Solo mum from Frankfurt – Gesche’s story


Gesche’s desire to have children: The long road to becoming a solo mum

Gesche, a 46-year-old from Frankfurt, is the proud mother of a young daughter.

In the summer of 2018, Gesche came to Diers Klinik for her initial attempt at becoming a mother.

We supported her on her fertility journey for 4.5 years, and she has grown very close to all of us here at the clinic. In this blog post, she shares her story of becoming a solo mum.

Solo mum, Gesche

Wanting children for as long as I can remember

It was always clear to Gesche that she wanted to become a mum.

In her early 30s, she was in a relationship in which the desire to have children was difficult and led to a separation.

In her mid-30s, Gesche was in a new relationship where she became pregnant unexpectedly. Unfortunately, this pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 11 weeks. The loss was a shock to Gesche, as she had not anticipated it. She soon became pregnant again, but these pregnancies also ended in miscarriage. Eventually, this relationship too came to an end.

Despite these challenges, Gesche focused on her career, but her longing for a child never waned.

“With every year, the desire for a child grew, and it didn’t seem right at all not to have a child,” she reflects.

Partnership or desire to have children

Before Gesche contacted our fertility clinic, she went through a lengthy decision-making process.

“I always hoped to find the right partner for a family. At the same time, I didn’t want to build a family with ‘just anyone’ just because time was short.”

Gesche realized that her growing desire to have children was increasingly affecting her new relationships. She felt the pressure of time running out. It was important for her to focus on a new relationship without any preconceived notions about starting a family. She found it challenging to get to know someone without constantly considering if he could be the father of her future children, and this pressure made it difficult to build a partnership.

“Growing older without children was a much worse thought for me than growing older without a partner. And I’m still convinced today that the right person will find us when the time is right.”

Lack of basic support

Unfortunately, Gesche found it challenging to get medical support for her desire to have children as a single woman. There wasn’t even a contact point where she could discuss her options.

Fertility clinics in Germany informed her that they were not permitted to assist single women. Additionally, her health insurance company refused to provide any support because Gesche was over 40 and not in a registered partnership.

After experiencing miscarriages, Gesche switched to a new gynecologist with whom she felt comfortable and well-supported. However, she still didn’t dare to speak openly with her gynecologist about her desire to have children as a single woman. She feared that this gynecologist, too, would not be allowed or able to help her.

“It was sometimes very challenging to get important information because I always had the feeling that I couldn’t speak openly,” Gesche recalls.

Support on the fertility journey

Initially, Gesche researched the topic of having children on her own, as her experiences with friends’ comments were often negative. During this time, she met a man who already had children and was living separately. He made it clear that he didn’t want to have more children.

“We had a lot in common, and he helped me ask myself important questions. Firstly, to stay true to myself and find out what I wanted—without including our partnership in these thoughts.”

For Gesche, having someone by her side who helped her determine whether she could manage a family on her own was a great gift. Coming from a neighbouring country where solo motherhood is not uncommon and having a woman in his family who had taken the same path, he viewed this journey positively. He was able to support Gesche well in her decision to pursue solo motherhood.

“To this day, I am grateful to my companion and former partner for allowing me to live my dream and follow my path.”

Considering sperm donation

When Gesche realized that having children was her most important goal, she began exploring her options for having a child without a partner.

“It was clear that I wanted to build my family on solid foundations, so I decided in favour of ‘regulated sperm donation’.”

At that time, it was almost impossible for a single woman over 40 to find a legal sperm donor in Germany. Gesche discussed her options with her companion, and they both noticed the differences in how various countries handle this issue.

“Two things were important to me: Firstly, that the donor was health-tested to minimize the risk to my child and me. Secondly, it was important that everything was regulated by law and that the donor had no claims.”

The main reason for this was to avoid any potential confusion or complications if the donor later wanted more contact with the child. It quickly became clear that sperm donation from a sperm bank was the best option.

Through her research into sperm donation, Gesche discovered our fertility clinic, Diers Klinik, in Aarhus.

“I gathered all my courage and embarked on my exciting journey.”

The insemination treatment in Denmark

In July 2018, the time had come – Gesche travelled to Aarhus for her first insemination. She had looked at reviews online in advance and was prepared for the meeting with the clinic and the insemination treatment.

Gesche remembers her first visit to the clinic very clearly:

“I walked across the market square, saw the church in the square and the people around me, and wondered if any of the people around me knew where I was going. I was very excited, at the same time very clear that I wanted to do this, and yet I was scared. A strange and positive feeling.”

“The clinic is simply warm and welcoming, which was important to me. I felt well looked after from the very first moment. A stark contrast to my experiences in Germany.”

Gesche has the following to say about the treatment process at the clinic:

”The staff took away any fears I had, at the same time guiding me well in my expectations and thoughts throughout. It is highly emotional and at the same time very objective. Of course, you pay, and the treatment is like in a clinic. Nevertheless, there were many little things that I still remember today, which gave me a lot of strength and made everything ‘warm’.”

”And as I was still trying to have a sibling after the birth of my daughter, the staff at the Diers Klinik were ultimately a wonderful support to me over a number of years and through various stages.”

”Diers Klinik was just right for me.”

Concerns due to age

Gesche was aware that her chances of becoming pregnant would decline with age and that there would also be an inc

”I always felt that ‘my child’ existed, and we just needed to find each other.”

She gave up Googling statistics after a few attempts because it only made her feel uncertain and frustrated. After the miscarriages and medical tests, Gesche had her eggs frozen as a precaution.

”By the time I froze my eggs in my mid to late thirties, it was already quite late. This highlighted the urgency of my desire to have a child. I can only advise anyone considering this option to address it in a timely manner.”

Although Gesche felt positive about using a sperm donor in Denmark, it became increasingly difficult with each unsuccessful cycle:

”You can’t turn off the emotional feelings. You know that if it doesn’t work again, you’ll be older for the next attempt. This underlying pressure starts subtly but grows with each attempt.”

Waiting for the positive pregnancy test

After the first few attempts, Gesche realized how much energy the process required.

”I was working a lot at the time, and I was always either in the phase before ovulation or waiting for the pregnancy test. Constantly hoping that the next attempt would work. After a negative result, it took a lot of strength to gather the courage again, plan anew, and let my hopes materialize.”

Because of this, Gesche decided to pause after a few attempts to regain her strength. She planned to make one more attempt before taking a longer break.

”Something drove me to make this last attempt before taking another break. When the time came, I literally set off in the wind and weather in a night-and-fog operation, arriving in Denmark in the middle of the night, exhausted. The visit to Diers Klinik the next morning made my dreams come true.”

Just under nine months later, Gesche became a mum to an adorable daughter.

Siblings from the same donor

Gesche would have liked to have another child to be a sibling for her daughter. It was important to her that the sibling came from the same donor, so during her pregnancy, she arranged to store units from the same donor.

In the summer of 2020, Gesche returned to the Diers Klinik, this time with her daughter, to try again.

”Unfortunately, it took several attempts, and travelling with a toddler was no small feat. We made the best of it, but eventually, I had to accept that we would remain a family of two.”

Letting go of the idea of having another child was not easy, but Gesche didn’t want to keep trying indefinitely. It was important to her to decide for herself when to stop before reaching the legal limit for treatment.

The final attempt was emotional for both Gesche and the clinic staff. Gesche reflects:

”My daughter and I had a wonderful journey, taking our time and making the final attempt in Denmark a peaceful experience. We stayed for a few days, and it was a beautiful farewell to a long emotional journey that will forever connect us to Aarhus. It gave me a healthy and happy child, we are complete as a family, and it was the right decision to end on such a positive note.”

When you speak to Gesche today, she emphasises how important this closure was and how happy she is with her current situation.

Worries as a solo mum

Before Gesche decided to become a solo mum, she had many thoughts and worries. Her main concerns were:

”Can I manage everything on my own? How will the birth go? What will the first few weeks be like? Can I handle everyday life? Will I be able to work again? Can we manage financially?”

To this day, she has one major fear: What will happen if something happens to her?

While she was still pregnant, Gesche arranged and secured her daughter’s future. She addressed smaller concerns as they arose, and now most issues resolve themselves.

”Our daily life is similar to that of other families. We just do many everyday things together because there’s no second adult to step in for a moment—shopping, laundry, etc.”

When Gesche looks back on the past, she sometimes wonders how she managed it all.

”When I think back to those first months, I remember being happy all day. But when a new baby is born among my friends, I sometimes wonder how I managed everything, being on duty 24 hours a day with little sleep. But from the beginning, my daughter and I were a great team. We shaped the world around us to suit us, and it still does today.”

Support from people around her

The birth of her daughter brought many changes, Gesche recounts. Although the grandparents could only offer limited support due to their age, they remain an important part of their lives.

”We settled in wonderfully together and still live by the motto of Pippi Longstocking: I make my world the way I like it.”

Even when COVID broke out shortly after her daughter was born and life changed for everyone, they found their way. Gesche’s neighbourhood banded together and supported each other during this time.

Gesche’s best friend has always been there with advice and help, providing significant support. Both old and new friendships have flourished in this new phase of life.

”We manage our daily life wonderfully together. However, planning is very important for us. Unlike other families, I don’t have support from a partner if I want to go to the gym in the evening or need to quickly buy something. Nor do I have grandparents who come over regularly once a week. This means I have to create time for myself when I need it, and that includes learning to ask others for help.”

For Gesche, it was positive that it was just her and her daughter. While other couples often need time to readjust to each other after the birth of a child, Gesche could focus 100% on herself and her daughter.

”Every family configuration has its pros and cons. There is no better or worse. What matters is what you make of it.”

The early days as a solo mum

Gesche doesn’t want to paint an unrealistic picture of solo motherhood and acknowledges that it’s natural for women to have concerns and doubts about whether they can manage on their own.

There are, of course, challenging times. Sometimes Gesche herself wonders how everything worked out – but it did.

”My daughter has given me a new kind of happiness from day one, an honest and priceless joy. I experience this every day.”

When you have a child, everything changes suddenly. This is true not only for solo mums but for all families:

”With little sleep, being responsible for a baby 24 hours a day, and when the baby gets sick, it becomes especially challenging because, as a solo mum, the responsibility falls entirely on you.”

But while others might ponder whether to take their child to the laundry room or if the baby can sleep in the pram while shopping, Gesche just did it. If the house isn’t tidied in the evening, there’s no one to complain. There’s no disappointment from a partner not doing what was hoped.

”What I believe is unique about solo mums is that the decision to have a child alone is very deliberate. A solo mum knows there will be little personal time and cherishes the time together even more. And there’s no disappointment over a partner not doing more because you know from the start that you’ll be doing everything yourself. And that’s okay.”

We asked Gesche if she ever misses having a second parent. Her clear answer was: No, not really.

Her daughter often calls her “Mummydaddy” because Gesche covers both roles. However, there are sometimes situations or decisions she’d like to discuss or get feedback on, and for that, she turns to her friends.

Negative experiences as a solo mum

According to Gesche, there will probably always be negative comments. What hits her the hardest is the statement that children who are not born in a healthy partnership should never have been born.

This statement is utter nonsense and, as Gesche says, completely outdated. Thankfully, she has learned to let these comments roll off her, as she now knows better.

”Families where one of the partners works a lot are not much different from us.

In Germany, there is a lack of recognition that different family constellations exist, and I deeply regret that legislation only reluctantly adapts. Especially in times when there is much discussion about declining birth rates, we should listen to young women, men, and families and give different family structures a chance instead of continually disadvantaging them.

Solo mums are becoming increasingly significant, and the stereotype that single mothers are necessarily living at the subsistence level is simply outdated.

Today, women have the opportunity to work in well-paid jobs, and with good planning, it is possible to balance children and work – provided that legislation and employers allow it and don’t create obstacles.”

The question about the father is inevitable, says Gesche. While she initially struggled with what and how much to say, the answer now comes easily and confidently from her lips: “We are a family of two.”

Talking about the donor

Katrin Solomutter

Gesche’s daughter is now four years old and a clever little girl. Although she doesn’t fully understand the concept of a “donor” yet, it’s important to Gesche that this topic is not kept secret, but rather something her daughter grows up knowing naturally.

That’s why Gesche has the “Karla Book” to read to her and regularly talks with her daughter about different types of families.

”I explain to her that a man and a woman each contribute half a gift to create a baby, which then grows in mummy’s tummy. And then it depends on what kind of family you have.”

Gesche finds it very important that her daughter not only understands how a baby is fundamentally made but also that there are many different family forms.

”If a woman wants to be a mum on her own, she needs a kind donor who provides the second part of the gift, without becoming part of the family.”

Informing others

One thing is how Gesche talks to her daughter about the donor. Another matter is how to talk to others about having a child with the help of a donor. For Gesche, this was a learning process.

”In the first two years, I tried to keep it a secret, but now I am open about it. It was important to me that my daughter first ‘knows’ how she came to be with me before everyone else knew. We are so happy with our lives that we can be open and proud of our family structure.”

Initially, Gesche was more uncertain. She wondered what questions would come and which ones she even wanted to answer.

”I had to learn that many people are so curious and fascinated that they ask very detailed questions.

Some people politely ask if they can ask detailed questions, which makes it easier to set boundaries. Others are very intrusive, in which case the only thing that helps is a snappy phrase like ‘I always find it fascinating whether other children were conceived in the bedroom or on the kitchen counter’. And then they quickly realise that their questions are inappropriate.”

Gesche emphasizes that while she encourages openness, it’s important to set boundaries swiftly.

Overall, Gesche has received almost entirely positive reactions. Many people had not previously considered that a family of two is possible and are simply curious. Almost everyone who meets them quickly concludes that they are a wonderful, harmonious family.

Questions about “Daddy”?

Gesche takes her daughter’s questions very seriously and tries to discuss them with her in a child-friendly way. They have never felt the absence of a father, but other children might be puzzled by the “missing dad.”

”The difficulty lies in the fact that children are often taught that only a family with a mother, father, and child is ‘normal’.”

Therefore, it’s particularly important to Gesche that her daughter knows about different family forms. Their family form is simply mother and child.

”When questions about a dad first came up, we imagined together what it would be like to have a dad. When he would come home, where he would sit, sleep, and what he would say. We considered what we would like and what we wouldn’t, and we concluded that we are very happy with how things are.”

It’s important to me that my daughter doesn’t have the feeling that something is missing but feels comfortable with what we have.

Counselling for single women on the fertility journey

The path to the fertility clinic was long and involved a lot of decision-making for Gesche. What gave her courage and strength was the support from a friend and companion she met when she was just beginning to consider her options. She was able to speak openly with him.

This was vital support that many single women on their journey to parenthood unfortunately lack.

This inspired Gesche to start her own business to help other single women on their path to having a child.

There were several encounters that profoundly influenced Gesche and reinforced her decision to become self-employed. The two most significant were:

”A well-known acquaintance told me that she had considered the Diers Klinik several years ago but didn’t dare go through with it without support. Now, she was too old and deeply saddened that she hadn’t tried.

A friend who was infertile didn’t want to deny his partner the wish for a family. We had intense discussions about his perspective, and today, he is a happy father.”

These encounters were decisive factors in Gesche’s decision to become self-employed and offer the role of companion to others:

”I offer women and men the opportunity to discuss the often highly sensitive topic of family planning with someone who is not directly involved. My role is to accompany them, helping them find their own right path. A companion who is there when needed and, as harsh as it sounds, disappears when no longer needed or wanted.”

Gesche’s business is called Single Familie, and her website is now online.

We wish you the best of luck, dear Gesche, and thank you very much for your openness!

Blog post written by Line, Fertility Coordinator at Diers Klinik.