Jo W

I was in a relationship with a man I thought I would have children with and that broke up when I was 37 and a half. I’d been having irregular periods when I was with him and because of my job as a midwife, I thought this isn’t quite normal for my age. So, I went and had a fertility test to know if I needed to get out and meet someone immediately or if I had time. The results came back showing I was peri-menopausal and I had a very low AMH, one of the ovarian reserve indicators. The fertility consultant said I was heading ‘quite swiftly’ into an early menopause. My mum had gone through this, so I was familiar with the fact that this might be possible. I was told that if I wanted children, I probably had about 6 months if I wanted to use my own eggs. That was a bit of a shock. I was on my own and not in a position to just get on with it.

I took a month to think about it and decided that my need to have a child was greater than my need to find someone to do it with, and with the support of my family and my friends, I went on and tried to get pregnant. I had to choose donor sperm, which is a bit like internet dating. I used a donor from America because you get more information and they allow to be contacted in the future, should the child want to get in touch. I wanted to know that my child has the option to find out about who fathered them, if they wanted to. That was very important to me. I was very lucky that I got pregnant on my second attempt of IVF, they collected 3 eggs. I was told that if this wasn’t successful the next step would be donor eggs, so I was very, very lucky to have gotten pregnant. That was utterly terrifying; the pregnancy wasn’t easy, but I am incredibly lucky to have Mylo, my son. As a midwife I’d met women who had done this before, but I hadn’t appreciated how alone you are when you do it on your own. My mum was amazing; she came down when I had him, but my family are in Scotland and Wales, I’ve got nobody locally. He was a difficult baby, he had reflux. It’s relentless doing it on your own, you can’t say ‘take the baby while I go to the bathroom’. I once thought ‘I’m nearly 40, I’m a Midwife, this’ll be fine,’ but actually it was much harder.

I’ve been really lucky in that when he was about two, I found a group of other women who have done it on their own and we meet up all over the country and support each other. It’s a whole mixture of different people that solo parent and their reasons for doing it are all very individual, but the thing that brings us together is we are all doing it on our own and it’s a brilliant support network. We realise how important the support of other women is.

The toughest thing was that month when I was deciding ‘am I going to do this or not’. Once I’d made the decision it was actually ok, I just got on with it. I’d say to any woman who is thinking about trying to be a mother, I feel I am still better doing it on my own than being in a relationship with somebody that isn’t right. I would rather my child never had a father than be with parents who argue. He knows his story and he is very ok with it. He says ‘our family is just me and you and it’s very special’. I feel very lucky.