Tuesday 6 December 2011

Prequel Part 1

The Baby Plan

I’d like to tell you about our back-story. It’s a good story about how a couple of married lesbians in Ottawa managed to find the perfect Dad for their yet-to-be-conceived child living in New York City. But it’s a long one that will require several blog entries and I’d like to keep Mondays for updates on Mac and my experience of being his Mama. So I will tell you this story, in parts, on other days.  Here is the first part of Mac: The Prequel.

It started with a list. I titled it “The Baby Plan” and proceeded to fill the whiteboard in our kitchen with things that we should, or could, do before getting pregnant. I filled this list with important things like start taking a prenatal vitamin and make space in the office for a nursery.  After reading several books on the topic of conception the board took on a life of its own. There is no shortage of advice out there for women trying to conceive. One book told me that having good spinal alignment could help my uterus and fallopian tubes work better. So going to a chiropractor was added to the list. Another book told me that acupuncture could help so that made it on the list too. I read a whole book on charting my cycles and, of course, charting was also added to the list. An internet page told me that pregnant women shouldn’t have dental work done so a dental check-up was added to the list as well. The list continued to grow book by book and google search after google search. At its largest it contained things like switch to an alkalizing diet and listen to fertility hypnosis.  My best friend’s husband was visiting one day and I couldn’t help but laugh when he finally turned to me and said: “Um, Kristin, if you plan on getting pregnant at the dentist you are doing it wrong.”

The list was good. It was exhaustive. It provided us with a checklist of accomplishable goals that we could work away at while waiting to finally be able to start trying for a baby. But it was missing a key ingredient. Tucked away in the centre of the list, as if it was no more significant than visit chiropractor, I wrote Find Donor.

The truth is that my wife is amazing. She has provided us with a roof over our heads, she can give me love and affection, she can comfort me when I’m sick and encourage me when I need it. But, she can’t get me pregnant.  We left the Find Donor task firmly in the middle of our list and started working away on the other requirements.  We sort of approached it like it was our field of dreams “if you complete it, he will come” (yes, I am aware of the pun).

A few months later we had made great progress with our list. We were down to a measly three things. 1. Get dental check-up, 2. Paint spare bedroom and 3. Find Donor.  I stopped procrastinating and called the dentist and my wife painted the bedroom. Then we finally had to talk about the donor situation. I felt strongly that I didn’t want to use an anonymous donor. I wanted our child to be able to see his/her biological father and have a relationship with him. My ideal situation included a donor who would be known as “Dad” but act in a role more akin to an uncle. My wife was much more skeptical. When thinking of a known donor she imagined court cases and custody battles and saw her role in our child’s life as uncomfortably tenuous.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any men in our life that we could ask to become our known donor. We had one friend who we both agreed could be perfect but he was off on a yearlong trip around the world with his boyfriend and as my 30th birthday quickly approached we didn’t feel that we could wait. The rest of the men in our lives were either married to our friends (and that seemed too odd for us and most likely would have been too odd for them) or related to one of us. For obvious reasons my family was out. Many lesbians like the idea of using a male relative from the non-carrying mother’s side so that the child would be biologically related to both women but since we wanted the father to be known as ‘Dad’ it seemed uncomfortably messy for us to have a relative that was both ‘Dad’ as well as being an uncle or a cousin.

We had a lot of conversations about known-donor versus sperm bank dad. We’re fairly typical lesbians in that we are pretty much professional processors. We talked about the decision until it was talked to death. And then we spent some time discussing the death of the topic a little further. In the end we agreed to make an appointment at the fertility clinic to get information while still remaining open to the possibility of a known donor. Getting a referral to the clinic was easy but there was a five-month wait before we could have our first appointment. I am usually the least patient person on the planet but I was relieved to hear about the wait. I knew that I would have five months to find our guy.

So what are a couple of lesbians to do when they need to meet Mr. Right [-guy-to-be-our-baby’s-daddy]? Obviously, we turned to the internet.  And more about that next time.

You can read part 2 here

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