Forty-two-year old Carly Briton is from Newcastle and lives in Lambton with her four-year-old boys, Lorin and Phoenix. Ever since she worked in childcare in high school she's known that she wanted to be a mother. At age 35 she came out of a relationship, and at 36 she decided she was going to become a mother by herself. She knew that at the end of her life she wanted to be surrounded by a family she created.
"I felt like I was waiting for the right person to have my children with, and then I had an epiphany that the right person to have my children with is me," she says.
She realised she had enough love, enough strength and a supportive family. In September 2016 she made the decision and she took her savings to an IVF clinic. After an appointment with a fertility specialist, she researched how to prepare herself best before conceiving.
"When you start to conceive on your own, you have the opportunity to get your mind and body spiritually aligned. If I had accidentally fallen pregnant I might not have been very healthy. My whole world focused on bringing love into myself. I am a bit of a spiritual person, a witchy poo." Briton says. "I created an altar that had images and symbols to bring in. I believe in manifestation and the law of attraction."
I felt like I was waiting for the right person to have my children with, and then I had an epiphany that the right person to have my children with is me.Carly Briton
She would do ritual cleansing visualisations for her womb. She met with an IVF single group of women like her. The fertility clinic put her on a donor list that September and six weeks later she returned to look at sperm donors. She had two weeks to choose one and then a month to wait for her next period. At this time she had counselling sessions for them to get to know her and see that she was ready and responsible. Then she booked herself for egg collection.
"That's the expensive part. It cost me ten grand to have my eggs collected. I had to inject myself with follicle-stimulating hormones for a week or two," Briton says. "In the middle of it I went to a creative arts and lifestyle festival with an emphasis on tree planting and life called Regrowth. Every night at 10:30 I'd leave the festival and inject myself in my tent. I'd go back out and dance with people and connect with the earth and the divine mother to let her know that my womb is open and ready to receive and nurture love."
She remembers fondly the womb cleansing in a healing ceremony she had at the festival. She deeply believes her magical intentions and manifestations contributed to the success of her IVF.
After her injections, she went in for the follicle treatment and booster. She went into the waiting room for the procedure and was mentally telling every single egg inside her how much she loved them.
Briton remembers that they wrote the numbers of eggs they'd collected on her hand, 14. Doctors then injected sperm into the 10 viable eggs. They watched over the blastocysts over several days (it's not yet an embryo) and then she came in and they inserted the most promising specimen.
"As she's putting it into my womb space, I'm visualising that my womb is this soft pink marshmallowy beautiful place that this little beam of light is going to have no other option but to sit and love being in there. I'm visualising this. It's going to happen; it's going to work," she says.
Two weeks later, she was over the moon to learn that she was pregnant. She brought her twin sister and best friend Sara Briton with her for her first ultrasound.
"The nurse is scanning me, and she's looking. She says to me 'Carly how many did they put in?' I said, 'one, why?' thinking it's gone. She said 'the first thing I have to tell you is that there's two in there.' I just went 'twins!' she said "yes," Briton says. "I knew straight away that they were identical. Me and my sister are identical!"
Carly said a curse word and she and her sister looked at each other and burst into tears and held each other.
"I've always wanted to have twins, being a twin myself. I didn't think I would have twins I've been told all my life if you're a twin you won't have twins. If you're a twin it skips a generation; but I've just found out that's fraternal twins. Monozygotic twins, identicals, can happen to anyone. I was so shocked and so elated," Briton says.
From there her pregnancy was reasonably good with a few challenges. She felt sad due to the hormones and scared she was going to lose one twin. But overall, she felt connected to her babies. In late September 2017 after 45 hours of labour, she gave birth via C section. Her sister, her best friend Kate Mostyn and her mum Teina Hunt were all by her side. The twins were born two minutes apart, at 11:57 and 11:59. It had been a year since she'd started her journey.
Now, four years later, in 2021 she is still just as happy about her choice to raise her boys with the help of her supportive family.
She's renting, but saving for a deposit on a house. For the moment she works part-time for NDIS and when the twins go to school she'll return to full time work.
When she reflects on her decision it seems like a very natural progression for her; she's always been fiercely independent.
"I used to think I'd prefer to have a partner to share the load; I realise they don't need a father to be whole. They have my dad, their uncles, and other men in the community. They have so much love," she says.
She encourages others considering single parenthood to go for it. While she thinks having a stable job helps, she believes where there's a will there's a way.
"You need support either by friends or family. I think I'd probably be, a bit of a mess if I didn't have my family. My kids are with my family when I'm at work," she says.
"It may be a struggle if you don't have support, but I'd say to any woman considering this journey, don't waste too much time thinking about it, just do it. If you've got a bit of savings. Even if you've got a friend willing to impregnate you."
Briton pays $500 a year to keep her other five embryos frozen.
She says she thinks had she not had twins she might have had a second later, and she hasn't written off the idea of a third.
She reiterates that you don't have to wait for a partner to make it happen, and she's actually dating now, for the first time in a long time.
"It's taken me nearly five years to allow another person to come into my life intimately because of my children taking precedence," she says. "They will always come first, but now I feel ready to reopen that aspect of my life."
Briton hopes her story can inspire others not to wait for a man or a partner.
"One hundred percent, it can be done. You can do it," she says.