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Having a Baby as a Single Mother

“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about” Winston Churchill

For as long as I can remember, I had two dreams in life ~ to be a teacher and to be a mom.  After completing 3 years of Bible School I was accepted to the Faculty of Education and completed my Middle Years Education Degree.  Since then I’ve been a teacher and have always loved my career. Year after year my students became my extended family and I’d pour in to them like they were my own.  But something was always missing: I still longed to be a mother. After years of looking at my various options I realized many were closed to me for numerous reasons and I started to feel like there was little hope.

I always told myself that if I were still single when I was 30, I’d start looking to ways to become a mom – whether it was through adoption or through using a donor.  Until recently, I didn’t really consider being single a form of infertility – but in a lot of ways, it is. Without the partner OR the finances, I really had no way of becoming a mom – thus facing infertility.

So I began my journey to using a sperm donor to fulfill my dream.  I sat down with the head Pastor of my church to get his opinion on the process and to have a giggle at his comment of “you know, Chantel, in all my years of pastoring I’ve never been asked about this.”  For me it was important to have the blessing of my Pastor because I want to raise my kids in my church. He was fully supportive of my choice to become a single mom.

So off to the fertility specialist I went.  I was hopeful and you could even say excited.  What’s a few more ultrasounds and blood tests? I was waiting to have a blood test that needed to happen on the third day of my cycle.  I waited and waited … and waited and waited … because this test was for hormone level on that specific day of your cycle. I waited several months to be able to do this test and it just wasn’t happening.  I had always had irregular cycles, but never had I gone months upon months without a cycle. I went back to the clinic where I had another ultrasound done that day. Back in the doctor’s office I knew it wasn’t going to be good news when she slid the Kleenex box towards me.

My PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) had progressed to full on menopause.  Oh – that’s why I’ve been waking up so hot at night. Oh – that’s why I’ve been irritable.  Menopause?! I was 31! How could this be happening? That was a long 2.5-hour drive home filled with many tears and many emotions.

Devastated would be the best way to describe it  but doesn’t seem to do my emotions justice. All I ever wanted was to be a mom and now I believed it would never happen.  I had looked in to domestic and international adoption – but this was hard for a single woman (not impossible … but very hard).  And so I put the dream on the shelf for a while – over a year actually. I continued to seek out counseling and tried to work through things in my own heart … my temporarily broken heart.

One day, when looking through some adoption stuff online I came across embryo adoption.  Good thing I had a bit of spare time at that moment because I went crazy looking up clinics and organizations.  I finally had found some hope. I joined a group on Facebook and started to read through some conversations there and realized that I might be able to have a baby and become a mom after all.  I made a quick phone call back to the clinic and booked myself an appointment to talk to my doctor about it.

Even as a little girl I would say I wanted to adopt so finding out about embryo adoption gave me a glimmer of hope.  After doing some research on various clinics and on what embryo adoption was – I decided this was something I was going to pursue.  What is embryo adoption? Dictionary.com says it is the transfer of a human embryo, resulting from in-vitro fertilization, to another “person” for implantation in the uterus of the adoptive mother.  Because I firmly believe that life begins at conception and not at birth I believe all embryos available for adoption are life.

Then I had the meeting with my doctor and found out embryo adoption isn’t available in my province.  |”Okay just a speed bump,” I told myself. I’ll travel. That’s okay with me. After contacting many clinics in the United States it just wasn’t sitting right with me.  Finally I found a clinic a few provinces away in Ontario that would take me on as a patient. I had more blood work, more ultrasounds, more doctor’s appointments – now it was getting real.  Here I was – 34 years old – a virgin, in menopause, single, and taking steps to overcoming infertility and making my dream of becoming a mother come true!

Little did I know how fast everything would go.  I had a Skype consult at the end of May. I received my medication protocol in July and started in August.  I needed to regulate my body to have a period –no fun – but totally worth it. In October I was given my first profile of embryos to consider.  Something didn’t feel right regarding those ones. When I phoned and received the medical history of the couple the coordinator realized this couple was only interested in donating to a couple (which was totally fair).  But I knew there was a reason it wasn’t sitting well with me. The next day I received another profile – 4 beautiful embryos – and I knew it was meant to be. The next day I called to reserve them. This day is now our “forever family day” as that’s the day I adopted them.  I had a period in September and October as they had hoped and now it was time for the transfer.

It was time for the needles.  But give myself a needle every day? I wasn’t so sure. But it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, there were days of tears and yes there were days of frustration.  Mid November I headed to Toronto, on my own, filled with hope that this was going to work and I was going to become a mama. Very, very few people knew I was going to do this making the journey that much more interesting: little me navigating big Toronto.  November 21st was my transfer day and it’s a day I will never forget.  I arrived (early of course), and had to wait. Sitting in the back in a gown, funny booties on, and a beautiful cap on my head, knowing that any minute (okay …. I waited 3 hours with a full bladder!!!)  I was going to meet my beautiful baby/babies. The embryos were frozen in pairs. First, they had to survive the thaw. After about an hour and a half of waiting I finally had to chance to go pee. Yahoo!  The doctor was tied up in a complicated egg retrieval with the patient before me. Returning from my washroom break the nurse came in and handed me a picture of 2 beautiful embryos. Cue the emotions. I was crying for sure!  At that point I decided it was best to transfer both embryos. They were day 3 embryos and I personally felt it was too risky to refreeze one and thaw it again later.

I couldn’t stop looking at the beautiful photo.  Those were my babies. And then it was my turn. Walking into the room I was anxious and excited all at once.  You throw your legs up in the stirrups and hope for the best. You actually get to watch the embryos being transferred on a screen above you.  It was beautiful. So November 21st I was pregnant until proven otherwise.  And so began my 2-week-wait.

The next day I flew home and went back to work. Those two weeks felt like forever!  And then it was time. Do I pee on a stick or wait for my beta? I didn’t want to receive the news at work in case it was upsetting but also didn’t want to be sad a day early if it was negative.  I really didn’t know what I wanted to do so I got up bright and early to pee but peed in a cup and saved it. After messaging a friend that morning before church she encouraged me by telling me there was no harm in testing myself because it wasn’t going to change the result.  Out came the Dollarstore pregnancy test. Before I could even wash my hands – there it was – TWO lines. Instant tears. Could my dream of becoming a mom really be coming true?

The next day it was confirmed through blood work – I was pregnant!  Repeat beta in two days. Official! Numbers had more than doubled. I couldn’t believe it.  I headed to a local store to buy my first baby clothes – one boy outfit and one girl outfit. I was pregnant.  Though I transferred 2 embryos, I mourned the loss of one, but celebrated the life of the other.

And though the journey was just beginning, because pregnancy brings on a whole new level of fear (mixed with excitement), I was pregnant!

While I know this journey isn’t one everyone would choose, I know this is what was right for me. My dream to be a mom came true– through the miracle of embryo adoption.

My story is not a secret.  I’m so proud of my choices and my journey.  I’ve learned so much about myself and I continue to be in awe of what God is doing in my life as I watched baby Miracle grow and develop.  Baby Miracle – that’s what he/she was named while he/she was in my tummy growing. Truly a Miracle!

Pregnancy wasn’t without its hurdles: there was one hospital visit, one hospital stay, bed rest, gestational diabetes with diet control, lots of walks and a few scares along the way.  But this Miracle baby held on.

August 2017 my dream came true and I welcome my Miracle baby into the world. When they placed Miracle on my chest all I could do was cry.  I didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl at that time – and it didn’t matter. I wept and sobbed holding this little life. It’s a boy!” they told me. They were the words I never, ever thought I’d hear.  I had his name picked out for years. Years before I ever knew if I would get to be a mom. It means “raised up” and this little boy was truly raised up already – from the freezer to this world. He has a great destiny for his life.

Was the journey hard?  Absolutely! Was it worth it? Beyond!  There are no words. Don’t give up! I thought every door was closed when I found out I was in menopause.  I mean, how can you have a baby when you’re single and when you’re in menopause?  You can! The tears (and the money) were worth it!

Submitted by Chantel