Washington - When I turned 36, my best friend, Galia, who was married with three children, said I should have a child on my own. I'd been complaining about the unavailability of men, and time running out. She reminded me of the one woman we knew in our town who had a baby on her own.
"That's not for me," I said.
When I was in high school, I never had a doubt I would have the perfect husband and two children who looked like us. I was definitely not that girl who has a baby alone.
But, as I got older and either I didn't like the guy or the guy didn't like me, I began to wonder if I'd end up alone and childless. At 34, I considered Match.com, but it was 2002 and online dating still felt pathetic, even dangerous. I went on a handful of dates but didn't meet anyone I wanted to see again.
Then one day, I was on the driving range, and there was a guy wearing a Greensboro Fire Department T-shirt and surf shorts. He was tall with ripped, rugged good looks. As he approached, I said, "You look like you're looking for trouble." He laughed.
There was something about him that seemed familiar that went beyond his wavy blond hair and mischievous green eyes. It turned out we had a friend in common.
We spent the next day on a friend's boat, wrapped around each other. We didn't separate until he left town the following day.
Two weeks later, he bailed. I'd scared him off.
Galia showed up at my house with a bottle of wine and a phone number. Galia is a matchmaker, so I thought she was trying to help me get over Frank by introducing me to someone else. She wasn't. She knew how much I wanted to be a mom.
She said, "It's time to call Dr. Thompson. She's a fertility specialist."
Three days later, I walked out of the doctor's office with a link to the California Cryobank and a protocol for my first insemination.
I bought 10 vials for $350 (about R5 200) each.
A month later, I was inseminated.
The first insemination didn't take. Dr. Thompson said, "It's only a 25 percent chance, just like sex." The second insemination resulted in an ectopic pregnancy, which felt like a sword fight in my belly. I was rushed into surgery. When I woke up, the embryo was gone.
The doctor suggested in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF bypasses the fallopian tubes, which in my case, were clogged. IVF costs $12 000. Twelve times more expensive than insemination, but I was determined to have a baby.
As we walked to the doctor's office, I took deep breaths. I glanced at the walls: pictures of babies. My baby will be up there soon. The doctor stood when I walked in, her face lit up.
"Congratulations. You're pregnant."
Over the years, the doctor would say that two more times.
Now my children are 8, 11 and 13. I used every last vial of sperm. They are playing in the backyard outside my office window. The slip-n-slides are out, two hoses going strong. They are loud, and I've heard them drop the f-word about 30 times. I am tempted to shut down their language, but they are laughing and sliding and getting along. Nobody has picked up a decaying mango and pegged a sibling. Yet.
My daughter's wearing her new blue and pink bathing suit. She has blue eyes, blond hair, is tall, lean and athletic. Having two brothers has made her resilient. My older son looks just like her: same body, same hair, same eyes. People say they look like me. He loves golf. Neither loves tennis.