A Lesbian Walks into a Bar
By: Lex Jacobson
When the lab at my fertility clinic had to close down suddenly for contamination reasons, I realized how little control I have over the process of conceiving a child. After hanging up the phone and getting over my initial shock that we would not be able to inseminate this month, and that we may have to go somewhere else next month, it hit me just how much I have to rely on other people – and other institutions – to make my dream come true.
Yes, I could get sleep with some random dude that I meet in a bar to get pregnant. This is what straight people like to tell me anyway. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You know you can get that stuff for free?” or “Why don’t you just get drunk and sleep with a hot guy… it would be so much easier.”
Sure. Easy. But also incredibly hard. If the tables were turned and it were my partner that wanted to carry, I can’t say I’d be super supportive of her sleeping with a man just for this purpose. Not because I have some intense fear that she’ll enjoy it and leave me for a man, but because she’s MY wife. Why should I have to share her? Also, we’re lesbians for a reason: We are not attracted to men. And after thinking I was straight for years and sleeping with a good amount of men and not enjoying one moment of it, why would I want that again? For me or my wife? Even if we were both in the room for the attempted conception, I can’t think of anything less appealing. Unfortunately, we also don’t feel comfortable asking any of our male friends to be known donors.
Instead, we choose the mundane route of staring up at a hospital ceiling with a speculum and a much-too-long syringe to inseminate me with sperm from someone I have never met, and may never meet, if my child chooses not to find him when they are older (if I’m even still around). Instead, we pay ridiculous amounts of money for something that we could technically do ourselves, but we would rather be out of pocket and safe about than playing Russian roulette.
I have nothing against people who choose the one-night-stand route, but it’s just not something that would work for us. However, it is incredibly frustrating that because our clinic had to close down for the next few months, there really isn’t a hell of a lot that we can do ourselves except wait until they open again. They prioritized IVF patients, so we were told there was nothing they could do to make our IUI happen this month.
I wish so much that we could have gone to the clinic with our own nitrogen tank, picked up the sample, brought it home on dry ice and done the insemination ourselves, turkey baster style. Unfortunately, for legal reasons, we could not. It’s ridiculous: We pay close to $800 for one vial of sperm, we pay for the clinic to store it, and we can’t do what we want with it. We have to pay the clinic $200 to do the deed.
Yes, sleeping with a man that you meet at a bar may be cheaper, and yes, sometimes I wish we could have that kind of free access to sperm, but the way we are doing this is the way that feels right to us. Unfortunately, shit happens and setbacks occur. I feel completely helpless, heartbroken and angry, but this is another dip down in the roller coaster that has become this journey towards our baby. So this month, we will sit out and try to pass the time. Next month, we will figure something out. And soon, all of this will be just story to tell to my grown-up son or daughter.