“How I Do It” introduces you to a local mom and how she juggles life. This month: Kristin Haas, an associate professor of occupational therapy at College of Saint Mary. She’s a 41-year-old single mother by choice of one daughter, Kiera Kathleen, age 18.5 months.
CHOOSING TO HAVE A CHILD
I never saw myself as someone who would have a child in a nontraditional way, however the summer that I was 38-years old I went to my doctor and talked about my options for having children. We talked about adoption and conception. I opted to try IUI using anonymous donor sperm. Shortly after that appointment I went to a reproductive endocrinologist. After testing I had my first insemination in August 2009. I did six trials before getting pregnant with my daughter and had one miscarriage. This was not covered by insurance so it was emotionally and financially expensive. The last attempt I tried everything in addition to the injectible fertility drugs. I did fertility massage and high doses of vitamin D. Who knows what made it work but it did.
Making the decision to have a child by myself was difficult. It was hard to give up on the dream of having a husband and doing it more traditionally. However, I am so glad I never settled in my relationships and love that I get to make the decisions regarding my daughter. Several things made the decision easier though. First my family was completely supportive. Second, I really felt like I was at a time in my life where I was financially secure to do this. Not that I had all the finances figured out or that I have a ton of money in savings but I knew that I could support two people on my salary.
The whole process of using donor sperm was interesting also. There are sperm banks that have online data bases that you can search. My doctor used one specific bank so I searched that bank looking for a donor I liked. However, it was pretty overwhelming all of the things that can be looked at. So my doctor had some sperm ‘on hand’ so I went through that list first. I ended up making a list of several traits I wanted and a few things that would rule a donor out and going from there. I also set up an online poll for family and friends to look at the top choices and vote. Before I got pregnant I used three different donors. I did purchase all of the available information on the donor so that Kiera could have it when she asks about it.
I have a flexible job as a professor. I do work a 12-month contract so I do not have summers off but I have nice breaks for the holidays and things like spring break. I teach 3 – 4 classes a semester and need to hold at least 10 office hours a week on campus. However, I can leave to take Kiera to doctor’s appointments or if she is sick as long as I am not teaching or have my class covered. I have been lucky to be able to stay at home with her one day a week during this first year of her life most of the time. The other nice thing is that I can do grading and planning at home after Kiera goes to bed and I do this often during the semester. One thing I am constantly working on to be a better mom is to be more present. Sometimes I feel like I am too attached to my phone or email and need to just enjoy my time with Kiera.
BEING A MOM
I love everything about being a mom! I love hugs and smiles! I love when she is excited to see me. I like reading books together in bed. Kiera is so excited when she gets to lay in bed with me. Being silly together is great! My favorite thing is watching Kiera develop her own little personality as she grows.
I think the biggest personal sacrifice I made was giving up on the dream of having the husband first then children. I still hope to find a partner some day but it was difficult to say I’m going to do this my way. I actively strive to have balance in my life, however I think this is near impossible. One thing that helps is I like my job so overall my life is very satisfying. I try to do things such as organize, prioritize, say no, let things go, and not to worry about the small things. I have blessings beyond belief though. It is not that I was unhappy before I had Kiera, however I feel so much more content now with everything. I know what a blessing she is and I thrive on the unconditional love we have for each other.
A COUPLE CONCERNS
My big issue is something that will come in the future. I worry about the choices I made and her lack of two parents/father figure. I think a lot about how I will explain things to her when she starts asking. I do belong to several single mothers by choice online groups but have not found any local women who have made the choice I did.
BEING A SINGLE MOM…
It is important to role model for Kiera especially as she gets older. I want her to know how to balance her life, have satisfaction in many areas of life, and achieve anything that she wants to. Working gives Kiera and I the life we have and is a necessity. So my biggest piece of advice is to find a job that you love and to take your time finding a day care you are comfortable with. This will make it easier to leave your child if you must work to support your family.
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