I live in Oxfordshire in the town where I grew up. I’ve got family around me – my mother, brother and sister-in-law – and a good social circle. Before the baby, I used to go out a lot. I was really happy in every respect, it was just my love life that was letting me down.
I had thought about having a baby on my own for quite a few years and then, at 37, decided to have a fertility MOT with Thames Valley Fertility in Maidenhead. The clinic was the closest to my house, so it was a no-brainer really. I’d heard good things about it, too, and there were good reviews online. All the staff there were so lovely. They really put you at ease. They were very warm and kind and the vibes were really positive.
So, the fertility MOT showed that I was about average for my age. It was reassuring. When they did the scan, they could see I was about to ovulate. After that, I decided to take ovulation tests every month to track what was going on. I would ovulate on the same day every month – I was really lucky.
After that, I spent ages deciding whether to have IVF or IUI (intrauterine insemination). IVF is more expensive and more invasive but the odds of success are greater. Finally, I decided on IUI because it was less invasive and, as it turns out, I didn’t have any problems conceiving.
The next step was to choose the donor. There was so much choice! I looked at the sperm bank in London and then two or three in Denmark. There was one in America which the clinic was affiliated with and I went with that in the end. I really liked the fact that there was a full profile for each man and a medical background. They offered childhood and adult photos and also screened for a huge number of genetic conditions.
Eventually I found a man who had a wonderful, kind face. He’d written a letter and it was the loveliest piece of writing. It was so important as I wanted something I could show my future child.
In the end I ordered three vials of sperm as it was entirely possible I wasn’t going to conceive the first time around. Then I continued doing my monthly ovulation tests and the clinic said to come in when the test showed a smiley face. This meant I was ovulating.
The experience was really nice. It was all women in the room and the vibe was very positive. The procedure wasn’t at all uncomfortable and I watched everything on the screen. Then I went into the recovery room to rest. I thought I would stay horizontal, but apparently that’s a myth. I was in a really positive state of mind. I thought, I don’t have any fertility problems and they insert the sperm right next to the follicle. Why wouldn’t this work?
You have this two week wait to take a pregnancy test. It went quite slowly. You are thinking about what is happening inside you. You don’t want to get too excited. A couple of days before the two weeks was up, I got what I thought was implantation bleeding, where the embryo fuses to the lining of the womb. Because my cycle was like clockwork, this gave me a bit of hope. Then the night before the two weeks was up, I bought this cheap pregnancy test and there was a really faint line on it. The next morning, I did a more expensive, digital test and it confirmed the pregnancy. I couldn’t believe it had worked the first time!
I know you feel you should feel happy to be pregnant, but on the other hand you can feel awful early on and exhausted and drained. It was like the baby was sucking the life out of me. My mother named the baby Biscotti because I was constantly eating biscuits to make myself feel better.
Then, in the second trimester I felt amazing and by the third, I was getting so excited at my growing belly. I had a gender scan with a clinic in Marlow as I wanted to know. The lady said it was a girl, which I was so surprised at as my family is very boy heavy. I was stunned and so happy. The next day I bought a lovely pink baby’s cardi in a charity shop.
The labour was induced in the end, and after 24-hours I had a C-section. When they held Olivia up for me to see I cried and cried. The cleaned her up and laid her on me and it was wonderful. I was in a bubble of love - I felt like the happiest person.
Then you get out of hospital and life begins. It’s a new life, which is so much more interesting and amazing.
It is hard being a single mum but it is the best thing I’ve ever done and it is the best decision I have ever made. If that’s what you really want, don’t think about how others may judge you. You’ll be surprised at how much support you get. And you have a wonderful bond with your son or daughter when its just the two of you.