Docs told me I was too fat to get pregnant but we tried everything including ‘Tinder for parents’ – now we’re expecting | The Sun
DESPERATE to start a family, Jess Swift and her partner Steve had tried everything to conceive.
After 18 months of trying naturally, the couple spent thousands on consultations, tests and medication to make their baby dream come true.
The couple from Lancaster, who have a 23-year age gap, were on the verge of giving up after tests revealed 50-year-old Steve’s sperm wasn’t suitable for IVF.
They decided to go down the sperm donor route and signed up to an app called Just A Baby, dubbed ‘Tinder for parents’, where they met a willing candidate in May.
Fast-forward five months and the delighted couple are expecting their first child in February next year.
Jess, 27, says: “It will be the most amazing thing having a baby in the house after years of wanting it so badly. We are so grateful.
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“We wanted to try every route we could before spending thousands on IVF, and this meant getting creative and trying new things on the market. I’m so glad we did.”
The couple met on a dating app in 2019. As Steve has two children from a previous relationship, they didn’t qualify for NHS IVF treatment.
Having been referred for fertility testing by her GP, social worker Jess was told her BMI was too high and she needed to lose weight to increase her chances of conception.
Steve's sperm showed low motility, but the couple were told they should still be able to conceive.
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Frustrated, they began researching paying for private treatment abroad and spent over £2,000 on further tests which revealed Steve's sperm was not suitable for IVF at all.
Jess recalls: "We were told that Steve’s sperm had extremely poor motility and morphology and wouldn't work for IVF.
“It was a relief to know that my weight actually had nothing to do with our fertility issues. It is an all too common assumption for bigger women that is unfair.
"But we were upset. They recommended Steve should see a urologist to look for causes, but this would take more time and cost more money with no guarantee that it would fix the problem.
"At this point I suggested a sperm donor. Steve has two children – a biological son who is 21, and a nine-year-old daughter who is adopted, so we already knew DNA did not change the love we had for her.
“Therefore, we decided to consider using the ‘turkey baster’ method."
£28 baby maker
Jess bought a £28 fertility gadget called the TwoPlus applicator, which is a home insemination kit, and then started to research the sperm donor route.
She says: "I joined lots of online forums and used my Instagram page @jess_youaregold to talk about our infertility journey.
"We were told about the app Just a Baby by a lesbian couple on Instagram.
"It is a way to connect all the pieces needed for infertile couples, same sex couples or intended single parents to make a baby.
"Some couples need a surrogate or a donor and they can advertise on Just a Baby.
"I shared our story and said we may be considering using a sperm donor and doing it at home.
"The more we thought about it we were keen to do it this way, out of a clinical setting, as it was free, and on our terms."
Found a 'match'
Jess and Steve found a potential donor and chatted via the app before exchanging phone numbers.
Jess explains: "On WhatsApp our donor gave us more information about himself.
"He provided ID, medical records, photographs and also a history of how many people he had helped out and how many successful pregnancies this had resulted in.
"He was very accommodating and offered to meet up with us to discuss, which we didn't think was necessary."
Once everything had been agreed, on May 31st this year Jess and Steve drove to the donor's home and waited outside while he prepared them a fresh sample.
I laid back while Steve inserted the sperm using a special plastic guide and the £28 applicator. I had the easy job of scrolling Instagram while he did the hard work
Jess says: "The sperm donor lived close to a friend’s house. We arranged that once we 'd collected the sample we would go to her house to insert it.
"We waited outside the donor's house, he did ‘the deed’ and came to the car with it in a little jam jar – we still laugh about that today.
"Then we drove to the friend's house, quickly went into the bedroom and I laid back while Steve inserted the sperm using a special plastic guide and the £28 applicator.
"I had the easy job of listening to music and scrolling Instagram while he did the hard work."
The couple went on holiday and got married at Gretna Green in Scotland while they waited for the result of their pregnancy attempt.
Jess says: "When we came home from getting married, it was three days before my period and for some reason I just felt the urge to take a test.
“When I saw it was positive I was shaking and told Steve. He looked at me and said, 'Congratulations – I knew it’.”
Now the couple are looking forward to the birth of their baby boy in February 2023.
Jess says: "I’m halfway through the pregnancy now and I'm still sick each day.
“Sometimes I feel bad for not enjoying pregnancy when I wanted to have a baby for so long.
When I saw it was positive I was shaking and told Steve. He looked at me and said, 'Congratulations – I knew it’
"Our families are really excited – my mum who has been with me every step of the way can’t wait.
"Steve talks to the baby and rubs my belly daily."
Jess says she wanted to share their journey to conceive this way to help enlighten other couples who may not be able to afford IVF and are desperate to become parents.
For any one considering going down the same path, Jess advises looking for donors who will provide ID and medical records and undertake any tests requested so they are up to date.
She adds: "It is important that people know it is illegal to buy or sell sperm and you do not have to put the donor on the birth certificate.
“The applicator we used also means you don't have to consider being intimate with someone to conceive – there are other ways."
Jess and Steve say they intend to stay in close contact with their donor.
He requested that they inform him as each scan goes well and to pass on details of the birth, but after that he doesn’t want any contact.
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Jess says: "We are open to contact in the future if he changes his mind, as our baby boy will have a right to know his roots should he ever have any questions.
"For now we are just excited and preparing for the special time that's coming.”
How does sperm donation work in the UK?
Sperm donation is essential for fertility treatment such as intrauterine insemination or IVF.
It can help couples struggling to have kids of their own or single women who want to start a family.
If you donate your sperm through a fertility clinic or a sperm bank, you won’t have any responsibilities or rights towards a child conceived using your semen.
However, as of April 2005, children conceived through sperm donation do have the right to ask for certain information about their donor once they reach the age of 16.
When they turn 18 they can also request to know the name and last known address of their donor.
The main reason men choose to donate their sperm is to help couples who can’t conceive naturally, or if they have a strong desire to pass on their genes to another generation.
In the UK, donation in exchange for payment is prohibited by law.
To cover any expenses incurred during the process, sperm donors are given £35 per clinic visit.
They may also have the right to claim higher expenses including accommodation, travel or childcare.
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