It is an increasing trend among women in their thirties to postpone family planning due to the lack of a suitable partner. There are women who, despite the absence of a partner, decide to become mothers with the help of a sperm donor. We are happy to share the story of Linda, whom our clinic helped in fulfilling her dream to become a mother.
A baby is the most wonderful gift in life – and you, Linda, already have two. How did you decide to become a mother by sperm donation?
I was in my 30s and had always known that I wanted to have children. But all the relationships in my life seemed to be falling apart one after another and I felt like I was running out of time. I was afraid that I would not be able to have children at all if I kept looking for the ‘right’ person. Before contacting Next Fertility Nordic, I had been thinking about and researching the possibility of becoming a mother using the IUI procedure (intrauterine insemination: a procedure in which sperm are inserted into the uterus using a special catheter) for five years. I have a good friend who encouraged me to take action – what is the point of waiting endlessly.
Was the decision to become a mother using a sperm donor difficult for you?
The decision to have a child was not a difficult one. I was more than sure I wanted to be a mother. However, it was difficult to accept the fact that since sperm donation is anonymous in Estonia, I will not able to get more information about the donor than is provided by law. In Finland, sperm donation is non-anonymous. This means that when the child is 18 years old, they can find out who their biological parent is. Initially, it seemed difficult to rule out such a possibility when deciding to perform this procedure in Estonia.
How did you find our clinic and why did you choose us?
I initially visited a fertility clinic in Finland. I found them unsuitable. I felt that I was not welcome or accepted there, especially during the initial meetings. The decision was certainly influenced by the fact that it was not possible to choose among donors as well as the higher cost of the procedure. After a little research, I found Next Fertility Nordic Clinic. That was a few years ago, and I was a little sceptical doing a background check on the clinic because I couldn’t find much more information on the Internet besides the website (the clinic was founded in 2015). Of course, I was a little hesitant when I booked the appointment. However, I was very positively surprised to see that the doctor and all the staff were supportive and, above all, very professional. It was important for me to be able to speak to the doctor in Finnish at first, later in English, without any problems and everything went well.
Was it easy to find a suitable donor?
Let’s just say it was easier than in Finland. Finland does not allow you to choose among sperm donors: you can only tell which colour of eyes, height and hair colour you would prefer and the doctor will make the choice for you. In Estonia, it is possible to choose among donors. Yes, the information about donors is limited, but I still felt I could participate in the decision-making process as well. In the end, I was left with two candidates and then I made the choice between them.
Do family and friends know about your journey?
Yes, of course they know. In most cases, I talk openly about how I became a mother using sperm donation.
How did they initially react to the news that you were planning to have children with the help of a sperm donor?
One of my friends knew about my plans beforehand, but I didn’t tell my parents straight away. I was around three months pregnant with my first child when I finally told them about having a baby. Of course, they were very happy with the news, especially my mother. My father is a bit of a joker and said, “Well, all right, I thought you had just gained weight!” Before having the second child, my parents were a little worried about my financial situation, about how I was going to manage. But I had it all figured out in advance, so I just convinced them to be happy about the second grandchild coming.
How does Finnish society feel about a single-parent family? Does the opinion of society directly affect you in any way?
It is quite common in Finland to be a single parent. In my opinion, Finland has a good social security system and I personally do not feel negatively affected in any way. As a state agency, the Social Insurance Board KELA has provided social security and social benefits for families with children to all Finnish residents. So the state support, my financial planning skills and the existence of single parent support groups have helped me cope.
After the birth of my second child, when I meet a new person, they are sometimes surprised to learn that both of my children were born with the help of sperm donation. But the reaction has always been positive.
Considering the future, have you thought about how you plan to tell children about their background? How do you envision your family life in the future?
I have already told my first child how they came into this world. The child knows that their mother went to a clinic where they put ‘baby seeds’ into mommy and that’s how they were born. I believe that the right and easiest solution for me and my children is to be honest about this from the start.
Children definitely need male role models in their lives. My children have a grandfather who spends time with them. Among my friends we also have a close male friend. At the moment, I can’t imagine going on dates, because the children are still small and I’m quite tired by the time they sleep. I would definitely not rule out a relationship in the future. Of course, I hope to find a partner someday to be with and share my life with.
As a mother to two sweet children, how do you feel – have there been any lessons along the way?
I finally feel like things are as they should be now. It was very important for me to become a mother, so I no longer feel the pressure that I am late with having a child because the fertility of women decreases in their thirties. I am very, very happy! Tired sometimes, but happy.
Do you have any recommendations for other women who are in the same situation as you were a few years ago thinking about having children alone?
To others who are thinking about becoming a mother but do not have the ‘right’ partner and feel that time is ticking, I recommend taking this step. And believing that it will work. You can definitely make it on this journey. It is definitely worth exploring the possibilities of support provided by the state, the community and your loved ones. Accept all the help you can get. I am lucky that my mother and a good friend help me and are in awe of my children.
Allow yourself to be tired sometimes and have a rest with your children instead of cleaning up. Accept the fact that at some point you might feel that you are not good enough for your children and that you cannot do it – but you are good enough and you can definitely do it! Don’t be afraid to ask for help before you feel burned out. Be prepared for the coolest, happiest and best moments of your life. Remember, you don’t have to be rich or own a big house and a lot of things to have a baby. All you can offer your child is time, presence, perseverance and lots of love. This is enough. You are all the child needs.
Thank you to Linda for sharing her story with others.
Read more about fertility treatment with donor gametes here.
Interviewed by Kristi Lehiste