Strangers gave me baby
When I couldn’t find a man, two strangers helped me have a baby By Gail Russell, 45, from Colchester, Essex
When I was in my 20s, I didn’t worry about relationships and children.
I’ll do it when the time’s right, I thought.
I was too busy focusing on my career as a graphic designer and having fun.
Only, when I hit my 30s, my mates started settling down and having babies.
Watching them with their little ones made me feel broody. When will it be my turn? I’d ask myself.
I fell in love a couple of times. But when the relationships didn’t work out, I was back to square one. I started to lose hope. I’m never going to find my Mr Right, I thought.
Then, in 2005, I was tasked at work with designing stuff for a fertility clinic called the London Women’s Clinic.
I learnt all the ins and outs about fertility, including that my chances of getting pregnant rapidly decreased the older I got!
And also that you could get pregnant using donor sperm.
I could have a baby without a man, I thought.
I knew the chances of me meeting a man to settle down with were getting slimmer.
If I wanted a baby, I needed to get on with it.
So, without telling anyone, I began choosing a sperm donor from a sperm bank.
I selected characteristics similar to mine. Blue eyes, petite build. Then, in January 2008, aged 34, I secretly paid £1,200 for an IUI procedure to insert donor sperm into my uterus.
I was excited, hopeful. I even had the name Lewis in mind if it was a boy. Sadly, it failed. Devastated but determined, I tried again that March.
When that didn’t work, I felt so heartbroken I sold my house in Essex and moved to Ireland to be closer to my mum, Phil, 73.
Deep down, I still hoped some dashing Irish man would sweep me off my feet. But it didn’t happen. So, in August 2011, I moved back to Colchester.
By now I was 39, and longed to be a mum with every bone in my body. To hold my own
baby in my arms. It’s my own fault, I thought, blaming myself for leaving things so late.
I thought about adoption. I even considered trying to get pregnant with a one-night stand, but knew I could never go through with it.
It made me realise, though... I wanted a baby more than I wanted a man.
So, back at the London Women’s Clinic, I had another three attempts at IUI.
When they all failed, I was in total despair. But the clinic doctor had a suggestion…
Because of my age, my chance of falling pregnant with IUI was just three per cent.
‘But IVF with donor eggs would increase your chance to 40 or 50 per cent,’ he said.
Still not high. And the baby wouldn’t genetically be mine. It would be made with a double donation – of one woman’s eggs and one man’s sperm.
Two strangers would get me pregnant. But that didn’t put me off. ‘I’ll try it,’ I agreed. I chose characteristics I wanted for the sperm donor, like before, and did the same for the egg donor.
This time, I decided to be open with family and friends.
‘I’m going to have IVF,’ I