The birds and the bees.

When my mother asked how I had gotten pregnant, I responded: “Sometimes, when a sperm and an egg love each other very much…”

This summary didn’t satisfy her curiousity.  I suspect that a story about a stork wearing a rainbow bandana and a pair of leather chaps wouldn’t cut it, either.  Instead, our weekly conversations have now become near interrogations of the whats, whens, wheres, whys, but mostly the whos of Bingo’s conception.

Sea and I have been asked about which procedures we used, which medications, which clinics, how much money, how many attempts, how many months, whose eggs.  We’ve responded to most of these questions with evasions and ballpark answers, with an outright refusal to disclose the answer to the last one.  Superficially my mother seems to accept this, but we’ve learned that she’s been mining my aunt for more information.  My aunt doesn’t know anything more about the process than my mother does, but the very asking of the question reveals her focus on Bingo’s genetics.

That focus moved over to questions about the sperm donor in today’s conversation.  She began casually enough, “So, when you buy sperm from the fertility clinic, how much information do they tell you?”  Following a brief lesson on sperm banks, I explained that we were given quite a bit of information about our donor.  This brought us to my mother’s real subject of interest: how had we chosen?  What criteria had we used?  Who is he?   She asked specifically about his post-secondary education, his ethnicity, his family’s medical history.  (There’s a larger discussion of eugenics to be had in how these are the questions that get prioritized, but I’ll save that for another day.)

I refused to answer.  The truth is that a lot of time, thought and discussion went into picking our donor(s): first Mickey, then Lefty.  There were even spreadsheets.  Like Mickey, we picked Lefty not because of his high SAT score, impeccable medical history or interest in mixed martial arts, but because he was the right choice for us.  The choice was partly made because he resembled Sea, partly because we wanted a Jewish donor, mainly because a lot of his quirks and comments just made him feel right.  But it’s also the truth that it doesn’t matter who Lefty is: Lefty’s sperm comes with countless genetic possibilities (as do my eggs) and, more importantly, Lefty isn’t going to be the parent of our child.  Bingo may end up with my dimples or large head or Lefty’s nose, it’s true, but Bingo is also going to end up with the values, habits, expressions and quirks that will come from being raised by me and Sea.  This is what I want to focus on: not Lefty’s post-secondary education.

So I told my mother that we had closed our eyes and pointed.  That we had flipped a coin.  She wasn’t satisfied, but those are the only answers that she’s going to get.  And, at the end of the day, how much difference is there really between a coin toss and a spreadsheet?  All that we can do is make the best choices that we can, and trust that Bingo will be who Bingo is meant to be.

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6 thoughts on “The birds and the bees.

  1. I love that you are also not sharing whose eggs you used! We are the only ones of our friends who chose to do this, but I think – for us at least – it is important that we are both seen as equal moms! xx

  2. It may interest your mother to know that my daughter came out and looks JUST LIKE ME. Like the spitting image of me. However, she is the carbon copy of my partner in personality. Literally, she has the same facial expressions and attitude. Punky has no genetics to my partner. She also looks nothing like her donor, except in height and weight dimensions. Genetics don’t really mean much in the end, it’s all about how you raise the kiddo and what environment.

  3. Good for you guys for holding firm on your mom’s incessant questions! It sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into finding ways to reinforce with everyone the fact that you are BOTH Bingo’s moms.
    And Bingo will be awesome! We worried a lot about picking our donor but we don’t think that much about him now that Tadpole is here and is his own fabulous, quirky self. That may change as Tad gets older and shows more interest in the details himself, but for now it’s just not a big part of our daily lives. And, fun random fact: even though Tad and I are genetically related, he somehow inherited my partner’s cat allergy and sensitive skin!

  4. Your mom reminds me a lot of my mother-in-law, with whom I have a similar relationship to the one Sea describes…since I’m the one who’s trying to get pregnant (or, will try, we haven’t actually made it to the fertility clinic yet) I am a little worried my mother in law will struggle to love our child as much as she would have if my wife had carried. But nothing to be done on that score. Sounds like you guys have been handling it really well with logic, which is not always something I manage to employ when it comes to my mother-in-law…

  5. I generally favor being fairly open (at least to respectful questions), if for no other reason than I never want our kids to feel like there’s anything shameful that needs to be kept hidden about their conception. However, for situations like the one with your mother, I would totally make an exception. As I recall, we got more questions about our donor from PB’s family than from mine. Mine were willing to hear whatever we wanted to share, but mostly, the how of Critter was less important than the fact of Critter. This time, the questions haven’t really come up, although that likely has something to do with the fact that we used the same donor.

    I feel about our donor rather similarly to the way I feel about my extended family. I know they’re out there, I know they’re genetically related to my family, but that’s about it. It would be sort of interesting to connect someday, but they don’t make me who I am. The genes Critter got from his donor certainly play a part in who he is, but I’ve never believed that DNA is destiny. Critter is himself. A bit like PB, a bit like me, a bit like what we know of the donor, and entirely his own person.

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