'I deserve the family I've always wanted' - women 'overjoyed' after using sperm donors
If the pandemic’s taught us anything, it’s that if you want to do something - if an unquenchable desire burns in your heart - the time is now.
This week I’ve spoken to women who chose to become solo mothers alone, using donor sperm. A 27 year old single mother to one, who requested to be anonymous, split from her partner when their daughter was just six weeks old.
She said: “I always felt I had time on my hands and that it would 'just happen'. 'It' being finding and falling in love with the man of my dreams and expanding our family."
But the more time that passes and the older her daughter gets, the more her thoughts have been drawn to alternative options. She said: “I can expand on our family, can't I? Can I? Sperm donation is an option, right? Is it? How does that work? Where do I find out about my options? There has to be woman In a similar position to myself, having similar thoughts.
"I very nearly found myself in a position of thinking I needed a partner in order for my dreams for my future to become a reality, but it's just not the case. It would be amazing to find that someone to share it all with but I am done with the notion that it's the only way.”
Other women I spoke to have had similar thoughts - and already begun their sperm donor journey.
Jen is 36 years old and works for the NHS
She said: “I’ve always wanted to be a mum but I envisioned meeting the man of my dreams, falling in love and getting married first. I imagined the perfect family with my husband being my rock, my best friend and helping to raise our children together.
“Over the years I’ve had many boyfriends but none of them very serious. The relationships were never the fairytale I dreamt of and instead felt like incredibly hard work, with disagreements and demands that left me feeling worn down and confused.
“Then when I was in my early 30s I had some gynae problems and found out I had fibroids. They didn’t shrink with hormones, and a treatment I had called Sonata failed too. The gynaecologist told me if I wanted to ever have children he would advise me to start trying sooner rather than later. I discussed it with my boyfriend at the time and he said he wanted children too, but not just yet. Then, after a few months, we broke up anyway."
Jen then spoke to a friend who had been to Greece to try and conceive using a sperm donor. She said: "Unfortunately her treatment was unsuccessful, but she told me what she had gone through and gave me the encouragement to start to look into the process myself. She was an incredible listening ear and guide, as I contemplated becoming a solo mum by choice. She said her biggest regret, was not going through the process sooner (she was in her 40s).
“I started to hint to my family that I had thoughts about becoming a solo mum and they were incredibly supportive. My mum was delighted as she said she was worried I would miss out on the experience of being a mum. Amazing! She started to Google and sent me websites of clinics she thought looked good!”
Jen went to see her GP shortly after her 35th birthday to ask for a referral for a fertility MOT. With NHS waiting lists notoriously long, lots of women pursuing solo motherhood choose to use private clinics.
Jen said: “Rather than wait, I got in touch with a private clinic in a nearby city. I got a really lovely vibe from them and they accepted my NHS tests to save me paying for repeats. After lots of discussion with them I decided to buy a three cycle package of IUI [Intrauterine Insemination - the procedure whereby donor sperm is placed directly into the uterus using a small catheter, following ovulation tracking].
“Knowing I had three goes took the pressure off a bit. I began to track ovulation and it wasn’t long until mum was driving me to the clinic to have the actual IUI procedure done.
“I was only one week into my two week wait when I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. From there the clinic booked me in for a six week viability scan and after that I was discharged to my local midwives.”
Jen's baby boy was born 11 weeks ago. She said: "I’m so overjoyed. I literally have never felt so happy and had so much love for another human being. I can’t imagine life without him now.
"My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner. I kept holding out for Mr Right and what I thought was the fairytale. But actually what I have now is a fairytale. Just me and my gorgeous baby boy, who I love more than anything!”
Kim, age 32, worked in travel before she got pregnant
She said: “I was privately educated and mostly lived in affluent areas. Yet I was pregnant to a man I was not in a relationship with, and who didn't want a baby [shocking I know, because in this country we're led to believe that only happens to unemployed, uneducated women in rough towns]. Surprisingly, I didn't do it for the benefits and the child support as most people like to think and people have asked me.
“When I found out I was pregnant I didn't tell a single soul for nearly four weeks. I knew I wanted to make the decision on my own. I knew I was up against it from that very first nauseating morning and it made my entire pregnancy SO stressful.
"I knew that if I told anyone I was planning to have a child in these circumstance they'd be against it and I was right. 'Best' friends disappeared, actually most friends haha, family wouldn't speak to me, most people I knew mentioned abortions and my parents even talked about adoption, but I went ahead and I did it on my own. The stigma against solo mums in this country is awful."
Now, Kim has decided to use a sperm donor in the future and said having that option "takes the pressure off me and my biological clock". She added: "It means that one day I can give my daughter the sibling she wants and the second child I would love to have.
"It actually makes me excited about the future because next time I will know what to expect. Next time I can enjoy being pregnant and I know that I can happily manage the second child I so desperately want, solo!
“To people who have the 2.4 children, dog and husband, this may seem completely alien. But I deserve to have the family I've always wanted too. And not having a long term partner shouldn't be a worry in this day and age.
"It also leads, in my opinion, to people settling because they're desperate for children, or worried this may be their only chance. If men can walk away from pregnancies, then why can't women just have the pregnancy without the heartache and social discrimination of being left 'holding the baby'.”
Kim said using a sperm donor gives the power back to women and mums. She added: "We 100% accept same sex families having children and single people adopting, so we should now embrace sperm donation and support and admire the women who want to do it.
"I for one cannot wait to have more children in the future and with sperm donation I will still be able to do that. This way, I can also ensure my child knows they were one hundred thousand million percent wanted by everyone involved. ME!”
The Donor Conception Network is a charity offering information, support and community to donor conception families and prospective families. It was started in 1993 by five families with children conceived with the help of sperm donation. They decided, against the advice of the day, to be honest with their children about how they were conceived. Find out more here.
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