Will You Father My Child?
y life is not according to plan. I expected that after college, I would get a good job, find a great guy, fall in love, get married, and have 3 kids while establishing a rewarding career—all before the age of 30. In the real world, I have a successful career that I truly enjoy; I’ve been in love more than once but never married and have no children. At 43 years old I was faced with the biggest decision of my life— having a child on my own. This is something I have discussed with friends and family over the years as a possibility but always hoped it wouldn’t be necessary.
Although I felt nervous, I also was really excited about my decision. I had tremendous support and encouragement from family, friends, and even my gynecologist.
Anonymous sperm donation did not appeal to me. I really wanted to know the father; his personality, sense of humor, looks, intelligence, athleticism, and medical history. I did some research into sperm banks and sperm donation and was actually pleasantly surprised at the amount of information each sperm bank provides (such as height, weight, hair color, eye color, ethnicity, education, occupation, family medical history). In many ways, it felt like an online dating service— but still wasn’t the route I wanted to take.
Over the years I have floated the idea of fathering a child for me to numerous male friends of mine. I had several interested parties, although my list became much shorter when it came time for the donation. The man I chose has been a friend for a long time (we dated briefly many years ago), he is married with children of his own and is a good father. He is good looking, intelligent, funny, driven, athletic, tall, well-built, and kind. We have agreed to keep his identity secret and that he will not play a role in the child’s life—emotionally or financially. We will remain good long-distance friends, and I will always be thankful for his generosity.
My gynecologist referred me to a very successful fertility clinic. I went through a battery of fertility tests and the test results were favorable for a woman my age. The entire process took about a year and the year was full of excitement as well as anguish and disappointment. I estimate that the treatments cost about $30,000 altogether, and my insurance company covered about half these costs, which is pretty good.
After a comprehensive workup, I started fertility drugs. When those didn’t work, a combination of fertility drugs was used. After a few months my physician
recommended IVF. I was put on a series of drugs which produced several ova and when the time was right, I was scheduled for ova retrieval. I was put under general anesthesia for the retrieval, which took about 45 minutes. The doctor used a needle through my vagina to retrieve the four ova that were available. The lab takes the ova and immediately attempts to fertilize them. Four embryos resulted, but only three survived to be frozen. Unfortunately I was unable to complete the transfer on that cycle because of a uterine polyp that developed that had to be surgically removed. The three embryos were frozen for possible use later on.
After I healed from the outpatient polyp surgery my doctor and I decided to do a new full IVF cycle. Everything seemed like to be going perfectly—the ova retrieval and fertilization resulted in three embryos and all three were transferred to my uterus (the transfer happened three days after the ova retrieval). I was sure I was pregnant and when my period started again I was devastated. Afterwards the doctor counseled me that it was highly unlikely that my eggs would work and that I should consider egg donation or adoption unless I had unlimited funds and the stamina to keep trying. I said I would look into both options but wanted to transfer my frozen embryos as soon as possible.
The transfer took place that cycle. This time my optimism took a negative turn when I became premenstrual. In fact I was so certain it failed that I didn’t even bother with a home pregnancy test before going to the doctor for testing on the 12th day. To my surprise, while the nurse was drawing my blood, the urine test showed positive. The nurse and I both started crying for joy. My doctor said I was his oldest patient to get pregnant with her own eggs. As happy and relieved as I was, I tried to keep my joy in check—knowing that miscarriage and genetic abnormalities were not uncommon for someone my age. So I viewed each check-up and test as clearing a hurdle. Even so, the smile didn’t leave my face for nine months.
On February 15th I delivered a healthy baby girl. The labor was normal and lasted approximately 22 hours. The father, my mother, sister, and my girlfriend were all there to help me through the delivery. All in all, I feel like I hit the jackpot. Even though life is very different for me today, it is better than I could have ever imagined.
Source: Author’s files.
tween $180 and $250. Some couples buy several vials from the same donor so that offspring can have the same donor father.
A donor may be found through one of the many sperm banks throughout the United States and abroad, usually from an online donor catalog (see Web Resources at the end of this chapter for more information). Once a donor is chosen, the sperm bank will typically send sperm to the physician who will be performing the insemination procedure, but in some cases the sperm is sent directly to the buyer. Prior to the artificial insemination procedure, the doctor often prescribes fertility drugs to increase the chances that there will be healthy ova present when the sperm is introduced.