Being pregnant is challenging. Doing it on your own, even more so. Here, three single moms share their stories.
"I love being a mom. I feel like life is now complete." Melisande Green, Los Angeles
At age 37, I found out I was expecting and I was thrilled. I had been separated previously from my husband; but at the time, we were back together. Once I knew I was pregnant, I began to feel as if I needed to watch out for my life in a bigger way. The same problems with my husband kept surfacing, so I filed for divorce when I was six weeks pregnant.
I was sick my entire pregnancy. And, because I was single, when I came home from work and didn't feel good or my back hurt, there was no one to help me cook dinner or clean. I had to do most things on my own. Luckily, I had people in my life who knew I was alone and jumped in. My cousin Beth helped a great deal by making dinner or inviting me to her house to just hang out. I also had a male friend who assembled furniture and did some handyman stuff for me.
For most of my pregnancy, I was sad because I was going through a divorce, and I would cry a lot. I was really concerned that my baby would be a sad baby. So, I tried to find outlets that made me happy, such as dancing. I also did yoga and Pilates once a week. Exercise made me feel better and that my baby was going to be OK.
Beth came with me to the hospital and supported me during labor. When my daughter, Naila, was born, I thought, "This is the beginning of our life together." She is a happy, mellow baby and the light of my life.
"The big challenge for me is asking for help." Margaret Lynch, Los Angeles
I was shocked when I found I was pregnant at the age of 42. While I had always wanted to have children, I had spent the last few years rethinking my life without them. When I went to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy, he said if I had ever wanted to have children, I should consider having this baby because of my age. It was quite a statement, but I did want to have a baby, so I let nature take its course.
I told my family when I was four months pregnant and the response was very positive. (The father knows, but is not a regular part of our lives.) I was anxious because I wasn't sure how I was going to do it alone, both financially and emotionally. When there is not a permanent partner in the picture, despite the help of friends and family, you ultimately feel that you are on your own. I also lost my job when I was 31 weeks pregnant, which added more stress.
I am an independent person, and it's difficult for me to ask for help. With my pregnancy, and now having a baby, I realize I have limits and that I do need to ask for help. I asked one of my friends to take my birthing class with me, and my mom offered to come for the birth and to help after the baby was born.
I wanted to deliver vaginally, but the baby wasn't moving into position and my doctor recommended a Cesarean section. My daughter, Molly, was born healthy at 8 pounds. My advice for single moms: Think about the other parts of your life where you have been successful doing things on your own and draw strength from that.
"When you choose to have a child alone, there is guilt that they will miss out on that other parent." Tena LeBeau, Clearfield, Pa.
The first time I got pregnant, I was 30. I had just broken up with a man I was dating while living in California, and he made it clear he did not want to be a part of our lives. So I returned home to Pennsylvania and moved in with my brother. My pregnancy was uneventful until I went into labor. The baby was due in February, but I gave birth in November at 27 weeks. My daughter, Scarlett, was in the hospital for 63 days, but I had a set of girlfriends who really gathered around me and offered support.
I was lucky that when I asked for help, there were people who responded. I am generally a very independent and selfsufficient person, but when you need diapers and don't want to take your premature baby out to the store, it's important to have someone you can call to ask for help. When Scarlett was 4 years old, I started dating someone new and got pregnant unexpectedly. I wasn't happy; I was embarrassed. (But, there was never a time in either pregnancy that I considered not going through with it.) My second pregnancy was difficult from beginning to end. I had terrible morning sickness. And, at five months, my doctor advised me to stay off my feet because my cervix had started to thin and I was having contractions.
As the single parent of a 4-year-old, I really depended on my friends for help, again. Looking back, I wish I had asked for help more often, but that was hard for me. I ended up in the hospital at 24 weeks and put on bed rest. Thankfully, some very good friends invited Scarlett and me to stay with them for the rest of my pregnancy.
I was on strict bed rest until I was induced at 40 weeks. I pushed for six hours and my girlfriends supported me during labor. I couldn't have done it without them. Now my son, Declan, is a happy and rambunctious 2-year-old.
And remember - there's help out there. Check out our community and message boards to read up, share your story, or find other moms in your area.