It seems that every story I read about a single mother starts with some terrible heartache. An abusive relationship, a man who wasn’t all he seemed, a period of domestic bliss followed some time later by a bitter divorce.
Well, I’m not here to tell you another one of those stories. My story of single motherhood is one of hope.
Life didn’t quite work out for me in the way I had planned. You know how the story is supposed to go: graduate from university, find a job, find a partner, get married, settle down.
That was what I thought would happen to me. The problem was, it didn’t.
The story of how I became a single parent doesn’t have a clear beginning. I wasn’t abandoned, and no one walked out on me. It was a decision that I came to slowly, over a period of time. Sometimes I think it was always meant to be this way, that I have the child I was always meant to have, that he had been waiting for me as though babies wait in some sort of limbo to be born, like little cherubs with wings, but I’m not that fatalistic. We are the results of all our choices, and I will start mine with a brief thought I had back in 2005, whilst watching the announcement of the Olympics being awarded to London. It was the briefest of thoughts, just a little flutter that went across my mind about what I wanted the future to look like, and it was a future where I was sat in a sunny stadium, watching the Olympics, with a baby on my knee.
I wouldn’t say I made it my immediate mission. 2012 was still seven years away. I was not even 25, and about to move to London and start a PGCE. My future career was only just coming into focus, and I was as single as ever. I still am.
Time went on and despite my best efforts, the dream of marriage and children eluded me. In 2011, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant and then lost the baby at 12 weeks. The shock of that miscarriage stayed with me. The thought that all of a sudden my future was going to be a certain way-and then it wasn’t. I spent nights wondering if this was the beginning of the end. Was it my last chance? Was I too old now? Was I menopausal? Was this going to happen again, like it did to Queen Anne who had seventeen pregnancies and no surviving children? Was I going to end up alone and unfulfilled, some kind of fairytale villain taking her bitterness out on the world by sapping the happiness of others? One night in 2012, after the Olympics had been and gone and I still didn’t have my husband, children or my happy ever after I did what any sane woman would do. I GOOGLED MY OVARIES.
Armed with a report from the Early Pregnancy Unit at my local hospital, I pored over the alleged sizes of my ovaries. This had to mean something, and with help from my trusty friend Dr Google, I was going to find out what. I wanted answers, facts, something scientific to grasp onto about why this had happened, and a reassurance that it wasn’t going to happen again. Google would give me the answers.
It did mean something, Dr Google pronounced. It meant I was on the verge of menopause. My ovaries had shrunk to the size of someone ten years older than me. It was the beginning of the end. If I didn’t do something soon, I would have no ovaries left. I would be EGGLESS.
I immediately booked a ticket to the Fertility Show.
By the time I had attended the Fertility Show, had my fertility tested (the results were, as predicted, not promising. Never let it be said that Dr Google doesn’t have its uses) and perused the offerings of various sperm banks I had made up my mind.
My adventures in fertility treatment were mercifully short, as such things go, but they did encompass enough drugs to stock a small pharmacy, shocking amounts of money and an extremely curious courier, not to mention the sheer terror of the whole thing actually working.
In some ways, being a single parent is hard. You have one income, and one person to rely on. The thoughts about what would happen if anything happened to you go round your head, but those feelings are hardly unique to single parents. Nor, for that matter, is a single income. In other ways, however, being a single parent is amazing. I may not have the traditional family unit, but it’s amazing what you can achieve with determination, love and a hefty dose of modern technology.