How Karen and Catherine became mothers
In 2016, Karen and Catherine (fictional names) went to a meeting at a fertility clinic and with the help of a sperm donor, Karen gave birth to their baby boy in 2017.
The process of having a child with the help of a sperm donor – whether being a lesbian couple, heterosexual couple or a single woman – is a process with many considerations, decisions and sometimes worries. We want to share the experiences of others to help you gain confidence and excitement along your journey. This article is part of a collection of interviews and other personal stories from people who have had experiences that future parents can learn and benefit from.
How did you make the decision to become parents?
Karen always had the desire to start a family. In fact, so much that she wanted to do it alone if she didn’t find the right partner.
Catherine, however, did not immediately want to have children. Perhaps mainly because she could not imagine being pregnant herself. But Catherine’s mindset changed through the first years of our relationship, and over the years it actually became a completely natural thought that we would go down this road together.
What were your first considerations when you decided to have a child?
There are many considerations when you are two lesbian women who want to have a child together. For example: What is right for us? What is right for the child? Those were some thoughts that we’ve had for several years, and we now believe that we have made the right decisions – for both us and for our son.
Our considerations especially included two questions:
Should the donor be someone we know?
This idea was quickly rejected. We wanted the child to be ours, and we didn’t want to raise him with someone else.
Should it be an ID Release who our child could contact later on?
Catherine was in doubt about this, thinking if it would put a third person into the game? However, after seeing a number of documentaries about donor children and their desire to know their biological origin, we also agreed on this matter. We wanted our child to have the opportunity of contacting the donor when he grows up.
You mentioned that Catherine never imagined herself being pregnant – did that make it easier to decide who was going to carry the child?
Yes, it was the easiest decision of them all. Karen had a great desire to carry the child, so it was the right decision for both of us. However, we did think about the fact that the child wouldn’t have any genes from Catherine, and if that would mean something to the people around us. Would it affect the feeling and affection of the future grandparents? And how would the rest of the family feel? However, these thoughts were quickly proved wrong.
How did you choose your sperm donor?
We wanted to know as much as possible about our donor and therefore searched for a sperm donor with an extended profile. We once heard a single mother (by choice) comment on this subject. She said that she wanted to have the child with a donor that she could see herself fall for in reality. We had the same thought.
We looked through hundreds of profiles. The first criteria we decided on was hair and skin color. We wanted a child that would reflect both of our appearances. We also placed great emphasis on the donor’s values, talents and interests. We didn’t look for a genius or for the most beautiful one. Instead, we looked for the donor who felt right and who appealed to us the most.
In the end, we were down to two donors. Both of them had fantastic profiles. And the childhood pictures on both profiles looked like children that could have been ours – and that was actually how it felt!
Karen preferred one, and Catherine preferred the other, but in the end, it was the nationality of the donors that was decisive for our choice. One was American, and the other was Danish, and we choose the Danish donor. We also live in Denmark and therefore it will probably be easier for our son to contact the donor when he turns 18 – if that is what he wants.
In 2017 another very wanted little baby was born as a result of love and the help of donor sperm. The baby boy’s parents Karen and Catherine (fictional names) had gone through fertility treatment at a clinic in Denmark where they live, and after four attempts they were expecting a little bundle of joy.
How was the process until you became pregnant?
We went to a meeting at the fertility clinic, and after that, it went really fast. We thought that the process before we could start the treatment would be longer, but only 14 days after the meeting Karen was inseminated for the first time. And after four attempts Karen was pregnant.
What kind of thoughts went through your heads when you had the positive pregnancy test in your hands?
We were very happy and a bit tired. Karen had got up at four in the morning because she could not wait longer to take the pregnancy test. Catherine woke up shortly after – and then we cried of happiness!
That same day, we told the news to our families. They had been a natural part of the process and the people closest to us had been following the process very, very closely. It wasn’t a secret that we were trying to conceive a child, and it was really liberating that we could share the joy with them right away.
How was it for you to become parents?
It was actually a bit easier than we had imagined – especially in the beginning. Our boy is very easy-going, and maternity leave was a lovely time since everything actually went easier than we had expected. He was such a “Saturday boy” and the first month we had together at home felt like one long and nice weekend.
Now everyday life has begun with everything that it consists of: Work, daycare, cooking, cleaning and, in between that, time to be a couple.
A lot of the time we are very tired, but that doesn’t come as a surprise to us.
Have you considered how you want to talk with your son about the fact that he is donor-conceived?
We cannot hide it from him, and we don’t want to either. We think it’s important to tell him and talk to him about how he’s conceived. If we hide it or avoid talking about it, it would feel like we’re telling him that there’s something wrong with it. And we don’t ever want him to feel like that.
What has been the most challenging part of the process?
The most challenging part has been all the considerations before we started the process. All along, we wanted to do what’s best for our child, but we also learned that we just had to jump into it.
We had been talking and thinking for many years, but when we had the meeting at the clinic it felt like everything was falling into place. At that meeting, we received great guidance and got a sense of security that made everything seem natural for both Karen, who was going to carry the child, and for Catherine, who was also going to be a mother.
Do you have any advice for other people who are considering starting or are in the process of getting pregnant with the help of a sperm donor?
Make sure to think it through! It’s not a decision that you take overnight. Consider if it’s the right thing for you to use a sperm donor and consider what kind of donor you want for your child – or children.
When you have thought it through then seek help from professionals. But be sure to act and take the next step when you are ready – and not before. Because they can bring you very far in a short period of time.