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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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