Plan B. Well, it was Plan C for a long time, but before that it was Plan B. Now it might be Plan A, actually.
What is the plan? A known donor.
After three unsuccessful cycles with frozen sperm, we checked in with our GP and began running tests on my hormones levels and general health. At that appointment, my doctor asked us if we would consider using a known donor given that frozen sperm is expensive and loses a large percentage of its mobility in the freezing process. We weren’t expecting this question, and for this first time in many months, we actually opened up to the idea.
After the appointment, went went to for vegan thanksgiving burgers (yum) and began writing a Facebook message to friends of ours.
How do you ask someone for sperm? I have no idea what is right or wrong in this process, and I have no tips on how to mitigate awkwardness or communicate genuine gratitude for just reading the plea for help. But, if you were wondering what such a plea looks like, here is ours:
after a few months of trying to make a baby, we find ourselves at a crossroads; we can’t keep trying with only unknown sperm from a bank because of the costs, the general laziness of frozen sperm, and our fear of the winter trek to winnipeg and back. we are writing to you today from boon burger, open and vulnerable, listening to first aid kit with a question:
would you, ______, consider donating sperm to our queer baby-making on the prairies project?
your name was the first on our list of kind, gentle, caring, and rad sperm-producing people that we know. we are happy to have a conversation about the process, the legalities, and the ins and outs of what this might mean for all of us, _______ included.
we are writing because we want to give you time and space to have a conversation, and to think about the questions you might have for us.
we don’t want this to become a weird thing, so ‘no’ is a totally ok answer. we’ll keep moving and continue to think highly of you both. our friendship is not sperm-dependant!
with hope and gratitude,*
Thinking back, it took us so long to seriously discuss using a known donor because of the vulnerability associated with asking for help. I have walls. Big huge barriers of walls. Some walls behind those walls. And last minute booby-traps. Not asking for help in this process was a a wall I built for myself, but it was also shaped by someone around us who I let weigh in too heavily on the process.
At a beautiful summer-time queer wedding in a barn, Norse and I had a conversation with lesbian acquaintances about the process of gayby-making, and about whether or not we were going to inseminate with known sperm. I gave our very rehearsed list of reasons, including we don’t know anyone we would want to ask. Unexpectedly, Norse looked at me and said, “well, we would ask _______. He is at the top of the list.” A mutual friend of the maybe-donor was listening in on the conversation, and exclaimed “oh ________ (his partner) would never go for that. She would shut that right down.”
And just like that, I let someone who moves in the same group of friends as Norse and I make a decision for us, and for our maybe-donor and his partner.
Thinking back to this moment, and writing it down, tells me that I still hold some pain from this interaction. I am surprised at how willing I was to let someone else draw a line of im/possibility in our lives. And yet, that interaction told me exactly what I wanted to hear in that moment. I wanted someone to tell us that asking someone for their sperm was just too much to ask. No one would be willing to help us (me) make a baby.
That day in my doctors office, my GP gave me permission to ask for help, told us that we were worthy of help, and that we had people around us who would want us to be parents as much as we want to be parents (ok, maybe not quite as much).
Since Boon Burger, there has been wine and conversation, plans, and phone calls to lawyers.
Plan B is shaping up nicely. Sometimes you just have to ask.
*my partner does not believe in capitalization