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The three single ladies with dreams of becoming moms didn’t know much about sperm Donor 8282, other than he was tall, trim and blond, with a dream of becoming a scientist. But vials of his sperm turned out to be lucky rabbit’s feet of love in a romantic story that turns fairy-tale endings on their head.
Journalists Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones and Pamela Ferdinand tell the tale in a new book titled “Three Wishes,” in which they relate their unlikely story of passing along Donor 8282’s sperm to each other — and finding real love and motherhood without using the contents of the vials.
Their story seems so unlikely that when the three women visited TODAY to relate it, anchor Meredith Vieira wondered aloud whether exaggeration was involved. “There’s really not; we almost wish there were,” co-author Beth Jones told her. “We’re three journalists and basically, what we’re all trying to do is be very straight in the way we present this story. It’s just that unexpected and remarkable things happened to us.”
Three women, eight vials
The story centers on a trio of women who found great success professionally, but found their personal lives wanting. All three wanted babies, but with no men in the picture, each was ready to go it alone.
Carey Goldberg was first to jump into the donor pool. She purchased eight vials of Donor 8282 from California Cryobank, but also hedged her bets: She continued exploring online dating sites. She met a possible match, a man named Sprax, but after some dates they broke up.
So Goldberg opened one of her vials, but a first try at artificial insemination didn’t take. Sprax then offered to be a donor the old-fashioned way, with no strings attached. They eventually had their baby — and after a period of separate-but-equal parenting during which each saw other people, they finally fell in love, married, and had a second child.
Through mutual friend Pamela Ferdinand, Goldberg met fellow journalist Beth Jones, in a similar romantic boat to the one Goldberg once was in. Goldberg passed along the seven remaining vials of Donor 8282, and what could be called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Sperm began.
Not the marrying kindJones, who was coming out of a painful divorce, told Vieira that soon after receiving the vials, she met Phil, who became her boyfriend but kept the idea of having kids at arm’s length.
“He was sort of a certified bachelor; it wasn’t his intention to have children, necessarily at all, and I already had that intention,” Jones said.
When he still resisted the idea of starting a family, the pair split. But Jones had accidentally become pregnant by Phil. She eventually decided to have an abortion, after an amniocentesis revealed that the baby would have Down syndrome. The couple soon reconciled and tried for another baby — and Jones gave birth to baby boy Gareth.
Ferdinand, however, was still having no luck romantically, so Jones offered to pass along the Donor 8282 sperm to her. But shortly before she laid legal claim to the sperm, Ferdinand met a man named Mark she took a liking to. Ferdinand said that she and Mark had an instant connection, but with one major roadblock: He was married.
And even after he divorced his wife, Mark told Ferdinand he wasn’t ready to have kids. “Having been married, he wanted a little time, time just for us,” Ferdinand told Vieira. Finally the couple agreed to try, but they had to endure some heartache: Pam miscarried once and ended a second pregnancy when she learned the baby she was carrying would be born with severe health and mental defects.
But four months later, Ferdinand became pregnant again, and the third time was the charm — she gave birth to a baby girl, Emma.
Love and friendship
Donor 8282’s sperm traveled one more time when Jones passed along the vials to another friend. Sadly, the story ends there: Her friend had reproductive issues and didn’t ultimately use the sperm.
Still, the vials that served as a talisman for finding true love are still a source of wonder for the three women. Goldberg revels in the joys of raising Lilianna, 8, and Tulliver, 5. Jones has Gareth, 5, and Pam dotes on Emma, 2.
“We do feel like there was some magic in the moment in which we tried to pursue what we truly desired,” Ferdinand told Vieira. She noted the book not only tells stories of finding true love when you might least expect it, but of strong friendship as well.
“We were very lucky to have each other to go through this with,” Ferdinand said.
Goldberg added that she believes the book carries a valuable life lesson. “Commit and basically figure out what it is that you really want and go for it — and you may find things change as you do.”