things speed up

Suddenly the process is on fast forward. I'm terrified of turning my back on Jen for a second, only to turn back and find her nine months pregnant, in labor, holding our 2 year old child.

And yet, all that we've increased is the rate of information gathering. While we've talked about sperm, placed phone calls regarding sperm, read frequently asked sperm questions, priced sperm, and argued about sperm, we still have no sperm. There is no way in hell Jen could be pregnant. But we're indisputably closer to being pregnant than we ever were before.

Jen's told me about a language that had lots of words for women in different stages of pregnancy, but no one word for pregnant. Women were one thing when they had just concieved, something else when they were a few months in, something else nine months in. I always thought that sounded nice becuase it seemed less horrible to miscarry. You didn't do it wrong, you didn't lose a baby. You were x but not y. You were truly x. Not simply a failure at y.

Now I realize the way this works. Acknowledging conception and pregnancy and birth as a process and not some unfathomable chunk of a woman's life ruled by fairy tales or miracles.
It is work that takes a long time and is difficult to do properly.

I hate that I can't just make sperm or magic some out of an orifice I never noticed I had. I hate that we'll have to save lots of money and spend it all buying sperm that will never be as likely to make a baby as sperm fresh from the source. I hate that we can't just fall into bed and wake up a family.

But I love that I get to learn what this really is. I love that instead of just magicking up a family, we get to really build one.

Its hard. We're charting Jen's fertility. Part of this involves recording her temperature every morning before she has gotten out of bed. Before she's even sitting up. Which means I have to be up even earlier and able to locate the thermometer and pen. I don't mind getting up early, I usually do anyway, but now its not a choice.

We're also charting fertile mucous. Jen doesn't like to talk about the mucous, but it's important, and she's monitering that on her own. The mucous is actually not even the most disturbing possible thing to chart. Some people actually break out a speculum and look at their partner's cervix on a regular basis. That sounds horrible on an immense amount of levels and I know I've chosen the right girl when she says that I will never fucking ever under any circumstances come eye to cervix with her.

We'll also chart some results that the extremely expensive clearblue easy machine Jen ordered will give us. I don't exactly know what that is supposed to tell us, but all of this together should give us some picture of when she's ovulating. After a few months of this, we'll be able to decide what days are appropriate for inseminating.


Its not time yet, but Jen's kind of gotten obsessed with picking sperm. I'm sort of obessessed too, but not AS obsessed. Its the fun part of all the data collection. What is the other half of this baby?

Sperm selection is fraught though. Jen and I are pretty good at communicating, good at working through problems instead of attacking each other with them. But even for us, this is a tough one. What do we each want our baby to be? Why do we want these things? Do we even know? Can we talk about those reasons aloud? Without revealing parts of ourselves we've worked hard to keep hidden? Its sort of like the drama that comes from being in a prom limo with someone, but like, if you were going to be in that prom limo for eternity. SHOULD WE GO WITH THE SUV LIMO? WOULD A PARTY BUS BE BETTER???!!

My line in the sand is skin color. I am brown. Olive toned. Tan year round. I often get comments about my skin color, ranging from the complimentary "You have such nice a skin color" to the disturbingly ignorant "How did you dye your skin that color?" Being a person of mixed race is a big part of my identity, and very much affects the way I am able to move through the world, and informs my world view. It is something I am proud of, and I feel I have a lot of information to share regarding this subject. I think being multiracial is something that marks me as part of my nuclear family, and I'd like my child to have that signifier too.

Jen is sympathetic to those things, but MUCH more concerned about motility. She wants the sperm most likely to get her pregnant, with appearance taking a backseat to that issue. She thinks it will be ok as long as the baby has dark hair and dark eyes. She's worried that some donors I like for their olive toned ancestry will actually end up producing a baby that looks nothing like either of us. I remind her that as half the child's genetic material belongs to her, it can't help but look like her at least a little...but she's still wary.

These are difficult conversations to have.



Jen feels that she can't tell her mother that we are going to be trying for a baby. Her mother loves her very much, and is a very intelligent woman, but she has a lot of feelings of anxiety, and she wants to keep Jen very very safe, and it all comes out sometimes as painful criticism. Jen thinks that if we tell her mom, her mother will discourage us and insist that we are too poor, that Jen is too old, things that wouldn't be helpful at all, especially considering we are NOT broke and Jen is NOT old.

I feel terrible though. Of course Jen wants to share this with her mother but not if its going to be demoralizing. I told Jen her mom would probably say the same things if she were with a man though, which made us all feel better. Still, we're so happy about this. It hurts not to be able to share that.

Which isn't to say I've told my whole family. I did tell my mom that we were considering it. She says things like "When you guys have a baby..." usually the sentence ends with "you're not going to be able to do this anymore." I'm glad she's conceptualizing it, even if its in a way that means I'll have no life ever again after the baby comes.
The superlesbian ob/gyn gave us the go ahead to officially start trying.

In the past few weeks, we've been researching sperm more and more. None of it has thrilled me yet, but I think in part that's because I've been looking at it accepting an unknown man into my family, and into my girlfriend, but really, I have to think of it as information we're using to build our baby, a baby that I'm putting into my girlfriend. That makes it better. I'm actually very excited to put sperm in her now. VERY EXCITED.

our friend.

Our friend, who we hoped would be our known donor, is having some heavy thoughts that don't seem compatible with being prepared for baby crafting. Last time we hung out he said that heaven must be finite, and there isn't space enough for all the physical bodies, implying that then heaven must either be a lie, or a very very selective VIP club. I argued that of course heaven in infinite and not physical, but spiritual. And there we will be free from the bounds of our bodies, ageless and enjoying an existance that far surpasses what we understand now. Heaven is the opposite of the limitations we experience as humans. That conversation in and of itself does not seem to preclude making babies, but the reasons we were having it do. A friend of his committed suicide a year ago. He does not trust this world anymore, or apparently, the next either.


When I was a kid I used to get Zoobooks, a magazine that features a different animal every month. They'd talk about the animal's environment and what it ate and who ate it and basically just give you all you ever wanted to know about koalas or tree frogs or whatever. Every month there was one page that scared the shit out of me, a page where they did cutaway diagram of the animal, revealing its muscular structure and bones. Every time I tured to that page I would get chills up my back and in my hands. It never failed to startle, even if I had read the magazine several times. The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth is a little like that. The information is fascinating, but sometimes you turn a page and suddenly your nose is a photo of someone's cervix. Unlike Zoobooks, the New Essential Guide is in black and white. Good thing too. If the drawing entitled "A Woman Using A Desk Lamp, a Hand Mirror, and Speculum to Look at Her Cervix" was in color, I might just have to rip it out and frame it.

I'm learning a lot about the cervix though. I'm also learning a lot about mucus and breast milk and all sorts of other fluids that I never spent much time on previously. Especially sperm.

If our chosen donor doesn't work out for one reason or another, we've decided that we'll go to a sperm bank. We had no idea what sperm costs or how you get it or anything, so we went online and started crusing sperm. Information abounds. Nordic people apparently love to jerk off into a container. There are sperm banks that specialize in Norse sperm, and even ones that don't have tons of Nordic donors listed. Latinos apparently DON'T like to jerk off into a container, which sucks for us if we do end up going this route since I'd prefer a baby that ends up a little olive toned (like me) instead of a little Viking toned.

If I weren't getting so invested in this process, I'd have a lot of things to say about the way the sperm donors are classified. Often there are three tiers - sort of a bargain basement grab bag where you have less information and older sperm, a general everyman pool, and then an elite section of people who've earned PhDs or distiguished themselves in some other way. I find myself revealing odd predjudices. I could give a shit about a PhD, but a Master's Degree is very desirable. I refuse to let Jen get inseminated by anyone who is a chiropracter, or a dentist. A vet would be better than a medical doctor. No one exclusively science or math oriented. Columbians over Mexicans. Cubans over Columbians.

Weight, height, ethnicity, eye color, hair color, blood type, career, education are the basics you can find on most sperm bank websites. But reading the essays is most revealing. Does he write in full sentences? Does he start his essay with "My most memorable experience is when I saw a UFO?" I think if we found someone who knew how to use a semicolon, he'd shoot to the top of the list even if he was 2 feet tall and 800 lbs.

Its all just information now. Hopefully our known donor will work out. But if he doesn't, I'm going to have to spend more time thinking about men than I ever have in my life. Learning about them. Imagining them.