April 21, 2015 by Lindsay King-Miller at Buzzed.com
My partner Charlie and I had been married for a little over a year when we decided to start trying to have a baby in August 2013. Despite being the butch in our relationship and using male pronouns, Charlie knew from the start that he wanted be the gestational parent. He’s always had a fascination with pregnancy and birth — a fascination that once led him to briefly pursue a midwifery apprenticeship — and he was excited to experience all the highs and lows of carrying a child. I, on the other hand, dread physical pain, and was overjoyed by the prospect of becoming a parent without going through pregnancy.
Charlie’s cycle operates with clocklike precision, so we figured it would be easy enough to identify the opportune moment. We started by trying to conceive at home — all you need is a syringe and a clean jar. We painted our guest room in pastels, recruited a dude we know and love to donate sperm, and got underway.
Unfortunately, the magic I’d anticipated was pretty much gone the first time I went for a walk around the block so that our friend could jerk off in our bathroom. After that, we decided that it would be less awkward if he made his donation at his own home, then dropped by with the jar — sperm can live outside the body for several hours, especially if they’re kept warm — but calling and saying, “Charlie’s ovulating, can you come over?” wasn’t very romantic either. We had to skip insemination one month because our donor couldn’t escape his roommates, who didn’t know about our conception attempts, for the requisite five minutes. Also unforeseen was the discomfort of making small talk every time he dropped off his jar, camouflaged in a paper bag — no one really wants to chat about how work is going at such a moment, but without a little conversation the whole thing felt too transactional. “Thank you for your genetic material, Unit B. Your service is no longer required.”
And there was a squick factor that neither Charlie nor I anticipated. We were competent, sex-positive adults who wanted to have a baby — surely we could handle a jar with a little semen in it! Turns out that other people’s bodily fluids are disconcerting, no matter how chill and mature you promise yourself you’ll be about the whole thing. I’m sorry to contribute to the body-shaming and negativity that pervades our culture, but let’s be real: A jar of sperm is super gross. Every month, Charlie would calmly draw up the sperm into the syringe while I shrieked and covered my eyes as though it was the gory scene in a horror movie (no, that’s not true — movie gore bothers me way less).
The insemination wasn’t much better. We had originally looked forward to this part — the two of us alone in our room, sharing the beautiful, intimate moment of creating our future child. Inseminating just before or even during sex is supposed to up your odds of success, which we figured was a bonus. We’d read about it online and it seemed easy, straightforward, and even fun. But it was almost impossible to get into the moment, since we were pressed for time (sperm were dying by the second!) and limited by the necessity that Charlie stay lying on his back with a pillow under his hips. I tried to help with the syringe, but couldn’t find a comfortable angle, so Charlie had to take over.
Nothing kills a mood like a syringe.
(Originally Posted Marrh 19, 2015)
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