A woman determined to become a mum has revealed how she decided go it alone and, at 39, welcomed a baby girl via a sperm donor.
Katie Barnes, now 40, from Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, saw her journey to motherhood begin when she broke up with her boyfriend in June 2020 and realised how much she wanted to become a parent.
"I have always wanted to have children and I was worried about my biological clock," she explains.
"When the relationship ended I was 38, but before then I had thought about doing it on my own so it didn't take me too long to get back into thinking about it."
After researching possible treatment options, Barnes opted to have IUI – a fertility treatment that involves directly inserting sperm into a woman's womb – with donor sperm, as it was a cheaper alternative to IVF.
"All my friends and family were very supportive of me doing it on my own," she says of her decision to become a solo parent.
"When I told people they only had positive things to say and told me how brave I was.
"A few friends with babies themselves warned me it would be incredibly hard work but it didn’t put me off wanting to do it."
After a fertility check-up in August 2020 at the TFP Oxford Fertility, Barnes started looking into sperm donors, eventually choosing a donor from Georgia, in the US, who was working as a psychologist.
"I tell people that it was the weirdest thing I have ever had to do," she says of the process.
"It is a little like internet dating as you are looking through hundreds of photos deciding which ones you like the look of.
"I looked at a couple of sperm banks in America and I really liked one of them which showed childhood pictures and adult pictures.
"It also shared lots about the donor's personality, their job, how well they did at school and their family history.
"The man I picked looked lovely," she continues. "He is a psychologist and I thought he would have a nice calming character and he wrote in his letter that he is family-orientated which is important to me.
"He had a kind, gentle face and a nice smile with brown eyes like mine.
"The donors all have a letter that they write to their future offspring, and this guy's letter was lovely, warm and that is what won me over."
In January 2021, Barnes had the IUI procedure to insert the sperm and was "stunned" to discover she was pregnant two weeks later.
"I felt really lucky," she says.
Despite describing feeling "worried" throughout the whole first trimester, Barnes says she had a "textbook pregnancy" and gave birth to her daughter, Olivia, weighing 6lbs 13oz, on October 3, 2021 via c-section.
"It was quite surreal holding her for the first time," Barnes says of the moment she welcomed her daughter.
"I was in a massive bubble of love and felt pure happiness."
Now, 19 months later, Barnes has settled into life as a mother.
"Olivia is very funny," she says. "I didn't think babies and toddlers could be this funny but she has me in stitches.
"Being a single mother has been a huge rollercoaster so far.
"The first year when she was a baby was very difficult due to the sleepless nights and you just don’t really know what you’re doing.
"Now she is getting older and has her own character and personality I am finding it much easier.
"Although it is still incredibly challenging at times, it is the best decision I’ve ever made," she continues.
"I am so happy I was able to become a mother."
Additional reporting SWNS.
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