Makin’ Babies: How I Self-Inseminated and You Can, Too

Welcome to Autostraddle’s ongoing series, Makin’ Babies, where real queer parents tell you all about how they created their precious little weirdos! While every new life is created in essentially the same way — egg meets sperm, makes baby — every queer conception story is truly unique. We’ll be sharing a wide variety of experiences here, so get ready to laugh, flinch, cry, high five, and be amazed. Let’s meet some brand new people!

My daughter Evelyn is the product of the ol’ “turkey baster” conception method, just without the turkey baster. As a single lesbian mom by choice, I used a known donor to conceive. This means that apart from my donor’s genetic contribution in a sterile cup, I was on my own in the whole getting pregnant process. My donor did his thing in the bathroom of my home, after which I was left to my own devices with the company of no one but my dog. Who was absolutely no help in my endeavor to get pregnant, by the way.

Equipment required:

  • Preseed (sperm friendly lubricant) or egg whites
  • Medicinal dropper (aka – your turkey baster)
  • Sterile cups
  • Pillows for bum propping
  • Instead Cups/Diva Cup or Luna Cup
  • Optional: books, iPad/iPhone or magazines

ovulationsticks

Positive ovulation sticks!

Set Up Your “Get Pregnant” Area

While your donor gets busy, set up the area in which you’ll be doing the basting. Place your butt-propping pillows up in the bed. Lie down and test the positioning to make sure you’re comfy. You’ll want this to be as comfortable as possible, because you’ll be here for a good while. The last thing you’re going to want to do — or be able to do – while inseminating is adjust your pillows. Have your infant medicinal dropper, Instead Cup and Pre-Seed at the ready.

Note: I inserted the Pre-Seed while my donor was producing his sample. You can also opt to insert it moments before you inseminate.

Remember to put a towel over your butt-propping pillows for spillage issues.


Me and my sister

Me with my sister, being super pregnant!

Inseminating

Keep the semen warm in the sterile cup, either by placing it in your hands or under your armpit (if there’s a lid). It’s okay if it sits on the counter or bedside table for a few minutes while you are getting yourself prepared, but you don’t want to leave it for much longer than that, because those little swimmers, while fast, do not have a long shelf life outside of the body.

Once you’ve drawn the semen into the syringe, slowly insert it using the medicinal plunger. If you plunge it all down (up?) at once, you might have some spillage issues at hand. Literally. Make sure you get the syringe as close to your cervix as possible, but if you hit the cervix, back up a little bit. It took me a good two to three minutes to insert all of the sample, simply because I was concerned about runaway semen.


announcement

Butts Up

Lay down with your hips raised up on a pillow and relax your body. Once I inserted the semen, I always said a prayer and meditated to help relax my body. A lot of women choose to have an orgasm to help pull the sperm up to where it needs to be. Totally optional and not required, but may help an otherwise awkward situation be a little less stressful.

I kept the syringe in after the semen was up where it should be, using the syringe as a “plug” for 10-15 minutes. Once that time had passed, I inserted my Diva Cup to avoid spillage when I eventually stood up.

Keep your hips slightly raised on your pillow(s) for another 15-20 minutes. Fun time-killing activities during this stretch include: taking selfies and posting them to Instagram with the hashtag #selfinseminationselfie; getting familiar with the two-week wait websites of which you will become all too familiar whilst you obsess over every real or imagined “symptom” through the next two slowest weeks of your life awaiting the pregnant or not verdict; doing the math in your head to determine what Astrological sign your almost-conceived child will fall under.

If using an Instead or Diva Cup, make sure to remove it in about 12 hours. Expect the cup to have some residual bodily fluids in it when you remove it. This is normal. If you are inseminating in the evening, the easiest thing to do is leave it in over night and remove it in the morning.


evieandlindsay

Does It Work?

While not the “traditional” method of conception, I’m certain at least tens of thousands of humans have been conceived this way. I know the ol’ turkey baster/medicine dropper method works, because it resulted in not only my daughter Evelyn, but also two other children I gave birth to as a traditional surrogate well over a decade ago. At this point, I’m old hat at the “DIY Turkey Baster Child Creation Method.” If your donor is able and willing, try to do 3-4 inseminations each month during your most fertile week of the month. The more you do it, the closer you’ll get to the optimal pillow-to-butt ratio, too.

For more on the legal side of self-insemination, read Here’s What You Need to Know Before DIY Insemination.


Did you conceive with a turkey baster/medicine dropper? Do you know your perfect pillow-to-butt ratio? Got any questions for Lindsay? Let it all out in the comments!

30-year-old American lesbian living and working in Canada.

Lindsay has written 1 articles for us.

31 Comments

  1. So happy for you! I think it is important to mention that the American laws around donors are very specific, so make sure to use a donor who you trust and respect if you are not going to have a doctor involved. Because if you do not go through a sperm bank and have a doctor do the IUI or IVF, then the donor can sue you for parental rights to the child. Again if you would like the donor in your families life, then this is great – but there have been cases where someone used a donor and did the insem themselves who years after the child was born sued the lesbian couple for weekends etc. with the kid(s) and have won.

    • You bring up a really important point. I consulted with a lawyer and had a contract in place that the donor and I both signed. Samples of donor contracts can be found online but it’s always wise to have a legal consult!

  2. My wife and I just found out we are pregnant a few weeks ago using a very similar method! Our donor is family (my wife’s brother), which was a little weird (especially when he was in the guest bathroom while I waited in the bedroom and my wife/his sister shuttled the genetic material), but we were so determined to have a baby that would be a blend of both of us if possible. We actually got pregnant on the first try, which is nearly a miracle! We’re both so excited to have our baby, as is his/her uncle and grandmother (both of my wife’s side, my family had disowned me years ago for being a lesbian).

    • Congratulations! What an awesome blessing that you got pregnant on the first try! Doesn’t happen too often. I hope the pregnancy goes well & you enjoy the wild ride of parenthood!

  3. I was LITERALLY just thinking about how to logistically get pregnant on my own/without having it be a really sterile environment and then poof! This is here! My only concern is with the legal issues like Stacey brought up. I don’t currently have a donor in mind that I’d be okay with having in a child’s life…

    • Perfect timing for you, eh? I love when that happens! I found my known donor using the known donor registry (you can find it by googling). We didn’t know each other before embarking on this journey. Best of luck on your journey!

  4. This is so cool! I love hearing how people choose to make their families when they don’t have/want the “traditional” route. Also, to state the obvious: Your daughter is TOO FREAKING CUTE. Thank you for sharing.

  5. This is great! I get asked all the time how we made our babies happen, and love sharing our home insemination stories – which were pretty much just like this. On a couple of our attempts our donor did his thing at his house, which was nearby, and drove over with his ‘sample’ between his legs. One of us went out to his car and would get the sample through the window – felt like a drug deal!

    I echo the other alerts raised on here, though. If you are considering insemination with a known donor, particularly at home, do your research about laws in your state about insemination and parentage, and work with a knowledgable attorney who understands ART and can help you ensure that everyone’s interests are well protected.

    • Absolutely check the laws in your state/country – wherever you live. Can’t believe I didn’t think to include that piece in this article. I suppose that could be a whole stand-alone article of its own!

  6. Yeah for DIY insemination with a known donor! I have two little ones conceived this way and couldn’t be happier about how the process has turned out. As others have pointed out, it requires a little more careful legal planning, but offers so many rewards too.

    Hey, editors: is this series going to include any exploration of what relationships with donors look like post-birth? That’s one topic I’m always interested in hearing about from others who created their families using a known donor.

    • “Hey, editors: is this series going to include any exploration of what relationships with donors look like post-birth?”

      That’s a great idea! One upcoming piece does focus on the queer family’s relationship with the donor, and I’ll be looking out for other opportunities to explore this experience. Thanks H-1B!

    • I would love to read stories from other families who have used known donors! So many of my friends have just bought the “goods”, and I stand alone in our circle as the only one who used a known donor. It’s nice to hear from others who walked a similar path!

      • Yeah!! I love hearing about others with known donors too. I’m lucky to have a lot of queer parents nearby, but like you, most of my friends used anonymous donor sperm.

  7. As someone who may soon want a baby but wants a male to have as close to zero to have anything to do with that choice or its resulting little person, all I can say to this is thank you.

    • It’s definitely possible to have a known donor and keep him at “arms length” with minimal involvement. I blog about my experiences over at solomamalife.wordpress.com if you’re interested in learning more about the solo mom journey.

  8. You know what is really really amazing? I am twenty-four years old and desperately want to procure my own child via this method or a similar method [in an undetermined number of years], and when I go into it, this archive of queer mom posts on Autostraddle writing about making babies will EXIST. Thank you and all the other moms and parents who have shared and will share your stories here for queer moms/parents of the future to get ideas and knowledge and inspiration from. <3

  9. First, congrats and best of luck to Lindsay and little Evelyn.
    Second, don’t any of you DARE inseminate at home without a physician being involved (most state laws require this) be for reviewing the linked AS column linked here about legal issues and checking out a web search such as “known sperm donor legal issues”. Also have a strategy for getting both of your names as “parent” on you child’s birth certificate if you are in couple. Even in some states with marriage equality this is still an issue. Every situation will be different so best to proceed with knowledge as well as legal representation. Here are two good links.

    Here’s What You Need to Know Before DIY Insemination


    http://tuckerlegal.com/top-10-mistakes-same-sex-couples-sperm-donor/
    Good luck.

  10. Our first daughter was conceived with anonymous donor sperm at a physician’s office, but the second was via home insemination with a known donor from the registry.

    For the commenter above who was asking about level of involvement, its definitely possible for it to be very minimal. Our known donor knows that our daughter exists, but that’s about it.

  11. This was really interesting! And I had a read of your blog as well, which I plan to keep reading. I’m hoping to have children in a few years time, and it’s really great to see these types of articles coming up on Autostraddle.

  12. My partner and I used pretty much the same method, but we lined a Softcup with pre-seed and had our donor uh, procure his sample into that (we read that since semen itself isn’t sterile, any clean vessel was fine). Then we sucked most of the semen into a 10 ml syringe, slowly inserted that close to the cervix, and then put the Softcup (with its remaining liquid) in to keep it all in place, and the Softcup in for 12 hours.

    Much to our surprise, it worked the first time!

    We don’t live in the U.S., and where we inseminated, if you are married and use a known donor (yes, even at home), the spouse of the pregnant party is automatically the other parent and the known donor does not have parental rights. That said, we also used a donor we had known for a long time and trust absolutely.

  13. Due to vaginal tissue issues it’s been difficult for me to have intercourse with my husband and get pregnant the “conventional” way. We did self insemination August 18th and I took a pregnancy test (4 if them to be exact) and sure enough the “turkey baster” method did work. I was pregnant. Sadly it ended up as a chemical pregnancy, but at least I know it works. We just did the self insemination again, can’t wait for 2 weeks to go by to see if it worked again or not. Good luck everyone, and congrats to you all whom this worked for.

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