A Single Woman Faces the Biggest Decision of Her Life

baby feet

I’ve been a single woman in New York City for a lot of years. I’ve hit every bar and club. I have my dream job. I travel a ton.

Life is great—except that I never thought I’d get to 40 and still be wondering whether I’d meet the right person. So now I’m at the biggest crossroads of my life, because I’m dying to have a family of my own.

A few years ago I started looking into having children by myself. I researched adoptions, joined a support group and saw a fertility doctor. Getting pregnant with donated sperm makes the most sense for me, in part because of the complexities of adoption.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is not cheap, and it’s not covered by insurance. The process would cost me a few thousand dollars, including doctor visits and medication. The sperm is a small portion of that—about $300, not including shipping.

And it’s not the biggest cost I have to consider, by a long shot. First, I need to come to terms with what this decision means—letting go of the great guy-marriage-kids fairy tale I was brought up to expect.

I feel like I’m running out of time. A few months ago, my doctor tested my levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which is involved with producing mature eggs. A level under 12 is good. Over 12 would make it difficult to get pregnant, he said.

I’m a perfect 12.

Where do I go from here? I put this decision on hold a few years ago, hoping I would meet Mr. Right. But I can’t plan my life around meeting a guy any longer, so now I’m confronting a mountain of fears and questions. Do I have the energy to raise a child on my own? Could I be happy as a single mom? Would anyone want to date me? Can I afford it?

I told my therapist/life coach how afraid I am of doing this alone. He pointed out that the reality of having a child with a partner doesn’t necessarily match the fantasy in my head. There are plenty of parents who don’t share responsibilities equally, and people—mostly women—who end up being very disappointed.

He said I’m lucky I can afford help. But I’m really worried about being a sole breadwinner, especially since my job changes all the time because I’m in the media industry.

I hear clothes are easy—hello H&M kids and hand-me-downs! But I will need more than full-time childcare. In New York, that could cost upwards of $30,000 a year. Preschool here is private, which means another $15,000 annually. I’ll also have to get a bigger apartment. I pay $2,400 a month now for a tiny one-bedroom; a two-bedroom in my neighborhood would be nearly twice that. My sister wants me to move to New Jersey to be near her; that would be cheaper, but I think I would shrivel up without the energy and community of the city.

There is a bright spot amidst all of my uncertainty. At a single mothers’ support group meeting, I learned that they all had felt the same way. To see women from all walks of life who chose to become moms was incredible. They faced their fears, did the emotional work and are so fulfilled now to have their own families.

And that, as they say, is priceless.

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