My last Buns in the Oven is from May. Perhaps you are wondering what happened. “Didn’t you go on a babymoon, like, six months ago? Didn’t you decide on that sperm from that little donor who the sperm bank staff says looks like an emo lady? What’s the hold up?” I hear you. And I am here to say that everything is ok. We just had a funny detour.
As a side note, I am of the opinion that if I’m not pregnant one year after our babymoon then we get to go on another babymoon. A babymooniversary, if you will. Right? Doesn’t that seem fair?
Another side note – on a totally different side: wouldn’t it be funny if we decided to name our future babies names from the country that we visited before they were born? We were most recently in Ireland, so that would enable me to get Maebh. I’m dying to get Rachel to agree to Jadwiga, so perhaps I must trick her to agree to this setup and then plan a trip to Poland. Then we could be that weird lesbian family that lives in a shoebox with the funny-named kids. Why wouldn’t that be my goal?
Anyway, back to the topic I promised you: we had a funny detour. This is long.
We finally bought sperm at the end of July. We shelled out about $4,500 for sex months worth of swimmers + shipping. I was pretty excited in that way that you get excited when you just dropped a ton of money on something that you have no idea if it is going to pan out or not. It's that anxious excitement. It's that excitement that has you saying "I'm broke, but I have six tiny vials of sperm!" to everyone you run into. One of these unsuspecting recipients of my oversharing was an acquaintance I had a really excellent conversation with at a friend's dinner party a few weeks earlier. I ran into him on my lunch break. We barely knew each other, but I knew that I really liked this guy. We all know the best way to convince someone to be your friend is by talking about all the sperm you just bought, so I tried that. It totally worked, and at the end of the conversation, he was like, "Hey, you and Rachel should come for dinner with me and my husband. We're talking about having a kid, and we would love to pick your brain about gay parenting."
I was pretty psyched that I totally nailed the, "Talk about all the sperm you own" technique to making friends, and we scheduled a dinner right away. Ok, if I am honest with you, I wasn't totally convinced that my technique worked, and I was mildly suspicious that there was something he and his husband wanted from me – specifically, I had a vague premonition that they were looking for a surrogate. I'm not against being a surrogate, but I figured we should all see if I can even handle being pregnant before I offer my womb to someone else's kid, you know? In any case, I was pumped to get to know these guys better.
Rachel and I arrive at their house and proceed to have an absolutely lovely dinner. They've grilled chicken, made ratatouille, and they are not shy with the wine. We walk around their neighborhood, talk about our travels, and generally enjoy the company. Then they turn to the moment we've all been waiting for:
"So, you know we invited you here to talk about gay parenting."
So far so good.
"My husband and I want to have a child, but we don't want to be primary parents. We know that you want to start your family, and we really like you, so we thought that we could donate our sperm to you and we could start a family together with you and Rachel being the primary parents, and us having a connection to this child and providing additional support."
So, we totally did not see that coming whatsoever.
My first thought was, "You realize we just - literally one week ago - spent more than an entire month's pay on sperm, right? I know you know this because telling you this is ostensibly how I convinced you to be my friend." My second thought was, "No, thank you, but this is very flattering," and my third thought was, "No, thank you, also I feel like my body is being highly commodified." It's rare that feeling commodified is the best feeling.
A few days after the initial "Well, who the hell saw that coming?" feeling wore off, however, we started thinking about all the benefits that going with these known donors could bring for our family. It would be nice for our progeny to grow up knowing who their biofather is. It would be nice to have a built-in babysitter (which they brought up). It would be nice to be able to send our kids on fancy vacations with their dads while we go on a kid-free vacation. While we were very aware that using a known donor would probably make everything more complicated, we kept thinking of benefits for our kids and ourselves. Additionally, our only sperm donor requirements were that he not be too tall and that he have green eyes. Weirdly, the man who was offering his sperm had both of those qualifications. Within the span of about a month Rachel and I completely talked ourselves into going with these guys.
Bear in mind that we had not seen them since they had us over for dinner. They had sent us a sweet note that charmed the pants off of me. Having the sperm donors felt strangely like dating someone. I was stalking them on Facebook, hoping to run into them on the street, and talking about the funny detour to everyone I saw. Again, a great way to make friends - talk about all your spermertunities.
We wrote back to the couple and said - I'm paraphrasing, "Surprise! We are totally interested! Let's explore this more." We scheduled a dinner at our house to talk about everyone's expectations and get to know each other. That dinner was scheduled about two months after the initial proposal dropped. After they accepted the invitation, I turned to Rachel and said, "I'M MAKING A COUSCOUS," because everyone knows when you want to convince someone that you will make a swell mother you make a motherfucking couscous elaborately decorated with merguez and roasted carrots and golden raisins plumped in saffron water. So that is what I did. Oh man, you should have seen this thing. A mountain of couscous grains towering over the tagine and casting shadows on the table below; its slopes supporting rods of vegetables and meat draped over the slope of couscous like delicious glaciers. Just marvelous.
We set the table up outside because it was a nice night. When our guests arrived they said, "Oh, what a cute sunken dining room," to which we replied, "Oh... that's actually the outside. This is the whole house." Hindsight is 20-20, but perhaps I should have taken this first incorrect assumption as a red flag....
Dinner went swimmingly. I really, truly enjoy these two men. The conversation was captivating, the humor was dry, and the references to conspiracy theories were plentiful (this is a strangely common and welcome part of a Hessek dinner party). Then we transitioned the conversation to the matter at hand: the sharing economy [of sperm].
This is where things suddenly changed for me. Now, at no point did I stop enjoying the conversation - this is the strangest part. As we talked about their vision of fathering our child, I was simultaneously enjoying the conversation and wanting to cry. It was one of those moments in which your head is going one way and your heart is going the other. Like when I was breaking up with my boyfriend freshman year of high school and he started crying and crying and my head was like, "Maybe we can still make this work," and my heart was like, "No, you can't, ya dyke." Sort of like that. Except this time there was the added pressure of not knowing how future human's will feel about a decision that completely changes how they live their lives.
While my head was saying, "Our children will benefit from knowing their biofather, and these guys are really wonderful," my heart was saying, "I don't want to share our children during the holidays. I don't want to have to give anyone but Rachel updates on my pregnancy. I don't want to have to convince a moody 14-year-old to go visit her father when she would rather smoke pot with her friends. I don't want to feel judged about decisions we make about our children's education. I don't want the biofather's last name to be anywhere in our children's name. I don't want Rachel to feel like anything less than 100% our children's parent, which I think would be harder if the biofather is living across town and wants to see the kids every other week for a long weekend." All of these are discussions that came up during the dinner. The potential fathers made it clear that they were excited to work with us to create something that felt right for us, and I truly believe they wanted to do just that, but the problem was that nothing felt right for us.
Our kids are going to hate us for something no matter what. I had to get over that fear of the inevitable.
After the dinner, I couldn't talk about it. Rachel and I cleaned up the dishes in relative silence and went to bed. The next day we opened up about it and found that we were both feeling the exact same thing. The moment that we said to each other, "Let's not do this," I felt a tremendous relief. We wrote a letter of apology to the lovely men soon after.
I am happy that we were able to really dive deep into thinking about using a known donor. It wasn't something that we really thought about before. The many benefits were clear - for our future kids and for us, too - and perhaps it would have worked out fabulously. I am happy that we had the opportunity to choose to stick with our anonymous-until-18 donor. I am sad and sorry that we weren't able to help our friends start their family as they would make excellent fathers.
So now that the detour has led us back on course - it's off to the insemination races. Whee!