‘I was 27 when I realised that I wanted to become a mother. I was on holidays with my mam at the time and I asked her if she could help me figure out how to go about it.
s a gay woman, I always knew having a child would involve reproductive assistance, but the idea of having a baby on your own was nearly unheard of back then. We had all heard of IVF and things like that, but not necessarily single people who wanted to go it alone.
A few years later I got into a relationship and we were going to have a child together. That didn’t work out so I decided to go back to my original plan and do it on my own.
There were a lot of appointments at the beginning, with various tests and some counselling before we started the process. The counsellor asked me about my mental health, my living situation and my support network. They don’t judge you — they just like to get an idea of where you’re at.
Next, I had an AMH (Anti-Müllerian hormone) test to check my egg count and a HSG (hysterosalpingogram) test to check if my fallopian tubes were open or blocked. My AMH results weren’t the best but the HSG test came back all clear.
Then they put me on a lower dose of meds to start off with. It’s all very timed — you could have three appointments in one week to get the times right.
The clinic I went to are partners with a donor bank, which is basically like a dating site! The donor profiles include hair colour, eye colour, and a description of their personality and their occupation. Some of the donors also provide their baby photos, so I looked for a donor that looked like me when I was younger.
To be honest, I didn’t find the process as difficult as others do. My genes are quite strong on my mam’s side so I knew the chances of the baby looking like me were quite high.
In the end, I picked five possible donors and I left it to the clinic to decide which one was most compatible. I never actually asked them which one it was in the end. At the end of the day it was going to be my child, and brought up my me, so I’m quite happy not knowing.
I had two failed attempts at IUI (intrauterine insemination), which was really tough. At the time I had just started a new job so I think a lot of it was stress-related.
When I tried the third time, I had left my job and started working with my mother in our family business. I had a lot more freedom to be able to go to appointments and everyone knew what was going on. I think that might have helped.
You really need a support network if you’re going to become a single parent by choice. It can be tough some days but once you have your support network in place, it’s not so bad. My mam came to live with me for a few weeks when Leo was born and that was a huge help.
On the other hand, you don’t have the pressures of thinking about someone else’s feelings or being disappointed that someone is not helping you, or annoyed because they haven’t washed the dishes. If the dishes aren’t washed, it’s my problem.
Plus, if you’re in a relationship that isn’t sturdy, then it’s always going to be easier to do it on your own. You don’t have any of that guilt that some parents have.
It’s a lot less stress, I reckon. In fact, sometimes my married friends say, “You have it handy”.
Still, a lot of people assume that I’m in a relationship with a man. The other day, someone told me that Leo doesn’t look like me at all. “He must look like his daddy,” she said. I didn’t even answer. I think in this day and age, you shouldn’t say that to anybody. At the same time, I wasn’t going to rear up on her.
I remember, over Christmas, we were singing ‘clap handies’ to Leo and my grandmother sang ‘clap handies, clap handies, ‘til Daddy comes home’. I looked at her and laughed, and said, “He’ll be waiting a while…” She was mortified but I didn’t mind at all. These things are going to happen. It’s Ireland and people tend to go with whatever the norm is. And sometimes you just have to take these things with a pinch of salt.
When will I tell Leo that he was born with the help of donor sperm? That’s actually a question that they ask you during the counselling sessions before you decide to do it. And my answer was maybe before he starts school.
I’ll just explain to him that there are different types of families. Some families have two daddies, some have two mammies, some have one mammy, one daddy… I’ll tell him that the doctors put a baby in my belly. That’s not not the truth and until he’s older, and he needs more details, I think that will suffice.
Besides, families are changing and there are even avenues starting to appear for men who want to have a child on their own.
My friend encouraged me to set up a page on Instagram and, my god, the amount of women out there who are going it alone is phenomenal. I always told people that I had way too much love in me just to give to one other person and I think that’s the case for a lot of the women who become single mothers by choice. They want to be a mammy so much. And the want is so overwhelming that they just go and do it.
I get a lot of women messaging me and asking what they should do. They tell me that they don’t know if they have the courage to do it. Some people have parents who don’t particularly agree with it. It’s that Irish thing of ‘what will people think?’
I also think a lot of women hold back from doing it because they may not have their own home, but you can’t let things like that hold you back.
I was adamant in my mid-twenties that I was going to buy my own house. I got very lucky with the recession and I bought a small apartment and then I worked my way up to a house. I’ll do without things and I’ll work in any job if I have to. I’m good with my money, too.
I’d love for Leo to have a sibling near his own age and I still have some donor sperm in the freezer. I plan to go again but I’d be more trying to convince my family — trying to get their support and get them used to the idea. Also, Covid would have to go away for a while….”
Amanda shares snapshots of her single mum life on [email protected]
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