Single mom by choice… as I scrolled down the list of choices for types of patient on the donor sperm bank website and selected those 4 words, “Single Mom By Choice”, I could not help but internally scream BUT IT’S NOT MY CHOICE!
I did NOT choose to be single… I did NOT choose to not find the man I want to build a family with… I did NOT choose to be told “it’s now or potentially never” when it comes to conceiving a child… I did NOT choose for my 39 year old body to be biologically older than it should…
However, I still checked the box. Why? Well, in the past, I DID choose my career over relationships. I DID choose to move provinces 3 times in 5 years and to work weird schedules for 12 years in order to have a dream job. I DID choose not to compromise and date someone “just because”. Furthermore, I DID choose that I was going to jump on the NOW rather than the POTENTIALLY NEVER bandwagon… So yes… I checked the “Single Mom By Choice” box on the website.
I won’t lie. There were tears. There was mourning the idea that I would not be building a family the way I grew up thinking I would. Tears over the knowledge of how difficult it is going to be and over the feeling that I will be taking away something every child wants; a father… tears that my life is about to change BUT in the sweetest and most glorious of ways. Tears of nervousness. Tears of happiness. Tears of excitement and of fear. Holy moly… I am going to be a mother. The one job I have always wanted.
Flashback admission: I used to want 5 kids. Three of my own, 2 adopted. As I grew older, the number diminished but I opened my mind to men with kids in order to still satisfy my desire of a bigger family. Flashforward to 6 months into the fertility process: I’d be happy with one child. Please, oh please, let me have at least one child of my own…
OMG, I AM DOING THIS!
I had said several times “if I am single at 35, I am getting artificially inseminated”. I never believed I’d get there though so, when I turned 35 and I was offered a great radio opportunity back in my hometown of Montreal, I chose to take it. Despite it meaning leaving a relationship behind. “Clean slate. New life. I’ll meet someone”. That’s what I sincerely thought. “I can postpone motherhood, I’ll meet someone great soon”… but more than 4 years later, after tons of dates that lead nowhere and tons of dates with men who already had children but didn’t want more (“if only you already had some, I’d be ok. I just don’t want to father more”), I was still single. Single and really starting to see that “happy perfect dad+mom family” window close. I previously had had cysts and doctors had commented that having kids might not be easy, so just shy of my 39th birthday, I booked an appointment at the Montreal Fertility Clinic.
First appointment… Several tests… Second appointment…. and then the verdict: “now or potentially never”. My FHS levels where closer to menopause than they should be for my age. My follicule count was low… even if I chose to freeze my eggs, my body might not be viable in a couple years to carry out a pregnancy. I was in shock. I expected “it’s going to be hard, you’re 39 years old” but I did not expect the “it’s going to be harder than a normal 39 year old”. However, the doctor said that I was otherwise healthy and nothing indicated that I could not have a successful pregnancy now.
In Quebec, 9 insemination attempts (IUI) are covered by the gouvernment. It can take, on average, 4 to 6 trials for it to work. In vitro (IVF) is no longer covered in Canada and would cost between 6000-9000$. However, there is a tax break in Quebec depending on your salary – which in my case would only be about 35% (15% federal + 20% provincial).
I calculated that I could afford 1 in vitro OR 5 insemination trials (the procedure is free but I would still have to pay for donor sperm, which can cost between 700-850$ a sample). So since I was otherwise healthy and wanted to put all chances on my side (plus having a baby will be expensive as a single mom), I chose to start with the cheaper insemination. I’d get pregnant on the first try! Or so I believed.
WHERE TO START?
I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I did not know where to start. Do I pick an anonymous donor? Do I ask a guy I know to donate? For sure, the idea of using a friend of mine — someone who could be there to answer my child’s future questions — was absolutely attractive. But who? There was someone. Lucky for me, that someone was willing to donate sperm. We had a past and I cared deeply for this person, so it did seem quite fitting. Why not? He was happy to be involved with the future child, but that did make me worry about future ramifications… will he have his name on the birth certificate? No. That would be complicated for travel. Will he have a say on the child’s education? I’d rather not. Will the future child meet his/her siblings (he has kids)? Why not. Will the child be told this friend is the father? Why not. But how will he be introduced? Mmmm mommy’s friend? The cool uncle?! Ok… I had time to think about that one… What are the parental rights of a donor in Canada?! Good question. I called my lawyer friend and she looked into it. Due to a previous situation that had to go to court, it is strongly suggested that the donor signs a release of parental rights within 48h of the birth of the child. However, he has a year come back on his decision. Ok… Good to know. I finally felt like I had all the info I needed before meeting the psychologist!
Psychologist? Yep! You have to be approved by a psychologist to go through with fertility treatments. I guess it makes sense… So, in order to show this psychologist how responsible and knowledgeable I was, I took it one step further and decided to also research and find a potential donor. “Take that psychologist!! I’ll show you”. Or so I thought…
(TO BE CONTINUED)
*** I videoblogged my journey – you can watch here (sorry for all the tears)