No time to find love... so I used a SPERM DONOR
Samantha was almost 40 and wanted nothing more than to have children. But she didn't have time to wait around to find the right man. So she used a sperm donor from Denmark to help create her beautiful daughter, Grace.
Tell and Sell Stories got her story published in the women's weekly magazine, Best. Samantha was really happy with it and even got to keep copies from the photoshoot.
Here's her story:
The winter months have always signified darkness and death for me. My dad, Ronald, died in October 2004 due to liver failure, I lost my mum, Patricia, in November 2000 from a perforated stomach ulcer, and my only sister, Michelle, committed suicide in December 2006.
But now the festive period represents light and life, and there will be peels of laughter and joy when my giggly toddler, Grace, celebrates her third birthday this year.
It was May 2009 when I was about to retire after 20 years in the RAF before emigrating to New Zealand. Then my on-and-off ex got in touch.
‘I still love you,’ he said. ‘Please don’t leave.’
Flattered by his announcement, I moved to the UK and we became a couple. But soon we reached a fork in the road.
‘I want a baby,’ I told him.
‘I’m sorry, but I don’t,’ he replied.
I understood his reasons - he already had children of his own – but for me, it was a deal breaker.
At 38 and single, I knew the chances of meeting someone who wanted kids straightaway were slim.
I would have to go it alone.
Deciding adoption wasn’t right for me, I had another idea.
I went online and tapped in sperm donors.
I came across the European Sperm Bank (ESB) in Denmark where donors had to be open to contact when the child reached 18.
One of the profiles caught my eye. It belonged to a 35-year-old Danish man who was very tall, had brown hair, blue eyes and fair freckly skin like me, a degree in music and was studying to be a doctor.
Sounds perfect, I thought.
So in May 2010, after an initial consultation at a fertility clinic in Nottingham, I purchased four vials of donor sperm and embarked on a journey of scans, blood tests and injections - as part of the intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure.
I ate healthily, reduced my caffeine in take, stopped drinking and took my Great Dane and Chihuahua on long walks for exercise. But unfortunately, my first attempt at IUI was unsuccessful.
Feeling despondent, I was still determined to give it another go. But my second attempt couldn't go ahead because the drugs I had injected had made me produce too many eggs.
In November 2011, I tried once more. Yet again it was unsuccessful. Then a month later, I was dealt even more bad news. My granddad, John, had passed away aged 90.
Returning to Belfast for his funeral, I read his eulogy, before returning home to Lincoln.
‘How you doing Nan?’ I asked, phoning her that week.
‘Not too good,’ she said, sadly.
That Christmas marked another bleak one for the family and I went to Belfast to spend it with my nan, Dorothea.
In the New Year, I returned home and began a round of IVF, hoping I’d have more luck with it than the IUI.
I’d heard that acupuncture could help, so I started a course with a wonderful lady called Sandra.
I injected myself with hormones three times a day and then went to hospital to have any potential eggs removed.
They successfully retrieved seven and fertilised the best two with the donor sperm before implanting them inside me days later. Then all I could do was wait.
With my 40th birthday around the corner, I decided to spend it in Florence. But when I got there, everyone seemed to be smoking and the slightest smell of it turned my stomach.
Was I pregnant? I wondered.
Back home, I took a test and waited nervously…
‘Thank you, thank you, thank you!’ I cried, watching the test turn positive.
I couldn’t believe it. My dreams of becoming a mother were finally coming true.
I went for an early six-week scan and was overwhelmed to hear the little heartbeat inside me.
‘I’m pregnant!’ I told my Nan later.
For the first 18 weeks I was as sick as a dog, only able to keep down porridge and bananas.
After that, my military training kicked in and I became super organised, preparing everything for my baby’s arrival.
But months later, there was even more bad news. Nan had been diagnosed with leukaemia. Her health was deteriorating quickly and in September 2012, when I was six months pregnant, she died. Reading her eulogy, I was just relieved she had known I was expecting.
I moved in with my aunt, Glynis, and uncle John, who helped me stay calm.
And weeks later, I went into labour.
On the 12.12.12, with my aunt at my side, I gave birth to Grace. She was 5lb 13oz and I felt a rush of love as I held her in my arms.
‘Hello little one,’ I said, welling up.
After years of misery, it was the best Christmas ever. I dressed Grace in red velvet dress and me, my auntie and uncle all shared cuddles around the Christmas tree. It was simply magical.
Now Grace is two and is just starting to understand what Christmas is. I can’t wait for December - our tradition is put the tree up just after Grace’s birthday.
Even though I decided to experience parenthood alone, I have never felt lonely. I still hope to meet the right man one day, but until then I will thrive on my own.
When Grace is older and asks me who her father is, I will be honest and show her the voice recording and letter I have from him.
I’m planning on using my frozen embryos to try and give Grace a brother or sister. And if I fall pregnant, it will make yet another wonderful Christmas.