Choosing Single Motherhood
I was raised by a single mother, living in North Carolina with my older sister. Growing up in the 1990s, it was slowly becoming more common in my community to have divorced parents or blended families. The only women I heard about who had kids “out of wedlock” (as we called it back then in my town in North Carolina) were accidental pregnancies. It wasn’t until after college that I began to hear about women choosing to become mothers on their own.
By Michelle Stansbury, Eat, Drink, Be San Diego
Women are now having children when they are ready, separate from their journey to find love. We can throw out the old song ‘first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage.’ Women can have some or all of those things in whatever order we wish.
It’s an incredibly empowering idea. Single moms taking control of our biological clocks, deciding not to get into a relationship or stay in a relationship solely to achieve our childbearing goals before time runs out. Feminism has come so far! We can even shop for sperm online!
I imagine that in the future, as elective single motherhood becomes more affordable and socially accepted, it will be men who are the ones stressing about still being single and childless while the smart, savvy women around them are having kids on their own. Perhaps gender norms in America will radically change as women are much more easily able to have kids without a man than men are with a woman. At the moment, though, becoming a single mom by choice is still slowly growing in popularity.
Today, choosing to get pregnant on your own is an expensive luxury that few can afford. In addition to the financial burden, some ‘choice moms’ face unsupportive family or friends, struggle to change their own expectations of what their journey should look like, or a myriad of other difficulties they have had to overcome.
My decision was much more matter of fact. I knew I wanted to be a mother since I was five years old (possibly earlier, but it was written down on one of my Kindergarten worksheets, listing “a mom” as what I wanted to be when I grew up). I assumed I would get married in my twenties and have kids with a husband. As I spent my mid-twenties traveling around the world, that timeline got pushed back. I decided that 35 was my magic number. If I was single at 35, I would have a kid on my own. That age just felt right, and I stuck by it.
That practical sensibility doesn’t mean that I don’t have any obstacles to overcome. At 35, my pregnancy would be considered geriatric. The medical community, as well as popular sentiment, uses 35 as the exact age where you go from being a fertile young bunny to an unfertile hag. Though, there is nothing magic about that number. The day after your 35th birthday, no evil clock starts zapping your eggs. But, the older you are when you start the pregnancy process, the harder it is to get and stay pregnant. Egg quality decreases with time, increasing the chances of the embryo having a chromosomal condition, and ovarian reserves diminish with advanced maternal age. But, every woman has a different fertility clock as well as a different point in her life when she is ready to start a family.
The good news is that we as women have more choices than ever. Whether you are considering being a Single Mom by Choice as a “backup plan” or if you’ve already decided that is the path for you, there are a tremendous amount of resources, information, and support available.