The XX Factor

Why a 40-something Is Choosing to Use a Sperm Donor

This week Kat, a physical trainer from New York, will undergo Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) using sperm from a donor. She has agreed to describe the process and her decision to undergo it, although she would like to keep her identity private. In this first installment she tells us of how she came to make the choice.

The decision to become a single parent was not my first choice and probably wouldn’t be something I would choose if my age hadn’t crept up on me. Soon after turning 39, I started to really panic about my age, my eggs, meeting someone, getting married. Getting close to 40 was like a magic turning point, where either your life dreams come true, or your life takes a very different course than the one you always thought you were going to have.

People start talking about your fertility and the quality of your eggs. Men get that look on their face, like “Nice knowing you, now that I know you are 40.” This is when you start not wanting to tell your age…before that, who cared!

I was determined that I would beat the odds and somehow find a guy quickly. So I went into this crazy search for the right man, who would get in a relationship fast and save me from this horrible, looming idea of using a sperm donor and having a baby by myself.

I even started looking for baby daddies-slightly older guys who hadn’t found the right girl, had never been married, who were successful, and wanted to have a child. At least my kid would have a father. I found a few who were interested, including a successful anesthesiologist, but they all chickened out. Apparently they were more interested in getting me into bed than really sitting with a lawyer, drawing up a contract and giving sperm, money and time.

I found another guy who wanted to be exclusive for two weeks to see if we were compatible and then decide quickly if we could have a child together-he already had one. But unfortunately, he had no income, and I had the opportunity to hear him on the phone with his daughter. I just didn’t like the way he sounded. If you are going to do this with someone who isn’t your husband-they need to offer something more than you have. For me it was financial help, and some help with raising the child. But if the person isn’t going to provide you with much, it’s not worth it. Then you have to have this person in your life and I would much rather be the sole decision-maker for my child than have to consult some guy who isn’t really helping me and who I don’t know very well.

So these are the decisions I am making, all the while going on-seriously!-100 dates or more in a year and taking a class on Finding Your True Love in 90 Days. The course was great. But when you have your biological clock ticking in front of your face every minute, guys have supersonic ears and hear it, no matter how silent you think you are keeping it. And their first instinct is to run. Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty good at getting guys interested in me, getting asked out etc., but you throw this time pressure in the mix and it is like spraying mace full blast in their face. So I knew in the back of my mind that the only thing to do was stop worrying about my clock, be cool, relax, and take it easy.

I was not giving up on my dream of a husband and kids. But meanwhile I was able to convince myself that I should go to a fertility specialist and find out my options and what the deal is, rather than base everything on hearsay. While waiting to go to the fertility doctor, I dragged myself on a very hot Sunday to a Single Mothers by Choice meeting where I got thoroughly depressed. I sat with the “Thinking About It” group. Here I am with a bunch of smart, pretty, very together women, who are fed up with not finding the right guy or who just got divorced and don’t want to let their child-bearing years go by. A lot of these girls had already started their testing and the process of picking a sperm donor (I was seriously having heart palpitations at the thought of this). Afterwards I went and ate pizza feeling sorry for myself and cried to my dad for an hour. I’ve heard this from many people-my friend Maryanne cried to her mom so hard about it, her stepdad told her to leave the house. Recently she just gave birth to a healthy little girl who came from an egg and sperm donor. It’s a process you go through until you get whole with the idea.

So then I go to the fertility doctor and-guess what?-another delay. I have a fibroid that needs to be removed. My OBGYN had missed it two years earlier and I need surgery. Yay! A delay I can’t do anything about! More time to keep searching for the right guy in time!”

Photograph of woman by Photodisc/Getty Images.