Tell me that the title alone isn’t enough to have you wanting to read more? I find this story nothing short of fascinating. Not to mention the respect I have for Liv of @livsalone for, well, going it alone and to sharing it with such EXCELLENT spirit and humour:
● You find yourself 37, single and having wanted to be a mother since you first looked after your Sylvanian Families when you were 4. What do you? Couple of choices:
● 1. You run amok on Match.com / Guardian Soulmates / Tinder … date anyone who has kind eyes. Hope that on the first date, they don’t mind you asking for a double gin and a lifelong commitment of sharing genetics via a small human because, you know, you have a biological clock as well the GSOH you advertised.
● 2. You forego your dream of becoming a mother via pregnancy. You spend the rest of your days trying not to feel like you are being kicked in the face every time someone tells you they are with child. The itch you will never, ever be able to scratch. An empty womb you will carry round inside you like a dusty unused tupperware.
● 3. You embrace the fact you are born in a time where you have options. Bloody amazing options. Options where you can fulfil your dreams. Alone. You are going to buy sperm online. Just what you had always dreamt of.
● I chose option 3. Obviously it wasn’t an overnight decision and I am all too aware, having lost both my parents as a teenager, that I am bringing a child into the world one parent down. I truly believe, however, that this does not make it a bad or a wrong decision, for me or the babe. This is very definitely the right decision for me and I am thrilled I am able to make it.
● So how do you go about buying sperm and getting that bun firmly in a hot oven? Surprisingly it is much easier than I thought. The massive stumbling block is money. Fertility treatment, of any sort, is like that old Tom Hanks film The Money Pit … every direction you turn you need more money.
● Not forgetting that I wouldn’t be in a position, should I get pregnant, of my darling husband still paying the mortgage whilst I bought Babyccinos on maternity leave for up to a year.
● I mortgaged myself to within an inch of my life, found a clinic, read some articles about where to buy the good stuff and suddenly the ball (or ironically lack of them) was firmly in motion. Decision made. Donor being sought.
● Family & friends were told & were overwhelmingly supportive. I did ignore the sage advice of one godmother ‘oh darling I do hope your parents dying hasn’t affected you too much, could you not just find a husband?’ Sure. Will do. Eye roll.
● Once I make a decision, I get on with it. Sometimes to the detriment of proper planning! So my one regret is not looking into clinics enough. I googled clinics in Harley St (actually cheaper than my local one that also comes with a very, very poor reputation) and chose the first one that came up. In hindsight I now know there are alternative ones that would have suited me much better
. ● After a consultation, it was decided I was going to have natural IUI (Intrauterine insemination) treatment, not IVF. Basically placing the swimmers straight inside my uterus. I had all the medical tests & everything was in good nic, ‘for someone my age,’ so no reason why I would need any fertility drugs – thank god because that triples the cost, not to mention the hormones. I was really lucky.
● Turkey basting. That is what I was doing. The romance of it all! I would buy sperm, the clinic would store it, I would go to the clinic when I was ovulating, they would place it in my uterus (exactly the same procedure as a smear test. Like I said, romantic.) and bingo, I would be pregnant. Just like that. I jest.
● I knew I wasn’t go to go buy sperm from the UK, mainly because it is not something people do over here so the choice of ‘stock’ is really limited. I cannot, however, remember why I chose to have a Danish donor … but hey they are the happiest people on earth, so why the hell not. And I liked The Killing as much as the next person, so surely it was the way to go?
● I found the sperm bank, I created an account and then bingo … there are thousands of donors at your digital fingertips.
● I literally did not know where to start. Where do you start with that sort of thing? The one thing I knew I did want was an open donor … meaning, at 18, the babe can contact the donor should they want to. I wanted the babe to have that option. Thankfully that cut down the list of potential genetic suitors. A bit.
● I set aside a weekend, bought some almond Magnums in bulk and I started to whittle down the candidates.
● You get a huge amount of information: ethnicity / height / weight / hair colour / eye colour / blood type … the list goes on. And on. And on.
● Then once you have filtered that down, you click on the donor and a VAST amount of information for each donor pops up.
● A handwritten letter about why they are a donor, an audio file of them reading that letter, a photo of them as a baby, psychometric tests, info on their parents / grandparents / siblings, their favourite colour, best childhood memory, favourite film, on & on & on. Honestly mind boggling amounts of info.
● At the beginning I was all about height (tall & skinny please to counteract my short & round!) and hair colour (blond, my whole family are blonde so may as well stick to what we know!) and whether they sounded like they might be a bit fun to hang out with.
● Plays guitar? Tick. Loves dog? Tick tick tick. Fluent in three languages? Oui oui si. Favourite Memory was surfing with his friends in the summer? All the ticks. Obsessed with food? Tickety McTickerson.
● Then it dawned on me that this was all shite … I mean some of it *may* be genetically passed down but actually what I really needed to know was about genetic family history. My family is riddled with cancer and so it would be good to know that I wasn’t adding to that lottery if at all possible.
● Thankfully this filtered the list down some more and after a few more Magnums (I had given up booze in order to try and make my chances of getting pregnant more successful, otherwise I would have been mainlining spirits) I got down to the final two.
● I had the XFactor voiceover guy in my head. ERIK & BJORN WELCOME TO THE FINAL.
● The winner was chosen, thankfully not on the command of Simon Cowell, but largely because he was my age, whilst the other one was a student. I made an assumption that the older guy would have thought about it more and the student was probably doing it for the cash!
● Also the chosen donor, mentioned that he and his wife had spoken about it, they would welcome any offspring for a coffee in the future should they want to meet their donor and the clinic said he had asked not to be paid because he wasn’t doing it for the money. So either a megalomaniac or a winner. I am hoping for the latter.
● He was tall. He wasn’t blond.
● Then what do you do? Once you have found the future genetics of your child? You press ‘add to basket’ of course. I kid you not. You chose how many samples you want, as if you are buying pints of milk, then you add those little swimmers to your virtual basket. Mental.
● Then you pay one billion dollars to have it cryogenically shipped to the UK in some Doctor Who’esque container, another four billion dollars for the UK clinic to store it whilst your eggs do their thing, but other than that you are good to go. You are on your way to makin’ bacon (Another bloody good reason to choose Danish surely … they do good bacon)
● So, my golden Danish swimmers were sat in Harley Street waiting to make my dreams come true.
● Sadly the first three attempts this wasn’t to be. I knew it was unlikely to happen quickly, but still you always hope don’t you.
● The crushing disappointment of failed pregnancy tests was almost too much. The isolation you feel, the feeling you have failed, not least the cost of it all. I knew I had to keep going though.
● Then, on my fourth romantic turkey basting experience, the spermy stars were in alignment and two weeks later I found out that my Viking baby was firmly in place. I was pregnant. Me pregnant. It had happened. It had actually bloody happened. To me.
● Now, 40 weeks later I am anxiously waiting for this bundle to pop out any day. Thrilled I made the decision. Terrified I am about to become a mother. So very, very grateful to the donor that is making my dreams come true. Seriously excited to meet my baby and to tell him of the amazing journey we took together.
● Long live internet shopping.
What a lovely, warm, heart-fit-to-burst read! Best of luck with the birth and babe, and thanks Clemmie for another list I didn’t know I wanted or needed to read!
Good luck Liv! I really enjoyed reading this, not least because our stories are so similar: I’m 38 and due in 3 weeks, having also gone it alone, with absent parents, the same realisation of what’s important when choosing your donor and the same struggles with IUI (had success with IVF in the end). I still sometimes fall into the trap of thinking I’ve done this for selfish reasons (that idea of a crazy, hormonal woman who’s bringing a child into a solo parent/grandparent world just coz she’s desperate for babies and previously kept picking bad partners) but I’m getting much better at feeling proud of my decision and this process, and I’m truly excited to meet the little one in a few weeks.
Best of luck!
Ps In case you’ve not come across them, the Donor Conception Network has good, practical info on how to talk about your babe’s genetic background both with them and with friends/family: http://www.dcnetwork.org
Fuck, I love you
Wonderful story , written beautifully , I hope you continue with a blog or whatever it is called …
My friend sent me this article as I’m 40, single and I was considering going down this route myself very soon – job & money dependant! I have no doubts I will do this now after reading your story. I’m sure once I start researching in more depth I will find so much information but this is a perfect starting point and interesting to read about Danish sperm banks – I had heard they’re the UK’s biggest donors aka The Modern Invasion 😆 Thanks so much for writing this and good luck to you and everyone going down the same route!
Do check out the Donor Conception Netwotk: there is Prepering for Donor Addicted Parenting workshop specially for single women – you are not alone!
Oops! I should have checked the silly spell checker: that’s donor assisted, I hope you realised!
It is so desperately tragic that you have decided to rob your own son of any potential relationship with his father. You made a choice to do this alone, but in doing so robbed him of a chance of a father/son bond in his life. Real love is sacrificial, but you sound in this blog post like a spoilt brat demanding a baby like a new bag. You don’t have a right to a child, they’re a precious gift born of love, not quasi-capitalist demand. Please consider getting some contact details of the donor, for the sake of your child who will surely ask these sad questions in years to come.
Livs little boy has been robbed of nothing!
And if you actually read this properly, she chose an open donor so that her babe could contact the biological father once he’s 18.
Why do you feel the need to be so nasty and bitter?
I think everything Liv is doing a flipping marvellous!!
If you’d actually read the article properly, Liv does state that she has an open donor who the baby can contact should they want to, when it turns 18. Not every situation is ideal, not every situation has both parents. There’s so many single mums in the world doing an incredible job.m, Liv being one of them. Your narrow minded, backward opinions are slightly ridiculous and make you sound very spiteful and bitter. Get over yourself.
It’s so depressingly tragic that you have chosen not to read the full blog post and assume you know what you’re talking about. Liv has clearly stated she got all the information, genetics and back story. You have no idea what she will do with that information for those 18 years, whether it’s speak about him every night or wait till the time is right. The sperm donor has agreed with his wife that they would welcome said child, that was precious gift born from love by two strangers (and an understanding wife that wanted to gift such a precious thing to someone with no monetary benefit in mind – It was all from love), for a coffee in the future. We could all use some happy sperm if it’s to make babies as perfect as The Babe.
Brilliant post-this made me so happy. You are a superstar and a fantastic writer. X