Planning for Single Motherhood

If you want to have a baby and don't have a partner, should you take the leap on your own before it's too late?

“I never thought I’d be here.” That’s what Beth Espy thought of her life about two years ago. She was 40 years old, single and childless. 

“Time goes by fast,” she says. “I wasn’t even this career woman — I had a decent job. But time just got away from me.”

It’s as if Beth was putting her voice to my thoughts. This past holiday season served as a somber reminder that 2010 ended with my being no closer to becoming a mother than I was the same time a year ago. And my biological clock has become a deafening reminder that if I don’t get pregnant in 2011, I may never.

A mutual friend suggested that I give Beth a call because she did what I am considering. She gave up waiting for marriage and had a baby on her own. And later this month, on Jan. 20, little Brynn Elise Espy will turn 1 year old. Beth decided that a sperm donor was her best route to motherhood. And while it wasn’t an easy decision, she has no regrets.

Beth and I had never met, but it was like catching up with an old friend when I phoned. We all but finished each other’s sentences as we spoke about our failed relationships over the years and our insatiable desires to have children. Also, if Beth and I had it to do all over again, we would not have waited so long for husbands and would have made the choice to become single mothers much earlier in our lives.

Despite our similarities, I have yet to take the same leap Beth did. But I believe that single, young professional black women need to develop a plan for having a baby on their own. While this is not an issue unique to black women, we have to consider the statistics that the media will not let us ignore: Only half of black women marry by the age of 30, compared with 81 percent of white women.

I’m not saying abandon your plans to find a husband. But at the same time, also put some serious effort into mapping out how you would orchestrate single motherhood. For example, go ahead and figure out how you want to become impregnated: have a baby with a friend or casual sexual partner, or use an anonymous donor? Better to have a plan in place than trying to throw one together under the pressure of possibly running out of time.