My wife and I have wanted kids since we were kids ourselves. I mean, I definitely have. I guess I can’t really speak for her, but she swears up and down she’s been baby crazy for as long as I have. When people say baby fever, I think they mean temperatures in the high 90s, but I’m talking 150 degrees Fahrenheit and rising since I was probably about seven — there was a small stint in my early childhood where I didn’t care for babies. There’s a video somewhere in my mother’s closet of me at age six and I’m leaning over my newborn brother’s crib and whispering “you smell like all the throw-up in this whole world.” But other than that brief hiccup, I’ve been all babies, all the time.
It’s not just babies, either. I’m an elementary school teacher; I spend my whole life hanging out with, and frequently, accidentally impersonating a bunch of ridiculous 4th grade boys. I have worked at two different summer camps, volunteered in countless preschools and after-school programs, and babysat for over 125 hours since 2015. My wife works at a library and wants to be a children’s librarian, and she babysits even more than I do, possibly because she is better at making sure we actually have the money to splurge on something before she goes out and buys it. The way we interjected ourselves into our Quaker meeting, and made ourselves known, was by volunteering monthly in the nursery and Sunday school (or, as Quakers call it, First Day School), and befriending every baby, child, and parent we could. It’s been over two years since we first began attending our meeting, and I’m still closest with the moms.
We’ve also known we wanted to start a family since long before we were married. We had a gazillion conversations where I expressed my fear that I was falling in love with her too quickly, that it was too easy to imagine a forever with her, a big family, and our own mini-menagerie somewhere green, and she would always say with so much gentle patience, “But we want the exact same things. That’s half the battle.” If the joke is that lesbians move in together after one date, what does it say about us that we revealed baby name ideas about a month after the first time she slept over? (We’ve changed our ideas a lot about this since then — Evangeline is off the table for now.) The last almost-two-years since we got legally married in July 2015 have been full of meticulous budgeting and planning for children, as well as conversations about how and how soon we could acquire them.
What I’m saying is: we’ve been ready for kids for a weirdly long time, for two millennials in their late twenties. And it just so happens that 2017 is the Year We Try to Get Pregnant.
Here’s what you have to wrap your head around when you’re a cis woman, married to another cis woman, and you want to have a baby that comes from one of your uteruses: it’s expensive, time-consuming, and more stressful than it has to be. Like, there are all these tests that you have to do that barely matter to people who can have babies without medical intervention. CMV status? Blood type? If I, like a majority of baby-seeking heterosexuals, wasn’t paying $900 a vial for sperm, I would not give a single fuck.
Oh, and yeah, you read that correctly. Nine hundred buckarinos for one single measly vial of sperm. And that’s just for one cycle. So that’s how much I have to shell out every single time an insemination doesn’t work and we have to try again. And that’s just for the sperm.
There’s also all the testing, for both me and her, and the actual insemination process itself. It would be really helpful if our insurance covered any of it, but lucky us, we just got rejected on account of us not really being eligible, despite meeting the standard our insurance company sent us in a letter last week: “six months of unprotected sex that does not result in pregnancy.” It’s probably not kosher to say so, but I’ve literally never had anything BUT unprotected sex, and still no baby. The insurance fiasco is rage for another day, though. Just focus on the part where this is getting really, really expensive, and we’re a public school teacher and a library worker. We’re doing pretty okay but we have pinched and saved to get to this point and it’s going to milk us for all we’ve got.
Of course, there is variation in price for sperm banks, so there are cheaper (and more expensive) options, and those are all well and great. If you happen to want white children from a white sperm donor. (Which I guess, most people do. White people always seem to be in some kind of vogue for no real reason that I can understand.)
I, however, am not white, and I don’t particularly want white kids. I’m actually a little horrified by the idea of buying white sperm to put inside my (albeit white) wife. If I had sperm it would not make white babies. I do not want to pay for white sperm. I want sperm from some anonymous guy that looks at least kind of like me, so that my kids look kind of like me, and can lay claim to the same heritage I do.
I was really worried about this for a while, and what my wife would think of my total refusal to bring more white children into this world. I still worry about it, actually. She is a pretty wonderful person, but it does mean she’s risking a lot of weird-ass comments from strangers for the rest of her life. On the other hand, at least the inevitable “oh, you’re so kind to adopt!” comments imply some kind of familial belonging. If our kids looked more like her, I’d be dealing with “are you the nanny?” for all eternity. But she says she’s cool with it. More than cool. She’s trying really hard to learn what it means for her to be a white parent of a black kid long before there’s even a hint of a fetus.
Then again, all my worries might mean nothing if I can’t get my hands on some damn black sperm.
Here’s my challenge to you: go to any sperm donor website. Go to the part of the website where you get to check out the donors and take a look around. (This part is very fun. One website tells you what their favorite animals are. So many of these people go out of their way to be specific as hell, and I just can’t imagine that this is a question that truly matters to anyone who is trying to get pregnant.) Usually, a website will have hundreds of donors to choose from, with a variety of interests, backgrounds, astrological signs, and favorite pets. Now let’s do something fun! In that little drop down menu where you choose the race of the sperm donor, click “black,” or even “African-American” if that’s what you fancy, and watch your dreams of little chubby black babies wither away to dust as “hundreds of donors” narrows suddenly down to, um, 11. Or sometimes four. One of the larger banks I know of has TWO up for offer.
“Does it really matter?” you might be wondering. “Can’t they just choose one of the four and get on with their life?”
Let me point you back up to the cost of a vial of sperm. When was the last time you rolled a pair of dice and paid $900 for it, after shelling out an additional $500-800 for the opportunity to roll the dice in the first place? I’m not here for that nonsense! You wouldn’t buy any old random blue car at the dealership just because your heart was set on blue and they only had two options, right?
That’s the part that really pisses me off. Variety matters when it comes to something important like, I don’t know, choosing the genetic material that will be an eternal part of your future child’s DNA. So why should white people invested in filling the world with more of members of the future minority of America be allowed to choose this white, brown-haired, blue-eyed Sagittarius from Milwaukee over the other, while I’m stuck with either the Scorpio chef or the Leo film student, both of which tested positive for two of the genetic diseases that my wife also tested positive for?
After several months of deliberation and desperate searching for a sperm bank with just the slightest hint of variety, by the way, we now have our hearts set on someone special. According to his profile, his dream lunch date would be with Octavia Butler and he did a project in school about police reform. Octavia Butler Police Reform, if you’re out there reading this, please know how much trouble we have gone through to ensure that you are the biological father of our children. At this current time, the insurance we were depending on is leaving us high and dry and it’s making this other rando’s $500 sperm a stronger possibility over your $900 sperm (is it gold? It better be gold)… so, like, if you ever do free samples, hit me up.