I’m a Single Mother by Choice—and I Love It

Are you considering becoming a single parent by choice? Here's how one single mom did it all on her own—from selecting sperm to becoming pregnant to having two children—and she's sharing all her top secrets on how you, too, can become a parent.

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Have you always wanted to be a mom?

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Kate McNeil did. She comes from a very close family, and being a mom was always part of the life she saw for herself. So when she wasn't finding a worthy partner and she was getting older...she realized not having a partner didn't need to keep her from having a family. Kate started telling friends about how she could leave Brooklyn, move to New Jersey, and become a mom. She could do this on her own. Kate cautions that once you start building out that vision, it can happen rather quickly. In her case, once she decided to give single parenthood a go, she was pregnant within four months. Read on to find out everything she learned on her own journey to motherhood.

The single mother by choice community is pretty amazing

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Whether you're thinking about it or ready to do it, there's an incredible amount of support online. From Single Mothers By Choice, the leading support group, to books like Knock Yourself Up, you'll find other women who are in your situation and those who've been through it who are sticking around to mentor someone like you. For decades, women have been becoming a single mother by choice. There's a lot of experience you can tap into in this incredibly supportive community.

Searching for sperm can be fun

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And that's not in the old-fashioned meet-a-guy, share-a-meal search for sperm. This is literally searching for the other half of the DNA that will create a child for you, should you chose to try to have a biological child on your own, instead of going the adoption route. There are plenty of sperm banks on line, and they are feature-rich with essays and report cards, baby pictures, and celebrity look alike analyses. You'll learn about their health history (and can even go back a couple generations), physical features, and religious background. Sometimes there are even audio interviews. It's fun and a little funny, and if you have health priorities (do auto-immune diseases run in your family?), then this is a great way to sort through the abundant sperm that's available for purchase.

You can order sperm in bulk

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No, they don't sell it at Costco, but they do sell it in bulk because, hey, you might want a second, or a third child after your enjoying parenting your first. One of the more important criteria for Kate when purchasing her sperm was "success rate"—did the sperm from this particular donor reach its destination? Artificial insemination is an intense, expensive process, and Kate wanted to be sure the likelihood of success was high. So whether you want to plan for siblings or multiple inseminations for another reasons, buy in bulk.

Are you comfortable as head of your household?

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Kate doesn't think of herself as a single mom, but she does see herself as a head of household. She's always been comfortable with the role of bread winner and provider, for herself and her children. One important criteria for single motherhood: You need money. Whether it's a big fat trust fund, an ample inheritance, a great job, a successful "side gig," or some combination, you'll need some way of supporting your family. It's all you paying for all those diapers, baby gear, childcare, and everything else kids need right on up until college.

You'll need someone there for the birth

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Kate and her brother are incredibly close; he was there for the birth (and before). Whether it's a best friend, a parent or a sibling, you will want and need someone there in that moment, and for the days and weeks after. You'll need a significant other, in the most literal sense of the word. Kate also hired a very special nanny who helped her and her son. Two parents can divide and conquer; a single mom, from the very beginning, will need to be comfortable asking and receiving support.

Your childcare needs are similar to other working moms

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Kate travels for work, and sometimes it can be a very last-minute request. As a result, she's opted for a live-in nanny, someone who will be there overnight and in the morning, someone whose primary responsibility is the care and feeding of Kate's two children. Kate was looking for a nanny who could understand and appreciate the unique needs of her family. Someone who could recognize that they would be a very influential person in these kids' lives. Someone who wants to be there long-term as part of an unconventional family. Reread that last paragraph again: isn't that what all working parents want from their childcare partners? Someone who recognizes their influence and helps the unique needs of the family. After all, every family is unique in its own way.

Sometimes it's easier when it's just you

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Here's the part that partnered parents don't always understand: it can sometimes be easier to not have a partner. If you hear about friends complaining about how they just don't agree with their husband when it comes to the child's name, discipline, bedtime routines, or whether or not you want your mother-in-law to sleep over for a month, well, Kate doesn't have those problems. As Kate says, "I am always right. Even when I'm wrong, I'm right." If she wants to leave dishes in the sink, she does. And there's no one there to get mad at for drinking the last of the milk, bringing home bags of cookies when she's trying to lose weight, etc, etc. Simply put, it's your house; your rules.

There's no partner resentment

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Kate observed other new moms spending a lot of energy getting frustrated with their husbands, or being disappointed that they could no longer do the fun things they used to do as a couple. For Kate, no time is wasted on the frustration of thinking, "Why isn't my husband doing the laundry, the midnight feeding, the diaper changing?" There's no feeling of resentment. Kate acknowledges that she went into this knowing that she was going to do it all. As a result, she is able to free herself of resentment, and all that energy that leaks out with it. She never feels the burden of getting mad at her partner for not pulling their weight.

It's never been easier to be a single mom by choice

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Whether it's organizations like Single Mothers By Choice, increasingly easy access to sperm, open-minded physicians and clinics willing to perform IVF on single women, adoptions to single parents, the role models, web sites, books, sperm banks, and communities that are eager to help and embrace women non-traditional families and single moms...It's never been easier to be a single mom. Hear more about what Kate McNeil says about single motherhood.

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