Kara Herold is creating a hybrid narrative/documentary (with actors) about her Choice Motherhood journey. Like many of us, she started out with the traditional dream of having a child with a partner. At age 39, she realized time was quickly passing by. An older sister encouraged her to purse motherhood on her own.
“I was very closeted about it. I think I felt some amount of shame not being able to pull off the traditional narrative. Also, I was working as a stagehand and making my art films on the side. So it was a precarious hand-to-mouth existence. I felt I had three strikes against me — but I was 39. I decided if I was able to conceive, then I’d either have to make it work somehow, with my current life, or else change my lifestyle.”
Since her grandmother conceived at 40, Kara was relatively healthy, with a strong yoga practice, she presumed (don’t we all?) that it wouldn’t be difficult. But a few cycles later with a donated sperm, she tested her fertility and the news was not good: low ovarian reserve, low follicle count, high FSH.
“I was kind of shocked and devastated by that. That I had waited too long. So that was the first challenge — realizing that I might not be able to have kids.”
She blocked out the negative voices: “If you’re a single mom, you’re going to have to give up your art. Taking care of a kid is a full time job. You’ll have to give up everything.”
Although she was initially closeted about her choice, she’s obviously “coming out” now by sharing her story in film.
“When I realized that I had a very low chance of becoming pregnant, I wrote a short article about it and I shared it with my parents and another sister. They thought the article was funny — and were able to understand the process through the humor. I felt that by making a film that is funny and political but also truthful, it is a way for me to step out of the shadows of this very personal and private journey.”
What is the film about?
I asked Kara to explain her film, since she’d like to get the support of the Choice Mom community in helping to fund it.
It is not a warning — it’s about the complicated place that we find ourselves as women who want to have a kid and a career. In the United States, we don’t have a lot of support for childcare — the film explores that in a way — where we are politically and socially, in terms of women’s support systems. How to navigate through that.
One thing people always say to me is, “I know somebody who had kids in their 40s.” But what they don’t talk about is the amount of money people are spending on fertility treatments, fertility drugs, IVF treatments, egg donations. The statistics say that if you’re 40, you probably have a 5% chance to get pregnant. And if you’re 45, a .05% chance to get pregnant.
My film isn’t about dispelling that myth — but is a personal story that explores what a family is.
The benefits of not having kids is huge too. The film explores that through another character who doesn’t want kids, which is also radical for women to think about — to be very strong about wanting to live a childfree life.