The neurotologist I saw actually does both radiation and surgery, so he was able to tell me all about each option, the possible side-effects, length of recovery for each procedure, etc. My AN was originally considered medium size, so either option was a possibility for me. My doc was very adamant about not choosing the option for me - which initially really kind of ticked me off. I was looking for him to decide, since dealing with ANs was "his job" and I figured he knew best. Also, I think I was looking for an easy way out by having someone else make the choice for me. But he refused to do tell me what to do; he said that it was a personal choice. In time, I came to realize that he was right and it made me respect him that much more.
Anyway, it's a hard choice. Like you, I am a single mom who solely supports my children financially so I had great concerns about a 4-7 day hospital stay plus 6 weeks recovery at home away from my job. So, originally I was leaning towards radiation - it seemed like the quickest route and, in my mind, outpatient was much better than inpatient. In fact, I told the doc at my first visit that there was no way I could afford to be off work for so long and that I had children to take care of, so surgery was totally out of the question.
But the more I thought about the AN, the more I decided I just wanted it gone. I didn't want to get it zapped and then hope it would stop growing; plus I was concerned that it might not stop growing and then I'd have to have surgery anyway. The bottomline for me was that I just wanted it removed. So I changed my mind and opted for the surgery. It wasn't an easy thing, but in hindsight, I can honestly say that it was the best choice for me. I have no regrets.
And I think that's the key. As others, including my doctor, have said - it's a personal choice and you need to do what you're comfortable with; what you think is right for you. It's also important to be well-informed and to chose a doctor who has lots of experience with ANs.
Best of luck in making your decision. As you know, it can be very stressful.