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I’m a single mum. What’s that? No, the kids don’t see much of their dad. But don’t let that influence your opinion of him. As a matter of fact, we don’t even know who he is. But that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that he is a kind, unselfish, thoughtful man.

How do I know that? Because he made it possible for me to have a family.

A life’s ambition

I always wanted to be a mother. I took it for granted that I would be married with kids one day; or at least, with kids. I had to have children. It was what I was here to do.

So when my thirtieth birthday arrived, still childless, I was a little disconcerted. True, I had not really wanted kids before then. I was having too much fun. Yes, if one had come along I would have been overjoyed, but I was glad to be free to live my life selfishly.

Not anymore.

Reasoning and reckoning

I’d intended to have my children by the age of 35 and I always wanted children. Not a child. I wanted the noisy, loving chaos of a big family, just as I had growing up as one of five. As a single parent, I knew that my children would need family connections to fulfil their sense of belonging, and what better connection to start with than a brother or sister?

It was time to act.



The options

Becoming a single mother in Australia is not impossible if you are fertile and have a couple of thousand dollars lying around. The regulations are different from state to state and even clinic to clinic. Some clinics still discriminate against single parents. Mine did not.

If you need help with fertility or finance, the story is not so sunny. IVF treatments will leave you around $8,000 out of pocket, depending on your insurance, and that’s for just one attempt (most people need several).

Adoption is even more problematic. If you’re single, it’s nearly impossible in Australia. There are just too many couples seeking and not enough babies to go around.

International adoption will set you back easily $20,000, and take months if not years. Also, you wouldn’t go home with a newborn.

My process

I had blood tests and scans. I only had one ovary (the other was removed during surgery to remove a massive cyst in my early twenties). My fertility specialist wasn’t concerned. I had as good a chance as anyone, she told me, about 15%. What? I thought in horror. OK, stay positive. “If you don’t conceive after four tries, we’ll look at IVF,” she continued. Well, that’s not going to happen, I thought, picturing my bank account.

I attended a counselling session. “Have you thought this through, do you have good support networks, will you cope when your teenage child says, ‘you’re so hopeless you couldn’t even get a man! I want to find my father and live with him! Blah, blah, teen angst!’” Yes, I replied. I am sure I will cop it. But then, I was an impossible teen myself, isn’t karma sweet?

When all the formalities were complete, my name went onto a waiting list and I went on with my life.

The miracle

Seven months later I got an email. Three donors were ready to go, I could choose. With great excitement my family and I poured over three A4, bullet-pointed sheets; age, height, weight, ethnicity, colouring, health, profession, education and a reason for donating: “To carry on my DNA,” read one entry. “To help someone to have a family,” read the winner. This one had excellent health and my mind was made up. On with the show!

Daily blood tests followed. When follicles were about to burst forth with eggs, I went into the clinic, lay down on the bed and, as a friend of mine elegantly put it, the nurse came in with the turkey baster. Then I lay there staring at the ceiling for fifteen minutes before hopping down and heading back to work.

Two interminable weeks of waiting followed. I glumly confessed to my sister that I didn’t think it had worked. I experienced spotting and was certain my period was on its way.

Except it wasn’t. By some miracle, against all the odds, I was pregnant with my first child, my now-three year old daughter.

Everyone was amazed when they heard I had conceived on my very first try. The stunned silence on the end of the phone when I first told my mother the news was hilarious. It didn’t take her long to jump on the expectant-granny bandwagon, though.

Open Book

Once my daughter was born, I advised the clinic for their records. They also agreed to hold some sperm for me if I wanted subsequent children, which I did. I got hold of the official Donor Registry documents so that I could add my daughter’s name in, for other related parties to see. That way, if the father or any other of his biological offspring wanted to find out about her existence, they could.

I have not yet put her name (or her brother’s name) into this register. I’ve decided to wait until they are older. At the age of 16, they can decide for themselves. If they are like me, they will want to know everything they can about their origins, so I hope for their sake that the father, that kind, altruistic gentleman, has added some details for them. That is the only legal way my children will ever know their father.

It’s a big step to take on your own. But I know my children will be confident enough to live in this new world of unique family types. We will build our normal together.

Has anyone else been through this and like to share your experience? Please share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • My gf who is over 50 now wishes she did this years ago. She wanted to have kids so bad but didn’t want to be a single mum but still not in a relationship she now really regrets it so I’m glad you took a chance and did it for yourself.
    I know it will definitely be hard on your own. My hubby is a shift worker and with covid lingering he does a lot of 12 hour days with two hours’ travel time so I’m left feeling like a single mum most of the time as he’s either at work or asleep!
    Bravo to all of the parents out there doing the best they can for their kids.

    Reply

  • When I looked into this, (I’m a solo parent of a girl of six and twin boys of 4) i was told there was a shortage of sperm donors in my state. What I thought was shonky was that the very reputable IVF agency I used, said in order to access the sperm donors I had to pay over $1000, and only after I paid up was the shortage revealed i.e. they had 3 donors in total, 1 of whom was already in the donation process with a would be mum. I ended up using donor eggs and sperm overseas, by a very reputable agency, who provided a huge amount more background info, including full medical background going back 3 generations. It is really hard , but better solo and healthy than with a toxic lazy partner. I tried to have kids ‘naturally’ for over 20 years, this was the only way in the end, and I will always remember , whenever news is focusing on the acts of awful people, that there are many good people out there too. My egg donor even left a little present for me with the clinic, on top of the greatest gift of all, life.

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  • I seriously considered this when single: I knew it would be very hard.

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  • I have 3 friends, sisters, who all had IVF to become single mums. One went back for seconds. It’s not easy, but they’re all there for each other and mum is there to help also. They’re a great example of a perfect family

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  • Thank you for sharing :)

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  • Everyone’s choice is valid & have the utmost respect for any women going down the path of being a solo mum by choice. It’s so much more involved than many know, expensive, emotionally and physically taxing but most importantly -a dream come true having a child. These kids are so loved, so wanted and amazing mums who embark on this journey.

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  • I think this is so great that you were able to do this. If you’re single and want kids of your own then go for it.

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  • Hi everyone’s path is different

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  • After struggling with ppd after my sons birth I would have found that really tough to go through without a partner home every afternoon/evening to lighten the load. But as she says, I didn’t have a support network outside of my partner so if you do then I’m sure that wouldn’t be an issue. Good on her for creating the family she wanted!

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  • I have 2 boys conceived with donor sperm as a fully single parent. I’m also expecting my 3rd child. I have no regrets about choosing to have children this way. Yes it has cost me quite a bit of money as I wasn’t as luck as you (took nearly 12 months to fall pregnant with both boys, 1st transfer after egg collection with my 3rd), but my kids are worth every cent I’ve spent. Of course it is hard but I would imagine all parents would say raising children is hard. As long as you have supportive family and friends then all is good. IVF is not easy and shouldn’t be a decision that anyone takes lightly. Again, it is 100% worth it when that little baby is in your arms.

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  • I’m glad your dream became true for you

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  • Interesting article about parenthood, and different journeys to get there

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  • Lovely story, so interesting to hear how this can be achieved.

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  • This is a brave decision – and I mean “brave I respect it” not “brave you shouldn’t have done that”. It’s hard enough parenting with a partner – solo would be so much harder.

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  • This is a wonderful journey!
    I have respect for anyone that chooses to be a single parent and going through each one of these stages cannot be easy.
    Amazing strength!

    Reply

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