When author Liv Thorne found herself single towards the end of her childbearing years, she chose to go it alone.
There is a deeply ingrained and ever present narrative woven throughout the lives of women, that our maternal and familial existence should follow a very prosaic structure. While this picture is starting to shift and creak slightly, it still largely focuses around the heavily documented path that is; man meets woman, they fall in love, they go on mini breaks, they become engaged, they have a magical wedding, they honeymoon, they become parents. Bingo!
I call bullshit.
Sometimes there is no Disney Prince to save us. Sometimes, just sometimes, we don’t even want to be saved. So what happens if you live by the beat of your own drum? If you exist solo and yet you still have a deep, intrinsic yearning to become a mum? You pick up that fabricated, out of date, out of touch, pedestrian rule book that consists only of wedded bliss and parental norms, and you add your own chapter. That’s what I did, anyway.
There are so many reasons you may find yourself sailing the great sea of fertility alone, but for me it was the very simple fact that I was single. Like, seriously professionally single. All the while, being constantly, emphatically deafened by my own internal biological clock. Tick! Tick! Tick! Tick! BOOM!
The absolute joy of friends becoming pregnant when we were in our early twenties slowly but very surely morphed into acute longing and visceral hopelessness with every blurry black & white announcement of our thirties. My yearning was echoed constantly by a realisation that adult life, possibly subconsciously, is completely geared towards twosomes. From the absolutely nonsensical single person supplement in hotels, to the more mundane things like always being shoved on the end of a table in a restaurant, because more often than not they are laid out for even numbers. Every trivial ‘to share’ dish on a menu, every belittling singles table at a wedding, to the more astounding debate around tax breaks for those with wedding bands. All these things culminated in my constantly feeling further removed from the life I assumed I would have when I was An Adult. The life with a husband and a kitchen table groaning with family Sunday lunch debris. A hallway littered with small mismatched shoes. The life I was grieving now that I had reached adulthood, alone.
So I became my own Prince Charming. I saddled up my own stead and I rode straight into a fertility clinic alone, in order to get pregnant via donor sperm. Sure, there wasn’t actually a horse, (just the absurdly difficult, yet outrageously privileged decision of choosing the genetic heritage of my yet to be conceived child, via the various online algorithms of a Danish sperm bank). My mind was a constant knot of both excitement and fear. The giant Pushmi Pullyu that lived inside me diligently nagging at my conscience every chance it could. How on earth could I do this alone? But I am so very sure I will be a bloomin’ brilliant mother. How will I be able to afford it? I am going to make my magical dream a reality anyway. What are people going to say? Who gives a shit.
The fertility industry is such a rabbit warren of decisions and caveats and unanswered questions. It’s like opening an online recipe forum, but not knowing what to search for or what dietary requirements you have, just knowing that you’re really, really bloody hungry. My recipe was a seemingly straightforward one of egg and sperm, I knew that much. I simply needed the two to lovingly embrace and shove a bun in my oven with as little intervention as possible.
It all seems so effortless now, now I am here, with a mischievous three year old sitting next to me making ‘slug slime out of a banana for the velociraptor to eat for tea.’ Yet five years ago, aged 37, this mundane-yet-wonderful scene seemed so impossible.
It seemed so far-fetched that I would have done anything to have seen someone in my position talking about taking their destiny into their own hands, making their own dreams come true, sticking two point four fingers up to the ‘norm’. I’d have done anything to have realised that I really wasn’t alone, and that the bun from my very own oven would be more bloody delicious than I could ever have imagined.
Read more about Liv’s story in her memoir, Liv’s alone, out now. You can buy it online, or at any good bookstore.