'I'm a single mum by choice as I'd rather my son grow up with one happy parent'

A single mum opted for a sperm donor as she didn't want to wait for the perfect relationship, stating that one happy parent is better than two unhappy ones.

Lydia Shaw, 29, felt ready to start a family at the age of 24, having achieved financial stability. She didn't want to delay her dream of motherhood waiting for the right woman, so she began exploring the possibility of having a baby on her own.

However, she had to put her plans on hold due to the pandemic. After a relationship ended, Lydia was even more determined to go it alone.

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She chose a sperm donor with similar features to her family and underwent her first round of intrauterine insemination (IUI) in June 2023. Despite experiencing a chemical pregnancy - where the egg fertilises but doesn't implant - she went through a second round in August 2023 and was overjoyed when she became pregnant.

In May 2024, she welcomed her son, now eight weeks old, who weighed 8lbs 13oz at birth. Lydia, a marketer, said: "I didn't want to wait for someone who could or couldn't be right.

"It could take a decade to find someone who is a good fit for me. It's important he grows up with one happy partner rather than two that are unhappy."

Lydia says she "grew up quick" going straight into work at aged 18 and buying a house at aged 23. She said: "By 21 I thought 'I think I'd be a good parent'."

"I was ready for kids. I'm gay and the dating pool is quite small."

Lydia started looking into the process of doing it but then the pandemic hit. She said: "It was always something that was in the back of my mind."

After the breakdown of a relationship Lydia realised this was something she wanted to do by herself. Her parents - Jane, 61, and Dave, 63, - supported her decision and she went for her consultation in April 2023.

Lydia had to go private, spending around £8k in total, as the NHS don't tend to fund single women or same sex couples unless a certain criteria is met, she said. She picked out her sperm donor from a sperm bank and chose one who complied with the new UK law to release donor information to donor children at aged 18.

She said: "I wanted him to look like he belonged in my wider family. I wanted him to have a sense of belonging."

"I have a letter he has written to potential donor children. I have a sense of who he is."

Lydia went for her first round of IUI in June 2023 and tested positive at first but started bleeding later that day and had a chemical pregnancy.

She said: "That afternoon I clotted. I didn't let it set me back."

Lydia went for round two in August 2023 and found out she was pregnant the day after her birthday. She said: "It was a birthday present."

"I found out the gender. I was so excited."

Lydia enjoyed pregnancy and seeing her baby grow. She said: "It was really lovely. The detail you can see of the development was really lovely."

Lydia was taken in to Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy after three false labours and doctors broke her waters to start contractions. She said: "His heart rate kept double dipping."

Doctors decided to take her down for an emergency c-section. Lydia lost two litres of blood but her baby was born healthy and she got a glimpse of him. She said: "They laid him on my chest."

After recovering Lydia was able to go and see and hold her son properly. She said: "I started taking him all in. It felt very surreal."

"This is what I have been working towards. He's a gorgeous baby."

Lydia says he has the same facial features as her and the same face shape as the donor. She said: "He is very follically blessed."

Lydia has loved getting to know her newborn. She said: "It's been gorgeous."

"I've been blessed he's been a good sleeper. He's developing a personality."

"He's very happy, smiley and very strong."

Lydia has even been able to find his half sister on a Facebook group - who was conceived using the same sperm donor. She feels there would have been resentment if she had had a baby in an unhappy relationship.

She said: "Society tells you're going to meet a partner and have babies. This is my plan A.

"I didn't want to have to wait to meet someone when I'm ready. I'm capable of bringing up a baby."

Lydia hopes to inspire others to "feel comfortable in making decisions in what's right for you." She said: "It wasn't dependent on having the right relationship.

"When the right relationship comes along I'll know. We don't have to be dependent on each other."

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