Four years ago, Margaret Ambrose thought life couldn’t get much worse. In the space of a year, she turned 40, her dog died and her long-term relationship broke down while she was preparing to start IVF.
The Melbourne journalist who was yearning to be a mother thought she was facing a childless future. ”I thought there goes my dream of having kids,” she said. ”I was 40 at the time so I thought, realistically, by the time I find someone, date them, decide to commit, how old will I be?”
Not content with her chances of finding a man in time to conceive, Ms Ambrose decided to join a growing band of single women who are using sperm donors to embark on motherhood alone.
According to new figures from the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority, single women and lesbians are behind a huge rise in the number of Victorians using sperm donors to conceive children since a new law gave them access to IVF treatment in 2010.
Before the change, women had to be deemed medically infertile to use IVF in Victoria – a rule that excluded women without male partners.
The change has caused demand for sperm to soar in Victoria. Last financial year, the sperm of 445 men was available in clinics, up from 192 the year before. Newly recruited donors have also surged from 38 in 2011-12 to 64 last year. The number of women who used their sperm has increased from 452 in 2008-09 to 1901 last year, leading to 318 pregnancies.
At first, Ms Ambrose said the list of potential donors at an IVF clinic was confronting. Instead of being overwhelmed by profiles of tall, dark, handsome professional men, she found just two out of about 20 who seemed suitable.
”I was so traumatised when I saw the list that I called a girlfriend to come over. She said let’s start by you telling me what you don’t want and I’ll eliminate them. It was so funny, I remember her saying ‘I assume you don’t want one who can’t fill out the form properly?”’
But within months, Ms Ambrose had chosen a donor who shared her values and his sperm was being used to create embryos in a laboratory. It took just three IVF cycles for her to fall pregnant with her daughter Greta, who is now three. When Greta was one, she returned for a second baby and had Rori, who is now 15 months old.
Ms Ambrose said although being a single mother was difficult in some ways, her mother and friends had helped her raise her two girls who are now ”the loves of my life”.
”In a way being single is harder, but it’s also easier. You don’t have someone else to factor into decisions and negotiate with. I never have to have conversations about whether we tell the girls about God or Santa. It’s like I’m the dictator of my own little world,” she said.
However, Ms Ambrose said there had been some hard times and she still hoped to meet a man who would be a father to her girls.
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Article: 6th November 2013 www.theage.com