As we focus more than ever on our education and career, it’s taking longer before women are even thinking about having children – Australia recently recorded its highest number of babies born to women over 40.
As a result, if and when we do start to feel clucky, chances are we’ll be all too aware of our biological clocks ticking. So how would you cope if you felt the time was right to have kids but your other half still seemed worlds away from that kind of commitment? Would you resort – as some women have – to “stealing” his sperm?
“I’ve begun to notice a trend in the number of women tricking men into having a baby, usually by lying about contraception,” says marriage and family therapist Carla Wills-Brandon.
“These women usually hope that a child will smooth over the issues in their relationship. If she’s with a man who’s commitment-phobic, she might feel a baby will seal the deal. However, in 25 years I’ve known only one couple facing this situation stay together.”
So can being a sperm bandit ever be justified? Cosmo asked around…
“I tricked him into a baby – and he left the country”
Helen Aitken, 26, a nurse, is a single mum to her 10-month-old daughter. Her ex now lives overseas…
“I’d never had a boyfriend as mature and financially stable as Sam. We’d been together three months when he asked me to move in. I was thrilled, but within weeks he became distant. I was terrified of losing him.
He’d told me if he got married, he wanted a family. I was desperate for it to be me, so I secretly stopped taking the Pill. Within two months I fell pregnant. I believed Sam would ask me to marry him, but instead he was furious and told me to leave. The next day he said he wasn’t going to be tricked into becoming a father and after that we had no contact.
When our baby girl, Stella, was born, my mum called to let him know he was a dad. But he didn’t come to see us. I was devastated.
When Stella was three months old, I received a cheque for $3000, with a letter from Sam’s solicitor saying he had moved to the US. I’ve since discovered I can’t claim child support while he’s overseas. I don’t know how a man could dismiss his child, but I regret what I did. I love my daughter – but being a single mum is harder than I ever imagined. I’d never advise a woman to have a baby to keep a man.”
Sam said: “I told her from the start I didn’t want kids. I was tricked into this – but I don’t hold a grudge and don’t have any hard feelings.”
“It happened to a mate and was the making of him”
Writer Richard Price, 39, is married with two children. So is his friend John, though not in the way he planned…
“My mate John was tricked into having a baby, and it was the best thing that could have happened to him. His long-term girlfriend said that she was on the Pill, so when she announced she was pregnant because she’d stopped taking it, he was totally floored – albeit stunned rather than angry.
His first reaction was to go out and drink himself silly. But then, over the next few weeks, something came over him. He grew up.
And while he was sad about the way she had gone about things, he did something we men rarely do: he saw it from her perspective. Incredibly, he came to respect her decision. She planned to have the baby, regardless of whether or not he stuck around. As John pointed out, it’s easy for us men. We don’t have a biological clock. Women need decisions to be made, so the boldest ones back you into a corner.
For John it was a case of out with the Xbox, in with the Moses basket. He was 30 when his little girl was born – and the difference in him is amazing. He’s no longer a perpetual teenager.
He and his partner are now married and have a son as well (but they talked about it first this time). I know John is the exception rather than the rule, though; it’s an incredible gamble to give a man that kind of ‘accidental’ shove."
Sperm bandits hit the headlines
These spurgling cases caused major scandal. There’s sperm warfare going on out there!
✽ UK writer Liz Jones confessed to stealing her then-boyfriend’s sperm from a used condom, and trying to impregnate herself with it. She tried the same thing with her (now ex) husband a few years later. Neither attempt resulted in pregnancy but her admission, in a newspaper column, shocked the nation (and the men involved).
✽ American couple Kellie Smith and Peter Wallis became locked in a legal battle when Kellie stopped taking the Pill, without Peter’s knowledge, and fell pregnant. He sued her for breach of contract and fraud. Although he paid paternity support, he claimed that he’d been damaged by seeing his daughter born into a broken family.
✽ A British man and his wife chose to have his sperm frozen when he opted to have arthritis treatment that could leave him infertile. The couple divorced, but she forged his signature so his sperm could be used for IVF – without his consent – and gave birth to two children. He was ordered to pay $100,000 in child maintenance. The ex-wife says she has no regrets.