Lara at 3 months old

I have a beautiful seven year old daughter who has somewhere in the vicinity of 150-200 siblings (although that’s an educated guess because no one really knows; not even the sperm bank).

Hi, I’m Gail and I created this blog because I want to share everything I’ve learned about donor conception with you, so that – unlike me at the onset of my sperm donor story – you can make the most educated, informed choices possible.


What have I discovered about donor conception?

Have I discovered some great things in my 3-4 years of research about the process of donor conception?

Yes definitely!

Have I learned about some not-so-great events and outcomes that I would describe as completely and utterly outrageous, disturbing?



The best laid plans…

I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase: “I always wanted to have children…”

Indeed, this is how many a sperm donor story starts out.

In my case, I’d known since I was a small child that I wanted a piece of this thing called ‘motherhood’. As many people discover, however, a variety of developments seem to get in the way.

In my case, it started with a broken heart and a subsequent skydiving hobby from which I didn’t resurface for about fifteen years (that’s me on the right with friends, Eiley and Kelly). I also went travelling “for a year, maximum” and returned three and a half years later. A serious illness followed and I delved into the world of introspection where I did some work on myself (as they say in the self-help library collection).

Then I met a skydiver who, surprise surprise, did not want children. Incredibly, I already knew this going into the relationship, but thought I could change his mind (don’t try this strategy at home). No doubt, you have already worked out the result and yes, there sat I in a spacious one-bedroom apartment, forty years old, single and childless, my parachute taking up valuable storage space.

Gail Pascoe skydiving with friends over Melbourne


Some research

I like to know absolutely everything about a subject before I make a move. I’m also very indecisive. As a result, I generally take a looooong time to make decisions, but when I do, they’re usually the right ones (most people only go shopping with me once).

And when it comes to donor conception, I personally believe there is no such thing as ‘too much research’.

Anyway, once I’d decided to go ahead with my plans to use a sperm donor, time was of the essence. My fertile window was battening down its hatches.


How did I go about choosing a sperm donor (and other decisions)?

Indeed, how does one go about choosing a person who will become the biological parent of your child, yet will not ‘be around’, so to speak?

I carefully considered using a known donor (as the name suggests, this is someone you know or with whom you become acquainted), and despite several men friends offering, I decided it would be less complicated to do it on my own.

This left me with the option of a fertility clinic-recruited donor (I wasn’t aware of any other options at the time).

In 2009, single women and lesbians couldn’t access IVF in Victoria, (thankfully this archaic piece of legislation no longer exists), so I headed up the road to Sydney. At my chosen fertility clinic I completed all of the requisite sessions, including a fertility specialist, counselling and so on. Local, clinic-recruited donors were a little scarce in Australia at the time (and still are today in many clinics), so the clinic advised they could offer me an American donor through their affiliate sperm bank. They gave me 48 hours to make my selection, and given my ineptitude at making decisions, I phoned a friend. She whipped out her laptop and there sat Eiley and myself on a sunny Saturday afternoon at an outdoor cafe in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, trawling through sperm donor profiles.

“What criteria do you think we should use?” I asked Eiley.

“Um, no idea”, she replied unhelpfully.


Sperm bank websites

The sperm bank’s website was, I confess, a little like cruising through a dating site, and eventually we worked out some criteria (which I’ll describe in another blog) and I made my selection. Note that even if you use an international sperm bank, you may not be able to choose directly from their website (refer to another blog coming soon…).

Eiley celebrated with a glass of red – I had a lime and soda – and that evening I rang the sperm bank directly, handed over my credit card details and paid $1000 (give or take a few bucks) for a vial of my donor’s sperm. The sperm bank shipped the sperm over, and as soon as it arrived in Sydney and was safely tucked away in the freezer, I started my IVF cycle.

Unfortunately nothing happened. Nothing at all.


Some legislation changes, and a new sperm donor…

Gail Pascoe at 40 weeks pregnant with donor-conceived child In the meantime, fertility laws regarding family limits were under scrutiny in NSW, and the Sydney clinic sent me off to a different clinic in Canberra to have a second go. This meant a new fertility specialist, new IVF drugs, and, you guessed it, a new sperm donor. Of course, I rang Eiley again and off we headed to Fitzroy Street (a different cafe this time) and trawled through a new sperm bank site, feeling quite experienced and confident with the process by now.

We chose another donor with similar features to the first one, paid the sperm bank and off I went again, only this time taking a right turn at Yass and heading south east to frosty Canberra. And yes, Eiley came with me for the road trip.

The cold must have suited me because a few weeks later I became pregnant and felt overjoyed (and terrified), but sadly, miscarried at seven weeks. On this occasion I had purchased two vials of my donor’s sperm and as a result, was able to do another cycle quite quickly.

Third time around I became pregnant again and held on to my precious little bundle, giving birth in Melbourne 42 weeks later (she was a little late, and very large).

So did I make the right decision to use a donor?

Yes, absolutely.

Did I know everything about the subjects of fertility clinics, sperm banks, donor-conceived children, family limits and multiple donor-conceived siblings before I made my move?

No, absolutely not. In this element, I failed miserably.


How can I help you with your sperm donor story (or egg or embryo)?

And this is why I want to help you. This is why I feel compelled to share with you all of the things I have discovered along the way: the risks, the benefits, the things to avoid, the issues to consider. Here are some of the questions I hope to answer for you in my blogs:

– What are the options when it comes to donor types, and what are the risks and benefits of each?

– How do you avoid having half-siblings in the triple-figure range?

– How do you make sure your fertility clinic provides you with the best treatment possible (if this is your path)?

– How can you help your donor-conceived child through any emotional turmoil that may arise?

– What does your donor-conceived child/adult expect of you?

– Where can I go to get more information?

And much, much more…


I sincerely hope my own experiences of donor conception can assist you with starting (or continuing) your family!


I’d love to hear from you!

Please feel free to share your own experiences of using a donor, suggest topics you’d like me to write about, or alternatively, ask any questions you may have about starting your own sperm donor story (or egg or embryo).



My Sperm Donor Story

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