Table of Contents
From the Editor
My neighbor has a Yoshino cherry tree—the same type of tree that encircles the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. and blooms in in a burst of pale pink flowers every year. It’s a gorgeous addition to our shared landscape.
I also have a cherry tree, a Higan. It blooms each year as well, though later than better-known Yoshinos. Like a shy sibling, it waits while those trees grab the spotlight. Then, as Yoshino blossoms fade, Higans step up to make their own beautiful contribution.
I find myself paying more attention to these little rhythms of life around my own home, especially now, as my child and I are spending far more time here.
It’s safe to say that I never could have imagined anything like the situation that many of us are facing. We have been abruptly severed from our friends, our families, and our normal routines, for who knows how long. I can’t pretend to have soothing words. I don’t know what lies ahead.
For now, though, I try to calm myself down with little pleasures. The sun shines. The sky is blue. It’s spring, and the cherry trees are blooming. I hope that you, too, can find some respite in nature’s rhythms, and a reminder that this time next year, we will hopefully see these blooms again.
Many of us SMCs find ourselves leaning even more on our “villages” these days—or if you’re a thinker or tryer, you may wonder who would help out if you have a child. Here’s some advice gathered from SMCs on our online Forum thread about “village building.”
From Miki, who described how she built strong connections with other families in her child’s preschool:
Definitely a lot of intent involved on my part. I initiated a lot of chit chat with other parents and their kids during pick-up and drop-off—in the classroom, lobby, elevator, and parking lot—and tried to budget in enough time so that I wasn’t always too rushed to do that. I didn’t take it personally if I was the one needing to initiate conversation most of the time, and I didn’t hold back from asking for people’s names repeatedly until I’d actually learned them. I thought about which of those adults seemed the most interesting and relatable to me, and I also talked to the teachers in the toddler room about which kids my kiddo seemed to enjoy being with the most.
And then with those couple of parents I made more of an effort to reach out—asking where they liked taking their kids swimming and if they’d ever want to meet up at the pool, or what local playgrounds or hikes they liked on weekends, or offering to swap kid books that I felt like we’d read to death and maybe someone else would enjoy.
From Dina, mother of two:
We sometimes underestimate how willing other people are to go out of their way to help. Yes, I think that sometimes people find themselves in a bind and then realize that some of their friends aren’t, well, that good of friends after all. But as someone else wrote, often enough, someone will say after the fact “Why didn’t you ask?” I also find that sometimes I don’t ask because I’m programmed with the mentality that I have to be self-sufficient, which perhaps is common to a lot of people, but especially to us SMCs.
From Nancy, mother of a college freshman:
The village you have now–before you are pregnant or while your child is an infant–will not look like the one you have as they age and go to school. We built our village from the kids in the preschool at our synagogue. Some of the kids are best friends forever and others are happy to see each when the families get together.
When Marshall was 10 or so, I got a call from my best friend of 30 years. Her husband was in the hospital and likely dying. It was the day before Yom Kippur. I flew out of work at 10am and met her at the hospital. I made two phone calls to the village to make sure Marshall was picked up from school and had a place to eat a festive meal and then sleep. I got home around midnight. Her husband died sometime in the wee hours. Picked up Marshall from my friend’s and we all walked to synagogue together.
My mother recently died. Jewish tradition holds a shiva at the home of the mourners. A friend who lives in my building called me afterward to say she was so impressed by the community I had–that so many people showed up. You need 10 adults to make a minyan so you can say the Jewish prayers. I never had to worry about having enough people.
My neighbor down the hall is in her late 80s and has pretty significant back problems. Every time I go to the store, I knock on her door. The only she wanted was bananas and cheese. The neighbor across the hall from her knocks as well.
From Melissa, mother of a preschooler:
One thing I’ve done to build my village is pay kindness forward with food. There are a couple of families in our preschool whose children are in Alice’s class, and the kids seem to get along well. After getting to know some of them through birthday parties and such, I found the ones that best aligned to my parenting style and that I enjoyed spending time with. Several of them have recently expanded their families, and so I’d prepare a freezer meal and drop it off with a bottle of wine, so they’d have it after the baby came home. One of the families had a special needs baby in the NICU for quite some time. She knew I was willing to help because of my helping with the food, so she asked me to take the older child to a birthday party so she didn’t miss out while they were still in the hospital with the new baby. Now I have folks I can call on as backup if a pick-up emergency arises, or I need someone to help out for a bit if I need to work on the weekend.
What Thinkers, Tryers, Expectant and New Moms Need to Know About Coronavirus
Here are some resources for thinkers and tryers about Coronavirus. Please use this information as a guide to conversations with your counselor or healthcare provider:
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine is recommending the suspension of all new treatment cycles, including IUIs, IVF, fresh and frozen embryo transfers, and non-urgent egg and sperm freezing until at least mid-April (when it will offer updated recommendations.) For more information, see: https://www.asrm.org/globalassets/asrm/asrm-content/news-and-publications/covid-19/covidtaskforceupdate1.pdf
Court closures and country restrictions have created a lot of uncertainty around surrogacy, foster care, domestic and international adoptions. For more information, see: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/parenting/coronavirus-adoption-surrogacy-foster-care.html
Currently, pregnant women are not believed to be more susceptible to coronavirus than the average healthy adult. The virus has not been found in breast milk, cord blood or amniotic fluid, so it is believed at this point that pregnant women cannot pass the illness to their fetus. But hospitals are taking protective measures that may affect birth plans and hospital visitors. For more information, see: https://www.propublica.org/article/coronavirus-and-pregnancy-expecting-mothers-q-and-a
Going Solo—by Genevieve Roberts
Around the time that English journalist Genevieve Roberts hit her mid-30s, she started wrestling in earnest with feelings that are familiar to many single mothers: baby fever, but with no suitable man in her life to partner with.
In Going Solo, Roberts describes her journey to motherhood via IVF (she now has a daughter and a son.) As a journalist, she also interviews others and sprinkles their views liberally throughout her book: for example, a single male friend who adopted a child, a woman who found out in adulthood that she was donor conceived, a Yale university professor who studies gender and reproduction, even a married who shares, with bracing honesty, that she wishes she had never had a child but thought that it was something expected of her.
Those additional perspectives add richness to this story. Yet, because I’ve read several of these books at this point, I find myself wishing for a different take on the single mother by choice canon. What of adoption? What of women whose friends and families do not immediately embrace this choice? What about mothers of color, who often find themselves deeply criticized when they decide to have a child without a man in the picture? What of LGBTQ people, who may find that motherhood is overshadowing that aspect of their identity?
Roberts admirably recognizes that there are many different perspectives on parenting and donor conception , and she gives those additional voices generous space. But in the end – as is appropriate – this is her story, and the book ends with her blissed-out recognition that “I don’t mourn a changed relationship with my partner, or any former shared freedom. And there’s a pleasurable straightforwardness to that.” I look forward to reading authors who will show that there are many different paths to the same destination.
Mommy and Me: How I Came to Be—By Elizabeth R. Weiss
Weiss, a member of the Single Mothers by Choice organization, has written a colorful book aimed at young children whose mothers used donor sperm. Narrated by a little boy named Cole, it describes a donor as “a person who wants to help someone have a baby and provides the part a mommy needs.”
It goes on to say that even though they don’t know the donor’s name, “we know he must be a pretty special person since he wanted to help a mommy do something as amazing as having a baby.”
The very general language leaves a lot of space for individual readers to provide more detail about the specifics of sperm donation. Many women will appreciate having a framework to start the discussion with their young children. But SMCs who built their families through adoption, donated embryos or donor eggs and sperm may want to look for a book that offers more of an opening to talk about those particular paths to motherhood.
Would You Make a Donation to SMC?
Membership fees are our primary source of funds, so if you would make a donation to SMC, we would be most grateful!
Your donation will help ensure that we can continue to be here for future SMCs, and enable us to give free memberships to those who can’t afford the membership fee. If you would like to donate, go to: https://www.singlemothersbychoice.org/donate/
We thank you for your support as we continue to support you!
All donations are tax-exempt as permitted by law, and we will send you an official acknowledgement for your records.
What's the Buzz
We’d like to give a warm welcome and express our thanks to our newest SMC Contact Persons:
Andrea Orwell- Las Vegas, NV Aorwoll@gmail.com
Leah Dyer- Charlotte, NC email@example.com
Mary Noonan- Iowa City, IA firstname.lastname@example.org
Does your area need a Contact Person (CP)? Might you want to be one? Do you have any questions about being a CP? Let us know and we’ll be glad to discuss it with you. Contact Jane at our office: email@example.com
SMC Blog Submissions
Do you have a blog about your SMC journey? Did you know that SMC has a blog on our website? We’d love to know about your blog and possibly use some of your posts on our SMC Blog. Our blog posts are public, but posts can be anonymous. If you are interested in sharing your posts, send an email, with a link to your blog, to our office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask the Doctor
Before Giving Birth, Plan to Preserve your Newborn’s Stem Cells
As you move through the process of choosing a sperm donor, insemination, and making birth plans, there’s an easy yet important item to cross off your checklist: Newborn stem cell preservation.
Also known as cord blood and tissue banking, newborn stem cell preservation is the process of storing the blood and tissue of your child’s umbilical cord, after birth, for potential future use.
Why are millions of moms choosing to bank?
Cord blood stem cells have been successfully used for over 30 years to treat patients with diseases like leukemia and sickle cell anemia. In addition, they’re being researched for their remarkable ability to respond to inflammation and help repair damaged tissue. Regenerative medicine applications harnessing this ability have shown great promise for the future. In fact, more than 80% of the cord blood uses by CBR clients have been for investigative regenerative medicine purposes.
Why are they especially important for donor-conceived babies?
Your baby’s stem cells are genetically unique. Transplant medicine requires that the stem cell source is a closely matched individual like a sibling, and regenerative medicine investigations typically involve use of a person’s own cells or those of a closely matched relative. Being donor-conceived, your child will only have access to relatives on your side of the family if he or she ever needed access to stem cells. By banking your child’s newborn stem cells you ensure that you havethe perfectly matched cells available for your child and possibly for use by other family members.
What conditions have scientists studied?
More than 300 clinical trials have been initiatedwith newborn stem cells for treatment of:1
●Neurological conditions like autism and cerebral palsy
●Cardiovascular conditions like hypoplastic left heart syndrome
●Age-related conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and stroke
Fortunately, the banking process is fast, easy, and noninvasive. CBR provides everything you need for collection, then stores your newborn’s stem cells so they’re safe, secure, and ready for
the future. As the world’s largest and most experienced newborn stem cell company, CBR has preserved more than 900,000 newborn stem cell units for our families.
To learn more and get your collection kit, visit cordblood.com or call 1.888.CORD BLOOD (1.888.267.3256).
References1. Verter, F., Couto, P. S., & Bersenev, A. (2018). A dozen years of clinical trials performing advanced cell therapy with perinatal cells. Future Science OA, 4(10). doi: 10.4155/fsoa-2018-0085
About the Author
Dr. Jaime Shamonki CMO, Generate Life Sciences
Dr. Shamonki trained in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at New York Presbyterian Hospital –Weill Cornell Medical College, and has completed fellowships at Weill Cornell as well as the University of California, Los Angeles.
Prior to joining Generate Life Sciences, Dr. Shamonki developed expertise in women’s health and clinical laboratory medicine, serving as the Director of Breast Pathology and Blood Bank Medical Director at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, and as an Assistant Professor at the John Wayne Cancer Institute.
RESEARCH on SMCs and Covid-19.
Dr. Rosanna Hertz is a sociology professor at Wellesley who spoke at our 2011 SMC Celebration, and has interviewed many of us for the books and papers she has written about SMC families. Rosanna is doing some new research regarding SMCs and Covid-19, and I am posting this request on her behalf. If you’d like to help, would you send her an email about your experiences with Covid-19? Please also include your permission to use whatever you send her in her research. Her email is email@example.com
Read her request and specific questions for us, below:
Hi! I am interested in COVID 19 and how the reality of family life is changing for you. How are you juggling trying to work from home with no school or daycare, no one to help if you get sick, etc. SMCs also have to make decisions about their aging parents who can’t come to visit, or may be ill, or are able to help because they already live there.
I would also like to know more about the effects on SMC members of shutting down fertility clinics, and how those who may be pregnant at this time are coping. I am trying to learn as much as I can about this new reality.
I am interested in the ways in which this pandemic is effecting families as we self-isolate and have to rethink the many supports in our lives that are no longer possible. I am also interested in the way in which technology (FB, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime) may be a way in which people feel connected and are forming new kinds of social communities and supports.
I usually conduct interviews (either in person or through Skype) with families after events, and they tell me about what happened in their lives before we met. But I would like to understand in “real time” what is on the minds of single mothers by choice as they try to figure out family life under extraordinary circumstances.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your help!
The Things Kids Say!
Cailyn: Momma, I want a play date with you!
Momma: You bet! I’d love to have a play date with you. We can (and I start talking about things we can do).
Cailyn: Whoa! Wait a minute. We all just need to calm down a little now.
On our way to the airport to pick up my sister.
Me: Felix, we’re going to the airport to pick up Tía.
Felix: Mama, Tía is too big to pick up.
Kid: “Mom, please don’t EVER get me a daddy.”
Me: “Ummm, okay. Why not?”
Kid: “Mommies and daddies together are nothing but drama drama drama all the time. And sometimes mommies kiss them! That is DISGUSTING!!!”
Me: Listen to the birds singing. They’re talking to each other.
Justine: Birds don’t talk.
Me: Right, they’re singing. That’s how they communicate.
Justine: Communicate is talking, not singing.
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 or already moms can help those just starting out by providing information about their fertility doctors.
We would appreciate your filling out a survey about your experiences with fertility doctors. And 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 a donation 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 credit.)
Please be as detailed as possible so that others may benefit from your experience.
To support you in these unprecedented times, our team wanted to gift you 50% off every single one of our courses, and even 50% off access to our complete research center. Just use the code: STAYHOME at check-out.
Thanks to all in advance for filling out the surveys and for spreading the word about this!