Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Unconventional Path To Motherhood

“Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” ~ Elizabeth Stone

I get a lot of calls from people asking if I would speak to them or a friend of  theirs about certain experiences that I have had. Often it is about breast cancer or the Penguin Cold Caps or surrogacy , but most often it is about pursuing single motherhood. I have had great phone conversations with women I have never met about these subjects.

Lately I have had more and more conversations about single motherhood and infertility. I speak to many women  who are trying to make this big decision. Should become a mother via sperm donation?  I remember how long I thought about it before I finally started trying. Would I be able to do this? Will my child be sad that he/she doesn't have a Dad? Will I be able to balance it all? How will I handle it financially? Will people be judgemental about this decision? I went back and forth about it, literally for years, before I decided to start trying. I think the one thing that made me decide came from an email conversation I had with a woman who was a single mother by choice. She said to think about your life in ten years if you do it or you don't. That made my decision easier. I thought of a busy life with a little child vs. a quiet life filled with regrets. Decision made.

I think so many women feel the urge to be mothers. Not all of course, but a lot. We think it all has to follow a certain pattern. Meet a nice guy, settle down, have kids. What if you never meet someone where you just click? I have dated really nice guys but I couldn't see myself with them forever. There were guys I met where we clicked great but they had no interest in having kids and that didn't work for me. I have friends who have confided in me that they were never really in love with their husbands but they married them because they wanted children so badly. I know I couldn't do that either.

It took a long time for me to conceive Julianna. I was 40 when I went to the fertility clinic for my consultation, 41 when I started trying and 42 (by 4 days) when she was finally conceived. I think a lot of women know that it is harder to conceive when they are older but they think it will be fast for them.  I was in that group. I became somewhat obsessed. I read everything there was to read about fertility treatments. I was so angry at myself for waiting so long to start trying. When I found out you could check the success rates for IVF clinics on I checked them all. I read every fertility blog, did acupuncture, took supplements and went to the fertility clinic daily. It took six intrauterine inseminations (iui), three invitro fertilizations (IVF) and one frozen embryo transfer before I was blessed with Julianna. Along the way I had one ectopic pregnancy that was heartbreaking but made me more determined to press on.

I always wanted Julianna to have a sibling. I tried myself for some time after she was born. When my friend told the OB I used when I was pregnant with Julianna that I was going to try to have another child  he said, "She might as well take a gun and put a bullet in her head, because the outcome will be the same." I went to a perinalologist who told me I could try. She said I had a 40% chance of having pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome again. When she read my medical records for when I had Julianna she said she was surprised I survived it. She said there was really no medical explanation why I did. She thought with careful monitoring she could get me through a pregnancy but I had a super high risk of having a very premature baby because she wouldn't let the pregnancy continue if there was any risk of it becoming life threatening. I did two IUIs and three IVFs. I had two early miscarriages but no baby.

When I got the breast cancer I stopped trying. Because the type of breast cancer I had was hormone negative that would not have stopped me from carrying another baby. However, I strongly believe that my breast cancer was God's way of telling me not to get pregnant again, that it wouldn't end well. I want my life, I want Julianna to have me and there are other paths to motherhood.

I am thankful that there are generous people who are willing to share their fertility and gestational capabilities through gamete donation and surrogacy. Tierney will always be Jack's "Tummy Mommy". Without her we certainly wouldn't have Jack and she went through an awful lot throughout the journey.

To all the women who are trying over and over against all odds, with failures and heavy hearts,  I pray you find your way to your child(ren). My memories of that long dark struggle still bring heartache. If what you are doing isn't working, remember there are many paths to motherhood. There is sperm donation, egg donation, embryo donation, surrogacy, adoption and foster parenting to name a few. Some of those methods are costly but not all are. There are plenty of people who don't want to destroy their embryos and would like to donate them to someone who can give them life and love. I happen to have three embryos that I am going to donate to someone, but I am waiting for the results of Jack's genetic testing.

Life has been full of struggles on many fronts over the last few years. Through it all it is my children who have blessed me in ways I can not describe. The enthusiasm, strength and wonder  of their little hearts will always keep me going.

Almost all of the women I speak to who are contemplating single motherhood ask me how our life is and they want to know if I have any regrets about my decision to do it on my own. The answer to that is that our life is great. We are busy, happy and (finally) healthy. I do not think my children suffer at all from not having a Dad in their lives. That may change in the future, but I do not see that now. And yes, I do have one regret and that is that I didn't do it sooner.

If you are making this big decision I wish you luck. I hope you find peace in your heart, whatever you decide.


  1. You are an amazing woman and mom in every way.

  2. Oops....bspector again.
    Please email me your next blog.
    This is an amazing story in everyway.
    I lost my mom to colon cancer @ 70 and an older sister @ 53 to malinoma as we as my dad when I was 11 and he was 53....Heart Attack.
    You are an inspiration to all!!!!!

  3. Beautifully written. You are an inspiration!
    God Bless you and your family!