The Mother I Didn’t Know I Wanted to Be
After a shocking revelation, I set out to become a mom by any means necessary.
I was living my best going-about-my-business-single-life as a 35-year-old independent woman in New York City. While working in the television and film industry, I found myself with some extra time to take self-discovery classes at a local education center. These courses were all about finding your true self and tapping into who you really are and what you truly want.
By the time I neared the end of my final course—sort of the graduation phase of the program—let me tell you, I had certainly found out some things about myself. As we went around the class, each student shared what they hoped for themselves in the future. When my turn came, I felt this sudden urge that seemingly came out of nowhere. I stood up and said, “I want to be a mom.” Screech! What did I just say? Where did that come from? I kept my composure in front of the class, but internally I was shocked to hear myself say that; I had never said this out loud.
Had I thought about it? Sure, I guess so. I was in my early 20s when my sister had her children, and I think that’s when something began to stir inside me. I wanted to be an auntie more than anything because my two best friends had nieces and nephews. Having these adorable little people to hang out with, gush over their milestones, and love you unconditionally seemed wonderful. My sister had twin girls who were (and still are) the loves of my life; I never knew that kind of love was possible. Less than two years later, my nephew was born—a beautiful little Black boy with smooth skin and the curliest hair I’d ever seen. I loved the relationship my sister had with them, but I loved the relationship that I had with them even more. That’s likely where the mom bug first bit me.
I began daydreaming about having a supremely hot husband and father of my children that resembled Christopher Williams (he’s a famous singer from the ‘90s—don’t try to remember). Somewhere in my fantasies, my hot husband turned into Vin Diesel, and I pictured us in a beautiful, committed relationship with kids, too.
If I’m being honest, I only allowed these thoughts to be fantasies because I didn’t find myself worthy enough of having a decent man who could truly love me and want to start a family. I could handle the player–I had him down pact. I had no idea how to handle the guy who wanted something serious. In fact, I was seldom attracted to that kind of man; there were even two guys in my life who fit the bill, but I found them both boring and unattractive.
Even still, I never consciously admitted wanting to be a mother to myself until that fateful day in class. I wasn’t dating anyone then, nor did I want to be. However, once I said it, the words took root firmly in my soul, and my plan to become a mom was in motion. By 38 years old, three years after my declaration, and still single, I was exploring all avenues to becoming a mom. I considered asking an ex-boyfriend—a jerk, but still a decent contender—to father a child with me. I soon realized that wouldn’t work. I asked a good male friend who was dirt-broke and, unbeknownst to me, had moved out-of-state and wanted me to leave my successful career (I was now working full-time in the magazine industry) to come and live like “the Cosbys” with him (did I say he was broke?). It didn’t seem like a good idea. I toyed with asking the brothers of two of my best friends but chickened out when I mentioned it lightly to one friend, and she almost had a panic attack.
At some point during my journey, I heard about Single Mothers by Choice (SMC) and began attending their meetings in New York City. SMC has three stages—thinker, trier, and doer—and there were women in each who graciously shared stories of sperm and egg donors, cryobanks, and a host of other things I had never considered. To say that I was overwhelmed was a vast understatement. It felt like a feat of impossibility that I’d have a child. What do I do? How is it possible for me to go through this alone?
I took the advice from one of the meetings and made a doctor’s appointment to test my follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, a hormone important to the function of the ovaries. Then I scoured the internet to learn about intrauterine insemination (IUI), where sperm is placed directly into the uterus, and in vitro fertilization (IVF), where an egg is extracted from the uterus, fertilized with sperm to create an embryo, and then placed into the uterus for implantation.
I began looking into different cryobanks and decided on one based in the city since it was close in proximity. Being inseminated is an exact science formed around your specific menstrual cycle so I didn’t want donor sperm mailed in from another state. Choosing my sperm donor was terrifying. I felt overwhelmed and alone and didn’t know where to begin. Once again, I opted for a donor from my home state, and it was important to me that he be an open donor, which meant he was open to being contacted by the child when they turned 18 years old. A closed donor wanted to maintain his anonymity.
The other criteria was that I wanted him to be of the same race. That narrowed down the pool—there were very few Black open donors. I looked through profiles and was able to view the number of siblings they had and their parents’ ages or causes of death (if applicable). I knew his age, educational background, occupation, hobbies, and complete medical history. For a nominal fee, I was able to see his childhood photos and listen to an audio interview explaining why he chose to donate. He had to pass extensive genetic testing to ensure there were no abnormalities and that he wasn’t prone to any illnesses. After weeks of sorting through data, I finally decided on my donor.
Initially, I went the less invasive and more cost-effective IUI route. After about eight failed attempts, I found myself in an Irish bar near my office crying to an old high school friend, a nurse, about how this would never work. She kept assuring me it would. I had already spent thousands of dollars and was convinced I wasn’t getting pregnant because I had gained weight—primarily due to stress eating. I decided to take a break to shed some extra pounds. Let’s just cut to the chase; I did not.
Several months later, at age 39, I started going through the motions of becoming a mom again. I also began seeing a man I met on a dating site. Late one night, we were on the phone, and I told him I had to get some sleep because I had to get bloodwork done in the morning. He asked why; I told him I was trying to get pregnant, and he offered to be my baby daddy. I soon realized he was not the one. After a year of dating, I discovered he had three kids by two different women and routinely slept with a married woman. Like, really?
I broke up with him around my 40th birthday and commenced to throw myself 100% into becoming pregnant. Distraught, I went to an SMC meeting I had heard about closer to my home, and two women there talked me off the ledge. Meditate, one said. Eat pineapple core, the other suggested. And, so, I did both. What did I have to lose? I started meditating daily and continued my journey, this time not looking at the big picture. I just put one foot in front of the other. I had an embryo implanted on Dec. 26, 2015, and you’ll never guess what happened.
On Jan. 2, 2016, two years after my first IUI, I found out that I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. I sat on my bed and cried. What made the news even more special was that out of 13 embryos, only one was chromosomally normal, so I had a single chance of having a healthy child. My family jumped for joy when I told them the news. Because there were so many lows during my process, I hadn’t told them everything I was going through, and I even snuck off around Christmas to get my embryo implanted. But they were thrilled that there would be a new addition to our bunch. In Aug. 2016, at 41-years-old, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
In hindsight, I think life gave me a two-handed shove in the back—both arms extended, elbows locked—which forced me to blurt out those words so I could hear them and not continue to be guided by my irrational belief of being unworthy of the dreams I truly desired.
My daughter is now a smart, gorgeous, little strong-minded 25-year-old in a 6-year-old’s body. She’s the best decision I’ve ever made, and I cannot imagine my life without her. She will someday read this story and all of the other stories I’ve journaled throughout this process. I hope that my experiences will teach her, as I have learned, that anything she wants is within her grasp as long as she knows her worth and stops running to catch what is already hers.