Meet the ultimate single mother

Just one month old, Daisy lies content and sleeping in her mother's arms. Her mother's love is all she knows. And it may always be that way. For Daisy Hudson was deliberately created as a fatherless child.

Her mother, Helen, is not in a relationship. She determinedly set out to create her baby by the artificial insemination of donor sperm and be the sole parent.

She flew in the face of nature and convention because she believed her chance to be a mother was running out.

So was this the selfish act of a woman whose desperation to have a child of her own outweighed the fact that she was depriving her baby of what every child should have - two blood parents? Or, as she states, is Daisy one of the luckiest babies on the planet because she was so wanted and is so loved?

Helen is adamant that Daisy will grow up knowing how she was conceived, and why - and that she will not lack for anything. She is a career woman who can afford to provide well for her child.

She plans eventually to return to her job on a part-time basis, with extra income from her savings, so she can devote time to the daughter who has made her life complete. And, she says, Daisy will grow up surrounded by love - from her mother, her family and friends.

Nor will she go without male role models. Helen has many a male friend, (indeed, one of them is actually Daisy's biological father).

But,will that be enough? Behavioural psychologists and social workers see children who have only one parent in their lives, and know only half of their identity, struggling with feelings of rejection and fragile self-esteem.

Helen knows this only too well; she has a degree in child studies and is currently on maternity leave from her job as a children's centre manager for the NHS in Northamptonshire.

She has often been involved with children from broken homes and those who have never known one of their parents; this is an informed woman, who made an educated choice.

She realises only time will reveal how Daisy is affected and is determined to apply all her training and experience, plus her maternal instincts and love, to help her.

So what was it that fuelled this intelligent and sensible woman to take such controversial action?

Unlike many women who feel their fertile years are running out, it wasn't the ageing process. Helen is only 29.

She suffers severely from polycystic ovarian syndrome – POS - which causes fertility issues and also extremely painful periods. "Mine were so bad I haemorrhaged for 14-18 days at a time, with only 14 days between bleeds," she explains. "I was taking days off work every month, my legs would swell up , I was anaemic and my emotions were all over the place.

"It has gone on for six years. When my specialist told me it would worsen with age and he was recommending a hysterectomy – the removal of my womb – when I got to 30, that was the catalyst."

She was longterm single and instead of leaving to chance the possibility of Mr Right arriving in time, or reconciling herself to the probability of childlessness, she went away to research information on donor sperm availability.

She is keen to stress: "I also did a lot of soul-searching. I had to ask myself; is this fair to the child? I have worked with families where children don't have fathers in their lives. I know it can cause children huge identity issues.

"I have asked myself whether I was being selfish. I still do. Part of me says no because I've brought a child into the world who could grow up to be someone amazing; a scientist who could find the cure for cancer. But another part of me says yes, it is selfish. It's ironic, as the donor has always told me one of my best qualities is my selflessness. I suppose I have put myself first for the first time in my life.

"I know what I have done is controversial; the reaction I got when I broke it to my friends and family proved that," she admits.

"Some were really shocked. And my poor parents... They didn't know any of it until I rang mum and told her I was pregnant and that I'd planned it. I knew they would find it hard to accept. But I was so happy when they rang back to say they respected my decision. I hope others will, too."

Friend played father figure to Daisy

Helen made the decision to have a child with donor sperm two and a half years ago. She chose a friend as the donor rather than anonymous sample from a clinic having carefully weighed up the pros and cons.

"The law now allows donor offspring the right at 18 to trace their biological parents. I was concerned about the effect that might have on my child. And I thought it preferable to know about the donor's background, character and medical history," she says

Several male friends offered; she chose one and he agreed he was happy for Helen to be the sole parent. She went to see her POS specialist, who gave her ongoing NHS treatment to increase her fertility . But from that point on, nothing was easy.

She got pregnant – and miscarried - six times because of her medical condition. The longest pregnancy lasted only ten weeks and she was on the brink of giving up, having the hysterectomy and adopting a child instead.

"Then I got pregnant with Daisy. I suddenly, it really was happening," she recalls.

Then Helen got the chronic sickness syndrome hyperemesis and, in the final months, her pelvis collapsed. She had to wear a brace and walk with crutches – and she was partnerless. When her maternity leave started Helen moved to Sheffield for the support of her close friends.

She lives in Hillsborough, where she hopes to continue her career.

Her labour at the Jessops, with Sheffield friend Victoria Wood as birthing partner, was a traumatic 17 hours. And although Daisy's safe arrival has joyfully ended Helen's battle for motherhood, new complications are only just beginning.

Many centre around the fact that the donor, who doesn't live locally - is not a stranger – the very thing she had thought would be a plus. And having met Daisy once, he is now in turmoil.

"He's so happy that he has been able to help me achieve what I had always wanted, when my chances were so slim. But the reality that he has created a child has hit him," says Helen.

"He had originally not wanted any part in her life. Now he is not sure he can live with that, particularly as our friendship means he will meet her again and again, without anyone knowing who he really is to her. Very few people know what he did," she says.

Helen is determined to put no pressure on her friend. "If he wants to be Daisy's dad, that is fine. But I won't make him feel guilty if he decides to stick to the original plan."

And then there are Daisy's feelings to take into consideration. Helen is determined that her child will know the truth of her origins from the start.

"I will tell her why I did what I did. That she was so wanted by me.

And although I won't tell her who her dad is, I will tell her he did it with the right intentions, as an act of true friendship, that he didn't simply walk away from her," she says.

It may be enough, it may not.

"Time will tell how she deals with that," says the new mother philosophically. And one day she might want to make contact with her father... I'm very aware I will have to cope with the twists and turns of my decision for the rest of Daisy's life.

"But I have done what I have done," she says. "I hope people will understand that when you are faced with never having the child you have yearned for, you to do everything in your power to try to make it happen.

"Though if any single woman thinks that getting pregnant this way is an easy option, they are very wrong," she warns. "It is harder than anyone could imagine it is going to be.

"I constantly ask myself: did I make the right decision? Should I have waited and hoped Mr Right would come along in time? Though I have absolutely no regrets, I still have those thoughts and my baby is here, in my arms."

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