‘Social infertility’ is a relatively new term being used to describe women who are unable to have a baby, not for medical reasons, but because they are single. With no partner, they have no possibility to try to conceive naturally. Love the term or hate it, it describes a situation that is becoming ever more common with women in their 30s.
I know all about social infertility as this was the exact situation I found myself in. I was 36, single and totally and utterly ready to have a baby. I was worried my fertility would be in rapid decline due to my age and I felt that time was running out for me to meet a partner and try for a baby in a more conventional way.
Desperate not to miss out on motherhood I needed to analyse my options. The way I saw it there were 5 choices available to me:
FREEZE MY EGGS
I could consider egg freezing. This is one way of preserving a woman’s fertility so she can try to have a family in the future. It involves collecting a woman’s eggs, freezing them and then thawing them later on so they can be used in fertility treatment. If I would have been considering this in my late 20s or early 30s I would have thought it was a great option, but at 36 I felt like I might have left it a bit late.
FOCUS ON DATING
I could continue dating in the hope that I would meet the right partner in time to still have children of my own. I could really put in a dedicated effort to meet a suitable match. Try everything in my power to focus on meeting a partner who I could create a life with and have children with. At 36 I found this option extremely difficult. It was hard to look for a suitable partner as I felt like I was viewing them more as a sperm donor. I also felt like I was under considerable time pressure, which was making dating a challenge.
I could try to come to terms with the fact that I might never become a mum. Maybe motherhood was not meant for me. Maybe it wasn’t in my life plan. I could grieve for the loss I would feel from missing out on motherhood and focus on working out what was meant for my life instead.
I could look for ways to create an alternative family set up by fostering, adoption or becoming a step-mum in the future and creating a blended family. I could focus on meeting someone who already has children and become part of their lives. If that didn’t happen, I could look at starting the adoption process as a solo adopter.
PURSUE SOLO MOTHERHOOD
Using donor sperm and undergoing fertility treatment (either IUI or IVF) at a fertility clinic would allow me the option of having a baby with no partner involved.
I spent more than a year carefully weighing up my options, considering each one in detail. I decided the best route for me was to embark on the journey of solo motherhood. I spent some time going through my own grieving process for the loss of the fairytale of having a baby in a loving and committed partnership and became focused on my next steps to try to make this dream a reality.
I chose to have my treatment at Manchester Fertility clinic. I decided to go for IVF as the statistics were better than IUI for my age range and I wanted to give myself the best chance of success.
Next, I chose a sperm donor. I completed a questionnaire choosing my preferred physical characteristics then chose from 2 options. Both had written a letter explaining their rationale for donating and I picked the one that I connected the most with.
I went through the IVF process supported by my mum. It was a difficult process to go through with no partner, but the positive outcome was 3 frozen embryos. The first transfer was unfortunately not successful. I was of course disappointed. Luckily the second transfer resulted in my daughter Daisy. She is now 18 months old and the complete love of my life.
Solo motherhood was not an easy decision to make for me, but it is the best decision of my life.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, The Stork and I Course Going Solo, can help you review all the options available to you and empower you to decide whether solo motherhood is the right path for you or whether you are better suited to an alternative option.