Today I am in pre-baby mode and want to share with you gorgeous people a little bit about how a single mama gets to participate in that ultimate of Survivor-like life events: parenting.
I have blogged previously and also talked about in my About Me page of my journey to becoming a single mother by choice. Today, for anyone who’s thinking about it for themselves or who perhaps is just morbidly curious, I’m going to talk you through it.
Why? Because I have just stepped onto the roller coaster for a second ride, and any day now the fun will begin.
So: A bit of background. It all started with a desire to have a baby. Which I did. And we are happy in our little family of two.
But I have often said to my long-suffering friends that I had my first baby for me. To indulge my dream and burning ambition to become a mother.
I want to have my next (and who knows, subsequent) baby for Pumpkin, my beautiful, amazing little 18 month old daughter.
I grew up in a large family (5 surviving kids) and the chaos was intense, the fighting and arguing vicious, and the love uplifting and enduring. How glad I am every day that I have four crazy lunatic siblings to argue with, share problems with and go on holidays with. How comforting it is to know that when sad things inevitably happen, I have the support of close family to fall back on.
I want this for Pumpkin – I need this for her. As a single parent’s child, she already has far too few relatives. A whole half of her ancestry is missing and may never be recovered. So I feel the responsibility to build her a family of her – of our – very own.
I don’t have unconditional support in this from my family and friends. Several of them agree with my own head-thoughts, telling me that I am already struggling financially and a second child will only make things worse. They make the valid point (without overt words) that if I really get into trouble, it will be them who have to bail me out. They also tell me about the stress of being a parent (as if I don’t know), how tired I’ll be, how little time for me I’ll have.
These are all valid concerns. But my heart-thoughts will not be ignored. There have been a handful of occasions in my life when my heart, or my instinct, or a guardian angel – call it what you like – has spoken up at me so loudly that I couldn’t ignore it, regardless of the apparent sense of the call. Every time, I have followed this inner voice, and every time it was an excellent decision.
Now that voice is calling again, and I must listen. So here I go.
Step one: start tracking my cycle again, and establish the pattern. I actually started this step back in May.
Step two: start the dreaded prepregnancy supplements again – I HATE taking pills, they make me want to gag and they are so huge! But you need your folic acid, apparently..
Step three: make an appointment with the fertility clinic.
I live in Western Australia, which is incredibly fortunate for me. There are several fertility clinics in this state, and several of those accept single parents as patients (same sex couples are often classed in the literature of these places as single parents too, which is dodgy, but at least they get a mention, and help conceiving if needed). In other states, the fertility clinics sometimes say that they will not accept single clients.
I rang up the clinic I used last time and made an appointment with the same doc I had last time (I had already obtained my referral from my GP).
Background note: I conceived my little Pumpkin using donated sperm – you have blood tests every day until they can tell you’ve ovulated, and then they shoot you up with the little gentlemen, much in the style of turkey basting. Far from glamorous, but I would have done a lot worse things to have my little girl. It was not an IVF procedure, thank God, and I did not even require any hormone injections or anything like that. It was just like having sex, without the fun having sex part.
Last Tuesday I got my appointment. The doc was as nice as ever, but she didn’t remember me (why should she, it was over two years ago). She started reading through my file, but the computer was playing up. While she tapped away, she asked me:
“Just talk me through what we did, how many cycles did we try?”
“Just the one,” I said, a trifle smugly.
“No, no – how many cycles?” she asked again, but I didn’t need to answer, as it finally came up on her screen. She looked at me. I grinned maniacally, and she looked back at her screen.
“And what interventions did we use….”
“None!” I said, very smugly.
She sat back and looked over her glasses at me.
“You realise you had an 11-15 per cent chance of conceiving on the first try, with no intervention, don’t you?” I nodded. “Well, it was obvious that the egg was ready to go, and was just waiting to be introduced to the little guy,” she said.
I psyched myself up to ask what my chances were of conceiving again.
“Do you think it might happen that way again?”
“I think it will,” she said – so quietly, as she was tapping away again, that I wasn’t sure I’d heard her right. Surely she had said, “I don’t think it will?” I had been preparing myself for the fact that I had been so incredibly lucky the first time that there was no way my luck would hold for round two.
But she really had said that she thought I might be lucky again. She confirmed it by saying that once you’ve given birth, you have a higher chance of conception. And that everything was clearly going smoothly for me, physically, so why not?
You don’t know how this has heartened me.
It was just an initial appointment, the blood tests have not even started yet, though any day they will. She talked about what we would do if I was unsuccessful the first time round, and how if I did have to have some medical intervention my chances of having twins would increase (twins! Gulp!). And she also hummed and haaed about my relatively short cycle – sometimes I only go 23 days between periods (way to overshare there!), so they have to start the blood tests much earlier for me than they would for someone else, to make sure they don’t miss the big O event. No, not the fun one, the other one.
Anyway, the journey has begun and I will keep you posted. I am not allowing myself to hope to hard yet, but still, I am convinced that a positive mindset has far more influence on the physical body than some people might think. I used visualisation techniques last time and I was in a good place, physically and mentally. I am not quite in as good a place this time – I could lose some weight, and I do have more stress (self-induced!) in my life than I would like. But my instincts are telling me that now is the time, and I am going to listen to them in the hopes that they know what they’re talking about!
Wish me luck…