While the details aren’t quite correct and my donor is definitely not Dave (or he could be?!), I’m always grateful to be able to share my story to inspire others.  Thanks That’s Life for getting in touch and allowing me this space to spread the word!  And yep you betcha, I LOVE being a mum to my precious little one. x

Surfing for Semen

I was thrilled when he called and said we were on for tomorrow.  So I jumped on a plane and headed to Queensland’s sunny Gold Coast.  My Latin lover was already there waiting and I couldn’t get there fast enough.  He’d scattered crimson rose petals all over the crisp white floor tile and on the white satin sheets that sparkled like diamonds on the freshly made bed. The curtains swayed slowly as the warm, salty, sea breeze wafted through the window on this balmy afternoon. I barely had a moment to breathe it all in before his head was between my legs.

Very softly, he told me to relax and then propped me up a little, then he inserted a clamp.  In that very instant, and with that ripping sound effect as loud as a thundercloud above, my charming Latin lover vanished, and I was left face taut and legs spread for my 60 odd-year-old IVF doctor.

While I was shocked back to reality, at least he was armed with the sperm of a sexy, tall, dark-haired, green-eyed, 26-year-old Hungarian hottie, that was about to be squirted deep inside my cervix.  

I was 40 years old, single and classed as socially infertile.  How did I get myself here?

I could say my thirties were the years of racking up lots of travel mileage points, Facebook friends, happy hours and hangovers. While these were easy to accrue, marriage proposals were not.

At 37 I found myself in a relationship that I’d hope would last forever.  It was the one that  I had all my chips on the table for as it was in the most promising best of my last ‘fertile window’ days.  While I had pinned my hopes on this being the relationship that would take me out of singledom for good, it unravelled over the following two years and I too became unhinged.  

As the big 4-0 approached I completely came undone spending each night blubbering into my pillow agonizing over how on earth I could create a family. I was in deep caca with the hands of that ticking biological clock.

Months off the heels of that window waster relationship, I jumped onto online dating sites in a gallant quest to meet the one.  All this did was waste more valuable time and keep me from pressing forward with my own plan. Not only did I have to dance around my true desire, dating was slow, required squeezing into an LBD for an entire night of discomfort as well as around my dates weekends without their kids.  

Urgh, if only I could make my own baby!!

Pondering that thought and with a little further investigation I realized I actually might be able to and tottered off to an IVF clinic.  

Although unfortunately, it wasn’t surprising, the few IUI attempts I underwent all failed. The Hungarian hottie didn’t stick nor did the handsome blue-eyed chiro the month before.  I now either had to pull out the IVF big guns and harvest my eggs or get creative and find another solution.  I decided for the latter and threw myself at Dr. Google for alternatives.  When I first landed on a site for known sperm donors I thought I had stumbled onto the IVF underbelly. I was too fearful to take a really good peek around in case I found myself in some weird porn or body parts trafficking ring.  Knowing my luck, I’d have a SWAT team parachuting out of the skies and smashing down my doors within minutes.  

Hang on! Courageous, bulked up men in uniform landing on my doorstep in just a few minutes?!  Hmmm… there’s a thought!

Having scrutinized this path for a year and a half, the idea of finally heading in this direction had now penetrated me deeply and it didn’t seem so aberrant. In fact, using semen from someone that required no relationship labour, I could actually check out in the flesh and have a coffee with made insanely good sense.  So, I decided to take the plunge and see what it was all about.  With a tap on my keypad, white light began beaming out of my monitor and Beethoven’s fourth movement from his Fifth Symphony masterpiece rang out. Low and behold, before my eyes were dozens of men from all over the world happily offering their free baby batter to wannabe mamas.

  I took to a couple of sites sharing my woes hoping to catch a fella.  

“Single, 40-year-old, adrenal fatigued, career-focused woman who missed the

‘memo for motherhood’ seeks a strapping young lad’s fertile tadpoles”

“Must be tall, intellectual type, no chromosomal abnormalities, have top-notch winning swimmers and be within close travel distance.”

After just a couple of months and a few discarded swimmers due to not meeting the legal requirements, I got an agile one on the hook that fit my criteria.  He was actually a fellow middle-aged man whose uberous sperm could impregnate a nation.  A week later he handed me a bucket full of fresh swimmers that I launched as far into my uterus as I could.

The race upstream had begun.  I relaxed with my feet up on the wall hoping that one was limber enough to navigate my tightly knotted body’s ‘non-yoga-ish’ innards.

Then it was an agonizing two-week wait for the results to see if there was one lucky winner from the ‘great anti-gravity’ swim.  When Aunty Flo didn’t show up to her monthly meeting, it was apparent that the following day it was time to perform a home pregnancy test.  Another five nail-biting minutes later, it was finally revealed that one speedy tadpole had indeed been the victor.

So now I’m a middle-aged, single mother to be and I couldn’t be happier.  When I think to myself how did I get myself here?  Well, I stayed on my imperfect life path, that’s how.

Image Credit:  Pixabay

What Exactly Is A Known Donor?

The known donor term tends to bring about a lot of confusion by what it actually means. When I referred to my known donor in the first instance, having never met or communicated with him other than through my keyboard, he was my ‘unknown-known’ donor.  Once we had caught up on Facetime he was no longer unknown to me, he then became known.

According to John Meyger, an admin for the FB Group ‘Sperm Doantion Australia’  who has been an active donor for decades says “donors can be classified in three types of ‘knowness’  with you, your child or children and his other donor children.

In his FB post he writes donors can be:

1) Known Donor Co-Parent – The known donor in this scenario actually plays a role in your child’s life.  He has significant input into raising and financing the child/ren.

2) Known Donor Anonymous –  This is where you both use false names and even fake profile photos and never plan for the donor or the child to know of each other.  As facial recognition technology has advanced so much, some men don’t want ever to be identified. This means you will have to trust his words when you connect as you may never know what they actually look like until you meet in the flesh.

3) Known donor – Most donors on the FB page fall under this category.  This gives all parties full disclosure of each other.   The child will know their donor and the donor and his other children will know your child. He has zero parenting input and may or may not exist in your physical world. There may be a level of contact through receiving annual photos of the child or it could be that the donor takes on an ‘uncle type role’ in the child’s life.  How you intend to implement the arrangement is up to both donor and recipient and should be clearly defined prior to insemination.

As John says, many women reject “known donors” like himself as they confuse/conflate this with a co-parenting role. “I never donate to “unknown donor” requests and discriminate against these women. The rise of DNA testing and DNA databases means that there is no longer any anonymity for donor children to find their siblings and donor. There is always the possibility for donors and siblings to track down your child with DNA testing.”



What’s Your Ovarian Age?

You might be freaking out by your ever rolling biological digits when you’re focusing on becoming pregnant, but perhaps letting go of that and shifting your attention to your ovarian age is where you need to let your head go.

As there’s a rapid decline in the amount of valuable eggs women have after 35, the AMH test is a way to figure out how many eggs a woman has left.  AMH stands for Anti-Mullerian Hormone and it’s a blood test which measures the amount of AMH in a woman’s blood stream.  This hormone is produced by specific cells, called Granulosa cells, which surround each and every egg in a woman’s ovary.  So obviously, the more eggs, the more granulosa cells.  And the more granulosa cells, the more AMH produced. As you can imagine this feedback is a quantitative guide to work out a woman’s ovarian “age”.  It also gives women the insight to figure out when to commence their attempts at falling pregnant if the results show they still have a chance.

Basically, your AMH levels starts high, when you’re at your most fertile age and as you get older, declines as your ovarian reserve does.

I had an AMH test when I was 39 and found myself to be a newly single sobbing mess.  I toddled off to my local GP and requested a bunch of blood tests as well as the AMH.  It was perhaps something I should have done while in my relationship but because I thought I had access to sperm on tap, it never crossed my mind.  These tests cost around AU$100 but varies from state to state.  For the piece of mind, it was well worth the dollars.

The results came back a few days later and gave me the reassurance I had a little more time up my sleeve.  According to Malpani Infertility Clinic,  I was in good shape. with a pmol/L of 29.  Sure I just scraped in to be in the optimal group but I was thrilled I was 29 again and relieved my window had not only not closed but was still at the top of their game.

Ovarian Fertility Potential pmol/L     ng/mL
Optimal Fertility 28.6 – 48.5    4.0 – 6.8
Satisfactory Fertility 15.7 – 28.6    2.2 – 4.0
Low Fertility 2.2 – 15.7    0.3 – 2.2
Very Low / undetectable 0.0 – 2.2    0.0 – 0.3
High Level > 48.5    > 6.8

It’s important to know that AMH levels do not vary with the menstrual cycle and can be measured independently of the day of the menstrual cycle.

Once I got my results, this didn’t mean I just got back to living as I was.  Sure, I’m a healthy person but there is always room for more self-improvement.  From that moment on I became even more diligent about what I was putting in and on my body.  Rather than buying kombucha, I started making my own.  I made coconut kefir, added more vitamins and even cut out whole wheat bread which is one of my greatest loves.

These small changes were super easy to do and were just the beginning of more that I gradually introduced week after week.  Before long my diet had shifted and I was in a much more fertile state.  Rather than focusing on the looming 4-0, I thought of myself as a viable and youthful, twenty-nine year old who from then on really looked after my eggs keeping them as nourished as possible.

Image: Pixabay

Getting Pregnant Is About Wellness Not Just Health

Depending on what dictionary you open up and read,  the meaning of personal ‘health’ by and large has similar descriptions.

Here are the definitions you’d be likely to come across:

  1. The general condition of the body or mind with reference to soundness and vigour: in poor health.
  2. Soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment: to lose one’s health.
  3. Vigor; vitality: economic health.
  4. (Medicine) the state of being bodily and mentally vigorous and free from disease
  5. (Medicine) the general condition of body and mind
  6. the condition of any unit, society, etc: the economic health of a nation.
  7. (modifier) of or relating to food or other goods reputed to be beneficial to the health: health food; a health store.
  8. The overall condition of an organism at a given time.
  9. Soundness, especially of body or mind; freedom from disease or abnormality.
  10. A condition of optimal well-being: concerned about the ecological health of the area.

So now that we know what health is, what does wellness mean and is it the same as good health?  

Wellness is a state of optimal well-being that is oriented toward maximizing an individual’s potential. It’s not something that you are born with predetermined to have.  It’s something you work towards.  Wellness is much more than merely physical health, exercise or nutrition.  It’s a life-long process of fully integrating your physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental well-being.

Halbert L. Dunn, M.D. was the leading figure in establishing a national vital statistics system in the United States and is known as the “father of the wellness movement.”  

He introduced the term wellness in the 1950’s and wrote the book ‘High Level Wellness’.  Although the book didn’t get much traction back then, it did a decade later when the holistic health movement took off.

So how does it differ to health?

According to the Armstrong Atlantic University,  wellness is:  “a state of being well, a way of life, a choice, and a lifestyle designed to achieve a person’s highest potential for well-being. It is an aspect of health cost management that focuses efforts on maximizing an employee’s general health and a decision a person makes to move toward optimal health. Furthermore, the concept of wellness uses daily practices that keeps one “well” and involves maintaining good nutrition, exercise, stress control, and good personal and social relationships. In addition, it is a balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being which is a process of becoming aware of and practising healthy choices to create a more successful and balanced lifestyle.”

The University of East Carolina defines wellness as “the integration of mind, body and spirit. Optimal wellness allows us to achieve our goals and find meaning and purpose in our lives. Wellness combines seven dimensions of well-being into a quality way of living. Overall, wellness is the ability to live life to the fullest and to maximize personal potential in a variety of ways. Wellness involves continually learning and making changes to enhance your state of wellness. When we balance the physical, intellectual, emotional, social, occupational, spiritual, and environmental aspects of life, we achieve true wellness.”

Health and wellness are not synonyms. Health refers simply to a physical body and mind being free from diseases, illness, injury or pain.  Just losing weight or lowering cholesterol, walking each day or eating raw food can be enough for someone to be considered healthy.

Wellness is an overall balance of your physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, environmental, and occupational well-being. Wellness is a lifestyle in which you consistently work towards achieving. A position that someone strives for balance throughout their whole life.  I believe this state is key in child creation.

When you’re on the baby making journey, wellness is a train you want to be riding on straight away.  Every day, aim to be a little better or do a little more the keeps you moving forward to this place.  


Ovulation Monitoring & OPK’s

Ovulation predictor kits (OPKs, also known as ovulation tests) can assist you in identifying your fertile window.

There are a few ways to determine your fertile window. You could record your menstrual cycle, chart the monthly cycles of your basal body temperature, or study changes in your cervical mucus. Or track all of them.  It’s totally up to you.

Until I went on my own mission outside IVF to create a child I hadn’t even looked at an OPK.  My donor pointed me to a kit that he had had success with and encouraged me to purchase the same one.  So like any good abiding recipient, I did just that as well as counted my days.

Monitoring your body basal temperature involves taking your temperature every day with ideally a digital thermometer.  You just keep a chart and write down your temperature.  Your body temp typically stays the same so when you see your temperature rise you’ll know you’ve got an LH surge and it’s time action accessing that semen!

You could also follow ‘The Standard Days Method’.  It’s based on a fixed formula which indicates that women with cycles between 26 and 32 days long, are potentially fertile on days 8-19 of their cycles.

So when counting your menstrual cycle, day one starts on the first day of your period.

The most fertile days in your cycle are the days leading up to ovulation before the egg is released from the ovary. After ovulation, the egg survives for just 24 hours, while the sperm retains fertilising capability for two to three days (some docs even say longer) in the fallopian tubes.

My menstrual cycle ran like clockwork on 28-day cycle so I could easily follow my fertile window 12 days later for up to a week. It doesn’t work like that for all of us though.

Use the chart below to determine when you’re most likely to be ovulating.

There is another counting method called the “rhythm method”.  It takes a lot more brainpower requiring exact information about the last 6 menstrual cycles then making complex calculations every month to figure out the fertile days in your current cycle.

Now, you can’t overlook noticing the stuff that lands on the bottom of your knickers…before you were on this path you possibly just flobbed it off as bodily fluids being released.  However, when you want to get pregnant it holds lots of information in helping you make that possible.

Reading cervical mucus involves watching for its changes.

  1.  The first few days after your period ends may be dry.
  2. After a few days of dryness, some mucus may be ‘sticky’ or ‘pasty’ but not wet.
  3. The next phase will be creamy, stretchy or wet, but is not yet egg white-like
  4. The most fertile of them all is very slippery and stretchy.  It looks like egg white.
  5. After ovulation, fertile fluids will dry up again quickly and the vagina will remain that way until next cycle.

While you can monitor your ovulation with any of the ways I’ve mentioned above, they can be fiddly and require a little extra brain power.  This is why urine or saliva OPKs can be very helpful.  They’re a quick, easy and accurate way to predict ovulation in advance allowing you to pinpoint your fertile window from the very first month. Kits are available online, and at most chemists and supermarkets in the same section as pregnancy tests.

There are a couple of types on the market – one is a saliva test and the other is urine-based.  So you’ll either collect your pee in a cup or hold a stick under you as you pee or take a swab from your mouth and put it on a slide.  Personally, I preferred the urine kit as it was very easy to use and spot on.  Like many pregnancy tests, Digital OPKs use symbols such as a smiley face or lines to tell you when you are on your most fertile days.

Instructions may vary slightly depending on which kit you use, but in general, you should try to collect your urine after your longest sleep.  It’s best to collect your urine at about the same time every day, though this is not absolutely necessary. If you think you’re ovulating take another OPK later in the day and monitor it closely.  Just make sure it’s been about 2 hours between pee breaks as too much liquid in between will dilute your urine, which could make it more difficult to detect the surge. The symbol will show up if you’re in the peak of your window and some will flash if it’s the best possible time.

Standard urine-based OPKs cost betweenAU$16-AU$20 (Approx US$13-US$16 and£10 and £15 per cycle).  I definitely think it’s worth purchasing one expensive brand like the Clear Blue Digital and a cheaper one such as a pharmacy brand so you can use them together for a more reliable reading.

Image:  Pixabay