Firstly, I know I’ve gone blog writing crazy – I think it’s partly a rush to get the story so far down and is also helped along by my current hour commute and broken ipod…I don’t expect the frenzy to last. Secondly, my weird spell check tried to correct my last post and substitute chlamydia for calamitous – this pleased me! Anyway, back to the rambling…
Whether we should use an anonymous donor (through a formal or informal means) or whether we should choose someone who played some sort of role in our child’s life was a much harder decision than the easily ruled out adoption/brother/one night stand and our thinking on this has veered back and forth over years.
The main dilemma we felt was whether we could justify (to both ourselves and one day our child) cutting half their genetic heritage, and someone who in theory could play a positive role in their lives because we felt the overriding desire to have a two parent family. L and I have at times felt differently about this and when discussions began in earnest 4/5 years ago she felt much more positively about the idea of a known involved donor than I did.
If we’d had the ‘perfect’ friend (though I’ve still no idea what perfect would be in this context) perhaps we would have reached a different conclusion but running through the men we knew they were all (for different reasons) a no. A couple of years ago one of our best friends spontaneously proposed the idea and I felt absolutely awful saying that we didn’t think it was a good idea, but it would definitely have been dreadful – he doesn’t want to be a donor he wants to be a parent, and I don’t want him to parent me and L’s child.
So, an existing friend of ours not being an option and at this stage (3 years ago-ish) L was feeling pretty strongly that she at least wanted to meet the guy and have a conversation with him. We were always positive we didn’t want a 3 parent family, we weren’t necessarily completely opposed to the idea of some contact whether this be more regular or the idea that when our kid was 13 or 14 they’d be able to meet for a coffee appealed to us both.
I was far more hesitant to entertain the idea of something resembling a semi co-parenting relationship than L was, it’s hard to think back to that mindset to clearly judge why we both felt the way we did as we’ve both moved a fair bit from our original positions. It could be that L believed more than I did in some “donor X” who would want a relationship with a sort-of-child and pop round to see them consistently every month, be a wonderful positive force in their life but have no interest in pursuing the relationship further and I’m just more of a pessimist and am always far more focused on potential problems.
Anyway, it was decided we should explore this and be open to the idea and we then entered the very odd world of websites dedicated to sperm donation and co-parenting which is definitely enough for it’s own post later this week…!
Hmm, these bits are harder to write than I thought, in fact now I’m trying to sit down and work out a chronology of how we decided what when it all seems to merge into years of an endless conversations…
Well, one of the first things we ruled out from the off was adoption. I hope that doesn’t come across as being somehow anti-adoption but for me it was never really an option I have seriously considered, whenever I imagined me and L having a family it’s always very clearly something that begins with one of us giving birth… it always struck me a vaguely insulting somehow that because I happen to be a lesbian I’ll want to or deserve to give birth less than anyone else (although I judge myself fairly harshly for thinking this, and perhaps haven’t entirely worked through why I feel this). I know there are loads of kids who need a good home, and I see that the world is completely overpopulated, but I have never really understood why I should let go of my dream of having a biological child because of my sexuality whereas when any of my straight friends announce their intention to begin trying for a family I’ve never heard anyone ask them if that means they’ll be adopting. Is my decision to try to get pregnant rather than adopt selfish? Probably, but no more than anyone elses that I can fathom. Because of this we never got to the stage of working through the enormous expense, intrusion, or necessity to pretend to be absolutely perfect in every conceivable way that as far as I can work out the adoption route involves. So that was that, adoption out.
The other option that was immediately out (although only my lovely but ever so slightly strange mother seemed to think, and continues to think it is a option) was the using one of my brothers’ sperm (I have two brothers, my mother was never fixated on it being just one sperm) for L to conceive and her brother’s sperm for me to conceive. May possibly work for some people but not for us. No way. Yuck. And Yuck. L’s brother isn’t the sort of person with whom we’d ever share a joke (or much else, sperm particularly) so he doesn’t know about my mother’s plans for a child-nephew, but my brothers are more than aware and find the whole idea equally hilarious, misguided and a tad nausea inducing. So that was never even slightly in, my child-nephew and nieces out.
The last option that has been raised that never made it onto the drawing board was the meet some guy and take him home for an awkward one night stand. I’m actually surprised at the number of people who have suggested this to us. Firstly, I could never treat a guy like this, and the thought of anyone doing it to any of the men in my life I love makes me cross (although mostly cross in theory, I don’t really believe in the army of sperm stealing lesbians). Secondly, how we’ll explain our choices to our child has always been something we’ve considered really important and “your biological father is some guy we seduced in a bar and had bad sex with in order to conceive you” is never something I can see myself being proud to report. Thirdly, I really don’t want chlamydia, not even a little bit. I can’t pretend this hasn’t ever crossed my mind again as the sheer simplicity of it in contrast to the hugely complicated, expensive and time consuming nature of the other options have emerged, but no, this option has never ever appealed.
So in all honesty, I probably could have started this blog 4 or 5 years ago. It would have gone quiet for a few years in between – with some sporadic posting – and then would have started again in earnest about a year ago.
L (my partner) and I have been together for 11 years (which makes me feel almost old!). We were very young when we got together and very quickly moved in together, planned to spend the rest of our lives together and from the off were very clear that life would involve children. Beyond loved up ‘won’t it be amazing’ conversations it was 3 or 4 years before we got down to talking about the practicalities. Now we’re at the ‘about to start actually trying’ stage it feels a very long way away from the endless conversations, some lovely, some very stressful, the change of hearts (over the how, never actually wanting children – we’ve always been absolutely positive over this) and the second guessing ourselves. Now we’ve made some concrete decisions it seems inconceivable that we ever would have picked another route (I’m sure this is how everyone feels) but it feels like I’d be leaving whole chunks of the journey out if I didn’t talk about the paths we decided against, and how we settled on the path we’re about to embark on.
It would also seem on paper (on blog?) that we’d reached an easy decision/conclusion when in fact it’s been anything but. I always wonder how many children would be born if straight couples had to do as much thinking, planning, self justifying and justifying to the outside world as lesbian couples have to! I’ve always felt it’s such an immense pressure to make the right/perfect decision when it seems there are endless options to be considered whereas straight couples (with the big proviso of “straight couples with no fertility issues”) wouldn’t need to, or perhaps aren’t expected to, do anything other than the norm. I guess part of the pressure to make the right choices for your child is just one of those things that come with parenthood, it’s just the pressure starts even earlier for us as we try to decide what’s right for us as a couple, then as a (hopeful) family, then imagine how your child will react to it at ages 0 to 90!
So this doesn’t turn into the longest post ever – and send my (as yet largely fictional!) readers running for the hills – this how-we-got-to-where-we-are now section of the blog will probably run across several posts, I’m not sure how structured it’ll end up being, and forgive me for my rambling in advance. The options we considered (or decided not to consider) went right from co-parent, to adoption, to known donor to anonymous donor, to a donor through a clinic to an existing friend to someone we’d try to meet for the purpose of either co-parenting or donation. So I guess I’ll start from somewhere there…right now I’m going to feed our most attention seeking cat before she covers the entire keyboard in dribble (and yes, I am aware of what a lesbian stereotype I am!)
Right, where to begin! My partner and I are about to finally (finally!) embark on trying to have a baby. As the title of my blog suggests hopefully Operation Baby will be successful in 2012…possible the naive hope of two beginners!
After spending months reading funny, warm, far-better-written-than-I-have-hopes-of-achieveing blogs on the subject of lesbian conception I’ve taken the plunge and decided to start one of my own.
It’ll probably just be a kind of diary that no one but me reads, it’ll hopefully last more than a few entries, and even more hopefully chart our time from now until operation Baby succeeds! Right, now I’m off to read some more blogs and perhaps even find out a bit about how this blog thing works…