Almost there

Right – in a bid to get the ‘what’s happened so far’ stuff out of the way I’m going to try and keep this shorter – I apologise for the length of some of my previous posts!  It would feel wrong to start this blog without some of the background context, but I realise none of you are that interested in my life story!  Besides, I have ttc to start obsessing over (first Doctors appointment in less than two weeks!) and a lot of more theoretical/political/arg-what-the-fuck-are-we-doing rambling that I really hope this blog can help me make sense of!

So, although we did continue to look at the previously mentioned “matching” sites, we also started to look in earnest at sperm banks.  I say we, I was more willing to let go of a known donor than L was at this point, but over several months of nothing much else cropping up on the websites, they were pretty much abandoned by us both and L was on the sperm-bank-train as well.  We had an agreement to keep looking at both options, and decided when something felt right (whichever method it was) it would just feel right  To start with, we were mostly window shopping, so didn’t pay for access to any of the extended profiles and just check out the few sites with a fair amount of info that was free both in the US and Europe (access was far more expensive than the matching sites, and we’d already let that lapse and paid again a couple of times on the sites over a couple of years – see my posts are far too long but this really is the abridged version!).

What were we looking for – healthy obviously, someone who seemed like someone we’d relate to, willing to be known non-negotiable (for ourselves as well as for UK law), over 5″11 ish, nice looking (we were never looking for movie star good looks but we didn’t want someone neither of us thought was even vaguely attractive).  Ethnicity wise we decided that it would be odd to throw something completely random into the mix that reflected neither L or myself so not someone Chinese or pale and blond (two examples among many)- perhaps strangely (or at least some of our friends think it’s strange) it was more looks than ethnic background though so dark complexion, dark hair (which is what I look like) was considered, be this south American, southern European or Indian.  One of L’s non-negotiable points was an adult photo – from reading other blogs I know some people have been horrified by this idea (if anyone can explain why in the comments I’d be very grateful – totally don’t get this!).  I might have been more prepared to accept a baby or child photo but this was never on the table for us so that was that.

This process again took forever (or it seemed like it, probably about a year) and it was yet again depressing going back to the same sites again and again to see the same 20 people (and that’s before we narrowed it down with our criteria).  Some of those profiles are now committed to memory and I swear for some of the sites I could now match the 20 baby photos with their adult job titles.  Most of the sites were in the US and the criteria for sperm in the UK is much stricter so some banks can’t export at all and for those who can it’s only for some of their donors.  UK sperm banks don’t allow photos so we have to import.  There’s an awful lot of Danish sperm around for some reason which 90% of the time meant very blond and pale and therefore out (the cast of The Killing obviously weren’t conceived using the nation’s stock of banked sperm).
Then when I called a fertility centre to start asking about prices, someone mentioned the name of the bank we settled on, and just like that there were about 60 profiles, with adult photos that shipped to the UK.  For someone who hasn’t spent years trawling the Internet for sperm (I can’t believe I typed that – but I also can’t believe I’ve spent years trawling the Internet for sperm, and I really have!) this may not seem significant, and I know in the US there are tons of banks you can use, but for us this was incredible. 60 PROFILES. ADULT PHOTOS. UK STANDARD.

We got the credit card our again, paid the $200 for unlimted access to profiles and we were off (coming to a blog near you soon – can we raise our child using only items found in bins after bankrupting ourselves in their conception)…

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Ruled out…

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.

How we got to where we are now…

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!)