Having a Baby on Your Own (Part 1): Building Your Fertility Team
By Mikki Morrissett
When I conceived my daughter at age 36 without a partner, I was blissfully unaware that my eggs might be on the verge of expiring. I simply knew I was emotionally and financially ready to become a mother on my own.
I knew nuthin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies, as the line from “Gone With the Wind” goes. And I hadn’t been a regular at any doctor’s office. So I knew I needed to find someone I could comfortably live with, largely naked from the waist down, for at least nine months. And eventually I found one. He treated me like the smart human being I am, with a good sense of humor to chase away the nerves. I still feel as grateful to my doctor (Eric Wahl, New York City) for helping to walk me through pregnancy, induced labor and quicker-than-expected delivery as I do the known donor who helped me conceive.
And that’s what every one of us needs — some to a greater extent than others, depending on the challenges. For Choice Moms (aka single mothers by choice), it’s not a simple matter of rolling over at the right time of the month. We need to know precisely when our bodies are ready for the sperm we’ve ordered or contracted for. We can feel urgent about succeeding, since it is expensive and/or awkward to be creating our family in such a deliberate manner. And we need to know intimate details about our eggs, since most of us have reached this stage of life after our reproductive zones have peaked.
As moderator of the Choice Moms discussion board, founder of ChoiceMoms.org, and host of the Choice Chat podcast, I have helped single women find answers to many typical questions about fertility.
Q: I am looking into having a child with donor insemination, but I am not sure where to begin, and what to expect about cost. What should I know?
There is no formula about how much it will cost, how long it will take, and what treatment will work to help us conceive. Each one of us has individual circumstances, fertility factors, financial limitations, levels of determination, and ability to deal with the risks, emotions, scheduling and waiting game involved with attempting to conceive. And getting a regular period each month doesn’t mean it will be easy.
In the Choice Moms Guide to Fertility, which compiled insight from more than 15 fertility doctors across and country, as well as Choice Moms who have taken this path, I outlined 10 steps that are detailed in the book. Here are the first four:
1) Check out your insurance coverage. What are the prerequisites? Do you need to be married in order to be covered? Do you need to have attempted to conceive for six months or a year before coverage can begin? Does your clinic offer special payment options?
2) Find local women to recommend a doctor in your area. If you are younger than 35, you could start with your ob/gyn. Since you’re investing in sperm, it’s generally recommended to test your FSH and estradiol levels. If you are over 35, it is advisable to consult with a fertility specialist, to give yourself time to identify and treat potential issues. Note that many Reproductive Endocrinologists have long waiting lists.
3) Educate yourself at ChoiceMoms.org, the American Fertility Association and Resolve websites, and other resources about treatment and medication options, sperm bank policies, success rates, donor availability (there are roughly 1,500 donors available in the U.S. any given month), and the potential differences to your child of an open-identity, known or anonymous donor.
4) Start charting your ovulation.