baby

At 42, Janelle chose to undergo IVF alone. She instantly knew her sperm donor was "the one".

When Janelle was provided a list of 25 sperm donors to choose from, it took her just half an hour to decide. 

By the time she had read through the third profile, she was confident she had found "the one".

"I had an intuitive gut feeling," she told Mamamia

"I really had a strong affinity for him in terms of the words he used to describe himself as a child and his upbringing. And his values were very much aligned to my own... I remember my mum reading the profile and just saying 'he's a bit like a male version of you'."

Watch: Mamamia's Get Me Pregnant podcast. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia. 

Janelle, an anaesthetist from Melbourne, only began to consider IVF after her 12 year relationship came to an abrupt end.

She found herself thrown into the deep end of the dating world - and as a busy doctor she struggled to schedule in dates, let alone find someone who wanted to start a family. 

"I really noticed how much pressure it was putting on the dating situation. When you [want] to become a mother... it's not the first conversation you have, but it's something that comes up very early in the act of dating."

So at 37, she turned to egg freezing to "take the pressure off" her dating life. 

"I saw egg freezing as more of an insurance policy to buy me a bit more time to hopefully meet someone and date."

"When I froze my eggs, I was really, really fortunate that I was quite fertile, and only had to do one cycle of IVF. And then I sort of forgot about it for a while."

But 'a while' turned into years, and after hitting 40, Janelle said she started feeling the "baby panic". 

"It started to dawn on me that one of the strongest drivers in my life was that I had always wanted to become a mum. And as turning 40 came and went, I realised maybe that wasn't going to happen for me."

"The tragic death of a friend also triggered me into action to physically start the process... It really made me realise life is short and you need to just go for the things that you want."

At 42, she made the decision to go through the "daunting" process of IVF alone, as a solo mum. That was back in March 2018. 

ADVERTISEMENT

What followed was a consultation with her fertility specialist, compulsory counseling sessions to discuss whether solo parenthood and IVF was right for her and, eventually, choosing her donor. 

But the most mentally trying part came in July, when she had to wait two weeks after her embryo transfer. 

"You have the dreaded two week wait where you're waiting to find out whether your embryos implanted or not. And it's a very, very nervous time."

Without a partner by her side, Janelle relied on the support and encouraging words of her parents and best friend. 

"That's one of the things you miss not having a partner - being able to have someone to cuddle you and help you get through that." 

Thankfully, she finally got the good news she was hoping for when her phone rang at work. 

"I had a busy day clinic in the afternoon... and I was very, very lucky that my phone went off between patients. So I was able to take the phone call to say that I was pregnant."

"It was a beautiful moment."

Nine months later, she welcomed her daughter, Avery, who was born in April 2019. 

After successfully conceiving through IVF the first time around, Janelle decided to do go back to the fertility specialist in the hopes of having a second baby. And thankfully, just like before, she fell pregnant on the first attempt. 

Only there was one big difference the second time around: a global pandemic.

"The world was just going into lockdown and everybody was talking about a global pandemic, and I remember thinking, have I done the right thing? I just had en embryo put in me and now I'm pregnant... and I'm an essential worker."

For that reason, her second pregnancy looked very different to her first. 

As an anesthetist, Janelle worked on life-saving surgeries during the Melbourne lockdown, and when it was time for her to finally give birth, she could only have her mum in the room with her. 

But despite the added challenges of being pregnant during a pandemic, many women were thinking about motherhood during lockdown. 

In fact, according to Dr Kokum Jayasinghe from Melbourne IVF, there was a noticeable rise in the number of Victorian women who decided to freeze their eggs last year.

"I believe last year’s emerging pandemic is one of the reasons why more women in Victoria decided to freeze their eggs. In fact, in Victoria alone, there was a 30 per cent increase in women freezing their eggs last year."

Listen to Get Me Pregnant, your no BS guide to assisted fertility. Post continues below. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Janelle is now a mum to two girls, six-month-old Asher and two-year-old Avery. And while solo motherhood has its challenges - like having to be incredibly organised and forward planning - it does come with plenty of positives. 

"One benefit is getting to call all the shots. But also, I don't have expectations of somebody else in the relationship doing the parenting - I don't have to be let down by people not showing up." 

Despite this, Janelle is the first to admit that it really does take a village. 

"I'm part of a medical mother's solo sperm donor group on Facebook, and it's so nice to just have a place to feel supported. Being able to vent from time to time about how hard things can be if you get sick and you're trying to look after kids on your own, has been so helpful. It's been a very compassionate and empathetic place to support each other."

Dr Kokum Jayasinghe, Janelle and her two daughters, Asher and Avery. Image: Supplied.

For anyone considering a similar path to motherhood, Janelle has one piece of advice. 

"The best thing you can do is just weigh up all the pros and cons... But if you're like me and at the very core, this is something that you really, really want, then go for it."

Now the mother of two beautiful daughters, Janelle only has one regret. 

"I wish I had the courage to jump in during my thirties intead of my early forties... Given the beautiful journey that I have had so far, my only regret would be that I didn't choose it sooner."

Do you have an IVF story you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Feature Image: Supplied.