Kendra was 35 and single when she started investigating the idea of having a baby on her own. She had briefly tried for a pregnancy in her early 30s with a former partner, but the relationship didn’t work out.
“I went out for dinner on my 35th birthday with my Mum and my sister and I jokingly said: ‘oh well, I’m either going to buy an apartment or have a kid’,” she says.
“It sounded like a joke but I was serious. I had seen my GP and explained that I had tentatively tried a few years earlier. He gave me a referral to a specialist.”
Kendra’s age was weighing on her mind. Knowing a woman’s fertility declines more rapidly in her late 30s, she didn’t want to prioritise the search for a perfect partner over a baby.
“I didn’t want to get to 40 and feel like I had missed my chance.”
Kendra joined Facebook groups for women who had become ‘solo mothers by choice’ and started perusing IVF websites for information about sperm donors. She also approached a colleague who had used a donor’s sperm to have a baby on her own to get some advice.
By the time she was 36, Kendra was actively reading through sperm donor profiles at a fertility clinic. But after doing all the preliminary tests and counselling required by the clinic, she was shocked to discover there was a six month waiting list to access a donor’s sperm.
She phoned other clinics to see if she could access a donor sooner and found another clinic without a waiting list. The first donor she chose felt ideal. He had provided a photo of himself as a baby and had provided a handwritten note explaining the reasons why he had donated. She liked the sound of him and thought she’d be proud to show this letter to her child.
But after several unsuccessful attempts at conceiving with his sperm through intra uterine insemination (IUI), the clinic said her allocation of his donations had run out and that she’d have to choose another donor.
By this stage, she had set herself a limit of four IVF cycles because she didn’t want to find herself constantly gambling on another cycle and going broke in the process.
“I thought this is how much I will do and if it doesn’t work, I’ll focus on my career and travel,” she says.
Over the next year, Kendra had to choose a different donor two more times. She went through one unsuccessful round of IVF with one donor and then got lucky with the third donor. Following one round of IVF with his sperm, she fell pregnant with her first embryo transfer. She was 38.
She received the news while she was staying with her Mum during Melbourne’s second lockdown in 2020 to control the spread of COVID-19.
“The nurse called from the IVF clinic called and said: ‘I’m just calling to let you know that your HCG levels are at 300. I said: ‘what does that mean?’ and she said: ‘Oh sorry, that means you’re pregnant. Most people have already done their own test by this stage’.”
“I was sitting outside eating lunch with my Mum. She had a massive grin on her face”.
Kendra gave birth to her baby girl in June this year.
Looking back, the HR consultant says she made a few changes to maximise her health while trying to conceive. She was jogging regularly and eating a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. She also avoided alcohol and reduced her coffee intake.
To other women considering solo motherhood, she says: Factor in the time involved and what that will mean for your age, your fertility and your finances. The whole journey cost Kendra about $25,000 out of pocket after receiving Medicare rebates.
“If you’re thinking about having a baby, start the conversation. See your GP,” she says.