Single, in my mid-30s, and (accidentally) pregnant.
January 11, 2016 11:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm weighing my options and not sure what to do. I really don't want to be a single parent, but I also don't want to find myself in my late-30s, unable to get pregnant, and regretting not having a baby when I had the chance.

I just found out that I am (early stage) pregnant. The sperm donor is a good friend and a good guy, but absolutely not boyfriend/husband/father material. This was unintended and while my friend would (I assume) provide whatever financial support I need (he is quite well-off), I know that he has no intentions towards fatherhood just yet. (He does want kids "some day".)

I was recently in a long-term relationship and had started to very much want to get pregnant and start a family with him, and I thought he was on the same page but he broke up with me unexpectedly. It was totally devastating. Since then I have been very worried about ever finding a partner, and my chances of being able to get pregnant in my late 30s. I'm not "baby crazy" but I really want a family with a partner, some day, and I realize that my window is not going to be open for much longer.

I'm afraid that if I terminate the pregnancy and then one day do meet someone and decide to try to have a baby with him, I will be too old and unable to get pregnant and will regret not having a baby when I had the chance. (Adoption is probably not feasible for certain specific reasons.)

However, I really don't want to be a single parent, and being pregnant/having a baby would make meeting a partner a whole lot harder. I also have some big career goals and plans for this year that would probably be derailed by a pregnancy/having a baby. (I would have a lot of family support though.)

Part of me is excited about the idea of being pregnant and having a baby, but part of me feels like to do so would be to jump the gun and give up on my future out of fear.

Please help if you have some perspective to offer, or information about how worried I should actually be about getting pregnant in my late 30s. I keep reading conflicting information, and can't decide if I should believe the "all hope is lost, freeze your eggs now!" advice or the "don't even worry about it, tons of people get pregnant in their 40s" spin.

Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (55 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
All I can say is you'll never find conclusive advice on the Internet because most contributions will be grounded in the poster's personal experience rather than based on your own circumstances.

What life has taught me though, is that you should always seize an opportunity when it arises because it may never come again.

More specifically, and quite frankly, this is 2016 and I don't really see how having a child diminishes a woman's ability to meet someone. Unless you're in a country where virginity is still a thing. Good luck!
posted by Kwadeng at 11:43 PM on January 11, 2016 [16 favorites]

I'm wondering if the sperm donor knows. Is he likely to flip out, turn on you, demand you have an abortion, make life for you miserable the entire time you are pregnant, be emotionally or physically abusive?

Speaking as a woman who is your age (and equally picky about the kind of guy I'd want being a father and partner for a planned baby), if you have family support, and because you seem happy about being pregnant, I'd say go for it.

You'll have to adjust the career plans, etc. but it doesn't mean they can't be big. If your family can help you and they are close by, and if the guy who impregnated you isn't going to go Mr Hyde/psycho on you and make you miserable, I'd say you might as well have the baby.

Because you seem happy about this and very calm and you seem like you can handle this.
posted by discopolo at 11:54 PM on January 11, 2016 [8 favorites]

Backline is a free talkline that is (genuinely) free of an agenda and is a rad resource for pregnancy decisionmaking I've referred people to with great success in the past.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 11:57 PM on January 11, 2016 [14 favorites]

my friend would (I assume) provide whatever financial support I need (he is quite well-off)

Don't make this assumption. Look up what the statutory child support for your state is. Calculate a financial projection accordingly and see if between your income and child support, doing this solo is a viable option.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:57 PM on January 11, 2016 [45 favorites]

Also, I think a lot of guys around our age, quality guys, got married, had a kid and are now getting divorced. So your future partner might have a kid too.
posted by discopolo at 11:59 PM on January 11, 2016 [18 favorites]

I went through a bad spell in my late 30s and a child was not in the cards for me.

The child is family while men may come and men may go and honestly, when dating after a certain age, children are often in the picture anyway. I'd say that yes, especially if you have a bit of a support network, go for it!
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 12:03 AM on January 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

My life situation has been similar to yours in some ways, at that time, I decided that if I got pregnant I would go for it and have the baby. If you want a kid, being single in your late 30s isn't fun and makes dating suck even more than dating with a kid does, I think. Your measured, thoughtful question makes me think you'd be a great mom.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:04 AM on January 12, 2016 [12 favorites]

You said you're excited about it, I don't think you should terminate a pregnancy you are excited about. Anecdotally, I have several woman friends who waited until late 30s to try for children and haven't been successful- and they are heartbroken about it.
posted by flink at 12:15 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I really don't want to be a single parent, twice in your question, are your answer, I think. There's the immediacy of the certain now vs the possibility of the future regret, and I would go with the certainty here.
posted by zippy at 12:22 AM on January 12, 2016 [20 favorites]

Congratulations! (if you want 'em)

Unfortunately, to know your chances of being able to get pregnant into your 40s, you would ideally ask both a fortune teller and a doctor. A doctor would do things like count your eggs and test your hormone levels (but have no idea how rapidly those would change). Those tests can't be done while you're pregnant. I know people who got pregnant right away in their mid-to-late 30s, and I know people who took years to conceive and spent well into the 5 figures (like $25k or more). Plenty of people DO have kids at age 37 or 39 or 41, but sometimes that was a difficult path (and sometimes it happened their first month of trying). Even statistics are no help in saying what your life would bring.

Since you can't know the future and since you wish you were partnered, you don't have any perfect options, so it will come down to which option you can best come to peace with. It sounds to me like what would be worse for you is the anxiety of not knowing, and possibly having to come to terms with one day not being able to have a baby when you know you could have had one. It sounds like you'd find that harder than having to change up your dating timeline and your career plans. But only you can say.

part of me feels like to do so would be to jump the gun and give up on my future out of fear

I can pretty much guarantee you that once you had your little loved one, you would not feel that you'd "given up on your future." It would be far different, and more difficult, than the plans you thought you might have. On the other hand, it might bring you amazing blessings that you'd otherwise miss. And you may well meet an amazing partner while pregnant, through a single parents group, or just through happenstance.

Given your excitement and the level of support you'd have, I'd encourage you to go for it. But not out of fear -- not as a second-best choice to prevent a possible disaster. I'd go for it if you can embrace the path with all of its hardships as something you'd nevertheless welcome.
posted by salvia at 12:27 AM on January 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

Women absolutely can get pregnant naturally in their 40s. A lot of women, however, can't. Or not without considerable hardship and intervention. I would not necessarily assume that if you put it off later, it will happen when you decide you want it to. There are odds there that you obviously know decrease with age.

The advice I gave my friend in the same circumstance was, if you terminated this pregnancy and tried later and found it never happened, would you be fine with that? In other words, if this is your chance and you don't take it, can you live with it. Because you don't know what the future holds - all you have is what you have right now. In your situation, I would totally go for it - I say this as a mother, because the idea of never having my children is unfathomable, but if you're happy with your life and can take or leave kids, your answer may well be different. Is the universe offering you a golden opportunity?
posted by Jubey at 12:39 AM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

being pregnant/having a baby would make meeting a partner a whole lot harder

I know several women who have met a partner while either pregnant or raising small children (not babies specifically, as I think those are a bit more time consuming), and I don't even know very many people with kids.
posted by yohko at 1:38 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

The "sperm donor" may not be father material, but if you proceed with the pregnancy he becomes a father. Even if you don't choose to consult him before going ahead, you need to consider that he may have rights (e.g., access to the child) as a father, and those rights may interfere with your future plans.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:30 AM on January 12, 2016 [47 favorites]

There's nothing in your post about whether you believe you are equipped to provide a potential child the full, rich, beloved, wanted home and life he/she deserves.

The calculus about your dateability and fertility and career and future partner-finding is totally legit, but it's all about you. Bear in mind that it's not an extension to your life that you're contemplating, it's an entirely separate life with its own needs and priorities. A single parent can totally do it, but the world doesn't need another child whose parent sees him/her as a liability.

Also, when you run the numbers, run them on your earnings alone. Court-ordered or not, child support is a crapshoot.
posted by headnsouth at 2:35 AM on January 12, 2016 [31 favorites]

One angle I generally do not see considered in the general overall public debate (not only in this ask)about if a woman can/should/may have children over 40 is the high level of energy required in pregnancy and child rearing - both physical and mental. My pregnancy and resulting child at age 43 was accidental, totally unplanned and unexpected (was told I would not be able to conceive ever).
I have truly no regrets having the child, he is now 7 years old and I cannot imagine not having him, but boy, my energy levels now with 50 do so not match the energy level of a 7-year old.
I often wish that I had him in my mid-thirties rather than at mid-fourties, both for my own sake and my son's.
posted by 15L06 at 2:38 AM on January 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

Chances of getting pregnant over 35 approach zero rapidly. Most women cannot have a baby over 40 even with medical intervention. Talk to your ob/gyn about your options. Unless your doctor is semi terrible, she will not judge you.

Being a single mom is hard but a lot of dads are comically unhelpful anyway. If you've always wanted a child, this may literally be your last chance. I would totally keep this baby. And get all the older mom testing done because being blindsided by genetic disorders late in pregnancy sucks. Also feel free to me mail me.
posted by Kalmya at 3:09 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

You're facing a tough decision because the two end results are so radically different from each other and the potential downsides of each are very different but each huge.

As a parent of two small children, I would suggest that you evaluate your support network carefully. It's totally possible that your family will be able to help you enough to make this feasible. And there are lots of single parents out there.

But before I had kids I always wondered what kind of horrible monsters abuse their children. Now that I have them, though I have full confidence that nether I nor my husband actually would, I can see how it happens. And that was actually a very frightening thing to realize. And I totally see why marriages fail over small children. They are wonderful and we love them in all the cliched ways that parents love their children but they can also take us to some dark places that might be much more difficult to navigate alone.
posted by telepanda at 4:24 AM on January 12, 2016 [10 favorites]

What sucks about making decisions while pregnant is that the hormones really mess with your thought process.

What concerns me about your ask is that you're focused on some mythical 'partner' of the future and your own life. There's nothing wrong with that, but unless you're ready to turn your life upside down for a baby, you probably shouldn't have one.

Your life will fade into the background, and the baby will become the center of your world. Your career will be possible, it will just be harder. Your sex life will disappear for quite some time.

Having a baby is hard, so much harder than you can appreciate, and not having a partner who can support you emotionally, financially and physically only makes it harder.

Making a decision based on fear of regret is human nature, but it's also a terrible method for choosing a life path.

I will tell you an anecdote. My friends decided to have a baby. During the pregnancy the mom was sick with Hyperemisis Gravidarum. She couldn't work and lost her job. Then, during delivery the epidural caused a tear in the spinal column. She leaked spinal fluid causing excruciating headaches. They did four blood patches, and finally, they had to do brain surgery where they removed part of her skull. She's okay, but not in great health right now. Clearly she hasn't gone back to work. Thank goodness for her husband, who has been the glue holding their family together.

What if you become ill, or lose your job or in some other way your life gets destabilized? Having a partner there to share the burden becomes more than important.

If you are well established in life, with money in the bank, with a family who is available and willing to pitch in should there be an emergency, I'd even say that the Dad should be in the picture and willing to help with child rearing in addition to contributing financially, then having the baby might be a good choice for you.

Are you willing to sacrifice career opportunities? Are you willing to sacrifice potential relationships? Are you willing to materially change your life to make your child the center of it?

I wish you good luck, but please understand that your current plan is feasible only if your pregnancy is easy and your child is perfect.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:27 AM on January 12, 2016 [25 favorites]

What life has taught me though, is that you should always seize an opportunity when it arises because it may never come again

Absolutely this. I felt the same way you do re not wanting to do it without a partner. Now I'm past child-bearing age & guess what! Never found a partner who wanted to be a dad. So there's that.
posted by WesterbergHigh at 5:02 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Would you want to marry and have children with someone who did not want to raise another person's child? That is a dealbreaker for me - it was a dealbreaker before I had children, because I had and have strong feelings about biological ties being held superior over commitments of love. I have people in my life and social circles who do not feel as strongly about step or adopted relatives as they do about biological relatives (because of the biological tie, not because of the individuals involved) and I would never ever date them or consider them people I'd fundamentally trust in some ways because it's just - it's like the idea of dating someone who thinks women are intellectually inferior or hugely racist or some other major character flaw for me. YMMV.

Sure having a child in your thirties will narrow your dating pool. But the kind of person who doesn't want to date a single mom because she's got a child from someone else is very likely someone who isn't worth dating, IMO. Not wanting to date someone whose whole life is wrapped up in their child or is super busy sure - but raising a blended family in this day and age is - well, life gets messy and complicated and wonderful.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:29 AM on January 12, 2016 [8 favorites]

Three of my friends are single mothers.

The first has a child that needs a feeding tube in her abdomen, and can't eat. The amount of medical care and sterilization of equipment and medical appointments, while having to still work to bring in an income, pretty much drove her to breaking point. And she complained with such bitterness and grief about being unpartnered, and being unable to meet anyone as a single mother of a child with complex medical needs.

The second has a completely healthy child, and two VERY supportive female housemates who agreed in advance to help with childcare, and still feels stretched to her limits, always physically/mentally exhausted and underslept, almost never gets to read a book or to see her adult friends.

The third has two children with complex medical needs (including coeliac), and continues to feel stretched to despair/Depression by trying to juggle paid work, medical appointments for her children, and childcare/parenting.

So, yes, this is do-able. But it is HARD, and you might regret it.

In our society, women aren't encouraged to talk openly about how hard and mentally/emotionally painful parenting can be - it's only when you talk to people who trust you that they share the reality of what their parenting experience is like.
posted by A sock, a sock! My kingdom for a sock! at 5:37 AM on January 12, 2016 [27 favorites]

The second has a completely healthy child, and two VERY supportive female housemates who agreed in advance to help with childcare, and still feels stretched to her limits, always physically/mentally exhausted and underslept, almost never gets to read a book or to see her adult friends.

That's just parenting a young child - many (most?) parents of young babies and toddlers who are married feel the same way. Don't let that stop you from having this child.
posted by amro at 6:03 AM on January 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you want to have this baby, you can. There are practicalities to consider beyond your hopes for a future love relationship.

Here's the rundown I came up with off the top of my head. I support your desire to have this kid and think you can do it, provided you think it through and get the best support you can find.


- What kind of health insurance do you have? Lots of plans cover delivery and a short stay in the hospital afterward but some only cover up to 70%. Bear in mind that a C-section will cost more and involves a longer hospital stay. Do the out-of-pocket math now.

- How much family do you have and how close do they live? Do you have really close friends? Are you a member of a church? You will need someone to come and stay with you for at least a couple of weeks after you have the baby. You will need some help with meal prep and housecleaning and visits where you can shower/nap while the baby sleeps. If you have a c-section, you'll need additional physical support while you heal. Who do you know who would be willing to help you with this? I'm sure there are people and there's always hiring help.

- How much leave can you take from your job? Can you take 3 months after your baby is born? How about sick days during your pregnancy for check-ups or the days when you're exhausted and need to sleep in? How flexible are your hours?

- Can you afford a night nurse for after the baby is born? A doula, for during delivery and postpartum? A housekeeper? How much money can you throw at postpartum care and support?

- Are you going to breastfeed? If you think you will, you'll need some support for that, too. It's pretty challenging but doable once you get the hang of it. Can you pump at work? Is there a private room with a door you can close and an electrical outlet handy?

Your Job and Your Living Situation:

- What's your living situation? Do you have a bedroom for a baby that is large enough for a 17 year old? Is your bedroom large enough to have a crib or co-sleeper? (Our downstairs neighbors have 3 kids and they live in less than 1000 sq feet. They're very neat and clean; it makes a huge difference.) Lots can be accomplished with creative reorganizing but if you're in a small space now it will only get smaller as your kids grows.

- How much money do you make? Full-time daycare where we live for an infant can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 a year. (Our preschool cost $11,000 this year for 3 full days of care a week. That's for 6 hours of care, by the way. Extended care until 6 costs extra. Also, there are lots of school holidays and breaks where schools can be closed.)

- What's the general vibe at your job around families? If you're working, say, at an agency and everybody is in their twenties and works 80 hours a week, that's not a family friendly culture. If you're working somewhere where people can come in at 915 after dropping their kids at school and work events routinely include kids, and there's childcare on the premises or partial reimbursement for childcare, that's a better fit for a single parent.

Caring for yourself and kid long term:

- Do you have anxiety, depression or any kind of other mental health concerns? Those are challenging issues to negotiate when you have a baby but it's absolutely possible to manage them. You need a good doctor and ample support.

- How do you feel about having most of your free time revolve around a child? How willing are you to make other parent friends? How much do you value your time/sleep/freedom as a single person? You have to sacrifice lots of that even with a spouse. Doubly so as a single parent. Again, doable as you get the hang of parenting but something to think through.

- How are you going to educate your child? Do you have good public schools - lower, middle and high - near your home now?

- Do you have savings? A good 401K? A plan to put aside college money for your kid?

- Who can you call if you have a rough parenting day? You'll figure this out as you go but it is a relentless job and having an idea now of who's on Team You is a good idea.

That's what I've got for now. Most things are manageable if you break them out into smaller tasks. Any of the above horror stories could happen in a two parent household. If you're like a good friend of mine, you could lose your husband to a freak illness while your kid was still in diapers. There are lots of crapshoots. We didn't invent pregnancy and formulating a community around childrearing. You can do this, and your desire and eagerness to do it say a lot about where you are psychically and spiritually around the idea of being a mother. I encourage you to also be practical and to understand that, if you do this, your child will become the center of your world.

Best of luck to you.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 6:15 AM on January 12, 2016 [13 favorites]

It's happened, make the best of it. It is easier to get pregnant in your forties if you have already had at least one successful pregnancy. Having this baby now could help you for when you want to have your future husband's baby. Being a single mom doesn't keep you from dating- it should keep you from sleeping around and making bad decisions, but not dating. I'm a single mother of three and I've stayed home plenty of Saturday nights, not because I couldn't go out but because I wanted something better for me and my children. You are old enough to know that the good men are hard to find. Having a child forces you to make better decisions (it should, anyway).

Talk to the father. Give him the information gently and give him a week or two to process the information. Don't push him or pressure him. Allow him to be there when the baby is born. Accept that he may not take any interest in your child until the child is much older.

This is your life. Let it happen.
posted by myselfasme at 6:18 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

The standard mefi answer: call some therapists today.

Therapy because I think you're seeing here that the question comes down to, will you be sadder someday if you had a partner but no child, or a child but no partner?

I think only a good therapist can help you really get down to the meat of that question.
Personally, if I were in your shoes and would regret it more to have a partner but no child someday, I would have this baby. Especially if you don't think adoption is a future option.

(Secondary question: if the father changes his mind, now or later, about wanting to be an involved parent: are you willing to co-parent with this guy for 18 years?)
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:19 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

All of the comments are assuming that later on, the partner is totally going to be achievable but the baby is not. What if you give up the baby now and then never find a partner?

Or---anecdata here, but still. I am late 30s and currently undergoing fertility treatment. Met partner in early 30s and could not get pregnant. Did all the testing and it turns out I am fine---above average, in fact, actually a model specimen. But HE has fertility issues.

Point is, you cannot predict the future. I think you should base the decision on the factors at play now and let the future come as it may.
posted by JoannaC at 6:26 AM on January 12, 2016 [9 favorites]

I'm not an expert in family planning, but it sounds like you are setting up a Fallacy of Equivocation. Saying that you might want a baby someday and might not be able to, so you ought to just have one now since it's available, that's logical fallacy. A bird in the hand is not worth two in the bush.
posted by juniperesque at 6:31 AM on January 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

All I can say is you'll never find conclusive advice on the Internet because most contributions will be grounded in the poster's personal experience rather than based on your own circumstances.

I just thought it would be worthwhile to post this here again given how accurately it predicted the thread that followed. We've got stories of single women who give birth to kids with special needs and are stretched to their absolute limits, stories from women with partners who feel so overwhelmed they can't imagine functioning alone; stories about people whose single friends got pregnant and never regretted it, stories about people who waited and never got pregnant and regretted it, stories about people who waited and got pregnant later and didn't regret it. There is no one single answer. Anything could happen.

However, I really don't want to be a single parent, and being pregnant/having a baby would make meeting a partner a whole lot harder. I also have some big career goals and plans for this year that would probably be derailed by a pregnancy/having a baby. (I would have a lot of family support though.)

Part of me is excited about the idea of being pregnant and having a baby, but part of me feels like to do so would be to jump the gun and give up on my future out of fear.

I wrote a whole long post about how you should probably do a really rigorous economic breakdown of your circumstances, taking into account the possibility that the father might not end up in the picture, and if it seemed workable to you, then to go for it. And then I read your question again, especially this line: I really don't want to be a single parent. I feel like that's your answer. If you have this child, you will be a single parent. That's not what you want. You know that clearly and you wrote it out and told us all and we have the obligation to listen.

Other people have different circumstances and want different things, but that's not relevant to you. What you want is to have a family with a partner. At some point, in the future - today, tomorrow, a year from now - you might change your mind. You might decide that having a child is more important to you than waiting for a partner to come along. At that point, you will say, in your heart: I want to be a single parent. And then you will do what you can to make that happen.

This is a hard decision, I know. But the best advice I can give you is to listen to yourself now, to trust that person, and what she wants, and not the thousands of voices of people who have lived different lives and have had different experiences and the murmurings and demands of all those imaginary future selves. Listen to your heart and what it's saying to you. It's the only voice you should trust.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:37 AM on January 12, 2016 [26 favorites]

You should meet with a family law attorney to understand how this could play out legally and financially. Does your ex have rights to this child? How are rights terminated? What are the laws regarding financial support?
Even if he terminates parental rights but still gives financial support you will probably still have to interact with him regularly. I have a friend who has been in a legal battle with her ex (with no parental rights) over private school versus public school. She also has to send him documentation for any medical procedures. Kid had surgery and ex (again, with no parental rights) demanded a second and third opinion.
Having to deal with that shit isn't pleasant.
posted by k8t at 6:48 AM on January 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

Re: dating. Single parents I know do have some trouble dating. A single parent friend of mine is 40 with a school aged child. She told me that guys that like kids tend to want to have kids of their own and her window for that is closing. So she ends up mainly dating single dads. That's fine of course but does bring on additional challenges.
posted by k8t at 6:51 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

"all hope is lost, freeze your eggs now!" advice or the "don't even worry about it, tons of people get pregnant in their 40s" spin.

Freezing your eggs isn't "all hope is lost," it's "here is the hope, with freezing your eggs."

I think you definitely need to talk about all this with a therapist and understand the legalities wrt the baby's father, if you have the baby.

No one here can tell you what to do, or even what your experience will be but you can work on this with professionals. The people talking about Downs syndrome and "chances of zero" over 35 are not taking your own personal physical health into account, which a doctor will do for you.

I know this, not because I looked at charts on the internet, but because I went to a fertility doctor.
posted by sweetkid at 6:57 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you really don't want to be a single parent, don't be.
posted by AugustWest at 7:04 AM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

I was recently in a long-term relationship and had started to very much want to get pregnant... I'm not "baby crazy" but....

What I hear is that a bit of your decision-making in this is still somewhat clouded in the agony of that breakup, and as a result of that, and also of being scared about this in general (reasonable), you are doing some minimizing about what you really want.

I have very strong biases against people having children, yet I can still see that you really want to have a child and just can't yet picture yourself having this child "alone." Not having a husband to go with the baby isn't being alone, and you know that.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:49 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't think having a kid in your mid 30 a narrows your dating pool. In fact, i think that you'll find a lot of potential partners will have kid or expect to date women with them. Based on your age alone I'd say go for it, to be frank young not getting younger and neither are your eggs. There's no telling get when you'll meet another partner and how long it'll take til he's ready to start a family. It could be next year or 6 years from now. This may be unexpected and it may present itself as a challenge but it doesn't means it wrong or insurmountable particularly as someone who seems to want kids. What if you try later and it doesn't work, could you live with that? Depending on your answer there's your solution.

And I know tons of women with kids who date, and not like 1 kid but 2 or 3 kids, and that doesn't seem to stop men particular at my our age where I think it's kid of expected.
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 7:50 AM on January 12, 2016

A good predictor of future fertility is your mother. What age did she have her children and what age did she go into menopause? The later, the better. I'm in the "had a baby easily after 35" camp but I do feel very fortunate about that since a number of my friends have struggled / are struggling.

It's not "do you want kids someday" it's do you want THIS kid. This being inside you now. Do you want THIS kid?

Having a baby is tough, I have a 5 month old and a partner and it's still running me ragged. Your life really does get put on hold for a while.

Not wanting to be a single parent - unpack that a bit. Is it the work you don't want? Fear that it will scare men off? Fear that it ruins your "perfect" future that you had imagined for yourself (but yet still has not materialized)? Fear of what it looks like to others? Think it will be bad for the kid?

I say, if you have the means and the support network... and you want THIS kid, then keep it and let the chips fall where they may. But if you want kids "in theory," if you're the resentful type who will blame this kid for your potential future singleness then re-evaluate.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:50 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

The sperm donor is a good friend and a good guy, but absolutely not boyfriend/husband/father material. This was unintended and while my friend would (I assume) provide whatever financial support I need (he is quite well-off), I know that he has no intentions towards fatherhood just yet. (He does want kids "some day".)

Does he know about the pregnancy yet? Is he on the same page that if you have the child, it would be yours and not shared with him? Does his desire for "some day" kids mean that actually having one might turn him into husband material?

being pregnant/having a baby would make meeting a partner a whole lot harder.

Realistically it absolutely will, though it will not make it impossible. As others have noted, it will largely reduce your dating pool to single fathers (or men that might not meet your standards), and while there's nothing wrong with modern complicated families, things like shuffling kids around with shared custody will mean that your lives will revolve around the kids even more than traditional families. There may be weird clauses in divorce agreements that will ban you from sleeping over at each others houses when kids are around. And you'll be flat out too tired a lot of the time to go out and find a serious relationship. I'm absolutely not saying that you should make your decision based on this but the people that said it won't have much of an impact are naive.

I also have some big career goals

Honestly, the impact of having a child, especially without a supportive partner, is likely to derail career goals. You're not going to be at peak performance for a few years. If you're competing for prime roles against people that don't have children or have already gotten them through the baby through toddler phase, you're going to be at a disadvantage.

Good luck with your decision. I think the biggest thing to decide is whether you're willing to change your life to focus mostly on this child.
posted by Candleman at 7:55 AM on January 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

It will be really hard, but totally doable, especially with family support. The first 6 months might be the hardest of your life, so if you can hire a nanny/house cleaner- or make sure you have a lot of family support lined up, I think you'll be great!!!
posted by Rocket26 at 8:52 AM on January 12, 2016

Oh, and a couple more things that popped to mind:

- I bring up hospital births and so forth. Maybe you won't want to go that route. Maybe you'll want a home birth and a midwife. Or a midwife and a birthing center birth. Whatever the case, get your insurance ducks in a row. Also remember that some births can be complicated and that sometimes babies are born early or need extra care in the NICU. Ask specific questions of your insurance company about what is covered.

- I also asked if you're a church member. If you're like me and agnostic, or you're atheist or you just don't like organized religion, ask yourself if you are a member of any other kind of club or organization and if you're close enough to this group to seek its support pre- and post-birth. Also look around and find the parents' group and organizations nearest you. These can provide not only support but stuff - and, oh, there will be stuff. Clothes, gear, toys, furniture, diapers, formula, breastfeeding supplies, car seats, strollers, pack n plays - you name it, a good parent organization can hook you up with other parents and the stuff they no longer need and are selling or giving away.

- Let's not forget health care for your kid. You'll need to think about doctor visits, shots, where your pediatrician is located, all that good stuff. Will they take your insurance? What does your insurance cover?

- Also realize that if you have this kid, and you choose to tell this man that you are having his baby, he might want to be a co-parent. This means you will need to live near this man and be involved together in your child's life for a long time. Also prepare yourself that this man may not wish to claim this child, may provide zero support, and that you will ultimately have to do this on your own income and without any outside financial help from him.

Lastly, I just want to be clear that I support your right to choose and if you decide to have an abortion or give the baby up for adoption, either of those options is absolutely your choice.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 10:03 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

A friend knows two pregnant single women who joined Single Mothers by Choice, and she said they get really good support. I'm not sure what that really means, but you might want to investigate that.

Also, with the disclaimer of course that it's your right to choose etc - you're just not clear on why you don't want to be a single mother so I think that's why people are giving suggestions on how to get support.
posted by sweetkid at 10:06 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I really don't want to be a single parent.

You can end up a single parent no matter what your partnered status is at the time you get pregnant.

There are very few career or dating options that become impossible once you have a child. However, many factors beyond your control can (and eventually will) make having a biological child impossible at some point in your life.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:13 AM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

There is no right answer here. I think that, if you continue the pregnancy, you will almost certainly feel that it was the right decision. And if you don't there is an ALMOST equal likelihood that you will feel THAT was the right decision.

You cannot know your future fertility or if you will meet the right partner during the years when you are still fertile. There is always the possibility of adoption, yes, but adoption is time consuming and expensive and sometimes heartbreaking. It is not for the faint of heart (none of this is.) And having a biological child may be legitimately important to you. So those are considerations. Also to consider is the father of the child. You may want to at least have a preliminary idea of his thoughts and feelings. Will he want to parent? Will you have to take him to court for child support? Those are important things to think of as well.

And you also run into the problem of being an older mother regardless of your method of acquiring children. Are you OK with seeing your child off to college when you are 60 or 65? If you wait, that could happen.

I can only give you the perspective of someone who is exactly your age (will be 35 in a few days) and has been through this particular rodeo twice before and will do it again in a few months, as I am due with my third (surprise) child in April.

Childbirth sucks. Raising children is fucking exhausting. It is also awesome. Your kid will be the coolest person you've ever met, bar none. He or she will frustrate you to tears and you will regret his or her existence at times, but you will also laugh harder than you ever have before and cry from happiness more often than you thought was possible. But your kid will also cause your life to change in every way. You will lose friends and gain others. You may lose out on career opportunities due to pregnancy and childcare obligations. I know I have. Your priorities will change. Your weekends will never be the same.

I think the real question is, if you terminate this pregnancy and never have a biological child, will you always regret the missed chance? How important is having a biological child to you? What career opportunities do you think you'll miss out on? I wouldn't ask that question of someone who was five or ten years younger. But you are, perhaps, on the farther end of the fertility spectrum. I know lots of women who've gotten pregnant into their 40s. I know probably an equal number who needed help getting pregnant starting in their early to mid-30s. It's a very individual thing. My cousin got pregnant accidentally at 44. Her sister needed IVF to get a baby started at 33. It's always a crapshoot. You may be good for another 10 years, or this may be close to your last shot. It's impossible to say, though the fertility of your mother and other female relatives may hold some clues for you.

Like I said above, I don't think there's a right answer. In the end, you have to weigh your options and toss the dice. Present you is taking a risk for future you either way.

Good luck.
posted by megalodon at 10:29 AM on January 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'm a single parent. It's challenging, but in many ways, the first year for me was much easier than for many of my partnered friends - no negotiation around who's doing what, who's getting more sleep, what's the right way to feed/clothe/hold/soothe the baby, who's getting out of the house more, adapting to a changing partnership, etc.

My decision process was different than yours in that I planned to conceive, but I will say it is by far the best choice I've made in my life and I wish I'd done it earlier instead of waiting till age 40. Memail me if I can answer more specifics for you.
posted by judith at 11:18 AM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

What's "a lot of family support"? A friend of mine is a school prinicipal who had a kid late; her (retired) parents provide caregiving on a daily basis. Grandma's happy, grandpa's happy, baby's happy that she has a lot of different, close people that love her - everyone's pretty happy. My friend took mat leave and just went right back to work. That situation is completely doable for them.

Dating, maybe not for a couple of years (but you probably would be too tired to date much), but after that, no reason not to. There are men who get along with kids. It's a good filter, actually. Fertility later on is way more of a crapshoot than dating.

I'm not "baby crazy" but I really want a family with a partner, some day, and I realize that my window is not going to be open for much longer. I know, ok, but things don't always work out the way we planned. If you can have one of these, that's amazing, imo. Divorce is all over the place. Marriage would be no guarantee of a happy life.

My cousin came about in circumstances similar to what you describe, and he is the light of his mom's life.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:33 AM on January 12, 2016

I'd also add that you'll want to think of the implications of being forever connected to the father of your child, who you say is not boyfriend or husband material, FOREVER. Having a child with someone is a far bigger commitment than getting married. Marriages can be undone, the ties unbound, the memories and photo albums flung into the ether. But the father of your child will always be the father of your child, the person with whom you must negotiate custody and costs and discipline and schools and myriad other things. Is this guy a flake? Is he reasonable? Can you deal with dealing with him for the next 18-22 years? If he wants any arrangement other than "I pay child support, you deal with everything else", then he will be in your life for decades to come.
posted by megalodon at 11:41 AM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

If it were me, I would terminate the pregnancy, give myself a set amount of time to find a life partner, and if I hadn't found anyone suitable by the end of that time frame (maybe 2 years, maybe 6 months), I would re-evaluate my aversion to single parenthood and see if I am more comfortable with that idea. If so, I would consult a sperm bank or find someone to get pregnant with.

You're presenting only two options in your question but you have multiple options. You know you're fertile now, so you most likely may have a few years at least of fertility left and you can take advantage of that time. You don't have to keep this pregnancy right now, you could try to get pregnant again in six months or however long if you feel like you've changed your mind.
posted by a strong female character at 2:42 PM on January 12, 2016 [9 favorites]

My good friend A was in the same position. She was 35, the sperm giver was not someone she wanted to marry. She was financially secure enough that she could assure him she did not want support from him. She did ask him if he was ok with the whole idea of her having the baby on her own and he agreed. It probably helped that he was a visiting researcher from another country and had an ex-wife and children in his home country.

Anyway, she went ahead and had the baby and has never regretted it. He's about to finish high school and he's wonderful.
posted by mareli at 3:00 PM on January 12, 2016

Have the baby, with two caveats;

1. Your parents live in town and love to babysit.
2. The child's father is actually okay with it and won't do something to stress you out or sabotage your plans.

This guy is not a "sperm donor" - he's the kiddo's father and you bet your good britches when Jr. is about 15 or 16, s/he is going to start getting very hopeful and imaginative about "who am I really" and "who is my father really" because all teenagers do. S/he will long to feel like their bio dad is a good person, will probably want some communication, etc. Can you really stay friends and live in the same town and have him not get controlling and want more input in the kid's upbringing?

Not to be crude, but you just slept with this guy. Like, a month ago or so. He's still a very recent part of your life. Can't figure how you're writing him off so easily.
posted by quincunx at 5:07 PM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

I like a strong female character's idea, IF you're not daunted by the costs of fertility treatment or a sperm bank. Say it's $500-750 per month times six months of trying. That's just the sperm. Depending on the kind of sperm, you might have to have it medically deposited. (Please research this if you care; my understanding here is vague.)

Finding someone who wants to get you pregnant for free is not trivial. Do they want the emotional responsibility? How do their partners feel about it? Could the state come after them for child support even if you tried to protect them? (Possibly.) I wouldn't count on a DIY approach being possible; I'd budget for the costs of a sperm bank.
posted by salvia at 6:23 PM on January 12, 2016

First fact: money and the help you can hire or count on matter *immensely* in how your life as a parent can go. I mean, I basically switched careers so I could have housecleaners once a week who fold laundry too. If you have help you are golden.

Second fact: fertility can go way into your 40s if you use a donor egg.
posted by yarly at 6:59 PM on January 12, 2016

Do you want a baby or a partner more or both equally? I was raised by someone who wanted a partner more and it really sucked. Lots of people are saying that after you have the baby you will definitely love it and be so satisfied, but that simply isn't true, you might even take out your frustrations of not having a partner or the life you wanted on it.
posted by meepmeow at 7:19 PM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

My unequivocal answer -- based solely on my experience, specifically in the last couple of years -- is: have the baby.

I'm 41 and infertile due to age. So that totally informs my answer, knowing absolutely nothing about you.

That said, go with your gut feeling. Go with the decision you will regret the least. I say go with your gut because whether or not you want a child is not a question that can be answered using logic and deduction.

What I have learned over the IVF process, in the face of my own ambivalence about having children, is that wanting a child is a feeling and an understanding that is unrelated to anything else going on in your life. Over the 18 month process of six failed IVF cycles the question of "why are we doing this?" was constantly in my mind. And what I've learned is that at the end of the day we want a child and we are prepared to go to quite some (finite) lengths to make that happen. But that's me. I've learned across that process that yes I do want a child.

For you, I would suggest that you strip things back to absolute basics. What do you feel and what does your gut say. If money and support and career were no object, what would you do? Then go from there.
posted by prettypretty at 7:46 PM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

You're already excited about the pregnancy. I HIGHLY doubt you'll abort if that's the case. No matter how much you say you don't want to be a single mother--you're already excited about the pregnancy, so that will win the decision.

Since you're already decided to have it really, start planning from there.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:53 PM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am saying this as someone who lives with two babies and another one on the way (not my babies) who loves to also visit her first cousin and take care of her 3 month old;

You can have all of the family support in the world but as the mother, especially as a single parent, you do not have the luxury that I do of giving the babies back to my SIL and cousin when you are the main caretaker.

I'm afraid you have this dream of creating a life with a partner and a baby being part of that extension. Even in the ask, you focus more about wanting a partner than the actual pregnancy itself. What happens if you never find a stable enough relationship to create a life together with? In fact, your kid may be the reason why you don't even go out to date for awhile. What are you going to do then? Your kid cannot be a proxy for your dreams. They just can't. They're not going to be a substitution for any of the loneliness you may feel craving a relationship. They will most certainly fill another special part of your heart but they cannot compensate that desire to fall in love with someone who is in love with you.

Everyone is focusing on the time sensitive aspect of this issue but I am zoning in on the fact of how many times you state not only do you not want to be a single parent but even when you do find a partner, you really want to have a family with HIM.

Also, I agree with some of the posters above. If you do plan to keep this pregnancy, you cannot think so independently of the father - even if he ends up never being involved in raising this child. Your kid will still ask about them, wonder about that side of their genetics, and seek a connection. Even if you don't care about them not being in your life or only being a shadowy figure, your kid will wonder. I'm not saying that they can't come to accept circumstances but trust me, at least to your kid, the guy you had sex with will never just be a 'sperm donor'.

I honestly hope this doesn't come across as judgy. I just feel like there's still this narrative that a baby being into the world will give you a new life purpose and guide you to where you want / should be. But what happens when that baby is a child and then a teenager and then an adult?

I know that moms don't end up regretting their decisions in the way that they would want to have a life without their baby but I am a first-hand witness to a mom who has given up on all of her dreams to just resign to mom life. Having a baby doesn't mean you won't have the other things you want in life but it also means that you have to be prepared to not have them either. Can you do that?

If you want a partner even more than a baby, then you might need to focus on that. However, if you can take a long hard look at yourself and know that if you have this baby, that you're ready for any outcome (and I mean ANY outcome like the baby not being a healthy, easily-functioning human), then I would say go for it. I'm jut asking you to be honest with yourself because once you bring a baby to the world, you have to be okay with your decision.

If you can freeze your eggs or find a way for adoption to be feasible, then I'd also advocate for that so you don't feel like this is the only pregnancy you could ever have in your life.

Some anecdata: My mother had my two younger siblings in her mid to late thirties. She had my sister at 33 and my brother at 37. They're fine.
posted by thischarmingirl at 11:00 PM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Adding to my earlier comment because what i said about my age and infertility might be misleading: I'm quite young for age related infertility but both my mother and grandmother were menopausal in their early 40s. Apparently family history can have an impact. Plenty of women have healthy children well into their 40s. Find out about your family history, and talk to doctors about your options.

I'll reiterate what i said before: go with your gut, that includes ignoring the hysteria (no pun intended /o\) around age and infertility -- find out as much as you can about your situation.

One other thing: whatever you decide now, remember that you've done everything you can given the information you have now. I've spent a lot of time berating myself for my life choices and worrying that we'll regret things. My husband keeps reminding me that whatever happens we'll have done our best and that's an idea I'm slowly taking on board.
posted by prettypretty at 11:52 PM on January 12, 2016

I really recommend meeting with a family lawyer in your jurisdiction. You need to know the power that the father of this child (if all goes according to a keeping the pregnancy plan) will have in your life and the child's life. Then you need to consider in an open minded and sober way whether he is someone that you want to trust with that power.

If he decides he wants to make you miserable, either on his own impetus or his future girlfriend/wife or his parents or his macho friends, he will be able to do it. He may or may not be able to win in court, but he can drain your life, time, and money, trying.

Say he's a truly decent guy who is will not fight you over primary custody but who wants to play a role in the kid's life with regular visitation, something that could really be great for the kid. Then say you get your dream job offer or meet your dream mate somewhere further than a half hour's drive away. He could prevent you from moving, or require you to pay all his increased visitation/travel costs (which actually seems pretty fair, and again, potentially in the kid's best interests). And couldn't you imagine that being a pretty hard call for you, even apart from legal concerns? Depriving your child of time with a father he loves versus pursuing your career/romantic dreams?

Only a family lawyer in your jurisdiction will be able to give you a working understanding of how the laws there will affect your lives, and, if you decide to keep the pregnancy, what are your most prudent steps in terms of establishing paternity (or not), filing for support (or not), etc.

There is a world of difference between becoming a single mother via medicalized sperm donation versus a kind of de facto sperm donor (as you are describing him here). An enormous part of that difference lays in the values and temperament of the biological father. If you don't know/trust him very well, then keeping the pregnancy, if it results in a child, is basically taking a huge gamble with both of your lives-- even bigger than the standard gamble of every pregnancy/childbirth, that it will leave you with a healthy functioning body of your own and a child whose needs you are capable of meeting, whether for 18+ years with a typical kid or a lifetime for a kid with certain special needs.

I think what I am saying is that, do it now or regret it later is a very incomplete framing of the questions you are answering with this decision. I think a lawyer, and potentially a therapist, could help you frame the decision and the stakes much more adequately, which would let you make a more effective decision.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:37 AM on January 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

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