I want a baby on my own, where do I start?
“Forever unlucky in love, “going solo” was something I considered from a young age. I originally talked about doing it when I turned 27 but when that came I knew I wasn’t ready to give up on what I believed was the dream of a husband and a big traditional family. Approaching 30, feeling left behind I still clung on to that hope. I realised I was waiting for the man - when I wanted the baby more. Why couldn’t I do this on my own?
There are so many questions that come up when you start to seriously think about having a baby alone. Emotionally we are all different, everyone will have different motives and doubts. People will be on your side and some will disapprove. But over the last two years I’ve been on quite a journey.
How do you find a clinic?
There are so many different clinics out there. I initially assumed I’d only be able to have treatment at a London Fertility Clinic and as I live in Kent that’s not too bad a journey. After a good Google search I found there was a Care Fertility clinic only a mile down the road from me in Tunbridge Wells! I made contact in February 2017. I knew I didn’t want to go for an appointment yet as I wasn’t planning on starting any treatment until the autumn. I knew once I got there and started talking about it I’d want to do it straight away!!
I had my first consultation in June 2017 - just a chat to see what my options were. I guess this is the point you might decide you aren’t too sure about a clinic and look elsewhere. You’ll know what feels right and for me Care felt like the right place the moment I stepped through the door.
What happens at an initial consultation?
I talked about what I wanted and the timeline involved from my side (this was due to when I was eligible for enhanced maternity at my job!). The Consultant talked me though the process of treatment using donor sperm. He recommended I started off with IUI (intra-uterine insemination) as I didn’t have any obvious fertility issues. My AMH was tested and I was told if it was low they’d recommend having the treatment straight away rather than waiting until the October as planned. It wasn’t. In fact it was very high - a huge relief.
How do you choose a donor?
This is the part of the process most people are interested in! I didn’t know how it worked so was so grateful that the medical and embryology teams were on hand to advise. When I first thought about having a baby on my own I talked to a gay friend of mine about the possibility. Once I knew I really wanted to do it I said if he wanted to be my child’s daddy then let’s go for it. If he just wanted to help me out then I’d rather use an unknown donor. Care recommended this too. They suggested the European Sperm Bank. The thing that sold it for me with the ESB - you get a photo of your donor as a child. There is so much information and it’s all quite overwhelming to start with. I realised as I ploughed my way through profile after profile that actually quite a few things were less important than I initially expected them to be. I found that personality felt less important as I debated nature v nurture. It was really important for my donor to have similar physical characteristics to me. A fellow solo mum said “don’t read the profiles looking for a man you’d like, choose someone who would fit into your family.” I chose a donor with brown hair, blue eyes and pale, freckly skin just like me. I wanted someone who showed creativity and intelligence as I have both those qualities too. What I loved about the ESB was the amount of information you got: general stats, full medical history of him and his entire extended family, a fun questionnaire filled in by him, staff impressions, a personality test as well as the childhood photo. I would have all of his profile printed off and in a folder ready for my child to look at. For them to have a sense of where half their genes came from made me happy.
Before choosing a donor I met with the Care counsellor. This is an HFEA requirement. The anonymity laws changed in 2005 so my child could access the donor’s details when he/she turned 18. We talked about the implications of this.
So donor chosen. What next?
As I was young (34) and had a high AMH I could wait a few months to get started. I met with a nurse to talk me through the IUI process and teach me how inject myself. IUI involved a drug controlled cycle ahead of the insemination. I was on two different drugs, one to stop my natural cycle and another to control a cycle that the clinic could track. Once my period had started I called Care and had an ultrasound scan. I remember the nurse saying “there’s your uterus” and thinking to myself “phew! I need one of those!” I’d been having nightmares that I didn’t have any reproductive organs! I had the scan on 1st November responding so well to the drugs that I was in theatre having the IUI on the 10th!
The dreaded two week wait
After the IUI procedure is done I was given a pregnancy test and a test date. Mine was 19 days after the insemination. These weeks will be the longest weeks of your life. You will question everything, you will Google everything and learn that ANYTHING can be a sign of pregnancy. You will hope and pray more than you ever have in your life.
Two days before I was due to test, my period came. I was gutted. I had really believed it could work, I had responded so well. It wasn’t fair.
It hasn’t worked, what now?
I wanted to get started straight away with another round but my next period coincided with Christmas so I had to have a month’s gap. I’m so glad because emotionally I needed the time to prepare myself to go through it again.
February 2018 came and it all began. There had been no tangible reason why my first round failed, so everything was going to be done in the same way. This time, however, I didn’t respond to the drugs in the same way. The doctors and I were happy to keep going but I did think it was going to be cancelled. I had regular scans for 23 days before the green light was shone. This time I had lots of medium sized follicles rather than a few great, big ones. We went ahead !!
...It didn’t work.
June 2018, my IVF cycle started. I knew the nurses at Care so well and felt in such good hands, I stopped worrying. More injections, higher dosages and a lot more crazy hormones! I had coped with work really well through my IUI treatments but IVF did take its toll on me. I was signed off for a couple of weeks. It was the best decision - I could focus on me and my embryo!
They retrieved 7 eggs, 5 were mature and fertilised. The embryology team were amazing, despite several panicked phone calls from me, even doing an extra check on my embryos to reassure me.
On 9th June 2018, exactly 1 year after my first appointment I had the best embryo transferred. The photograph of it was textbook perfect. One of my embryos was good enough to freeze. This was so reassuring, as if it didn’t work I knew I’d have another one there. I had a Carepay package meaning I’d be ok financially to use this frozen embryo if needed.
I didn’t need that frozen embryo. The transfer was successful and 7 pregnancy tests – yes 7 - confirmed that I was indeed expecting.
On 25th February 2019, after 4 vials of donor sperm, 2 IUI cycles, 1 IVF cycle, 78 injections, dozens of internal scans, a lot of perseverance, determination and desire, Scarlett Imogen Nancy Godsall was born. It had happened. I was a mummy and she is beyond perfect. When I held her for the first time it was like I’d known her forever. Right now it makes no difference to her that she only has a mummy, I have enough love for her and she has everything she could need. There will come a time when questions are asked and she will need to make sense of why she doesn’t have a daddy. But she will always know that her father wanted her to exist. That kind man gave me something I needed to make me complete”
With love from Kimberley and Scarlett xx