Deciding to Be a Choice Mom
From the time I was 30, my mom would jokingly tell me that if I turned 35 and still had no husband or kids I needed to go get myself turkey basted. (You know those very large eye dropper type kitchen utensils that are used to cover turkey with juice?) Right. I was not even going to have children. Three years later, I had a document listing the different forums or studies that I could find about Choice Moms. I looked into the best donor and insemination options for me as well as the different sperm banks I could use. In this post, I will be sharing what drove my decision to have children on my own, as well as how I was able to accomplish it!
WHAT IS A CHOICE MOM
First, to define what a Choice Mom is to me in particular. To me, Choice Mom is actually a bit of a misnomer. Every woman who has decided to become a mother chooses to do so and is, in my opinion, a choice mom. But, in terms of this post and others like it, that is not the case. Choice Mom is a term given to a woman who has decided to skip the more traditional route in regards to starting a family. Basically, to find a partner, get married and have a baby. Instead, for whatever reason, this woman has decided to forgo all those steps except for the last one: have a baby.
The Choice Mom is ready to have a family of her own regardless of what social norms may dictate. The financial, medical, emotional and educational responsibilities of any child(ren) will be solely hers. This is both liberating and terrifying at the same time, speaking from my own personal experience.
From what I’ve discovered and experienced, the Choice Mom typically has a village to help her and is not so completely alone. This makes me personally happy, as it would be extremely hard, but doable of course, for a woman who would be without any support whatsoever. To read a study I found that was completed on this, please click here.
HOW I DECIDED TO BECOME A CHOICE MOM
It all started with an egg. No, really! I’m not talking only biologically either. My mom had unwittingly given me an egg that hatched into a wonderful idea. The pressure was off to find Mr. Right. My biological clock, however, was going berserk. Knowing I didn’t want children suddenly changed and I realized I did want them. Badly. Now, how was I going to be able to do this without accosting some poor fellow for his fertilizer?
This is where one of my oddities becomes useful. I have what I like to call OCR. This is Obsessive Compulsive Researching. I will look for information constantly on a subject that interests me until I’m satisfied. I learned different terms such as IVF, IUI, ICI, ICSI, Open Donor, Anonymous Donor and so much more. Later in this post, these terms will be broken out and described. I’m not trying to cause any undue head-scratching here.
Next is the emotional part of this decision. It is not easy. The planning of how to get pregnant is fairly easy and straightforward. The emotional aspect of how it’s going to work when you will be doing it alone can be absolutely agonizing. Growing up, the fairy tale is very prominent. Meeting someone, falling in love, getting married, having a baby. That was not in my cards, so I reshuffled the deck! I was not going to miss out on having a family of my own due to some past conditioning that it had to be done in a certain order.
A Choice Mom’s Journey to Motherhood
Following the research I completed, it was time to finalize my options. I was ready to actually hit the go button. What did I need to do next? Decide the how.
First, what type of donor sperm did I want to have?
- Known donor – The option for having a man already known and, hopefully, trusted donate to either a cup or a clinic in order to help a woman have a child.
- Sperm Bank – A very popular option is to look online at different sperm banks. There are many different options, the ability to use filters to narrow down a selection, and the added benefit of the donor being screened for drug use, genetic issues, and medical issues. Also, when a sperm bank is chosen, there is the option of either open or anonymous donors.
- Open – Pretty much how it sounds. The donor is completely open and willing to meet or at least have his identity known to the child. Some open donors have a caveat that they are only willing to have their identity disclosed once the child turns 18 years of age.
- Anonymous – This donor chooses to be completely anonymous and does not wish to know or be identified to any offspring.
What Types of Procedures for a Single Woman
- IVF – In Vitro Fertilization. This is a procedure that has a woman injecting different medications into themselves in order to stimulate the growth of follicles. Once the follicles reach a certain maturity or size, the doctors then retrieve the eggs from the follicles and allow them to fertilize with the sperm.
- IUI – Intrauterine Insemination. This procedure is usually a lot more clear cut. Through the use of OPK’s (Ovulation Predictor Kits) the woman will track her own ovulation (this is the typical solution, but every woman has a different medical situation and may follow a different protocol), and contact the doctor during their high fertility window. The doctors’ office will schedule her to go in and during the insemination they will insert the sperm directly to the uterus, bypassing the cervix.
- ICI – Intracervical Insemination. This procedure is where sperm is placed on the cervix, and the sperm is allowed to travel to the uterus on its own. This is quite often used by a woman who chooses to have their insemination done in the privacy of their own home. She can have candles, romantic mood music, her vial of sperm and the ability to kick her legs up on the wall for as long as she wants to keep all the swimmers moving to the awaiting egg.
- ICSI – Intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Not actually an insemination procedure, but rather an add-on. It’s when the lab looks at the sperm donation, picks the best looking one and injects it directly into the egg. This avoids them putting a bunch of sperm in a petri dish with the egg and waiting for 1 lucky winner to penetrate the shell of the egg.
The deciding factor for me on the donor sperm was safety. The testing and screenings done by a sperm bank were key. The testing alone would have convinced me, but then I thought of the nightmare situation of, “what if I choose a known donor and they decide they want to have contact and legal rights over my baby?” With a sperm bank, they sign away any rights to parenthood before they are even put in the “catalog”. Check! One item now off of the list. Anonymous Donor with the through a sperm bank for me. If my child wants to contact them when they are 18, that is an option for them with the bank I went with.
Next came the procedure. There are varied factors in this decision. First being: I wanted to be in a doctors office. Less chance of me screwing something up that way. So I was able to strike ICI off of my list. Do I want IUI or IVF? This decision also was not hard. IUI is MUCH cheaper. I was very blessed at the time to have insurance that covered infertility, but it would only cover for a single woman if they’d had failed insemination procedures. Voila. Decision made. IUI it is.
Knock Me Up, Doc!
Once I decided on which doctor I wanted to use for the IUI, I was in business! I met with my doctor for my consultation and was pleasantly surprised to learn they had their own in-house sperm bank. This narrowed down my options greatly! I chose my donor and discussed with the doctor when I wanted to start. Pht. Now! I’ve done all this planning, I’m not waiting any longer.
The time came for my first IUI. My lovely OPK had a very solid smiley face, which for those of you who are familiar with these, know that this meant I was in my high fertility window and within a day or so of ovulating. I was able to set up my appointment for the IUI, and it was on!
Into the doctors’ office, feet up in the stirrups, my very lucky four-leaf clover socks on, and I was loaded up for baby. The procedure itself was no more difficult than a regular pap smear. No difficulties at all and rather anti-climactic. The hardest part of the whole procedure was the wait to find out the results!
To say I was heartbroken is putting it mildly. No matter how much research I’d done stating that the first IUI usually doesn’t result in a pregnancy made no difference. I was convinced it would work for me! So I went in for my 2nd IUI – Negative. And a 3rd IUI – Negative. And finally a 4th IUI – NEGATIVE.
Change of Direction
At this point, I’d become very disheartened. I knew I had to look into something different. I looked at other fertility doctors covered under my insurance and in speaking with the new clinic, I decided to move on to IVF. They submitted the paperwork to my insurance and I was approved! I was back in business and hopeful once again.
The month after getting my approval letter I had chosen a new donor, and I was injecting myself with 2 different types of medication. One was to stimulate my follicles, and the other was to make sure I didn’t ovulate until the doctor was ready.
Shots for days
During this period I became very proficient at giving myself shots. There were a total of 11 days of shots, with bloodwork and ultrasounds every couple of days to check my progress. Now, the call I’d been waiting for! The first procedure was scheduled! They were going to retrieve my eggs!
During the retrieval, I was placed under anesthetic and the next thing I knew I woke up and was told that they had managed to collect 26 eggs. The nurses would call me the next day to tell me how many were fertilized. It’s been a few years now, but if I remember correctly 21 of them fertilized! My clinic automatically used ICSI, which was fantastic. This typically provides higher fertilization results.
Waiting is Not My Forte
The next couple of weeks were a lot of hurry up and wait. Waiting to see how many fertilized eggs would make it to day 5 for my transfer procedure, or if there would be any at all, was agonizing. The day of the procedure I had 7 growing blastocysts!
How many blastocysts would I transfer? I figured it would be great to have two chances to get pregnant, so I asked for them to transfer 2.
Kicked up in the comfortable stirrups, I got to watch as they placed 2 little bundles of cells in my uterus. (Below is one of the little bundles of cells that were transferred back into me.) Then came more dreaded waiting for the results of all of these procedures.
Pregnancy test #1 was taken 4 days after the transfer as I’d seen other women get their positive tests that early. Not for me. It was negative. I had to wait until day 7! The little + sign was absolutely beautiful to see. I was on cloud 9 and completely shocked. It worked! I was going to be a mom!
Nine Months of Pregnancy for a Choice Mom
Never having experienced a pregnancy with a partner, I cannot definitively say if it’s different from one that is experienced by a woman who has a partner, but below is what I experienced in comparison to what happens in a romance novel.
- Deciding on the baby names without having to compromise.
- What I wanted in regards to care for the baby (in and out of the uterus) was all up to me.
- Attending appointments alone or with my mom or sister.
- When my feet swelled there was no handsome guy to rub my feet.
- I would feel the baby kick when I was in bed, but have no one to turn to and share it with.
This is not to say that the pregnancy was miserable! I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t get morning sickness, but it wasn’t as I’d imagined my pregnancy would be like. Even with this, I was SO excited to meet this baby. Also, I made it work. If I felt the baby kick and could see it on the outside, I would take a video of it, and make my mom or sister watch it with me later. It may not have been realtime, but I still got that experience.
This is just one way I learned to compromise in the experience of being a single pregnant lady, and still be able to share the joys with my loved ones. It just had to be in a different way than I’d always imagined. Having a baby was a dream come true, and the pregnancy is such a short time in the grand scheme of things. I wasn’t going to let these little things get me down.
It’s a Boy!
D-Day has arrived! I was woken up at 1 am by really strong contractions. Those suckers HURT! When the all infamous “they” say you’ll know the difference between a contraction and false labor, “they” are NOT kidding. Sitting with my dog on the couch breathing through the contractions and monitoring the timing on my phone, I got to the point where it was time to go to the hospital.
Thunder Cats Are Go!
As a huge fan of the movie Juno, I’d told my family that if I used this phrase then it was time to head to the hospital. Sent out the signal and off we went.
After getting checked into the hospital and having an epidural placed, the birth itself was a breeze! I had a few scares from the baby’s heart rate, but at almost 1 pm I got to meet my adorable and wrinkly 6 lb 13 oz baby boy.
Finally, I had my baby. I was a mama. It didn’t matter how it’d happened. It didn’t matter that I started this alone. We were now a family.
I cannot and will not say everything has been a walk in the park, but NO mother can. There are difficult times, but the joys experienced with your child completely outweigh the hard times. This is true for me anyway. I’m not looking back. I have my future and my son’s future straight ahead, and that’s where I’ll face.
Thoughts From a Choice Mom
Deciding to be a Choice Mom is not a choice you can make on a whim. Due to the different steps that must be taken, it’s not always an easy prospect and is something that should be thought through.
Main Steps To Becoming a Choice Mom:
- Make the decision.
- If you have a great support system, you may choose to take this time to talk to them and explain what you are doing.
- Start tracking your ovulation to get a better understanding of your cycles. Not everyone ovulates on schedule.
- Contact Medical Insurance company see what is covered under fertility options as well as finding a doctor in your network. (Note: not all offices will provide procedures on the weekend. This may be important depending on the procedure you choose and the timing of ovulation)
- Set-up a consultation with a doctor if you are choosing the in-office procedures.
- Choose your donor via a known source or a sperm bank. I place this option after seeing your doctor as some will have specific requirements for either which bank you use or the methods and timeline that the sperm is shipped.
- Work with your doctor and your own schedule, and decide when you’d like to start the process.
If you’ve decided that being a Choice Mom is right for you, then go for it! Whichever way it has to happen: One of the ways described in this post, or if you use donor eggs, or if you adopt. As long as you prepare yourself for it, you can do it. It is so very worth it. If it’s in your heart to be a mom, then don’t let any preconceived notions stop you. I didn’t, and I now have TWO beautiful boys from IVF and perseverance.
Finally, I would like to thank you so much for reading my story. If you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences, please reach out! I’d love to hear from you.
Make sure to also check back as I will continue to write posts about my experiences as a Choice Mom with life always in motion.