When is the “Right” Time to Have a Baby?

On my twenty-fifth birthday, I woke up and started to cry. By 25, I was supposed to be married or at least engaged like many of my friends from my small town. Sure I had a boyfriend at the time but I didn’t know if he was going to be the “one.” I had put so much pressure on myself to follow a specific timeline in order to have kids.

The whole day made me sad and even though my boyfriend, friends, and family made me feel really special, I just couldn’t get over the fact that I hadn’t achieved true “success.”

This week I watched an episode of “The Hills: New Beginnings” (yes it is a ridiculous reality show but stay with me for a second). One of the main characters (Kaitlyn) was with her husband at the time (Brody) and they were seeing a fertility doctor. As an avid watcher of reality programs (it is my escape), I’ve noticed that this is becoming a regular plotline in each series. The woman (or couple) goes to the doctor to find out about their chances of getting pregnant.

From there, I decided to record the clip and pose a question to my Instagram community about whether or not people found fertility testing anxiety-ridden or if they found it helpful in knowing all of the facts. 

When I posed the question on Instagram, I couldn’t get over the number of responses I received. In fact, I had no idea what this blog entry was going to be about but thanks to the number of people that reached out, I knew this topic was something that should be discussed.

So when is the right age to have a baby? Should you know whether or not you have any fertility issues before thinking about having kids?

Some of the messages made me really sad as they reminded me so much of my 25-year-old self trying to hit those milestones and have a baby. Women were asking me for guidance and all I wanted to say was “don’t be like me. You have time.” Many women asked questions about freezing eggs as well as the cost of fertility testing in Canada. 

From what I understand the cost of freezing your eggs is a minimum of $16,000.  As for testing for fertility, a kind woman reached out about her sister’s struggle.  Her sister wanted to find out about her fertility and they would not test her in Ontario. She was even willing to pay fees and they still wouldn’t test her.

So what does it take for a woman or man to be tested for fertility issues?

From what I understand, the testing is free to men/women who are at a fertility clinic. In order to be a patient at a fertility clinic, you have to have either tried for one year to have a baby (have also heard it is 6 months if the couple is older in age) or if you are a single woman wanting to do IUI (sperm inside the uterus) or IVF (egg combined with sperm).  I guess the costs associated with IUI and IVF are so high that they like to determine that your body can “medically” get pregnant before the procedure(s).

The final results from my poll on Instagram were that 62% found fertility testing too stressful while 38% found that knowing about their fertility reduced stress.

One woman reached out to me and explained that without early fertility testing she would not have known she had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome – not producing enough eggs). Knowing this information helped her decide to start trying to conceive at a younger age than she had planned.

I also have a close friend who loves statistics. In fact, during her entire pregnancy, she would list off the statistics of things not going to plan. She said that this information helped her because it allowed her to be prepared for the worst. She said that all of this knowledge gave her power. 

Some women wrote to me about waiting to have children and never getting testing for fertility. Instead, they decided to avoid being pressured by fertility stats and tried to get pregnant when they felt “ready.”

“I had my first at 39 and now have a crazy three-year-old toddler. 40 is not 25 but you really enjoy the calm that comes with being a mature Mom. I hardly stress about anything, I have my career, my house, my business. I don’t project anything on her. I just love her and want her to be herself and to be happy.”

Overall, I found these conversations over Instagram so interesting. Each woman had a reason for wanting to know/not wanting to know her results when it came to fertility.

As much as we wish we could have control over everything related to fertility, sometimes I think we have no control at all. If it makes a woman/man feel better about finding out their status when it comes to fertility – so be it. Information can help in making important decisions. 

However for me, and the other 62% of voters on my random poll, fertility can seem like a game of chance. Even with all of the medical tests and results, things don’t always make sense. I have friends who tried to get pregnant in their 20’s and are still trying, I have friends that had sex once in their 40’s and found themselves pregnant. I even have friends who were told they could never have children and they have the most wonderful kids.

Now, if I could speak to that 25-year-old Sarah, I would acknowledge her fear with regards to her timeline. I would have told her that a birthday is never about reaching timelines or a day to evaluate how much one has not “achieved in life.” Instead, I would have just reached out a crystal ball and showed that naive and dependent Sarah, that things in life would turn out even better than she could have ever imagined.

Am I Pregnant?

Having dinner with my friend Sarah during the two week wait

I could be writing this blog post as a pregnant woman.  AHHHH! In one week I will know if my second IUI (sperm inside the uterus) worked. 

After my first IUI, I had a feeling in my gut that it didn’t work.  I really wondered how I could possibly get pregnant when I spent days before/during/after trying to avoid panic attacks. 

My thought patterns went something like this:

Positive Inner Voice: I have a pain in my stomach. I must google it.  I could be pregnant.

Negative Inner Voice: There is no way that you are pregnant or that you are ready to be pregnant.  How much money have you saved?  Do you really think you can do it on your own? If you are obese the chances of you getting pregnant reduce.  Why didn’t you lose some weight before trying to conceive?

Positive Inner Voice: I will take each day as it comes.  I feel like I am having signs of pregnancy. I will make sure I am active as possible during my pregnancy.

Negative: Those are not signs.  The chance of you getting pregnant is so small.  You are not emotionally or physically ready for this.

Every moment would be an internal battle and I couldn’t catch a break. 

Why is it that most of these conversations took place in my head just before trying to sleep?  I’d keep the television on trying to drown out the sound of my thoughts but nothing was working.

I also wanted to just be by myself.  I stayed inside and read as many psychological thrillers as I could get my hands on.  I’d look through the summary of the novels making sure the novel didn’t involve pregnancy or a baby because I just couldn’t deal with the subject matter.

During the two week wait the first time, I didn’t have one sip of alcohol and checked google to make sure I could eat certain things (“can I put goat cheese in a salad” or “can I eat babybels?”) If google suggested I avoid it, I completely eliminated it from my diet.

In that two week span, I was so hard on myself and promised myself that if I were to ever have a two week wait again, I would do things much differently.

Enter my two week wait this time.

This has seemed like a honeymoon compared to the last IUI two week wait.

The negative inner voice still appears but does so at a less alarming rate.  My positive inner voice is usually louder and can really challenge the negativity. 

So far I have had two glasses of wine and one can of cider during my two week wait.  I am also trying my best at staying in the moment and enjoying the process as much as I can.

I’ve also gotten out of the house.  When I am not out with a friend/friends, I have forced myself to get outside.  I’ve been walking a lot more and have seen A LOT of movies over the last bit.  In fact, I have seen “Booksmart”, “Aladdin”, “The Hustle”, and “Rocketman.”  The movies have allowed me to escape my own thoughts and to rest. Plus, if I do become pregnant, I have a feeling I won’t have as much time to go to the movies by myself.  I am really embracing these special moments.

Last time when I found out I wasn’t pregnant my eyes became a little teary for a moment but I didn’t cry.  This time I have a feeling that if the news is negative, it will be a lot harder on me. Everything just feels so right this time.

The next blog entry promises to be very emotional.  It will either be a very exciting post or it will be a really honest post about what it feels like to go through two IUI’s without getting pregnant.

Some have asked “what will you do next if you don’t get pregnant this round? Will you go for your third IUI?”

I am really torn when answering that question because thanks to my period tracking app, I know I’ll be ovulating on the exact date that I will be away with my girlfriends for a cottage weekend.  Everything in me tells me that I need to get the hell away.  I have worked so hard to make money for fertility and then have gone through a lot emotionally through these two IUI’s.  All I want is some time with friends two hours away.

One of my friends suggested just coming back on the day that I am ovulating but it is not that easy.  Unfortunately just before each of my IUI’s (which can be different for other people), I have spent every morning at the fertility clinic for a couple days straight waiting to find out the exact date of the IUI. I don’t want to keep leaving the fun with my friends (and driving two hours there and back) so that I can be monitored.

So if it doesn’t work, I will most likely take a break. 

I am going to allow myself time to just feel everything and I know that my gut will tell me what to do next.

Why am I thinking like that because everything in me is telling me that it worked and that I am pregnant. Now I may look like a fool next blog entry and I am prepared to admit that I was wrong if I need to.

Fingers crossed I can share some really exciting news next week!

Happy Mother’s Day to Women Warriors

To all the women gathered at 6:58 a.m. waiting for the elevator,

I know where you are going.

In entering the elevator, one woman’s index finger presses the number 7 and we are heading to the 7th floor – exactly where I expected.

Mount Sinai Fertility.

The seventh floor means so many things:







The elevator doors open and there is already a long line forming at reception.

Some people are sitting down.

There are no men.

One woman’s hair is dripping wet. She must have left her house quickly – afraid of the length of the lines forming at the clinic.

Women politely glance at one another

And I decide to sit down.

The line will go down if I just wait.

The admin assistant takes her place behind a large desk and starts signing people in.

The line should be decreasing but the elevator door keeps opening and closing.

Each time more women enter into the room.

We all want to be Moms.

I stand up and go towards the line.

A blonde woman looks at me and says “you go before me. You’ve been sitting there for awhile.”

“It’s okay,” I say politely.

“No, I insist,” she says.

The line now has about ten women waiting behind me.

Many are on their phones trying to keep distracted.

Maybe they are anxious.

Maybe they are starting their work days and trying to get some work done.

I hand the admin assistant my health card.

“Busy day” I say.

“It is like this every day” she responds.

Everyone in this line wants to be a Mom.

After signing in I sit on a comfortable chair and look around.

Green images of nature stare back at me on the walls.

They are meant to be calming.

But nobody in the room is calm.

A sign gets my attention “1 in 3 couples will have trouble conceiving.”

“So many people” I think.

I take my phone out and start scrolling through Instagram waiting for my name to be called.

The nurse calls eight names.

My name was not one of them.

I continue to scroll.

My eyes glance towards a plastic display holding up two pamphlets.

“Costs and fertility.”

“Fertility and Stress.”

So many issues in just trying to become a Mom.

A nurse walks into the room. Her skin is glowing and she has a smile on her face.

She reads off names and my name is called.

I walk into a new room with the nurse.

Another woman and another nurse are already there.

I can’t help but watch the needle going into the other patient’s arm.

Then I look away.

“Please have a seat right here,” says the nurse.

I feel thankful to have her as she is the more friendly nurse out of the two nurses there.

“I like your tattoo on your wrist” she whispers.

“Thank you,” I say. “It is the word ‘change’” I hear myself saying even though I know she can read it.

“How’s your day?” I ask.

“Busy” she says. “It is like this every day though,” she says with a laugh.

I fake a nervous laugh while feeling sad at the same time – so many women having their cycles monitored. All of these women late for work and here on their own.

All of the women being poked and prodded because all they want right now is to become a Mom.

I get ushered into a room and smile at four women all seated beside one another in white chairs. There is no space between them – the room is too small.

There is a fifth chair waiting for me.

Curtains hang down into two small areas in the room to make the smallest change rooms I have ever seen.

There are hospital gowns but I am not sure how much of my clothing I am to remove.

“What do I do?” I ask the four women sitting in chairs. “This is my first ultrasound at the fertility clinic.”

“Take off everything from the bottom down,” says one woman.

“Be sure to wear booties. The ground can be cold and wet” says another woman.

“Wear a dress next time so it’s easier,” says the third woman.

“You have got this” says the fourth woman.

Every woman in the small room has spoken.

We all share a commonality – we all want to be a Mom.

The first woman sits in her chair just looking blankly ahead.

The other three are on their phones.

I take out my novel but can’t read. I am too anxious.

I take out my phone and scroll through Instagram.

My eyes settle on a picture of my friend with all of her medication for IVF around her.

“Please help her become a Mom” I silently pray to the universe.

One by one, each of my four new friends have left the room.

But I am not alone.

Three new faces have arrived.

I smile at each face that comes into the room. Each smile says “I’ve got you. This sucks and I wish you well on your journey.”

My name is called and a woman ushers me to a hallway just outside two rooms marked “ultrasound.”

“This is the washroom” the nurse says to me.

“Thanks but I don’t have to use it” I say.

“You are supposed to empty your bladder” says one of the women waiting for her ultrasound.

I open the door to the washroom and sit on the toilet.

A few seconds pass.

I stand up again and wash my hands.

I stare at myself in the mirror wearing my hospital gown.

I look into my eyes and hear an inner voice whisper “you will be a Mom.”

“Sarah?” asks a nurse as she leads me to the ultrasound room.

I go in and am greeted by my fertility doctor and two other people.

I see a plastic wand and know where that is going to go.

The wand is inserted.

“Look at the left follicle” says one nurse.

“It’s a great follicle,” says another voice as she takes a picture on her machine.

“Thank you” I say not knowing if this is something you should thank someone for saying.

I go back to the change room, get dressed and wait to speak with the nurse,

She says it will “happen soon.”

“I really want to be a Mom really soon” say the voices in my head.

It is time to leave the 7th floor.

As I walk out there are more people now.

An hour and a half has elapsed.

Nobody is in a line but people are waiting on comfortable chairs in the fertility office.

But is anyone really comfortable?

Partners have joined now and the room is full of 80% women and 20% men.

I take the elevator down and find myself alone on the ride down.

It almost felt like a factory up there.

Everything was so mechanical sprinkled with some kindness and compassion.

Another day full of so many women wanting to become Moms.

This Mother’s Day I pray for all of you going into fertility clinics, struggling with fertility issues, or just hoping and praying to be a Mom.

My wish for you is that you become a Mom – in some capacity.

May the memories of the days in the fertility clinic be replaced with memories spent with your child/children.

You will be a Mom.

Ready, Set, Impregnate?

As of Wednesday, my sperm vials are all officially at the sperm donor clinic in Toronto.

Buying sperm reminds me of how there is always that one product at Christmas that everyone wants to buy.  People fight over it, go to the store to buy it, even try to buy it online and it eventually sells out. Who knew sperm was one hot commodity? I can’t believe I am comparing sperm to a Christmas toy that everyone wants.  What is happening to me?

Maybe sperm donors should be paid in Canada.  They are paid in the United States but are not paid in different countries around the world.  I was lucky to have a bit of choice because some women from other countries have mentioned on Instagram that they have had 1-3 choices. THREE. Luckily I had about ten options and that was after I refined the search (Open ID Donor, CMV negative, etc).

So now I am just waiting.  I have one vial of sperm at the Mount Sinai Fertility Clinic and I have two vials waiting for their “shipping dates” from the sperm donor clinic in Toronto to Mount Sinai (where I get the procedure).

I am just waiting for day 1 of my cycle and will call into Mount Sinai.  Fingers crossed that they have funding. If so, I have to wait until day 15 or something to have my IUI (sperm placed inside my uterus).  After that, I will wait two weeks to find out if I am pregnant. PREGNANT. Gosh, that word feels great to write.

If everything goes according to plan, I’m going to try three IUI’s total (one in May, June, and July.)

Stats show that only 20-25% of women get pregnant from their first IUI.  Fertility stats are absolutely terrifying me right now. In having an Instagram account, I have become part of this amazing group of people who write about their fertility experiences.  I see the numbers. I see that so many of them struggle so much. Perhaps I am just protecting my heart and preparing myself for the worst but hoping for the best.

My social worker and my fertility doctor both say that three is the lucky number and that many women get pregnant on their third try with IUI.

So even though I may get pregnant on try one or two, I have paid $2,490.00 for all three vials. At Can-Am Cryservices they will buy back sperm but I ended up choosing Repromed because they had a vial in stock of my donor and knew they could get the other two vials quickly).

So it is now all up to the universe.  

I am also trying to understand what is making me so emotional these days (and I am an emotional person to begin with).  I don’t know if it is stress or excitement (maybe both) but I can cry at a random song playing, a child walking down the street, and/or a baby that I see in his mother’s arms.  The bottom line is that I am a mess and I am not even on fertility drugs yet.

Friends around me keep getting pregnant and it is making me more and more excited.  Maybe I will be off on maternity leave with them. Time will tell.

I also don’t know if I will be emotionally prepared to have all of my IUI’s in a row.  It seems like it may be a lot to find out that I didn’t get pregnant and I may have to lean on some of my amazing friends and family (with some wine and ice-cream) when/if this happens.  This may start to be too much and I may need a break.

Overall, I’m also so freakin excited.  

I could know by the end of summer if I am able to get pregnant through IUI.  Can you even imagine?

No matter what happens though, this experience has been a blessing.  It’s helped me to connect to people I haven’t talked to in a while who have reached out when they saw my facebook status saying that I was trying to have a baby on my own and starting a blog.  It’s honestly been like a public school/high school reunion complete with both my peers and the teachers that I have adored.

It’s also been a University reunion as so many kind friends have reached out with stories of their own supporting me in every way possible.  

Friends and family have also been there for me so much and have provided so much encouragement. They ask thoughtful questions and also say the most beautiful things.

There have also been people who have said some hurtful things but it keeps making me stronger. I have to thank them because each time I hear something negative, it only makes me want to pursue this more and only makes me better able to handle negativity in my life.

I just feel really lucky.

I feel blessed because of science (lucky that this is even an option).

I feel blessed that I am lucky enough to be able to afford the fertility fees.

I feel blessed that I am becoming emotionally stronger every day.

Thank you for reading this and for being there for me.  Even reading this shows that you support me and this decision. I REALLY hope I have some exciting news to share with you really soon.

Can I Please Start This Process? No? Okay. Cool.

So now that I have my sperm donor, I am ready for my first IUI (placing sperm inside the uterus).  Well, I’ve been ready since January.

As part of the process in becoming a Single Mom by Choice you need to meet with a social worker.  When I told my social worker that I’d be finding my sperm donor in December and starting my IUI in January, she explained that Mount Sinai Fertility had run out of funding and that it probably wouldn’t come back until March.

Please note that with funding, the process is probably going to cost me $6000-$8000 (if everything goes according to plan). Without funding, it is going to cost A LOT more. Funding is ESSENTIAL.

When I explained this issue to my sister over Christmas, she took charge and helped me to figure out finances.  She totalled up her monthly costs for daycare. She then showed me that depending on when I had a baby, it would greatly affect my daycare costs.  If I were to have a January baby, I would ultimately have to pay more for daycare because the child starts school later.

Then we took the daycare costs and added in the amount without funding to see if I should just go ahead and start in January. Turns out, it was less expensive if I just waited until funding came back.

Please also note that nobody really has that much control over when they get pregnant.  It’s like a game of chance. As much as my sister and I could write out figures, in the end, I don’t really have that much control in picking out which month I get pregnant. As a control freak, this whole being patient thing is really getting to me.  I haven’t even started the process yet and already my patience is being tested.

In the meantime, I decided that I would just have fun.  I’d date a bit and enjoy myself until I was ready.  Who knew?  Perhaps I’d be able to meet a wonderful partner and I could just end up eventually having a family with him.  Haha!  Didn’t happen.

When March hit, I checked in with Mount Sinai and was told that funding would be coming back in April.  My cycle hit at the end of March I was so excited!  I called on Day 1 because it meant that by the time I was ready to have my first IUI it would be in April which would mean that they would have funding.

Everything in me told me that the time was right.

Everything until the administrative assistant called to tell me that there wasn’t any funding but that I was welcome to proceed with my IUI if I paid the fees without government assistance.  AHHHH!

When I got the call I was in my office at work and my work friends could tell something was up.  After telling them what happened I found myself blinking back tears of frustration. I wiped my tears and went on with my work day but when I came home I cried more.

I know it is only a month but I feel like something goes wrong every single time the process is *supposedly* ready to officially begin.

Now I am waiting until my next cycle in late April which puts me sometime in mid-May to begin my first IUI. I am doing my first round without fertility drugs which means my chances are LOW (20% low). My fertility doctor suggested doing the first round without drugs followed by two rounds with fertility drugs.  She explained that there have been a lot of cases of twins with fertility drugs and if I didn’t want twins right now, I should try one round without the drugs.

I have also decided not to worry. I am not going to stress myself out by reading books about my chances of getting pregnant or reading about how I should eat/exercise, etc., to increase the likelihood of getting pregnant.  My friend who is a Choice Mom told me that the first two times before her IUI she tried to do everything “right” to get pregnant and it didn’t work. The third time before her IUI she had pizza and drank a bit of wine.  The next day, she was a lot calmer and the IUI worked.

For some, reading about all of these things (stats, ways to help your body get pregnant) helps women feel in control.  To me, facts and numbers make me feel completely stressed out.

So now I am playing a waiting game.  I’m hoping my cycle does happen at the end of April and that I get my first IUI sometime mid-May.  After that, I have heard you wait two weeks to find out if you are pregnant.  This is such a test of patience and God only knows how I’ll be doing at that time.

As for right now, I am trying to breathe, stay calm, and think positive thoughts. I’m also about to enjoy a glass of wine and a damn good piece of pizza.

Hello! I’d Like You To Meet My Sperm Donor

I can never make a decision for the life of me.

What if I end up not liking it?  What if it isn’t the best available option? What if my decision makes someone else upset?  What if I have made the wrong decision?

In the past, I have had other people make my decisions for me.  What make up product do I want to buy?  The reviews tell me which one to buy. What song should I add to a playlist?  The Top100 list is available, so I will just pick something from there.  What should I wear? I’ll just buy everything that is already styled on a mannequin to complete my look. If reviews and experts can’t make the decision for me, I usually turn to my family. I can’t even want to imagine the number of emails that were sent to my family from ages 20-35 with me asking, “what should I do?”

Once my divorce settled and I started living on my own, I began to hear a faint voice telling me what I wanted and I finally started developing an opinion. That being said, I still depend on the opinion of everyone else way too much when making major decisions (people pleaser, say what?)  I don’t want to mess up or have any regrets.  I still don’t know if this is my anxiety or if this is just my personality.

So imagine trying to find a sperm donor on your own when all you want is the opinion of everyone else.  There are no reviews or Top100 lists.  You can’t even physically meet the person and know right away if you like someone.

As mentioned in previous posts, I asked my family to help me with the process of picking a donor but they kept insisting that I do it on my own. At first, I felt unsupported because I thought I needed their help to make one of the most important decisions in my life. Turns out, they gave me a gift. I found my sperm donor on my own and feel absolutely incredible that it was my decision and mine alone. Now, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I never thought I’d be using a sperm donor, writing about using a sperm donor, or even using three separate blogs to write about the topic of a sperm donor – yet here I am! For me, this was a really important decision and one that altogether took me about 50 hours.

So who is my sperm donor?  Well let me introduce him. Please know that I can’t actually introduce him according to the law or show you his childhood pictures or his donor essay.  I don’t even know his name – all I know him by is his donor number. Here is what I can tell you about him:

  1. He is CMV negative. Most people are CMV positive but I am CMV negative. If a CMV positive sperm donor combines with a CMV negative person, you need to sign a form at the clinic because there is a chance that this combination could lead to developmental delays in children.
  • He is healthy.  When I looked at my sperm donor’s records, I could see that he is very healthy (both physically and emotionally) and that his parents and grandparents are all healthy.  He was also tested for genetic diseases and when reading through this list, everything looked great. There were some sperm donors that I loved but I would have to sign a form that they tested positive for a genetic disease saying that “I fully understood that there were risks associated with picking that donor.”  Those forms scared me too much. No genetic disease form needed for this girl!
  • His baby picture and features are somewhat like mine.  At the beginning of this process, I kept trying to find someone that looked like me.  Then I realized that it was more important to me to have someone with a super clean health record than it was for me to have someone that looked like me. He actually looks A LOT less like me than I thought so I really surprised myself in my final choice.

It’s so funny because when you buy sperm, you send the clinic a donor number.  The whole time I was kept making sure that I was typing out the correct donor number.  What would happen if the clinic got the vials mixed up?  Isn’t that somewhat like the plot of Jane the Virgin TV series?

  • He has a really positive vibe. Sperm donors are interviewed and I got to listen to a twenty minute interview with him.  For whatever reason, I felt as though he was really kind.  This is also partly because of his line of work.  When he was talking about his work and how he likes to help people, I felt an immediate connection.

I also really enjoyed reading his essay.  In a donor’s essay they are asked questions like, “what is your earliest childhood memory.” While reading his essay, I felt a huge connection to what he was saying.

I feel like the donor essay is a really good way to get to know the person better. I was looking at one donor in the process who I thought I was my “perfect donor.” Unfortunately my decision changed as soon as I read that he hopes his child knows that “the kid isn’t important. Kids think they are so important but I would just tell them that they are just another person on the planet. They aren’t special.”  For some, this would be a great answer. For me, this just somewhat clashed with my value system.

5. He is an intelligent person.  This was a complete added bonus.  I did want someone that could write complete sentences but his level of intelligence far exceeds mine (from what I can tell) both in his writing and in his interview. I am also more of a creative thinker and he is more of a logical thinker. 

6. He is an Open ID Donor.  This means that at the age of 18, if my future child wants to know more about him, the child can write to the sperm bank and get his information. This one was probably the most important to me because I want my future child to decide how he/she wants to proceed with this information.

7. His sperm is available – so many sperm donors that I began to love, were no longer available.  It’s also not like I had a lot to choose from.  As you know, I looked at three different companies. After reading about some health concerns from one of the companies, I eliminated that one right away. From there, I could select from either Can-Am Cryoservices (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) or Repromed (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). I’d say that after going through my checklist, there were probably about eight from each that I could pick from.

8. Canadian ID Release – my sperm donor is from an American sperm bank.  There are two sperm banks in the US (in my knowledge) that transport sperm to both Can-Am and Repromed.  The amount of men in Canada that donate sperm is very few (they also don’t get paid).  In the US, they do get paid so I think this is possibly why there are a few more donors to choose from.

9. He did not already have a positive pregnancy.  This is something that I was hoping would not be the case.  It feels a bit better to me knowing that the sperm donor has been able to get a woman pregnant.  So why did I still go with him?

When I read up on this, I found that people said it wasn’t that bad.  At least I knew that there weren’t thousands of babies born from the same donor. Plus, your donor will not be absolutely perfect so I was willing to still go with him even after this info.

There is also something available called the “sibling registry.” If there is a confirmed birth you can put their info in a sibling registry.  Eventually if my future baby wants to get into contact with his/her sibling, he/she can do so.

My fertility doctor at Mount Sinai told me “don’t get too attached to your sperm donor.”  Unfortunately, I did not follow her advice and knew who I really wanted.  Truth be told, I didn’t get my first choice as a donor.  His sperm was out of stock and they didn’t know when/if he would have any vials in the future.

From there, I got to select my second choice.  He is my donor and the one I am writing about today. Thankfully I got his sperm in time! I’ve said to a couple friends that buying sperm is like buying something at the Winner’s Department Store.  For those of you outside of Canada, Winners is a store that offers beautiful clothes at a fraction of the price.  If you don’t buy the item from Winners right away, it is always sold out when you go back to their store.  Buying sperm is the exact same – you think the vials are there and it appears as though the vials are there.  When I picked my American donor, I saw that he was available at both Can-Am and Repromed so I called both sperm banks.  Although Repromed showed online that there were many vials of my sperm donor available, this was not the case.  They only had one vial left and Can-Am was completely out of stock.

Without hesitation, I bought the first vial and I have the other two being shipped to Toronto, Ontario, Canada right now.

Overall, I feel as though I have made the best choice given everything available to me.  I didn’t get the opinion of anyone else looking through sperm donor pictures or information and did it all on my own. There were a lot of times I needed to pause when finding a sperm donor.  Once I did write about what was really holding me back from finding a sperm donor, I felt so free and was able to start the search again within a week after writing that blog post.

So thank you for supporting me and for allowing me to get through tough times by having this blog as an outlet for all of my thoughts.

Some of you are reading this because you are in the process of becoming a Single Mother by Choice or maybe you are trying to get pregnant, but your partner has a low sperm count so you are finding yourself going through the sperm donor catalogue.  Just wanted to wish you good luck on your search – it can take a lot out of you emotionally.

Others of you are my family and friends who are interested in following me on my journey and for that, I say thank you.  Thank you for being open to learning about this process. Thank you for also feeling as though you can ask me questions about this journey and for not judging me on my path.

A few of you may be reading this and may be actually thinking about going through the process yourself.  If you are thinking about this, know that right now, I feel as though it is totally worth it.  I have found inner strength that I didn’t even know I had.  I’ve also found that this process has been like holding a mirror up to my face and has made me examine and question things in my life that I was trying to avoid.

Please also know that after all of this decision making, it may not even work.  I am trying three IUI’s and I have about a 20% chance of getting pregnant for each IUI cycle.  Altogether this process is going to cost me about $6,000 – $8,000 thanks to government support.

Fingers crossed this all works out and that this entire process of choosing a sperm donor was worthwhile. Time will tell.

Next Week: Can I please just start the process? No? Okay. Cool.

Telling Family and Friends

Since telling people I am hoping to be a Mom, and since writing this blog, I usually get asked the same question, “how did everyone react when you told them?”

To me, the question is really asking “how were you able to move past the stereotypes and the boxes that were created for you by society?” AND  “How were you able to tell the people you love most that you were going to rebel against the stereotype of the perfect heterosexual couple complete with 1.6 children?”

Growing up, I was always the “good kid.”  People often remarked at my politeness and kindness.  Part of me looks back at that person and thinks “girl, did you even have a personality?”  All I wanted to do was to please everyone around me. 

Now, at the age of 38, I have a personality but often find myself wanting to please everyone in my existence and to put everyone’s needs ahead of my own.  For one of the first times in my life, I am saying “screw what society tells me I need to do” and “I have this feeling within me that is so strong that I am willing to run the risk of people not accepting me or respecting my decision.” So what happens when the people pleaser who lives off praise, jumps out of the box and forces the people I love to live outside the box?

A lot of growth. 

A lot of tears.

A lot of pain.

So here’s what happened when I told my family and friends that I was going to be a Solo Mom.

While I was considering being a Choice Mom, I wanted to see if my family would support me. I guess deep down, I was trying to gauge some sort of vibe from my family members about having a baby on my own.

A lot of conversations went like this:

  1. “My friend is going to be a Choice Mom. What do you think?”
  2. “This dating scene is hideous.  Sometimes I just wonder if I should just use a man for sperm so that I could have a baby”
  3. “Do you think a woman could be a single Mom and live in Toronto?” 

My family is pretty smart but nobody really called me on what I was doing – testing the waters to see if they would disown me if I became a Choice Mom. To be honest, not all conversations were pretty.  Some left me pretending I wasn’t crying or cleaning up dinner plates when the family was together so that I could leave the room.

Overall, I bet I asked about fifty awkward questions that were really me just asking them “would you still love and accept me as part of the family if I did something so outside my comfort zone and your comfort zone?”

Phone Call 1: Sister One

This is where I started.  I told my sister over the phone about wanting to begin the process of being a Choice Mom and she said she supported me and then moved to a different topic.

About a month ago I asked her why she responded that way and she said something like “I knew it was coming.  You talked about it and dropped hints all the time.”

I also encouraged sister one to get sister two on board. I remember telling sister one that she could tell sister two.

Phone Call 2: Sister Two

Sister two has two beautiful kids, a wonderful husband, and a beautiful home. She is also known as the logical one so I was really worried about getting her approval.

Her first reaction was to support me which felt amazing.  Then it turned to a bunch of questions that I was not able to answer.

This resulted in me feeling overwhelmed, sobbing, and barely able to make a coherent sentence. 

Since then, she has been so supportive and the questions have stopped because I just don’t know the answers to the questions.  I have planned as much as I can but I have no idea what my possible baby will be like.

Phone Call 3: Mom

I know that I called my Mom before she went on a big trip with my Dad and I remember crying through a lot of the phone call. She was super kind and I remember suggesting that she tell Dad on their trip. That way, she could put the feelers out and possibly get my Dad used to the idea so that when they came back from the trip, he could possibly be on board.

Family Conversation:

Once my parents got back from their trip, we met at my sister’s house and my parents told us about their trip.  My Mom had a couple glasses of wine and just stated “Sarah, I asked your dad about you having a kid on your own.  He said that if it makes you feel as happy as you three girls have made him feel, he supports your decision.”

I just sat there and cried and everyone was there – including my Dad.  My Dad’s approval was the one I was most scared to get. My Mom then said something like “I think I am going to cry” and then someone changed the conversation.

Since then, there have been A LOT of conversations and I mean A LOT.  We have discussed a lot of really tough subjects – moving back home for a bit, paying for daycare, picking out a sperm donor, genetic testing, making my story so public, etc.

My poor family worries for me about the potential backlash of me being so candid.

After I told my family, I started telling some extended family members.  From there, I told my friends, my co-workers, etc.  Before I started the blog, I bet about 20-30 people knew what was happening. Their reactions really ranged – some people didn’t say anything when I told them, others screamed in excitement, a few got emotional. Overall, nobody in my close group of family/friends said anything negative. 

The blog is the topic that really divides people.  I’d say about 25% of my friends/family have said things that haven’t been 100% supportive because they are worried about me being so open at such a vulnerable time. 

Now, every time I tell my story, I feel more comfortable and secure with my decision. Looking back, I don’t know what I would have done if my family said that they didn’t support me if I were to have a baby on my own.  If I didn’t have a sister who was my appointment partner – there with me every time I got a result for something.  If I didn’t have another sister who was always checking in and saving every baby item and clothing item for me.  If I didn’t have parents who said “move in with us and stay here as long as you need us.”

The other main person is this process who has helped me maintain my strength is my therapist. She helps me conquer my fears and the inner voices that leave me up at night questioning this decision. She forces me to examine stereotypes and teaches me how to deal with non-enthusiastic people. 

So could I have done this on my own without a supportive family and an incredible therapist?  I have absolutely no idea and feel blessed that I don’t have to deal with that right now. 

Update: Thank you for letting me vent last week about the reaction I was having in finding a sperm donor.  You allowed me to write down some of my most personal thoughts and the whole experience was very cathartic.  Perhaps that was all I needed – a place to just grieve that I would not experience the life I had pictured. For whatever reason, I no longer feel stuck in finding a sperm donor and my goal is to find one this week!

Thank you: Please know that writing this blog is helping me so much through this process but I want it to help you as well.  Perhaps you are thinking about becoming a Mom, worried about the fertility process, wanting to best support friends/family through the process, etc.  If you have any questions at all, please just message me. If there is anything you have wondered about and want me to write a blog about, please let me know.