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Flouting Tradition: A Single Woman’s Road To Motherhood

Flouting TraditionsWhen I saw the two storks plodding awkwardly through the marsh grass, I knew it was a good sign.  Compounded with a prediction by my friend Lillianna’s psychic that my IVF would be a success, I was beginning to feel optimistic about the costly procedure I was embarking upon.

I was 39 years-old. I had spent what seemed like a fortune on fertility treatments which included seven intrauterine inseminations and a miscarriage. Like many women my age who wanted children, I was on the fertility roller coaster trying desperately to become a mother…but unlike most other women, I was getting on the roller coaster ride without a partner.

Having a baby on your own.

It’s what happens when all the frogs you’ve kissed have warts and you begin to accept the fact that maybe you’re not going to get married in this decade, or even in this lifetime, and while you’ve given up on tradition, you refuse to give up on becoming a mother because being a mother is what you’ve always wanted, and your life without children seems meaningless. That was me. I was a party girl with a barren refrigerator, a closet full of impractical shoes and a convertible. My life was empty.

Making the decision to become a single mother didn’t come without a lot of soul searching and the support of my family. It was a decision that was years in the making. “If I turn 35 and am still single, I’ll do it on my own,” I said. But 35 came and soon disappeared into 36. At 37, I consulted an OB-Gyn who ordered blood work and discovered that my antibodies for German measles had expired. A trip to the health department for a measles-mumps-rubella immunization gave me a three-month reprieve from moving forward because you can’t get pregnant for three months after you’re inoculated. And in that three months, I lost my nerve again. Then, when I was 38, my father, who was getting a divorce, moved in with me.

“Jenny, you need to have a baby. When everything else falls apart, you still have your children,” he said.

As fate would have it, the day after he said this was my one-year anniversary with the OB-Gyn.

“Do you still want to have a baby,” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“You need to make some decisions quickly,” she said. “Time is not on your side.”

The next day I made an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist. During the next month I selected a donor. He had blue eyes, dimples, curly brown hair, and he was studying engineering. The personality of a smart, fun-loving college boy jumped out at me from the pages of his profile, and I fell in love. During the next year I got caught up in the mania of a ticking clock and trips to the RE where they took my blood, monitored my ovaries and prescribed very expensive fertility meds that I had to learn to inject myself.

Later someone asked me why I didn’t write about it, but it was a bleak time filled with false hopes and anxiety. On my 39th birthday, I peed on a stick, and it was negative, so I took a three-month break to regroup and to plan my IVF. That’s when I saw the storks. The next time I peed on a stick was in the wee hours of a Valentine’s Day morning. It was positive.

Motherhood thus far has been a wild ride. I have two little boys, ages 4 and 18 months. I have been peed upon, pooped upon, spat-up upon. I have suffered sleep deprivation, financial deprivation and shoe deprivation. Being a mother has been empowering, fulfilling, scary and joyous—words I don’t string together lightly. I am happier than I’ve ever been. I am a mother. There is love and laughter in my house. There are children there, and I am blessed.

Jenn Bean is the author of the blog,, where she writes about her madcap adventures with motherhood.

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