Don’t let the blog name throw you. I almost did. Emma Johnson is great at perspective in If you’re thinking of being a single mom.
Here’s the gist: Have the baby
By Emma Johnson
January 18, 2017
Not a week goes by that I don’t find myself in conversation with a childless woman in her 30s worried about whether to have kids, wondering about being a single mom. The typical scenario: She’s not dating anyone she really likes, or is in a relationships she’s not sure about, and really wants to be a mom.
But she is:
a) worried she won’t find the right partner.
b) fears she does marry and they have a kid, but divorce.
c) considering having a baby on her own, but that it could turn out terribly because single motherhood is universally terrible.
MY ADVICE IS ALWAYS THE SAME TO WOMEN THINKING ABOUT BEING A SINGLE MOM:
Have a baby! You will never regret having a baby! …. Being a mom alone is hard. But it is not full of regret. Having kids in a tough situation is way, way easier than denying the very thing that your body is biologically designed to do and is screaming at you to manifest. Some women’s bodies do not scream that at them. Yours is. Listen to that!
Do not live with regret.
Regret is the worst.
Have a baby! …..
Then you will be a single mom. And that is scary, and you will be afraid of being poor, and messing up your kids. But married moms worry about that, too. And half of married moms end up single moms. And you have so many amazing opportunities as a woman to earn a great living and control your schedule and bring up awesome children and still find romantic love. So just do that. I’m here for you. And other moms, too.
This journey and this community are bursting with different viewpoints. The more women I encounter who are TTC in their own worlds, the more I am introduced to new outlooks and challenges.
An SMC in my local chapter conceived her twins with donor eggs. The issues she faced popped up expectedly. Her decision to become an SMC was based more on age, which means, like most of us, who have never been pregnant before, she had no reason to assume her path would be anything but easy. The decision to have no genetic connection to her child was a hard one to make.
I’ve been reading many people’s Forum posts as I have been thinking about becoming a single mother and especially over the last few months as I have been trying to conceive. Without knowing it, you have all been a great support.
I’ve completed two IUIs – in October and November – with no success. My OB has been helpful, but not the most proactive in helping me through the process. As a 39-year-old whose 40th birthday is less than 6 months away, I met with her to discuss next steps, knowing that time is of the essence. It was at this point that she ordered blood tests for AMH, FSH, etc. (Despite my asking about blood tests prior to the IUIs, none were done. Kicking myself for not insisting.) Now I’ve just found out that my FSH is high (15.9 mIU/mL on day 4 of my cycle) and my AMH is very low at 0.079 ng/mL (also day 4). All of my other tests were normal (CBC, Prolactin, TSH, T4 Free). Despite the low AMH and high FSH, I’m cycling quite regularly and, at least according to OPKs and my basal temp, I have been ovulating each month – at least since I started monitoring 4-5 months ago. At my last appt after the second IUI, my OB and I discussed/decided that moving on to IVF would be the option most likely to result in a baby. The price tag is high as my insurance doesn’t cover it, but I think I can swing one fresh and two frozen transfers…but now I’m unsure of which path to follow.
Until now I’ve felt very positive throughout this process. My family and friends who are in the loop have been extremely supportive. Even after the two IUIs that didn’t work, I still felt like I was just at the start and I would eventually hold a baby of my own. Now I’m feeling like I may have hit an insurmountable obstacle in having a baby with my own eggs.
I hope there are some folks here who have experience with very low ovarian reserve and success. Alternatively, I know having a child with my own eggs and donor sperm isn’t the only way to have a baby. Given a month to think (I’m not meeting with a fertility specialist about going to IVF until next month – the first available app’t), I’m considering whether I should move forward to IVF, but use donor eggs and donor sperm. Are donor eggs or donor embryos as expensive as I am finding at first glance? After a preliminary search, I wonder if I’m better off moving on to adoption. I had strongly considered adoption initially, but thought that cost-wise IUI/IVF would work out better for me and honestly had always wanted to experience pregnancy, breastfeeding, etc.
I would appreciate other thoughts/experiences, even if they are not success stories. I am a realist at heart and would rather plan for reality than set my sights on the impossible.…..
Some among our number are struggling with the same question.
Read more in Do IVF or move on to donor eggs or adoption?
Out with the old, in with the new
An SMC friend of mine recently had a worrisome pregnancy. As we texted about it, she said something to the effect of “I’m so scared something may be wrong because of how much I went through to get pregnant.”
I remember that feeling. But it wasn’t until I had my twins that I gained a bit of perspective. The basic idea is this: When you get a new job, you don’t worry about how much time you spend interviewing. Right? The instant you hear a heartbeat (or get a positive test result), you are done trying. You have succeeded at trying.
Listen, don’t add extra worry. It’s going to be quite a journey from that positive test on in. Let go of any extra baggage and angst. Easier said than done, I know. But instead of worrying about all the mechanics of how you got here, focus on the real live little being flipping and dancing where only you can feel him.
Reasons I need a husband…
One SMC starts with Reason #34: Snakes
OK – I am fully okay being alone, but it would be nice to find someone to share my life with. Alas, I am super able to handle the majority of things in life that other women probably (I am assuming) turn to their men to handle. And sometimes… sometimes there really are times when I am like, “This. This is why I need a husband!”
One of those happened tonight…I generally keep a running mental list of all the funny things that happen in my crazy life where I say, “Ohhhh, this is what husbands are for.” So here is reason number ~34: Found a snake skin in my garage. I mean, I am ok with snakes. I back to a corn/wheat farm field, so it is expected. Even saw a snake twice in my garden and driveway in the past 36 hours (he’s a good snake – he eats the copperheads). But now? Now he is potentially in my garage, or even house. Cute when he is in my garden. Not so cute when he is in my garage!!! And – Ugh! I need a husband for this, or maybe a guinea-dude who I can make move things around to scare it out of wherever it is hiding.
So what are yours? What situations have you found yourself in where you have said, “Ohhhh, maybe I should git me one of them dun husbands someday.”
Ready, Set, GO!
Need a dose of inspiration? Find it here.
Trevor Noah’s Mom was an SMC.
Host of The Daily Show Trevor Noah opens about his mom, who, in the words of an SMC, was “ a heck of a woman, too, a force to be reckoned with.”
We learned from THIS article on our Forum..
I just finished Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” and turns out his mom was an SMC. She was a heck of a woman too, a force to be reckoned with. I found this interview where he says that the book is about his love for her. She ended up in a violently abusive relationship which was horrible, but all in all an amazing story about Trevor and his mom:
Trevor Noah has become an open book—fairly literally. Or at least literarily.
The South African comedian may have achieved a whole new level of success as host of The Daily Show that he couldn’t have imagined when he got his start doing stand-up and television in his native country, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots. Far from it, in fact.
In his new memoir, Born A Crime, available now in stores and online, Noah opens up about his life story, from growing up in poverty to rising to stardom on late-night TV. But first, it all started with being born to a black mother and white father whose coupling was considered a crime in apartheid-era South Africa.
“I want to share [my] story [because] I know so many of us are judged on face value,” Noah explained to E! News. “So many of us have lived lives where there’s a history we want to forget. There’s a period you go, ‘I wouldn’t mind forgetting about this,’ but when you can share the fact that you also have that then maybe people go, ‘Oh, I can relate.’ We like to know we share something in common with other human beings. It’s how we build our communities.”
As for why felt it was so important to write this book, he says that it helped him remember how exactly he got to where he his today.
“I think writing the book made me appreciate everything even more because sometimes you forget where you’ve come from, sometimes you forget how far you’ve come and you get caught up in literal first world problems,” Noah, 32, explained. “I’ve come so far in my life that I can almost take a moment to breathe and go, ‘I appreciate all of this.'”
And as mentioned, the book’s title isn’t an exaggeration.
“I was born in South Africa during a time known as apartheid, and apartheid was a system of laws that restricted the movement of people people, but more importantly the associating of different races,” he explained. “My mother is a black woman who is from South Africa and my father is Swiss from Switzerland and they broke these laws and had me during that time and so I was born a crime.”
And as much as this is Noah’s story, he doesn’t feel that the book is about him, but rather his mother, Patricia, who, as he explains in the book, went through a great deal of hardship after he was born—including being jailed for violating the oppressive race relation laws.
“This is a story that is, if anything, a love letter to my mom,” he said. “I don’t think I truly knew how much I should have appreciated her.”
“I always thought that I was going to be the hero of my own journey, but once I was done writing the book I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m just a lucky sidekick that got to come along for the ride.'”
We have a feeling someone has made his mother quite proud.
The Things Kids Say!
Not only are our kids cute… they’re pretty funny too!
Here are a few from the holidays…
We we’re cleaning up the Christmas stuff today and I asked if she wants to sweep the pine needles…
C: “I sweep the pineapples. Come here pineapples.”
Today we were playing Christmas, pretending to get presents from under the tree and unwrapping them. I gave Maris a new scarf and a pony. Then she handed me an imaginary present, which I unwrapped.
Me: *gasp* What is it?
M: A cabbage.
Our kids are also really smart…
“Why do I have to go to school? I already know 44 + 44, I’ll be fine!!!”
Love the confidence, still working on humility!
K: “Now that I’m 3, I know that milk comes from cows. When I was 2, I thought milk came from penguins.”
At the farmers market, we like to talk with a lady named Mary…
K: “Hey! Where’s Mary”
farmer: “Mary is on vacation this week, visiting her mom”
K: “Silly… people don’t need to visit their moms, people live *with* their moms!”
Breakfast crisis this morning. A is hollering at me while I”m getting ready. I ask what is wrong and she says “Mama, my butter fell out.” R encouraged her to turn the waffle over and voila, butter!
And of course we can’t forget the ever popular “potty humor”…
G while cleaning the toilet (his job when he misses).
“Mama, I think I should clean the toilet all the time, even if you make the mess. I’m old enough now to have some jobs.”
While Justine was sitting on the potty before bedtime.
Me: I would really like it if you would pee.
J: Q R S T U V
In the end though… they’re just the sweetest!
Tonight at bedtime Ailyn was screaming up a storm. She tried the potty trick, and then was just screaming she needed her mommy. I went up and had this conversation with Rowan (stuck in the top bunk),
R: “Ailyn is being so loud mom.”
Me: “That’s just something you have to deal with when you have a little sister.”
R:, “I still want her to be alive.”
Glad she’s not having any regret!
For more cute quotes like these, check out the thread on our forum HERE!
Ask the Doctor
Expanded Genetic Testing in the Preconception Stage
Jaime Shamonki, MD
Executive Medical Director
California Cryobank, LLC
Expanded carrier screening panels are now widely available to women for use in their preconception planning. Genetic testing performed in the preconception phase can reduce the risk of a child being born with certain genetic diseases by screening both biological parents’ carrier status for autosomal recessively inherited genetic conditions. This testing can be used by couples planning to conceive using both of their DNA, or by individuals using a sperm or egg donor to help start their families.
An autosomal recessive disorder is one such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, or Tay Sachs disease, where an abnormal gene must be inherited from both the biological mother and the biological father for the child to exhibit the disease. For this to occur, both biological parents must be carriers of the abnormal gene, meaning they each have one normal and one abnormal copy of the gene. If both the biological parents carry an abnormal gene, the chance of a child inheriting both abnormal genes and manifesting the disorder is 1 in 4, or 25%. If only one of the biological parents is a carrier of a specific mutation, the child has a 50% chance of being an asymptomatic carrier for that condition, but he or she is not at risk for developing the actual disorder.
It’s often surprising to people to learn that all humans carry genetic mutations for recessively inherited disorders. There are thousands of recessive genetic disorders, and every individual carries some abnormal genes for these types of conditions. As long as a person has one normal copy of the gene, it compensates for the abnormal one, which is why carriers for a recessively-inherited disorder are typically unaware of their carrier status, and usually do not have any family members that are affected by the disease.
Expanded genetic testing panels don’t screen for all recessive conditions. Panels vary in size depending on the performing laboratory, and typically screen for 100 to 300 single gene diseases. The diseases included on these panels are chosen for their typical onset in childhood/young adulthood, their association with significant morbidity or mortality, and their prevalence in the population.
If a woman is planning on conceiving using a sperm donor, and she wants to pursue expanded genetic testing, California Cryobank offers DNA AdvantageTM Sperm Donors who have already been screened using an expanded genetic testing panel for over 280 recessive genetic conditions. If the biological mother has a similar expanded carrier screening panel performed, and is identified to carry genetic mutations for autosomal recessive disorders, she will be able to find a California Cryobank donor who is negative for mutations for that same condition.
Genetic testing can be arranged through the inseminating physician’s office. Several different genetic testing companies offer expanded carrier screening, including the company California Cryobank uses to screen its sperm donors, Sema4, an affiliate of Mount Sinai Health System. Genetic testing is performed via a simple blood or saliva sample. Testing is typically covered by insurance, with a low out-of-pocket expense.
Prior to pursuing any genetic screening, it’s important to understand the risks, benefits and limitations of these tests. Because these recessive conditions are typically very rare, the likelihood of a sperm donor carrying the same mutation as the biological mother is quite low, thus the absolute decrease in risk to theoretical offspring is typically small. Expanded carrier screening panels do not test for any autosomal dominant gene mutations, such as BRCA1 or 2 (the genes associated with breast and other cancers). Recessive gene screening may, however, reveal certain predispositions to other conditions. Women considering this testing should speak to their physicians about the benefits of expanded carrier screening and the best panel for her needs. A certified genetic counselor is also a great resource for understanding all aspects of preconception genetic screening, and obtaining the individual recommendations based on personal family history and ethnic background. Find a board certified genetic counselor through the National Society of Genetic Counselors, at nsgc.org.
Dr. Shamonki is Executive Medical Director of California Cryobank. Founded by two physicians in 1977, California Cryobank is an internationally-recognized, industry-leading gamete donor bank and provider of private reproductive tissue storage. Prior to joining California Cryobank, Dr. Shamonki was Section Head of Breast Pathology and Medical Director of the Blood Bank at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. She completed her residency training in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at New York Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical College, and completed fellowships in Breast Pathology (Weill Cornell) and Surgical Pathology (UCLA). An Assistant Professor at the John Wayne Cancer Institute since 2009, she continue to contribute to research studies in the fields of women’s health, oncology and immunology.
SMC- Fertility IQ
Have you heard about FertilityIQ? I am very excited to share this great resource. FertilityIQ is a platform where verified fertility patients anonymously assess their fertility doctor, nurse, clinic, billing department and more. The data is free and really helps in choosing (or avoiding) a doctor or clinic.
SMC has an opportunity to both contribute to Fertility IQ and to benefit SMC. Thinkers and tryers can look up other women’s experiences with clinics and doctors. Those who are pregnant and already moms can help those just starting out by providing information about their experiences with fertility doctors.
We would appreciate your filling out a survey about your experiences with fertility doctors. FertilityIQ will make a donation to SMC for everyone referred by us who assesses their fertility doctor on their site!
To ensure that SMC gets credit for your survey, just type in “SMC” in answer to the question at the end that asks, “did someone suggest you assess your doctor?” (You can also forward this to anyone who may be interested in doing a survey. As long as they put “SMC” as the answer to that question, we will get a donation.)
Please be as detailed as possible so that others may benefit from your experience.
Thanks to all in advance for filling out the surveys and for spreading the word about this!
What's the Buzz?
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Does your area need a Contact Person (CP)? Might you want to be one? Do you have any questions about being a CP? Just let us know and we’ll be glad to discuss it with you. Contact Jane at our office: firstname.lastname@example.org