"SOLO BY CHOICE,
NOT BY BODY CLOCK"
In November 2019 I had just broken up with my on-again-off-again ex of seven years for the very last time. I had spent years trying to be a devoted girlfriend in the hope that he would get his act together and we could get married and have babies, because what I ultimately wanted was a family, but I eventually realised he was wasting my time and that actually I didn't really want to have any of those things with him anymore.
I'd joked with friends before I met my ex that if I got to a certain age without meeting 'the one' that I would just go and have a baby on my own with a sperm donor, so, as soon as I left my last relationship I began researching sperm banks and clinics, looking with some certainty at what my options were. I shared my plans with family and friends who were honestly so delighted that I had finally come to my senses and walked away from the toxic situation I was in, and told me that they all thought it was brilliant idea.
I had always been really open about wanting to be a mother and everyone who mattered was really supportive.
Whilst looking at all my options, I came across the 'egg sharing' scheme which essentially is a programme that allows you to trade your eggs in return for free or discounted IVF treatment, depending on who you do it with. I went with the Lister Fertility Clinic as it was local and came recommended, and the whole process was actually fairly straight forward. A fertility MOT determined that I had favourable fertility indicators (a decent follicle count and egg reserve) which meant that I qualified for the scheme, and so, after a few more tests and a closer look at my medical background, the wheels were put into motion to find a recipient family for my eggs and I picked my sperm donor. It took about five months from my first appointment to getting my positive pregnancy test but I was really fortunate to conceive on my first go. I am now the proud mummy of Daniel, an incredible two year old who is literally my reason to get up every day.
I was really fortunate that most people were really inspired by my decision to take control of my future and build a family of my own. I did face some controversial views on the internet (when I began sharing my story), but really, on the most part, people thought my story was quite empowering. I've been sharing my route to motherhood and how I navigate life as a one-parent family on social media to try and normalise the choice for others and it's genuinely quite well received
- there are a lot more solo mums who have been through my exact experience than I could have imagined at the start of my own journey, so it's great to advocate for solo parenthood as a choice.
Solo parenting is far from easy - although I don't imagine any parenting is easy - and, as a result, I did suffer from postnatal anxiety and overwhelm as a new mum. I think a lot of this was down to wanting to prove that I could do it all on my own and feeling like if I couldn't I was failing as a mum. Due to this people thought I was a bit mad trying for a sibling when Daniel was just eighteen months old. Honestly, I had initially wanted to wait a little longer, but as well as almost aging out of the egg sharing scheme which was the only way I could afford to try for another baby, Daniel's donor was also running out of stock. It was really important to me to try and give both my babies the same donor so that if they ever want to go looking for him later in life, then they can go together and support each other through the process . I was again so fortunate and conceived first time again - my baby girl is due to be induced in a little over two weeks now!
Solo motherhood has definitely been a journey. It's forced me to address many of my own experiences, choices, and expectations, which in addition to playing the role of mum has at times been quite a challenge. That being said, I have grown in ways I never thought possible and I have learnt to love more than I ever realised I could.
Whilst being solely responsible for some one else's tiny life is often terrifying, I secretly love being the person who makes all the decisions without having to compromise on the things I think are important about the upbringing of my children.
Parenting alone is definitely at times a bit of a control freak's dream come true!
If anyone is reading this and considering solo parenting as a choice, the most valuable piece of advice I can give is to go and have the fertility MOT sooner than later. I know too many women who waited a little too long to explore their options and their journey was made so much harder for doing so. Checking your position early can also help you make a choice if you're on the fence, as has been the case for lot's of the women I have encountered. I truly believe that you will never regret the child you had, but you might regret the one you didn't, and empowering yourself to make that decision by having all of the information is the most important step of all.
People worry about if they can parent alone, but I think that if you're strong enough to choose to go that road, you definitely have the salts to make it work once you're there!