I had my first son at a young age, then met my husband and had four more children. What would have happened if I hadn’t met my husband? Would I have been happy with the one child I had?
I first came to know Shannon Fitzgerald via our local online mothers group. She was like me, an open book, and as time went on and I saw her post more and more I not only liked this woman, I was both in awe and fascinated by her story.
In 2008 and single, Shannon started thinking about using donor sperm and IVF to have a baby. By 2009 while holidaying in Borneo the decision was made, and she went full steam ahead. In June 2010 on her 11th IVF attempt Shannon found out she was expecting and gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby boy. Deciding to expand her family in 2012, Shannon started IVF again using the same donor, and in 2013 welcomed her twins – a boy and a girl. Three babies in three years. When the opportunity to interview Shannon arose, I couldn’t wait to ask her some questions.
What was the reaction from family and friends when you told them you were going to try for a baby with assistance from a sperm donor?
I really only told my parents and best friend. They were very happy as they knew I desperately wanted kids, and I wasn’t in a relationship. Once I was pregnant I told people and everyone I knew was very happy for me. I didn’t have any negative comments (to my face) I think people would know what my reaction would be if they were negative in front of me.
What was the process involved and approximately how much did it cost?
The process is pretty clinical, lots of blood tests, injections and scans in an attempt to produce more eggs. My first attempt I produced 40 eggs, but none worked. At ovulation you go in for day surgery and your eggs are removed and fertilised with the sperm. After growing the embryo for 3-5 days it is transferred into your uterus. For me this was always a very hard process. I had ovarian hyper-stimulation the first time I did IVF which was life threatening, and ended up in hospital for a few weeks. After that on the 10th IVF attempt I fell pregnant. The hardest part is waiting to find out if you are pregnant and the let down if you aren’t. It is devastating, especially when it happens 10 times. Only 3 people knew I was doing IVF so I had to hide my feelings from most people. I had ovarian hyper-stimulation with the twins as well (didn’t know I was pregnant) and it lead to a blood clot in my heart, which broke off and lodged in the main artery in my leg. It was very, very scary. I was in ICU when they told me I was pregnant. It cost approx. $70,000 all up.
Single parent families are very common these days – but you had your babies knowing from the start you would be raising them on your own. Do you think this prepared you better?
I think so, I had no other baggage to deal with and no other expectations from another person. I didn’t have to adjust to being a single parent and as it took so long to fall pregnant I had been saving for a while and putting a plan in place for raising my children.
Will the children have the opportunity to seek out their father when they are older?
Yes, they can make contact when they are 18 years old. We have lots of information about him and lots of photos of him as a baby / teenager and now adult. We are in contact with several other families that have children from the same donor and have met with a family that lives not too far from us. The children are both the same age (4 yrs).
How hard is it to go through a pregnancy, birth and raising children completely on your own?
It’s a hard one to answer as I know no different. It is just the way it is, and like everyone I have really good days and bad days when I am just so tired. I have to look after everything from caring for the kids (emotionally and financially). I am the cook, cleaner, I put out the bins, pay the bills, ultimately everything / everyone relies on me. Sometimes it is overwhelming and sometimes I am so tired I don’t know how I can go on . Being a single mother means I get to have all their firsts, all the cuddles and kisses and beautiful smiles and I get to have them all to myself. I have a determination to make the best life I can for me and my children. I do get sad sometimes that we are by ourselves and that my kids don’t have a father in their life, but I don’t dwell on that much and am just thankful for what we do have.
Would you recommend your choice to any single women out there who are thinking about it but hesitant for any number of reasons?
If it is really what they want to do. Being a single mum is by no means an easy path and I would recommend you take the time to get all of the information / research first. It is also important to think about after the children are born with work and finances. It is definitely an option for all women.
How and why did you start your business? (Shannon runs her own nanny agency, Nanny2U)
My decision to start Nanny2U was for a couple of reasons 1. I needed a nanny 1 day a week so I could have some time out each week and I really struggled to find someone who had twin experience. I had no idea what to look for and what kind of experience / qualifications and checks were needed, 2. I knew I was being made redundant (after 14 years as a HR Manager), so I need to support my family. 3. I have a childcare background 4. I wanted something that could be flexible, I could do from home and would support my family. 5. I really enjoy knowing I have helped families get through the tough times and hopefully taken some of the stress away from them by providing excellent nannies that become part of the family.
I set out a plan, and looked at what was out in the market (I looked at buying an agency off someone but it was very expensive and I thought I could do this myself). Through North Shore Mums I was put in contact with an accountant, who helped with some steps to follow registering the business and also a legal advisor – who helped with all the legal requirements. Once this was done, I took a lot of time working with designers for the website, logo’s etc and spoke to a lot of parents that have multiples to make sure I was on the right track. Once I make my mind up about something, nothing really stops me. I moved pretty quickly. I don’t tend to over analyse (probably also a down fall) but I started small and made lots of mistakes and learnt a lot of lessons. I learnt everything I could and adjusted where I needed. I re-evaluated about 12 months into the business and changed the business plan a little bit, but have pretty much stayed true to the original plan.