MOVING ON. When Baby Makes Two
After years together, my girlfriend and I had discussed at length having a child together—she was gung-ho about the idea and we had many conversations discussing how we wanted to have this baby and who would do it. I really wanted to experience pregnancy, and since I was older, in my early thirties, we thought I should have my turn first. We decided that a childhood friend of mine, probably my oldest male friend that I have known since we were ten, would be a great person to ask. We’re pretty close even though he lives in Pennsylvania, so we approached him about it, just had a general conversation. And at the time, he said, “Oh, yeah, that’s something I would think about.”
After my relationship with my girlfriend ended, I waited awhile, unsure I would do it on my own. So when I started feeling like I was ready to think about doing it on my own, I wrote my friend Bob a letter. Even though he must have been surprised to get something from me in the mail, I wanted to give him space to think about his answer and say no if he had any doubts. In the letter, I had written, “Remember that conversation we had? Would you be willing to talk about this?” And I said, “Ifyou feel this is not something you’re interested in doing at all, that’s fine, and we don’t have to talk about it.” I wanted to make it clear that I would still want to be friends even if the answer was no. I asked him to mull it over and really think about what this would mean. About a month later I got a call from him—he was completely open to the idea. Hearing him say that he was seriously considering this was exciting but scary—I was really torn, having heard so many
donor horror stories but wanting him to be the one. Even though we are close friends, I was afraid we’d end up with a bad situation. We had a bunch of conversations and he started to have some doubts as we talked it over. He also talked to his therapist and some friends. But it actually wasn’t a very long process. It took a number of months of us talking about it, a couple of months to iron out the terms. In the end, he told me I was really important to him, and he knew I wanted to have a kid, and he felt like he wanted to help. That’s the simplest way to put it.
He and I have such a long-term friendship and I know him really well. He is somebody who hasn’t ever really wanted to be a parent—it’s not something that he really feels he has to do in his life. This made him even more appealing to me as a donor. As we talked, trying to figure things out, we decided, despite our close friendship, we needed a contract for both of us to comfortable with our decision. I can show you the contract if you want to see it, but the essence of it says that he has absolutely no obligation or responsibility, financial or otherwise, and he has no rights. He’s not named on the birth certificate. I make the decisions about school, about everything. And it says that he will be known to Andrew. But it doesn’t say “as the father.” It says that they will see each other from time to time as it’s mutually agreeable, but it’s up to me basically. I can decide they are never going to see each other—I can control it. Luckily, his biggest concern was not wanting to feel like he had any sort of responsibility. And my biggest concern was not wanting him to have any. So that worked, because I wasn’t looking for him to be a co-parent. I wanted this to be my child. If I ever ended up in a relationship, that person might become the second parent. The main thing for me was that I wanted it to be someone that my child could blow and have some kind of relationship with but not have it be as a parent. And some of it, also, is the particular person—I think that Bob is really a great person. I suppose if I’d ended up with a donor that was a friend of a friend of a friend that I didn’t know very well, I might have felt differently. I probably would have ended up at the sperm bank.
It was complicated to even try to become pregnant because we live in different states—but it took six times over ten months, and at age thirty-six I was pregnant. During the time I was trying to become pregnant, I began to think about how I should rearrange my life for this kid. I have a job with crazy hours and I lived alone with just my cat. I had this great single life—I could come and go as I wanted. But I wanted a life for this kid to include more people than just me and the cat. After I got pregnant, I got serious about making changes. I talked to my friends about wanting them to be a part of this kid’s life in an involved way and so I pulled my circle of friends in closer.
Looking back, this was my nesting period. I also joined a baby group, a bunch of pregnant women, some single, some not partnered, some straight, some gay. In that group I could share everything that came up while pregnant and I felt like we were all in this together. It’s what your generation would have called a “consciousness-raising” group, as we would share stories about the gross assumption people make seeing a pregnant woman. Everybody assumes you’ve got a husband stashed somewhere. Even the women in the group with husbands could laugh about the bizarre experience of having a stranger put their hands on your stomach and ask about your sex life. It didn’t seem to matter that we live in such a progressive area. Between the baby group and my other friends, especially my good friend Maggie, who became my roommate, I felt my life becoming more stable. As I got big, my group of friends grew too, until my world felt big enough for this kid.