Do I Really Know What a Choice Mom Is?

By: Melissa Mensavage

I know I had done my research on artificial insemination and being a Choice Mom, but I kept asking myself, do I know what it really means?

Since my appointment, I kept thinking about the caste that falls upon single women. The phrases, too involved in her career, can’t maintain a relationship, must be gay, is crazy, kept repeating in my mind. I know I am guilty of passing these judgments onto others when I didn’t know their story, but I wasn’t ready for them to be passed on to me, or at least, be conscious of these judgments being placed on me.

I decided it was time to surround myself with other Choice Moms. I figured this would help ease some of the anxiety I had about being judged by -if no one else -surely myself. I joined a couple of online communities solely for Choice Moms. I engaged in conversation. I even attended a coffee. Each time I read someone’s posting, or listened to someone’s story I always detected a negative vibe. It was almost as if every one of these women were bitter and angry at the fact that they had to be Choice Moms. They were pissed off at the universe because Mr. Right didn’t show up at their doorstep. I found myself relating to those feelings, but yet I felt I was different. I was on this journey because I wanted to be, not because I felt I had to be.

It wasn’t until I sat across a table from a woman at Starbucks, listening intently to her complain about how all the treatment in the world is not working for her, how she’ll never be a mom, that I realized I don’t need these women. I don’t need the group or the community, especially if they were to be like this. I knew I wanted to leave, and thought, why not throw it out there? So I asked, “Do you really want to be a mother, or do you just want a baby? Meaning, being a mom means you have to actually be present in the child’s life, engage in it, show up for the job. Wanting a baby, isn’t like playing house or with your dolls.”
I received a room full of scornful looks and long pauses. It was like I was the only person to ever ask that question. The woman never really answered; she fumbled her way through her sad story once again. Liberation started to break through every boundary I had. It was like the sun was rising and started shining brighter in my world. When I arrived back at home, I deleted my accounts in all the communities. No more negativity. No more judgments. I am choosing to be a mother without a husband or boyfriend because in my heart I have a space that is vacant and can only be filled with my child’s love.

Feeling confident in my decision to pursue artificial insemination, I went to my wallet and pulled out Dr. XYXY’s card. I held it for a few minutes, then my mind started to race. Do I do this? Do I call them? What do I ask them? I had some notes I had written down from my internet search a while back. I ran upstairs to the desk, opened the drawer that contained these notes, and flipped through them anxiously.

Returning to the couch with the business card and my notes in hand, I flipped open my laptop and once again Googled “donor insemination”.

I found a book on for Single Moms by Choice from trying to conceive with a donor (known, not known, one night stand, fertile, not fertile, it was all covered) to post partum/delivery. I clicked. I read excerpts from the book. I purchased.

Reading this book on basically how to become pregnant without a husband or boyfriend or willing participant opened my eyes to the “getting pregnant” or infertile industry. Quite the education I had in a little over 500 pages. One of the main things this book taught me was to have a round of fertility tests completed to understand my chances of conceiving. And who would do these tests? Dr. XYXY.

It was just a regular day at work, though that day will be marked in my mind for the rest of my life. I left my desk, armed with my cell phone, my piece of paper that contained all my questions about these tests, and the business card that contained Dr. XYXY’s number. While sitting in the cafeteria, I dialed the number. I heard the most pleasant genuine voice say, “Thank you for calling Dr. XYXY’s office, this is Jocelyn, how can I help you?”

“Um, well, not sure…how do I … or what do I … am interested in meeting with the Dr.”

“Oh hon, are you having problems getting pregnant? Have you met with your OB/GYN? Do you have a referral?”

“No, no referral. I am single. I don’t have a husband. Dr. OB provided me your number.”

“Oh no worries. We work with single women all the time. When would you like to see Dr. XYXY? He’s available …”

She faded out after saying “no worries, we work with single women all the time.” Really? Did I find an office that won’t judge me? That would do what it can to help me achieve this dream? Really? Is Jocelyn really this nice? I was dumbfounded. In all my adult years that I’ve been going to doctors’ offices, I’ve never encountered a nice staff person like Jocelyn.

I scheduled my consultation appointment with Dr.XYXY for two weeks later. So soon? I thought to myself. All the steps I’ve taken in the path to motherhood have all resulted in an action that had value or consequences. Tell OB my plan…OB sends me to the doctor who can make it happen. Read a book on conceiving with a donor…book recommends fertility tests. Call Dr. XYXY…have an appointment. Each of these steps breaks away another small piece of the old me, and allows this new person through. I’ve never taken on change like this before. Scared out of my mind, I still move forward.
My appointment was late in the afternoon. Stupid me. I obsessed on the appointment and its potential conversation all day. I couldn’t focus at work. I snuck into the bathroom with my purse to read more of my book. When it was finally time to leave, I bolted out of the office, got in my car and started heading towards the appointment. Dr. XYXY’s office is literally down the street from my office, yet I got lost on the way. I turned left instead of right. I know exactly where the office is, just for some reason the brain had stopped working.

I arrived at the office, checked in, and finally got a face to put with Jocelyn. She’s a young woman -early 20s -and happy. She greeted me and helped me complete the necessary paperwork. I took a seat. A few couples were waiting as well. I was the only single. I looked carefully at each one, trying to get their story. One young couple looked nervous, like they were expecting results. Another couple appeared stressed and sad. The woman looked as if she had been pregnant or is pregnant. She looked at me. I quickly diverted my eyes to the book of babies created by Dr. XYXY, to avoid making her feel any worse than she already did if she were there for less than desirable circumstances.

About 20 minutes ticked by, slowly. The door opened and my name was called. I quickly stood up and felt my knees go weak. I realized I was shaking to the core.


  1. says

    Wow, I love following you through this process Melissa. It is so exciting to hear all your inner thoughts as you take the choice to have a family by yourself. Great writing.

  2. Casey says

    I am on this exact journey right now. I look forward to reading about yours as I go through the Choice Mom process myself.

  3. says

    How exciting to read your journey. I do feel sad that you’ve found nothing but negativity from the choice mom community. Although I have encountered a lot of women who seemed trapped in negativity and insecurity and any number of difficulties as an Single Mother by Choice (or woman trying to become an SMC), I have met a lot of really amazing, inspirational, and supportive women in the choice moms community. I’ve also learned that a lot of times the negativity I see is just because I’ve caught them on a bad day or I am the one person (or community) where they feel safe venting about how trying and emotionally challenging the process is. I do hope that as your journey continues you’re able to meet and form community with supportive choice moms. They’re pretty special people and having them in your life makes being a choice mom easier.

  4. Ramona says

    Bravo Melissa! There have been so many times that I have wanted to throw out the exact same question to some of the Choice Moms I have met. Some of their ideas of parenting is by sitting in their chair and eating even more, for one example. I knew from very young that I wanted to be a mom, and even ended my marriage when I FINALLY found out that wasn’t his. I’m so happy you’ve achieved momhood with Max and are working on it a second time. I, also, am a single mom by choice twice, and am loving it. There are struggles, but we seem to always get through it. I do hope you give the community another try since active members tend to recycle. It will be great for you and Max in the future to be able to associate with other similar family make-ups. It’s helped to explain to my almost 6 year old the past couple of years as she has asked the “Daddy Question.” I would like to think I was one of those women that Barb was referring to in her above post. 😉 She has been an inspiration to me, as well. 😀 Good luck, Melissa, and I’m excited to have found you and am intrigued to what your next post brings!

  5. says

    You ARE one of those inspirational SMCs, Ramona. And there are thousands of them. To be fair, there are some very vocal negative personalities in the online SMC community… as there are in any community, online or otherwise. But I really want to stress how many positive and inspirational moms there are in the community. I really would work to find a TTC buddy, someone who will understand when you’re overly hormonal and freaking out because the pharmacy you deal with doesn’t have the progesterone suppositories that you need and maybe this is a sign and I don’t know why the hell I thought this was a good idea and I didn’t know this was going to be so hard and… [sigh]. As positive and optimistic as you are, and as much as you are someone who doesn’t obstacles derail you when you want something, the process of trying to get pregnant on your own is sometimes really emotionally challenging and brutal. And it really does help to have someone else to just listen and understand that this is a stage, this is the hormones, this is a difficult process and you are all alone. I’m forever indebted to the women who were there in my local SMC group when I went through TTC. They showed me by example that it was possible, that I would be able to manage it, that I would be happy. They told me to calm down and relax and take hot baths and drink wine and pamper myself in between the failed cycles. They reminded me that I was full of hormones when I flipped out over nasty nurses or medication shipment screw-ups. They listened when I was disappointed by a negative pregnancy test. They said, “I’m so sorry. Hang in there” in a way that others who weren’t going through it couldn’t. And since becoming a mom I’ve realized that as positive and optimistic as I am, and as independent and determined and strong as I can be, it does take a village to raise children, and you do need other people. As an independent single woman who was used to never asking for help with anything, I didn’t understand that community is about love and compassion and sharing, both the good and the bad.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *