Grow up, get married, have a baby. But what if you don't have a partner and you want to be a mother?
A choice mom is a woman who chooses solo parenthood with awareness. She may choose to foster a child or to adopt. Or she may decide that she is ready for pregnancy and find a sperm donor.
There are many reasons why women choose to lead families without the traditional support of a partner. You might be tired of waiting for love in order to give and get love. You may worry about waiting too long, and decreasing your chances of an easy pregnancy.
Whatever brought you to this point, understanding your options is the first step to becoming a mom.
Finding a Sperm Donor
If you are a prospective choice mom who wants to start a family through pregnancy and childbirth, a fertility doctor can discuss the sperm donor process with you, inform you about your fertility, and help you choose a donor.
Some women know their donors; some choose anonymous donors.
One of the advantages of working with a known donor, also known as a directed donor, is that you will know about that person's family and medical history and he can update you as relevant health issues arise. The sperm of known donors must undergo testing for infectious diseases and be quarantined and stored in a sperm bank for six months before it can be used.
If you choose a known donor, you will need to have a legal document created that absolves the man of legal or financial responsibility for any children conceived or, conversely, for claiming future paternity.
The majority of prospective choice moms use sperm banks to find an anonymous sperm donor. Your doctor will refer you to a reputable sperm donor bank.
Donors complete profiles with childhood photos, essays and even audio interviews so you can get a sense of the men who donate. Donors will also provide family medical history, and some banks require a physicial exam. All donors will have their sperm tested for communicable diseases. You will have the option of selecting sperm donors based on the characteristics like physical traits, ethnicity, and educational and professional accomplishments. Of course, as with all pregnancies, there is no guarantee that your child will inherit those traits. And even though the donation will be anonymous, many donors leave open the possibility of future contact with your child and they may also update the sperm bank on their health status and that of close family members.
Fertility support for choice pregnancies
Most likely, you will start your journey with one to three intrauterine inseminations (IUI), also known as artificial inseminations, at a fertility clinic.
Before you start an IUI cycle, your doctor may want a baseline assessment of your fertility through blood tests, ultrasounds and a hysterosalpingogram, a specialized x-ray of your fallopian tubes and uterus. Your doctor may also recommend fertility medications based on your fertility testing and history in conjunction with an IUI.
During at IUI, the clinic's laboratory will wash, process and concentrate the donated sperm before the doctor or nurse places it in your uterus. If your IUIs do not result in pregnancy, you and your doctor may consider advanced techniques like in vitro fertilization (IVF), genetic screening of embryos, egg donation and embryo donation.
The choice mom community
All parents need the support of a community. Deciding to solo parent need not mean you will be without support as you raise your child. There are several popular support and educational resources to help you navigate this rewarding family building alternative, including http://www.choicemoms.org and http://www.singlemothersbychoice.org. Both groups can assist you in finding a community of other women who are either exploring the idea or building families as choice moms.