Evolution of parenthood
In her mid 30s and with the dust having settled after her divorce, Shannon Fitzgerald could hear the ticking of her biological clock getting louder.
For someone whose ultimate dream was motherhood, it would have felt like the relentless pounding of a migraine.
"Everyone always says they’ve always wanted to be a mum but you can ask anyone, from when I could talk that’s all I ever wanted to be," Shannon tells North Shore Living.
So despite not having a partner she made a decision.
"Come hell or high water somehow it was going to happen. Whether it be my own kids, adoption, fostering or surrogacy I started to look into everything,” she continues.
The North Shore local opted for a donor and after 11 In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) attempts, she finally fell pregnant with son Max (now four-years-old). Eighteen months after Max came into the world, she gave birth to twins Jordyn and Tyler with the same donor.
The donor comes from the USA and under NSW regulations, he is to remain anonymous to the kids until they are 18. However, Shannon's children have a number of half-siblings all over the world, even as close as Parramatta.
"Through a sibling registry we're connected to others who've used the same donor, so we’ve met and shared photos with a couple of them and then one day I was on the bus on the way home and a lady logged in and she said 'l'm a long way from everyone in America, I’m in Sydney, Australia’ and I was like ’What? So am I!’ Her boy's two months older than mine, so we've gone to each other's birthday parties.”
When the time comes, Shannon says she will totally support her kids if they want to reach out to their father.
"It’s up to them, whatever they want to do. I suppose my goal is to give them every tool that they have available and to be open and honest about everything and they can make their own decisions and I’ll fully support any they make,” she says.
With Max starting to come of age, Shannon has already had to ﬁeld some pretty sensitive questions.
"It’s difficult now, because my son is asking a lot about who his Dad is, l say, 'He lives in America’ and he questions, ’But what’s his name?', Shannon reveals.
"So yeah, that can be hard but Ijust try to be as open and honest as I can. There are so many different types of families these days, one parent, two parents, same sex parents, kids living with their grandparents. so that makes it less difficult.” Shannon admits the real struggle is balancing the responsibilities of a single parent. "I think when the kids were younger, sharing myself was probably the hardest part. And just juggling things like I’m the only income - provider so I have to work and I have to work really hard, then I have to do what a mum and dad would do, not only emotionally but physically and ﬁnancially,” she explains.
Incredibly, two years ago, Shannon started her own business NannyZU, which matches families (predominantly on the North Shore) with nannies. Two days a week, she also does HR contracting for a steady cash ﬂow.
Is it all worth it?
"It’s a great opportunity and there's no better feeling than holding your beautiful baby, just make sure you do your research first.
"But at the end of the day, I get everything I don’t have to share them with anyone, I get all the hugs and the kisses, the ﬁrst of everything,” she smiles.