Written by Kimberly Rea
Although the story of how I decided to become a mother may seem unconventional to others, it’s just another part of my story.
Growing up I never wanted to have my own biological children, always believing that I would adopt or take part in foster care for children who needed homes. I was a foster mom for a few months when I was 27-years-old and I loved it. However, around the age of 28 the proverbial biological clock started ticking, and I developed this sudden urge to have my own biological children. Since I was single at the time I didn’t think about it much. In retrospect life was simple, I taught full time and was earning my Masters degree by taking classes full time as well. On weekends I tended to be exhausted, and I needed a day to recharge by relaxing. Life, in a nutshell, was all about me – I had no time for the children I convinced myself I wanted. What I remember most about life before having children is being able to do things when I wanted to and being able to walk out the door on a moment’s notice. As I’ve always enjoyed being single, the thought of using a sperm donor crossed my mind now and then, but it was fleeting. So I let the thoughts come and go.
Several years later I found myself in a relationship, and although I knew the relationship was toxic, I continued it for a little over a year because we both wanted children. At some point though, I realized that we wouldn’t parent well together and broke off the relationship. However, I continued to want children, so I announced to close friends and family that if I was still single in a year I would be using a sperm donor. A process neither I nor my friends and family knew anything about. I just knew that they existed. Although I’m sure some knew I was serious, I think most people just thought it was me being impulsive, when in fact by then I had put a great deal of thought into it. I’m sure some people thought I had lost it. It’s not every day you find a woman who’s willing to become a mother on her own. To me though, it didn’t seem that unconventional, it just seemed that it would become part of my life.
… Around the age of 28 the proverbial biological clock started ticking, and I developed this sudden urge to have my own biological children.
Before I started the process, I told several family members what my plans were, and although I expected a bit more enthusiasm, I knew they would love my baby regardless of how he or she was going to be conceived. Some family members seemed a bit taken aback, which surprised me as I had made my plans known a year before – all the more proof that they thought I was joking. Although I wish I had more support in the beginning, I knew this was my choice and it wasn’t my responsibility to make other people feel good about it. I felt positive about it which was all that truly mattered as I was the one going through this new and exciting process.
Soon after my decision to use a sperm bank, I began the process of finding a sperm donor through an online registry – even having a small party with close friends to help choose the donor. Most of the information that you need is online, such as the donor’s family and medical history, pictures, and even short audio clips. We drank champagne, ate hors d’oeuvres, laughed a lot, and chose a donor. When it came time to buy the actual frozen sperm, at the last minute I changed donors, in part because another donor’s sperm was less expensive, and as a single woman already, saving every bit was going to help.
The donor I chose is considered an open identity donor, which means that he is open to communication when my children turn 18 years old. Whether they want to or not, I wanted them to be able to have the option. I’ve worked with many adopted and foster children over the years and every single one of them had questions about their biological parents and where they came from, which made this an easy decision for me. I didn’t want to take this away from any of my future children. At this time I also made my appointment at a fertility clinic. The non judgmental doctors, nurses, and office staff made everything so simple from explaining the process to dealing with my insurance company. They conducted many tests, which I’m very grateful for, especially as I found out I carry the gene for Cystic Fibrosis, and if the donor carried the same gene the child would most likely have the disease. That is something you wouldn’t automatically be tested for when you are aren’t conceiving in a fertility clinic. Because of that I was able to make sure that the donor, who was also tested, did not carry the gene before I proceeded. At the fertility clinic that I chose, if you are a single woman wanting to use a sperm donor, it is mandated that you are cleared by a psychologist before being able to proceed with the actual intrauterine insemination process, which is also something that wouldn’t occur if you conceived conventionally. The psychologist and I met for an hour long session, but since I had put so much time and thought into my decision to become a single mother by choice, we spent most of the hour looking at children’s books that were written for children conceived using a donor. Although most of the books are geared towards families with two parents, there are several for single mothers. We also discussed how I would respond to other people’s reactions and questions. It’s amazing how often I’m asked if the donor has to pay child support. I’m also used to answering questions about how many possible half siblings are in the world. The answer is up to thirty, by the way.
The donor I chose is considered an open identity donor…
I began to monitor my ovulation and was inseminated in a fertility clinic’s room, and became pregnant with my first son on the first try. Once I was eight weeks pregnant they discharged me back to my regular obstetrician for the rest of my pregnancy. When my son was born, if there were still any lingering issues about how I conceived him, there was never any mention of them. My sister was with me in the delivery room, and the rest of my family and close friends met him within an hour of his delivery. My parents even left their cruise ship in Puerto Rico to fly home to New Jersey when they found out I had gone into labor early; Love makes you do things like that.
Two years later I decided to try to get pregnant again and used the same donor. Luckily he still had specimens available at the cryobank, and just like the first time, I quickly became pregnant with another boy. I think this time when I told people that I would be going this route, they were more accepting and actually knew I was serious. The procedure was exactly the same as when I conceived my first son and I even had the same nurse as the first time. She was thrilled and surprised when she was able to call me and confirm my second pregnancy. The majority of women do not get pregnant on their first tries, never mind twice. It made me feel like my pregnancies were meant to be.
Although my life before children was filled with freedom, I wouldn’t change anything as my life now is filled with more joy and contentment than I could have imagined. My boys are best friends, and although as brothers they do fight a lot, they also love each other a lot. Our lives are filled with love and laughter, and they know that they have a lot of people in their corners. They are both strong and compassionate boys who are destined for greatness. As my boys are growing up and asking more questions, they know that all families are different, and we’ve talked about why they don’t have a father. But just like using a donor is a part of my story, it is also part of their story, and it’s not unconventional to them either. The decisions I made to have my boys as a single mother by choice have made me stronger person, and I’m proud that I chose to live my life the best way I knew how, for me and my boys.