“I got married just after my NYSC at the age of twenty-six and later got divorced by the time I turned thirty-seven last year. I was in denial about my failing marriage because I wanted children desperately.”
“My marriage to Peter was hell for me while it lasted and the union did not produce any children. I have started dating again but I only meet either married men who want a concubine or divorced men who already have kids and do not want more”.
“Becoming a mother has always been one of my greatest desires. I am thirty-nine years old now and approaching my fortieth birthday. I have decided to go for artificial insemination or IVF through an anonymous sperm donor, but I am also worried about the stigma of being a single mother. Besides a few friends I opened up to about my plans to use a donor sperm do not support the idea. I really long to have a child of my own. Do you know anyone that has gone down that this path before?” – Anne, from Lagos.
I got a chance to attend an event hosted by Lanre Olusola two weeks ago. The thrust of the discussion was on single parenting, sexuality and infertility, and a similar issue on the use of donor sperm was raised. Also last weekend, Parah family Foundation, a nonprofit set up to aid couples dealing with infertility held a programme where the option of embryo freezing was discussed extensively as an option for fertility treatment for matured singles.
There are a plethora of choices for women all over the world today, with some opting for donor conception and choosing to become single mothers by choice. This is a real modern dilemma facing women in their mid-thirties who desire to start families of their own. More often than not, some of us find ourselves single and childless at thirty-five. Sometimes it’s not because we have focused on our career at the expense of marriage, it’s just that life happened.
Ethical and social considerations for using a sperm donor
There are social and emotional implications of the infertility treatment with assisted donor eggs, sperm and surrogacy. Opting to have a baby via donor conception is a huge decision that throws up soul-searching questions. The desire for a child through a sperm donor creates a ‘not-yet-existing’ third party who cannot be a part of your decision making process.
Critical elements that must be considered before opting for a sperm donor should include a stable family environment in which the child conceived with the use of assisted reproduction will be born into. The best interest of the child should be considered first.
Most donors are anonymous and the implication of this is that the child will never know his or her father’s identity. Before embarking on the procedure, you need to understand the implications of the proposed course of action for yourself, your family and for any child born as a result.
Egg and embryo freezing
Egg or embryo freezing is fast becoming a trend with Embryo banking offering the highest chance to have a future pregnancy even for potentially sterilizing cancer treatment. In an IVF procedure, a woman receives hormone treatments in order to stimulate egg maturation within the ovaries. The eggs are then fertilized with sperm in a laboratory to create embryos. These embryos are grown in the lab between a periods of two to three days and eventually transferred into a woman’s uterus. A woman also has the option of freezing the embryo for use at a late date. “Egg freezing can cost between $10,000 to $12,000 for a single round of cycle”.
Alternatives to parenthood such as fostering and adoption can be considered as a way of living a meaningful and fulfilled life. Egg or Embryo freezing does not also guarantee fertility preservation, thus resulting in a greater disappointment for either singles or married who delay marriage and parenthood.
You will also be needing the support of family members and friends to help you manage the decision making process on this journey. The help of a professional coach or counsellor who has experience in working with people dealing with infertility and fertility treatments will help you deal with the accompanying emotional stress.
Are you merely seeking a child because it validates your identity as a mother and completes you? We need to change the narrative that pressurizes single women into life altering decisions such as marriage and parenting. Understanding that your identity as a woman is separate from your role as a wife and a mother is also paramount to your success on this journey.
Success can also mean that not having children is accepted and/or that you are enabled to see your childlessness from another perspective which allows you to reshape your life and achieve satisfaction.
About the Author:
Ify is a life, emotions and behavioral change coach who is passionate about helping couples and families navigate their path to wellness, fertility and parenthood. Send your emails and enquiries to her through email@example.com.