Information from an expert about your ferility timeline.
Since 1978, when the very first “test-tube” baby was born, words like IVF, donor sperm and egg donation have become part of our everyday vocabulary. No longer does the traditional family need to consist of 2.5 children with a mother and father at the head of the helm. We only have to watch celebrated shows like Modern Family or 2-1/2 Men to understand that families can consist of different constellations of parents and/or parental type figures. Yet in real life, many doubt if they can be brave and diverse enough to be a modern family. Even worse, those around us may doubt if we can do it ourselves. However, with new technology and the power of cutting-edge fertility treatment, we have the ability to have the family of our dreams, whatever that may look like.
Meet Sally: In her mid-thirties, Sally is well educated, financially stable and single. For the last couple of years, she has become increasingly aware of her biological clock. She reports hearing it ticking loudly at weddings, baby showers, and other social events. Sally feels that being single has its own challenges, but being single and raising a child is seems like a daunting task. Yet, something inside of her yearns to have her own child. With her eyes set on the end result (her own ‘bundle of joy’), she knows that the process of single parenting may be tough, but ultimately rewarding. Sally came into our boutique fertility clinic to talk it through:
“Ok, I am single and want a child. I know this sort of defies the conventional idea of what a family should look like, but what can I do? I can’t wait for Mr. Right forever. I know I don’t want casual sex to have a baby and so, I am looking into donor sperm. I’m really worried about that though; I mean, how will others look at me? Will the child suffer in any way because of my decision?”
Sally is not alone in her fears. Many women contemplating this family path spend a few years toying with the idea before reaching the doctor’s office. Deciding to have a child while knowing that you will be the only parent can feel intimidating. It is certainly a big decision and involves much consideration, but this choice is becoming more viable as more women opt for it. Advancements in sperm donation, In Vitro Fertilization, and Egg Freezing have made this dream a reality for countless women. To help Sally feel less alone in her choice, we suggested that she seek out helpful communities of other women who were thinking about becoming single mothers by choice. There are a myriad of these in operation, and several are listed at the end of this article.
As we talked more, Sally realized that, in her head, she had confused “being the only parent” with “being the sole caretaker.” However, when she talked about her life, she realized that for some years now, she had developed a network of friends that she relied on for support, often spending Thanksgiving and other holidays with them since her family was so far away. For Sally, it was this “extended family” that she would turn to on a day-to-day basis to help raise her child. This was the modern family she chose.
One question that we really focused on was the social stigma of what it means to be a single mother, particularly a single mother by choice. While the stigma may exist in the modern era, would you deny yourself the opportunity to experience motherhood because of it? How much will you allow others to dictate how you should feel and act? Traveling the road less traveled will inevitably cause you to face tough decisions. However, friends, who don’t have much investment in anything except your happiness, can help you navigate this step. Again, online forums will offer many ways to respond to intrusive or negative comments by others. You will not be alone.
Sally’s worry about the long-term effects of growing up in a single-parent household on her child was an area where she fretted that her decision was a selfish one. Fortunately, we could rely on proven research to help her. Several studies have shown that there is no significant difference between women who are single mothers by choice and married mothers using donor sperm with respect to depression and anxiety effects on the child. Overall, data shows that single mothers by choice took great pleasure in raising their children. Furthermore, the children of single mothers by choice were shown to have fewer emotional and behavioral problems than their counterparts . In other words, because having a baby this way is a conscious decision, the attachment and bonding between mother and child is strong and healthy.
There was one more thing on Sally’s mind: What happens if I meet Mr Right after the baby is born? She already knew that she would reveal to her child that she had used donor sperm, but what about her partner? How would he take it? There is evidence to show that once a child is born, the pressure of finding Mr. Right changes - that dating becomes more relaxed and casual. The biological clock isn’t ticking away anymore, and women report that this gives them the luxury of time and peace of mind. Women have time to develop a positive, long-lasting relationship that has depth of feeling and connection.
We encourage single women who are contemplating becoming mothers to gather their ‘band of merry women’ for support. Join an online forum. Talk through the reasons why you want to do this and get their questions answered. Most of your worries and fears can be resolved, allowing you to start the family that you have always wanted!
If you would like help from a top-tier boutique fertility clinic with impeccable success rates to start your family, please reach out and contact our expert team today.
 Murray, C., & Golombok, S. (2005). Solo mothers and their donor insemination infants: follow-up at age 2. Human Reproduction 20: 1655-1660.
 Single Mothers by Choice is an online community of single mothers (www.singlemothersbychoice.org) who blog and meet locally for support and a sense of community.
This is a revised article based on “The Road Less Traveled” by S. Fenella Das Gupta, PhD. in the Spring/Summer edition on Lane Fertility Institute Magazine.
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