Source: Jonathan Borba / Unsplash
The perfect time to have a baby doesn’t exist in the real world, and the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t made planning pregnancy easier. Deciding whether or when to have a child, conceive, and become a parent is complicated – and even more so when you’re single.
In the 1960s and earlier decades, before the feminist movement made great strides, women went to college to find husbands. If you weren’t married by the age of 25, you might be considered a virgin, an old maid. Few women thought of careers – becoming dentists, scientists, or CEOs – and being able to support themselves and children financially. Even less culturally accepted the idea of a family with two fathers, two mothers or single parents.
That has changed. Dramatic. Almost a quarter of children in the US live with a single parent – the highest rate in the world, according to the Pew Research Center. Single parents who have never been married roughly correspond to the proportion of previously married parents. And the US Census reports that most children in single-parent households are raised by single mothers – one in five single parents is a father – some due to divorce or death of a spouse, and others who choose to be single parents.
Many later start families
Straight or gay, men and women don’t necessarily think of themselves as Mr. or Mrs. Right. But individuals, like their married colleagues, are often waiting to have families. The median age among single parents is 38, according to Pew, compared to 34 for cohabiting parents who are not married.
With many women waiting longer to have their families, a huge and growing industry has developed that is no longer under the radar or a hush-hush issue. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has grown rapidly, and the advances have been tremendous and particularly beneficial for single women aspiring to become mothers.
Freezing eggs for use at an appropriate time is also no longer uncommon. In my immediate vicinity, I know three young women in their late 30s and early 40s who have frozen their eggs. They want to keep their options open. They may consider potential sperm donors, better settle down in their work, or move on when they feel they can support a child on their own – or hope to find a partner but want to be sure they can your get eggs.
Fertility medicine professionals have successfully frozen sperm since the mid-20th century. In 1953, the first human pregnancy with frozen spermatozoa was carried out. Single fathers outnumber single mothers, but their ranks are growing too. Like their female counterparts, single men often wait until they are older to become fathers.
CNN presenter Anderson Cooper became a single parent at the age of 52 through a surrogate father. Regardless of your opinion on surrogacy or egg and embryo freezing, these medical interventions remain, although they remain prohibitively expensive for many.
“A good egg” is all you need
Aspiring single mothers are good to go when you have a good egg, as Suzy Becker, a humorist and “older” gay woman, revealed in her book One Good Egg: An Illustrated Memoir. “For the first twenty-three years of my life, I was certain that I would have at least two babies,” she writes. “Then it took me fifteen years to decide to have just one.”
Becker describes the many obstacles she has faced and sorts fertility language from IUI to IVF while informing the reader with delightful illustrations that are heartwarming and amusing. With a good friend as a donor, her story solves the gnarly hurdles of becoming a “later” mother, which she did at the age of 42.
Nancy, a woman I interviewed for a research study, got divorced with no children. Her increasing age was just one factor that drove her to become a single parent. “I started my journey at the age of 41. I was alone for several years and dating didn’t work out. I decided I had a lifetime to find a partner, but the window closed on becoming a mother, ”she said. “I remember reading an article about parenting as the greatest education. It wasn’t that I was dying for a baby, but I didn’t want to miss the parenting experience. ”
Nancy was considering adopting, but after a long, stressful, and complicated period, she succeeded in treating infertility. Many single women choose to adopt for medical or financial reasons and, like Nancy, don’t wait to find a partner.
The pluses of single parents
Whether you as an individual choose a sperm donor from your friends or from a sperm bank, deliver your baby, hire a replacement, or adopt, the rewards are plentiful and permanent. You make important decisions about your child’s development and education, where you live and what and to whom you will expose your child.
Nancy, whose child is now 8 years old, underlines this point. “I have complete control over decisions. There are fewer moving parts, which makes it easier for me to be all-in without the distraction, ”she says. “All in all, it’s fantastic: we have adventures; There is spontaneity when it’s just the two of you. “
Unless you have an incredible support system in place, you cannot “hand over” your child to have a few hours to yourself. Sometimes there are monumental challenges and the burden is entirely yours. However, when you speak to single women who have chosen to be mothers, it is evident that no matter how daunting the obstacles and disappointments along the way, their desire, determination, and determination is clear. They have the child or children they dearly wanted.
In the end, a single mother who echoed the feelings of so many others said to me, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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Copyright @ 2021 by Susan Newman