Jacqueline White, 41, from Biggar, near Edinburgh wasn't going to let being single stand in her way of motherhood...
I was tired of hearing the same question…
‘When are you going to settle down and have kids?’ friends would ask.
I’d always wanted a family of my own. But in my late twenties, I believed I still had plenty of time for marriage and kids.
I’d split from my boyfriend of four years when I was 27. I enjoyed being single.
Besides, I had a back-up plan. Me and my good friend John had made a pact years ago. If we were both still single at 35, we’d have a baby together through artificial insemination.
We often spoke about it. Though we never discussed the details or made proper plans.
‘We’ll cross that bridge if we come to it,’ I’d say.
In the meantime, I wanted to enjoy life and see the world.
So, in between jobs, I started travelling the globe. Africa, America, Russia, Brazil… I even moved to Australia for a year.
Before I knew it, I was in my thirties and still single.
By now, a lot of my friends had families of their own. And it got me thinking about my own body clock.
I’m not getting any younger, I fretted. I knew the older I got, it’d be harder for me to have a baby.
Around that time, John dropped a bombshell, too…
‘I’ve changed my mind about the back-up plan,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry.’
It felt like a huge blow. I was gutted.
On a mission to be a mum, I signed up to four dating websites hoping to find the man of my dreams…And the father of my children!
But I had one unsuccessful date after another.
By 2011, when I was 36, I started to think of other options…
I knew there must be lots of men in a similar predicament to me – wanting a baby, but not having met the right person. So I joined a co-parenting website. You use artificial insemination to conceive, then raise the baby together, but things stay platonic.
My mum and dad were so supportive.
‘Do whatever makes you happy,’ they encouraged.
Some of my friends weren’t as understanding, though.
‘You should have a baby with someone you love, not a stranger,’ they argued.
But as long as we both loved the baby unconditionally, what did it really matter if we did things a bit unconventionally?
Scrolling through the profiles on the site felt a bit like online dating.
Soon I found Chris.Like me, he wanted a baby, but hadn’t met the right person.
Over the next year, we built up a great friendship. In 2012 we decided to give artificial insemination a try. We agreed that if we were successful, we’d both share custody of our baby.
Over the next six months, Chris would come to my place and deposit his sperm in a container. Then he’d leave and I’d use a syringe to inseminate myself.
But after six months of trying, I still hadn’t fallen pregnant. I was so disheartened.
And eventually Chris and I decided to stop trying.
By now, I’d started doing my own research into fertility treatments for single women.
‘I can have a baby on my own by using a sperm donor,’ I told Mum and Dad.
As always, they backed me.
Fertility treatment wasn’t cheap, so I dipped into my savings to pay for my first round of IUI.
I selected a sperm donor by reading a number of profiles, and found a man who I thought sounded nice. He was tall and had dark hair – just my type.
But, unfortunately, the treatment was unsuccessful.
I began saving again…
In 2013, aged 39, I had enough to fork out £2,000 for another two rounds of IUI.
But still I didn’t fall pregnant. I was so upset, it was hard to stay positive.
‘Don’t give up now,’ Mum encouraged me.
I did some more research online and came across a clinic in Cyprus. If I have treatment abroad, at least I can treat myself to a bit of sight seeing, too, I decided.
And by June 2015, I had enough cash for a round of IVF out there.
After choosing another sperm donor, an embryo was created with my egg. After, it was implanted into my womb.
The sperm donor was non-anonymous. It means that when a baby is 18 they can choose if they want to contact their father.
Back home, 12 days later, I had a few tummy pains. And a blood test soon confirmed I was pregnant.
‘It’s actually happening!’ I told Mum and Dad.
I was absolutely thrilled. After years of struggle, I was finally going to be a mum.
At 20 weeks, I found out I was having a little girl.
‘Don’t you wish you had someone to share the excitement with?’ one of my friends asked.
‘Not at all,’ I replied honestly.
This baby was mine – I didn’t need anyone else.
Finally, in February 2016, Sophie was born weighing 5lb 12½oz. She was perfect in every way.
‘I’m your mummy,’ I told her, full of pride.
She’s nearly a year old now and she brings me so much happiness every day. Not everyone will agree with my choice to use a sperm donor. But I don’t care.
When Sophie’s older, I’ll tell her all about how she was born. I’ll remind her everyday how much I love her, how I longed for her – and how much I adore it being just the two of us!