Over my many years as a founder of DC Network I have had the pleasure of talking with a large number of single women – childless by circumstance – who have chosen donor conception as a way of founding their family. They are, by and large, an enormously thoughtful group of women, mostly well educated, financially secure and emotionally mature. They are likely to have researched their options for conceiving very carefully as well as planned ahead with regard to job, finances, home and even future guardianship for any child they might have. It might take a couple of years before they finally go ahead.
So I started reading with interest the article titled, “Sometimes, I imagine a little boy…” in the Guardian Family section at the weekend. Louise Bridge (a pseudonym) has donor sperm from a Danish sperm bank stored at a London fertility clinic, but cannot bring herself to make the decision to go ahead. This is not the first time she has thought about this. Previously, she left the treatment room of a clinic unable to go through with the insemination. The clinic then declined to continue to treat her because of her ambivalence.
There is thinking and there is over-thinking. At some point action has to be taken. Either to do it or decide that life can be good without children. She quotes a dear friend, age 93, who tells her that all life is decisions, the big ones and the little ones. He says she needs to make this one and have the courage to stick with it but doesn’t think she will. He thinks she will keep peeling back the plaster, peering at destiny, until, little by little, she arrives at a fait accompli.
What we only learn towards the end of the piece is that Louise is almost 48. She acknowledges that with every passing month her chances of conceiving are less, but does she know that actually her chances of conceiving are minuscule, unless she takes on board needing donor eggs as well. I could only feel enormously sad.