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The One About Babies


Babies. Future babies. Gay babies, or as Kelly Prizel called them last APW Pride, “Gaybies.” Today’s post from Sarah is on fielding the inevitable questions about babies; it’s about the pain those questions can cause and the mourning she’s going through, as a gay person. It’s a beautiful, poignant essay, and in its particularity, it rings universal notes. It speaks to societal expectations for women, to the pain of infertility, and to the simple confusion of the possible next step of kids. But what it really addresses is the pain and wonder of being gay and pondering kids. I hope it makes us all step up and think harder about how we talk to the people in our lives about their fertility choices.

The One About Babies | A Practical Wedding

There are certain questions that you know you will be asked in your life. If you’re a junior or senior in high school, you know that every adult over the age of twenty-five will be asking you where you’re applying for college. If you’re in your first or second year of college, you can put money on the fact that your uncle at Passover is going to ask you about your major. And then of course, heaven help the college senior. (As if panic attacks about no longer living down the hall from your friends wasn’t enough.)

Why do people ask these questions? I know I dreaded getting them when I was in each stage, but like a car on autopilot, there I was at Channukah last year, asking my poor sixteen-year-old cousin where she wanted to go to college and what she wanted to do there. I think it was because I was so eager to talk to her about something where we were on the same plane. I don’t live in her world at all, but on the subject of college, I can pretend we have some common ground. (Goodness knows we’re not going to find it on Twilight…)

Perhaps that’s why people—and most of the time, the people are women—ask me about my wedding. They want to know what I’m wearing, what my colors are, and how many people we’re having. And each time, it’s a choice of whether or not I want to have a real conversation. Do I want to smile and nod and give the short answers of what people want? (Strapless, yellow and purple, about 150.) Or do I start a Real Conversation about the choices we’ve made and the thoughts behind them? (No veil because it’s not “me,” no real color scheme other than “colorful” because that’s more “us,” actually we invited over 200 people because I’m very close to my extended family).

I don’t always want to have the Real Conversation. I don’t want to feel like people are judging me and my non-normative, non-WIC choices. I know that the only way to open people’s minds is to have that conversation, but man, it’s exhausting sometimes.

So it is with a real sense of dread that I await the inevitable post-wedding question. The one about the babies. And it’s not because I resent the implication that my body is a conversation piece or the idea that we need to be parents in order to be fulfilled in life. (Although I do, on both counts.)

It’s because I’m gay.

And by virtue of that simple statement, you already know so much about me. You know that my wife-to-be and I have an option on which one of us wants to be the initial and/or only gestational parent. You know that we have to outsource an ingredient, involving someone else in what is traditionally a two-person job. You know that we can’t make a baby by having sex, no matter how hard we try. You may even know that either my wife or I will have to adopt our own future children as a legal precaution.

It’s hard to have those Real Conversations in a post “The Kids Are All Right” era. The awkward turkey baster jokes of the old days could be blamed on ignorance, but now people—and most of the time, the people are straight people—feel empowered by their knowledge. I have had coworkers ask me where we were getting sperm. Well-meaning acquaintances want to know who is going first. A woman at a networking event, upon finding out I was engaged to another woman, laughed, and said, “Well, I guess it’s not a shotgun wedding!”

What I don’t think most people know is that their questions break my heart every. single. time. When I look at my future wife and realize I’ll never see our genetics reflected in a pile of curly red hair on our kids’ heads, I get sad—not because that’s the ultimate measure of love or definition of our children being ours, but because it’s an option that’s completely off the table. When I realize that I’m going to spend my life answering questions about how our kids were conceived and defending the fact that we’re both their moms, I get pissed. Each probe reminds me that I am different, that we are going to have to involve a stranger to our marriage to be permanently connected to our children genetically (and that we will have to wrestle with why genetics feel so important). For years, we will be subjected to questions from strangers on the street about where our children come from and how we conceived them.

When I’m in a good mood, I can talk myself up. I remind myself of the many amazing LGBTQ bloggers out there who help forge a path and show me a blueprint of options and strength. I remind myself that no matter what, I know that our children will be loved, welcomed, and embraced by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. They’ll be our children. And we will love them. I know that someday, post-wedding and post-babies, when I’m cleaning spit-up off my shirt or watching our kid read her first word, I’ll be so thankful for all that we could do and be. But for now, I’m still mourning what we can’t.

Photo of Sarah as a (adorable) baby, from her personal collection

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  • http://www.queerskiesahead.com TheQueerBird

    I love this whole post. Sometimes I wonder if knowing our kids would have both of our genes would change our mind about whether to have them… it does totally suck that the option is off the table from the start. I didn’t realize until I read this, but I often ward off the question before it’s asked: “My wife and I aren’t having kids, but we think yours is cute!” because if I say, “Your baby is cute!” then the questions come…

    • Class of 1980

      They are working on combining DNA from the eggs of two women, but it’s not available yet. It’s called “Tri-Gametic In Vitro Fertilization”.

      It will enable two women to be the biological parents of a child.

      • Vmed

        While this sounds like an amazing option in theory, my understanding is that in practice there are a lot of issues (such as conflicting mitochondrial DNA and epigenetics) that need resolving before we can be sure these methods will create healthy babies that grow up to be healthy adults. I wish it weren’t so complicated, but reproduction is such a delicate process that it’ll be decades before it’s perfected and approved.

        So our generation can’t hold out for that option.

        But we can be more supportive of all couples struggling with fertility issues, and not ask invasive questions. People seriously need to have better appropriateness filters- I feel like we need a PSA that says “just because a person is near a baby or a couple is married does not mean you get to ask about their reproductive plans.”

        • Amanda

          …And yet? I feel terribly that I have had a months-long Facebook msg chat with an old friend from middle school, not once asking about their baby plans, as I thought it would be rude. She just revealed her 6 month baby bump as her profile picture yesterday, and I feel like a total ass for not having asked earlier. (In my defense, she didn’t bring it up, either – we mostly chatted about post-graduate work, moving, job searches.)

          So how do we delicately ask, without crossing the line? Suggestions welcomed, as I find I am so nervous to talk about future family plans with anyone these days, as I don’t want to offend.

          • http://discerningdilettante.blogspot.com KA

            This. The line between expressing genuine interest in someone and their life versus asking unwelcome questions about weddings or babies is a complete blur to me. I almost always err on the side of caution and don’t bring up those subjects, but that makes me feel like I’m missing opportunities to connect. I have no idea what any of my in real life friends’ baby plans are. That sounds ridiculous when I say it like that. And it makes me feel really alone, as I’d love to actually talk about that stuff occasionally.

          • Vmed

            I truly think a person will bring it up if they want to share. Do not ask. And don’t feel like an ass, I bet she loved being able to talk about other stuff in her life with you that entire time!

          • Alexandra

            Heck, on that note, I also felt ridiculously uncomfortable talking to friends about the fact they were planning a wedding (and I wasn’t engaged yet). I would see them make posts on facebook about wedding planning and figured if they wanted to talk about with me, they would. But at the same time, I was really excited for them and wanted to share in that. But unless you’re planning a wedding right then, I felt like I’d just fall into this trap of “You’re the 39th person to ask what my wedding colours on, I’m tired of talking about this shit.” to them.

            Same thing with pregnant friends. It’s this big, exciting part of their life… But how do you say you want to hear about it, and be excited with them, without falling into this trap of “That’s all anyone ever wants to talk about now.”

            VMED, I feel like it’s not as simple as just “don’t ask at all and don’t feel like an ass about it.” These are friends and family, going through a major, life changing events. You want to feel like you’re involved in their lives, not just some random stranger you just happened to have a conversation with.

          • Claire

            I’ve also struggled with knowing where is the line between being a supportive, interested friend and being a nosy, hurtful pest. When we were on a skiing trip together, a friend mentioned to me that she and her boyfriend have been undergoing fertility treatments for several years and it’s been really hard for them. She had just gotten her period and was pretty intoxicated when she shared this. I had no idea they wanted children as she’d never said anything before. She’s never mentioned it again and neither have I, although I’ve often wondered whether I should ask or bring it up. I want to be there for her and be supportive, but I don’t want to be rude or cause additional pain by bringing up a difficult subject.
            Any suggestions?

          • meg

            Yup, I think don’t ask. Friends ALWAYS know they can bring it up if they want to.

            (Or you can be my husband, who is clueless to girl rules, and totally asks people, including gay friends, and I say, “DAVIDDDDD” and they laugh and say “It’s ok!” But he has some sort of clueless male charm that helps pull that off.)

          • Vmed

            Alexandra,
            I guess I meant, don’t ask if they haven’t mentioned it, and I was saying that in particular Amanda should not feel like an ass for not asking sooner than the facebook baby bump reveal, because her friend hadn’t mentioned it yet.

            Absolutely if you have friends who are planning a wedding or who have brought up their reproductive plans, an open ended “how is that going for you? I’d love to hear about this major life event and be supportive” is welcome, and allows that person to share what they want to share. It is so generous to let the person in transition lead the conversation.

            Sometimes even asking “Are you excited?” is an overwhelming prompt for a bride- or parent-to-be who might be having a rough emotional time for whatever reason, but open ended listening really allows people to connect in a meaningful way.

          • Lauren

            I don’t know… I kind of think the solution to all this (as it is with many things) is just don’t be a jerk. I don’t want kids, and I get questions about it ALL the time. The people who piss me off are the ones who ask, in a crowd of people, in a sing-songy voice, “Sooo when are the BABIES coming along?” I’d LIKE to educate people about my thoughts around being a 31 year old married woman who doesn’t want a child, and this leaves no room for that discussion. Plus, is assumptive and condescending. But I’ve never been offended when I’m with a small group of people, or one-on-one, and others have shared personal stories or private hopes and dreams and someone says “Have you ever thought about kids?” Bring it on- let’s talk about it. But I want to talk about it with thoughtful, sensitive people who are truly interested. But those are also the same people who would be aware enough to change the subject immediately if it was obvious that I didn’t want to talk about it.

            So… be that person.

          • http://www.stefaniedebestphotography.com Stefanie

            Lauren, yes totally! I think it’s alright to ask if you’re genuinely interested. Asking, “Are you guys thinking about having kids?” seems ok to me. I wouldn’t ask it to somebody that I wasn’t close to, otherwise it ends up getting treated like you’re just making conversation, and it really is a deep question. But I think it’s ok to ask your friends these things. I’d even say it’s good to ask your friends. I know for myself, if someone didn’t ask me, I might not bring it up, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to talk about it. Like Lauren said, just don’t be a jerk! Treat the topic with respect and sensitivity and drop it if you think they feel uncomfortable.

        • Class of 1980

          Interesting VMED. All I can find on the subject is a study of the legal ramifications, but nothing about the time-frame.

          • Vmed

            I think the more likely technique is called mammalian parthenogenesis (they don’t need the sperm coat at all, just two modified eggs, so it’s not tri-gameticIVF).

            2004: mouse conceived from two ova (“The efficiency of the method of producing new offspring was very low, however. Of more than 500 embryos produced, only two survived to birth.”)

            http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/2004/04/23/fatherless.php

            2007: mice conceived from two ova, process refined for improved efficiency, but adults are 20% smaller than normal adult mice (“Here we report the generation of bi-maternal embryos that develop at a high success rate equivalent to the rate obtained with in vitro fertilization of normal embryos”- nature biotechnology doi: 10.1038/nbt1331)

            http://arstechnica.com/science/2007/08/viable-mice-created-from-two-female-eggs/

            I said decades because it is usually at least one decade to get from mouse to human drug trials, not sure about reproductive technologies/procedures, and it sounds like there are still some major kinks to work out.

          • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.com/ Amanda

            Yes, as I understand, from classic studies, an embryo produced with the DNA from two eggs would be highly unlikely to develop, as would an embryo formed with the DNA originating from two sperm cells.
            There are differences in male and female DNA in the egg and sperm cells in such a way that (to make it very simple) when a zygote is formed by two eggs the placenta will not be formed, but when two male pronuclei (the DNA containing part of sperm) form an embryo, placental tissue will be formed but the embryo will not develop.

            http://sprojects.mmi.mcgill.ca/embryology/earlydev/anomalies/hydatiformmole.html

            http://www.reproduction-online.org/content/128/6/703.full

          • Class of 1980

            Super interesting.

            The only reason I knew about the experiments is because attorneys are already looking at the legal issues.

  • jordan

    I don’t really have anything to add, but want to say thank you for writing this. It helps to know that I am not the only one feeling this way. It’s so hard, and makes me so sad sometimes. I’m working through it, but still feel a long way off from actually accepting that this is the reality of our situation. My brain can think logically and understand that “family” does not always involve shared genetics, but my heart aches for what will never be.

    • http://bettencourtchase.blogspot.com Helen

      Yes, yes. Exactly this. Thank you for writing this whole post.

  • http://www.ohmeaghan.com Meaghan

    This is so important! I know this dread! I appreciate that questions about our procreative interests have been few and far between thus far, but the hesitancy is still there for me when it comes to the concept of having to react to and/or disclose who donated sperm to our baby-making endeavors. As a result, I feel singularly focused on adoption…which of course feels absurdly complicated and expensive, therefore almost insurmountable. The bigger point is, and will always be, that a lot of straight people just view LGBTQ folks as a novelty. I regret saying to everyone in my more formative years, “if you don’t know, ask!” because now everyone is asking and I truly feel like most of it isn’t any of their damn business. It’s not like I’m knocking on their bedroom doors! Thank you so much for this post!

  • http://www.thequestionnowbecomes.blogspot.com alloallo

    This is such important, hard and real stuff. As someone in a heterosexual couple who, for complicated health reasons, will need to use a donor to get pregnant I can really empathise with this. You marry/commit to your partner, and if you are someone who wants to have children then inevitably you want to be able to see some of her or him in your child too (which of course you inevitably will, in terms of how they are as a person, even if the child doesn’t have his or her genes).

    I find it really deeply heartbreaking to look at my partner and think our kids won’t have his eyes/hair/cheekbones. I assume they will have a lot of his traits, qualities and mannerisms, but that doesn’t stop it from being sad. The one thing I have learned from getting involved with organizations like the Donor Conception Network (in the UK, lots of single parents/gay/straight families) is that sometimes this sadness fades when you do actually have a real kid instead of an imaginary one. At least that’s what I’m hoping!

    But also to say of course all the questioning is really different for us, because we can ‘pass’ so I don’t want to minimise what your’e saying about how hard it is for people to ask invasive things (though they do with us too, the minute we’re open about it, or not asking and assuming we can have kids ‘normally’ is hurtful in its own way).

    • Starry-eyed

      I have this same struggle. The hardest part for me is knowing that if we opt for a sperm donor, the child will be related to me but not him. Rationally I think that the baby would be just as much his–I guess that I just want us to be ‘equals’. (And to see in our child his eyes or fingers or smile.)

      It seems like infertility is a topic that many people aren’t comfortable discussing. Or, as the author says, is associated with inquiries that are far too personal. Having said that, I don’t actually know what level of questioning would make me feel supported but not exposed.

    • SW

      My heart goes out to anyone (gay or straight) struggling with fertility.

      In case this gives anyone comfort – my father is infertile and I was conceived through donor sperm. However when I was growing up, people often told me that I looked like him. And he has always, ALWAYS been my father.

      • DawnElaine

        One of my oldest and dearest friends is adopted, and she is frequently told that she closely resembles her parents. She is also quite like them in mannerisms. So perhaps it’s not so uncommon to see commonalities in non-genetic parents and children.

        • Amanda

          Nature vs nurture. Nurture can hold its own.

      • Emma

        SW, thank you so, so much — that definitely gives me and my husband comfort. We are in the early stages of negotiating using a donor and have so many questions about what it will be like for our hoped-for kid, and how we should handle the information. We know we’ll love our child, and hearing such a positive story is uplifting. Thank you.

        • SW

          Emma, all the very best to you and your husband. If you have any questions I can help with, feel free to let me know your e-mail address and I’ll get in touch.

          • Emma

            SW, that is so incredibly generous — and if you reconsider that’s ok too. Thank you!

          • SW

            Done :)

      • http://www.alacartealbums.com jeliza

        I am the non-biological mom in our family, and I definitely hear fairly frequently that our youngest looks like me. And definitely I can see traces of me in both of their personalities and mannerisms.

        Our initial plan had been that we would “take turns” and have kids that were genetically half-siblings; that didn’t end up working out, and for me, that has been much easier to handle than I thought it would. My kids are just my kids now, and that part of having kids has been much mellower than what I thought it would be 10 years ago when we started trying to conceive. Which is not to say that it is, or will be, easy. But there is a good chance that in the end it won’t hurt.

        • http://www.stefaniedebestphotography.com Stefanie

          That made me smile Jeliza. I’m glad :)

      • http://www.thequestionnowbecomes.blogspot.com alloallo

        Thanks so much for saying that SW, it really helps to hear you say it – I mean on some level we *know* that will be true, but on another you do always worry!

  • Lethe

    Yeah. I already know that if we are successful in knocking me up, lots of people will be asking about the donor. I figure I’ll respond, “by the way, how has your sex life been lately??”

    • Class of 1980

      EXACTLY. ;)

    • http://somewhatbookish.wordpress.com Carrie

      So far the only folks who have asked us about the donor are medical professionals – who have a valid reason for asking when they are trying to get family medical history and other folks who think they might go this route some day, with whom I’m happy to talk. Artificial insemination/infertility is one of those things that isn’t talked about much and I am happy to share my story with folks assuming I feel comfortable that they’re asking from a good place (which so far everyone is). Your mileage may vary of course, but you may not get asked as much as you think you will.

      • Lethe

        I hope you’re right. So far, whenever we mention we plan to raise kids I hear things like “oh, so are you like going to a sperm bank or what?” ….really, people??

  • Karen

    I find this conversation interesting. Never once has anyone ever asked me if I’m going to have kids. I guess everyone just assumed I wasn’t because I’m a lesbian so no one ever thought of it. There was a time (a long time ago) when an ex and I talked about having kids but when we began thinking about the day to day reality of dealing with our chld’s friends and the friend’s parents, the school system and the whole structure that comes with having children — we opted out.

    I’m a private person and couldn’t imagine the constant coming out that that required. I did not want all these people in my life nor did I want to be constantly explaining our relationship to other people. In addition, there are all the legal and financial hurdles that we decided we didn’t want to jump through. When I see couples now who’ve bravely moved forward I’m in awe of their courage. Children of gay and lesbian couples are definitely chosen, planned children. Good luck to you and your partner on your future parenting endeavors, however the child(ren) arrives in your life.

    • http://www.stefaniedebestphotography.com Stefanie

      I respect people`s right to privacy but I have to add something. Once at Christmas, I was chatting with my cousin-in-law as we surveyed the room full of cousins who all had kids except for the two of us and our partners (mine straight & his gay). And it suddenly occurred to me that I`d never asked him about his plans to have kids. Whether we like it or not, it`s a pretty standard question that often gets asked once people get married, and I felt so guilty that I`d never asked him before. Turns out they`d been thinking of adopting.

      I would think it might feel equally bad to never be asked while all your same sex peers are asked as it does to be asked the really intrusive questions ( I would never ask about sperm donors!). Anyways, I hope he wasn`t offended, but he sure didn`t seem like he was.

  • Class of 1980

    I can’t help with the mourning part, but I can be the etiquette police.

    Total strangers shouldn’t be asking where you’ll get the sperm from, or how you conceived your children. Are you kidding me? It’s not even a straight or gay issue; it’s just wrong. So wrong.

    Please DO NOT feel any obligation to give them anything but a stony-faced stare. If you’re feeling really generous, you could say it’s too private.

    • Jashshea

      I found that such a creepy question as well. Not invasive, not rude, CREEPY – though it is obviously both of the other things as well. Why would anyone need to know that? I wouldn’t ask my very very best friend that question. People are so weird.

      • http://www.embracerelease.com aly

        I’m kindof an over-sharer so maybe my creepiness barometer is off but I don’t find these kids of questions creepy or rude at all. I mean, the fact that we can freeze sperm, send it across the country, unfreeze it and use it months or years later to make a human being is pretty MIRACULOUS.

        I really think most people asking those kinds of question are just genuinely curious about how all of that works. The question I’ve gotten most is how we decided which sperm to purchase–which is exactly what I would wonder if I was someone who knew nothing about the process, and what I wonder whenever a friend is newly in the market for sperm. That said, I gauge my relationship and the vibe I’m getting from a person before I go there with intimate questions.

        By the way, it’s a strange trip earning rewards points on your credit card for large sperm purchases.

        • Class of 1980

          To me, it seems like something only family and close friends would discuss with you.

          Strangers and the odd co-worker? Nooooooooo.

          Now if YOU shared the information with a stranger first, then I can see where they’d assume it’s okay to ask for more details.

        • Jashshea

          I was thinking that a stranger on the street asking about sperm donors was pretty creepy.

          I’m a super nosy person and if I know someone well enough, I’ll question them to death, but I’ll add a disclaimer that one look can shut me up. I have a coworker that fosters and I peppered him w/questions b/c I found it interesting. But unless someone (straight, gay, or single) offers up sperm donor info, I don’t go there. I find the medical science around infertility (and really anything) fascinating, but who someone is or how they chose seems outside of my personal beeswax.

        • meg

          Yes, I’ve had LONG discussions about this with close friends. But I’d never ask anyone else unless they offered. (In fact, Aly, I kind of wondered what you guys had done, but never would have asked. If I don’t know, I just chalk it up to MAGIC. I mean, all creation of new humans is more or less magic, right? That’s what I think :)

          • http://www.embracerelease.com aly

            I’m all too happy to share. We purchased willing-to-be known sperm from a bank we perused online. Then we wasted thousands at a GYN’s office with 5 unsuccessful IUIs before the GYN, who in retrospect was also a terrible person for the way she treated us, finally sent us on to reproductive endocrinologist with the dreaded words: You need IVF. The RE disagreed and got me preggers on the first try with injectible drugs and IUI. For our second, we went straight back to her and had the same one-try result. I was bitter for a while about all the money we wasted and the near emotional abuse I suffered with the first doc but again, if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have these exact adorable loves of my life.

    • SeptCaBride

      I agree that is it weird, but I just want to say that I think these questions are rarely *meant* to be invasive or offensive. As the poster notes, many times it is just people wanting to connect and show support for an obviously difficult situation. While it’s perfectly fine my book to give the snarky answer when someone pushes you too far, or when you want to use the question as a teachable moment that you hope will help the questioner understand the inappropriateness of their inquiry, I have to believe* that people mean well and just want to show you that they care.

      *This comes from someone who suffers from infertility and has faced way too many invasive questions about what my husband and I are going through… but, for the most part, I have found incredible support and love when I have been honest about my struggles, even when that honesty comes in the form of saying, “This is really hard; I would appreciate it if you gave me room to get through this without the questions.”

    • Richelle

      my answer to such questions is sometimes– “Really?” with a quizzical look. As in, “really, you just asked me that??” Throws people off balance and gives you back control of a conversation

    • Margaret M.

      I think this transcends sexual orientation: asking when/how/whether you’re going to have kids is pretty fraught territory and I want to have those conversations on my own terms, in my own time, with people of my own choosing.

      • Brytani

        Indeed. As a straight, twenty-four year-old, married woman, my doctor once asked (DURING a pap smear, no less) if I was waiting until I was done with school and working to have kids. I got pissed.

        My thoughts: SERIOUSLY? You’ve got instruments in my ladybits and your head between my knees and you choose right now to ask if I’m finishing grad school and starting a career just to have kids?
        My cowardly reaction because I didn’t want to have the conversation: Sure, yeah.

        (Please note that I have nothing against women who put their careers on hold for kiddos. It’s an amazing and joyful choice and I celebrate with ladies who do this. Right now, in my life, it just irks me when people assume this is the natural progression of things.)

        • Laura

          Obviously I don’t know the whole scenario, but it’s possible your doc was just trying to figure out what kind of birth control to recommend, as the most effective ones (IUD, implant) are good for 3-10 years, but also more expensive, making them MORE worth the cost if you definitely don’t want kids for at least a few years.

          Or, s/he was just being super nosy and tactless.

          That being said, being in stirrups has to be one of the most compromising positions in the world (physically, mentally …), so better timing would have been good, at least!!

          • Class of 1980

            All my gynos have waited until we were back in their office to discuss.

  • http://www.embracerelease.com aly

    I can completely empathize with you. Before I had kids, I was sad about this too. The sadness deepened as I watched our money drain away with all of the doctor visits and in/fertility measures and adoption costs. All I wanted to do was get drunk and knocked up in one (or many) night(s) of fun, and be suddenly legally bound to each other…

    On the other side of that now, I couldn’t be more grateful for the two kids I have who were only possible through donor sperm. I know I would have loved the kids I would have had if my partner and I could have created them BUT I am so in love with these two particular boys that I don’t ever wish it were any different. The funny thing is that my kids don’t look anything like me. They must favor the donor, which is another way of saying that even if you could create kids with your partner, there’s no guarantee that you’d see both of you in them.

    As for the questions: I don’t think you’ll get many stranger-on-the-street inquiries (we haven’t) but your family and friends will probably be curious. Still, you have every right to say, “we’ve decided to keep those details private.”

    • Lethe

      “On the other side of that now, I couldn’t be more grateful for the two kids I have who were only possible through donor sperm. I know I would have loved the kids I would have had if my partner and I could have created them BUT I am so in love with these two particular boys that I don’t ever wish it were any different.”

      I have heard other parents say this, and as someone looking towards donor conception, it is very comforting. Thank you.

      • Ambi

        As someone who fully plans to adopt, I expect to feel this way too.

      • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

        I’m an adopted kid. My parents were my parents, full stop. Genetic or not, they’re yours. (By all means, mourn that they can’t be your genetic kids but Aly’s got it right…the love you’ll have is as real as it gets.)

        • Sarah

          I was just wondering if anyone else on here was adopted as well. I’ve met my biological family and am very close with them, but my parents — the ones who adopted me — are my parents; my adopted brother is my brother. Just because we look and think almost nothing alike doesn’t mean that we are any less a family or that there is less love between us. I love *all* of my families equally.

          All that was just to agree with Beth. :)

    • http://somewhatbookish.wordpress.com Carrie

      I second Aly’s thought of being so grateful for the kid I have. I felt a little sad and frustrated about this too, when we were trying to get pregnant (and I so wished we could just have a lot of sex, and voila… baby – even though I know it doesn’t always work that way for straight couples either), but now, with a 5 month old giggling around and clearly our child, I don’t think about this any more and I’m nothing but happy about the family we’ve made together.

      • Karen

        I actually know a lesbian who had random sex with a guy she met in a bar and got pregnant that night. This was intentional to get pregnant. Now the guy is in an awkward parenting relationship with her and her partner. Clearly she has no fertility issues, however I really don’t recommend this method!

        • Not Sarah

          I don’t know why, but I find this particular method of conceiving quite amusing. Maybe it’s the irony in that normally people don’t *want* to get pregnant when they have sex with a random at the bar?

    • Class of 1980

      The funny thing is that all I thought about your kids was “CUTE KIDS”. I didn’t even notice if they looked like you.

      But that’s true that you never know what you’re going to get. I’ve seen kids that looked totally like their mother or father with very little of the other parent. Look at Christie Brinkley’s oldest daughter – she’s all Billy Joel. ;)

    • TNM

      Yes, as someone who had to go through IVF to get pregnant, it’s amazing how your kid will entirely transform your way of perceiving your situation. It’s not just that my daughter made the whole ordeal “worth it,” but also that I feel like I *had* to take this path, because how else would I have ended up with her. In fact, if you indeed take the donor sperm/assisted conception route, you may find thereafter that it is almost scary to think of what if you had conceived “naturally,” because even a hypothetical suggestion that you could lose the kid you have strikes (somewhat irrational!) terror in your heart…

    • meg

      I love this. I actually feel like in some ways it’s universal to ALL fears about having kids, the reminder that you end up loving the particular humans you get, and the worries fade.

  • Another Meg

    What a thoughtful post on a very tough subject. I know it’s difficult for hetero couples, and it must be that much harder for LGBTQ couples. I don’t know if we’ll be able to have children naturally, but there’s always the hope, and it seems cruel that it’s not there for everybody. (Science, I’m looking to you for this.On the double!)

    Strangers can be strange, and all of the advice of stone-cold stares and a curt (or kind) “it’s private” in the comments are right on. Why is it that as soon as certain subjects come up (or you’re just pushing a baby through a mall) people feel they can ask/say whatever they want? Ugh.

    Best of luck in whatever you and your partner do in the future.

  • http://www.stitch-witch.net Christina McPants

    I can just exactly this entire post? You’ve hit every one of my insecurities about the future here.

  • Richelle

    I have another view from the other side.
    Before having kids, many people look at it like a “perfect” experience. And think that everyone else gets to have the “perfect” experience and they won’t.

    I call bullshit.

    And I want to comment on this post without at all minimizing the difficult mourning you are going through. Becauase it is real. And I know its real because I went through one of my own. And it sucks.

    But, I want to tell you that you have more company than you realize. Because most people DO NOT have a “perfect” experience. They often hide the imperfect parts though, so they aren’t as easy for others to spot as yours are going to be.

    I suffered through/survived infertility treatment. I became pregnant, with twins. I went through natural childbirth. And then learned that my angel of a baby boy has Down Syndrome. I am on the journey of my life. I am learning every day. I mourned, hard, at first for the “perfect” babies and “perfect” baby experience. But guess what? I got an AMAZING, wonderful experience, two amazing, wonderful children. And I bet if you choose to go through it you will too. It may not be “perfect” but it will be awesome. (And f**** ing hard but that’s another post). And since my experience was obvious to other people, like yours will be, it caused many of them to confess to be and bond with me over the challenges they have had with their children which are not always obvious to the outsider. So I’m here to tell you its ok to feel bad, just please don’t think you alone in that.

    Good luck! Be open, and you will be happy.

    • Class of 1980

      My former sister-in-law was set to adopt an unborn baby. They got a big surprise when one baby turned out to be twins, which no one knew until the birth.

      She ended up with a boy and a girl and was over the moon. Four years later, after a lot of frustrating doctor appointments, her daughter was diagnosed with autism. Of course it was hard to bear, but she never regretted the adoption.

    • Kelly

      Your post reminds me of this parable which is one of my favorites:
      http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html

      Having a child with special needs is vastly different than the genetic make-up of your children, but it speaks to the idea of the “perfect” baby experience quite nicely.

  • http://www.lucystendallphotography.co.uk Lucy Stendall

    ‘And by virtue of that simple statement, you already know so much about me’ *this* is the bit that really made me say exactly. I would never dream of asking someone what position they conceived their baby in, so why would someone ask about the sperm?

    I get that some people are well meaning, I think Septcabride makes some really valid points. Maybe it is just that most people want you to know that they relate to you…like the teenage cousin college point.

    We get the baby questions having been married for nearly two years. I’m tempted to just say I’m barren (even though I don’t know if I am) just to make them realise that if they carry on asking relative strangers then one day someone could say that to them for real. And it would be awkward.

    I hope you both find a way through these issues Sarah, and that whatever happens you come back and write more about what happens next.

  • KateM

    My sister struggled with infertility, and basically echoed everything above to me for years. Intellectually I understand it is hard to give up the idea of a child that is just like both of you, and I am not discounting genetics. But I look at my niece, my sister adopted and she is just like both of her parents and her birth mother. She is the clone of my sister in attitude and mannerisms and it is like hearing a little Colleen talk, she looks like her dad, and has the musicality of her birth mother. All of that combined makes one of the most extraordinary little girls I have ever met.
    Grieving fertility is important, but I think it is important to remember that parenting is a much bigger job than giving birth.

    • Amy March

      It isn’t just about genetics and wanting a kid who looks like you though. Adoption is a great way to build a family, but infertility is a medical condition, and adoption isn’t a cure.

      • KateM

        I would agree with that. And insurance companies don’t view it as medical condition depending on the reason for for the infertility and many wont cover it. IVF doesn’t cure the underlying problem most of the time either, it is just a work around. My point is was only that adoption does not make the child any less yours than genetics and currently it not possible for both partners in gay relationship to be the biological parent. I hope I did not come across as cavalier about infertility, it is something very near to my heart. I just wanted to introduce adoption into the conversation and as I was an early poster there was little commentary on it at that point.

  • Abby J.

    Being one half of a more traditional straight couple, I haven’t commented on a lot of the Pride Week posts because I feel like I don’t have any perspective to add.

    But just let me say YAY APW!! For doing Pride Week and running so many amazing posts that give such depth and perspective.

  • Michelle

    In the spirit of “comfort in numbers”…. As I was reading this I realized it sounded sort of familiar, and it took me a minute to place it – another blog post I read a while ago was talking about a mom of adopted children who were of a different race and the (mostly) well intentioned questions that struck hard. I’m not a mom at all (other than my fur-baby), so I can’t relate personally. But I am the friend of one couple that is going through IUI, and another that just adopted a baby with an obviously different heritage and its interesting the different perspectives from people in similar situations.

    The adoptee couple is happy (so far) to have people comment and talk about it so there is never a feeling of taboo elephant in the room that there used to be. And the couple going through IUI is happy to talk about every little detail of the process because there is no passion or privacy in the process, so they want to be able to openly discuss it with friends in hopes of maybe having some will-be-funny-later stories to look back on fondly, or at least widen the circle of friends emotionally invested in the process so they don’t feel quite so alone or like “failures” for not being able to reproduce in a more traditional private setting.

    Just a different way of looking at it / experiencing it I suppose. Anyway – all that was to say that because I’m friends with those two couples, I’d probably have been one of the people asking questions not knowing that for you that would be incredibly hurtful – so on behalf of all of us asking those questions but with good intentions }}}}}HUGS!{{{{ and apologies.

    (And for the people who ask those questions without good intentions – f*ck ‘em! – Its your life and you rock for living it your way.) :)

  • Claire

    Thank you for sharing with us this struggle and your perspective on it. It’s good food for thought and a reminder to be thoughtful and sensitive about having these conversations (or maybe not saying anything).

    Yes, some people ask questions or make comments that are both rude and invasive. I’ve heard of people asking my friend “so, which of you is the REAL mother?” of her young son. Even worse, people have had the audacity to question their choice of which one would be the gestational parent because, “it’s just odd since she’s the man of the relationship.” Yes, for real!

    Sometimes, though, people just have no filter and say things that are well-intended without even realizing they are inappropriate and/or hurtful. For example, right before my parents met my lesbian friends and their new baby, they admitted they felt a little nervous since this was new territory for them, but they just really wanted to show them support and encouragement. What came out of my mom’s mouth was, “Congratulations! Oh, he’s just beautiful! Y’all make such a cute family. You clearly picked a really good daddy for him.” My dad followed up with, “A custom-ordered bundle of joy! He looks just like you both. Did you get an Asian daddy so he would look like he was your’s too?” There was no malicious intent, but it was still pretty offensive to my friend. My parents were just really excited for them. And curious. They were both genuinely trying to connect with them and yet totally bungled a conversation that was meant to make them feel welcome and supported.

    I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be on the receiving end of those kind of comments. Best wishes to you and your wife on your wedding and your baby family.

  • http://greyandshiny.wordpress.com Nina

    You touched on such a universal truth in the beginning of the post:
    “I was so eager to talk to her about something where we were on the same plane.”

    I have found myself in the exact same position with my younger cousins, trying to find that common ground. I have also found myself there with my older sisters-in-law, who I’ve seen get married, then get pregnant and have kids. I don’t relate to them in a lot of other ways, but these major life changes that are happening right in front of my eyes – well they are things I’d like to ask them about, get their perspective, learn from their experience.

    But like others mentioned above, politeness keeps me from asking and in their case, I suspect that politeness keeps them from sharing. Just as I’ve been told never to pry into personal topics, I’ve also been told no one wants to keep hearing about your wedding/pregnancy/child because it’s never as interesting to other people as it is to you. So we stick to other topics. The end result is that we don’t talk about these HUGE things (thoughtfully) and I think end up feeling a bit more isolated and alone.

    People make thoughtless remarks that are uncalled for, I know this. If they come from a stranger or acquantance or are delivered in a flippant manner, they deserve no answer. But if they come from family or friends and are phrased in a thoughtful manner – even if not entirely articulate, since a lot of us don’t know the right questions to ask when it comes unfamiliar situations – I would like to believe they are just trying to connect. I understand not wanting to engage in a “real conversation” every time because that is EXHAUSTING but at least you know that person cares and maybe you’ll talk to them another time.

    I don’t know – it’s tough and I have no answers, but from my experiences here and elsewhere online, I’ve realized how important it is to connect on these often taboo topics, even though we’re not always great at it.

  • http://jessicaschillingphotography.com Jessica Schilling

    What a great post! I don’t have much to share as far as the struggles ahead, but as part of a straight couple who has been married for 5 years but not currently planning to have kids, I am incredibly familiar with concept of not always wanting to get into the “real conversation” with people I don’t know that well. With close friends, talking about future babies as part of their life dreams is great and I am comfortable opening up about my choices as well. But with coworkers, casual acquaintances, etc. “so when are you having kids” ( not even if or are you!) just isn’t really appropriate small talk since you never know what’s going on in someone else’s personal life, much less their bedroom.

  • http://upupcreative.com julie green

    i wanted to chime in with a slightly different angle on the conversation. so, i’m a mom to two awesome kids, and with both of those kids i have struggled with awful postpartum (and non-postpartum) depression. and now our babysitter, who is wonderful and amazing and hooray-all-things-good to us, is going through IVF. and i feel so effing GUILTY. because becoming pregnant was EASY for me, and having kids has been great but has also brought me a lot of pain, yadda yadda. but because of my own guilt I NEVER EVER TALK TO HER ABOUT WHAT SHE IS GOING THROUGH. which sucks. because i consider her a good friend. so i guess i just wanted to say that sometimes the awkward conversation, the real conversation, it’s better than no conversation at all.

    which is guess is kind of a tangent and not at all what this lovely post is about. but i guess my guilt made me write it. : )

  • Moz

    Thank you so much for such a generous post.

  • http://www.onabicyclebuiltfortwo.com Tracey

    On the flip side of the difficulties of child-bearing and rearing in a same sex relationship, I also believe we are lucky in the fact that there aren’t the same expectations.

    We can select how we become parents, we can pick certain genes if we chose to, we can determine timing a lot more precisely and we easily have an excuse for not having children (not that an excuse should be required….).

    As my wife and I go through the stress of trying to conceive I am grateful for these silver linings.

  • one soul

    Beautiful, thought-provoking post. (And comments.)

    Happy Pride Week, APW.

  • Rose

    I was just referred to this site for my own wedding, so I’m coming to the conversation a bit late. But reading though the comments and the number of potentially awesome parents figuring out how to juggle genetics and doners I thought I’d throw this out there;

    I have two mothers. I’m genetically related to one of them. As we grow older we always hit those “oh my god I’m turning into my mother” moments, and ya know what? I’m turning into both of them.

  • Catherine

    Just now seeing this..nothing really add other than I am so glad you wrote this. You summed it up perfectly. I am a gay woman too and my girlfriend and I always talk about these same issues. A lot of it is hard, just that it is so complicated and a fight just to get what everyone else has. Not to be negative, because no one else has exactly what we have :) But I don’t feel like this emotional aspect/angle is talked about that much, so it was good to read and know others understand.