Thinking & Planning about becoming a Single Mother by Choice (SMC)
I planned and prepared for Adrian for several years. Late in 2015, I felt my life was stable enough to begin the medical part of the process. I booked an appointment with a local fertility clinic, and started seriously considering potential donors. While I could have used one of the many reputable sperm banks, it was important to me that my child have access to a more complete personal and medical history than was typically provided. I also wanted my child to have the option to meet the donor later in life. This meant I needed a known donor.
Working with a Known Sperm Donor
Using a known donor can be a somewhat complicated process. There were questions of legality, morality, physical attributes, medical procedures, and future status. Most important to me was the question of how to find someone who was willing to be a donor for the “right” reasons. After an exhaustive search, I did find someone who felt right, and after much discussion, we agreed on terms and solidified those terms into a legal agreement. For the purposes of this website and to protect his privacy, I will refer to the donor here as “Timothy”.
After the agreement was signed, Timothy underwent the same procedures required by the FDA before anonymous donation. This included a comprehensive physical, medical history, and screening for infectious diseases. All of this was accomplished in the same two-week window in which he made his donation, which resulted in a total of approximately 20 vials of semen. After a quarantine period, also recommended (but in the case of a known donor, not required) by the FDA, Timothy repeated the screening for infectious disease. Although I felt comfortable with Timothy and didn’t feel worried that he was withholding information from me, this second round of testing ensured protection from highly infectious diseases like HIV, which can take several months to manifest in bloodwork. All of Timothy’s screening came back without concern.
Physical Preparation for Pregnancy as a Single Mother by Choice
While Timothy was going through the screening process, I was physically preparing to become pregnant. Although I wasn’t considered medically infertile, my fertility office put me through the same battery of tests as the rest of their patients. I could technically have opted out of these tests, but I decided there was no harm in doing them, especially since I had to wait for Timothy’s quarantine period anyway. All of my tests came back clean as well. There was no reason to think I would not have a healthy pregnancy.
During the quarantine period, I also started tracking my cycle. I not only monitored the days of my period and the length of my cycle, but I also used ovulation predictor kits and basal body temperature readings to determine when I was ovulating. This information helped to determine the best time for insemination.
Finally, I visited my primary care provider to discuss my planned conception. We discussed medications I was currently taking, and I asked if there was anything else I needed to know. I wanted to be as prepared as possible.
There are multiple types of fertility procedures available. Since I was not considered medically infertile, and since my testing had come back clean, my doctor and I decided together that we would try at least three rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI) without the assistance of any medication. IUI is considered the least invasive medical procedure, and is roughly the medical equivalent of having intercourse.
On 30 September 2016, I went to my fertility clinic for what turned out to be my first and only round of IUI. It was a very quick procedure, and after less than one hour in the clinic, I was back at work. Exactly two weeks later, on 13 October 2016, while vacationing with my sister Alexis* in Orlando, Florida, and literally on the morning we had planned to go to the Magic Kingdom, I found out I was pregnant.
My Pregnancy as a Single Mother by Choice
I stared at the pregnancy test for what felt like hours. It didn’t feel quite real. My sister had gone to get coffee, so I messaged the two close friends who had been following my journey. They were both excited. When my sister returned, I asked her how she felt about being an aunt.
We did go to the Magic Kingdom that day, Alexis driving while I read through everything I could find on pregnancy and amusement parks. I had been looking forward to riding Space Mountain, but I changed my mind.
My first morning back at work, I asked my boss if he had a moment to talk. I felt like bouncing off the walls, but I very calmly told him about my pregnancy. He was overjoyed for me. My team lead was out that day, but I texted him and told him when he called me that evening. I was surrounded by support.
Beyond that, I kept the news mostly private at first. I told a handful of close friends, and then the rest of my work team at 12 weeks. I also told my extended family, almost all of them in person. It was important to me to start rebuilding the family bonds that had started to lapse as we all moved in different directions.
Every day, I woke up full of excitement. Every day, I felt thankful for the magic growing inside me. He was always my beautiful miracle.
I was sitting in my prenatal centering appointment when I felt him kick for the first time. I was exactly 20 weeks pregnant that day. It was a minor movement, but I felt it more and more throughout the week. By the time of our anatomy ultrasound the following week, I was able to recognize when he didn’t like the feel of the wand; he kicked every time it came to close to him.
As I gained weight and he grew bigger, he developed a fondness for the space under my right ribcage. I often felt something small and round pushing against that space. I think at first it was his bottom, but when he flipped over onto my left side, I started feeling feet there. It was a game for me to push gently and tickle back when he kicked against me.
Although I had told the people that mattered, I felt a need for the obligatory Facebook post as well. At 38 weeks, I selected my favorite maternity photos and made the announcement. I was ecstatically happy.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy.