As the country preps for Super Bowl Sunday by making tough decisions (full-body or just face paint? boneless or bone-in?), I’ve been making some pretty super-sized pre-game decisions myself.
When I played youth soccer, my pre-game routine involved meditating with my legs crossed, goalie gloves on, ball in hand, visualizing acrobatic saves of the sort I could only dream of making. But we did have a perfect record: we never won a game. Zen I was; Belichick I was not. By college, pre-gaming took on a whole new meaning. For some it still ended with scoring. For me, I never enjoyed the bar scene and never scored more than a killer headache, so I guess I botched that, too.
Now that I’m gearing up to become a single mother, I’m hoping a couple decades of experience and endless hours of research will lead to a more successful pre-game, or pre-conception plan. And though every mom-to-be’s path will vary, I’m also hoping that hearing my thought process might make some of the toughest decisions a little easier for the next woman.
How single women do it
Adoption or conception. Both are great options, and each appealed to me, for different reasons. Since I can’t have a baby without a little help myself, adoption seemed like a wonderful opportunity to in turn help a woman who needed a loving family for her child. Unfortunately, not all adoption agencies consider a family of one adequate, and even those that do were unaffordable to this single chick without taking out a serious loan, something I’d rather not do if I have another option. Luckily, I’ve always wanted to experience pregnancy. I’ve already got big feet and cankles, so I might as well have something miraculous accompany them, right?
It never even occurred to me that single women had options for this question. I just assumed if Mr. Right wasn’t doing the job that Dr. Somebody ought to be. Actually, though, there are other choices. Frankly, when I first heard the term “turkey-baster method,” I chuckled, and when I saw there were instructional YouTube videos, I ran. But for some women who want to save money and try conceiving at home, it’s a viable option. (And I was relieved to learn it usually involves a sterile syringe rather an actual turkey baster.) Others, who seek the comfort of home but the knowledge of a pro, hire a mid-wife to do the insemination. I suppose this might be the best of both worlds, but for me, if I can’t have an expert in the art of lovemaking, I want an expert in the field of reproduction. Enter the RE, or reproductive endocrinologist.
There are no shortages of fertility clinics these days, and at least in Massachusetts, where I live, all are welcoming to and experienced with the needs of single women. With so many choices, I picked a clinic with satellite offices close to my home and work, and one that a couple close to me recommended. With these choices made, only one big play was left to call.
Who’s Your Daddy?
With Prince Charming absent, an unknown donor was the only option I considered here. Some women have male friends whom they feel comfortable enough asking for a ‘free sample.’ I don’t. And even if I did, I’d think long and hard about this one. Unless you’re trying the at-home methods, you’re not actually saving money, as the sperm will still need to be tested and frozen for a time by the clinic to assure it’s safe and viable.
More importantly, you could be opening yourself up to future challenges that would not only destroy your friendship, but could also affect your future child. According to Single Mothers by Choice, no matter what legal documents are drawn up ahead of time, once the child is a reality, courts will almost always rule on the side of providing the child with access to both biological parents. So if your friend later decides he wants to be a dad, not just a donor, you could lose sole custody. Those are muddy waters I’d rather not ever have to wade through. I’m accepting the fact I don’t have a suitable dad for my future child (yet) and will need the help of an unknown, but much appreciated stranger. Choosing that perfect stranger is another challenge for another day.
There are dozens more decisions to be made, some of which I’ll gladly write about at a later date, but I’ve learned from my past not to cling too tightly to pre-laid plans. Our choices change as life changes. That’s okay. Sometimes the best plays are the audibles called on the line of scrimmage.
Thanks again for all the support and welcome everyone provided when I joined merelymothers earlier this month. Your interest and encouragement have been overwhelming!
Book referenced: Mattes, Jane. Single Mothers by Choice: A Guidebook for Single Women Who Are Considering or Have Chosen Motherhood. New York: Times, 1994.