MS. REBECCA SHEIR
I'm Rebecca Sheir and welcome back to "Metro Connection." Today we're focusing on parenting and in a few minutes, we'll hear from a mother and father who are parenting their daughters aboard a 62' sailboat as they venture around the world. First, though, let's meet 37-year-old Stacey Pearl. When Stacey was 34, she found herself single and imagining how the rest of her 30s would play out.
MS. STACEY PEARL
Well, I was doing the math in my head. I was like, okay, I would have to meet the right person in the next year or two so that would bring me to like 35 or 36.
Two years of dating, one year of engagement, a year or so of wedded bliss.
And, like, I'm close to 40. And that's only if I actually meet the person. I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket, literally. And I thought, well, I have a lifetime to find a husband, you know. I don't have a lifetime to have kids.
Now, Stacey's long known that the average woman's fertility begins to decline in her mid 30s. So she decided to get this show on the road on her own. To tell the rest of the story, here's "Metro Connection's" Emily Berman.
MS. EMILY BERMAN
Stacey Pearl is on her living room floor guiding her daughter's hands as she sorts out shapes. Even though Stacey technically became a mother on her own, that's not how she describes it. To her it was a community experience, especially picking out her sperm donor.
I emailed out the profiles of the people that I was seriously considering, like, to my closest friends. And I was like, okay, everybody read everything and, like, tell me what you think.
Even during her insemination treatment, which is called an IUI, everyone was right there with her.
And it was fun. Like my phone was like exploding with messages. People, like, cheering me on as I was laying there.
She was ready, mentally and financially, to bring a new baby into this world. Except she didn’t have one baby, she had two. And that she says was a problem.
It was quite a shock when there were two in there.
Stacey works at a public charter school.
I don't make a lot of money.
She calculated she could afford daycare for one baby. With two, she'd be about $1000 over budget every month, even at the least expensive daycare center. It was going to be too much.
And to be a single mom with twins and not have a lot of financial resources is really hard.
Stacey's mom, Anita, came down to help after Stella and Sadie were born. Before maternity leave ended, Stacey's mom had decided to retire and move her belongings down from Michigan to become a live-in nanny for Stacey and her girls.
I asked her, well, why did you make -- I'm going to cry. I said to my mom, why are you doing this? Like, why did you decide to stay? Because it wasn't the money, because my parents could have given me the $1000 a month.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was really emotional. She was working 24/7 and I just couldn't leave her.
On weekdays, she's out of the house at 6:45 in the morning to drive from her home in Kensington, Md. to a public charter school in Southeast D.C. Most nights she gets home around 6:30.
For me, the hardest thing would have been having the girls and raising them and not sharing the day-to-day with somebody else. To be excited or to, you know, be frustrated or to talk about, like, the new words that we heard for the day. And so to be able to share that with my mom has been great for me. And, you know, obviously, made us even closer.
There's no one agency or organization that tracks the number of women choosing to get pregnant without a partner. But Dr. Eric Levens, with Shady Grove Fertility, in Rockville, Md., says about five percent of his patients are women like Stacey Pearl.
DR. ERIC LEVENS
I think that's been a pretty dramatic increase over the last years. And I think it's ever increasing.
And with more and more women choosing this route, Dr. Levens says there's less of a stigma, especially in the D.C. region. Just ask Clair Sassin and her daughter Danielle.
MISS DANIELLE SASSIN
Some people ask why I don't have a dad. I've told my friends the story and my mom's friends know because my mom told them.
Danielle, or Danny, is in fourth grade and lives with her mom in Shirlington, Va.
They just got home from Sunday School and they're making lunch.
Clair was 42 when she conceived Danny using in vitro fertilization.
MS. CLAIR SASSIN
I used to call her my little in vitro baby. I knew that when she went to preschool she would eventually notice and see that we are different, we are a different family. And she did. While she was in preschool, at one point she asked me, you know, if she had a daddy. And I said, no, you don't. I said families come in all different shapes and sizes. I said some have a mommy and a daddy, some have two mommies, some have two daddies and in this case you have a mommy who loves you very much. And that was it.
Clair says her friends always joke that she knows more about her sperm donor than they know about their own husbands. And these days, Clair and Danny talk about him quite a bit. He has olive skin, like Danny. He played the trumpet and Danny does, too.
There are kids in her class that have two dads, there are kids that have a mom. It's not odd that--do you think--do you ever feel odd because you don't have a dad?
No. I just feel like a regular, like, because none of my friends really care.
Clair says she feels like a regular, too.
I see myself as a mom with a child. And I happen to be a mom by choice.
She mostly worries about Danielle's future and making sure she's brining in enough money. But these worries, she says, are the same things all parents worry about.
Being a parent is the toughest job, but it's also the best job ever.
Taking on that job and becoming Danny's mom, Clair says is the smartest decision she's ever made. I'm Emily Berman.
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