By Kathryn Murray as told to Michele Jordan
I never saw myself as really motherly. I’m a girl from LA, from a large, mixed family. I have lived all over the country and have been exposed to many cultures. I was really happy. I told myself that if I didn’t have children until I was 35, I just wouldn’t. But life has its twists and turns.
During my Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Scholarship, as I was learning about my childhood development, I had a strong desire to experience all of the things I learned about. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to be connected to this tiny person that I was going to give birth. I wanted to experience all of the rewarding challenges that come with it and hopefully help shape these people into something positive for this world. I didn’t want to wait for a partner. I’ve always tried to live my life doing what I thought was right and what I thought was right. I stopped waiting for someone to help me pursue things I could do myself.
I knew if I did that – a single mother of choice (SMBC) – I would need a village. I went to my grandmother, my father’s mother first, because she was the matriarch of the family. She asked if she could talk to her pastor about it. I agreed after arming them with my list of reasons, including my age and the time it would take to find a partner.
She came back a week later and told me that although she disagreed, she would always love and support me. Most of my family just wanted me to be married first. Some even suggested I check out some dating apps.
But my dad was a fan from day one. He was so happy. He picked the godparents a week after I told him. He picked up the semen for me (it was cheaper than sending it to the doctor’s office) and he talked to the semen! He came with me to my doctor’s appointments and was my obstetrician. I have been so blessed to have the support of so many friends and family.
A strong start
I did my best to prepare myself physically and mentally to become a mother. I’ve made sure that I exercise regularly and eat healthily. In my job I know the importance of mental health. The main thing for me was to keep my stress low. I had agreements with family members that they couldn’t argue with me about anything so that I wouldn’t get stressed.
I also hired a financial advisor when I decided to be a single mom. He advised me to save so that I would not have financial stress during my maternity leave. That was such great advice. I was able to go from work for 4 months. I was so grateful that I could. The procedure can also be very expensive depending on whether you’re doing intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), or adoption.
The story unfolds
There are several options available to women who want to become single mothers. I had IUI. During this process, a doctor will inject sperm into your uterus as you ovulate. The hope is that they will fertilize an egg and you will get pregnant.
Choosing a donor was a process. As an African American, I first wanted an African American donor. But the facility I used didn’t have a lot of choices. My doctor warned me that it might take a few tries. After the fourth attempt, I decided to change my sperm donor.
I went back to more profiles in the sperm bank. I followed a tip I had received from an SMBC and looked for a donor with a proven track record of pregnancy and childbirth.
I found a donor who happened to be multiracial. I liked his answers to the questionnaire very much. I also liked that he was listed as an open donor. That said, when my child turns 18, they’ll be open to meeting them. When it was ovulation time I was given a hood to release my eggs, and on the first try, I became pregnant with a little girl.
For the first few weeks after she was born, my sleep was interrupted. I was so tired. It was hard because I wanted to breastfeed but wasn’t producing much milk. My daughter was tiny. I was nervous that she wasn’t getting enough nutrients. I met the style specialist at the hospital, but I just didn’t feel like I got the hang of it.
I spoke to a great friend who specializes in this area as well as another lactation consultant, which helped ease my anxiety. I had to take supplements and drink tea and even non-alcoholic beer to increase my milk supply. It was worth it and over time it got easier. My family cooked meals and watched my daughter (if she let her) so I could rest.
Ain’t she beautiful
My daughter Candyce is 6 years old now. She has a “y” in her name as I have in mine. She is my “mini me”. She is smart, logical and very funny. She’s artistic (what she gets from my mom) and loves SpongeBob. She is the joy of my life.
Like many children her age, she asks for a brother or sister now that she is older. Once pregnant, you can sign up for a sibling registry to interact with mothers who have children from the same donor. One of the other mothers organized a private Facebook page and reached out to me. About five families met over a weekend in Austin, TX. One even flew in from Mexico. We had a great time and plan to meet again. We call the children “siblings” – donor siblings. It was the best decision of my life. I never looked back.
Grow your village
To anyone considering becoming a volunteer single mother, I always say, do your research. If you are seriously thinking about it, start planning right away (financial, emotional support group, e.g. family, friends). Join a group or two for assistance. Facebook has so many groups for almost everything.
I have to say I have been extremely blessed and grateful to have such a great fellowship. My mother moved from Connecticut a few years ago and lives with me to raise my daughter. Her grandparents had a powerful influence on raising her when she was young and she wanted my daughter to have the same experience and just want to experience the joys of being grandparents.
I’m not a truly single mom because of my community. My support system of friends and family made this trip a lot richer.
Kathryn Murray is a child psychiatrist. She and her daughter Candyce live in Los Angeles
Kathryn Murray, Parent, Los Angeles.
Mayo Clinic: “Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).”
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