Getting Pregnant With Michelle Tea: Sperm Donor Debating

Donor kids suffer from a higher rate of depression, addiction and crime, regardless of the economic standing of their family.

Apr 1, 2013 at 1:00pm | Leave a comment

So, remember that awful test I had to have, where they put some awful balloon sort of thing into my uterus and fill it with water and cause me strife? I have to have it again.
 
I’m still healing from my last procedure, but in a couple weeks my uterus will be ready for evaluation. Once they take a peek inside again to make sure the embryo kitchen is spic n span, I’ll be able to get knocked up. I get to have it done in Dr. Wendy’s office, which means insurance will cover it, which is awesome. 
 
While scheduling this on the phone with Dr. Wendy, I ask for a Xanax.
 
Being a sober drug addict means I’m always going to feel creepy asking for a pill, but I figure I’m asking a real doctor, and if it’s not appropriate she can tell me so. When I think about the last time I had this done, at the fertility clinic, and how the thing kept popping out and it hurt and how after I was left sort of teary and trembling, I want a pill.
 
This is admittedly tricky. Addicts have a habit of wanting to feel good good good and only good all the time. Just feelin’ rad, 24-7. If something comes along -– say, a feeling –- and bunches up our good time, we can’t handle it. We want the bad thing to go away, and/or the good thing to come back. A pill is a real shortcut to that.
 
Maybe if you’re not an addict it’s no big whoop to banish a moment of anxiety or discomfort by taking something. But for an addict, who’s to say what is a legitimate pill occasion? I try not to mess with it, but I just don’t want to go through that experience without something to take the edge off it. It felt like a form of torture.
 
Dr. Heidi proscribes me a single valium, which I am told to take one half-hour before my test. Which I will be taking the bus too. Which means I’ll be popping downers on the bus, like old times! Fun. Maybe. 
 
image

A photo from the era of popping downers on buses.

 
I can’t stop tripping out on how my quest to become pregnant has left me on two forms of birth control. An IUD, to make sure my wounded uterine walls don’t knit together in the healing process, and Birth Control Pills, to plump up my uterine lining. 
 
After an orgasm, I can feel a little twinge way up in my parts. I know it’s the IUD and it makes me a tad squeamish. Who wants to be reminded of their internal organs all the time? Though the last procedure never had me in terrible pain, I do get a weird ache now and then, and on the night of a reading at UC/Berkeley I’m throbby enough to take one of the super-powered Ibuprofens I got sent home with. It sits in a bottle in my medicine cabinet next to the untouched bottle of Oxycodone. 
 
While I’m detailing the minutia of my business, let me share that a strange discharge has been leaking onto my unders ever since the doc popped the IUD up there. I ring up the office to ask about it. What if it’s an infection or something? It’s not green or smelly or anything, but still.
 
I’m assured by the nurse that discharge with an IUD is very common. So I’m not abnormal but I am, frankly, a little gross. Which doesn’t encourage feelings of sexiness, but that’s okay for the moment because guess what? Dashiell has learned she is allergic to cheap toilet paper, and isn’t feeling her sexiest either. 
 
Can we have a minute about Dashiell being allergic to peasant toilet paper? She is a prince! It’s a true test of royalty, like that chick who couldn’t sleep with a legume tucked under one of her million mattresses.
 
Dashiell can’t use common TP. It has to be the soft stuff. This makes me feel even more tender towards her, and wonder when oh when will she be contacted by royalty and informed that she is in fact the heir to some throne somewhere, but was placed in California for safekeeping. That’s going to RULE!
 
image

My Prince -- Photo by Sophie Spinelle

 
The blog I wrote about trolling sperm bank paraphernalia posts, and I read the comments with building alarm. So many donor kids sharing their experience of feeling confused or betrayed, different in a bad way. It’s upsetting, and depressing. If sperm banks are the only option for so many lez couples, and the kids grow up feeling stressed about it, what does that mean for lez families?
 
I remember a conversation -- no, a fight -– I had with an ex who thought sperm banks and IVF were totally screwed up and damaged the offspring. I was so taken aback to hear how upset it made him, especially since, as a trans man, there was a good chance he’s be seeking out a sperm bank for the kid he talked about wanting.
 
Everything he was saying just sounded really phobic and terrible, and we got in a big fight, by which I meant we spoke tensely to one another and then he abruptly left and I laid in bed and cried. Glad I’m not in THAT relationship anymore! 
 
But –- could I have been wrong? Could having a baby this way really create insurmountable stress for the kid? It just sounded so heartbreaking and unfair and homo/lesbophobic I didn’t want to believe it. I did some Googling. Donor kids suffer from a higher rate of depression, addiction and crime, regardless of the economic standing of their family.
 
This info hit me hard. Why would I do anything that upped our baby’s risk of such things? I mean, if you didn’t have to. A higher risk of mental illness, addiction and overall hard luck gets passed along to kids all the time, through genetics or income bracket. You don’t not have the baby. You just stay vigilant, honest with the kid, and have a plan. 
 
But we didn’t have to put our kid at higher risks for all these things. We had Quentin.
 
We decided to not keep inseminating with Quentin because at the fertility clinic, it’s more expensive to go with known sperm than sperm bank sperm. The government requires that all sort of of physical and psychological tests happen –- tests that men contributing sperm to their wives’ IUIs or IVFs don’t have to go through.
 
It’s sort of infuriating -– we could pretend that Quentin was my husband, and save money, or we could go with a sperm bank. So, intimidated by all the costs, we decided to go sperm bank.
 
There was an initial plus to the sperm bank, especially for Dashiell -– the idea that no one else was involved with the creation of our family. Mom, Mom-Dad, and Baby. It gives you the illusion of control, but it’s only an illusion.
 
In reality, three people will have come together to make this baby. Me, Dashiell, and whoever provides the sperm. And that can either be a stranger, who we’ll eventually have to deal with when our kid turns 18, or it can be Quentin. Adorable, sweet, generous, creative, intelligent, politically radical, stylish, gay Quentin. 
 
image

Would a sperm bank sperm donor wear home-made light-up holiday sweaters? Unlikely.
 

 
82% of donor kids want to meet their biological father, and according to the comments I read on my blog, many of them grow up preoccupied with who this dude may be. They wonder if the guy in front of them might be their "dad." If the person they have a crush on could be related to them.
 
I totally get this –- if I grew up without knowing who my dad was, I would be completely, utterly obsessed. I’ve fallen into obsessions with family mysteries that aren’t even that mysterious; an known father? I’d be fantasizing that he was rich, famous, an artist, a genius, would hold the key to everything about myself that’s ever mystified me.
 
He’d be the balm for every wound inflicted by my parents; whenever they didn’t understand me properly, or seemed to be working against my own sense of destiny, I’d be like, "I bet my Dad would get me/let me stay out all night/know how stupid this rule is." I know myself enough to know this 100%. And I know I’m not that unique in the world.
 
What were the chances that our sperm bank donor, when he entered our life 18 years from now, would be even a fraction as adorable, sweet, generous, creative, intelligent, politically radical, stylish and gay as Quentin? I’d say the chances were less than zero. I became filled with urgent energy. We just had to use Quentin’s sperm, no matter the cost! It was just too important! 
 
image

Poster by Texta Queen

 
Oh, and hey, xoJane readers -– my amazingly smart, hilarious and provocative art + literature tour, Sister Spit, will be traveling the U.S. and Toronto all of April! Check out our tour schedule to see if we’re coming to a city near you!