Donor Conception

Solo motherhood – Choosing to have children on your own with donor sperm

Mel Johnson, founder of The Stork and I  |   11 Feb 2020


There are lots of reasons why you might struggle to conceive, and one of the less talked about obstacles is ‘social infertility’.’

This is when there is not a physical reason that stops you from conceiving, but a social reason.

For example, if you’re in a same-sex couple and you need donor sperm, donor eggs and or surrogacy. Perhaps you need assisted reproductive at a fertility clinic, for IUI, IVF or ovulation detection. Many people also realise the clock is ticking and they don’t want to ruin their chances of having a family because they haven’t met a partner.

With this in mind, we talked to Mel Johnson, The Solo Parenthood Coach ™ and founder of The Stork and I, who pursued solo motherhood with donor sperm to have her daughter, Daisy.

She shares her experience and how she has used her knowledge and insight to train as a Solo Fertility Coach, offering support and a fantastic community to others pursuing solo parenthood (mainly solo mums so far…)

Over to Mel.

When things don’t go to plan

I grew-up presuming that I would meet a lovely guy, get married, then have children shortly after. It’s what my parents did, what most of my friends were doing, what happened in films and in books.

I basically never really considered that this wouldn’t happen for me. It was only when I was in my mid 30s, still single, with no potential suitors on the horizon that I started to think maybe this was not going to happen. Maybe I was going to miss out on my dream of becoming a mum.

Not for medical reasons, but due to the fact that I had been, until this point, unable to find a suitable partner. A situation that is now being termed ‘social infertility’.

The thought of never having children filled me with fear. It was not something I wanted to imagine could happen to me.

You might be thinking, how do you make the final decision to stop looking for a man and proceed to solo mum?

After many months of serious consideration, I decided not having children was not something I could contemplate for my future. I was clear I wanted to be a mum and there was a way for me to try to make that happen – through donor conception using IVF at a fertility clinic with donor sperm.

solo motherhood

The journey

It was hard to let go of the idea of having a baby with a loving and supportive partner. But, the idea of missing out altogether was harder to accept.

So, with the support of my mum and my close friends, I was going to try to make this happen. I had IVF treatment at Manchester Fertility Clinic using donor sperm and, following my first failed embryo transfer, on the second embryo transfer I got a positive pregnancy test. In February 2018, my daughter was born.

As I was going through this fertility treatment, I didn’t know anyone else in my position. No-one who was experiencing the same things as I was.

I was surrounded by amazing and supportive friends and family but I felt like no-one knew exactly what I was going through. It seemed that I was the only person in the world who was having a baby without a partner. Although this isn’t how I thought things would be, I now wouldn’t have it any other way.

Not knowing anyone else in the same situation made the whole process quite lonely. I would have loved to have met others who knew exactly what I was experiencing.

Statistics from the HFEA show that year on year, the number of women seeking fertility treatment on their own using a sperm donor is increasing. This just shows that there are many others out there facing the same decisions.

I just wanted a way to connect with these women in the same situation.

Introducing ‘The Stork and I’

Following the birth of my daughter who is now two, I decided to start ‘The Stork and I’.

If I could help just one person in this situation feel less alone then it would be worth it.

The Stork and I started as a solo mum fertility blog, for support, and then I incorporated my life coaching into it to create group coaching courses, as well as offering 1:2:1 coaching for women considering solo motherhood.

Sharing my story in the press and on various podcasts seemed to help others who were in the same position I had been in. I share a day in the life of a solo mum on Instagram as many women say it helps them to get an insight into what the future might be like for them.

Every day women contact me to let me know that they feel reassured to know they are not the only one making this life changing decision to have a baby without a partner. Now I am part of a huge solo mum community where we all draw support from each other.

As well as a big online community, I am lucky enough to have met some amazing ladies who live locally to me. We often meet up in person. It’s great to have others nearby who really ‘get it’.

solo motherhood community

Top tips for those considering solo motherhood

  1. Build your mum tribe

    You might not be having a baby with a partner, but you don’t need to do it completely alone. If you build up your support network it is possible to ensure that you have plenty of people to help wherever possible. The more support you have, the easier it can be.

  2. Rewrite your life script

    It is common to struggle to let go of the desire to have a baby with a loving partner. To help try to do this, accept that was a script you believed about how your life would go and rewrite the story to be equally positive, but without a partner. Consider how amazing life can be with friends and family for support instead.

  3. Get your finances in order

    The more savings you can build up, the easier it should be for you. If you’re having fertility treatment, you might feel overwhelmed by the financing side, especially if it’s just you – but do look into IVF grants and money-back guarantees, and talk to your clinic about payment plans. It should help put your mind at ease.

Got questions about pursuing solo motherhood by choice? Connect with Mel via The Stork and I, and join her growing community over on Instagram.

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