At Seattle Sperm Bank, we proudly support all the paths that lead to parenthood. Single parenthood by choice is a growing group of people that are choosing to become parents without a co-partner.
We are grateful to have Kristin share her experience about choosing to be a single parent by choice and what the journey to parenthood looked like for her.
Kristin, how did you make the decision to pursue parenthood alone? Did you have any fears going into this as a single parent?
“I had thought about it for a long time before I actually started down this path. I went for a consult at the fertility clinic in 2019, but never ended up getting the tests done. (Now I wish that I would so I would have at least known where my levels were!) My main fear was my baby not having a father in his life. I am very close with my dad and I wanted my baby to have a chance at a similar relationship with his own dad. But when the pandemic hit and I got my fertility tests results back, I realized it was now or never, so I chose to do it anyways, and I’m so glad I did!”
How did your family and friends feel about you becoming a single mom by choice?
“Everyone was very supportive! I had always been vocal about wanting kids and wanting a big family, and coming from a big family myself, they understood the desire to have kids! My mom especially has been amazing! She has seen a lot of her friends’ kids go through divorce and custody battles and I think that helped her to see that this wasn’t such a bad option. She ended up coming and staying with me for 3 weeks when my son was born, which was amazing!”
From your story that you shared with us, you found out there was a dermoid cyst on your left ovary. Can you share what a dermoid cyst is and what it meant for you and getting pregnant?
“It’s a type of growth of normal tissue that is kind of like a sack and may contain things like skin, hair, or even teeth. It won’t go away on its own and in my case, it was probably preventing follicles from growing on that ovary, so I had to have it removed through laparoscopic surgery.”
What were some of your first steps in starting this journey?
“Once I got a referral from my family doctor to the fertility clinic and had my levels checked, I had to schedule a counselling appointment since I was planning to use a donor. Then I did a genetic carrier screen through Invitae to make sure that I chose a donor that didn’t carry the same mutations. Once I got those results back, I narrowed down the potential donors to my top 10 and emailed the list to the sperm bank. They checked to see who would be available soon, and I put my name on their waitlists. When two donors became available at the same time, I had to choose between them! I initially ordered 2 vials, then put my name back on the waitlist right away and ordered 4 more vials.”
How long did it take to for you to choose your donor?
“Not long! I looked through the profiles in one evening with my sisters and narrowed it down but being from Canada and given the fact that I am a carrier for 3 different things, I didn’t have a lot of selection.”
How did pregnancy/birth go as a single mom by choice? Did you have a birth plan? Did it go as expected?
“Pregnancy was very smooth for me! I worked out the entire time so stayed very active. My water broke the day I was 38 weeks around 1:30 pm (although I had no contractions for the next 12 hours) and I had the baby the following day at 10:12 am. The birth was faster and more painful than I expected, but I was able to have the unmedicated water birth (in the hospital) that I had hoped for. I wasn’t sure if I’d want an epidural or not, but in the end, I didn’t really even have time, so I didn’t really consider it. I only pushed 5 times and the baby was out in only 12 minutes!”
How has life changed now that your little one is here?
“It’s much busier and I’m tired most days, but otherwise very much the same! Since I don’t have a partner to work around, it’s just Blake and I doing whatever we want to do. I’m on maternity leave for a full year, which is amazing (a perk of living in Canada). I try to work out while Blake is napping, or he watches me from a little chair when he wakes up. The rest of the day is full with feeding Blake, dishes, laundry, and trying to catch the occasional nap!”
What do you value most about doing this without a co-parent?
“Not having to devote emotional energy to another relationship is one of the best parts! I get to fully focus on my baby and I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s needs. Plus, I get to make all of the parenting decisions for our family, which I love.”
SSB Connects is our donor sibling registry. It is anonymous and free to use and helps connect families who all used the same donor. Do you plan on using SSB Connects?
“I’ve already joined a Facebook group for Blake’s donor siblings! Some of them found each other on SSB Connects originally.”
What is advice for someone considering becoming a single parent by choice?
“Do it! It’s the best decision I ever made, and I am so happy. I no longer worry so much about finding a partner – it will happen when it happens! For now, I have my baby and am planning IVF round #2 for next fall in the hopes of getting a sibling for Blake!”
Did you join any support groups for single moms by choice? Any other good resources out there?
“There are tons of groups on Facebook that are great. I did join the Single Mothers by Choice forum but never really used it. Other than that, try searching hashtags on Instagram. There’s a huge community of us over there and I for one am happy to chat with anyone considering this path!”
Read more about Kristin’s journey here:
“Before I actually went through with it, I had considered becoming a single mom by choice for a while. I had even gone to the fertility clinic in my city for a consultation back in 2019, but I still had too many doubts. When the pandemic hit in 2020, that finally convinced me to move forward with my plan. When I had an ultrasound done, they found that I had very low ovarian reserve and only two follicles as well as a large dermoid cyst on my left ovary. That was in March 2021.
I didn’t want to waste any time after getting that news, so I started looking into finding a sperm donor. I did the Invitae genetic testing and found that I was a carrier for 3 different mutations, including Alpha 1 Anti-trypsin. Seattle Sperm Bank was one of the few banks that actually tested for this, and I wanted my baby to be as healthy as possible, so that’s what initially drew me to this bank. They were also super helpful over the phone and told me to narrow down my list of donors.
I went through all the applicable profiles (not all donors are available in Canada where I live) and narrowed it down to my top ten. From there I put my name on the waiting lists, and when two donors became available at the same time, I had to make a decision! I initially ordered 2 vials and then later ordered 4 more from the same donor, as I had decided to do some IUIs and I knew I would want more than 1 child in the future if possible.
But before I could start any actual fertility treatments, I had to have surgery to get my dermoid cyst removed. I finally had that surgery in June of 2021 and during the laparoscopy they noticed that I had signs of endometriosis as well. After a few weeks of recovery, I attempted my first and then second IUI (both medicated with Clomid), but neither one worked. I started Letrozole for a third IUI but canceled it and decided to switch to IVF mid-cycle to attempt to bank multiple embryos.
Unfortunately, they were only able to retrieve two eggs and even with ICSI, one of them didn’t fertilize. By day three I was left with one embryo and the clinic recommended that I do a fresh transfer and not wait until day 5 because we could lose it by then. Luckily, that little embryo stuck around after the transfer and I got my miracle babe, Blake James!
I have 3 vials left from the same donor and I’m already planning another egg retrieval for fall 2023 to try for another baby.”
Follow Kristin on Instagram for the latest on her adventures @justbekristin