‘DESPERATELY SEEKING SEMEN’: ONE MUM’S ROGUE ROUTE TO MOTHERHOOD
BY HAYLEY HENDRIX
I finally worked up the courage to say yes. He was a much older man whom I’d met about a year earlier but I just wasn’t ready to take things to the next level. I was still unravelling from my last relationship and the emotional torment hadn’t subsided. It seemed too soon but at the same time what was I waiting for?
At forty years of age, I’d never been married. Not even had a proposal. I always imagined that I would be married with children but it just didn’t come...and I had no idea how I allowed myself to get in this position. Ian was the last guy I dated in my late thirties and when we stalled, I choked. He was the one that was supposed to put a ring on it. Instead, he gifted me with the middle finger.
I desperately wanted a family and the only way that was going to happen was pressing G.O. No more looking back. No more sitting in neutral. I didn’t have time to waste. I couldn’t stall any longer.
So I jumped on a plane and headed to Queensland’s sassy Gold Coast. Butterflies had been doing somersaults in my tummy for the entire two-hour flight. My head pumped out excited thoughts but my shattered heart just wouldn’t dance. I was still hoping my ex would somehow intersect me making this trip.
It was a balmy afternoon and the cab took me directly to meet my “Latin lover” who at 2pm was waiting for me to arrive. He’d scattered crimson rose petals all over the crisp white floor tile and all over the white satin sheets that sparkled like diamonds on the freshly made bed. The curtains swayed slowly as the tropical, salty, sea breeze wafted through the window on this exciting afternoon. I barely had a moment to breathe it all in before his head was between my legs.
Very softly, he told me to relax and then propped me up a little, then he inserted a clamp. In that very instant, and with that ripping sound effect as loud as a thundercloud above, my charming Latin lover vanished, and I was left face taut and legs spread for my 60 odd-year-old fertility doctor.
While I was shocked back to reality, at least he was armed with the sperm of a sexy, tall, dark-haired, green-eyed, 26-year-old Hungarian (aka hunk-arian) hottie, that was about to be squirted deep inside my cervix.
I was middle-aged, single and classed as socially infertile. Slap me now! Was this really my reality? I could say my thirties were the years of racking up lots of travel mileage points, Facebook friends, happy hours and hangovers. While these were easy to accrue, marriage proposals were not.
I had been living in LA for nearly a decade, carving out what I thought at the time was a BIG life. In reality I was living a big lie - my relationship wasn’t working and I wasn’t passionate about the work I was doing. So when Ian and I decided that me leaving LA for a little R&R on my mothership (Australia), I figured I’d be back state side a few months later. I didn’t realise that this trip was a one-way one or foresee my sorry arse landing on my mothers doorstep.
I wasn’t just devastated about my situation, I was livid. I was furious that a man would waste my final years of my thirties without sealing the deal. These were my last best chance of ever fulfilling my long-held dream of being a mother...not that marriage solidifies motherhood...but it would have offered me hope that that is where we were heading. I also knew it was ultimately on me to pull the relationship rip cord but at the time it was far easier to tie myself onto this man and cling on to hope.
I saw the fertility doc at the clinic for another 2 rounds of IUI (Intrauterine insemination) but we had no luck. My socially infertile status was then abruptly upgraded to ‘medically infertile’ with IVF now the only way forward. Even though I was determined to be a mother, I wasn’t jazzed by my newly gifted title. It just didn’t sit well with me.
Rather than jump straight on the IVF gravy train, I decided to pull up a seat on the sidelines for a moment so I could get a really good view of the lay of the land. It was here that I could feel every second of the ticking biological clock reverberate through me. The sound was deafening as I knew I was in deep, deep baby caca!
That’s when I went rogue and carved out my solo motherhood path.
I started with tapping my zen with acupuncture and kundalini yoga, then moved through V-steams and fertility massages as well as aura spritzes and guzzling potent ginger formulations.
While I felt like my surface area was organic and fertile that was able to grow a bean, my big issue was finding just one seed to sow. I thought there had to be more options out there other than the IVF clinics so turned to Dr Google to find them.
When I landed in donorland - IVF’s underbelly, my situation turned from hopeless to possible in minutes.
At first I really didn’t know what t think...I mean were guys really handing out their baby makers for free? I was sceptical and after trawling through many sites and FB groups I cut out of there concluding they were all egomaniacs with dark fetishes. I continued on my merry way with my hopes turned back to my ex, a friend to hand over his goods and even went on a last bid to meet and fall in love with someone advertising on Tinder.
So then I circled back to donorland and rather than just voyeur my way around, this time I took the time to write to one of the Facebook group admins who was able to demystify the process and calm my nerves. After chatting with him for days I worked up the courage to write to a few blokes. Interacting with them completely had me do a 360 on my first impressions about this underground process. While there is the odd creep out there, they really didn’t infiltrate my quest. I knew what I wanted and navigated through it like I would on any internet dating site. But this mission was far easier as I wasn’t looking for a husband. Now I was kicking myself that I didn’t just jump on this sooner.
I made a list of my top five guys based on their medical tests, genetics, location, availability, values and if they were open to contact post birth. After months of chitty-chat and things felt right with my ‘Mr Right’, I then coordinated my flight south to meet with him in the flesh.
I was nervous, excited and a whole lot more hopeful as this seemed to be my most promising baby route. I was a little freaked when I came face to face with my donor in the bar as it finally dawned on me that this was really happening. I guzzled down a few glasses of wine to settle my knotted belly and flight response. My body was pulsating for a baby...there was no way I was opting out! But I needed to buy a little time to make 100% sure I was ready to take the plunge. A few hours in, I finally felt comfortable so we headed to my hotel room for the donation then had dinner and continued chatting well into the night. I headed home early the next morning and a few weeks later, to my absolute shock, I found out I was pregnant on our first try! I’m now a very happy and exhausted solo mum to a little 11-month-old boy.
I wish I knew what I learned going down this path from the get-go so I didn’t have to waste so much time or go through so much emotional torment figuring it out. But this info didn’t really exist, I had to dig for it and I couldn’t find someone relatable to reach out to and ask.
I wrote my book ‘Desperately Seeking Semen' to spread the word that there is another pregnancy path out there so women could take immediate action because women don’t have to waste years figuring ‘it’ out and perhaps miss their motherhood window.
Sure, the pregnancy path I took is not mainstream, it’s not run by corporate beasts and it doesn’t drain bank accounts. It’s a different way of doing it that requires smart navigating but it’s a way that worked for me and many, many others.
My advice is to do your homework and don’t jump until you’ve fully vetted your donor. I liked the idea of a few half-siblings being out there in the world but I couldn't fathom a hundred! I had a really wonderful experience going down this conception avenue and I'm forever grateful to my donor who I've become good friends with!
About the author:
Hayley Hendrix is the author of ‘Desperately Seeking Semen’ a memoir about her rogue route to motherhood. In her book, Hayley shares how she navigated her way down the daunting path after being deemed medically infertile by a fertility clinic. She hopes her words offer some comfort for anyone already on this journey, a supportive hand to let you know that you’re definitely not alone or perhaps lift the lid on what it’s all about especially if you, or someone you know, is sitting on the fence about it.