It was early 2020, I was nearly 34 years old and I had a plane ticket booked for Denmark. I was reasonably well travelled by that point, but this trip was different. This was to conceive a baby using the Cryos sperm bank just like I’d dreamt all my adult life. The pandemic stopped all of that. I never did get a refund on my flights.
I never second guessed whether it was okay to pursue being a solo mother as Plan A. Everywhere I’d seen children born to less than ideal circumstances: babies conceived to parents who didn’t want them, or who couldn’t care for them. What mattered was that 100% of parents who were bringing that child into the world wanted to do so, and 100% of me did. If we lived in a society that made adoption even remotely possible for people like me, I would have pursued it. But I know that we don’t, and carrying a child was my only sure ticket to parenthood from day one.
One lunch break that winter, during a particularly suffocating and dull work day — work being my only legal reprieve from the lockdown otherwise keeping me home — I put aside my sadness over my cancelled Europe trip and meticulously searched local reputable clinics on my phone. I put in enquiries and made it clear that I wanted this urgently. I was referred to a fertility clinic interstate who had an agreement with an American donor bank I could purchase from immediately and I set up an initial appointment via Skype. The testing and the planning were hard enough, let alone living in the most locked down city on Earth. Border closures through much of 2020 delayed access. The government announced another lockdown in early 2021, hours before I was due to get on a plane to cross the country to have my oocyte retrieval and fertilisation. I cried and begged and pointed out the fact that I was already a hormonal pincushion, already started, and ought to be allowed to continue with my plan. I was.
I didn’t get pregnant from the fresh embryo transfer but I did from the frozen embryo implanted the following month. Pregnancy was torture. Newborn life has been sweet, albeit tiring. My son is fourteen weeks old as I write this, born late 2021. I am solo in every sense, in that I don’t have parents or others who house me or give me financial support. It’s workable. We have parental leave in this country and I saved my earnings just for this. I’m so grateful for having him. I have a bunch of embryos leftover — “kids in the fridge” as one doctor put it — but for now I’m happy with what I have.