HAVING a baby without a father was the best decision Rebecca* has ever made.
Like so many 30-somethings she always imagined her life would fall into place and she’d have it all – a career, a loving relationship and an idyllic family life with two-point-four children.
But aged 34, still single and fed up of waiting for Mr Right, Rebecca decided to get pregnant alone using donor sperm from a fertility clinic.
And like an increasing number of British women who are going it alone, Rebecca has no regrets that it is just her and her threeyear- old daughter, Ellie*.
In fact, the 40-year-old single mum wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Don’t stereotype me as a single mum because I look upon myself as a lone parent by choice. Who needs men?” she smiles.
“People ask me how can you be a lone parent and have such a nice house, car and lifestyle but it is because I have worked hard for it and ensured I have the nest in place needed to do this properly. The satisfaction of doing it alone is just wow.
“I don't see how people can say it is selfish.
“I’ve given my daughter a loving home and stability. I’ve planned for this. “She’s known from day one where she fits into our home and I would challenge anybody who would suggest this hasn’t been the right way.
“Without a shadow of a doubt there is no better decision I could have made.
“Every woman has the right to be a mum and however they choose it, it’s down to them.”
Rebecca, whose father left the family home when she was six before her mother remarried, explains she always wanted children and even based her career around childcare.
She worked her way up from a nanny to a day nursery manager, but being around children every day only served as a constant reminder of what she so desperately wanted.
But there was one problem – she couldn’t find Mr Right.
“I had a bad relationship when I was younger and then I just threw myself into my career. The opportunity to meet someone didn’t present itself. I did the whole Internet dating thing, but that was absolutely awful.
“One by one you see all your friends having children and you go to their christenings, become their godmother, babysit, but then you look at your own life and think ‘where is this going?’ “I thought ‘I’ve got a lovely career, a lovely home, but I don’t have what I want, the thing that defines women – motherhood.’”
But that was about to change.
After researching, visiting her GP and booking in for an appointment at a fertility clinic, Rebecca was adamant she wanted to have a baby by using donor sperm from a stranger.
“I longed to be a mum and I didn’t want to live my days out without having that opportunity. But I didn’t want a one night stand or to settle for an unsatisfactory relationship.”
After just one round of IUI (Intrauterine insemination) costing around £1,600, Rebecca got the news she dreamed of – she was pregnant.
“It was sheer elation. Finally my life was going to change for the better.”
But as Rebecca meandered around department stores spotting couples excitedly picking out nursery gear together and went to bed each evening feeling her pregnant belly grow, it dawned on her she was alone.
“When you are lying in bed and the baby starts kicking, you have nobody to share it with but that didn’t matter.
“Yes, I was alone, but every kick was a reminder it was our time.
“Every day felt like Christmas Eve, the anticipation of waiting for the most magical present.”
Ellie was born in June 2010 and Rebecca says from that moment she realised it would be impossible to let a man into their life.
“The second they lay her on my chest, I looked at her and I knew I’d do anything for her, I’d die for her. She just overwhelmed me.
“Ellie and I have the most incredible bond – how can you share that with a man?”
Rebecca admits the first month was the hardest because after a complicated birth and despite having the support of family and friends, she didn’t have someone with her around the clock.
“It was difficult at times because it was just her and I so when people came along she screamed if I left the room.
“I’d feel embarrassed and think maybe I’m a failure. I brought her into the world alone and felt I was being judged for that.”
Among those who questioned her decision was her father, who expected her to get married and have children in a relationship.
But Rebecca says she has faced nothing but positivity from most her friends, family and strangers.
“It is a bit of a jaw dropper when you bring it into conversation because it is not common, I only know one other woman who has done it. I don’t advertise it, but if people ask, I tell them the truth,” she says.
And the childminder, who has had further attempts to get pregnant with donor sperm at Wessex Fertility at The Freya Centre in Southampton so Ellie has a sibling, stands by the method.
“I’m not ashamed of what I have done at all.
I’m proud of all I have achieved.
“I don’t think she’s missing out at all. She is a bit wary of men, but I don’t think that is a bad thing. We do everything a family would do, just without a man. In fact, I’d say our life is better.
“I think when you have a child, they become your priority and that’s probably why we have such a happy life because I don’t have a man, a second child, to consider. I never have to make sure I look good or dinner is on the table at a certain time. I think I have an easier life.”
Rebecca says she has never been happier.
“I look in on her when she is sleeping and I think to myself, ‘she can’t be mine’. I still feel like someone is going to wake me because it feels like a dream.
“Ellie has taught me how to love. The other day she said ‘Oh my goodness mummy, I think I love you!’ she’s such a character.”
Inevitably as Ellie gets older, more questions will arise but Rebecca is planning on being as open as possible with the toddler.
“On occasions Ellie says ‘Mummy, how was I born?’ I tell her about Jacqui at Wessex Fertility, who she knows, and I say ‘Jacqui put you into my tummy’.
“I do look at Ellie sometimes and think ‘I haven’t given you the chance to have a daddy,’ but I had a dad and I don’t like mine very much and I’ve got so many friends who have had children and are no longer with the child’s father.
“I’m making Ellie a scrap book. She’ll have her own story and I’m hoping as time goes on there will be more children who will have that very same story. She’s my miracle baby and we are an example there is always hope.
* Names have been changed.