I'm pregnant and single on purpose. Here's why I'm glad I made this choice.

Jenny Williams posing for maternity photos
Jenny Williams, the author.Courtesy of Lizzie Tilles
  • I decided to have a baby on my own at 38.

  • This path has deepened my community and strengthened my sense of self.

  • By redefining what "happily ever after" looks like, I want to teach my child to be brave in life.

Having a baby on my own wasn't my Plan A. Like many people who want both romance and children, I envisioned things happening in a certain order: First, find a partner. Second, start a family.

Instead, I'm 39 years old, divorced, and seven months pregnant with my first baby, who was conceived not in the throes of passion but through the painstaking — and painful — process of in vitro fertilization. Rather than blending genes with a husband, I used donor sperm that I bought online with a MasterCard.

It's not the "happily ever after" I once dreamed of. But it's one I'm deeply grateful for.

This path has deepened my community and strengthened my sense of self

Becoming a solo mother has challenged me to grow in important ways.

For one, I'm more intentional about building community — not my instinct as an introvert. In past relationships, I tended to eschew new connections in favor of quiet domesticity and longtime friends and family. The isolation of the pandemic exacerbated these inclinations.

Now I boldly introduce myself to neighbors and make chitchat with masked strangers at the coffee shop. I've befriended evolutionary biologists, former US Army lawyers, and moms who are eager to share hand-me-downs and day-care tips. I've also become active in vibrant online groups for people who choose solo motherhood, including the organization Single Mothers By Choice.

My circle is wider and more eclectic than ever, and I'm excited for my child to grow up in this richness of perspectives.

Not having an omnipresent sounding board in the shape of a partner has also helped me heed my intuition. I'm more present with my body, more attuned to the signals of what feels good and what doesn't. I've become both more assertive and more relaxed, clearly communicating my needs while holding space for the inevitable, "Well, that didn't go as planned."

I remind myself how lucky I am to have the resources and support to make single motherhood possible. Not everyone is so fortunate. Knowing this helps me move forward with gratitude and humility.

I want to teach my child to be brave in their own life

Early in my decision-making process, I feared that choosing a baby meant giving up my chance at meeting the great love of my life. Then I realized that if I ever meet that person, it will be great because they'll embrace both me and the choices I've made.

I've come to find beauty in not yet knowing who or when or how, in living inside the unresolved questions. Someday, perhaps, I'll live the answers.

I believe I'm exactly the mother I'm supposed to be for this child partly because I'm bringing them into the world on my terms, not waiting on the caprice of Cupid. I want them to know that it's OK to redefine the narrative of your life when the old story no longer serves you. It's OK to be scared of uncertainty and to keep going anyway.

I get lonely and overwhelmed, of course, but these feelings are fleeting. What persists is the tiny human growing inside me. The warmth that comes when I tell my baby about all the people who already love them. The awe of being the person who gets to make their life possible.

Even in dark times, when I am alone with my baby, feeling them move inside me — when I press against a tiny foot or hand or elbow and feel them press back, hello, little one — I know that my "happily ever after" is already here, with all its joys and doubts and challenges, and it will continue to reveal itself over and over again.

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