'I did 13 rounds of IVF to become a solo mum by choice.'

Hunched over the toilet seat of a dank, putrid cubicle, I injected three doses of IVF hormones into my abdomen. This was not what I signed up for when I contemplated IVF as a solo mum by choice. Then again, nothing in the IVF race ever goes as planned.

The grotty toilet was next door to a dance studio crowded with eager students. I was their teacher. We were in the middle of contemporary class. They were oblivious to my extracurricular bathroom anxiety-fest as I concocted, measured and administered each injection carefully but hurriedly. 

I couldn't leave them for more than a few minutes. I'd set them a quick choreography task to buy some time.

When the IVF nurse had told me my 'trigger' medication needed to be administered at 7pm precisely, I knew she meant it. 8:30pm knock-off time wouldn't do.

Perhaps I could have cancelled my shift? An easier option if I'd had a partner's income to rely on. But I was working my butt off to pay for endless IVF rounds on my own. Every second of work counted. Nearly every cent of my pay filtered through to the IVF machine, conversely zapping much of my life away.

Watch: Meshel Laurie on going through IVF alone. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

So, how did I end up choosing the solo mum path? 

I'd endured some pretty atrocious relationships over the years. Certainly didn't win the lottery of good men, that's for sure. It came to the point where I had to decide: relationship or baby? I didn't want to come across as 'that' woman in her late thirties, desperate to hurry through the pleasantries in order to speedily get knocked up. My unborn child deserved more than that.

What a relief and a 'coming out' of sorts to realise I could just remain single. The conversation with my parents went like this:

Me: "Errr, Mum and Dad, there's something I need to talk to you about."

Parents: "Oh, okay. Let's put the kettle on. What's up?"

Me: "Well, umm. It's just that…errr. I've decided [pause…]"

Parents: "Are you okay? What is it, Lorena?"

Me: "I've decided to have a baby, umm, on my [cough] own."

Mum nearly catapulted herself over the coffee table in her rush to the fridge to pop a bottle of celebratory champers. "WOOHOOO! That's wonderful news, sweetie!"

Many may have judged. I think we live in a Noah's Ark world where society is more comfortable if people are coupled up. I never fitted into that mould. But that didn't bother me. It feels great that I can just be myself – though it took a while to get there.

I realise how lucky I am to have my parents on board. Not everybody's family would respond in the way mine did. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the support I had from my friends and family (Mum and Dad in particular) was by far the most positive aspect of my ongoing IVF experience. I had a team and a tribe, for which I've always been grateful.


Decision made: it was time to begin.

To be honest, at first, the very idea of becoming a solo mum by choice was completely foreign to me. A friend suggested it and 'BOOM!', I knew it was the solution to my problem. And it's not just me! There is a growing uprising of women taking the reins and going it alone. The solo-mum-by-choice movement is dynamic and evolving.

It's not necessarily a matter of 'Who needs men anyway?' – it's more a biological clock thing for many, including me: 'Now, or never'. Some women are open to possible future relationships – others, not so much. For me? I don't often think about it since I realised that being a mum is all I ever wanted.

So: hormone injections, a few good eggs and a pinch of donor sperm; I'd be pregnant within weeks, right?


I soon found myself in the deep throes of the IVF wheel. A 'round-after-round' affair that seemed endless. Some women do one, or two, or a few rounds. I did one, two, a few then 10 more. No mean feat!

I became somewhat addicted to it, always planning my next round after the previous one had failed. Always busy, busy, never thinking too much about the detail – working hard, paying for the next (ultimately doomed) round.

It really began to do my head in, and I became a spiralling mess. Desperation set in as I edged toward becoming 'too old to continue'. Because as we know, the female biological clock is a true beast. A grenade that will go off any time after the age of 40.


It took 12 heartbreaking failed rounds across six very difficult years before I finally hit the jackpot at age 45. My determination was stretched to the limit, but persistence got me there. My outlandish IVF dream became a bundle of joyous reality.

But. You cannot truly do it alone. So, the term 'solo' is open to interpretation. I've often wondered if it would have been easier with a partner. I'm pretty fiercely independent, so asking for help of any kind just isn't in my DNA. There's no doubt I relied on my tribe when I needed them. Sometimes they walked on eggshells (particularly at hormone injection time), but they were never far away. A partner would perhaps have borne more of the brunt.

I'm indebted to the incredible community of solo mums by choice. All those women before me who helped pave the way – as well as current and future ones, not to mention the ones who fought the good fight but didn't get their baby.

And finally: Yes. It was all worth it.

For me, the solo mum by choice reality is beyond anything I'd ever hoped for. My phenomenal daughter is the highlight of my life and the remedy to the ailment that came from my seemingly endless, dispiriting rounds of IVF.

Persistence wins out.

Lorena Otes is an accomplished classical ballet/contemporary dance teacher and choreographer with an Honours degree in the latter. She is also an avid diarist, writer, bookworm, motorbike rider, and devoted Bonnie Tyler fan.

Feature Image: Supplied. 

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