Dear Harry and Louise:
I envision my life with kids. At 36, my biological clock is blinking wildly, much like an alarm clock when it needs to be set. I’ve recently found out about a physical limitation that makes getting pregnant difficult. But I do have options! One is simply harvesting and freezing my eggs, and the other is going all the way and making embryos with donor sperm. Do I wait for the love of my life to finally get it together, sweep me off my feet, and have babies with me? Or should I be more aggressive—opt for storing embryos and select nameless, faceless sperm from a sperm bank, or coerce a friend into giving up the goods?
What’s a girl to do?
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Envisioning your life with kids and actually raising the critters are wildly different. Ask yourself a few hard questions: How will raising a child as a single parent change your life? Do you have the resources—financial, emotional, and otherwise—to balance the demands of parenthood and your career? When you encounter the “love of your life,” are you prepared to be patient as he gets used to the idea that he’s getting you AND a kid?
If you can look yourself in the mirror and feel supremely confident that you are willing to endure the downsides of raising baby solo, then by all means, proceed to step two: asking your family and friends to be there when you are in need. By the way, prepare yourself for the inevitable chorus of doubters, detractors, and scaredy cats.
If Mr. Perfect shows up now or later, he will likely understand your desire to have children, and will respect your decision to plan for having one, or more, with or without a mate. Even if you go forward and have a child through IVF, a loving man can take that in stride.
When Louise and I met, we were both parenting without a mate; I was principal parent for my three daughters, and Louise was living with her daughter. Cultivating romance with children was a challenge, but we were madly in love and brought them along. It can happen.
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Have the baby, sweet mama! You know you want a child, and you are beginning to crack through that perfect image of Mommy, Daddy, and baby. If you are confident that you can gather the support team you need—and you will need help—then by all means, pursue having this baby. Gathering your team may include moving closer to supportive relatives, researching and interviewing nannies, and discussing maternity leave with your employer. Once you are willing and able to put in this level of work, then you will know you are ready to take on the joyous and upending journey of parenthood.
As far as romance goes, the love of your life may be right around the corner, or he may be living across the globe and set to meet you within the decade. Let me be a bit clearer: STOP waiting for the guy. You know what you want, and waiting for Mr. Wonderful puts too much pressure on you and every potential flirtation. You are about to begin a journey that involves caring about someone more than you care about yourself. Caring about something other than yourself can be very, very appealing to a fine gentleman. No, I am not suggesting this as a dating strategy. I am assuring you that having a baby need not be a dating deterrent.
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Get real: having a baby is by definition a dating deterrent. For the first year, no nights out. For the first two years, bleary eyes from not sleeping through the night. For the next few years, no dates without a baby sitter. Having a baby will cut into anyone’s romantic opportunities, married or single. And sex? That’s a whole new column.
Being a mom is a deterrent to the selfish men who need not apply. A kind and loving man will understand that her schedule is compromised, and that her best sweater may have some schmutz caked in. I do not see having the baby as putting life on hold, but instead creating a different life with new priorities and brand new eyes. No worries about how much sleep is lost and how tired you’ll be and how the weight may take ten years to lose (Did I add that last one?). If Tamara has the support system she needs, then she will never regret having a baby.