“Baby now, partner later. Not one or the other.” Interview with Katy, Part II

This is the second interview in a series with Katy, a 42 year-old creative director who at 35 decided to freeze her eggs. Read Part 1 here. This interview focuses on her desire for a relationship and her fear of being a single mother with a baby will prevent her from finding a partner.

MS: Did freezing your eggs make dating easier? Was it a kind of an insurance policy?   

Katy: I think it did help for a while, but I always had in the back of my mind that I might not have enough frozen eggs to get pregnant with, since the doctors said I might just get one embryo from my frozen eggs. I was always thinking about it. But I thought at least I have a backup plan and if that doesn’t work, I’ll adopt. I accepted the fact that I might have just one chance with my frozen eggs, but it didn’t allow me to totally relax. I was really surprised when it came time to fertilize my eggs that I actually got six embryos out of seven eggs. That was an amazing return!

MS: Congratulations!

Katy: Thank you. That was absolutely astounding!

MS: What concerns do you have about doing this by yourself?

Katy: Oh my god. I have a long list.

I worry about not having enough help, not being able to get enough breaks and being sleep deprived on top of that.

I’m worried about finances. I wonder about, what if I want to change my career in the future? Would I be locked into a certain financial bracket that limits my career options?

I’m also very worried about how I’m going to meet someone to partner up with and finding the time and energy to date. How do you balance that? Divorced parents have every other weekend where they can spend a whole weekend with their significant other, and I’m not going to have that and that really, really concerns me. That’s my number one concern with this decision. It’s very important to me that I find my life partner. Some women who choose to be single moms by choice are choosing to have a baby over a partner. For me, I’m not giving up on having a partner in order to have a baby. I want both. I can have both. I deserve both.

But I only have this time now to have a baby. For me, it’s baby now, partner later. Not one or the other. But how much later is that? And how many quality single guys are going to be out there?

The idea of never finding a partner really scares me for the loneliness factor. I think a baby will fill a portion of that need, but certainly a baby won’t replace my need for a partner. I want to have a family unit, beyond me and my child. It bothers me that I don’t have that. At least right now I don’t. I know there are advantages to doing this as a single parent. I don’t have to argue with anyone. I don’t have to worry about getting a divorce and fighting for custody. But I really had hoped that I was going to be doing this with a partner which is why I waited so long. It was really, really hard for me to let go of the dream. I don’t know that I have let go of it completely. I’m just re-imaging a different kind of family dream now.

Now that I’m actively trying to get pregnant I don’t want to meet someone because I don’t want them to stop me from having a baby. Even though I’m lonely and I want the company, I know myself. I know I can get all starry eyed on one date, and I don’t want another guy to make me postpone this anymore. Say this IVF cycle doesn’t work, and I have to go through it again, I don’t want this guy to cause me to postpone that next cycle. It’s just emotionally confusing to date while trying to get pregnant with donor sperm.

MS: You have a no dating policy right now?

Well, if a reliable source were to set me up I’d go on a date, but I’m not looking. I feel like I’ve had several relationships that have held me up from having a baby, and I don’t want to make that mistake again.

For a while there, I wondered would I enjoy a child as much as I would if I were in a relationship. I worried I wouldn’t feel as much joy. I know the source of this worry was because I was feeling lonely and a little depressed and it was hard for me to imagine feeling that joy.

I don’t feel that way now. Once they thawed my eggs, fertilized them, and I got such an amazing return (six out of seven fertilized), there was something that shifted in me. I felt like this isn’t just good luck. It made me feel like I chose the right path. Maybe that’s naive, but I can’t help but feel like I made the right choice.

MS: Have you been telling people that you are going through this process and what are the reactions?

Katy:   I have told way too many people! I know they say not to tell people in case you have a miscarriage, but I needed a support network. I told a lot of people: neighbors, friends, some extended family, of course all of my immediate family. Everyone was so supportive, even the people who I was worried wouldn’t be supportive.

Another big concern I have is that my child won’t have a dad.  I worry about my child resenting me for bringing them into the world without a father. I have felt guilty about this but I think I’ve gotten past my guilt for the most part. It’s something I wished for my child, but that’s not happening now.

When I told a male coworker that my child would have three uncles as male role models, he said, “I’m glad to hear you say that,” because he wonders if women who pursue motherhood using a donor feel like a dad isn’t necessary. Maybe there are women who feel that way, but personally I had an awesome dad. I’m so grateful for that, and I’m sad that my child won’t have that relationship. My Dad was just amazing. By no means do I feel like a dad isn’t important. It’s just there isn’t one in the picture.

Having three uncles for my child makes me more comfortable. If my child ever got upset with me I would tell them I couldn’t imagine life without them, and I had to do it even though it wasn’t the perfect family unit.

MS: So you find out in two days whether or not you are pregnant. How does that feel?

Katy: It’s super exciting. I’m very excited. It’s crazy to think how this news will change my life. I found myself last night for the first time starting to think… what steps are next?, assuming that I find out I am pregnant. Then that thought induced some anxiety… the overwhelmingness of it all. There are things I need to work out, such as my job situation. I don’t have a full-time, salaried job, I have full-time contract work. I plan to work up until maternity leave, but I don’t know if I have a guaranteed job to come back to. I would like to stay in my house but I might need my mom’s help, and my house is too small for her to stay with me. So should I move in with her temporarily and rent out my house? These are things that give me anxiety.

MS: At every step this process was more complicated than you expected, more painful physically and emotionally than you expected. You are 42 now, what would you tell your 34 year self to do?

Katy: I would tell myself to do exactly what I did: harvest the eggs. I think I made a good call not to harvest more because it was hard on my body, but I would have told myself to start this process earlier. I would have told myself to research single parenting and donors even before I was ready to dive in. Just research the details of the whole process, mull it over at my leisure without feeling like I had to rush and process things at the same time. Not every woman feels the need to process emotions like I did. A lot of women jump right into it and have no problem so that was something that took me by surprise.

MS: You know a lot of women who are doing this. Do you think that made it easier for you to do it?

Katy: Yes, I have a close friend who did this, so luckily I got to witness her entire process years before I embarked upon my own. Also I reached out to the community of Single Mothers By Choice, but after I was deep into the fertility process. I had two previous IVF attempts and canceled them both because I had doubts. It would have been helpful to have known this group of women before I jumped in. Reaching out to this group helped quite a bit because everyone had different experiences to share, and it became less lonely to me to have a child as a single mom. It felt empowering in a way, like there’s a movement. All of these women are so brave and so vulnerable, they were so afraid and just did it anyway. It was really encouraging to hear a lot of them say, “Oh, I completely doubted myself. I wasn’t sure but I did it anyways.” They were there for every step of the way. Of course, once I started telling people that I was doing this, they started connecting me with other women they knew who had become single moms by choice.

MS: So, on Wednesday you find out if you are pregnant?

Katy: Yes, I go in for blood work and they will call me later to tell me the news. I want your readers to know that I was not sure about my decision before moving forward, but it was something I kept coming back to: I just have to do this or I’ll regret it if I don’t.

MS: What pushed you to just go for it?

Katy: In the spring, I considered not doing it but something kept bringing me back, and I would think, there’s no way I’m not doing this. But I couldn’t retain that “sure” feeling all the time. I was still really nervous. I would have days when I was gung ho and days when I didn’t know what I was doing. I averaged a freak out a week. At one point I just made the call to go for it, despite the fear and doubts.

I know this sounds strange, but once I made the call to thaw and fertilize my eggs with donor sperm, I kind of surrendered.

The whole thing is nerve wracking. Something I think that’s been helpful is reaching out to people often and regularly. Talking to people about what I’m going through has been helpful.

MS: Can we talk to you again after you find out if you are pregnant?

Katy: Yes!

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