July 16, 2015

I’m a single mum. What’s that? No, the kids don’t see much of their dad. But don’t let that influence your opinion of him. As a matter of fact, we don’t even know who he is. But that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that he is a kind, unselfish, thoughtful man.

How do I know that? Because he made it possible for me to have a family.

A life’s ambition

I always wanted to be a mother. I took it for granted that I would be married with kids one day; or at least, with kids. I had to have children. It was what I was here to do.

So when my thirtieth birthday arrived, still childless, I was a little disconcerted. True, I had not really wanted kids before then. I was having too much fun. Yes, if one had come along I would have been overjoyed, but I was glad to be free to live my life selfishly.

Not anymore.

Reasoning and reckoning





I’d intended to have my children by the age of 35 and I always wanted children. Not a child. I wanted the noisy, loving chaos of a big family, just as I had growing up as one of five. As a single parent, I knew that my children would need family connections to fulfil their sense of belonging, and what better connection to start with than a brother or sister?

It was time to act.



The options

Becoming a single mother in Australia is not impossible if you are fertile and have a couple of thousand dollars lying around. The regulations are different from state to state and even clinic to clinic. Some clinics still discriminate against single parents. Mine did not.

If you need help with fertility or finance, the story is not so sunny. IVF treatments will leave you around $8,000 out of pocket, depending on your insurance, and that’s for just one attempt (most people need several).

Adoption is even more problematic. If you’re single, it’s nearly impossible in Australia. There are just too many couples seeking and not enough babies to go around.

International adoption will set you back easily $20,000, and take months if not years. Also, you wouldn’t go home with a newborn.

My process

I had blood tests and scans. I only had one ovary (the other was removed during surgery to remove a massive cyst in my early twenties). My fertility specialist wasn’t concerned. I had as good a chance as anyone, she told me, about 15%. What? I thought in horror. OK, stay positive. “If you don’t conceive after four tries, we’ll look at IVF,” she continued. Well, that’s not going to happen, I thought, picturing my bank account.

I attended a counselling session. “Have you thought this through, do you have good support networks, will you cope when your teenage child says, ‘you’re so hopeless you couldn’t even get a man! I want to find my father and live with him! Blah, blah, teen angst!’” Yes, I replied. I am sure I will cop it. But then, I was an impossible teen myself, isn’t karma sweet?

When all the formalities were complete, my name went onto a waiting list and I went on with my life.

The miracle

Seven months later I got an email. Three donors were ready to go, I could choose. With great excitement my family and I poured over three A4, bullet-pointed sheets; age, height, weight, ethnicity, colouring, health, profession, education and a reason for donating: “To carry on my DNA,” read one entry. “To help someone to have a family,” read the winner. This one had excellent health and my mind was made up. On with the show!

Daily blood tests followed. When follicles were about to burst forth with eggs, I went into the clinic, lay down on the bed and, as a friend of mine elegantly put it, the nurse came in with the turkey baster. Then I lay there staring at the ceiling for fifteen minutes before hopping down and heading back to work.

Two interminable weeks of waiting followed. I glumly confessed to my sister that I didn’t think it had worked. I experienced spotting and was certain my period was on its way.

Except it wasn’t. By some miracle, against all the odds, I was pregnant with my first child, my now-three year old daughter.

Everyone was amazed when they heard I had conceived on my very first try. The stunned silence on the end of the phone when I first told my mother the news was hilarious. It didn’t take her long to jump on the expectant-granny bandwagon, though.

Once my daughter was born, I advised the clinic for their records. They also agreed to hold some sperm for me if I wanted subsequent children, which I did. I got hold of the official Donor Registry documents so that I could add my daughter’s name in, for other related parties to see. That way, if the father or any other of his biological offspring wanted to find out about her existence, they could.

I have not yet put her name (or her brother’s name) into this register. I’ve decided to wait until they are older. At the age of 16, they can decide for themselves. If they are like me, they will want to know everything they can about their origins, so I hope for their sake that the father, that kind, altruistic gentleman, has added some details for them. That is the only legal way my children will ever know their father.

It’s a big step to take on your own. But I know my children will be confident enough to live in this new world of unique family types. We will build our normal together.

Has anyone else been through this and like to share your experience? Please share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com


  • You have been through a lot. I wish you well.

    Reply


  • Thank you for sharing your story! I am in the same position as you, I am 29 nearly 30 and I have been considering going it alone for some time. Your story was very inspiring!

    Reply


  • This is just what i needed to see! I am in the process of trying for a baby. I am a single 20 year old who has wanted a baby my whole life, when introduced to the idea of private AI, i jumped! I am nervous yet so excited, and stories like this really help! thanks!

    Reply


  • I’ve always been partnered, but I reckon I could have done it alone, hubby doesn’t contribute much at all!

    Reply


  • What an enlightening article. Good for you! It’s hard work being a single mum, but so rewarding and enjoyable

    Reply


  • Such an inspiring story for other single women to take heart from. Thank you for sharing.


    • Thank you so much! I certainly hope that if any single women out there who want kids should encounter my story, it will show them that it’s not mission impossible.

    Reply


  • mum goes solo kool

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  • i think that is pretty awesome! you must be very happy with your little family


    • Thanks so much! I am so happy, joyful in fact! It’s my greatest ambition and wish come true :)

    Reply


  • i just want to say well done and being a parent is the hardest job in the world, doing it alone has got to be double tough.


    • Thank you very much, it can be tough, and I’m sure that without huge lashings of support from friends and family it must be really hard for some. I’m very lucky in my support network or I doubt I would have even attempted it.

    Reply


  • These babies will not go through the trauma of parents separating or staying together for the sake of them children who does so much emotional, pshycological damage, even to teens.


    • That’s true. I think it’s good that nowadays people find it easier, practically and mentally, to leave an unhealthy relationship and still confidently raise their kids.

    Reply


  • Hi. I to made the same decision. I was 38 and really worried that I would reach 50 and have not met the right man. Lucky in Tasmania it is legal for single women. It took me 4 years, 6 AI’s and 13 rounds of Ivf. After 2 miscarriages I had my beautiful little girl who is now 6. It would have been nice to have a husband as well. But that wasn’t to be. My darling is happy, healthy and loved. She knows (age appropriate) about her conception. She is asked, at tines, by her friends where her Daddy is and she responds “I don’t need a Daddy I have my Mummy”

    Yes it was very tough and at times and still is. But we are so happy and I have the moat amazing girl in the whole world…and I am a Mum.

    Well done on your decision x


    • How wonderful, and hail, fellow Tasmanian! I’m so glad you got your darling little girl in the end, and good on you for persisting. I love your daughter’s reaction to people and I’ve made a mental note to get it into my daughter’s head as well! Thanks so much for sharing.

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  • just great

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  • Great article. Every woman should have a chance to live a life they want to, and having children on one’s own is possible as you have demonstrated here – definitely an option for modern women.


    • Thank you. Yes, I pinch myself quite frequently (metaphorically anyway!) at how lucky I am to be born in this time, in this place and to have the amazing opportunities I’ve had. I know how fortunate I am and I try not to take it for granted.

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  • This is a fantastic article. I think that the ABS shows that the nuclear family is in decline and all types of families now dominate the social scale. As long as the children have a stable, loving home, it doesn’t matter what sex or number of parents are in the household.


    • Thank you, and I agree completely. You’re right about the ABS statistics though such families are still very much the minority, though slowly increasing. It always interests me the way our society still stigmatizes single parents such as myself or separated women (not so much men), and declares that our children are going to turn out all bad, but since history began there have been widowed families, orphaned children being cared for by grandparents, and these families are always looked on with sympathy and admiration. There is no difference, as you say, just parents trying to do their best for their children.

    Reply


  • Becoming a single parent is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. I never expected to become the sole parent to my 2 sons, they were 4 & 7 yrs old when I caught my husband yet again cheating on me. For me marriage was forever but my husband had other ideas & cheated on a regular basis so I still have not taken on another relationship even 15 years down the track. I also had a life threatening brain injury that occurred at home but I have no memory of how nor who caused it altho the Police suspect my husband was behind it due to an increase in my life insurance just prior to it.
    If you are already single & have a child thru IVF you have a much better chance of raising them to be balanced & they do not get caught up in a marriage break down. No matter how you manage a break up they will still be the victims in the divorce. There is still a stigma attached to the term “single parent” no matter how you try to dress it up & few men want to take on a ready made family so it makes it hard to form a future relationship. As your kids get older there will be questions about their daddy & even tho he was anonymous they will still feel the lack of a male role model especially as they enter their teens.
    As much as I love my children if I had known I would become a sole parent & the challenges it brings I would never have had them with the man I was married to.
    My advice is to think carefully before becoming a single parent because it gets harder as the kids get older, it changes your social standing in the community by becoming one & employers still discriminate against single Mums even tho it is not legal to do so.


    • These are very valid points and single parents definitely have it tough, especially those in your situation where you had not only no loving partner but someone who actively caused you harm. In some ways, having children on my own was the most selfish thing I have ever done. I know that my kids will question my decision at some point in their lives. My job is to make sure they have the best lives they can, and are comfortable and confident in themselves. I’m happy to say that they have plenty of loving male figures in their lives, which makes them very fortunate. It was a very big factor when I made the decision to become a parent. Thanks so much for sharing your story.



      • wow i can’t even imagine what you have been through poor gal

    Reply

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