26 weeks, 6 days

After three weeks in the hospital, three close calls of going into preterm labor, three rounds of magnesium sulfate for 12-24 hours each, and one more steroid shot for the babies’ lungs, I went into preterm labor officially at 26 weeks and 6 days. The contractions had come back and I could feel finally feel them, and feel them pretty consistently. My water had broken a couple days prior, so it was only a matter of time.

The whole thing was surreal. I’d had a feeling that the time was coming. That as much as I wanted to make it to 40 weeks, or even 34, something in me knew they were coming before that. But when the moment came I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t ready. This wasn’t supposed to be the time.

I’d wanted to have a vaginal delivery, but Baby B was breech and, because they were younger than 32 weeks, they would not deliver the baby breech, due to hospital policy. The risk is too great to attempt at that age. Part of me wondered if, after delivering Baby A (who was head down) Baby B would turn around, but the uncertainty was too much for me, especially knowing that if he didn’t turn I’d have to be whisked away for an emergency c-section. After lots of consideration I just opted for a c-section for both of them. That was a hard decision to make, but I felt it was the right decision, and every time I think about it, I’d still make the same decision, given all the variables at the time.

An entire cascade of events happened the morning of the delivery, from me reporting my increased contractions, to finding out I was 7cm dilated, to the actual c-section delivery. It was overwhelming. I was so nervous and anxious I was making myself ill. Luckily I had my midwife, my doula, and one of my friends who had just happened to stay with me that night at the hospital. The three of them helped me come to terms with what was happening, and I found the strength give the go ahead for the c-section.

Given their age, just shy of 27 weeks, we didn’t expect the babies to cry or move much when they were delivered. But when Baby A came out, he came out screaming. Everyone rejoiced and all I could do was cry out of happiness. He sounded so alive. When Baby B was delivered, he screamed as well. Their screaming brought me so much joy and relief. My midwife was crying as well, and reporting to me what was happening with the babies as they were being taken care of and prepped for the NICU. They were moving and kicking and just so full of energy. They were both around 2 lbs (Baby A a little less, Baby B a little more).

They were ok.

In the weeks since, I have thought a lot about 26 weeks and 6 days. Some days I lament the fact that I couldn’t make it farther than 26 weeks and 6 days. That my body wasn’t able to do the one thing I had dreamed about for so long. That I couldn’t carry the babies as long as they needed. Some days I feel like my body failed me and that I failed the babies. Some days I miss being pregnant, especially because I should still be pregnant. I’m supposed to be pregnant right now. My babies should be with me, in utero, not away from me in the NICU…Some days are very hard for these reasons.

Other days I feel like it was a feat that I made it to 26 weeks and 6 days. The fact that after being told at 16 weeks that my cervix was extremely short and that I should be prepared for delivering at any moment…the fact that I made it almost 11 more weeks seems amazing. My body carried those babies almost 11 weeks more than the doctors thought I could. My body carried them to the threshold of viability and beyond. Four doctors, at separate times, told me that what happened was a miracle. That, being honest, they didn’t think I would even make it to viability, which was 24 weeks. That the fact that I was dilated to 4 cm, and stayed that way for almost 2 weeks was completely unexpected. Every time they came to check in on me during rounds they were always so excited and happy that I was still pregnant. They genuinely couldn’t believe it. My midwife, who is honestly one of the most positive people I have ever met, told me that while she hoped I’d make it past when I first entered the hospital at 23 weeks 5 days, she genuinely wasn’t sure how long I would go, that sometimes she was unsure I’d make it much past that. She tells me often that this was my doing – the babies being born at 26 weeks 6 days and not before was all my doing. The babies being born at 26 weeks 6 days and doing well in the NICU was all my doing. Some of the doctors have also told me this. On these days I don’t feel so bad, and actually feel good about things.

So now I am a NICU mom. Transitioning into the role of NICU mom has been challenging, and there is a long road ahead for the babies and me, but I am glad that we made it as far as we did in the pregnancy. For how things could have been, I am glad we made it to 26 weeks 6 days.

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One day at a time

As of today I am 25 weeks. As of this past Thursday I was placed on hospital rest.

A little over a week ago I went in for a routine ultrasound. I was 23 weeks 5 days. Apparently my cervix seem to be dialated internally; the external portion was still closed, so effectively I was funneling more than I had previously.

While talking to the doctor, who was quite concerned, I was asked one of the first difficult questions I’ve been presented with along this journey. I was asked if I were to deliver within the next few days would I want to resuscitate the babies. My first thought was what kind of question was that? Of course I would want to resuscitate them! But, thinking about it logically I understood what she was getting at with the question. Given the number of issues a child born at barely 24 weeks could face some folks might be inclined to let the baby pass. Thinking about the mortality of these babies was so hard, given that I have been hoping to make it to 24 weeks, that this was the point where they would definitely have a chance, and realizing just that – that it is a chance, not a certainty.

Upon confirming that I would want them resuscitated, the doctor said I then needed to receive the steroid shot to help the babies lungs develop so they’d have a better chance of surviving if I delivered. So, I got sent to another wing to have the shot administered. I was told that I’d be hooked up to the monitor for 20 minutes to check heartbeats and for contractions after being given the shots, and that this was routine. However, when I got on the monitor everyone’s routine demeanor changed when they saw that I was contracting regularly, five within the span of ten minutes. The interesting thing was that I couldn’t feel anything, no contractions, none of the tightening, which surprised everyone.

The next day was a whirlwind. Everyone thought I was going to deliver. I was given magnesium sulfate for 24 hours to protect the babies’ brains and hopefully slow the contractions. After a miserable 24 hours, because that stuff makes you feel terrible and woozy, things seemed to have settled down. Fewer contractions, and I still couldn’t feel them.

The doctor in charge of the NICU came to talk to me, just to give me an idea of what it would mean to have babies at 24 weeks, and what happens in the NICU for babies younger than 28 weeks. While the conversation was informative, it was also terrifying. I do think it helped me, having that knowledge of what to expect, it was just overwhelming and heavy. So heavy.

When I made it officially to 24 weeks all the doctors were so happy. They were saying it was a legit miracle that I’d made it this far. I found out that the doctors hadn’t thought I’d make it that far after seeing what they saw at 16 weeks.

I thought I was in the clear, as well as some of the doctors, and was ready to go home. But one of the doctors, the one in charge wasn’t comfortable letting me go home, and was going to have me stay in the hospital a few more days, just to make absolutely sure.

And it’s good that she made that decision.

This past Tuesday, after describing some odd pain and pressure near my bowels I had a cervix check and it turns out I was 100% effaced and 4cm dilated. Also, after being put back on the monitors it was discovered that I was contracting regularly again, but again, I could not feel them. Once again, everyone thought I was going to deliver. The NICU was called, I was moved back to labor and delivery (as I’d been moved to the less urgent ante-partum wing). I went back on the magnesium, their thinking that this might get me at least another 12 hours before I delivered. I called my support people, thinking I was going to deliver soon. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more nervous and scared. The docs asked questions about how I wanted to deliver and what their recommendations were (c-section, but vertical given the early stage of the of the pregnancy, meaning the likelihood of ever delivering vaginally in the future would pretty much be impossible, or heavily discouraged).

Amazingly, the magnesium, which they decided to keep me on for almost 24 hours instead of 12, worked. Contractions slowed to a stop, and no more weird sensations in the lower abdomen.

After this event, the doctors all agreed that I could not go home, that at this point, I would need to stay in the hospital until I delivered the babies. The next goal was to make it to 25 weeks.

Today, at 25 weeks exactly, I am a mix of emotions. I made it another week. I am happy but anxious. Every day I stay pregnant is a victory. But everyday I wake up wondering if this is it, if this is the day. I’m focusing on the future, focusing on full term, but it is hard. Every new or random sensation makes me anxious and paranoid. Being in the hospital indefinitely, which I know is the best for all of us, is hard. I’m obviously willing to do whatever it takes for these babies to make it into the world safely, whatever it takes to give these babies a fighting chance. But I also have to acknowledge that this is hard.

I will say that I’m happy I’ve made it to 25 weeks, and I hope for many more weeks. I’m happy the babies consistently seem to be doing well. That they are both a good weight, above average even. I try to focus on these things when I can’t get sleep because of all the monitoring and vitals checks, all the poking, all the food issues (accommodating a vegan is apparently quite challenging). I try to focus on the the babies when things are hard.

Coincidentally, this past week I got random messages from a number of people I haven’t talked to in awhile. Folks just checking in to see how I was doing, or to say they were thinking of me. It’s as if the universe alerted them to the difficult week. I also learned that many folks in my family have been praying for me. They say this is why I have made it this far and will continue to make it. We may differ in our modes of faith, but I was/am so touched by all the support from them, their collective effort. I still can’t quite put it into words, but I was/am grateful.

I have come to accept that the future is unknown, that anything can happen with the start of every new day. I think I’ve made peace with that. Again, this doesn’t make it easy, but accepting this uncertainty does help. At this point I just have to take things one day at a time.

So here’s to another day.

Shifting moods

Well, first off – I’m 22 weeks as of yesterday. Things right now are going pretty well. At my appointment last week my cervix was between 1.7-2cm (the pessary makes it hard to get an exact measurement) which is an improvement from last time. So the pessary is holding. I’m also measuring about 5 weeks ahead, which seems to be spot on for carrying twins.

The past two weeks have been quite different than the weeks preceding it. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to share what was going on with more people, via Facebook, and I’m glad I did. The amount of love and support I received from people caught me off guard. People reached out, offered listening ears, offered to reach out to friends who had gone through similar situations, offered to help with things I can’t really do (grocery shop, clean, etc.)…It was a bit overwhelming, but in a good way. I was/am so moved by all of it. It kind of reset my emotional barometer and I started to feel more positive.

I also met with a new midwife, one that I’d wanted to work with earlier but seemed unlikely given the situation. I’d actually talked to her previously on a phone consult before all of this began, but this was the first time I met with her and had a proper in-person consult. I’ve never felt so good leaving an appointment. She was the first person who spoke to me with positivity. I know the doctors are being practical and realistic with me, which again, normally I appreciate, but when none of them will entertain my thoughts or questions about anything past 24 weeks, it’s discouraging. They all look at me with a mix of pity and powerlessness. I recognize they are managing risk, that’s their job, but it really takes a toll on the psyche. The midwife was a combination of practical and hopeful, and she was able to work with all of me, not just my short cervix and my vitals. She also reminded me of my strength and gave me things to focus on. This was the type of care that I was looking for. Someone to check in with the pregnancy, the babies, and me, physically and emotionally. In this current situation I need that even more, and she did just that.

So, I decided to work with her. I’ll still have my MFM and they will be working together, which is nice. I’ll also be switching hospitals to the one I originally wanted to be at once I realized I had to have a hospital birth.

The combination of all the support from friends and the new care provider really boosted my morale. The slightly longer cervix also helps. I’m also focusing on trying to make it to 40 weeks – 40 weeks is the goal. Now, maybe I don’t make it that far. But being in that mindset has actually worked better for me than the mindset of just trying to make it to 24. I don’t know how to explain it. I obviously want to at least make it to 24 weeks, and doing so will be such a huge milestone, but I should still mentally aim for full-term/40 weeks. I should still focus on that to help manifest that. That is what is working for me right now.

It’s complicated

I’ve been doing a terrible job keeping this blog updated at regular intervals. I think I’ll just have to accept that and do the best I can. But, part of the explanation is below.

I’m 20 weeks today. Technically just about halfway there. The babies are doing quite well. Both are healthy sizes and weights and, while they are starting to differ in size, their sizes are still close enough to one another that it’s not an issue.

However, around 16.5 weeks I learned that my cervix had become short. Very short. As in .6cm short, when it should be 3cm or above. At that point the MFM doctor who oversees my ultrasounds (since I was seeing midwives) said she was very concerned, but that, at the end of the day, there was nothing they could do, so I’d have to see what happens. She said if it was a singleton pregnancy they could have placed a cerclage (a stitch in the cervix to keep it closed) but that it was not recommended for twin pregnancies. (I later did some research and ultimately agreed with that assessment, as the risks outweighed the benefits.)

I was pretty devastated, especially because no one really seemed optimistic. The common refrain was wait and see. They did put me on pelvic rest and reduced activities, but there was not much else. They don’t prescribe bed rest much anymore, or rather, doctors are moving away from that unless the situation is extreme because bed rest itself can cause a slew of problems. Granted, once I got to the point where I could do some research, I was seeing that people with my cervix length were being put on hospital bed rest, yet my doctors were not recommending it. The discrepancy in recommendations was disconcerting.

One of my best friends did some research after I called her in tears and found women who’d had cerclage pessaries placed instead of the cerclage. The pessary is essentially a silicone ring placed around the cervix to help hold up the uterus and/or alleviate pressure on the cervix caused by the pregnancy. It is also non-invasive; the cerclage stitch is a minor surgery (and runs the risk of infection), whereas the pessary is just inserted like a diaphragm. So at the next emergency appointment I had less than a week later, I asked one OB about it and he didn’t think it would help, but referred me back to the MFM and she not only thought it was a good idea worth trying, but went ahead and placed it. It was painful to me, as the actual pessary is large, but you don’t really feel it once it’s in.

Emotionally, all of this has been very hard. Learning that there is something wrong, something that you can do very little about, is very hard. Learning that my risk of losing the babies is around 80% given my particular cervix length, is very hard. I try to be as positive as I can, but the reality of the situation is too heavy sometimes. When I told my mother, one of the things she said was that I can’t live in fear, that I can’t live in the fear of it. That has been helpful, but again, I still have my moments. The few people I have told all say some version of needing to be positive and then talk about normal pregnancy things. I appreciate that, but sometimes those conversations are difficult. I know they are trying to make me feel better, but I can’t ignore the reality of the situation.

At my latest appointment three days ago, I learned that my cervix is at about 1.2cm. So the pessary has helped a little. The cervix is still quite short, but it is something, and at this point I will take anything I can get. I am still on pelvic rest and significantly reduced activities. No prolonged standing, no lifting. I can walk around the house, but need to sit as much as I can, laying down is better (though not for too long). They also put me on vaginal progesterone when this started (to support the uterus and prevent contractions), and I still take that.

At those last appointments (I meet with a regular OB and an MFM, no midwives anymore, which is another story) both doctors said that the goal right now is to make it to 24 weeks because that is the point of viability. There were lots of “if we can make it to 24…”, “we want to get to 24…” etc. That hit me really hard. That, and how one of the doctors felt almost 100% certain these babies would be born quite early, again, if I made it to 24 weeks. It’s one of those things where, I recognize the reality of the situation, but hearing it put so plainly struck me, and I’m still dealing with the impact. There is so much uncertainty on whether I will even make it to 24 weeks. With each week that goes by, another hope, dream, and desire for this pregnancy goes out of the window. No homebirth, no midwives, dwindling chances of natural delivery, no normal. At this point I just want the babies to stay in, but instead of hoping for 39-40 weeks, I’m at “let’s just get to 24, anything past that will be a bonus.” The NICU is now very likely to be in my future, and, realistically, it’s likely to be a long stay for the babies, which comes with it’s own risks and consequences, health-wise and developmentally. I just want two healthy babies and it’s not clear whether that will be the case.

I feel them move often. It used to fill me with excitement, but now it is mixed with a bit of anxiety. The lowest baby, Baby A, is very low, and their head is constantly rubbing against what is now the open funnel of the top of my cervix. I was told that the bigger they get and the more they move up against it that the more stress there will be on the cervix. I want moving, active babies, but every time Baby A is very active it makes me nervous. I hate feeling that way.

The rest/reduced activities is hard too, especially because it is just me. I have to rely on others so much more now, and I realize I don’t have as many people as I thought I did. Or maybe I do and I just can’t see it. I don’t know. But simple things like washing dishes, making food for myself, picking up something I dropped, I can’t really do. Cleaning is not often. Laundry is not often. I know in normal pregnancies these actions can become hard, but they are especially hard in this case because of the added stress they place on the cervix. I have to be strategic about which days I shower (since daily is too much) and when I wash my hair because of the prolonged standing. I order food far more often than I used to, which helps in terms of staying off my feet, but doesn’t help my budget that is getting tighter and tighter as I’m still in the process of closing on a condo (which has hit another delay).

I had a fleeting moment where I wondered if I’d made a mistake in not waiting to do this with a partner. The moment was in passing, but it was very real. When you think about having a baby on your own, you know that there’s a chance things might not go smoothly, but I don’t think you think about it seriously, or you do and think you can handle it. I knew there was a possibility things could not go smoothly, but I assumed the chances were small. But here I am.

I’m actually still staying with friends at the moment because of the last-minute condo debacle from two months ago when the last one fell through at the very last minute, leaving me homeless. They have been helping me a lot, but that is not forever. They’re actually out of town currently and all the things I can’t do or need help with seem magnified, and representative of what it will be like once I move into my new place.

I’m fighting the urge to just withdraw from everything and everyone because this situation feels so isolating. I don’t feel like I can talk to a lot of people about it, for the aforementioned reasons. Telling people about the situation also takes an emotional toll on me, constantly recounting the issue. That and, on the flip side, it feels like I’m being a burden when I express concerns about the realistic aspects of this. Some days I’ve considered joining an online forum, but some days I have a hard time reading other people’s experiences. It’s a mix of hope and heavy that I’m not ready for yet, though I feel I would find support there. I’ve read that working on your registry or continuing with baby planning can really help during this time, as it gives you something positive to focus on. I’d started working on my baby registry and buying some clothes around 16 weeks, but both of those have been on hold because they are emotionally taxing right now.

On the flip side of all of this, I am happy that I have made it this far. I’m 20 weeks. A little less than 3 weeks past when I first learned about the short cervix. I’ve made some progress. The babies are healthy. I’m committed to doing whatever I need to maximize my chances. Their chances. Every morning I tell myself that I can do this. Every morning I say out loud that we are all going to make it through this. Sometimes my resolve is shaken and my faith in those statements is thin, but I say them anyway.

So that’s where I am now. Just counting every day that goes by as a success and one step closer to my first goal of 24 weeks.

Uncertainty

So another gap in posts. This one was a bit intentional, largely because I was concerned about miscarriage, and more than just my general (elevated) concern.

A few days after I got to 8 weeks and graduated from my fertility clinic, I experienced a weird gush of vaginal fluid. While I was at work of all times. There was a little blood in it, but barely…and then that was it. Nothing. I freaked out initially, but then, after quickly looking things up online, saw that it may not be a major issue, but only a doctor could tell. So, somehow, I went about the rest of my day. But the following morning I decided to call the midwives group I was going to be seeing and spoke to a nurse. Based on what I told her, she thought I was having, or had, a miscarriage and told me to go straight to the ER.

Many hours later it turned out everything was fine, that maybe it was a blood clot. Both babies and sacs looked good. Heartbeats good. I was sent home and was to follow up with my doctor in a week or two.

After that, I had some bleeding, and passed what I assumed were clots/old blood. So, it just became a waiting game. Everyday was filled with a little worry due to uncertainty at what was happening. As such, I couldn’t bring myself to post.

I had a 10 week sonogram at my first midwives appointment and everything was ok! Not only that, but they were really moving around, which was amazing to see. I was a bit awestruck. That appointment (and the persistent nausea) really made me feel better and felt like a little weight (of worry) off my shoulders.

So, here I am now, a day shy of 12 weeks, and I just had my NT scan. The results of that were worrisome for one baby, so they’re doing a more descriptive blood test (NIPT). I have somewhat mixed feelings about this, but I’m honestly just glad they’re looking alright and moving around. I also don’t want to do any invasive testing because, at this point, what is, is, so I’ll just see what happens when they’re born…When written like that it seems really blasé, but I’ve actually thought a lot about this and, short of a lethal condition, I will deal with whatever comes as it comes when they’re born.

I can’t believe I’m nearing the end of my first trimester. While I know it’s still early and we’ll have to see how things go, I also know that, statistically, my risk of miscarriage is fairly low. I’ve been able to focus less on that and more on other things, which is nice. Every time I see them, I feel a little better. Since they’re twins, I’ll be seeing them often, even with being in midwife care.

All of this has seemed to go by really fast. It’s amazing to me, that I’m here at ~12 weeks.

Wow.

Two halves make a whole

A few days ago I started doing more research on sperm banks and looking more seriously into the donor catalogues. Aside from being a bit struck by the even higher than anticipated cost of sperm per vial, I was struck by the dearth of black donors. To some degree I wasn’t that surprised. To be able to donate sperm you have to pass various health/education/employment/etc. screenings, and many men of color don’t pass them, at least not nearly as high in numbers as their white counterparts. So I shouldn’t have been surprised by just how low in number they were. Ranging from 2-3% of a bank’s supply.

But even more than that, what really struck me is how, of the black-identified donors, many were actually mixed. Not only that, but it was those mixed samples that were most selected. At one or two banks, it was those samples that were in “low supply” which often indicates high demand. The non-mixed black samples were probably not in high demand.

I’ve been sitting with this information the past few days, while simultaneously hearing more about black death. Just yesterday another young black boy was shot and killed by cops. No de-escalation techniques, just shot. They claim he was suspect and had a bb gun. The claim is always that they are suspect. Blackness is always suspect.

So here I am, trying to find black donor sperm in a world where non-mixed black donors make up 1-2% of sperm banks. Here I am in a world trying to find black donor sperm to create a black child, when the world just wants them dead. It feels like not only is it hard to create black life for people in my position, but it’s hard to keep them alive.

It’s depressing.

I wrote the above a few months ago, when I began casually looking for donor sperm. Casually because I was just getting a lay of the land, so to speak. Looking for a donor was hard. It took me awhile to process my feelings around the difficulties around finding black sperm and the desire for black babies.

Aside from the aforementioned emotional and psychological challenge, there were also the logistical challenges. One such challenge was to decide which bank to use. Since each of the banks had so few black donors, and then, ones that were CMV-negative (since that’s the only kind I can use), I didn’t have the experience of sitting with the catalogue of one bank, sifting through tons of donors. Rather, it was looking at a few options across multiple banks. On top of that, and maybe this is where I made things more complicated than they needed to be, I wanted a small bank. After reading reviews and common issues for many many banks, I realized that I’d feel more comfortable going with a smaller bank, one with a low donor limit. Granted, that went out the window after it became clear that, as much as a bank claims and attempts to ensure they adhere to their limits, there is nothing they can do to prevent that donor from going to another bank to donate there, in addition to the original bank.

Then came the issue of values. What was I looking for in a donor, aside from race? Education level? Profession (or desire profession)? Personality? Interests? Medical history? It was overwhelming. I mean, how often do non-Jewish couples think about medical history, particularly heterosexual couples? And really, just because a donor writes a glowing description of themselves with all the things that are important to them, how much of that is really going to matter, when most of those things are not genetic?

I was really hung up on personality and value characteristics for a long time. Part of this had to do with wondering what I was going to tell the child when the inevitable question was asked “Why did you choose my donor?” What was I going to tell them I based their decision on? I wanted to be proud in confident in the choice. I wanted to pick someone who had personality characteristics I valued so the child would know that I was intentional in my choice. That I chose characteristics that the child could be proud of in some ways. But, after talking it out with one of my best friends when options were getting slim, I realized that, while I may value certain things, and would look for those things in a partner, it may not matter in the context of creating a child from donor sperm (again, because some of those things aren’t genetic). This isn’t to say that I went with any donor, but it placed the selection process in perspective.

This happened after the fact that the donor I’d finally chosen, who had so many of the qualities I valued, turned out to be strictly anonymous, with no option for contact when the child turned 18. I admit I was devastated, and for an elongated second was just going to go with that donor, regardless of that fact. But then, how would the child feel when they turned 18 and wanted to contact this person, or at least learn more about them and the other half of their genetic make-up? Would it be fair for me to intentionally, as a result of my choice, make this impossible for them? It’d be one thing if I felt strongly that I didn’t want the donor to be in my child’s life in any capacity when they became an adult, or if I had a partner who felt strongly about it. But that wasn’t the case. I want them to have that information, and would want them to be able to reach out if they wanted. If I were that child, I know I’d want the option. Even if I didn’t take it, I’d want to the option. So my perfect donor was no longer perfect, and I had to go with another donor.

Also, it’s amazing what seeing childhood photos does to the selection process.

All in all, it was a difficult process. It made me think a lot about what was ultimately important; it placed a lot of things in perspective.

Reimagining a Life…? Explain.

After spending a long time looking at and reading a lot of TTC/motherhood/parenthood blogs and not often seeing me or my path represented, I decided I wanted to start a blog to chronicle, or just share my thoughts on this journey of becoming a single mother by choice, as a black, queer, ciswoman.

So, why the title “Reimagining a Life?” Well, frankly, what I originally wanted was taken (isn’t this always the case?). I only mention this because the original title (which was just these words, rearranged) I felt made it a bit clearer what I was going for. But this current configuration still works, it just requires a bit more explanation.

I have decided to become a single mother, by choice, and I am 100% ok with that. Ok in that, I was never tied to the idea of having children with a partner. I’ve always wanted children. When I was younger and I imagined having kids, it was usually just me and the kids. I did not often envision me doing this with a partner. I did envision myself having a partner one day, but, interestingly, the two imagined futures rarely overlapped. I’m sure this could be analyzed a number of different ways; I have spent time doing just that. I grew up with single mother for most of my childhood. Many of the women in my family were single mothers. Some of my friends were being raised by single mothers. It was not out of the norm or unusual. It just was. Just like all the other family configurations I saw: kids raised by two, opposite sex parents. Kids raised by a solo father. Kids raised by a grandparent, or two. Kids raised by another family member, etc. I think seeing the varied family configurations led me to conceive of family structures as not predicated on relationship status.

Now, I’d be lying that, once I got to the point in my life where having kids seemed feasible, I didn’t think about it in terms of a two-parent situation. I was looking for and wanted to be in a long-term relationship. That was my priority. But after my last relationship ended I realized a large part of my disappointment was that I’d have to wait even longer to have kids (as it was something me and that person had discussed and were starting to plan for). I was struck by that realization, and realized that something didn’t seem right about that. I wanted a relationship, yes. But I also wanted kids. Further still, why was I feeling like the former must precede the latter, given how I felt about families?

I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t see the benefit of having a child with someone else, with being in a relationship. It would just be foolish not to. Some things can be easier with more than one person. But this is true for a number of things in life. For some people, having that relationship in place, with those assumed benefits, is necessary for having kids. For some people, it isn’t. And that’s ok. There are benefits to both scenarios, and drawbacks to both. Such is life.

I’ve spent the past couple years trying to create the life I want to live. Among other things in my life, being a mother is something I’ve always desired. It’s a journey I’ve always known I would embark on. It’s a journey I welcome in and of itself. So why not actualize this reimagined future, this reimagined life? Not as in me taking my life and reimagining outcomes, but, rather, conceiving of a life in general (read: abstract), re-imagined and free from general, societal expectations of what a family should look like. Actualization through embodied reimagining. A reimagining that disrupts what is presumed necessary to embark on the journey to and through motherhood.