I have a recurring nightmare that my wife wants a divorce. Sometimes I wake up multiple times in the night and slide back into the same uncanny scene each time I close my eyes again. Other times, the dream is brief: her telling me she doesn’t love me anymore before I wake up and reach for her under the covers, my heartbeat slowing only when my hand finds hers. The feeling is the same every time: a sickening combination of fear, disbelief, and floundering. I wake up panicked, unsure sometimes of what reality is.
I’m not sure whether it’s a coincidence or not that I started having these dreams right around the time we began to have conversations about choosing a sperm donor.
I don’t remember the initial conversations that well, because every time we talked about it I would get nervous, open a bottle of red wine, and rapidly drink about half of it. But by the third or fourth time the subject was brought up, I was able to calm down enough to discuss it like a rational, non-alcoholic person. (I also grasped that the weird, panicky dreams weren’t a result of my being genuinely frightened of divorce, but a general manifestation of stress.)
Overall, the whole prospect of pregnancy for us is less than ideal. Sure, we have two uteruses. It can’t be denied we have that going for us. We have an overabundance of organs to carry the as-yet-fictional baby in. We have eggs galore. As two women in a stable, loving, albeit mildly wacky marriage, we consider ourselves mentally well-equipped to handle a baby as long as they aren’t born with a cat allergy, but that’s a moot point without the conspicuously absent sperm component. So, with this particular limitation in mind, we set out on the yellow brick road of options for sperm donation. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
As we read through various descriptions and biographies, I was struck with the firm realization that it wasn’t.
I, a woman who has already discovered the love of my life due to some mistake of fate, find it gratingly ironic that at this stage of my life I am still searching for the “perfect man.” I have everything I want in my wife, but no degree of physical intimacy with her will give us a child. We will have to consult doctors, find and source sperm, and discuss our most intimate information in a clinical setting to accomplish that— and that’s just assuming everything goes well. That’s best case scenario, assuming we’re able to conceive with the least invasive, simplest methods.
It’s difficult to feel like I’m searching for someone to complete the family we want because I can’t give her a baby myself. The fact that it’s scientifically impossible at this time to create a baby that’s half me and half her doesn’t stop the want. Much as you can’t choose to be gay, or to fall in love, I can’t help but hold close to my chest this dream that will never be realized.
But, the fact that we have to choose a sperm donor gives us something denied to a reproductively healthy, heterosexual couple: choice. We can select any features we like from a potential donor, from desired eye color to height. For a while, I spent a lot of time concocting the “perfect” combination in my head. What are the ingredients to an ideal baby? Blonde hair? Dark eyes? Athletic genes? Jason Momoa? (I wish.) Which characteristics mattered most? I wrestled with the concept of using a stranger’s DNA and what that meant before I arrived at my answer, which is very simple.
It doesn’t matter. To us, at least. And to me.
It doesn’t matter that my wife and I can’t have a baby that is biologically half hers and half mine. It matters even less what color that baby’s eyes are, whether they tilt up at the corners like mine, crinkle with a smile the way my wife’s do, or something else altogether. It literally does not fucking matter, and I feel ashamed at getting caught up in those details when they don’t make a difference. I was so worried about choosing the features of a baby that would make it feel like ours that I forgot about what truly makes a family. If everything had to happen traditionally, I wouldn’t even be married to my wife right now. Our path to find each other was anything but conventional. And despite how young we were, and despite the fact that we had to deal with initial backlash and confusion about our relationship, we didn’t for one second even consider letting any of that stop us.
We’ve always navigated our life together step by step in the way that made the most sense for us, and that’s the way we’ll have our baby, too. Sure, we’ll have to go through a more complicated, expensive, and clinical process than most couples to get there. But just like any other parents, with any luck we’ll end up exhausted, cranky, and with poop all over us, asking why in the world we did this in the first place. I guess that’s one area where we really are the same as everyone else. How boring.
This was originally posted on gaycinderella’s Medium page and is reposted with permission.