WHAT WE THINK WE CREATE
Self-imposed single mother
One day in the year 2010, at the age of 37, I made a decision…
It was a really tough decision…
Not just a clever idea I had gotten out of a women’s magazine…
It was something I had thought about long and hard…
I had chosen to become a self-imposed single mother. A single mom, alone, all by myself, a mother without a father.
Not exactly a dream scenario.
I had always imagined that I would find a man during my 30’s and have a family with him.
That’s not how it turned out…
The clock was ticking and I was becoming more and more afraid that I wouldn’t find “him” before it was too late, so that’s why I made the difficult decision of becoming a single mom.
I considered the pros and cons very carefully.
One of the things I was most scared of was falling down the social ladder, you know, in the dating game.
Having a donor child takes time. First you have to go through a heck of a lot of examinations, and after a couple of months of those, you have to wait a couple more months to get an appointment at a fertility clinic. Once you’ve gotten an appointment, then you can wait another month or more for them to fit you into their schedule, and when they’ve managed to fit you into the schedule, then you have to wait for it to match up with your cycle. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Before you know it, it has been half a year or more before you can start the first insemination.
So I could probably forget all about meeting a man because who would want to be the boyfriend of a woman who is trying to have a donor child? However, in all that time was I just supposed to go into celibacy and put all hope of finding a man on the shelf?
Or should I just keep from telling him about it – initially – if I met someone?
And what if the project actually succeeded? Who wants to be the boyfriend of someone who has a donor child?
Apart from that, I’m self-employed and at the time, I had a one-woman business. It meant that if I was going on maternity leave I had to go on daily benefit.
The full benefit rate at the time was approximately 15.000 Danish kroner a month. (2.200 USD a month) Before taxes! (Which is almost 50% in Denmark where I live)
I could neither live nor die from that. I could barely pay my rent when taxes were drawn.
The problem was, that my business was a one-woman business, and that meant that I personally owned it. So if my business was making money, it was me – personally – that made the money and you’re not allowed to do that when you’re on benefits. I weren’t even allowed to send as much as one work related email. It’s a given that my business would perish. The clients would leave and I would be forced into unemployment. It didn’t make any sense. I thought it was so unreasonable.*
I could choose to get half the daily benefit – approximately 7.500 Danish kroner a month – instead which would allow me to work something like 2 hours a week. Wonderful!
7.500 before taxes, there was no way I could pay rent with that amount. So it looked a little dark financially.
I imagined I could make do with half the daily benefit rate and then I’d “just” have to put the baby on my back and go to work.
*Today I think there’s a mandatory scheme for the self-employed. Why on earth wouldn’t there be? Anything but is unreasonable. It scares women off from becoming self-employed if it isn’t possible for them to have a family without it becoming a financial come down and at the same time becomes a certain death for the woman’s self-employed business and future.
Today I have a private limited company alone, for the sole reason that I would be in a better position if one day I should be lucky enough to go on maternity leave.
But I threw myself into it, even though I was terrified of how I would make it financially and how I would put myself into a situation that would totally eliminate my chances on the dating scene. It says something about how strong the urge is in us…
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a success. It became a long and unfair fight and I gave it up in the end.
1. Insemination – negative.
2. Insemination – pregnant – miscarriage in week 5.
3. Insemination – negative.
4. Insemination – pregnant – miscarriage in week 6.
5. Insemination – pregnant – missed abortion* - discovered at the nuchal translucency scan in week 13+3.
*Missed abortion is an abortion where you don’t feel any pain and there’s no bleeding either, it’s only at a scan that it’s discovered that the fetus is dead.
Typically at the scan for nuchal translucency.
Read more about “imminent miscarriage”, “ongoing miscarriage”, “complete abortion” and “missed abortion” on sundhed.dk
As you can see, I didn’t have trouble becoming pregnant, the problem was holding on to it.
The first two abortions were relatively undramatic. It was early in the process and I had only just gotten a positive pregnancy test before I started bleeding and then miscarried.
The first of them though happened while I was with a client and it was really uncomfortable having to stand there looking completely unaffected and just smile like nothing was happening.
I weren’t in pain, I was just sad. Sad, disappointed and aggravated. And I had no one to share it with. Or so it felt. Of course, I had my mom and all my amazing friends who are always there for me through thick and thin. It’s just not the same as sharing it with a boyfriend. A father to be.
I still had to sleep alone at night. There were no one to hold me and tell me everything was going to be okay.
The fifth time I got pregnant again and this time, there were no bleeding.
I was relieved.
I was happy.
It was fantastic!
I had a scan in week 7. I watched the screen and I could see the tiny little shrimp and the tiny beating heart.
Wow. I was in love already.
The mother gene was blossoming in me.
Immediately I had a movie running inside my head.
Almost Little House on the Prairie like scenes of family life even if it wasn’t exactly a core family. But still. I could see it. Everything was wonderful and I would figure it out with both boyfriend and financials.
Then came the day I was going to the nuchal translucency scan. I was terrified for what the result would be. I wasn’t exactly young anymore, so I imagined the risk of having a child with Down’s syndrome was somewhat higher than it would have been if I were in my 20’s and not late 30’s.
I had a friend who had just had a baby. She was a self-imposed single mother and had had a donor child with an unknown donor. So naturally, I had exchanged experiences with her and she asked me if I had someone who could go with me to the nuchal translucency scan.
I didn’t. My mom had to go to work and so did my younger brother. So I had to do it alone.
On the face of it, she thought it was a really bad idea, so she offered to go with me.
Today I’m happy she did.
I arrived at the nuchal translucency scan at Hvidovre Hospital with my friend.
I vividly remember the fear that they would tell me there was an imminent danger my baby would have Down’s syndrome.
However, the message I got was far worse than Down’s syndrome.
I can still see the scenario very clearly before me today. The midwife put the scanner on my abdomen and curiously, I looked at the screen.
I couldn’t see that much, I thought.
I had tons of pictures from my girlfriends nuchal translucency scans fresh in memory and I didn’t think I could see anything that came close to what I had seen on their scan pictures…
I just remember the silence…
The midwife just stared at the screen and said nothing.
I broke the silence: “I don’t really think I can see anything”, I said. “Nooo”, she just said.
Then the silence continued.
After what felt like an eternity - my heart was pounding so hard from fear that I could feel it in my throat - she said there wasn’t life anymore and it looked like the fetus had been dead for a few weeks.
I was torn to pieces.
All my dreams were shattered.
But f*** I’m glad I had somebody with me. It’s not the same as having a boyfriend with a shoulder to cry on when I need it, but it’s definitely better than being alone.
Yes, I’m a “strong woman”, but sometimes you just need to let yourself be “weak” and be comforted and cared for.
There I was. I just thought they’d tell me a little about the risk of Down’s syndrome, and now I wasn’t going to be a mom after all. Instead I had to decide if I wanted a medical or a surgical abortion.
I can’t even express how devastated I were.
I was recommended a medical abortion, as the fetus was small. Of course, I chose what they recommended and I got an appointment the next morning where I had to come in and get some pills.
I arrived the next morning with my mom – and got some suppositories I had to put up into my vagina to induce the abortion.
I was told when I had put the pills up, I had to lie down flat on my back for an hour or two and then the abortion would begin.
I got heavy menstrual pains, which I was told I would have, so I wasn’t surprised, but the pain got stronger and stronger and in the end – after a couple of hours – I went into seizures and I screamed from pain.
I was told I weren’t supposed to be alone, so thankfully, my mom was there with me and she decided to call an ambulance.
When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics just looked at my mom – while I was lying there screaming in background squirming from pain – why did we call them?
That is – sadly enough – simply typical of Copenhagen Fire Department, which runs the ambulance service here in Copenhagen. Arrogant and completely devoid of any empathy and tact. I allow myself to say that since I’ve had other experiences with both my younger brother and a friend where their attitude were rude and seriously unpleasant.
“Do you think we should ride a bike?!” my mom asked in shock pointing at me lying there with seizures and screaming in anguish.
In the end, they – unwillingly – brought me along and drove me to Hvidovre Hospital.
In the ambulance, I was throwing up violently. From pain.
We arrived at Hvidovre Hospital and they put two blocks in my uterus. Need I say how awful it was getting an instrument put up there at this time?
But the blocks helped and slowly I became human again.
No one can tell me what went wrong…
I was admitted and the doctors decided to wait and see if the abortion didn’t begin by itself. To be safe I had to fast so I could be ready for surgery if needed.
The abortion didn’t start.
Now I had to wait until they had time for me to have a surgical abortion. The hours went by and I didn’t get anything to drink or eat. I don’t know if it was because they were busy that they didn’t offer me an intravenous drip for hydration. But they didn’t. It was almost 10pm before I was taken into surgery. I was completely dehydrated and I had a pounding headache.
The surgical abortion went as it was supposed to. But I still had a headache.
I was discharged the next day and went home, still with a headache.
Days went by and the headache didn’t go away. It was a difficult time. Especially because my best friend – Pia – who I had known since the beginning of our 20’s was terminally ill from cancer.
I had fought by her side for 2½ years. I had organized flea markets and bingo to collect money so she could have treatments in Germany. With difficulty I was allowed to borrow a hall at a school, where I previously had worked as a temp, to have a huge party where tickets sales and beer sales would fond Pia’s treatments. I managed to get well known comedians, musicians, a magician and all other kinds of exciting people to come and entertain at the party so the tickets were a little easier to sell.
I did everything I could to save my friend.
But it was too late.
10 days after my abortion I lost my friend to cancer. Only 38 years old…
I was broken into a thousand little pieces and it was as if my abortion almost didn’t matter. Of course it did. But it was so hard to deal with both that and my friend dying at the same time.
My headaches continued. It was worse in the mornings. I woke up with tender jaws and a banging headache that eased off during the day.
However, in the wake of all this I decided I didn’t want to try to have a baby.
I just couldn’t cope with the thought of having to go through all that again.
Especially not alone.
I started to adjust to a life without children.
It’s not something you do from one day to the next when it’s something you’ve wanted so badly.
My doctor had to give up when it came to my headache, so she referred me to a neurologist and I had an MRI-scan, which showed nothing.
But one day, when I stopped by my dentist for the biannual check-up, she mentioned to me that a lot of my molars were broken and that my teeth looked overall worn and it looked like I might grind my teeth in my sleep at night.
Now it all suddenly made sense.
I realized that the molar thing, I could actually feel it. My teeth had become sharp and rough where they were broken. I didn’t think there could be a connection to the headaches and I probably didn’t have the energy to do something about it.
But the fact was that I was simply tightening my jaws and grinding my teeth in my sleep.
It was probably something I’d started to do after the two distressing events on top of each other. To make a long story short I got a dental splint and in time, the headache has slowly disappeared.
Read more about the subject here and here.
That was in 2011 so it was 4 years ago now.
In 2013, I meet my boyfriend, “P”, and life as a single suddenly seems to be over.
A new chapter begins. The desire to have children shows up again.
How that turns out you can follow here in this blog.
If you are involuntarily childless whether you’re young or older, alone or in a relationship, or if you’re thinking about becoming a self-imposed single mother or maybe you’re already at it, then there are some useful links on my danish version of this site venterpaastorken.com but I would really love some equally great international links to helpful websites about infertility and self-imposed single motherhood and perhaps links to international books or forums about the subject, so please, let me know if you know some so that I can share this with all my wonderful readers.