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Single and Infertile

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a blog by Ellen Glazer, January 13, 2011

I have been seeing more and more single women these days. They are remarkably similar. All are women in their late 30s or early 40s. They are smart, talented, successful and attractive. Some are real beauties. Many are at the top of their careers. Their stories are mostly the same: they have met many men, but nothing has worked out. They would still like to find a partner, but right now they are more concerned about using their eggs while they can than about finding a partner for parenthood.

As one woman said to me, “I would rather be a husbandless mother than a childless wife.”

The Challenges of Being Single and Infertile

I am sure that there are many single women who become pregnant with artificial inseminations (intrauterine insemination or IUI). They face all the challenges of being pregnant and parenting on their own, but they are spared the additional burdens of infertility.

The women I am thinking of now are the ones who tried first with artificial inseminations, did not conceive and have now moved on to injectable medications or even in vitro fertilization (IVF) on their own. Theirs is an especially lonely journey.

The Many Questions

First, there is the temptation to second guess oneself and repeatedly ask questions, “Am I doing the right thing? Are the difficulties I’m having getting pregnant a sign that I shouldn’t be doing this on my own? Maybe this was not meant to be?

Then there are the privacy issues: telling others you are trying to have a baby on your own is difficult, all the more so when you face telling employers and colleagues you need time off from work for fertility treatments.

Then there are the practical matters, such as who drives you home after anesthesia. Hopefully, you have a trusted friend whom you feel comfortable asking, but it still feels lousy: medical procedures are tough enough with a partner and tougher still when you are alone.

The list goes on. It is in no way easy to become a single mother and all the more difficult when infertility becomes part of your experience.

Then There Is the Joy

I can only say that I know two women well who, from my perspective, were pioneers. They each set out to become a single mom years ago. It wasn’t “by choice” — it was by necessity if they wanted to use their own eggs. Each endured countless rounds of IUIs with medications, and one went on to IVF.

Both women had daughters. Both raised their daughters on their own. Each is now mom to a lovely young woman. I know that the hurdles they faced did not end with conception and successful pregnancy. But that is where all the joy kicked in.

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