As a young girl, I dreamed of having a fairy tale wedding. I wanted the veil, the big ball gown and lots of flowers. I imagined building a family with my dear future husband. But life happens, so I remained husbandless and became a single mother by choice.
In the spring of my 34th year of life, I experienced one of the most significant heartbreaks of my life; I had a miscarriage. Losing this child broke my spirit. On my 35th birthday, I began to consider becoming a single parent seriously. I was an unmarried, unattached, and childless Puerto Rican woman. My relatives and close friends had given up on the idea that I would get married and accepted that I would likely stay Jamona.
A Jamona [ha-mo-nah], at least in Puerto Rican culture, is a woman who at a particular adult age, say 30, isn’t married or in a relationship. Being a Jamona is tolerable, but being a Jamona and childless. A sin. Que pecado!
Relatives pitied my lack of a relationship, but they never stopped asking me the dreaded questions. “Mija, when are you going to have kids?” “Don’t you want kids?” “At least have one; you’ll regret it.”
Don’t You Want Kids?
The decision to become a parent is very personal. Only those closest to me knew that I struggled with infertility. I understood that I would have difficulty getting pregnant the conventional way and there was the absence of a man in my life, who could be the father of my offspring. I was ready to be a mother, but my advanced maternal age meant that I had a limited window to experiment with In Vitro Fertilization to help me achieve my dream. So, I decided to forgo finding the man and solidified the idea of being a solo parent through IVF. As a Puerto Rican woman, fertility issues and its treatment is still a taboo subject. Once I considered all of my options, I unapologetically told my very Catholic mother that I would become a mother via IVF, and I would use a sperm donor. I was surprised by her support.
Becoming a Single Mother by Choice
A single mother by choice (SMC) is someone who decides to become a mother, knowing they will be the sole parent for their child. There are several ways of becoming a single parent by choice; adoption, surrogacy, IUI, IVF, and conventional conception methods. Each has its implications.
A single mother by choice recognizes that at least at the outset, there will be no second parent to help with diaper changes and feedings at night time, no additional income for all of the expenses that come with raising the child, and no second set of grandparents for weekend visits. You are committing to a possible lifetime of solo parenting.
The truth is, becoming a parent was a decision that I made with a great deal of clarity. I don’t believe in making a man a father against his will, even if he “served” as the father for noble purposes. I also knew that I could do it alone. My prime example was my mother. She raised my siblings and me without my father’s emotional and financial support.
The Process of IVF
I did two cycles of IVF before getting pregnant with my daughter. The first was a long Lupron protocol which did not work for me. Since I had a low ovarian reserve, my doctors opted for a more aggressive mini Lupron cycle, which resulted in my successful pregnancy.
Becoming pregnant via IVF was tough, and remaining pregnant was even more challenging. I relied on daily Progesterone shots for twenty weeks. The process did take a toll on my body; however, the joy of having my daughter far outweighed these challenges.
Nosey colleagues and judgment
When I was pregnant, people who knew me and even colleagues I didn’t know well wanted to know my child’s “father’s” identity. People were bold and dared to ask intrusive questions. Who is the baby’s father? What is his ethnicity? Are you two together? You aren’t married, are you? I would make up different versions of the sperm donor’s identity to throw them off. People should mind their business.
And then there was the judgment; some of the harsher criticism came from men. Don’t you think it’s selfish? Can’t you find a man to have a kid? It was as if my decision to have a child on my own offended their fragile male sensibilities.
Despite this, being a single mother by choice has been a gift. My child has the benefit of growing up in a home where she is loved. I have the support of my big sister, who has stepped up to help me raise my daughter. My child knows that she was prayed for and wanted. My daughter is my daily inspiration. Because of her, I am proud to be a single mother by choice.