“I wanted my child to know his/her father. To me, it was essential.” From France to Canada, Manon discusses how she became a choice mom.
I am very excited to interview Manon, because although we are both single moms by choice, we differ in one very important way: I went to a sperm bank to find my donor, but Manon used a known donor, whom she met on a baby-making app. I am also very interested in her background from France, and how French culture perceives choice moms. So let's begin our interview!
Athena: First, please talk to me about how you grew up. As I understand it, you were brought up by a single mother. How did that influence your decision to become a choice mom? What was it like for your mom to parent? Do you perceive it as hard or easy to solo parent?
Manon: For the first ten years of my life, both my Dad and Mom raised me, but when they divorced in 2000, my Mom took over the full care of my sister and me. We were supposed to see my dad every two weeks, but it never really happened. I remember once we didn’t see him for six months. My parents’ divorce was like a nightmare for me; at this age you think love is forever. I was so wrong.
I think my mom did a good job as a single mom of two teenagers. She was single for 3 years until she met her new husband. (I won’t discuss details about our relationship).
I think the fact that my mom raised my sister and I alone influenced my decision to become a single mom by choice. When I was 24 years old, I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be a single mom. I have a strong personality and I have always known what I wanted.
I dated several men but they were never the ‘right one’, so I feel I have made the right choice. I think being a single parent is hard, but I can’t be more proud. It makes me feel strong to make this choice, and as a feminist, this is important to me.
Athena: Talk to me about France’s perception of choice moms vs Canadian perceptions.
Manon: France is an old country where nobody wants to change their mind, unfortunately, so the first time I told my family about my choice, I experienced a strong, violent and disgusted reaction. My sister told me I was egotistical (she still thinks that a family is a father and a mother) and she called me several times while I was at work just to yell at me. My mom wrote me some awful emails and my dad refused to talk to me for a year.
I am happy to be in Canada because nobody judges me here. This is new and positive for me. In this country it is more important to be happy and everybody wants to help you feel like that.
Athena: What made you decide to use a known donor? How did you meet James? What was the first meeting like? Did you make a contract and discuss parenting preferences?
Manon: I wanted to use a known donor because I wanted my child to know his/her father. To me, it is essential for their development. When I was in France I read an article about an app that connects people who want to help each other become parents (co-parenting, surrogacy, egg donor, sperm donor etc..). The app was free so I decided to download it.
In December 2017 I broke up with a Canadian guy just before Christmas. We thought I was pregnant and he reacted as if it was the worse news ever. I was really unhappy after that episode, so in January 2018 I decided to find a co-parent.
When I met James, I felt his body type was perfect. I wanted a blonde and blue-eyed baby. Also, we were on the same page about the kind of education we wanted to provide for our child. It was almost perfect, but my only fear was his age; 47 years old. I had to think about that, but he convinced me, so we met in a Starbucks close to my apartment. The first meeting was bizarre. We were both intimidated. But my choice was made. However, when my family started to become verbally violent, I had to stop trying.
I asked James to wait a little longer.
I finally thought that if I wasn’t happy in life I would blame my family, and the only way I would feel happy again would be to have a beautiful baby of my own. We started trying again in June 2018. We didn’t make any contract but agreed on a few things. I am not completely a fool, and I am about to make a contract in November 2019 (our first baby is coming in January 1st 2020).
Athena: You are now pregnant but I understand it was not an easy journey to get there. Can you talk to me about how you conceived, what obstacles you went through, and where you are now?
Manon: We conceived using the old fashioned version (intercourse). I wanted to have a good memory of the act. I know people will judge me for using this method with someone much older than me, but we are not in love and this method worked for us.
As I said we started to conceive in June 2018. I got pregnant in October 2018. I was so happy, but sometimes life is unfair and I lost my precious little baby at 9 weeks on December 14th 2018. It was the worse day of my life and I will always remember my little star.
James was ready to try again as soon as possible. I wanted to wait. So we started to try again in January 2019. I got pregnant again in April 2019. I was happy but terrified, and I couldn’t enjoy this pregnancy for fear of loosing another baby. So I took it one day at a time, and finally my baby is a healthy and strong little girl that I will deliver with only women around me (I asked James to not come at the birth) around January 1st 2020.
Athena: How will you be handling finances and work as a single mother? Do you get mat leave?
Manon: Right now I am working in England and making a lot of money, which I am saving for the first few months after the baby is born. I think I will have mat leave (I have to contact service Canada) so I think it should all be OK. James wants to participate financially, but we haven’t discussed it yet. I plan to start nursing school in September 2020. I have already found a French home daycare for my daughter, and James is open to come look after her at my apartment while I am at school.
Athena: What are you most excited about? What are your fears?
Manon: I am excited to hold my daughter, my rainbow baby. (A rainbow baby is a term used to describe a baby born after miscarriage or loss). I think I still don’t believe that I am about to give birth. It’s difficult to love profoundly a baby that you are afraid to lose. But I am lucky to have my family (who is now happy to have a new member joining us), and some great friends. Also, my midwife is amazing and told me that love will come in time.
Athena: If you were to give advice to someone thinking of using a known donor vs a sperm donor what would you say? Any advice to someone considering becoming a single mother by choice?
Manon: If someone wants to use a known donor, make sure you don’t have any feelings for him/her, only ‘friend’ feelings. And, maybe do a contract before even trying to conceive.
And finally, being a single mom is amazing because you have your baby only for yourself and you can choose the type of education that you want. Also another advantage to being single is that you are free to do everything you want without having to ask.