Today we’d like to introduce you to Molly Hawkey.
Molly, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve always wanted kids. Loads of kids. But when I hit 39 and the guy I was dating told me he definitely absolutely positively didn’t want anymore kids and that he was considering getting a vasectomy…I had to face reality. I split up with him and told him maybe we could date again in five years when I had kids of my own. But how was I going to get a kid of my own?! I did what any other not-quite-young-or-cool-enough-to-be-a-millennial would do. I started a podcast! SpermCast!
Since I’m an actor, comedian, writer, creative type I figured it would be the best way for me to find a sperm donor and knock myself up. I also thought “I’m going to make millions off this brilliant idea and then I’ll have enough money to raise a kid.” Somehow the millions still haven’t started rollin’ in but somehow that’s ok because SOMEHOW SpermCast has altered my life forever and become a source of healing and hope for my listeners.
I knew it was going to be an interesting show and that people would enjoy the concept but I had no idea it would bring me on the roller coaster of a lifetime and that it would touch, teach, and comfort so many people along the way.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As I write this I’m lying in bed on modified bed rest. I’m taking it easy because earlier this afternoon I had an embryo transfer. Two embryo’s, as a matter of fact, made from the combo of eggs I froze when I was 37 and the frozen sperm of a tall dark and maybe handsome 21 years old who loves to ski and play guitar. I say “maybe handsome” because Seattle Sperm Bank doesn’t offer adult photos of their anonymous donors. If I ever get to see his face it won’t be till my baby is 18. This is NOT how I thought my story would go…but I’m hoping one day I’ll look back and think it was exactly how it all had to happen.
So the answer is no. Fuck no. The road has not been smooth. The road has been littered with potholes and roadkill. The switchbacks are nauseating and I am almost always running on empty.
When I started the podcast, I was excited. I was going to make a baby and, by Golly, have fun doing it! Each episode would consist of an awkward and hilarious interview with a sperm “contestant.” I’d back them into a corner, ask for their semen, make them rate their willingness to donate on a scale of 1-10, and of course I’d force them to harmonize with me (because I want to start a family band and need my kid to have a good voice!).
At first, the contestants were all my dude friends but I soon grew bold and interviewed a chiseled chinned blond from Tinder, a handsome neighbor I’d never before had the nerve to talk to before, and some strangers who reached out to me after hearing my story. That’s right, strangers from Australia and Scotland…and even Bakersfield!
We explored the concept and the realities of becoming a Single Mother By Choice, the stigma of sperm donation, the doubts and the fears associated with wanting and not wanting kids, the infuriating “why not just adopt” question, and the guilt of bringing a child into the post apocalyptic wasteland that will absolutely certainly be our future.
But it wasn’t all fun and games! By episode 3, I was full-on weeping about my fucked up life and unfulfilled dreams. By episode 4, my 15 years old dog Benny passed away and I fell apart. By episode 6, I got broken up with (I don’t get it…why wouldn’t a guy want to date a girl trying to collect semen from every man in sight?). By episode 10, my old college friend, “Panic Disorder,” came for an open-ended stay.
Folks, I post my episodes in real-time so if I’m having a panic attack you better believe I’m pressing record and sharing it with my listeners. And it was a good thing I did because eventually it became my listeners who buoyed me up and gave me the strength to keep going. They would write to me and tell me how my vulnerability and guilelessness were helping them cope and feel less alone on their own journeys. But I was the one that felt less alone! They knew me better than my best friends! And they certainly had better advice (sorry, best friends). They’d been through it all; struggles with infertility, surrogacy, egg donation, adoption, fostering, parenting, postpartum depression, panic attacks, miscarriage.
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Finally, after about six months, 19 interviews with potential donors, a handful of doctors, a few witches, a couple of shamans, a tarot card reader, and lots of recorded convos with my sweet mom and dad, I chose my donors. 2 of them! And that’s when we started the home insemination process.
IT WAS ABSURD. And messy. Have you ever had your producer run a shot glass full of semen from the bathroom to the bedroom with a mic in one hand and…well…a shot glass full of semen in the other? It’s pretty ridiculous. But with the high of each hilarious insemination came the lows I felt with every negative pregnancy test. And hey, it’s not easy on the donor either! They have to supply three samples, 12 hrs apart, each cycle. One of my donors quit after his first attempt. Can’t blame him!
Then there was that magical day when I got a positive test! I was pregnant and I had never been happier in my life! Of course, I shared the news with my listeners (y’know, my new best friends) and loved ones. We were over the moon! But 7 1/2 weeks later, there was no heartbeat at my ultrasound. I had a miscarriage. Now 40 years old, I knew the chance of miscarriage was 37%, but I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of loss that I would experience. And to make matters worse, I’d lost my other donor (he had found love! Can’t blame him either!).
I was so heartbroken and so impatient that I decided I couldn’t go through the donor selection process again. So once my body and mind had recovered, I chose an anonymous donor from a sperm bank and began Intra-Uterine Inseminations at a fertility clinic.
Of course, I thought they’d work immediately, even though the success rate is 15% at best. Somehow, month after month, the IUI’s failed. Go figure. And guess what else! None of this was free anymore. Turkey baster home inseminations are free! But get a doctor and a sperm bank involved and you’re lookin at $2,500 a month. After four tries and $10k I had to face yet another reality…I MAY not be a fertility goddess after all.
Now 41 years old, I decided to up my odds (and credit card debt) and do IVF (in vitro fertilization). I spent a month injecting myself with $4,000 worth of hormones. The doctor retrieved 14 eggs. Ten of them fertilized. Five of them made it to the five day milestone (blastocyst phase), and after genetic testing not a single one of them came back chromosomally normal.
I was crushed. This hurt more than the miscarriage. Calling my parents to tell them the bad news just broke my heart. And theirs. After doing some research, I learned that one of the embryos had a chance of being normal so I took a leap and had the doctor transfer that embryo into my uterus. Ten days later, I took one of those dreaded pregnancy tests, and wouldn’t you know it…I did not get pregnant.
Back to square one.
That’s when I had to make a very hard decision: to use my frozen eggs or not. Yes, when I was 37 years old, I froze 16 little oocytes and they’ve been chillin in a freezer over on Wilshire for five long years.
Why didn’t I use them to begin with, you ask? And I know you did ask because everyone asks. I’ll tell you why damn it! I froze those eggs for my future husband and if I use them I’ll never be able to give him a child! But reality has checked me once again and now I know that if I don’t use them I might not ever be able to give MYSELF a child.
It’s an obvious choice from the outside, but giving up the idea of having a biological child with my future husband was a killer for me. In fact, it messed with me so much that just a few weeks ago, I’d convinced myself I wasn’t fit to be a mother. But that was the fear talking. In the end, thanks in part to encouraging words from my wise listeners, I knew I had the strength to surrender control and to follow my heart.
So I did it! Last week the docs thawed 8 of my eggs. Four made it to Day 5. Two are hopefully nestling into my uterine lining right now and two are frozen in case this round doesn’t work. If I become pregnant I have a 30% chance of miscarriage and a 20% chance of twins. Life is wild and fucked up and none of this was in my plan, but I’m OK with whatever happens. Life has brought me all kinds of surprises I never could have imagined and one day, I hope I’ll be holding my baby (or babies) looking back on these trying times with compassion and appreciation for all they’ve taught me.
Please tell us about SpermCast.
SpermCast has been around for nearly two years. She’s a beast of her own. She’s fun, creative, educational, emotional, irreverent, mad as hell, raucous, unfiltered, and smart. And because SpermCast dives into universal human desires and struggles, she’s got loyal followers around the world.
If you listen to SpermCast you’ll get hooked on the story week after week but you’ll also come back to learn wild facts you never knew about the human body and how it functions. You’ll come back to hear the gripping and emotional stories of the guests. You’ll come back because you want to prepare for your future and learn about the alternative options you have ahead of you in case life doesn’t pan out the way you planned. You’ll come back to hear a conversation that’s missing from day to day life. And you’ll come back to laugh because you have to laugh at the hard stuff.
So what do I specialize in?
What am I known for?
Having no filter and maybe crying too much?
What am I most proud of?
I think SpermCast has really created an environment where women and men not only feel safe sharing their personal stories with me but feel inspired to share their stories with the people in their own lives, making it easier for all of us to be vulnerable without shame and fear.
What sets SpermCast apart?
Creative and professional production quality, genuine love and openness.
You can find SpermCast anywhere you listen to podcasts. New episodes drop every Tuesday. I’m proud to be on the Earios Podcast Network (created by Amanda Lund, Maria Blasucci, and Priyanka Mattoo). Earios has a curated roster of shows created and hosted by women.
SpermCast also has a Patreon, patreon.com/spermcast, where subscribers can watch videos of all my ultrasounds, procedures and appointments, get live updates about my eggs and embryos and read all about the behind the scenes doubts and fears.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I don’t think I would have done SpermCast differently…it has been exactly what I needed at every point along the way and it gave me the strength to actually start trying to conceive.
But regarding fertility: You can’t control the future but you can prepare. I couldn’t force the right man to walk into my life five years ago, but if I had had the forethought I would have frozen my eggs when I was 34 or 35, not 37, and I would have done multiple rounds so that I could freeze more. It’s an insurance policy and if you know you want kids, I think it’s a great idea.
Oh, and I wish I’d broken up with Dan wayyyy sooner. What was I thinking?!!!
- Website: https://www.spermcastpod.com
- Phone: 323-741-1818
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @spermcast
- Facebook: @spermcast
- Twitter: @spermcast
- Other: https://www.patreon.com/spermcast
Kaitlin Parry (just the shot with the purple background)