How to announce you’re pregnant via a sperm donor.

I spent three years deciding whether or not to become a Mother on my own.  During that time I worried a lot about how I would tell people that I had gotten knocked up by a sperm donor.  The words stalled in my brain.  I worried what people would think and what they might say.  Worse still, I worried what my child might think of me.

Anyone who knows me would be surprised to hear this.  I’m generally a person who doesn’t much care what other people think.  It was so alien to me to be spending time on these thoughts.  Normally I’d be a ‘do it now, worry later’ kind of gal.  This was too big for that kind of impulsivity.  I also work in a restaurant and as such have a lot of people that I’d have to explain a pregnancy to.  That’s a lot of reactions to worry about!

In the end I turned my thinking around.  How would I feel if I was never a Mother?  If I didn’t do this would it be my biggest regret?  Would I become a miserable spirit in the afterlife, hovering around babies cribs??!!

I wasn’t sure how I’d field the questions but I was sure that I needed to be a Mother.  Nobody wants to haunt babies!  I stopped worrying and started trying.

And as you know, it took a long time to get pregnant.  During that time I sincerely wished I hadn’t spent so long worrying about other people.  I was so mad at myself for doubting my path.  I was terrified that I had blown my chance at being a Mother by spending too long thinking about whether or not to do it.  Thankfully it finally worked out and by then I was so happy to be pregnant that my original fears no longer mattered.

At 16 weeks pregnant, my wardrobe options were running out.  I’d gone from wearing figure hugging clothes to baby doll dresses.  It was time to tell work (and the general public!)

I told my work colleagues first.  I was so nervous.  I’d gotten very fond of my giant secret.  I got my co workers in a room and told them together.  The response was amazing!  I received hugs, congratulations and so much love. I was very honest about having conceived on my own and the struggles I’d been through.

“I’m having a baby on my own.  I used a donor and conceived via IVF. I am so ecstatic, it took a long time to get here and I can’t wait to be a Mother!”

I put the tight clothes back on and started telling my customers.  Some people asked genuine questions and all said they thought it was great.  A lot of women said they wished they had done the same thing.

The one demographic that I sometimes got a defensive vibe from was older men.  They would ask questions about the donor (which I would decline to answer as they were often too personal.)  I wondered whether their egos were slightly bruised at the thought of a woman not needing a man in her life to get pregnant.

After 3 years of thinking and researching I felt that the sooner I became comfortable with my story, the better it would be for my child.  It felt super awkward the first few times I told people I don’t know so well that I’m a single mother by choice who used a sperm donor.  It quickly became easier and these days I quite enjoy telling people (when appropriate.)

That said, it’s amazing how infrequently I’m now asked about the other parent.  Once your child is born nobody really cares how they got here.  Our society is so used to broken homes and single Mothers that we just blend into the crowd.IMG_8170

I have however already started telling my son where he came from.  As soon as he was born I made him a book that explains his story to him.  It has a lot of pictures of us and our family.  We read it together about once a week.  Right now the words mean nothing to him but before too long they will begin to make sense to him and become a starting point for his questions.

These days I’m so proud of our story.  I can’t imagine it being any other way.

How to choose a donor again, and again and again…

Once I had decided that I was going to try to have a baby on my own it was time to start thinking about who was going to Father said child.  I considered all the options, some more than others…

  • One Night Stand?  Totally out of the question.  Gross/diseases/timing and of course morality.
  • Known Donor?  I considered this briefly after a ‘close male friend’ offered.  It has its pros and works for some people but I didn’t want the danger of ever having to fight for full custody of my child.  I also didn’t want to be tied to this person for the rest of my life.
  • Sperm Bank?  Overwhelming as there are so many.  For me this was the most logical way even though it was the most expensive.

Once the decision had been made there were a barrage of decisions behind it.  I decided against an anonymous donor immediately.  I am a very honest person and intended to be open with my child about how they came to be.  Choosing someone who had opted out of contact with their offspring seemed wrong to me.  I’d spent time reading up on donor offspring and felt that my child would be a lot less likely to resent me if I had at least afforded them the opportunity to speak to, or meet their donor one day.

So I decided I would choose an ID release or Open Donor, which means that the donor is anonymous until his offspring reach 18 years old.  They are then entitled to at least one contact with him.  This costs more, but in the great scheme of things is a paltry sum to perhaps offset a lifetime of genetic curiosity.

The Sperm Bank and actually choosing the donor.  It took me weeks to stop being overwhelmed by this and to settle on a sperm bank.  I went with one where you could see adult photos.. lets face it, you can be a cute baby but a creepy looking adult.  The bank I chose happened to also be the most expensive one but I reasoned with myself… ‘who wants cheap sperm?’  It didn’t feel like an area I should be saving money.

Choosing a donor is a lot like internet dating… you just have to delve a lot deeper before you can swipe left or right.  The bonus is that you get to read family health history and you know he doesn’t have a drug problem or any STD’s right off the bat.

Donor Number One

I agonized for days over more profiles that I can count.  I took notes.  I had a short-list.  I pored over family histories, interviews, profile pics.  I paid attention to their star sign.  I wondered if we met (and I were younger,) would I date this person?  When my child finally speaks to or meets this man will he understand my choice.  After days and days I finally had my future baby Daddy paid for and winging his way to my clinic.  I was so nervous but so relieved.  I bought Donor One in bulk so I would have enough for 2 kids… but even a bulk buy wouldn’t see me to the end of my journey and after 6 treatments I’d run out of stock.

Donor Number Two

It was when I was 5 days into belly injections for my second round of IVF that I received a call from my clinic to ask when my specimen would arrive.  I was, at that time picking flowers to sell at a local farmers market.  I was gob smacked to discover that they had used up my last two vials during my previous round of IVF but had failed to let me know.

I couldn’t get home fast enough.  I made a call to the sperm bank who informed me that my original donor was sold out.  They kindly let me look at full profiles for free for 3 days.  Of course I didn’t have 3 days.  I had 3 hours to choose my potential kids potential biological other half.  I hurriedly absorbed as many as I could and favorited a handful as I narrowed them down.  At the end of the 3 hours I had picked a donor who seemed even more wonderful than Number One.  I figured maybe it was a sign.  Maybe Number One and I just weren’t compatible but Number Two… now he really seemed like he would have what it took.

Donor Number Three

I was jaded.  Another failed round of IVF behind me.  I had spent more money than I make in a year chasing my dream.  I had had a miscarriage.  I had decided to give it one last try.  I didn’t believe it would work.  I called the sperm bank and tried to get a free trial again to no avail.  I didn’t have money to spend looking at multiple donors.  Then I remembered my favorites.  Fifteen minutes later I had picked the most handsome one.  He had an amazing jawline and good family health history.  That’s all that I cared about.  Besides it was never going to work anyways.

And that is how I picked the best donor.  The donor who would (with a lot of help from Science) make me a mother.  And I couldn’t believe that after all the agonizing he was the one I had spent the least time worrying about.

I have since heard it a lot from women who fight infertility.  That the donor selection becomes less and less important as you go on.  As your hope wanes.  You just want a baby, any baby and it really doesn’t matter where that baby comes from in the end.  You’ve already fallen in love with a couple (or a few) donors along the way and the only person you have energy left to be disappointed with is yourself.

I’m also happy to report that I have now read up on Donor Don (affectionate nickname.) I now know more than his family health history and exquisite jawline.  I even know his star sign.  And if my younger self were to meet him in a bar she would most definitely try to talk to him.