Like many people I take Google for granted. I have learnt that for every question there is an answer somewhere out there in this magical thing called the internet. In my household obscure yet compelling questions such as ‘I wonder how jellyfish reproduce?’ and ‘Do cats fart?’ almost always end with one of us saying ‘I have to know. Hold on let me Google it’ and whipping out our phone or iPad to find the answer.
So imagine my surprise, when on one very important morning I turned to Google to help me find out the most appropriate thing to wear when meeting our potential sperm donor. I typed in ‘What to wear when meeting a potential sperm donor’ and in the first page of results nothing matched my criteria. Strange I thought, but surely the information must be out there somewhere just buried. Information about sperm donors and websites available to match up donors and recipients came up in my search, but a ‘Five Fashion do’s and don’ts for meeting your sperm donor’ type articles I was hoping for were nonexistent. It’s not that I expected there to be a wealth of information on the subject, but surely at least a blog out there somewhere written by some woman who once shared the same dilemma of not being able to piece together the outfit that was quite right for such an occasion. But my search yielded nothing.*
Have you ever typed in a question to Google that you have not been able to find the answer to? The type of question that no matter how you rephrase it the information you are so desperately searching for is just nowhere to be found. Let me tell you this: Not finding an answer to your question on Google will make you feel like an alien from some foreign planet. In that moment; though I knew others had walked this path before me; I felt like the first person on earth to ever find myself in the position of trying to pick the perfect outfit to entice someone into giving you their sperm, but not entice them so much so that they want to do it the good old fashioned way.
I figured, on some primal level you still need to present yourself as attractive. We were searching for that in our donor (amongst many other traits), so it stands to reason that was something he was also looking for. No one sets out to make ugly babies. I wanted to downplay my attributes that I didn’t feel so hot about (read tuckshop lady arms) and play up my best features. Being a lesbian, actively trying to get men to find me attractive was never something I’d invested a lot of time or energy in before. I’ve always had an interest in reading about human sexuality in evolutionary terms, so when trying to figure out how this whole process would go down I turned to the theories I remembered from books and documentaries I had studied prior. What my brain remembered from all of that was when choosing a suitable mate the male brain is geared towards picking a woman with a more narrow waist and wider hips (something about estrogen and fat distribution and fertility). Also, boobs. Boobs are good. Being rather well endowed in this area it was not hard to play to this strength. Lastly, red lipstick. I remembered reading somewhere about the reason red lipstick is so popular is because it mimics the genitals when flushed with blood during female sexual arousal. Nothing says sexy like lipstick that mimics an aroused labia.
So then the second factor comes into play. We are dealing with contradictory outfit dilemmas here which is why I thought the situation Google worthy to begin with. I want his sperm, and I want him to want to give it to me, but I don’t want him to want fuck me. Not in the literal sense. Just in the tapping into his primal urges enough that he decides that handing the stuff over isn’t such a bad idea. So now I must find ways to say this with my outfit. Tone down anything that could be seen as ‘too sexy’. Not too much boob. Not too much makeup (surely labia coloured lipstick is enough to have this one in the bag already right?). No heels. Actually, heels would probably fall in the ‘getting him to want to screw you less’ colum given that I walk like a newborn fowl in them.
My partner and I arrive at the cafe and she reassures me that I have picked the right outfit. We get there before him, and try to pick the right table. Another bunch of questions race through my head. Where do we sit so he can see us straight away? What about privacy, I guess we should make sure it is far enough away from the counter so we don’t feel like the waitress is listening to our conversation. Will the waitress overhear our conversation and know what we are doing? The donor chose this cafe, has he spoken to other couples here? Does this waitress just watch this man come in and woo lesbians into using his sperm on a daily/weekly/monthly basis? All the while having a little laugh to herself thinking ‘there goes another one’ each time. This whole thing feels so weird and secretive, and taboo. I do my best to steady myself. I duck into the bathroom one more time to reapply what will hereby be referred to as the labia lippy (ok, I promise I will stop with that now).
He comes in. He looks like his photo. We wave, he waves back. Ok right guy, thank god. He sits down, we all awkwardly do our introductions. He mentions that this whole scenario is like a cross between a blind date and a job interview. Somehow us all acknowledging how bizarre it feels to meet a stranger and discuss having a child with them, and how that child will get inside of me makes things feel a bit less tense.
So the choosing the outfit part of the morning is over and now I am left with the verbal tap dance that is impressing someone enough that they will entrust you to raise their biological child, while forfeiting all of their parental rights. How do you convey that you would be an amazing parent to someone you literally just met? What would I want to know about someone if I was in his shoes, what would I need to see?
I set about doing what I do best. I talk, and talk and talk and talk. Barely taking a breath for fear of awkward silences. I talk for my partner too. Talking to new people is her absolute least favourite thing to do. She freezes up. I talk enough for both of us and then worry that I have come across as overbearing and controlling for not letting the opportunity for her to get a word in arise. I try to steer the conversation to a place where she can actually participate. She gets a couple of sentences in, but overall I have minimal success. In the end she mentions that she is quiet not because she isn’t interested but because she is shy. He seems to understand. I am so relieved.
So I try to find a way mention all the things that look good on paper to him. Phrasing them in a way that doesn’t hopefully come across as if I am reading from some sort of resume that qualifies us to be parents. University educated, home owners, together going on six years, loving stable committed relationship, animal lovers, we have put a lot of thought into this decision and have been working towards starting our family for years. I think I managed to drop in there that we had a European holiday booked for the middle of the year. If we can afford to go on a holiday surely that equates to financially stable? I hope so.
Then there is the emotional side of things. How do I lay bare my soul to this person I have just met, enough that they see the fierce maternal instinct that has been within me since childhood. How do I show him that I (and we for that matter) have enough nurturing, love, patience, kindness, dedication to raise a child right? How do I show him not only my powerful desire to become a mother, but also my natural affinity for children. I should have brought a demo child with me to patiently chat to while they colour in and then throw all their pencils on the ground and I don’t even flinch. Or a toddler to have them throw food at me at dinner time while I maintain my composure, even after they then grab at my face with their tiny food smeared hands and try to stick their fingers up my nose while I stay calm and in control of my emotions. A three year old perhaps, to have a complete melt down in the cafe only to show him my expert tantrum management skills, gained by reading hundreds of articles on the internet about how to manage toddler meltdowns, whilst simultaneously validating their feelings and balancing their chi and chakras or whatever the hell else the latest parenting researched has suggested is valuable in helping their development.
I do not have a demo child to show these things. All I have is myself and my words. All I know is that my whole life, long before I had a baby that I felt like a mother who was simply without her child. I don’t say this to him it feels too personal, but I hope somehow it shows underneath my incessant nervous rambling.
We ask him a few questions and are satisfied with his answers. He is smart, healthy, attractive and willing to make himself available to the child should they have questions they want answered in the future. Having emailed quite extensively before the meetup we have both discussed how we feel about him prior to the actual meeting. On the train trip to the cafe we discuss a list of ‘no deal’ categories that could come up that would cause us to either decide against him or come back for further discussion. Barring those things coming to light we are happy to go with him. At the end of the conversation my partner and I give a knowing nod to each other and I tell him we would be happy to use him as a donor if he likes us.
He does. We walk out of the cafe excited and a bit bewildered by the whole experience. We found the missing piece to the puzzle. We are one step closer to becoming parents.
*My original search for what to wear when meeting a potential sperm donor came up with nothing on Google almost four years ago. Upon searching for the same thing again tonight I did actually find one blog entry that talks about this here. Still not the thousands of results I would expect from Google, but a step up from the nothingness of the Google abyss I encountered at the time. https://conceivingsolo.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/what-does-one-wear-to-the-first-meeting-with-a-potential-sperm-donor/