How a sperm donor shortage led Carrie to look outside the box in her quest to be a mum

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When Carrie appeared on Insight’s Solo Parents show, she had just embarked on her first attempt to become a single mother by choice. Her journey has since gone down a very different path.

I still remember how devastated I felt after my first failed artificial insemination at the clinic. In the back of my mind I knew it wouldn’t be a straight and narrow path, I knew the odds, but it was a despair I ignored until it came.

I felt like I was a ticking time bomb and with every cycle I wondered if this time my chance of having a baby had become slimmer or even unattainable. But each time these thoughts surfaced, I would remind myself that it was “normal” and that “lots of people had trouble.”

After my first unsuccessful try I was offered an exciting new job and decided to put the baby-making on hold, allowing myself to settle in before trying again. Six months in, I returned to the clinic telling them I was ready to try again. 

While they welcomed me back, they gave me news that left me in limbo - there was a shortage of sperm donors in Victoria. The only thing I could do was put my name on a waiting list. At this point I felt like my time was only spent waiting, whether it was waiting for a new cycle, for ovulation or for the right time in my life. The constant waiting was unsettling.

They couldn’t tell me how long this sperm shortage would last. It could have been a week, it could have been a year, but there was a lot of uncertainty on where this left me. 

I knew I didn’t want to travel interstate, having started a new job I didn’t want to ask for time off already – and frankly days off work and flights would add up. Earning a great salary didn’t protect me from the setbacks of doing this alone.

I know it’s taboo to admit but the financial considerations can’t be ignored. Most prospective solo parents will agree that often we hear the question, “If you can’t put aside the money for IVF or IUI, how could you raise a child?” It’s so disheartening to hear. I can afford it, but how long would I have to pay for procedures before I was finally successful? 

With every payment I made at the clinic I was reminded this was money that would not go in a trust or put towards university fees or even towards nappies. 

The only thing I could think to do was reach out to the online community of solo parents I met on Insight in 2017 and had grown close to.

That’s when I was told about an app, Just a Baby. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive, after all is was an app to find sperm donors. But, I was intrigued.

I learnt that it was for donors as well as people looking for a co-parenting arrangement. It was comforting to know that there was no financial persuasion involved with donation, just genuine candidates.

I frequented the app for weeks before I came across a man who seemed to have similar interests to me. We corresponded through the app before meeting for coffee and discussing what we were looking for.

He told me that he had dedicated his life to his career but still felt that need for human connection, to leave someone behind. With adoption in his own family network he saw the value of unconventional arrangements.

We put our agreement in writing on our own, outlining how the relationship would be. I would be the sole parent and he could - but did not have to - have contact with the baby. We added a statutory declaration to make it official and it felt as if it was as simple as that.

He was tested – just like he would have been at the clinic – and we began with at-home insemination. 

It’s quite bizarre actually. I took to Ebay and found an at- home insemination kit fit with specimen jars (for the donor), syringes, ovulation and pregnancy tests. It was forty dollars, but it was the real deal, real scientific. 

Many people have had success doing it this way and this is the path I will take over the next few months in my quest to conceive. 

I don’t want to go down the IVF path unless I really have to so for now I’m going to keep trying with my app donor and hopefully get my baby.

This is a personal account only, Insight does not endorse products/apps mentioned in this piece.

Catch up on Insight's episode, Solo Parents, here:

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IVF clinics around the country are reporting a significant increase in single women taking up their services. This week, Insight looks at why women - and some men - are opting to become parents without partners, and what the long term effects are on children.
IVF clinics around the country are reporting a significant increase in single women taking up their services. This week, Insight looks at why women - and some men - are opting to become parents without partners, and what the long term effects are on children.

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