WHAT IS THE ‘IMPLANTATION WINDOW’ IN FERTILITY TREATMENT AND HOW TO IMPROVE IT?
SIGN UP AND GET ANSWERS LIVE >

Emotional decisions at 40+: Pursuing solo motherhood

Viki Peeters
Fertility Coach, Viki Peeters – Fertility Coach

Category:
Advanced Maternal Age, Donor Eggs, Embryo donation, Emotions and Support

solo-motherhood-treatment-and-emotional-aspects
From this video you will find out:
  • What are the emotional challenges that women face when deciding to pursue solo motherhood at the age of 40 or older?
  • What are the steps a woman can take to pursue solo motherhood at an older age?
  • How can one overcome societal stigmas and expectations when choosing solo motherhood later in life?
  • What are the long-term emotional considerations for women who choose solo motherhood at an older age?

Emotional decisions at 40+: Pursuing solo motherhood

If you are a woman at 40+ contemplating the path of solo motherhood, watch our past webinar with Viki Peeters, a professional, Certified Fertility Coach and mother after a long fertility process, who explored the unique emotional challenges that come with choosing solo motherhood later in life.

Viki started by sharing her own story, as she is now a mom of 2 sons, Victor and Arthur. Both were born after a long and complex fertility journey. Since 2017, Viki has been working as a professional certified fertility coach. She helps a very specific group of women, successful women aged 40 plus, who do not want to give up on their desire to have a baby or another baby. About half of them are indeed single women, so it’s quite a substantial group.

Emotional struggles and hurdles

Women aged 40 plus who are single or alone with the desire for a baby experience very specific emotional struggles. These struggles are very typical for this group because of the combination of age and being single. To overcome these hurdles and make informed decisions, it’s crucial to assess your circumstances, seek medical advice, and plan for the future well-being of your child. Remember, you’re not alone on this journey, and there are resources and support available to help you navigate these challenges.

The first specific emotional struggle is saying goodbye to your ideal picture. This ideal picture usually consists of a family with you, a loving partner, your genetically related child, or children. Saying goodbye to this ideal picture can be very tough because you have been waiting for and longing for this ideal picture for a long time. You didn’t decide to pursue solo motherhood when you were 30 or 30-something. You waited until you were 40 or 40-something, so you became more attached to this picture the longer you waited.

You always thought you would meet your dream partner and start a family together at last. You always thought that your partner would eventually agree to have a baby. But it didn’t happen. Saying goodbye to this ideal picture and making the shift to a new picture can be a real grieving process. You are not losing a physical child, but you are losing an imagined dream child, as you always dreamed and planned it.

Another specific emotional struggle in this group is the feeling of a huge time pressure that can be paralyzing. You realize that you don’t want to get much older to become a mother, especially since you will be raising this child alone. You also realize that in a new relationship, you won’t immediately start having children if you meet your dream partner tomorrow. You will not be starting children the day after. You realize that at 40 and beyond, your healthy egg reserve is running low. It’s often too late for social freezing, and age limits in fertility clinics, adoption, or foster care can be factors.

Getting pregnant can become complex, especially if you want to get pregnant and you don’t have a partner. You will need donor sperm, which can be an emotional barrier in itself. Insemination with donor sperm often has low success rates, especially for women aged 40 and above. The success rates of IVF with donor sperm depend on your egg reserve.

I often see the scenario of IVF with double donation, where the embryo is created with a sperm and an egg donor. This can be a complex scenario because it might be far from your ideal picture, and it raises concerns about your child’s genetic origins.

Sometimes, single women aged 40 and above go abroad to another country for fertility treatments due to various reasons, such as lack of treatment options in their own country or long waiting lists for donors. Going abroad adds complexity because of differing laws, fertility clinics, and language barriers.

Another hurdle is dealing with ethical questions. Being single and of a certain age, you might struggle with more ethical questions, like whether you are being selfish, how your child will feel about having an older mother without a father, and how to explain the situation to your child in the future. Concerns about what other people will think and how to maintain their support can also be challenging.

Practical questions are another hurdle. You have already established a professional and social life, and combining this with raising a child alone can be a concern. Questions about physical fitness, personal time, and practical support are significant. Who will take care of your child if something happens to you is another pressing question.

Understanding your fertility journey

The next question is how to overcome these hurdles because, at 40 plus, you want to get past them; your biological clock is ticking. You can feel it’s maybe like a “now or never” moment, sort of tipping point. Do I do this now, or do I not do it anymore? You want peace of mind about this, or you don’t want the age difference between you and a future child to become even bigger. So, you want to get past this, and what’s important then?

To help with that, you need to look at 3 different layers:

  • Overcoming doubts and fears

The first layer is, “Can you fully opt for the scenario of being a single mother at this age and stage in your life?” It’s important to dig into all these fears, doubts, and worrying thoughts blocking you. Don’t push them aside; analyze what’s blocking you. Another important aspect is to connect with your deep longing for a child. It’s also a grieving process about your ideal picture and maybe underlying losses. Spend time on this grieving process. Sometimes, look at the family system because there can be some patterns in the family system that explain why you are struggling with this.

  • Planning for your child’s future

The second layer to consider is, “If I decide to do this, how am I going to do it?” Firstly, if you’re 40 plus, then getting medical advice about your fertility is a good idea. You need to know what your realistic options are. Secondly, trust your gut feeling. Don’t blindly follow what your fertility clinic or doctor says; find a scenario that feels good for you. It’s also essential to be aware of your egg reserve, which is essential to make informed decisions about your fertility.

  • Preparing for your child’s journey

The third layer is the future of your child. Think about how your decision will impact your child. Consider the place of the donor in your future family story, even if the donor is anonymous. Plan how and when to talk about this with your child. Reflect on your child’s potential search for the donor. The world of DNA databases is evolving, and it’s crucial to be aware of this, so your child knows it’s welcome to explore their roots in the future. It’s an important part of your decision process.

Conclusions

Understanding the significance of your longing for a child and addressing your doubts and concerns is the first crucial step. Recognizing the profound impact of your decision on your future child’s life and their potential search for their origins adds depth to your considerations. Furthermore, the importance of obtaining comprehensive medical advice to inform your choices cannot be overstated. Knowing your fertility status and exploring your options with a keen sense of self-awareness and trust in your intuition is essential.

As you move forward, remember that your journey to parenthood is a unique one. It is filled with intricacies, emotions, and challenges, but it is also a path toward one of life’s most meaningful and rewarding experiences. By embracing each layer of your journey, you empower yourself to make well-informed choices and embark on the path toward realizing your dream of parenthood.

- Questions and Answers

What’s your take on encouraging people to chase their dreams of becoming a mom despite societal pressures?

It’s also my experience that a lot of people are blocking the opinions of other people and society. But I also feel that in this age group, 40-plus women are more and more thinking, “If I want to pursue my own dreams, now is the moment I cannot wait any longer.” So, I always encourage them to connect with their desires and not only think about worrying thoughts and opinions. I use techniques like visualization exercises in my coaching to help them reconnect with their dreams.

How do you tell a child they were conceived through egg donation or embryo donation?

You can choose a particular moment in time, for instance, when you were pregnant or when the baby was just born. You can also choose to tell it more organically and let the story grow with the child. Adjust your language based on what the child can understand at their age.  

Do you do general fertility coaching for all age groups and situations?

Certainly not only for 40-plus solo motherhood. I work with clients in different stages of their fertility journey, including those who are part of a couple and those in their 30s. The focus is on various stages of the process, including decision-making and emotional support during fertility treatments.  

How would you handle the situation where the partner doesn’t want a donor baby but might accept it without emotional or financial involvement?

This is a complex dilemma, and I cannot provide a straightforward answer. It’s important to ask yourself how you want to look back on this moment in 10 or 15 years. Consider seeking guidance from a coach to navigate this difficult decision, as it involves many factors, including the balance in a relationship.  

Everything you have covered is exactly how I feel. I finally got the courage to do this on my own, but then COVID happened, and recently I lost my mom, who was my major support. I have lost a bit of my confidence and keep worrying if I am being selfish and what will people think.

I’m so sorry you lost your mother; I lost mine too last year, so I know how you feel. Regarding being selfish, I hear this concern often, but I think every desire for a child is selfish. It’s an instinct. You’re not more selfish when pursuing a baby at 40 plus or when doing it alone. It’s important to feel firm in your decision and normalize it for your child to avoid them feeling different.  

How to tell a child that they are coming from a donor without risking the child considering themselves a designer baby for selfish reasons?

First, it’s essential to be sure about your decision and not feel selfish. Normalize the conception process for your child by explaining that there are many ways to create families, and this is just one of them. When you are firm in your decision and communicate it clearly, your child is more likely to accept it without thinking they are a designer baby.  
Understanding the Importance of Carrier Genetic Testing
Hysteroscopy before IVF:  can it improve outcomes?
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss challenges: causes and solutions
How to prepare for an embryo transfer to improve your chances: There’s more to consider than just the endometrium
Endometrial factor and recurrent failures in IVF: diagnosis and treatment
How old is too old for my IVF treatment?
Authors
Viki Peeters

Viki Peeters

Viki Peeters is a professional, certified coach. As a child wish coach, she talks to 40+ women through their decision and follow-up process, for example regarding egg donation and sperm donation. Viki is a mom of two beautiful children. She became a mother after a challenging process, much later in life, than planned. Email: coaching@vikipeeters.be Free online match call: https://en.vikipeeters.be/matchcall/ Website: https://en.vikipeeters.be/
Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is managing MyIVFAnswers.com and has been hosting IVFWEBINARS dedicated to patients struggling with infertility since 2020. She's highly motivated and believes that educating patients so that they can make informed decisions is essential in their IVF journey. In the past, she has been working as an International Patient Coordinator, where she was helping and directing patients on their right path. She also worked in the tourism industry, and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. In her free time, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things, or spending time outdoors.
Have questions about what factors will affect your IVF success?
Join our live event to directly ask your questions to three IVF experts.