27.11.2019 – Stories & Specials

‘I chose a sperm donor based on my gut feeling’

Interview: Eva Hediger

Nina Müller is in her mid-thirties, pregnant – and single: the Zurich local decided to use a sperm donor from another country. Nina talked to us about how she became pregnant with her miracle baby.

It worked. Nina Müller (name changed by the editor) is pregnant. Her baby will be welcomed into the world in less than six months. The 34-year-old Zurich local told us how she has always wanted children.

‘But it wasn’t until the end of my twenties that I felt truly ready to start my own family. I had a secure job and had established a stable support network. But I still didn’t feel too much pressure from my desire to have children. I had enough time.’

‘Can I imagine a life without children or not?’

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But two years ago, Nina had her anti-Müllerian hormone level tested. This is an indicator of fertility. Nina’s low values gave her food for thought.

‘Of course, I knew that my fertility would only decrease with age. But this result made it clear that I needed to make a decision now: can I imagine a life without children or not? To buy myself some more time, I opted for social freezing.’

This process involves freezing unfertilised eggs – like a reserve to be used at a later date. Since this only resulted in one egg cell being retrieved from Nina, she decided against storing it. The Zurich local started looking into other ways of becoming a mother. She stumbled across a forum for co-parenting. In this particular family model, the two parents have no romantic relationship. Some might have been friends for a long time. Others might have met online and then decided to conceive a child together.

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‘That’s why I gave myself a one-year deadline.’

‘Of course, there are lots of questions that need to be addressed – from education to custody. I looked at a few profiles and also received some messages. But I suddenly realised that I wouldn’t feel comfortable being a co-parent.’

Nina stresses that this was a very personal decision. She knows lots of women would be very happy with the co-parenting model. But for her, the idea of an unknown sperm donor was more appealing.

‘It was extremely important to me that I had given this decision careful thought. That’s why I gave myself a one-year deadline. I wasn’t allowed to have any doubts about the process during this time.’

So, one year later, Nina had made up her mind. She travelled to Berlin to find a sperm donor. A new law regarding sperm donors had come into force in Germany in 2018. Children conceived using a sperm donor can access information about their parentage from the central sperm donor register when they turn 16.

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‘I chose a donor based on my gut feeling. At the moment, I know the donor’s handwriting, the sound of his voice and have an extensive profile about him. I know a few things about his appearance like his eye and hair colour. I’ve also seen a picture of him as a baby.’

It worked on the first try: Nina is pregnant – and over the moon. But the pregnancy hasn’t been without its challenges. However, these aren’t really any different from the challenges that any expectant mother faces, explains the Zurich local. She told her friends and family about her plan early on. They responded positively and offered plenty of support. However, Nina is aware that she may ruffle a few feathers as a self-opted single mum – especially among those who cling to the traditional image of a family.

‘At the end of the day, it’s my life.’

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‘At the end of the day, it’s my life and my decision. Besides, it’s only my close family and friends who need to know about it – I’m not running through the streets with a sign saying: “My child is a sperm-donor baby”.’

Nina wants to share her experiences with others – even though she prefers to remain anonymous. She is already running the Instagram page @singlemomzh. Once the baby arrives, she will be updating this page more frequently.

‘There are lots of single women out there who think that they have run out of time to have children. But that’s just not the case. There are so many options. I want to show them this – and give them hope through my own story.’