Table of Contents
From the Editor
Hello SMC sisters!
My name is Christina, and my son, Micah, is 5 years old, conceived by anonymous sperm donation. This is my first issue as the Newsletter editor for Single Mothers by Choice.
I’m not sure I would have had enough bravery and knowledge to become a mother on my own, had it not been for SMC and many wonderful women in the Washington, D.C.-area chapter. I suppose I had bought into the stereotype that single mothers live harried, gloomy lives and that their children are deprived. Through participation in this organization, both online and in face-to-face meetings, I learned that those stereotypes were far from the truth. Sure, some parenting days are better than others! But this path has also been full of joy. I’m very happy to have a chance to give back to an organization that has given me so much.
Many of us in North America are coming up on the summer school holidays, which hopefully will allow us a chance to rest and recharge. Many people use the summer as a chance to catch up on reading. Here’s some books recently recommended by other mothers on the SMC forums:
Crazy Rich Asians: “[Kevin] Kwan’s debut novel is a fun, over-the-top romp through the unbelievable world of the Asian jet set, where anything from this season is already passé and one’s pedigree is everything.” (Publishers Weekly). Will be released as a movie in August!
The Smartest Kids in the World: “In riveting prose, [author Amanda Ripley’s] cross-cultural research shows how the education superpowers value rigor above all else; the “unholy alliance” between sports and academics in the U.S.; why math eludes the average American teenager; what parents in the educationally successful countries do; and how the child poverty rate doesn’t necessarily affect educational outcomes.” (Publishers Weekly).
Lab Girl: “For [author Hope] Jahren, a life in science yields the gratification of asking, knowing, and telling; for the reader, the joy is in hearing about the process as much as the results.” (Publishers Weekly)
Little Fires Everywhere: “This novel from Celeste Ng is both an intricate and captivating portrait of an eerily perfect suburban town with its dark undertones not-quite-hidden from view and a powerful and suspenseful novel about motherhood.” (Publishers Weekly)
And remember, you can support Single Mothers by Choice if you purchase these books through Amazon and choose SMC as the beneficiary. If you’d like more book recommendations—or to contribute your own—follow the “What are you reading?” thread on the SMC forum.
A recent forum post on motherhood drew some of the most thoughtful and compelling posts that I’ve read on the forum in quite a while—and I didn’t think it was going to turn out that way. A thinker asked: “I don’t know that anyone will answer this truthfully, but I was wondering if anyone was having regrets on going through the process and conceiving solo as a single mother? Or does anyone know of anyone who has regrets?”
My first thought was that most people would say that they had no regrets and leave it at that. Many of us have worked so hard to become mothers, and even for those who did not, society seems to frown on women who suggest that motherhood is not their highest and best purpose.
But many women dove into the question, dissecting it with nuance. Here’s a sample of some of the many replies:
… I cannot imagine not having my son. He is a beautiful, happy, funny, bright and loving kid who makes me crazy some days, yet I thank my lucky stars every day–even today—for having him in my life… I will say however, I sometimes envy my friends who are my age (50s) and are doing tons of fun things on their own because their children are teens or college students—no babysitter required.
I don’t have regrets. I have moments where I think about what could have been. It’s hard to explain. Lately, I’ve been thinking about my job prospects. I was on track to go higher in my career and now it likely won’t happen. I’m as high as I can go without putting in serious investment in things like travel and specialized training. If I was to move up, my days would be longer and there would be consistent travel. I can’t imagine taking that on without a spouse. I feel a tug when I see some friends starting to take the classes and I know I can’t. They all have children but got married and had their children younger. They are my age with school-aged children, not toddlers. Their spouses also help. I feel wistful for a bit and then I come home to a little boy that loves me and it leaves.
I have zero regrets. My girls bring me so much joy and I feel so lucky they are mine! But I kind of miss laying on the couch for hours in a weekend day and eating in fancy restaurants. I know the fancy restaurants will come back but am not sure when I will have time to veg on the couch for hours on end.
I am one who realized I would have regretted not trying more than anything else. Now that my daughter is here, no regrets at all. Some days are hard, but that’s life. Life is also about paths. I don’t believe there is right or wrong—there are just different choices. You can’t live every path, but you can decide to make your path the best and commit to it.
While I don’t enjoy every aspect of motherhood, all of the time, it doesn’t change my joy in being a mother. And some of that is also [about] how flexible and kind you can be with yourself…people who give themselves the flexibility to be respectful of their own needs, seem to be less worn out.
The full thread can be found here.
Almost weekly, women post questions on the Trying to Conceive (TTC) board asking what they should do to prepare financially and legally for single motherhood. Family law attorney Alexis Neely, offers an excellent list of how to think about guardianship, from designating “first responders” to documenting your guardianship decisions in a will. Though it’s not specific to single mothers, any parent could use these tips.
Many of these tasks could be done after a child is born or adopted. But I found that the first several months (or years!) of motherhood were such a whirlwind that I could not possibly have taken on another task, like setting up a will, power of attorney, and guardianship papers. I was glad I had taken care of this before the baby arrived.
To listen to an NPR segment about choosing a guardian and to read about the 12 steps Neely thinks all parents should take, click here.
More women are choosing to become single mothers by choice at younger ages. Still, many of us still started on this path relatively late in life, which makes us a part of the “sandwich generation:” We find ourselves juggling the needs of older parents along with raising our own young children.
Several posts on the SMC board have dealt with topics such as moving in with aging parents to help support them, dealing with parents who have mental or physical health issues, or, sadly, coping with a parent’s death.
As a member of the sandwich generation myself, I’m often on the lookout for good resources. The Family Caregiver Alliance, a national organization based in San Francisco, offers an extensive set of fact sheets, such as how to care for a person with dementia, how to choose in-home help, tips on obtaining respite care, managing caregiver depression and navigating sibling tensions. The alliance resources can be found here.
Free Lifetime Membership For Long-term Members
Free Lifetime Memberships
I am happy to announce a new policy for long-term SMC members! We are giving our long-term (5 years or more) members a “Thank You” gift of a Lifetime Membership in SMC as a token of my appreciation for your ongoing support over the many years of membership. Lifetime Membership will give you continuing access to the SMC Forum and our quarterly Newsletter.
Going forward, if finances permit, this gift will be given to everyone once you hit the five-year point in your membership. We will notify you when you are eligible for this Lifetime Membership status.
Some members have asked how they can make a contribution to SMC. There is no requirement or expectation that you do so, but if you would like to give us a gift, you can make a donation at any time on almost any of the pages on our website, other than the home page. Or you might want to make SMC your designated charity on Amazon Smile, which gives us a percentage of your purchases at no cost to you. To do that, go to http://smile.amazon.com/ch/11-2664913 But donations are completely optional – there’s no need to do anything other than to enjoy your membership!
Lastly, if you are in touch with someone who has left SMC, please let them know that if they were a member for five years or more, and they’d like to return, this offer applies to them too. Spread the word!
Thank you again for your continuing participation, and let me know if you have any questions.
Things Our Kids Say!
“Mmmm, dinner is so good I think I’m gonna barf rainbows.”
Olivia learned to ride a pedal bike this weekend. I was talking about it after the fact and empathizing with her occasional frustration. O: “There’s just so much GRAVITY.”
Watching the royal wedding: “Mama, why didn’t you marry him? I really want to see Big Ben.”
Cassidy was throwing a bit of a fit in the car the other day. I asked her if she could try taking a deep breath.
C: “No, I still crying.”
Norah lost her first two teeth this week, so we’ve been talking a lot about tooth fairies (clearly a hot topic along first graders). My favorite observation:. “Tooth fairies only come at night. I think they’re nocturnal.”G: You’re so rude! I’m not talking to you again today!
<30 seconds later>
G: Wait, can I have more oatmeal? <a few seconds later> This is the LAST thing, and then I am not talking to you anymore.My thought-bubble: When is he going to stop talking to me?
For more cute quotes like these, check out the thread on our forum HERE!
Ask the Doctor
Seeking Help with Infertility: When to go and Where to go
Dr. Daniel E. Stein
Director of RMA of New York’s Westside office
Chief of Reproductive Endocrinology at Mount Sinai West Hospital.
Infertility is commonly defined as failure to conceive after twelve months when the woman is 35 years of age or younger, or after six months when the woman is older than 35. In about 60% of all cases the cause of infertility involves, at least in part, reproductive issues in the woman. The stress and distress this causes women can be devastating. Fortunately, for many women, help exists and successful conception can be attained.
For women 35 and under who have been trying to conceive for one year, have regular menstrual cycles, and no history of sexually-transmitted diseases, pelvic pain or pelvic surgery, the obstetrician gynecologist (OBGYN) doctor can be an appropriate first resource to begin the evaluation of the causes of infertility including semen, ovulation and fallopian tube testing. Some OBGYN doctors are comfortable treating ovulation disorders with medications like Clomiphene Citrate or Letrozole. OBGYN doctors are experts in managing pregnancies, office gynecology and some pelvic surgery. They receive, however, only a few weeks of training in reproductive endocrinology and fertility and therefore typically refer patients with infertility to Reproductive Endocrinologists.
What is a fertility specialist and when should I see one?
Any physician can state that she or he is fertility specialist; however, true specialists are called Reproductive Endocrinologists (REs), physicians who are fully-trained in both Obstetrics and Gynecology, and in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. After completing a residency in OBGYN, REs complete three years of additional fellowship training in the diagnosis of complex reproductive disorders and their treatment, including assisted reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg and embryo freezing, egg donation, and reproductive surgery. It is beneficial for all with infertility to see a reproductive endocrinologist, but in the following conditions a woman should see a Reproductive Endocrinologist as soon as possible:
-If the woman is 35 or older and has tried to conceive for 6 months or longer
As women age, the number of eggs in the ovaries decreases and an increasing proportion of those eggs are genetically abnormal. Fertility rates decline and rates of miscarriage rise as women enter their thirties, and the decline is rapid as women approach 35.
-A woman with a mother or sister with menopause at age 45 or younger
Menopause is the time at which a woman is depleted of functional eggs and is therefore no longer able to conceive. The age of menopause depends on the number of eggs a woman is born with. Women born with more eggs go into menopause at an older age than women born with fewer eggs. The average age of menopause is 51. Women with a mother or sister with early menopause (prior to age 45) are at risk of experiencing early menopause themselves.
-A woman with a history of pelvic surgery or pelvic diseases
Sexually-transmitted infections like Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, endometriosis, and pelvic operations (e.g. appendectomies, removal of ovarian cysts or uterine fibroid tumors) can be destructive to fallopian tubes and can damage ovaries leading to depletion of eggs.
-A woman with ovulation dysfunction who failed to conceive with Clomiphene or Letrozole
-A woman with a history of two or more miscarriages
Chromosome abnormalities in embryos, uterine masses or malformations, and immunologic or hormonal abnormalities can contribute to repeated miscarriages.
-A woman who is a carrier of a dominant genetic disease
-A woman planning to start chemotherapy for cancer or autoimmune disease
-A woman over 30 who is planning to delay childbearing
Women with one or more of the above criteria should make an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist. Finding the right specialist can be challenging and stressful. Biographies of REs are usually available online. It is important to choose a RE who has passed a vigorous series of examinations over several years to achieve and maintain board certification in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocrinology.
Furthermore, the fertility center that your doctor is part of is critical. The quality, experience and expertise of fertility centers varies widely. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) website (www.sart.org) lists local centers by zip code and allows prospective patients to view important information and statistics about each center. SART and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) publish pregnancy data each year for almost all IVF clinics in the United States. Patients should only go to centers that publish their pregnancy data, and preferably centers with many years of such reporting. While patient populations vary among clinics making direct comparisons of pregnancy rates limited in value, centers with consistently high pregnancy rates and a high volume of patients are typically favorable centers to consult with.
Women typically rely on their OBGYN physicians to refer them to a fertility center, or their insurance carriers who often list Centers of Excellence. Some women rely on Yelp, RateMDs, Fertility IQ or other internet sites. Castle-Connolly and other groups create a list of Top Doctors or Best Doctors in each field annually. Word-of-mouth is also a common way in which women find fertility doctors. No matter how the selection of a doctor and/or clinic is made, meeting the doctor and visiting the center for an initial consultation will help prospective patients determine if that doctor or center is a good fit for them to begin their journey to successful reproduction.
Dr. Daniel E. Stein is the Director of RMA of New York’s Westside office and is Chief of Reproductive Endocrinology at Mount Sinai West Hospital. Dr. Stein has over twenty years of experience as a Reproductive Endocrinologist and fertility specialist and served for eight years as Medical Director of the In Vitro Fertilization program of the former Continuum Reproductive Center before joining RMA of New York. He is board-certified in both obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. For the past several years Dr. Stein has been recognized by New York Magazine and Castle Connolly as one of New York’s “Best Doctors” and has been named a “Top Doctor” by US News and World Report. He has also been included as one of the Best Doctors in America. He has received multiple awards from patient advocacy groups for his years of service in the fields of reproductive medicine and fertility.
What's the Buzz?
We’d like to wish a warm welcome and express our thanks to our newest SMC Contact Persons:
Niesa Silzer Calgary, Alb Canada email@example.com
Cynthia Garnto Atlanta, GA firstname.lastname@example.org
Patricia Conrad Queen Creek, AZ email@example.com
Karen Urlie Seattle, WA firstname.lastname@example.org
Cindy Stefanovic Norwalk, CT email@example.com
Elizabeth Harvey Seattle, WA firstname.lastname@example.org
Tammy Silbey Yonkers, NY Mickey468@aol.com
Angela Mann Jacksonville, FL email@example.com
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
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!