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.