Sunday, March 28, 2010

Known Donor

Over the past few years I have heard friends partners joke about giving me their sperm for "free" whenever I discussed my choice of becoming a mother using donor insemination. This was said in fun of course, but sometimes it felt like they didn't understand where I was in my life. I usually just laughed along with them to avoid my own reality. However, I have a very close friend who I have known most of my life who I felt very comfortable asking him if he'd donate his sperm for me to have a baby. He said he'd think about. Over the years he listened to me when I talked about wanting to become a mother. After I was referred to a clinic and started to go through the process, he came forward and said he would donate his sperm for me to have a baby.

When he first offered I was over the moon. He was really happy with his decision as well. Even our parents were thrilled with our alternative decision to bring a baby into all of our lives. As I shared my exciting news with friends they kept asking me what his role would look like? I didn't have the answers to their questions. I knew I would be primary care-giver and I knew he would be involved somehow because we're best friends and no matter who the baby's biological father was, he was already an uncle through our friendship.

I started to wonder what his role would be if he was the biological father too?
Then I started to think and plan his role for him. This went on for about week. As the questions buzzed in my head I continued to spin various stories about how we looked in the baby's future. I had gone from living and working in the city I was currently in to moving next door to him and looking for work in the city he was currently living. I started to send him emails, texts, leave him phone messages about every thought that entered into my mind on what co-parents would need to think about. I asked him everything from circumcision to Baptism to school choices (French vs. English). By the end of the next week he had decided that maybe his offer to help his dear friend become a mother may not have been the best choice. His words were quite lovely and loving. His want to be a sperm donor was to help fulfill my desire to become a mother, not his desire to be a father. His love for me as a friend was so great he was willing to give me a beautiful gift of life, until I spun my thoughts too far into our futures and freaked us both out. His words were surprisingly a relief for me at the time as well.

We left this topic alone for months and I began to seek more information on unknown donors. As I started my first cycle monitoring, on DAY 10 the ultra sound revealed that my egg was in my left fallopian tube and expected to release in a few days. Possibly the idea of me being "ready" to ovulate forced us to discuss sperm donor again, at this time he agreed to donate his sperm and followed through for that cycle.

I felt that I had a better understanding of what a "known donor's" role was by then, also some of the pros and cons of our choice. No matter how much planning anyone does in preparing to have a baby, you can't plan everything. The one thing I do know is how comforting it was to go through the process of insemination and know my baby's biological father. His role in my baby's life can't be defined by me, but his role as my best friend is always oscar winning. Even though I am leaving it up to him to create his role, to ease my own anxiety about it I continue to think of him as an uncle to my child who is also "donor dad".

I know I will create an age appropriate but truthful story about how my baby and I came to be a family. To help me explain this to my child in the future I decided to begin a journal of my journey to bring us together. I started it on DAY 1 of my first cycle monitoring, I want my baby to know how much s/he was wanted and desired. That s/he was well thought of long before s/he arrived to be in my life. I want to be able to share my positive thoughts about the whole process so s/he will be able to read my love as well as live it no matter how long it may take for us to be together.

As for our parents, they couldn't be happier for all of us. My friend's parents have been like parents to me for most of my life. They were always in my plans for my child's other grandparents, now maybe they'll also be biological grandparents too. This is definitely uncharted territory for all of us. We will continue to keep the line of communication open and if our view of family needs adjustment I'm confident we'll respectfully discuss it and implement changes as needed.

When thinking about using a "known donor" you have to search yourself for every question you have for you and your donor friend to ensure you're both entering into this agreement with your eyes wide open, even at the risk of freaking both of you out, your baby is worth all of it.

Researching yourself SILLY!

As I mentioned previously I think it's a great idea to gather, share and discuss as much information as you can collect on your choice. I think owning a book on the process of becoming pregnant right through to birth (and so on) is a very important resource, as well as your doctor, nurses and technicians at your clinic. However, I am finding that I have so much knowledge in this area now that I am feeling things that may not actually be present, such as I was told that my egg was going to be releasing from my left fallopian tube and immediately I felt it. Even though my common sense told me that it was gas or just in my head, my want for my egg to release on it's own was stronger than my reality.

So when it was insemination time, I was sure I felt pregnant within an hour. I started to read and reread and reread the section on "conception". I visualized the sperm catching my egg, my egg being fertilized and my egg attaching to the wall of my uterus. I read that you may have a metallic taste in your mouth, soon after I had a metallic taste in my mouth. I read that I may feel tired or have to use the washroom more, both of those symptoms surfaced. I started to dream about all of the things I was reading. As mentioned in an earlier post I also took a pregnancy test daily for the first 8 days after both days of insemination. I woke up on the 9th day and decided to stop driving myself crazy and just wait the recommended 14 days. I learned that everything in these paragraphs are a bit "SILLY" and if I find out that I will need to go through the insemination process again, I won't be as "SILLY". Excitement, nervousness, fear and impatience played a main part in my role as the "SILLY woman" who thought she felt pregnant the moment after conception.

I am not saying don't do what I did, but don't beat yourself up if you do. I think it may all be part of the process too, maybe the part people don't talk about. Being "SILLY" didn't hurt anyone, or cause any grief to my process, although it made me laugh now and then it also made me a bit stressful and momentarily sad. Again, I'm not sure if I would have felt these feelings if I wasn't going through he process and just not notice because I wouldn't be so focused.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Part of this whole process has been "waiting". The fact that I started thinking about becoming a mother more then three years ago surprisingly feels like yesterday. In order to get here I had to make a decision to leave a partner who didn't want the same things I wanted, seek medical advice and finally start preparing physically and mentally for this moment. Now that I am actually "in" the process of becoming a mother, all of a sudden the "wait" feels much longer. Waiting for my period to begin so I can start cycle monitoring, waiting for donor sperm to be delivered, waiting for insemination, waiting to see if I get my period and then starting the cycle monitoring all over again.

Cycle monitoring has replaced the method of taking your temperature to indicate when you're ovulating. On the first day of your period you call the "cycle monitoring" nurses desk, they will record this day as Day 1. On Day 3 you go to the clinic for blood work and an ultrasound. By monitoring your hormones levels through blood work and looking at your reproductive organs with ultrasounds, this process can pin point almost the exact time your egg will be released from your fallopian tube. On Day 10 you return for the same procedures. This continues everyday until your egg is about to release, then you're inseminated with a single unit of donor sperm and the day after your egg releases you're inseminated again with a single unit of donor sperm. You have the choice of course whether to use a single or both inseminations a cycle. It will cost twice as much to use two units however your chances of getting pregnant increases greatly.

Once inseminated then the "REAL" wait begins. Between the time of insemination and your expected period date (14 days after ovulation)can feel like a life time. It is recommended to wait the 14 days after your insemination before taking a pregnancy test. Immediately after my first insemination I went out and bought a pregnancy test. The latest brand, you pay a little more but it states that you can use it five days earlier. I put this test on my bathroom vanity as if it was part of a shrine to my journey, I couldn't wait to use it.

In my conception book it states that it takes seven days after conception before the egg is attached to the uterus and becomes an embryo, producing the hormone hCG that will appear in your urine which indicates whether you're pregnant or not. Perhaps if I hadn't have found IVF pregnancy tests at a dollar store the day after I bought the other pregnancy test, I may have waited the full two weeks. However, even though I cognitively knew that it was far too early to take a pregnancy test I couldn't stop myself. Every morning after my insemination I woke up with cheer in my heart praying as I took the test. Those few seconds after I dripped urine on the stick waiting for it to read "positive" was exciting, but when it read "negative", which it will until the embryo has started to produce enough hCG levels to indicate otherwise (or if you're not pregnant) it is disappointing. I strongly recommend saving your money and waiting the full two weeks.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Identifying with what my choice is...

As I mentioned earlier on in my blog, I met a group of women through a friend's colleague who meet monthly. Much of my information came from meetings with these ladies. When I first heard of this group my friend's colleague identified them with the name "single women choosing motherhood". Soon we're going to attend a documentary which I think was created by a member called "Plan B". It's about single women choosing motherhood. You can preview it from the site below.

I can hear my voice in this documentary and I shared it with my family and friends, I figured if I could hear myself in this documentary perhaps they will hear me too. More about this I get closer to my insemination date.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thick Skin

Having "think skin" is something that I have developed around my decision of being a single woman choosing motherhood. Many people, family and close friends, questioned me and continue to question my decisions in a positive way, in order to provide answers I need to be informed and secure on my path. Through this process I have felt more support then I knew was possible. Also, some of the conversations I've had are so foreign to what any of us knew before I started my journey, I think all of us have learned unique knowledge along the way, and "sperm" alone has created much more conversation and laughs than one could ever predict.

The clinic I am a patient at treat my situation as "infertility", but I am not infertile, I'm single. I felt I was secure in my decision and my place in life, but it was reaffirmed when I was able to laugh at comments such as: "your uterus is beautiful, your ultra sound is perfect, has your husband been tested?" My response in the moment was "no husband,no partner, it's just me." I said this with a smile, my attempt to let the technician know I was okay with her failure to look closely at my file. Later on another day, during my cycle monitoring, the same technician said, "Everything looks good, you should go home and have sex with your husband tonight." I smiled and said "okay." It's surprising I haven't freaked out over these errors because I use to cry over being single, now I am so focused on being a mother I don't even flinch when my status is asked, "yes, I'm single." I am not excusing the errors that continue to be made due to lack of interest in individual patient files, but my focus is elsewhere and I really want to keep the clinic a positive atmosphere for me right now. I do however want to prepare women making the same choice as I have to prepare themselves for the possibility of these errors.

Preparing your body for conception/pregnancy and motherhood

The beauty of planning to have a donor insemination is that you can take the time to prepare your body and your life for a baby. The first thing I did was visit my doctor and discuss timelines for when I wanted to get pregnant and what I needed to do to prepare my body for conception/pregnancy. As I mentioned in an earlier posting, my doctor recommended that I have the Hep A/B vaccine. This required 6 months (1st, 2nd and 6th month). At that point I looked at April as my conception date.

Once I prepared my head for the idea of choosing single motherhood, I was aware of some of the obvious preparation for a healthy pregnancy (e.g., no alcohol, no smoking, eat healthy, etc.), but not everything. I didn't know how important it is to prepare your body for conception. Many people I know didn't have time to prepare their bodies, they either woke up pregnant or right after they made the decision to "try" before they could say "prepare" they were pregnant. When you are choosing motherhood as a single woman (using donor insemination), you have time to prepare.

The first thing I did was stop taking birth control, it's recommended that you stop taking it at least one month before you are planning to conceive. I took birth control for 18 years without a break, stopping it was easy, but experiencing a regular menstrual cycle for the first time as an adult was painful. I have heard female friends complain about having to stay in bed with menstrual pains and I thought to myself, "drama queens" - by my second month off birth control I certainly could out "Queen" any of them. It took my body three months to get use to my monthly "visitor from hell". If you are using an IUD a little more advance planning is needed, you need to have it removed.

"Smoking is one of the most damaging things you can do as far as the health of your baby is concerned and it's a major cause of avoidable health problems. Risks linked to smoking include miscarriage and stillborn, damage to placenta, a low birth-weight baby who fails to thrive, and higher risk of fetal abnormalities. Smoking is one cause of low sperm count, and a man who smokes around a pregnant woman may damage the unborn baby's health through passive smoking. And the problems continue. When tested at five, seven, eleven years old, children of heavy smokers were found to suffer from impaired growth and learning difficulties."(Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009) Lucky for me I am not a smoker, however I will make sure not to expose myself and my unborn baby to second hand smoke.

Alcohol "is a poison that can damage the sperm and egg before conception, as well as the developing embryo. The main risk to an unborn baby are developmental delay, growth deficiencies, and damage to the brain and nervous system - well documented as fetal alcohol syndrome. Alcohol can also cause stillbirth. Research suggests that the effect of alcohol on pregnant women varies: some are more affected than others. But one thing is certain: if you don't drink alcohol during your pregnancy you'll avoid any problems" (Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009) directly caused by alcohol. This is one habit I may struggle with before I'm pregnant. I decided to stop drinking to cleanse my body for conception, I have drank a few times since I said "no more". I know I won't drink when I am pregnant, but I am not sure how much I will miss it. I've heard friends discuss this and I've read material on women mourning the loss of alcohol. I may feel a little awkward making this change in my life, but being pregnant and providing my unborn baby with the best life from conception is part of my plan. I am also shifting from thinking of my needs and wants to thinking of my unborn baby's needs (more on this subject later).

Everyone knows that in life diet and exercise are very important to achieve good health and live the best life possible. Your health is crucial for your your baby's health. "Eating a sensible balanced diet that's low in animal fat and includes at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day. It's important to take daily folic acid supplements in addition to eating a diet rich in nutrients because it's known to lower the risk of your baby suffering from any neural tube defects, such as spina bifida." (Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009) A friend of mine acknowledged her support for my plan by buying me folic acid supplements and explained how important it was for me to take them. You should start taking prenatal vitamins with at least 400 mcg of folic acid daily three months before you conceive. Also include foods in your diet with are high in folic acid such as; "black-eyed bean, brussel sprouts, beef extract, yeast extract, cooked kidney beans, kale, spinach, whole-grain bread, spring greens, broccoli, liver, lima beans, mushrooms, nuts (particularly walnuts), peas, and green beans." (Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009) I eat most of these foods daily, so that doesn't concern me, but the frequent fast food restaurants I visit needs to change. It's never been good for me, but now that I am thinking of my unborn baby, somehow that makes me choose Subway over McDonald's. Also I need to include regular exercise in my life again. "Pregnancy puts a strain on your body, so the more fit you are beforehand, the better you'll cope." (Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009)

I also recommend owning/borrowing a book which helps you understand what you're body is going through from conception to birth. I have learned a lot from Dr. Miriam Stoppard's book "Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth " published in 2009, I like that when I have a question I can refer to her book and find an answer. I chose this book after searching everywhere in Chapters/Indigo in all of Toronto for a book on donor insemination. After reading many books I found a section on my choice in this book only. My reason for starting this BLOG was to provide a true experience of a single woman choosing motherhood. I hope that women who are ready and wanting to be a mother but are not in a relationship will look at this alternative method as an option and feel proud and secure in her seeking information.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why don't you wait?

"Why don't you wait?" This has been a very popular question from many folks who are dear to me. Asking this questions isn't a negative feeling towards my decision, but it is based on not having "all" of the information. I have read a lot on this subject and I encourage anyone who is over 35 years old and thinking of "waiting" to investigate for themselves.

What I learned was that the "a woman's entire stock of eggs is made in her two ovaries before her birth. By the fifth month of development, a baby girl's ovaries contain about seven million eggs. Many of these eggs will die before she is born, leaving her with about two million eggs at birth. Eggs continue to die until at puberty most women have between 200, 0000 and 500, 000 eggs. Of these, only 400-500 mature and they're released by the ovaries during a woman's fertile years at the rate of roughly one a month." (Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009)

"The fertility for both men and women reaches its peak at about the age of 24. The older you are the longer it can take to conceive. The older you are the less time you have. The number of infertile women increases with age: one in ten women between the ages of 20 and 24 are infertile, but this increases to nearly 30% of women aged 40-44. The overall quality of a woman's eggs diminishes with age as does the number of healthy eggs produced at any one time. A woman's uterus gets less receptive to a fertilized egg as she gets older, so successful implantation is less likely. The incidence of Down Syndrome rises with age of the mother, particularly over 35." (Dr. Miriam Stoppard 2009)

The fact that I am ready right now is enough for me to go ahead, but knowing that the risks increase the longer I wait is confirming. All I can suggest is that you know your facts. Do the research. And talk to your doctor.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sperm anyone?

"How do you choose the donor?" One of the most popular questions I have been asked throughout my journey. Anyone can look online at sperm bank catalogues and view donors. Through my meetings with the other women going through the same decisions and discussing my ideas with family and friends I have decided to strictly stick to genetics and not to get caught up with "interests, programs or goals". Since most of the donors are students at the time they make deposits, most have the intelligence to enter post secondary school. What they take, what their interests are and what they want to achieve is all based on environment. What they look like, how tall they are and their health records at the time of their deposit are genetic. The old argument "nature verses nurture" can cloud your views when searching if you aren't clear with what you're looking for.

I decided to look for donors who look like me. My baby will be surrounded by my family, I want my baby to look as much like we do as possible. So when the question "who do you look like?" is asked the answer will be obvious.

I started my search looking for donor files that stated "open ID". I wanted to make sure that my baby would have the option at 18 years old to find out her/his biological father's name. This narrowed my search down a lot. However, after speaking with a consultant from a clinic I realized that even if the donor agreed at the time of deposit to have an "open ID" the process isn't as simple as it sounds. If my child wants to connect with her/his biological father at 18 years old (sperm bank will not release information before the age of 18 years old) they have to contact the sperm bank I used (assuming it is still in business and files available). The sperm bank would contact the donor and seek approval for releasing his name. At that point the donor can decide if he would like his name released or not. If he decides yes, then s/he can move forward, however if he says no, then that's the end. Therefore I decided not to narrow my search to "open ID" only.

Another piece of information I learned was that the donor's sperm is released depending on population of the area the women are having the sperm delivered. For every 100 000 people 3 specimens from the same donor is released. However these particular sperm banks supply specimen all over North America. I was under the impression that there would be a cap on how many pregnancies there were by the same donor, but this isn't the case. This was another one of my moments of doubt because the thought of half siblings of my baby all over the place made me nervous. However, I have been open from the beginning of my journey into motherhood and plan to continue. I will find away to tell my baby her/his story of where s/he came from so s/he will grow up knowing that a donor was used for her/his conception. Knowing this information s/he will know the possibilities of half siblings and we will move forward with what s/he wants to do. I will also investigate with the sperm bank to see if we can find out about half siblings. I'm not sure though, this is one of those gray areas.

Washed verse unwashed sperm. If you're going to use a syringe for a vaginal injection you may choose to use washed or unwashed. However, if you are going to use the catheter method you must use washed. This is something you will have to plan with your doctor. Many friends have asked me the difference between washed and unwashed sperm, I am unclear of the exact differences. The washed sperm is more expensive. The washed sperm has been chemically washed, because it is being injected directly into the uterus using a catheter. With a vaginal injection the sperm will naturally be washed as it journeys to the uterus. My doctor recommended the catheter method the day before my egg is released and the day after, so sperm in waiting to fertilize the egg and can also swim after it once it's released. This method increases your costs, since you will need to purchase two units of sperm each attempt. Your chances of getting pregnant using the catheter method is higher because the sperm doesn't have to travel.

The prices are all on the companies sites you choose to use. There are many fees/extra costs that are added on that you can't avoid. The banks will deliver the specimen to your doctor for the time you need it.

More information to come on this subject...

Clarity - moments of doubt

Throughout the past three years I have experienced moments of doubt in moving forward with my decision to be a single mother. Most of the doubtful moments came and went within a day or so. Once I gave it time to work itself out I was usually able to move past it and feel stronger in my decision. The first major doubtful moment was a day after I returned from church. I admit I am not a regular church goer, but I have always found peace when I attend now and then. One Sunday morning in the fall 2009 I woke up early and decided to walk to church. The service was fine. The feeling of peace was felt, but after the service I went home and that night I woke up in the middle of the night faced with the question "Would God approve?"

With that question weighing on my mind I started to journal my feelings and fears. I called many friends to discuss this thought and the reactions/responses I got were amazing. My favourite one, which I still use to this day, was when a dear friend said to me, "The God I know loves all children." After I sat with this for a few days I moved through this moment. I did it, I faced the religion verses science debate dead on and I felt victory for my baby and me.

Another fear that woke me up in the middle of the night was the idea of having twins. I had a dream that I had a boy and a girl. One was really big and the other really small. I was yelling in my dream "Twins? Twins? How am I going to raise twins on my own?" This was a real fear I had that I apparently suppressed from myself until it surfaced in my dream and woke me up. I worked through it. I realized that I would know early on in my pregnancy and make the adjustments I would need to make in order to prepare myself to have twins. I am okay with this outcome, I still think it'll be really hard, but I know I'll be okay. At this moment I realized I can't control the outcomes of this journey, I can only prepare myself for it as I go, but not control.

My underlying fear from the beginning has been "Will my baby accept my choice?" I feel confident most days about my decision, I have to believe in myself and the strength I will give my baby in order to understand how we came to be a family.

There have been other moments of doubt, but none that haunted me like those above. I think for any woman preparing to have a baby in whatever method they choose, there will be doubt and fear. It's unknown, and sometimes the unknown is scary. I have my family and friends support, along with my faith which helps keep me grounded and moving forward. I know that my decision is of an alternative nature, but my belief in myself and my ability to be the best mother I can be will overcome all fear/doubt.

"Let's Give'em Something to Talk About!"

Talking about my choice has made me more comfortable in making my decisions. The more I talk about it, the more questions are presented to me which I need to reseach further to find the answers that's the best pathway for me. About two months ago I started to let my colleagues know about my plans. I knew I would be taking time off work for appointments, plus I didn't want to show up one day pregnant so I started talking to a few people outside of close friends. Now I am very comfortable talking (and blogging) about it. I find many people supportive of my decision, however because it's an alternative choice many people have a lot of questions. I love to talk about what I learned and what choices I have made so far for myself. I find the more at ease I am in discussing it, the more acceptable and easier for others it is to converse.

Looking back, I am surprised with how positive my feelings are about my decision from the beginning. I only feel excitement, joy and relief. Three years ago when I first thought of this method I felt that I may attach negative emotions to it when the time came, such as; emabarrassed, ashamed, or desperate. I simply don't. I have faced many moments of uncertainty but not negativity.

Next steps...Fetility testing

Mid February 2010 my friend was visiting from my home town in NS and she agreed to come to my second fertility appointment. My first appointment was a pelvic ultrasound. Since I had cyst on my ovaries for the past decade, I have had pelvic ultrasounds twice a year since 2000. It's uncomfortable, but not painful. The hardest part is having a full bladder and a technician squirt cold gel on your stomach and press a cold instrument into your bladder. The technician knows how uncomfortable you are and does try to go fast.

Then you get to empty your bladder and return to something no one can prepare you for, so I will do my best to describe it as respectfully as possible. You're given a blanket to cover yourself because you are nake from the waste down. The technician uses a device that looks like a white plastic vibrator, which happens to be a camera. She covers it with a condom and lubricates your vagina. Sometimes the technician describes every step from cover the penis shaped camera with a condom to inserting it and so on. Honestly, I prefer the quiet technicians.

The technician is watching the screen and examining various areas of your insides, taking pictures, she can also measure particular body parts such as ovaries and cysts which have formed on them (to compare from previous and future exams if needed). All in all, this part of the appointment wasn't new for me, therefore I was comfortable going alone.

The next day my friend came with me, I was glad to have her there. She said she wasn't uncomfortable, even though it was a little awkward for both of us. Before this appointment I was told to take Advil for pain, which made me really nervous. It wasn't too bad. I had to strip down from my waist down and lay on a bed with my feet in stirrups (unfortunately for most women this position is familiar thanks to our annual pap tests). A catheter was inserted into my vagina all the way to my uterus, a liquid dye was pumped into my organs as well. This hurt. It pierced my insides and as the dye was pumped in I felt a lot of pressure. The doctor, technician and friend could see my cervix and fallopian tubes as the dye pushed through, they could all see that my reproductive pathway was clear for conception.

The doctor made funny comments which made my friend and I laugh out loud, which reduced the pain as well. I compare the pain to a filling at the dentist. Not the same feeling at all, but the same level of pain. You also know it will soon be over and soon you'll feel better, but it sucks in the moment. I really think the Advil worked, so if I ever need a filling again I will certainly take an Advil before my appointment. Immediately the doctor said "You'll have no problem getting pregnant. You have a beautiful uterus." I had never heard that before and I was so happy to hear it then. My friend and I laughed some more.

The appointment was over and I was ready to move onto my next step. Calling my doctor on my first day of my next menstrual cycle - which will be DAY 1.

Consultation - first steps...

In February 2010 I had my first consultation and met with my doctor at the fertlity clinic. I asked my friend to join me. This was the first time I went to the doctor with another person since my mother use to take me for ear infections when I was in grade school. It was so funny! We laughed and laughed at various moments. As so many new and "alternative" information was given/asked, it was nice to have a friend to be there to share in the uncomfortable moments and just laugh. It also helped that my doctor was really funny, he reminded me of Jay Leno.

At this appointment I found out that OHIP will cover all of the cost except the price and delivery of the sperm specimen. He gave me three companies approved by this clinic which are sperm banks. I found out that the insemination would take place the day before my ovulation began and the day after. It wasn't going to be a vaginal injection, but "a more efficient method of artificial insemination is to insert semen directly into the woman's uterus. Where this method is employed only 'washed' semen may be used and this is inserted by means of a catheter. Specially designed equipment is available for carrying out artificial inseminations. Semen is occasionally inserted twice within a 'treatment cycle'. If the procedure is successful, the woman will conceive and carry to term a baby. A pregnancy resulting from artificial insemination will be no different from a pregnancy achieved by sexual intercourse." This method was new for me and the conversations around "washed" and "unwashed" sperm provided a comical stage to say the least.

At the end of my appointment I was given a sheet with lots of bloodwork to complete immediately after my first appointment, and two more days with separate appointments later on in the week to begin my baseline which included more fertility testing (pelvic ultra sound and a test which checked to make sure my tubes were clear - more information later). There was no wait at the blood lab, it was on the same floor, which is part of the clinic.

So far I have had to make the correction, "no husband, no partner, just me" a few times. I have thick skin, so this didn't bother me at all. In fact, I think it bothered the nurse, technition, and doctor who made the mistake and spoke before referring to my file. Before leaving the clinic after my first appointment I was able to sign up for an orientation to help me understand the process.

This is just the beginning, more appointments and test to follow.
Next steps "Fertility Testing"...

Where to begin?

In September 2009, one month after my 36th birthday, I made an appointment with my doctor to discuss donor insemination. I really didn't know how to go about starting this process. At this point I didn't even know if this route was for me. I am a believer in the "energy of the universe", so asking the questions I knew would bring me closer to finding what the best answers for me would be...

In October 2009 I decided to take my doctor's advice and go through all of the blood work to check to see if I was immune to particular diseases that a vaccine could be given (German Measles, Hep A & B, etc.). Turns out I was not immune to Hep A & B and she recommended I take the 3 vaccines for these, this helped me pick a date to work with, since the vaccines required 6 months to complete (1st, 2nd, and 6th month). Many friends who are parents thought this was a strange request from my doctor, however I work in an inner city school in downtown Toronto and many of our students are newly landed immigrants. I understood her reasoning and having the vaccine just made sense, so I picked up my first dosage and schedule an appointment to have the nurse give me the needle. Unfortunately this was also the same time of year the H1N1 shots were being given and regular flu shots, being in the field I am in I got both of those too. My arms were sore for a little bit, but I didn't feel any side affects.

The time between my first shot and second gave my doctor time to discuss my options with her colleagues and during my November vaccine appointment we discussed beginning steps. She provided me with two clinics where I could view online and eventually she would write a referral for the clinic of my choice. She also provided me with various supports for women having children on their own. I began to collect lots of information which helped me narrow down what I was looking for and what direction I felt comfortable with. I began to dicuss my options with friends, the more I talked about it, the better I felt about my decision.

Around the same time, my friend and one of her colleagues were having a conversation and she found out that this woman had already had one child through donor insemination and was beginning the steps to have her second child. She gladly gave my friend her email and we began to exchange messages about our journey. She introduced me to a group of women who meet monthly. They are all single women choosing motherhood through alternative methods. All of these women have strong desires to be mothers, each with their own story of how they arrived here. After attending my first meeting I gathered enough information from the women in the group and I was able to choose a clinic which fit my needs best. My doctor made the referral in November and in December I was contacted with an appointment date for my first consultation in February 2010.

And so it begins.

How'd I get here?

I'm 36 years old. I have been in a few serious relationships over the past 15 years. I had two common law partners, one from 24-26 years old, and the other from 27 - 33 years old. I thought at the time they were "the ones". Throughout my adult life I focused on my career, especially during the times when my relationships were starting to spiral. At 33 years old, after my last relationship ended abruptly when my partner refused to talk about marriage and children after six years, we sold our house, divided our belongings, and I decided to look into how I could become a mother on my own; adoption, fostercare, and donor insemination.

After many months of discussions and research, I realized that single women after May 2007 would have extreme difficulties adopting overseas and next to impossible adopting in Canada. Many of the requirements to adopt children from overseas requires another parent, usually a heterosexual couple. Also, they must have been married for more than 3-5 years and had to prove that they were infertile, usually a letter and recommendation from a religious leader was required too. And must be in excellent health. Once your application meets all of those criterias, the cost was a huge hurdle. I've heard it can cost anywhere from $25k - $75K. And when you are approved and your child reaches you they are about 2 years old and have spent the first two years in an orphanage. I have met children in my career who have been adopted from various countries, some are an extension of their adopting parents, others experience major behavioural issues (attachment disorder, senstivity to noise, self-soothing, language development issues, etc.). This is something I was aware of but it didn't stop me from wanting to take this route. All children whether born into families or adopted into families are susceptible to these issues and more, that is the beauty of parenting, embracing what you are given and doing the best by your child. However, I wasn't able to meet their criteria, being a single women.

Next I visited my doctor to see if my body was healthy and ready to carry a baby. At this point I was thinking I would meet someone else, get married and live happily ever after. I was turning 34 and felt I had plenty of time, but wanted to make sure my body was healthy. It was. However, my last relationship ripped my heart out of my chest and I was not able to date or even think about trusting another man. I continued to do what I do best, build my career. I was taking my masters in education. I also started to seek counselling to help me move forward in my trusting men and possibly dating again.

Over the next 2 years I dated on and off, usually online dating, but a few from my work place and friends of friends. None of these worked out for various reasons. This is a whole other BLOG. My theory is that men who are my age and older have already been married and are not looking for a serious relationship (especially children or more children). Also they appear to shy away from women who live independently and are successful in their careers, who know what they want out of life. I often hear men say they are looking for women who know what they want, but my experience is that they are looking for women who will want to follow the path in which they want to take, not embrace two paths (join paths) and get more out of life.

Throughout my career I have met many students in fostercare. I wanted to open my door for someone who needed it my help, a place to stay, and someone to love them unconditionally. I went to various meetings, took training sessions and completed my appliaction to be a fostermother. Through this process I found out that I needed to be at home, not working. I found this concept so hard to believe. I was a professional in a field that I work with children with severe learning and emotional difficulties, yet I had to quit or take a leave from my job to provide care for a child who needs a home. I couldn't afford my home if I left my job therefore I wouldn't be able to have a child. So I set up an appointment to speak with an agency member. She was lovely, thought I'd be perfect, but asked me to find someone who could care for my potential foster child who wasn't working (and it couldn't be daycare). This person would of course need to have police clearing, etc. BUT also needed to go through the courses. At this point I realized I didn't have someone who lives near me to do this. I didn't live near my family, and my friends all worked full time. So I decided to look into moving closer to my parents, sisters, and friends and put my fostercare application on-hold.

At this point I made the decision to be a single women choosing motherhood, using donor insemination. This is my journey.