Last year I made the move back to my hometown, knowing I was doing so for one reason only. A reason I had haphazardly filed as my Plan B for over five years. I say haphazardly as I didn’t realise then the extent to what I would have to go through to realise this dream.
The dream that became a reality is that I am pregnant and although I still feel the need to pinch myself when I remind myself of that fact, umpteen times a day, I am at that stage where I am starting to slightly feel it – thanks to the baby’s movements and expanding stomach!
Having a baby has firmly been a major priority in my life, ever since I was a teenager I knew that I wanted to be a mother. Although the intensity has grown and waned and shifted and morphed as my life has continued it has always been there.
The Plan B part came to me six years into being single, living on my own for the first time, and absolutely loving it may I add. It stemmed from a conversation with an acquaintance, them telling me it was too late for them to have a baby, due to their age, and how they would have to grieve for the loss of something that they wouldn’t have. That feeling shook me and realisation punched me in the gut: ‘What if that’s me? What if I don’t find a loving relationship again!’. As much as that punch pained me, the paper cut was seeing that longed for child slipping further from my grasp.
Call it fate or a whisper from the universe but a few months after that encounter I picked up a copy of Stylist magazine and there was an article about a fertility clinic in Denmark that was helping more people become parents – including single women. I ripped the pages of the article free from the magazine – I now had my Plan B and could once again see visions of a child in my future.
With Plan B stored away I got on with my life, filling it with travel, festivals, learning, moving cities, having fun, falling in lust, being haunted by ghosts of past dates, dreaming big and saying a big fuck off yes to opportunities. Although there was the niggling feeling that I wouldn’t find love, I didn’t actually believe that feeling. I thought there was a guy out there for me and that we would navigate Plan A together. Oh thoughts!
As the years went by, I could hear the clock ticking louder and as much as it may be a cliché to talk about the clock, it is there, made tangible by waning eggs and perimenopause knocking at the door. This unfortunately turned dates into a secret ‘are you father material?’ interview – not making it fun or fair for the unsuspecting date – as I eye them up with different lenses on instead of just enjoying the date for what it was. Using a timeline for how long we would have to date before we could move to the ‘discussing and planning a baby’ stage.
That wasn’t how I wanted to live my life so I deleted my dating apps, waved goodbye to Plan A and honestly, grieved for it for a little while. I occasionally get grief pangs but as the months roll on they are less frequent. It was time for a different date – one with a fertility consultant instead. That was in September of last year (2021) and I have been on a whirlwind of fertility learning ever since, shocked at finding out the age at which eggs deplete, the difference between IUI, IVF and ICSI, how common miscarriages are and a whole host of other things. It is actually pretty hard to get pregnant, babies really are little miracles and I wish I had known all of this sooner.
When it came to telling people that I was starting the journey to be a ‘solo mum by choice’ – which is the term I found when looking more into the journey, all the responses have been extremely positive. I’m not sure if it’s because I have been drip feeding a lot of my family and friends to my Plan B over the years or if it was the confidence of which I told my plan that carried my conviction but I have not had one negative response. What wonderful people I have surrounding me! I know that many women who have decided to walk this path haven’t had the support and cheerleading I have had and that really saddens me.
I used the Danish sperm bank I spied all those years ago in that magazine, it was hard at first when browsing the donors, viewing them as potential dates rather than a donor that would make up half of my offspring. Once I was certain of the donor it did feel a tad transactional as I purchased the sperm online almost as simply as I order clothes from ASOS! I had the sperm shipped to Leeds Fertility Clinic, where I was going to start my IVF treatment and on New Year’s Eve I was given my February start date. A perfect end to the year.
So, I get to meet my Little Bug in November and although I am excited, I mainly feel calm, knowing that although this is the biggest decision I have made in my life, it is the right one. I am not naïve; I know at times it will be hard and tiring and my life will change immensely. I’ve lived my life independently and I’m not ashamed to say, selfishly for so long and soon I will have someone else constantly with me, someone I have to provide for and put first but I am so ready for that change and whatever challenges it brings. Those who know me, know I love a challenge – and life itself is often an obstacle course of challenges and changes.
I have also not taken the decision to be a ‘solo mum by choice’ lightly, having let this decision marinade for years, I have also done a lot of research. I have attended two coaching groups by Mel Johnson founder of ‘The Stork and I’, joined the Donor Conception Network, listened to podcasts, watched videos, spent time on forums and read articles, blogs and books. I want to ensure that Little Bug gets the best start in life and that is why I have armed myself with knowledge, support, and most importantly belief in myself!
Speaking of support, it has truly overwhelmed me the amount of people that want to be a part of my journey, it has seriously had me in tears. Friends offering to help around the house, pass on baby items, offering to babysit and helping me with fertility funds. I’ve had three different friends join me at the hospital for scans and had late night chats during pregnancy scares. I know I will never truly be on my own and actually feel I’ve probably had more offer of support than if I was with a partner! Yes, I have to strengthen my ‘Ask’ as I’m not the greatest at it but it has already been made easier as I know that my child is already truly loved by so many people.
I was told to take my pregnancy test on 18 March but I made the decision to test on the 17th, the birthday of my cousin who died when I was younger. I asked for a sign on whether to test on that day and received quite a few nudges – thank you full moon and baby in the supermarket! I kept the positive news to myself that night, sitting in silence with the occasional giggle, constantly shaking my head and rubbing my stomach. I felt my cousin’s energy around me that night as I smiled and cried and gave gratitude that my dream, my priority, my Plan B had come true.
I feel truly fortunate that my journey from first appointment to those two lines has been fairly simple as I know it is not always the case. After being told that at 40 years old chances of conceiving first time with IVF drastically reduces and reading so many stories on forums of those still waiting for it to happen to them – I will always be grateful.
I tell my story because I’m proud and unashamed. I am proud that I didn’t let the absence of a relationship derail my plans. I am proud of the journey I have taken. And when my baby arrives, I will proudly share this story with them – repeatedly so they know just how proud I am of them.
Love Emma x
p.s. To anyone who is considering becoming a ‘solo mum by choice’ and wanting to know more, please feel free to get in touch with me. No matter what your plan is – it’s always good to talk.