Whenever my relationship ended with a partner, I remember being triggered. If I saw a couple hugging or kissing it would make me feel sad. If I saw a couple being really kind and sweet towards one another, I’d wonder if I might be lucky enough to have that again.
Before getting pregnant, I wondered how this would play out in my trying to conceive/pregnancy journey. Would it be a time of excruciating loneliness? Would family members, friends, or doctors treat me differently? Would I be able to detect a form of sympathy in their voice because I wasn’t able to find a partner?
At this point, I am ready to have a baby any day now and I think the answer is extremely important – especially to people who are thinking about having a baby on their own. Sure my experience will be different from you, but I think it is really important to share the truth about what happened during my journey.
When I went to my doctor to tell her that I wanted to have a baby on my own, I expected her to say that she was shocked. Instead, she just said, “do you have the forms?” I had prepared myself for this important event and had figured out various ways of how I would answer questions when she asked me. She didn’t ask me one question. The only really awkward moment was when she asked the front desk to fax off the paperwork and the admin assistant yelled: “but she didn’t write her partner on this form.”
The admin assistant yelled for me to put my partner’s name on the form and I said: “I am doing it on my own.” I still have no idea where that strength came from because everyone in the waiting room was watching me.
I then went to get my bloodwork and the kind nurse said “you are getting so much blood taken today. You really need your husband to make you a steak dinner.”
“Yes I do” I replied and laughed.
That was the first day of my journey so I just assumed that it would be like this throughout my time in trying to get pregnant.
After two months of waiting to be called by Mount Sinai Fertility, I figured I’d call to see why there was a delay in being set up with a fertility doctor.
“We couldn’t process your forms” a voice said on the phone. “You didn’t list your partner’s name.”
“I am using a donor” I said.
I was extremely frustrated because I wanted to start the process right away and I knew that Sinai had so many women that were doing it on their own.
A couple weeks later I was set up with my amazing fertility doctor, Dr. Claire Jones.
My sister came with me to every single important fertility appointment with Dr. Jones. She was the best partner that anyone could have. She’d make me laugh and would bring me little gifts such as lottery tickets to scratch while we were waiting.
The couples around us seemed frustrated and many would argue. It seemed that one of the partners was always in a rush and would become extremely anxious about the time spent in the waiting room.
My sister and I would just laugh at the length of time we waited. We’d make bets and be shocked when the wait time was under one hour.
I can’t even remember how many appointments I had at the fertility clinic – maybe 50? I think about 10 of them were very important, and the rest I wanted to go to on my own. For both of my IUI’s, I went alone and didn’t have someone with me. My friends and family members asked if they could be there, but I felt too awkward getting inseminated with them in the room.
Once I was pregnant, I was waiting for the many questions to be asked. I expected people to ask about my “husband.” I wondered how long it would take before someone asked me how my husband felt in becoming a “Dad”.
I have been absolutely shocked at how little this has happened.
Nobody at Mount Sinai Hospital has asked me about my partner at all. They have been incredibly supportive and just made sure that I have some help after delivering the baby. They have asked me about who I will have in the delivery room and what kind of “team” I have behind me once the baby is born.
I’ve only had two situations where I have been asked about my partner. The first was from a family friend who just said: “oh, I didn’t know you were seeing anyone.”
“I am not seeing anyone” I said. “I am doing it on my own.”
No matter how many times I say it, I brace myself for some kind of reaction. I take a deep breath and get ready to feel insulted.
“I am so proud of you” she said.
The only other time occurred when I was getting a massage and the massage therapist asked how my husband felt about me having a boy.
“I actually don’t have a partner” I said. “I am doing it on my own.”
“I was going to do the same thing!” she said.
To be honest, I can’t get over the number of people who say that they looked into having a baby on their own. I’d say that about ¼ people I tell, give me that response. Who knows how close they were to actually doing it, but it makes me feel less alone.
There have only been four times along the journey that I really wanted a partner.
The first was when I went to the fertility doctor because I felt a sense of shame. They talked to me about my BMI, and I started crying. At the time I think everyone (including myself) thought I was crying because I felt angry that I had let my weight creep up so much. Looking back, I know it was because I felt so ashamed that I had to admit that I hadn’t found someone. I wasn’t “good” enough to have someone who wanted to have a baby with me.
Please know that this is not how I feel at all anymore. I just needed to allow myself to feel that in order to move on. I know that I could have settled in a lot of different relationships and that I could have easily convinced someone to have a baby with me. I just didn’t want anyone – I wanted a solid partner.
The next time happened when I was told that I had twins and decided to have a procedure done so that one of my babies would go on to be healthy. It would have felt a bit better to have someone hugging me every day leading up to the procedure. I think I waited something like seven weeks between knowing that I was going to have the procedure versus actually having the procedure. It felt like a huge weight hanging over me. Luckily, I had so much support from family and friends that it started to feel as though the weight wasn’t as intense.
The third time I wanted to have a partner was when I was selecting a sperm donor. I was not emotionally prepared for all of the feelings that it would bring up. I felt like I was too unloveable to have someone who wanted to have a baby with me. I think there was a lot of work that I needed to do because my ex-husband had told me he no longer wanted to have kids with me. It brought up a lot of memories from the past. Once I selected a sperm donor and worked through those issues, I haven’t felt that way at all.
The fourth time I wanted a partner was this week. It’s been so long since I have thought about having a partner along the way and it happened this week when all I wanted to do was to have one spoonful of ice-cream. I wanted to send my partner out because I was craving ice-cream so much at around 8:00 p.m. I tried everything to get my mind away from ice-cream but I couldn’t. So what did I do? I bundled up in my winter coat and got myself some damn ice-cream.
So there have really been only four times along this journey where I missed having a partner. Some of those times were only quick moments where feelings passed quickly. Other times, I had to work through some issues and had to reach out for support.
Most of the time I am thankful that I don’t have a partner.
I get to raise this little boy the way that I want to raise him. There won’t be any conflict about parenting styles.
I got to name my son with the name that I selected and didn’t have to consult anyone.
I got to remain calm during my appointments because I didn’t have a frustrated partner worrying about time and how many appointments I had scheduled.
I always say that the loneliest I ever felt in my life was when I was married. It sounds really strange because I had a partner. How could one really feel lonely while being in a relationship? There were countless reasons I felt this way (and I won’t go into them) but I was just so incredibly alone and sad.
Sometimes I get a sense that people feel a bit of sadness for me because they think that I am at a disadvantage because there is only one of me and “normally” a child has two parents. But what if the parents don’t love one another or even worse – if they don’t love themselves? What if one of the parents isn’t a good parent or a good role model? What if one of the parents resents the other one for having children?
I know there are many loving couples who have an amazing partnership and are incredible parents together. I love that and wish for that but unfortunately, I don’t think that is the norm.
As I keep getting older and hearing stories and seeing things around me, I just feel so lucky. I had a choice and I know that being pregnant without a partner has brought me the greatest joy. There were some sad days but I have never been this happy in my entire life and I don’t regret my decision for a minute.
And I will find love.
It may not be tomorrow or within the next couple of years but I know that one day I will find a partner. I will be picky as hell because I know my worth and I know that I don’t want a partner to “complete me” but to be the icing on the cake of an already amazing life.
So if you ever speak to a single mother by choice, please don’t feel sorry for her. She is strong as hell and probably feels damn good about making such an amazing decision.
Please also know that in this pregnancy without a partner I have never felt so loved, strong, happy, and beautiful. Pregnancy without a partner can be such an incredible thing.