I've always wanted a family, but finding the right man to start that family with was just not happening for me. I didn't want to wait for a relationship to start my family because I knew that fertility decreased with age.
When I was 35 and felt some doors closing on a relationship, I decided to pursue having children on my own. I was blessed to have insurance through my work that helped me afford treatment, but the biggest blessing would be new friends.
After two unsuccessful IUIs, I wanted to try IVF, but had many concerns. That's where a new friend stepped in - an amazing person that I have still not met even all this time later.
Through the amazing community of "SGF Sisters" on the Facebook page, I was connected with a sweet lady, who was already pregnant with her SGF miracle baby. She provided me with unforeseen support that helped me get started with IVF treatment. I wouldn’t have been able to start that journey without her. Even though we both live in other states, we stay connected through Facebook and have yet to meet. Hopefully someday we can meet so I can thank her in person.
Choosing a Sperm Donor
While you can go through the process as a single woman, there is that missing piece…sperm! I suppose it sounds odd, but I did have a couple of friends who were willing to donate sperm. I had to choose if I wanted to go that route or use an anonymous donor from Fairfax Cryobank. Accepting the help of a friend would mean one less expense since donor sperm was not covered by my insurance policy. I decided to use an anonymous Cyrobank donor instead. I felt there would complications if I knew the donor. What if he decided that he did want to be involved? What if there were emotional or even legal obligations along the way? I felt it was worth the cost to use an anonymous donor to not have to worry about those kinds of things. If the donor wasn’t going to be a true partner and parent, then I preferred to remove that risk of complications.
Choosing the donor proved to be one of the easier parts of the whole process for me! I actually found it a little freeing! When dating, you have certain preferences, but they aren’t necessarily deal-breakers in whether you will go out with someone. In choosing donor sperm, I felt a freedom to be very selective. There were so many donors and I had to narrow it down somehow! Being picky on things like hair and eye color – things I wouldn’t normally be that picky about - made narrowing it down easier and I didn’t feel guilty about it. It’s not like I’d be hurting someone’s feelings by not picking him! Allowing myself that freedom, made the process that much easier mentally, emotionally, and logistically.
Ready to start my journey, I began IVF and had a very successful egg retrieval. We did a single embryo transfer that resulted in a positive pregnancy test!
I went for my first ultrasound ready to see the first picture of my child, but it was not the visit I expected. The baby was there, but there was no visible heartbeat. While not a good sign, it wasn't unheard of so I continued my medications and went home to visit my family for Christmas, hoping that when I returned for my next ultrasound, there would be better news. The second ultrasound showed a slight heartbeat, but not the growth I hoped for. A third ultrasound was required and that brought the news I'd been trying to prepare myself for since the first ultrasound, there was no heartbeat and the baby was gone. I scheduled a D&C, but only one day after stopping the meds, I miscarried. It was my biggest heartbreak. My friends and family supported me, but I think that the hardest part of going through this as a single woman is that, ultimately, there will be times that you are alone and there is nothing to change that. And that’s not just in going through the process of getting pregnant, it’s in being a parent as well.
Healing happens. Everything happens for a reason. You try again.
The next several months weren't easy. I had two unsuccessful FETs and at that point, my insurance coverage had run out. I had to stop treatment for a while to figure out if I needed to give up altogether or try to raise money for more attempts.
Then another angel came in my life. A friend offered to pay for Shared Risk! It was a gift I couldn't ever pay back. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about the generous spirit of people in this world. My daughter is named in honor of my friend.
So, another FET it was. And after my previous unsuccessful attempts, I decided to transfer two embryos. Two weeks later, a positive beta with huge numbers! And two days later, a big enough jump that a 3rd test wasn't even necessary! Everything was looking good!
It was time for that first ultrasound again and I was so scared since that was where things went downhill before. This time was a different story. Not only was there a strong heartbeat, there were TWO strong heartbeats! Twins! A second ultrasound brought with it graduation and 7 months later, a healthy boy and girl - Jack and Marlee. The loves of my life.
For all the hopeful single moms
Going through this process as a single woman wasn't easy. The injections alone were daunting. I had to get over my fear of needles and give myself numerous shots. The whole process brought many blessings. Friendships that I will treasure forever. Women that took me to breakfast when I was feeling so low after my miscarriage. The woman who drove many, many miles to take me to and from my egg retrieval. Women who listened to me lament on my frustration and pain. The woman who gave me my trigger shot before retrieval. I don't know how I would have gotten through the 2 years it took from my first visit to Shady Grove Fertility to my graduation without the support of my SGF Sisters. Everyone should be so blessed to have these kind of people in their lives.
My medical team was so great! I had treatments in Annandale and Rockville but my primary office was Fair Oaks. Dr. Browne was supportive the whole way, giving me her expert advice and laying out my options then allowing me to make informed decisions. Kim was so great making each call with my results, giving hard news with great sensitivity and good news with sincere joy. Lori was awesome in figuring out how to deal with my evil veins in all of the blood draws! Truly, an amazing feat!
To all single, hopeful moms out there, I want to encourage you that you can do this! Prepare yourself that while it can be a long and difficult road, it can be a very successful and blessed one. I wouldn't have my life any other way than to have Jack and Marlee running around, wrestling, and making a general wreck of my house. Their smiles and laughter light up my world. I still have hope we might find Mr. Right to add to our lives, but we're a pretty good trio in the meantime.