Choosing Gay Babies

Kelly Prizel is here, talking about her thought process on having Gay Babies. Reading her post, I really thought about my fertility situation and resolved once again, not to take it for granted. But more than that, I was struck by how similar we all are, at our core. I was struck by how the overwhelming terror of pondering children is just the same, gay or straight. It’s just when you’re gay, it’s way, way, more complicated logistically, right from the get-go. So, here is Kelly, talking about one of my favorite things in the whole world, babies with two mommies:

Lesbian Courthouse Wedding

So maybe you were expecting a drama-filled post about the struggle with my family being upset that I’m considering having children. Gay babies. Gaybies. And there is that. But actually, right now, I care a whole lot less about what other people are thinking and a whole lot more about me. Because I don’t know what the f*ck I think. I’m paralyzed. And I’m paralyzed by something that I’ve been trying to promote and push for my entire life: choice.

It wasn’t too long ago that there weren’t that many options for two women who wanted to have a baby. Doctors refusing treatment; sperm banks not working with lesbians. There just weren’t choices. And in some countries and states, that’s still unfortunately the case. So I am thankful that I have so many options. But it’s killing me. I feel like I’m in the oft-cited survey where people were shown a table with six jars of jam and others were shown a table with 24 jars of jam. The people shown only six jars bought more jam. I would like to buy some jam. But there seem to be 500 different kinds.

Growing up, I thought you got married, got pregnant, you had a baby, TADA! There were no such thing as miscarriages, infertility, and certainly not gay people trying to have babies. And sometimes I get angry that I can’t just have a romance-filled night, and suddenly, whoops, I’m pregnant! And while some straight people have to go down the path of medical intervention and testing and stuff, most start out with this happy, beautiful dream. But I don’t get that dream.  I’ll never get the privilege of looking at my baby and guessing if his or her eyes are from my wife and if his or her toes are from me. Once, when I was talking to one of my best friends about this and how much I want our donor to look like Natalie, I started sobbing when Natalie said in a matter-of-fact way, “Well, it won’t ever look exactly like me.” Because I struggle with trying to make that dream happen even though it’s not realistic. It still hovers in the back of my mind– if I find just the right donor, or if I find just the right fertility treatment, if I do things just right the baby will look like our baby.

With all these choices, a few have already been made for us. I will carry the baby because Natalie has an autoimmune disease that won’t allow her to go off her pills. I secretly don’t want anyone to know I’m pregnant. I don’t want random people coming up to me and Natalie and asking “Who’s the real mom?,” or worse, people we know thinking of Natalie as “the other mom.”

Another choice that’s already been made is that all my medical professionals are telling me to have a baby ASAP because I have a bleeding disorder that only gets worse with age, so my risks go up as I wait. Aside from those few things, everything is in the air.

Do we have a known donor? An unknown donor? If we have a known donor, as I have in my dream scenario, we legally put ourselves in a situation where our baby could be taken away from us. What kind of role would this known donor play? What would he be called? Would he come to family functions? And how do you even ask or pick someone that you know, and be like “Hey, wanna be my baby-daddy?”

Do we want to go all out at first? Our dream scenario because of my health issues/career would be for me to have twins: one with my egg and one with Natalie’s. But that requires a whole hell of a lot of medical intervention. My health insurance currently would cover this, but we only have this insurance until Natalie finishes her PhD which is 4 more years max. So do we try the turkey-baster method first? Or do I have doctors all up in my yin-yang right from the start to make sure we can have this covered? Not to mentioned that Natalie would have to be harvested like an egg-hen. I can’t imagine two women on fertility drugs together. We might kill each other.

And then, when it comes down to it, what are we looking for in a sperm donor? What compromises do we have to make? What’s unrealistic? Do we go for personality and feel if we have a known donor? Or just try to find a donor with the stats that are similar to Natalie’s: brown hair, blue eyes, Jewish, nerdy. Oh, and short.

Honestly, when we first started thinking about babies, I googled if there was any way Natalie and I could merge our eggs and have a child. I shit you not…I was willing to go to a third world country if necessary to have some mad scientist make me a baby. It turns out, they’ve tried with mice, and the results aren’t so great. And we’re not mice. Darn. But really, all these choices, all these options that we value as feminists have me frozen in place. Which path to go down? How will I know it’s right? How do we even start?

All of this has me thinking, “Do I even want a baby?” I like Natalie a whole lot, and we work daily on simplicity in our lives. This sh*t is not simple.

Photo: Kelly’s courthouse wedding, taken by Lara Swanson, of So You’re EnGAYged

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  • Your baby may not look like a combination of you and your wife, but it will grow up with your values and traditions and character! I’m thankful we live in a time when we all have choices!

    • Your beautiful baby will even have mannerisms from the two of you. You’d be surprised how far that goes in having the wee one “look like you.”

      • Cass

        My two siblings and I look nothing like my father. We could be the milk man’s babies. We’re all clones of our mother, especially. But I have his facial expressions and smile so in pictures, we still sort of look alike. I’ve seen it happen in blended families when the child isn’t biolocially related to the parent too.

      • Absolutely! My sister and me, though being fully biological sisters by the same set of parents, don’t look a lot like each other in terms of hair/eye/skin color, curls/no curls, face shape/body shape/height, clothing style. But as soon as we are in the same room people can’t help but comment how similar we are because we use the same gestures and facial expressions – and I believe at least part of these are culturally, not genetically inherited.

    • We just adopted an African American baby, and people SWEAR she looks just like my Filipino husband. I think you can find similarities between child and parent, no matter how they join your family.

  • One of my biggest fears is that down the road, my partner and I might experience some infertility – something I hadn’t even considered when I was growing up and dreaming about my future children. So while I don’t have reason to ask these same questions yet, I still find myself worrying about surrogacy and sperm donors and eye color and when is it the right time?

    But I don’t know that there’s ever a simple answer to these questions. Maybe it’s one of those things where you have to go with your gut when it is time to make a decision…

    Also? Kelly, I think you’re funny and great!
    “Or just try to find a donor with the stats that are similar to Natalie’s: brown hair, blue eyes, Jewish, nerdy. Oh, and short.”

  • Rizubunny

    This is the one of the only posts that has ever made me cry – because we’re in pretty much the same place, I think. My partner and I have been together for 6 years (getting married in September) and we go back and forth about the baby thing. I always assumed I’d grow up and have kids – so did my partner. But at this point, neither of us want it enough to choose it, but we don’t NOT want it enough for it not to be a huge painful twisting thing when I think about the fact that even if we have a baby together, we won’t be having a baby TOGETHER, no matter what process we use. And the thought of not having kids and expanding our family in that way is really, really hard to deal with.

    Like you, when I heard about the mice I thought “hey, we could volunteer for that!” And I get so angry – like shaking and crying angry, which feels irrational, but hey – that we can’t just have that romance-filled night and leave it up to God/chance/the universe. But when I’m being honest, I value the fact that we do have to talk about it and really make a decision, as opposed to just letting things happen. For now, that decision is not to have kids, but the discussion is always open.

    • Hetro-baby making sex isn’t all romance. If it take a while, it’s a lot of thermometers and timing and anxiety and clenched waiting.

      Now, I’m not saying you and I are in the same boat, because your road has many, many more challenges than mine. Just be careful not to glamorize the Other too much.

      Very few worthwhile things in life are ever easy.

      • Rizubunny

        I’m not romanticizing it or saying that it’s easy – I know how difficult getting pregnant can be, and I have also experienced, with my (male) ex of 5 years, the terror of thinking I was pregnant (I wasn’t) – which is, in its own way, just as heartbreaking. And I’m fully aware that many people struggle with infertility and have to deal with similar issues. But for me, there’s a particular poignancy to the fact that even if both of us are perfectly fertile, there is no possible way that we could make a baby together. As much as I love her, that biological fact is not going to change.

  • This is heartbreaking. I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. I hope God brings you peace. <3

  • I really appreciate this post. Not just because I spent the weekend with my uncles (who are gay, not gay uncles) and their two beautiful daughters (born via surrogate), but also because I’m a woman in a heterosexual couple and my partner can’t biologically father children due to severe illness as a teenager.

    In a different but, I think, no less sad way I get angry too about all the people who just went out and ended up with ‘oops! I’m knocked up!’ And I too have added all these time and biology and financial pressures to our baby-making/rearing. So this really hits home. Thank you.

    • I find myself at times feeling angry (and mostly jealous) that my husband and I haven’t been able to have a baby quickly and easily whereas all around us people seem to be getting pregnant left and right – some of them planned, but most by accident. It’s hard to watch when you have to invest all of the extra time and stress and effort in trying for something that you want so badly, and comes so easily for so many other people.

      • Amy

        This, times a million. We haven’t been trying for very long, but every time I hear about a ‘oops, it just happened’ or ‘he looks at me and I get pregnant’ situation I want to scream. And then cry. And then freak about how I’m probably broken and infertile. Sigh.

        • ElfPuddle

          This. This. This.
          And, *hug*

  • All I can say is ditto, with tears on my cheeks. Paralyzed, by having to make a choice. I just want a loved-filled “opps”.

    • Anon

      On the other hand nothing scares the living sh*t out of me more than a love filled ‘oops’.

  • I have faith that whatever you choose will be the right choice for your family. It can’t not be after so much careful thought!

    I’ll tell you this, though: my entire life people have said to me, “Yeah, I can see how you look like your mom, kinda, but you REALLY look like your dad.”

    My mom is my biological mother. My dad didn’t meet me until I was three. Genetics is genetics, but living in a home together and smiling at each other all the time makes smiles look alike, frowns look alike, laughs sound alike.

    What I mean to say is: any baby you have will end up looking like your baby.

    • meg

      Sniff. And YES, Amber is dead on.

    • Shannon

      Yep, there have been studies done on this! It’s pretty neat how complex the interplay is between genetics and environment… We rarely give “environment” nearly enough credit.

      Oh, and isn’t it a beautiful thing to think about family this way?

    • “living in a home together and smiling at each other all the time makes smiles look alike, frowns look alike, laughs sound alike.”

      This. I love.

    • I was adopted (by both parents) but I have always loved when people would say, “You look so much like your dad.” Somehow, for me it was this little private secret that made a nice warm spot in my heart.

    • Edelweiss

      Reading this I kept remembering the picture from this post:
      And how much she, her step-daughter and daughter unmistakeably looked like a family. Just to whole-hardheartedly agree with some photographic evidence!

      I spent the first 8 years of my life in foster care and then moved back in with my biological family. Everyone told me how much I looked like my foster family when I was them and how much I looked like my biological mom or dad (depending on who I was standing near) when I was them. I swear to you people’s emotions and visions are both run by the brain and somehow the brain communicates family.

    • Cassandra

      Absolutely right – people are always telling us that my daughter, who is 7 and not biologically the Boy’s child, is a perfect mix of the two us. She shares a lot of my looks, but she shares his laugh, his gestures, the way he moves, his facial expressions. You collect the best of the people who take care of you, I think.

    • Angela García Borreguero

      even when i am the biological daugther of both my hetero parents, i look like more towards my family father´s womans, than my mother´s….so even in a straight couple, children will be more similar to one or another of the parents, and not anyone dare ask me if i´m the biological kid of my mother…
      As a hetero couple myself, i am right know as you are…wondering “if” i really want kids, even when all my life i was certain i will love to have tons of them….
      Whatever decision you and natalie take in the end it aill be the right decision to you both. Think carefully, but carefree and try to not get obssesive about the choice….think with your guts if that helps…
      And good luck!!

  • OMG, you pretty much took the words right out of my mouth, Kelly. Thank you for writing this. I feel like a crazy person for feeling jealous that I can’t just have sex with my wife and leave procreation to chance or fate or whatever. I mean, I understand biology, but I still feel like I’m being cheated.

    We’d originally thought of adoption from China because my wife is ethnically Chinese and speaks Cantonese and Mandarin. When China cracked down on their adoption laws several years ago, I was devastated and pretty much decided that I didn’t want to have kids anymore. It took my sister (who did adopt from China) to make the comparison to infertility and having your vision for your family taken away from you.

    Now I’m at that jam table with you and feel too overwhelmed to make a decision. Like you, I look at my wife and think, “I like my life. Do I even want a baby?” At least it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I think I need a support group. Anyone else out there feeling ambivalent?

    • meg

      Y’all, the ambivalence thing is there regardless of orientation, I think it’s just not talked about very much. I think, culturally we’ve decided to think of parenting as the second coming, something that should complete your world… instead of just a thing that happens to most people. And given that, it’s hard to move forward if you don’t feel like, “ZOMG I NEED THIS TO COMPLETE ME!” Which. Might not even be a normal feeling (or might just be a hormonal one). And in reality, kids are just kids. Awesome small people, but not tiny Jesuss (plural… Jesusi?)

      And yes, the leap to making gay babies… so much harder.

      • Shannon

        First… Jesusi? Ha ha! That’s really hilarious.

        More importantly, THANK YOU for saying this! It can be hard to deal with the second coming attitude towards parenting. As someone closer to 40 than 30 and still not wanting/planning kids, this larger cultural attitude can be very isolating for people like me (and my partner). I get why having kids is a profound experience, and I understand why people decide to take that leap. But it’s a whole lot more complicated than just automatically knowing you want kids…

        And even more complicated in a gay relationship.

      • “I think, culturally we’ve decided to think of parenting as the second coming, something that should complete your world… instead of just a thing that happens to most people.”

        As someone who has been ambivalent about having kids for years and is still not feeling the gaping kid-size hole most people my age apparently feel in their lives… I appreciate this.

        • meg

          David always tells me that it’s better to have kids because you have an awesome life and want to share it… than because you’re trying to fill some gaping kid sized hole. Who knows if he’s right, but it’s cheery, right?

          Which is not to say you SHOULD have kids or anything, just that, yup, you don’t need a hole in your soul to do it.

          • Cass

            Totally agree. I want to have kids eventually because I want to have a family to share my live with. But having kids is just one way to have that family.

            I completely get the ambivilance. I think part of it comes from other people’s attitudes towards kids, that they are tiny jesusi. That freaks me out more than a bit.

      • A-L

        Umm, yes. I’ve felt that ambivalence since I was a teenager, feeling that I could go either way (sometimes I’ve pulled more in one direction or the other, but never firmly staying on one side). But I married someone who was pretty firmly on the pro-baby side. And lately I’ve begun to be pulled toward that side as well. I don’t know if it’s age, or me trying to ramp up my expectactions/excitement for something we’ve agreed we’re going to try to do, or some other random factor. But yeah, just wanted to affirm that there is ambivalence among people of all sexual orientations.

      • Anon

        Thanks for this. As someone with a great deal of ambivalence I needed to read this today especially since I’m currently pregnant and married to a wonderful man who has always known he wanted to be a father. I know we’re ridiculously lucky and I am excited but I also think our current life is pretty close to perfect….

        • Lauren

          I’m pregnant too and a bit ambivalent! My husband and I both wanted this and I’m excited that I’m pregnant but still ambivalent. Really, how could one not be about such a huge life change??

          • I am 27 weeks and still have moments of ambivalence, but I think my head won’t be able to wrap itself around the enormity of it all until she is born.

            And it think that is ok too.

      • Have there been any reclaiming wife posts about women who didn’t want to have babies? Or is that more of a post for A Practical Family? Still, would be interesting … so much of the way we conceive of family is kid, wife and mother are always uttered in one breath that it is really hard for people to see not having kids as a real choice.

        • meg

          Yup! It’s only one of our most commented upon posts ever!

          • Vee

            I vaguely remember that post and I know I loved it. I would love to see more along this line if it ever comes up. Ambivalence is my middle name right now – all day every day do I or don’t I. I would never compare it to the misery of wanting and being unable, but not knowing is tough stuff.

      • Thank you for saying this, Meg. J. and I haven’t decided if we want to have kids yet, and I’m beginning to suspect that I’m one of those women who will never feel the “Oh my God, I *need* to have a baby” urge. Since so many people have told me variations of Oh just wait a few more years and your biological clock will start ticking, I’ve sort of been waiting for that to happening and worrying that if it never does, it would mean that I’m never supposed to be a mother (since Good Mothers all desperately want their babies, right?). It’s both scary and oddly reassuring to hear that no, babies can be a choice, made with levelheaded practicality rather than some kind of overwhelming need.

        • Honestly? I only starting having the strong must-have-baby-urge since we started trying. We talked, made choices, looked at finances, pulled the goalie. And only then did a strong baby need show up.

    • I sometimes feel ambivalent! But I also agreed to no kids with my wife, and she is not ambivalent. I could still use a support group sometimes. Also, sometimes I wish that we could just slip up and, Oops, baby! Because we would obviously love it when it came out. It’s just that when that can’t happen, it has to be such a decision…. which I think is a good thing for the world and the kids that come out of it – those kids are really, really wanted – but tough for those of us who maybe want kids but maybe don’t.

    • “I feel like a crazy person for feeling jealous that I can’t just have sex with my wife and leave procreation to chance or fate or whatever.”

      This is also something that’s often present regardless of orientation, thanks to money and health and other things that stop us from getting what we want now (or having to make choices about how to get what we want). I empathize with you deeply.

  • Oh Kelly this is an amazing post. I often ask my self the same question, even though it’s not nearly as complicated for me, it’s still complicated and it’s still hard and scary… really hard and really scary. I’m hoping that you guys find a happy solution that satisfies you both, and if you do decide to have a baby or babies, I’m sure it will be great.

    Also have you been watching Look Around You? Awesome.

  • Elisa

    Oh boy had I never thought about the complications for gay couples having babies! Your questions are all valid and must be excruciating. One day, I will just be a regular mom who had a baby with her husband and I already find it stressing to think about everything a baby entails.

    Since you said that simplicity is a driver is your life, as it is in mine, I suggest you always keep in mind your initial goal, which I’m guessing is raising a child with your partner. Yes, it would be fantastic to birth a baby that would like both of you, but trying to do so seems to entail a whole lot of intervention and deciding. And even if only you is the biological mom, the kid will still get to look like your partner, in a way. I am always struck by how some of the faces I make or the postures I take are those of my mom, even though I don’t really look like her. When I look at photos of me, I see my mom. I don’t have her eyes nor her skin colour nor her lips but I have her smile. I don’t look like her but I feel I have some of her spirit in me. I’m guessing that’s how your child will feel about your partner.

    All this to say, even if it isn’t how you imagined it, you’re still getting what you want : a baby with your partner!

    Hope it helps!

  • I am kind of obsessed with this conversation, which is a little bit sad since we’re just not having kids, and a little bit happy because I don’t have to actually make a choice, I can just fantasize about options. But here are some of my favorite lesbian-baby-making options:

    1. If a partner has a brother and all parties are willing, able, and think they can adjust, use the brother as the sperm donor! I admit there is a skeeve factor there at first, but then imagine that your baby will be biologically related to all members of the family (if that’s important to you), grandparents accept baby, baby has some of your partner’s qualities, yay!

    2. Each partner carries the other person’s egg and all use the same sperm donor. All moms are “the real mom” (wince), just in case anyone asks, on both a family level and a biological level.

    3. You and your partner fill out a form as though she were the sperm donor, and then you try to find an application that matches as closely as possible. Obviously this misses some things, but it gets you pretty close.

    It’s all messy to talk about, too, when discussing “real” parents (because both parents are real parents, dammit) and donor vs. father vs. bio dad vs. IS there a dad? Sorry if I used any language that makes anyone uncomfortable, but I hope I got my ideas across.

    Kelly, good luck to you and Natalie! Remember, however you do it, you’re going to end up with your kid, and it’ll be a damn good kid, no matter what.

    • Love this list! We couldn’t ever use Natalie’s brother (long story) and Natalie can’t carry a child (a whole other struggle and loss for us) due to medical issues. BUT I almost jumped out of my chair and did a dance with your third suggestion- brilliant!! We are actually going to do that!
      It is super messy with language. I’m from a very complicated family. I know how much power a word can hold (like your bio mom finding out you call your step mother mom because she held more of a ‘mother’ role). We think, if we use a known donor, that our kid would call him his regular name like “Bob” but we would refer to him as ‘your biological father’.

  • Shannon

    Yes, it’s great that we have more and more choice as time goes on… and I am really thankful for that! I also think it’s important to acknowledge that having choice has its own challenges, and each of us have journeys to take as we navigate all those wonderful choices. Thanks for talking about those challenges! I think that ultimately facing our choices with courage and doubt as you are inevitably makes us grow as people, and the more people doing that growth as individuals, the more collective growth we do as a culture. It’s weird to think that doubting something is somehow courageous, and that by doing so we are often led to the answer we seek… Life is strange and wonderful.

  • Jennifer

    “And sometimes I get angry that I can’t just have a romance-filled night, and suddenly, whoops, I’m pregnant! And while some straight people have to go down the path of medical intervention and testing and stuff, most start out with this happy, beautiful dream. But I don’t get that dream.”

    I will say, getting that dream and then having it definitively ripped away after you’ve tried to follow it is pretty damn sucky. At the same time, I’m also grateful that my husband and I don’t have to go through searching for a sperm donor on top of the other stress, and especially glad not to have to deal with questions of which of us is the “real” parent like a female couple does. (I guess that could come up with a male couple using a surrogate, but I think that’s less common, for a number of reasons, than a female couple conceiving with sperm donation, at least among families I know.)

    And I totally feel you on the paralyzing nature of the choices (we’re very limited on the grow-your-own baby front, but when we look at adoption, there appear to be dozens of jam jars). Also on the “wait, is this really what we want?” when faced with these major, major choices. I think that comes up a lot in any big life choice — I certainly had moments of it during wedding planning, and house shopping — but prospective parenthood feels like a whole new ballgame.

    • I agree, I don’t know if it’s better to never have had a dream that it would be easy… or to have always thought it would be easy and then have it heart-wrenchingly ripped away. For instance my partner sometimes says that he doesn’t think he’d want a sperm donor who looked like him because then the babies could look like ‘his’ kids that he’d imagined being a bio-dad to but couldn’t be… so is it better if they just look like me (providing I don’t have any health problems, which we haven’t confronted yet)?

      I don’t know if this is really different for same-sex couples if you haven’t had this previous idea in your mind…

    • Amy

      My husband and I talked a lot about this in our pre-marital discussions. Due to a health issue, and some family history, I just wasn’t sure if I’d be able to have kids the “old-fashioned” way. And the last thing I wanted was to be told I couldn’t get pregnant without help and then needing to have a first conversation about IUI, IVF, adoption, etc. at that point. Some people also are really tied to having their own biological kids. And if that was going to be a deal-breaker I needed to know then, and not later on.
      Anywho – procreation discussions can be scary, but they’re still good ones to have early on.

    • Claire

      I will also say that the romance-filled night and oops! experience is kind of a dream for most people, regardless of sexuality. Of course, my heart goes out in a hundred thousand ways to those who don’t have the choice to have a “fully” biological child – gay or straight – but I have to say that the romance-filled night was always a dream of mine as well… a dream that was absolutely crushed as soon as my husband and I strated trying to conceive. There’s nothing romantic or unexpected or spontaneous about it… as a PP said, it’s all about thermometers and charts and checking your underwear religiously and forced, awkward intercourse… followed a few weeks later by a flood of tears over yet another negative test.

  • This was one of the most moving posts I think I’ve ever read on APW. As someone who thinks A LOT about what it means to be a family, it cuts me right to the core.

    And while I have no business talking about the struggles of family planning (Michael and I just aren’t there yet), I want to tell you this:

    I share some genetic makeup with my immediate family, but not much. I look *a little* like my mom, but she’s blonde and tall and I’m short and have dark hair. The man who raised me is in no way legally or genetically bound to me. Plus I don’t even have the same last name as my parents, step-parents or siblings, so as far as the world is concerned, I could be the cute next door neighbor kid who follows my family around.

    BUT, when I call my mom’s house, I inflect my voice in such a way that my mom’s husband can’t tell if it’s me, my mother or my sister. And THAT kind of relation is something you can’t make in a test tube.

    Your kids (should you decide in the end that you want them) will be so ingrained with your personality traits that they will inherently look just like you and Natalie. Even if their genes are tall and protestant.

  • Kelly, thanks for letting us into your world. You’ve taught me something about myself and others, and like Meg mentioned in the header, I won’t take the ability magic (and FUN!) baby-making my partner and I have for granted.

  • my wife was adopted, and even knowing that i think she looks *so much* like her brother (also adopted, different biology)…and in fact almost nothing like her biological brother. and i know a number of folks who were adopted and got that “oh! you look *just like* your mom!” anyhow.

    granted, it’s a little different with two mothers…but people tend to see what they want/expect to see.

    choice is the problem for me, too – albeit in a totally different way. i’ve realized – even though the last thing in the world that i want is to be pregnant and i have always assumed any kids i had would be adopted – i’m jealous of accidental babies. having a kid is not the problem for me. it’s *choosing* to have a kid that i can’t quite wrap my head around – it’s just too big. speaking of how we used to think this worked, it’s a shame it isn’t just a stork delivery service; i think that would work for me.

    • hah right?? then you could still have that “oops!” when the stork accidentally delivers to the wrong house..

  • Well, first thing first, my aunt and uncle have two adopted kids. The kids totally look like them. I believe looks are half nature, half nurture.

    Thank you for being so open with your considerations. All of a sudden, I feel like my straight marriage kid considerations are so simple. I wish I had more along the lines of wisdom to share, but I do not. I will think happy, healthy thoughts for you and Natalie on your shared baby-making journey.

  • Although I empathize with you about the complicated and stressful decisions ahead, I actually differ a bit on my overall view at the gaybies quandary. I think as a queer couple we are lucky because there aren’t any societal expectations on families. Typically we don’t have to field as many baby making expectation questions. I know all my hetero friends immediately after their weddings had to practically put out a press release regarding their plans for procreating. And if we chose not to have children it is more likely we won’t be scolded for being selfish (which is the complete OPPOSITE) or (mis)informed that we will be living unfulfilled lives.

    But all this is not to say that your dilemmas are not completely valid. Good luck in your decision making.

    • A-L

      “I know all my hetero friends immediately after their weddings had to practically put out a press release regarding their plans for procreating.”

      Yep! And not only do you need a press release, you need to keep on releasing it about every month or so to the same people it was already released to, because obviously babies are so wonderful that instead of deciding to wait for a few years, we only wanted to wait a month. People regularly inquire into our baby plans at work, at church, even our families. And these are from family members that never once put any kind of question or pressure about us having babies before. But as soon as that we slipped those wedding rings on, BAM. Anyway, just wanted to say that this is really true. In fact, it’s the only “you’ll see” I’ve done to a recently engaged friend.

    • Anonymous for This

      I don’t know, we’ve been getting “so do you think you’ll have kids?” questions since we got engaged. Better than “when are you having kids?”, but definitely some family pressure. So… progress?

  • My heart goes out to you in this struggle. We spent a lot of hours debating the who and the how and when, even though we started knowing who the daddy was going to be. (And a lot of hours in family therapy figuring out if we *should* have kids.) I don’t know that I have any useful advice for how to make that decision, other than to lead with your gut. In the end, it didn’t work out exactly like we planned, but I think it did work out for the best, and I’m happy now as the 2nd mother to both of our girls.

    I did find, post-baby arrival, the book “Confessions of the Other Mother” to be pretty helpful in keeping my sanity while figuring out the non-bio mom thing. And, on the appearance question, oddly enough, while our oldest looks just like her father, her little sister looks like *me* (the standard joke around the house now is that I’m *just that butch*) which is a neat trick considering that R and I don’t look alike at all. And both of them have mannerisms from all three of us. So, to echo many of the team, your kids will look like both of you no matter how they arrive. The best of luck to all of you.

  • Annonymous

    If you are worried about which of you girls the baby would look like, you could always try both of your eggs during an in vitro cycle. When the eggs are implanted back in side of you, you won’t know if it is your eggs, or your wife’s eggs. Sorry for the complete lack of technical terms here, but I recently went through the process of donating my eggs to my sister. I was worried about how I would feel about “her” baby once she is born. Because of this, the doctor did discuss pulling eggs from both me and my sister, putting them together in the dish with the sperm, and then going from there. We would not know which egg created the baby. This would be more expensive, however, as both girls are going through the egg retrieval process. But I just wanted to let you know about that option. By the way, my sister and I did not end up doing that. I just gave her my eggs (it really wasn’t as simple as I am making it sound) and my sister’s baby girl is due this September! Good luck to you!!

  • Kelly, seriously, how are you so awesome? That is just about everything I’ve thought about the process of having a child on paper.

    It’s even more fun for me because my ovaries are just going ‘BABIES. BABIES RIGHT NOW. BABY BABY BABY BABY BABY’ and I feel like the (medically imposed) cut off of 35 is looming over me. I know that 35 has nothing to do with what my personal fertility will be (hell, my mom had me at 36 and my brother at 40 and we’re both fine. I mean, we’re weird as hell, but that’s a family trait), but still… 35! YOU NEED TO HAVE KIDS BEFORE THEN.

    But then, YOU ALSO NEED TO OWN A HOUSE BEFORE HAVING A CHILD. Which, really? In DC? And YOU NEED A BETTER PAYING JOB WITH FLEX TIME BEFORE HAVING A CHILD. And maybe YOU NEED TO HAVE A COLLEGE FUND BEFORE HAVING A CHILD. And then… can I just be paid to be neurotic and come up with ridiculous scenarios for people? I’d be really good at it.

    I just resent sometimes that I’ll have to save thousands of dollars to have a baby while friends of mine get them by accident. We had a ridiculous number of weird questions/responses to our wedding (no, neither of us is wearing pants, nor will we have matching dresses), so I can’t wait to see what we’ll get for gaybies. And yes, one of my brothers could knock up my partner, but can you imagine your mother explaining that to friends at the grocery store? I can and it TERRIFIES me.


      I’m nowhere near planning to bring a baby into our family but I think a lot like this when I do consider it. I put so much pressure on myself to have the perfect start to being a perfect parent but you know what’s so fascinating? Lately I’ve known a handful of really great women who started a family when they were living in someone’s pool house, or working jobs they hated, when their partners were about to deploy on very long missions, or with an empty savings account and so far, their little families are just as bubbly and bright as parents who started with all the things you listed. There’s a magic to choosing the right time that I just can’t pin down but usually if there’s love and an overflow of joy involved in the decision, the results are all the same: a happy baby family.

    • Jovi

      Christina, this cracked me up, and it’s so true. Not only is there this age cut-off, there are also so many things you’re supposed to take care of by that deadline — madness!

      Kelly, thank you for sharing.

    • Marina

      Augh, all the “YOU NEED TO”s drive me craaaaazy. It’s such a culture of fear thing, and not even remotely based in reality. You know, reality, where everyone has kids all the freaking time. Not that I think there’s no reason to worry about having kids… but, I mean, infants don’t need much: food, shelter, and someone to hug them. You got those, tada, you’re ready for kids.

    • meg

      Oh, though, Christina of Steady Happy should calm those fears. Baby Bea came about with her partner’s brothers sperm, and oohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh baby. And it’s no one in the grocery store’s f*cking business.

      • Oh, you’ve not met my mother. It’s not that people would pry, it’s that my mother would volunteer it. Who she’s friends with. Just cuz.

    • Eryn

      I understand what you’re saying about the pressures to be perfect before you reproduce. My little sister and her husband of two years (her high school sweetheart) are expecting their first child right now. She has done everything in her life so far perfectly. My path through adulthood has been a little more…windy. A little more I-didn’t-figure-out-what-I-wanted-to-be-when-I-grew-up-until-I-was-26-y. And then came graduate school and I’ve been trying to find a teaching job for two years and my fiance is broke too but we’re having a wedding in four months anyhow because he wanted it and the end result is I’m 30 in March and nowhere near financially ready to have a baby.
      I worked in childcare through college and grad school. For six years. And I still want a little one with my bone structure and his coloring and all of the precociousness and Sub-Saharan thirst for books that would be a part of a kid made of both of us. But we live in a falling-apart house we rent from his parents. And we’re aware of the cost of college in 20 years, not to mention birth in a hospital (I mentioned home birth and he put his foot down. His foot not being regularly stompy, I pay attention when it is) and bottles and diapers and…
      Thus when I had pregnancy apprehension last month, I was faced with the reality that if I was in fact pregnant, it would probably end with a very sad appointment at the clinic rather than a healthily screaming newborn. And I finally had to say it out loud last weekend when my dad started talking about what it will be like when I have a family: I most likely am not going to have kids. I can’t envision my life getting together enough in the next few years to have babies. Being very overweight (working on that as we speak) and having a heart condition kind of impose a window of opportunity that does unfortunately close at about 35. I’m also trying to start a new career in an unpredictable economy, in an environment that is very hostile toward teachers. If I do manage to land a job, I can’t see the practicality in leaving it in a few years to have kids. And sadly, unlike my fiance, I don’t have enough faith in the universe to start something like that under bad conditions with the best of intentions and just hope it will work out.

  • Thank you so much for this post. I feel like I am always reading blog comments that are like, “Thank you so much for saying this, it is exactly how I feel!” so it feels trite and cliche, but thank you so much for this post. I’m sitting here crying at work in some kind of frustration and gratitude. Frustration because I feel like I always have this anger at having the easy path ripped away from me. (Just yesterday a coworker was innocently asking me how I plan to create my family, and it was all I could do not to launch into a full on rant about how lucky the average hetero couple has it.) Gratitude because I feel validated; there is no easy choice. There is no simple path. But it helps to know that I’m not the only one going through this.

  • Amy

    Kelly, this post was so awesome, and so brave. Thank you for being so open with us.

  • Anonymous for This

    We started trying to conceived last year just after our wedding – lesbian couple, donor sperm, natural cycle IUI (ie, nobody put me on any fertility drugs). Our two tries last year were unsuccessful, and I was surprised at how angry I felt. I have never regretted or felt bad about being gay, but I was mad about the fact that we couldn’t just have sex and get pregnant. It just seemed so unfair. I didn’t want to have to pee on sticks and find that perfect fertile window and worry about calling out sick to work to get pregnant. I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars each month trying to make a baby. I was so frustrated and wondering if I really wanted to have kids that much.

    That said we took a break, tried again this spring, and voila, bun in the oven. And now all that anger seems like a distant memory, and now I am just so very happy – and my wife is too (even more so on some days because she doesn’t have nausea and a new 9 PM bedtime). It’s still to early to announce to the internets, and it’s not that there aren’t other things to worry about, but at least for me, the concerns you are talking about have gone away, which is a good feeling.

  • Cassandra

    I really appreciated reading this, because of a conversation I had last week with a close friend who happens to be gay. She said something about how she’s certain she doesn’t want children and she’s happy that in her case, it takes a lot of very conscious thought and action and decision-making to have a baby, that there can never be an ‘oops.’ I came away from that conversation thinking that for someone who was quite certain they don’t want kids, that must be a relief. She’d also discussed how comforting it was to her that if she chose to have children, it would be due to really, really wanting to take that step, and as someone who believes very much in people choosing to have the children they can can care for and want, I often wish more individuals and couples put emphasis on very clearly considering what goes into raising child. While I’d thought before about how frustrating and unfair it is that some couples (whether lesbians and gay men or couples with infertility issues) have to put a lot more money and energy and time into having a baby, I hadn’t considered the other side of it though, for women and men who so desperately want to have the ‘magic’ of it just happening. You really opened my eyes to a side of this issue that I hadn’t considered.

  • As a 34 year-old soon to be mom, I cannot tell you how many debates I had both internally and with my partner about starting a family. It was not an easy issue for me. Once we made the decision to proceed, I thought that it was a done deal . Notsomuch. So Kelly, I hear you.

  • charm city vixen

    I spent the better part of two years as a nanny for two incredible kids — a girl and a boy. I’m not sure what path their moms chose to conceive, but each mom had one kid. Let me tell you — the kids look like absolute SIBLINGS. And they both have characteristics of their moms (both moms). Both moms had to discipline the kids, kiss their boo-boos, teach them how to walk, talk, and have manners. Both moms go to any school-related functions, pick them up from soccer, and have equal say in what happens to the kids. Pretty normal, right? Sounds just like my dad and mom and what they went through while raising me and my sister.

    The kids and their friends never really considered one of their moms not-a-mom; it’s more than biology. And really, doesn’t it always come down to the fact that it is more than biology? Biology is just how we are made — experiences and love is what shapes a child and a life.

  • Another Rachel

    Thank you for sharing this. As a psychologist currently beginning her dissertation on psychological barriers to parenthood among lesbian and gay adults, I think these are really important issues to talk about. Not sure if you’ve looked at partner-assisted reproduction, in which you could carry a child conceived with donor sperm and your partner’s egg. This way, you would both be biological mothers.

    I’d also recommend that you check out the books “Buying Dad: One Women’s Guide to the Perfect Sperm Donor” and “Confessions of the Other Mother”. The first is a lesbian woman’s memoir, and the second is an edited collection of short pieces. Best of luck!

  • I want to “exactly” this entire post AND all of the comments. My wife and I have talked and talked about if/how to bring kids into our family (we’ve concluded adoption through foster care, if we decide to do it)… and I would say we are still somewhat ambivalent. I am a nanny, and there are days like today when I want to kidnap this little girl and keep her forever, and days like yesterday when I can’t imagine how I could do this for more hours in the day than I do already.

    Kelly, thank you for sharing this with all of us.

  • Dea

    My fiancee and I have gone through the same difficulties. It is really heartbreaking. I want to have *her* child and it just won’t ever be possible, and worse, there is no one to blame. It just is. We try not to let ourselves think about it too much because it’s too sad. I still do want a child or two though, and we’ll probably go the unknown donor sperm route. (With me carrying.)

  • Jacquetta

    Kelly, I love you. I love that you are always so open and honest and fearless. I want to thank you for sharing this beautiful, super intimate part of yourself.

    Building and defining a family is hard work, and I agree…WAY too many choices for me…I’d be happy with two types of jam to choose from, thanks.

    Shaneequa and I seem to talk about babies just about everyday. And it gets a little crazy. There are definitely times when I want to stomp my feet, throw up my hands and say “well, if I can’t have EXACTLY what I want then…f*ck it!” But I never do because I’m stubborn and refuse to accept what I would consider defeat and let the “powers that be” win. We’ll show them!

  • jessica

    the only thing that gets me is she will be the other mother… what else would she be? you two would be raising the kid/s together. you would be one mother and she would be the other or you would be the other mother and she would be the mother… depending on who is holding the baby at the time. i would go for one egg yours, one egg hers, you carry… so you both have the experience of having kids that are both of yours. or you could carry her eggs and have the baby/s look just like her… either way works. either way gets a baby, and the second you see that baby/s it won’t matter, trust me. the best thing is? you get to pick and you have that choice. but honestly, no matter how you go about it, the doctor is going to be up in your junk all the time and you will have a baby coming out of your junk and people looking at your junk while the baby/s come out… no matter what you do. and no matter how you get there and what ever hell you endure, it is worth it in the end, because in the end you get to be a mommy for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. so what ever it is you have to get through to get there, it will never compare to holding that baby or being a mom and kissing a bald head and you cradle your new baby in your arms… you just have to do what you want and follow your heart and not factor in what other people think. i would also embrace pregnancy, it is a beautiful thing… who cares what people ask! your you! not them!

  • Kelly- So many of these questions Laur and I have already started to talk about- and it does break my heart that we will never see what our own genetic material would look like in a beautiful little child. And there are so many choices, and the choices are paralyzing because who is ever READY enough for a child to make all of these calculated decisions? I mean, obviously some people are because people do it all the time- but just…gah!

    What I can say though, is that I didn’t meet my step father until I was 13. When people see us together the can’t believe that he is not my biological father. We share so many strange characteristics that it is truly uncanny. When it comes down to it you are doing this for you and Natalie and the beautiful little gaybies that you bring into the world, and you will make the right decision because it will feel right to you both. Even though it’s stressful, make sure you stop to enjoy it- this might be a once in a lifetime experience!

  • Anon

    Dear Kelly,
    I want to comment on a different aspect if your post. Infertility treatment is hard. I’ve been there. But if you decide that you really want a baby it us so worth it and usually works. Yes, it takes time and us very emotional, but at least youre in a state that has insurance coverage ( half don’t) and at least you’re not starting out with medical factors against you that have to be overcome ( most if us did). So some unsolicited advicr: if you decide that you want kids, take time to find right doctor ( makes huge difference) and consider how lucky you are that the miracles of science can enable this for you and your wife. You’re luckier than many.

    • Yes, I’m scared and know infertility treatment is hard. I’m so blessed to have insurance *right now* through my partner. Which is also what is making me sweat. It’s like a ticking clock because I honestly don’t feel ready to have a baby at this exact moment. But the idea that if we want two kids, and we have 4 years of insurance left? That has me in a panic that I have to do this nownownownow or face costs I can’t afford.
      I actually may have ended up doing infertility treatment anyways, straight or gay, as I have celiac disease and unfortunately, it ravaged my body before I went gluten free. I was told I should get fertility testing before even trying to have kids because I most likely would have major fertility issues. This was all when I was 16, so I had just come out and wasn’t thinking about fertility at all. I have no idea at this time what my fertility is like….
      Then add to that I have a bleeding disorder just makes it allllll the more fun and complicated.

      • anon

        hi- me again:
        I don’t want to impose my ideas on you, so just take this for what its worth. A good doctor is worth his/her weight in gold in this scary, intimate, intense journey. I always feel a little more in control (and that’s part of why fertility is so scary — loss of control, loss of how we thought it was going to be) when I have information. So– you could go for a consult and have some testing and just see what your options are. Maybe your ovaries are rockin and you can cross that issue of your list. or maybe their not and you decide you want to freeze some eggies for later. It will help give you some data and some may be good news. But at the same time, since you don’t feel ready to have a baby right now, then you shoudn’t. Isn’t that it? If, later, you and your wife come to a different decision, you’ll assess options. YOu’ll take those eggies out of the freezer, or you’ll see how much insurance is left (4 years is a long time), or you’ll adopt. I think we all have to do what’s right for us right now.
        By way of context– I went through some tough fertility treatment and deal with depression. I”m now preganant with twins, and girl, you have got to be ready for this! it is intense. and the babies aren’t even here yet. So don’t rush yourself. Good luck! Happy to chat more.

  • Shawn

    I know on the parent end of things, the “oops, it just happens” scenario would be so much easier and less stressful. But I wanted to say for all of you amazing women planning and saving and struggling and willing things into existence, even if there is ambivalence at times, these are the lucky kids. I’m one of those that worry, “but the school debt, how will I ever be in a position where I can be the ‘perfect’ mom? We won’t be able to afford a house and I’ll have to work too many hours!” But then I remember that the fact that I consider these things and that I do my best to make the life that will make me happy means that my kids, if I’m lucky enough to have them some day, will probably feel very loved and have all they need. And that there are plenty of innocent “opps” babies out there that maybe aren’t that lucky. So, whatever path we all take, I’m really confident that any woman thoughtful enough to be part of this discussion will make a beautiful parent, however that comes about.

  • Candis

    My partner and I have been having this same discussion for years now and we too, are paralyzed by choice. Thanks so much for being willing to put your real felings out there for us all to share. I know(somewhere in my head) that others are struggling with this as much as I am, but now I really know.

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