It’s no secret that B and I want to have kids. Family, friends and even colleagues will readily acknowledge that there are few things more important to us, and that not only is our desire for children strong, it’s also immediate. You could say we’ve been building up to it for a while – we started discussing the idea even before we got engaged (hell, even before we were anything more than friends!), and then we had our civil union almost 2 years ago (which is not to imply that marriage should always come before children…) – and yet to some this news has been a surprise.
I, in turn, have been particularly surprised by reactions such as those from a lovely, kind of hippy, alternative-ish aunt who has known I’ve been clucky since I hit puberty, which coincided with the birth of her second son, my youngest cousin. Now, sixteen years later, this feeling has only intensified exponentially. No, coming out as a lesbian has not diminished my need to be a mother. It’s not ‘such a shame’ that I’ll miss out now – there are quite a few options available to us. But no, auntie, doing it ‘the traditional way’ (i.e. sleeping with a guy) is not one we’re considering!!!
I think being two women has made our dreams of building a family stronger. We share these dreams so totally, and our expected/planned roles complement each other’s well. The stereotype of lesbians needing to discuss everything to death holds true, in this respect -we’ve talked about and around the topic of babies for years, and not a day goes by when we don’t talk about them some more.
I also think it’s fair to say that I have always tended to have babies on the brain more than B, and that it is my need that drives us forward (and often crazy too). It works out well that B is keen for me to carry the first baby – have the first ‘turn’, so to speak – I wouldn’t be able to cope with the idea of having to wait any longer than necessary!!
In legal terms, we’re lucky to be in New Zealand, where B will be listed on the child’s birth certificate as a parent, and we and our donor will be protected under law from altering pre-agreed roles (he can’t sue for paternity, we can’t sue for child support). In practical terms, we’re a little more limited than couples in bigger countries like the States or Australia - the ‘industry’ is dominated by Fertility Associates, the only such company in NZ, and the only sperm bank. If we were to go down the path of using an anonymous sperm donor, not only would we be forced to wait about 2 years to creep up a waiting list and have to shell out thousands of dollars for the privilege, we’d also be subjected to medical and psychological scrutiny before this external agency deemed us fit to be parents.
Clearly, we’d prefer not to go this route. Ideally, we want to find a known donor who shares our expectations and views on how we want to build and raise our children. Last year, we felt extremely lucky to have found just such a guy, a friend of a friend who had a very generous and giving nature, who spent hours talking this exciting and scary plan through with us and who worked around the demands of my cycle so that he could make ‘donations’ in the right week for months. In short, he was the Perfect Donor. Perfect in every way, except the way that mattered most: several months in, his sperm count test result came back with devastating news. As a final sign of his Perfect Donor-ness, he was more gutted for us than himself. And so we were back at square one.
Since then, we’ve approached two more possible donors, and had two ‘no’ responses. Feeling that it wasn’t enough to wrack only our own brains for possible candidates, we also sent out a letter to a selection of our family and friends, explaining where we were at and asking for their help in moving forward. It was quite a big step to take – so openly asking for help – but our courage paid off! Along with lots of responses wishing us luck and sending us hopeful vibes, we ended up with three possible ways forward. Of those three, two have turned out to be real possibilities, and – dare I say it – we have a favourite of the two who may be our new Perfect Donor!
It’s been such an emotional journey so far, and the extra months have given us time to reflect on and refine our plans. It’s fitting that the latest turn of events happened in spring – as warmer, brighter weather returned, so did my hope. This is just the beginning of the TTC journey, of course, but what a beginning it is!