Choice GRADE

When she hadn’t met Mr Right by her own cut-off age of 35, Lisa Rudman from Cen­tu­rion be­came a sin­gle mom by choice – and she’s never looked back, she tells Joey Kok

Your Baby & Toddler - - Real life -

WHEN AC­COUN­TANT LISA RUDMAN

and her long­time boyfriend broke up she was heart­bro­ken, but quickly re­alised what she re­ally wanted was not a man but a baby. And so she de­cided to have one, with­out a part­ner.

She started re­search­ing her op­tions and de­cided to try to fall preg­nant with sperm from a donor and be­come a sin­gle mom by choice (SMC) or “choice mom” – a cat­e­gory of parent that has sure gained pub­lic­ity in re­cent years.

“You can pic­ture her: she’s in her mid-to-late 30s, smart and pro­fes­sion­ally suc­cess­ful, but she just never met the right guy at the right time, and her bi­o­log­i­cal clock is tick­ing,” write Sarah Hay­ford and Karen Benjamin Guzzo in a 2015 piece in the so­ci­o­log­i­cal jour­nal Con­texts.

“She’s the epit­ome of the mod­ern in­de­pen­dent woman who wants to have it all, ca­reer and fam­ily – tak­ing her fu­ture into her hands, act­ing de­ci­sively, and do­ing what it takes to achieve her goal of moth­er­hood, with no need for a man.”

Lisa fits the de­scrip­tion to a tee, but be­com­ing a choice mom was not a de­ci­sion she took lightly. “Just to con­firm, I was com­pletely sober when I made the de­ci­sion to be­come a SMC,” she writes on Rais­ing Luca, a blog she started to doc­u­ment her jour­ney.

She read what­ever she could – books, blogs, web­sites, and Face­book pages – and lis­tened to SMC pod­casts. “It gave me a re­al­is­tic idea of how it can be, but also scared me,” she says.

She found a Face­book page of anony­mous-donor chil­dren who think their moth­ers were self­ish for hav­ing them and ques­tioned her own de­ci­sion.

“Aren’t all par­ents then self­ish? Will my baby one day hate me for not know­ing who his or her bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther is? I couldn’t sleep for a few nights.”

Just think­ing about it changed Lisa’s out­look for­ever. “I’m a black-and-white kind of per­son; there are no grey ar­eas,” she writes. “This makes me per­fect for my job as an ac­coun­tant but not very flex­i­ble in my per­sonal life.

“But de­cid­ing to do this changed my way of think­ing. I was open for colours (and grey) in my life… My baby will be loved, and I will re­mind her ev­ery day that she was wanted!”

FIT, PHYS­I­CALLY AND MEN­TALLY

She con­sulted with gynaecologist Dr J van Schouwen­burg at the Med­fem Clinic in Bryanston. “They specialise in in­fer­til­ity. I went to a spe­cial­ist from the get-go to get the best re­sults,” she says. “The staff work with women strug­gling to fall preg­nant on a daily ba­sis, so ev­ery­one was very friendly and sup­port­ive.”

Once the de­ci­sion was made, she was sent for blood tests and to see a psy­chi­a­trist. The psy­chi­a­trist “was happy to re­port that I am not de­pressed or crazy and would make an amaz­ing mom,” she writes. “Not sure how he knew this, but it made me happy. I felt a bit an­noyed that I had to prove my men­tal well­ness when there are a lot of de­pressed cra­zies hav­ing ba­bies by the dozen.” CHOOS­ING THE DONOR The hard­est part was to choose the donor. She had to choose two op­tions from the 10 the sperm bank pro­vided, and would then be given the full pro­files of the short­list.

“I stud­ied them metic­u­lously for weeks,” she writes. “I wasn’t sure what my cri­te­ria were. It felt weird that this de­ci­sion would de­ter­mine how the baby would look and how their per­son­al­ity would be based on a baby pic­ture and some info. When cou­ples have a baby, they don’t have to worry about this stuff.”

She looked at the pro­files and tried to imag­ine how the donors would look right now and if they were rich, suc­cess­ful or smart.

“Then I started think­ing about how un­fair it is to al­ready have an ex­pec­ta­tion of what my child would be like.”

The baby would ob­vi­ously have some of the donor’s char­ac­ter­is­tics. “But I’m go­ing to play a more im­por­tant part in her life by rais­ing her: na­ture vs nur­ture. Are we in­flu­enced by our genes or our en­vi­ron­ment? I think it’s both.”

Lisa man­aged to fall preg­nant with­out much of a has­sle, but un­sur­pris­ingly the whole process of in­sem­i­na­tion felt “a bit clin­i­cal” with a good dose of hu­mour and her tongue firmly in her cheek.

“I had to col­lect my sperm and wait for it to de­frost. I wanted to bring a can­dle for am­biance, but ap­par­ently that is frowned upon. While wait­ing for the doc­tor to come, I took a photo and im­me­di­ately re­gret­ted it. What if the flash killed all the lit­tle sperm? I was too em­bar­rassed to ask if I had de­stroyed my very ex­pen­sive lit­tle swim­mers.” PREG­NANCY AND BIRTH Be­ing “home alone” while preg­nant has its pros and its cons, Lisa says. She re­mem­bers how she took a long bath at 32 weeks, but she just couldn’t get her­self out of the tub. “I won­dered how long it would take peo­ple to no­tice I’m not at work. I fi­nally man­aged to crawl out on hands and knees!”

But then again she wel­comed the space in the bed when it came to sleep­ing dur­ing the last trimester.

Lisa’s goal was never to do this com­pletely solo, and her sup­port net­work – in­clud­ing her mom, twin sis­ter Ilanie, and a friend who was also preg­nant at the same time – was in­cred­i­ble dur­ing preg­nancy. Ilanie was her birthing part­ner – she came up all the way from East Lon­don. And Mom Ma­griet came to the an­te­na­tal classes.

“But I did feel alone some­times, even if I had all this sup­port,” she says. “When she kicked, I so badly wanted some­one to just feel or watch my belly mov­ing. I was ter­ri­fied that it would feel like that af­ter the birth as well, but for­tu­nately it’s been any­thing but.”

Baby Luca Is­abella was born in BRING­ING UP BABY On the one hand, it’s lib­er­at­ing to raise your baby your­self and not have to take any­one else’s opin­ion into con­sid­er­a­tion. Her fam­ily have left her to make her own de­ci­sions. “And of course she only has eyes for her mama, and we’re each other’s ev­ery­thing,” Lisa says. “But some­times the de­ci­sions are big ones, and it’s in th­ese mo­ments that I wish some­one could be there to de­cide with me. But I don’t think it’s been harder be­cause I’m a sin­gle mom. For the first few months, a baby just wants mom, es­pe­cially if you breast­feed. I also don’t feel like I’ve been short-changed – this was my choice, and it’s my nor­mal.”

Lisa didn’t need to for­mally ask any­one to be part of her sup­port net­work – most of her fam­ily and friends were im­me­di­ately ready to be part of Luca’s life. And her par­ents were won­der­ful, Lisa ad­mits, even though she sus­pects they might not have wanted this for her.

Her dad fetches Luca if she needs to stay late at the of­fice. “Al­though he was a bit ner­vous the first time, he en­joys the time with her,” she says.

Luca also gets to spend time with her un­cles and Lisa’s male friends. It’s some­thing Lisa con­sid­ers im­por­tant. “When she’s older I’ll be even more con­scious about mak­ing men part of her life.”

Lisa is part of in­ter­na­tional sup­port groups for choice moms, but there’s not re­ally much in SA. “There’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween sin­gle moms by choice and other sin­gle moms where the dad is just ab­sent. We con­sciously made the de­ci­sion, so our out­look dif­fers com­pletely. It’s im­por­tant to have a sup­port group specif­i­cally for us.” YB Oc­to­ber 2017 and weighed in at 3.88kg. “She was per­fect, and she was mine!”

Lisa Rudman from Cen­tu­rion is a “choice mom”. Baby Luca was con­ceived from a donor, and Lisa is rais­ing her sin­gle-hand­edly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.