Kay LiCausi, a powerhouse lobbyist who works out of Hoboken, couldn't wait to be a mom. She couldn't wait for the excitement or the love — or even the man.
LiCausi is a hardworking, single mother — by choice, not circumstance. She visited a sperm bank and became pregnant. Her daughter, Lily Susan, is now almost three years old.
"She's mini me," LiCausi said. "She's sensitive, and she's strong-willed."
"She's a picky eater, which is my mother torturing me from heaven," she added with a laugh. "I was the pickiest eater in the world."
Having a baby is something LiCausi, president and CEO of Hoboken Strategy Group, has contemplated for awhile, but bringing that idea to life took years, a process hampered, time and again, by personal tragedy.
She first started thinking about having a child on her own in 2007, when she had just bought her home. Then her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and LiCausi spent more than a year helping her battle the disease until, on Nov. 11, 2008, her mother passed away.
Six months and one day later, her father died, too.
On the heels of two terrible losses, LiCausi decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania "to heal my soul." When she came back down the mountain, she made it her mission in life to have a baby.
When she finally got pregnant, it was a complicated dream come true.
"I was the happiest pregnant person in the world," LiCausi said.
But the subject was sensitive. Even though modern families come in all shapes and sizes, the idea of a woman taking reproduction into her own hands is still relatively foreign.
"There was a lot of education, and I have to say that I work for wonderful people because my clients were overwhelmingly overjoyed for me," she said.
"I just think it's a wonderful option for women who haven't met the right partner," she added. "I'm so grateful to this random person who donated."
Now, LiCausi juggles the demands of her career with the demands of her daughter, with the help of a "terrific nanny" and the flexible work schedule that comes with running your own business. She gets her diapers and her groceries delivered, and she gets one precious hour or so a day after Lily goes to bed to decompress.
It's hard, she said. The balancing act leaves her "definitely exhausted" at the end of most days, and her parents aren't around to help.
But oddly enough, two of her best friends from high school ended up following her same path to parenthood. They both had girls, too, and they all spend one weekend out of every month together. And that makeshift family is just as good as any traditional one she could have imagined.
"Having Lily changed me. I'm a completely different person than I used to be," LiCausi said. "I'm ridiculously happy. I want to say that life has a new meaning for me."
So her message to anyone thinking about plunging into parenthood alone is to just do it.
"Absolutely do it. Do it today," she said. "I don't think that any woman should think that she can't."