Deciding to have a baby is a major decision at any time, but even more so if you are choosing to have a baby on your own.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, a woman can still have a baby even if Mr Right hasn’t turned up.
If you are tired of waiting for your own “happily ever after” and your biological click has been ticking loudly, it’s time to investigate the options. Resources such as “Choosing Single Motherhood – the thinking woman’s guide” by Mikki Morrissette, and websites like www.smcaustralia.org.au can provide you with valuable insight into the life of a solo parent, and help you connect with others with similar experiences.
Seeing a psychologist can provide you with impartial support and guidance to consider all the implications of having a baby on your own, in a way that family and friends can’t.
If you do decide on “going it alone”, the next step will be to decide how to go about it.
The Role of the Donor
Will you use a donor – and if so, should it be somebody you know, or an anonymous donor? And what sort of things should you look for in a donor?
If the donor is known, what role will they play in your child’s (and your) life? What about their family? Your family?
What will you tell your child in the years to come? And what will you say to people about the baby’s father?
Being prepared takes on a whole new meaning if you are choosing to have a baby on your own.
On the practical side, consideration should be given to questions such as:
- Can you afford not just a baby, but to raise a child over the next 18+ years? Single parent families have about 47% less disposable income than coupled families (1);
- Will you continue working or take leave once the baby is born; and
- What about childcare?
As with any expectant parent, there will be all the usual doubts and fears: How will I cope? Do I have a support network in place? Will I be a good mum?
In addition you may find yourself worrying about the quality of life you can give your child as a solo parent. In 2005, UK researchers Golombok and Murray compared the wellbeing of solo and married mothers who had conceived using donor sperm – and the good news is that both groups were well adjusted and enjoyed parenting (2).
It is also a good idea to think about what to say – and to whom. There may even be criticism or judgement from others. How will you react to people accusing you of being “selfish” and putting your own desires ahead of the needs of your child? Although “you might not be able to change how others view you … you can be prepared for reactions and build a strong sense of pride in your family” (1).
Looking to the Future
At some stage, you can expect your child to turn to you with those innocent eyes and ask: “Why don’t I have a Daddy?” and you will need to have your answer ready!
And just because Prince Charming hasn’t appeared yet, doesn’t mean he never will! Chances are that if you do meet somebody after having a baby on your own, the relationship will be a lot more relaxed without the pressure of racing to have a baby while there is still time.
Author: Nicole Wimmer, B Sc (Psych), MA (Psych), PG Cert Mgmt, Grad Dip Safety Science, MAPS.
Nicole Wimmer is a Psychologist with extensive experience in helping people with all aspects of fertility and surrogacy counselling, including the decision to become a solo parent. She is a member of both ANZICA (Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association) and FSA (Fertility Society Australia), and is able to prepare reports for clinics prior to commencing a Surrogacy or Donor arrangement.