Back in 2010, we told the quirky tale ofLeah Campbell
, who blogs under the nameSingle Infertile Female
Her concept? Asking the online community which sperm donor she should choose.
Unfortunately, this novel effort didn't result in Campbell getting pregnant. But her journey ended in a happy place anyhow. Campbell has a new and very beautiful baby -- see photos below -- who came her way in a most unlikely way.
As we reported in our original post, Campbell, who lives in Alaska, created an online community under the Single Infertile Female name with the help of BlogFrog.Com, a Boulder-based company that touted itself as America's largest network of communities for online moms. The firm recently rebranded itself as Tap Influence, which specializes in "cloud-based software for influencer marketing."
Campbell desperately wanted to have a child, but she was diagnosed with endometriosis, described on the Mayo Clinic website as "a disorder of the female reproductive system. In endometriosis, the endometrium, which normally lines your uterus, grows in other places as well. Most often, this growth is on your fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue lining your pelvis." The ailment can, and often does, cause fertility problems.
Doctors performed surgery on Campbell in November 2009 and discovered that her endometriosis had progressed with frightening speed, registering the equivalent of two or three years of growth in six months' time.
During the procedure, she said, "I had one of my tubes removed. The other one is still there, but it's so scarred that they told me IVF" -- in vitro fertilization -- "was the only safe route for pregnancy." Moreover, her physicians, including a reproductive endocrinologist based in Seattle, told her that if she wanted to have a child, she needed to get going right away or her dream might never become a reality.
When she received this advice, Leah was in a relationship. But the guy in question simply wasn't ready to take such a big step. "He already had two kids from a previous marriage," she said, "and the sped-up time frame was a bit much for him. It wasn't something he was able to go through with me. I had to decide if I was going to wait for the man to be ready or decide if I was going to through it myself."
She eventually chose the latter course, after which she asked community members, and anyone else who wanted to weigh in, to help her choose among her top three sperm-donor candidates, with the polls closing, appropriately enough, on Mother's Day.
"I can't even begin to tell you how weird it is to be shopping for sperm," Campbell said before voting ended. "It's not one of those things you ever think you'll be doing -- judging men online by their various attributes to decide if you want them to be your baby's father."
Shortly thereafter, Campbell announced that she'd chosen a donor. It wasn't the one who received the most votes, although she revealed in a followup post that "he was close and he had the least amount of haters. There really was just very little bad that could be said about him."
Just as important, he "had an almost unanimous vote from those friends and family who are close to me. All the people who really know me chose the same person, except for my sister in law, who chose the donor who reminded me the most of my brother from the very beginning. I had to kind of laugh at her pick, especially when she was the only one who deviated from the choices of everyone else I know!"
All this effort came to naught, though. "It ended up failing," Campbell says now. "I never did get pregnant."
So how did she wind up with a beautiful new daughter named Josie Natalia? That's another story.
Continue for more about Single Infertile Female's happy ending, including photos. Another attempt at in vitro fertilization was also unsuccessful, and Campbell, who's written a newly available book about her experiences entitled Single Infertile Female: Adventures in Love, Life, and Infertility, wound up undergoing three additional surgeries.
The good news is that Campbell feels much better. "My endometriosis has been in remission since June," she says. "I'm healthier now than I've been in four years."
Even so, the damage already done to her reproductive system left Campbell to conclude that the odds of her getting pregnant were tiny. So she began exploring other options, including becoming a foster care provider with an eye toward adopting an older child.
"I started getting excited about that," she notes. "But then I was introduced to a woman wanting to give her baby up for adoption."
The mother, who lives in a rural Alaskan village with fewer than one hundred residents, had been matched by an agency with adoptive parents. But after meeting them, Campbell says, "she realized they weren't the right fit. She wound up canceling things with them right then and there."
Shortly thereafter, Campbell wound up connecting with the woman through a mutual acquaintance who thought she could introduce the mom-to-be to other couples looking to adopt. "But we started talking and got along really well," Campbell recalls. "And then she asked me if I wanted to adopt the baby."
At first, Campbell was wary: "It was crazy. I wondered if it was a scam." But she and the mom met for lunch, "and a week later, our daughter was born. I was in the delivery room and helped cut the cord."
Just as important, Josie Natalia is in great shape. In Campbell's words, she's "healthy, perfect. No drugs, no alcohol. The birth mother is amazing. We talk every few days, and I'll be seeing her again in a month." She expects the mom, to whom Josie's middle name is a nod, to play a part in Josie's life going forward.
The timing of this unexpected blessing caught Campbell by surprise. "I'd spent two years trying to heal and to let go of this anger over the fact that I'd never been pregnant -- that it was going to be okay, and there were other paths to motherhood for me. And I'd focused on other goals, like running a half marathon. But then Josie just dropped into my lap."
Readers of Campbell's blog have reacted with joy. "I think everyone's looking for a miracle," Campbell says. "And since finding out about Josie, the numbers have doubled. I'm averaging about 100,000 views a month.
"I've heard from a lot of people who've said, 'I've been following you for years, and you've given me hope -- and gotten me to reconsider adoption.'"
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Granted, Campbell's adoption story is far from typical. "A lot of people wait five years and pay $40,000 to adopt a baby. It's never this easy. In some ways, it's a bigger miracle than if I'd gotten pregnant."
Continue for more photos of Campbell and her daughter -- and click here to learn more about her new book.
More from our Tech archive: "Online community votes for Single Infertile Female's best sperm donor."