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I Chose Donor Insemination to Have a Baby

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I wanted a baby. I had just ended a long-term relationship and was not ready to hop into another one. I did, however, want to become a mother (I do have two stepdaughters that I love very much). I wanted a baby. For a moment I investigated adoption, but was dissuaded by a mother figure to me (she had had a negative experience with some foster children she had).

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I never really thought about being pregnant and how I would handle that. I was, however, warming to the idea.

I am a lesbian. If I were to get pregnant, I was going to need some help with that, some medical intervention. To get me started I went to my local feminist bookstore and bought a book about donor insemination (I cannot recall the title). It was very informative, I learned a lot, and I felt I was now ready to start my journey. This was January 2005.

I first spoke with my mental health treatment team. I asked the psychiatrist if it was safe for me to go off my meds so I could become pregnant. She said I could stay on a low dose of an antidepressant, but would have to go off everything else. She gave her blessing. I then spoke with my therapist. She also had no objections (I later realized I left out a lot about my illness that would have better informed her blessing, which was my mistake).

I next went to see a gynecologist to talk about a pregnancy and if it was OK for me to become pregnant. This did not go so well. He immediately was hostile. He said he did not approve of what I was planning to do. I made him do the blood work I needed him to do and I never laid eyes on him again. After that I spoke to a female OB/GYN, and she was supportive and provided no judgment. I picked her as my OB/GYN.

I had all the permission I needed, I was moving forward with my plans. I was so excited and probably a bit manic since I had gone off my mood stabilizer.

I next needed to see about a sperm bank. I found out you do not actually work with a sperm bank directly. There is a middleman (company/organization). I wanted to use the Feminist Women’s Health Center’s program for donor insemination. Unfortunately, their staff person was out having a baby and they would not be available for several months. They referred me to another company, and I worked with them.

They work with the sperm bank, help you select a donor and they had doctors that come in and do the inseminations. They were nice enough and felt at ease. They explained everything that would happen and what were my responsibilities and what were theirs. They talked to me about tracking my cycle to see when I was ovulating and when I was, I could come in and get inseminated. I took the option to get inseminated twice (by intrauterine insemination (not the same as IVF) in the same cycle to increase my chances of a successful insemination.

First, I needed to select a donor but before I did that, I had to sign a legal document claiming that I had discussed donor insemination with my husband and that he had given me permission to get inseminated. This is of course is what you get when bunch of old white male legislature get together and regulate women’s bodies. I considered the legal ramifications of signing it, but the staff member said it was just a formality. I signed it and moved on.

I was so excited be considering all the donor options. The staff person walked in with two very large binders and said here are all the donors and their histories. My eyes got wide. She then asked if I wanted an open donor or not. An open donor is willing to be found when the child was 18. I thought this was a good idea I would want the child to have the option. She then asked if I had a racial preference. I said yes, African American. She then said here are the AA open donors. She flipped to the back of one of the books and said there are eight. Out of all of that, there were only eight to choose from.

I was not deterred. She left me alone to read over all eight of the prospects. One man stood out immediately and I was certain he was a good choice. He was smart and well educated. He was tall, had a performing arts background and was pre-law. He reminded me of my brother. What really sold me on him was that he had dimples. That is our signature mark in our family. We all have deep facial dimples. I wanted my child to have that too. So, I chose him.

It took me three months to ovulate since I had the flu, and my cycle was off. I took so many home ovulating test that the clerk at CVS knew what I was up to. I got inseminated on April 15th (tax day) 2005.

I knew in a few days that I was pregnant. My temperature that I was tracking had not changed which is a sign of pregnancy. I tested positive on the 14th day. I was pregnant. I did it. I made a baby.

My baby is now 16 years old. Since I had placed her for adoption some four years later (you can read about that here), I have never discussed with her the circumstances of her conception. I will look forward to telling her my story and how she came to be. I know she must be wondering if I am a lesbian if she has a father and who that can be. I am so glad I chose an open donor. This child will have so many parents, she will be so cared for.

Donor insemination is a personal choice. I chose it because I wanted a baby of my own and did not want to share her with anyone. I even thought if I entered another intimate relationship, they would never be her full mother so she would never be taken away from me if that relationship ended badly.

I chose to be a single mother, a decision I do not regret. If you want a baby, do it. Do not let other people’s views deter you from your dreams.

You too can be a Mighty Mom!

Originally published: February 7, 2022
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