When you’re in a committed relationship, it’s inevitable you will be asked by friends, among other people, if you plan on having children. When you’re in a committed lesbian relationship, it’s inevitable you’ll be offered your friends’ sperm.
My wife and I have been married six months and I’m not sure if it’s that fact alone or the rise in popularity of lesbian pregnancies in pop culture that has given the males in our lives the idea that we will be needing a donor very, very soon.
“Give me until at least 30,” I tell them, which is more for the sake of halting the conversation than any plausible idea that I will want to give my womb away in three years anymore than I do now. But it doesn’t stop them. While at dinner with our friends Jen and Steve, a married couple, we got into the discussion of bearing children, when Steve said he would gladly give us his sperm.
There’s no real correct way to respond in these types of situations. You can say “Thank you, I’ll keep you in mind” or “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Or you could just be honest and say, “I haven’t really given any thought to this but, if I were, I’d probably skew younger.” But beyond the actual offer, there are so many things to consider, such as the fact that Steve has a wife who hasn’t quite counted out kids for herself.
“I don’t know how I would feel,” Jen said, “if I suddenly wanted kids and was too old to have them, and they’ve had one of yours.” I felt sort of apologetic then, despite not have so much as accepted the idea of taking Steve’s sperm much less reproduced from it. But I understood her plight.
“What’s wrong with that?” Steve asked.
“It would be weird!” Jen explained. “I don’t want to be resentful. You just want to spread your seed.”
She had a point, as her husband is in his 40s. Who knows how long the sperm would be good for? I certainly don’t have a grasp on things like that. I assume these things take a ton of research, and I am obviously not fit to be a mother (yet) as I haven’t done the Googling that it takes to answer these questions. But I have read some books on the matter, and I know that it is expensive to buy sperm, and even more expensive if you have to have some help putting it inside of you.
So, really, Steve was doing us a favor. And to make it even more enticing, whenever he mentioned “donating” he would motion to his abdomen below the dinner table, as if we needed a reminder of where the donation was coming from. But it worked adversely, reminding me of why I hadn’t begun to think of getting pregnant in the near future, despite the rise in lesbian couples around us who had already done so or had been preparing for it.
My ex and her partner are one such couple, and they gleefully filled us in on all the exciting new things they were learning from an out-of-print lesbian maternity guide they scored on Amazon.
“You don’t really use a turkey baster,” my ex said.
“Yeah, have you seen how big those things are?” her partner asked. They were clearly excited about this improvement in medical technology. All I could do was say that no, I hadn’t really thought of how big a turkey baster was but I also had yet to consider putting one in my vagina.
Their prospective donor, although they have yet to work out the logistics, is their gay best friend. He’s a good looking guy, and they tell me he’s educated so he’ll probably do just fine. He’s probably cheap, too. Maybe even free.
But when you know the sperm donor, that’s when things get hairy. That’s when there are boundaries, legal issues and worries that daddy wants to be too involved. To me, that sounds like a nightmare. Two moms, great; two moms and a dad? It’s probably like a menage o trois: It sounds like fun, and maybe is once or twice, but after that, it gets too complicated. Just think of planning the kid’s diet or picking out a school. Three opinions means someone will always be outnumbered, and settling that tie doesn’t seem like it bodes well when two out of the three are in a relationship.
Another lesbian couple in our friendship circle recently had a baby from one of their brother’s sperm. (And, from what I recall, I could swear they used a turkey baster, but maybe I just assumed.) And when you’re a lesbian, it’s pretty much par for the course that you ask yourself, “Would I ever do what that lesbian did?”
“I don’t want to use my brother’s sperm,” Julie said. “I think that’s weird.”
“I agree,” I told her, and get kind of creeped out by the idea in general. I understand the hope of keeping it in the family, but I can’t imagine seeing Julie’s brother’s face on something that came out of me. I would feel like I was cheating on her or something, and that would just blow her extended family’s mind. I honestly would worry her grandma would have a heart attack instantly even having to consider it a possibility.
I like to think that my choice to pay for quality sperm, if and when I decide I need some, is helping to disapprove the oft-assumed stereotype that lesbians are cheap. I can tell the other moms, “I turned all my friends and family members down, just because I’d rather pay tens of thousands for the ones at the bank. Extra, even, for when the first couple tries don’t take.”
I’m sure that straight couples discuss childbearing and rearing over dinner, but I can’t imagine that the giving of sperm is a regular topic of conversation. I think it’s a special topic reserved just for us barren gay women. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, you don’t have to be the one to refuse the offer, and you’ll be saved by something else being brought up that shifts things considerably. Something like this:
“You might not want mine, though. I never win at Words With Friends.”
He knows us too well.
Trish Bendix is the managing editor of AfterEllen.com.