'choice Moms' Opt For Parenthood Without A Partner (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

'Choice Moms' Opt For Parenthood Without A Partner

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:09
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

00:00:34
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.

SHEIR

00:00:42
Two years of dating, one year of engagement, a year or so of wedded bliss.

PEARL

00:00:46
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.

SHEIR

00:01:01
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

00:01:20
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.

PEARL

00:01:38
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.

BERMAN

00:01:46
Even during her insemination treatment, which is called an IUI, everyone was right there with her.

PEARL

00:01:51
And it was fun. Like my phone was like exploding with messages. People, like, cheering me on as I was laying there.

BERMAN

00:01:56
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.

PEARL

00:02:07
It was quite a shock when there were two in there.

BERMAN

00:02:09
Stacey works at a public charter school.

PEARL

00:02:12
I don't make a lot of money.

BERMAN

00:02:13
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.

PEARL

00:02:25
And to be a single mom with twins and not have a lot of financial resources is really hard.

BERMAN

00:02:30
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.

PEARL

00:02:42
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.

ANITA

00:02:55
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was really emotional. She was working 24/7 and I just couldn't leave her.

BERMAN

00:03:03
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.

PEARL

00:03:14
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.

BERMAN

00:03:38
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

00:03:52
I think that's been a pretty dramatic increase over the last years. And I think it's ever increasing.

BERMAN

00:03:58
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

00:04:08
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.

BERMAN

00:04:18
Danielle, or Danny, is in fourth grade and lives with her mom in Shirlington, Va.

BERMAN

00:04:26
They just got home from Sunday School and they're making lunch.

BERMAN

00:04:30
Clair was 42 when she conceived Danny using in vitro fertilization.

MS. CLAIR SASSIN

00:04:35
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.

BERMAN

00:05:07
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.

SASSIN

00:05:20
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?

SASSIN

00:05:30
No. I just feel like a regular, like, because none of my friends really care.

BERMAN

00:05:36
Clair says she feels like a regular, too.

SASSIN

00:05:39
I see myself as a mom with a child. And I happen to be a mom by choice.

BERMAN

00:05:44
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.

SASSIN

00:05:53
Being a parent is the toughest job, but it's also the best job ever.

BERMAN

00:05:57
Taking on that job and becoming Danny's mom, Clair says is the smartest decision she's ever made. I'm Emily Berman.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and International law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.