Recently the anniversary date of my daughter’s conception passed. I don’t know that a lot of couples who conceived their child naturally really celebrate this the way I do. I mean announcing it to others would basically just be giving them a blow by blow account on how you got jiggy with it on this day however many years ago. I imagine things would get awkward rather quickly.
I made this collage with each picture taken a year apart from the first. It blows my mind to see those eight cells and think that my daughter came from those. I mean I’m pretty sure I have sneezed out more cells than that, how can something that small make a person? I looked at those cells and you know what I wondered? It was less awe in how something that small made an entire person, and more how so much potential for loving bears and ducks was housed within those cells. Toddlerbeast really, REALLY loves bears and ducks. At least a third of her brain capacity seems to be reserved for duck and bear related excitement.
Looking at that picture got me thinking about how different the conception of our daughter was compared to other couples. For a moment I took a step back and looked at my situation and understood some of the curiosity some people have around how two women made a baby. It is so far removed from the good old fashioned way that most people think of when thinking of how babies are made. Sometimes I look at straight couples and am floored for a moment by how differently they made their babies. I know that assumption is of course incorrect in many cases, and that there are many couples out there who are going through or went through all sorts of things to have their babies. I get that, I guess it just isn’t immediately obvious to others around them like it is when you see two women who have had a baby together.
If all goes smoothly sex makes babies. Sex, that simple, really? Just sex! Are you sure there isn’t anymore to it? Sex is so easy, and if you’re lucky sex can be fun too. Sometimes sex involves love and sometimes it doesn’t, but either type of sex has the potential to make a baby if you’re lucky/unlucky. At least one party involved gets to have an orgasm. How great is that? I can’t believe something so easy and fun can make a baby.
Sex is not how we made our baby. As ignorant as it sounds I actually think some people are unable to imagine babies being made without sex that they actually think that I went out and slept with some guy to get the baby in me. No, just no. A million times no.
There is a certain romantic notion of being able to make a baby through the sort of sex that involves love. Talk of how the child was born from your love yadda yadda blah blah making babies is beautiful etc. The thing is though, a child can be created from love that has absolutely nothing to do with sex. Our daughter was conceived from a love that grew and planned for her for years before she was even at that tiny eight cell stage. Here is how our daughter’s conception involved a magnitude of love that not even earth shattering multiple orgasms (lovely as they may be) can compare to.
Let’s start with all the needles. I’m not cool with needles. I’m the kind of not cool with needles where they lie you down because you may faint and they’d prefer to not have to clean up after you’ve broken your nose and bled everywhere. I did the math at one point and I think between the IVF, blood tests and the gestational diabetes there were probably close to 1000 needles needed to get my daughter here. Oh did I forget to mention the needle they put through my fucking vagina (multiple fucking times) to retrieve the eggs when doing IVF? Can’t forget that one. Ha, who am I kidding, you never forget that shit. You will notice the reoccurring theme of me consistently going back to the ‘how the fuck can they do that to a person’ in my writing. Like here: Why You Shouldn’t Buy A Dog Wash Franchise While Undergoing IVF
The love not only came from enduring the needles on my part. The love came from my partner. She knew I had a pretty crippling fear of needles. You may roll your eyes all you want, but there is some deep primal shit that is buried in my lizard brain that says putting new holes in your body is hazardous to your health. So injecting your terrified spouse who may be having a panic attack and crying is possibly even less fun if you’re the one holding the big scary needle. My partner Googled the absolute hell out of how to give the best possible injections. Literally hours spent on the computer watching Youtube videos of other peoples bums being injected, and Googling tips from those who had been through it before.
She also came to every single blood test with me. Something she had done for our entire relationship. Each time she filled a hot water bottle before we left and used it to help enlarge my veins prior to the test so they wouldn’t miss. When they did miss she held my hand and stroked my hair for up to 20 minutes while they poked about in my arms, as I lay there turning pale while my voice dulled to nervous squeaks with each failed attempt. She overcame her painfully shy introverted nature, to insist that they go and get someone else who was more experience to try.
There was love in the saving it took to build a fund big enough to support our IVF and fertility treatment attempts. Love in going without what you want so you could put a few more dollars away. How many luxuries did we go without to save the money it took to make our baby?
Every month it didn’t work our hopes and spirits dropped even lower. My partner did her best to keep them high. Each month we would look at insemination/transfer day as a mini birthday celebration. We take birthdays seriously here, and I was made to feel like a princess. Back and foot massages, my choice of dinner, out to a movie that night. Whatever I wanted was provided with no complaints or eye rolls.
Then came the mini getaways we started booking at the end of the cycle to try and make a negative result seem a little more bearable. They were unkind to our budget, but we took them anyway. My partner insisted because she said that it was worth it to help pull me out of the slump I ended up in every time my period came and I couldn’t stop sobbing.
Despite all the mini holidays and mini birthday celebrations I was treated to during trying to conceive our daughter, I still found myself suffering from depression after numerous failed cycles. A depression that came on over months and wouldn’t lift. The sort of depression where you feel it wrapping around your body like a python that squeezes a little harder with each exhalation and won’t let you re-expand your lungs. My partner came into our bedroom one day to find me sitting on the bed naked and staring at the dresser with a look somewhere between vacant and terrified frozen deer in headlights. The simple task of dressing myself had overwhelmed me and I had just frozen in my spot on the bed. Too hard, it’s all too hard I kept saying.
I wasn’t OK. We decided I should be admitted to hospital to get me back on track and receive TMS (a treatment for depression). It took several days to get admitted and she took time of work to stay with me during that time. There was no risk of me harming myself, but she just kept saying she couldn’t leave me like that when I just couldn’t function. When I was admitted she went back to her 12 hour days at work and came to visit me every day afterwards. I ordered extra sandwiches with all my meals and saved them to feed her when she arrived. A small gesture but it was all I could muster at the time. She reversed our car into a concrete pole when visiting me, and I managed to respond to the incident with kindness instead of anger at having one more (expensive) problem to deal with. That was my love.
We continued on with our cycles when I felt better. We even made a playlist called ‘Sperm Motivation’ to play on insemination day to motivate those gross little fuckers while they worked their magic. It didn’t work, but I know there was love and lots of laughing while she held the speaker above my sperm filled uterus.
Eventually one month it worked. We were both in disbelief. Seeing that second line on the pregnancy test was years in the making if you factor in how long it took us to find a donor/ have the sperm serve its six month quarantine period/ save the money for treatment/ actually get pregnant.
About bloody time! How proud is the look on my partner’s face that she finally managed to knock me up.
Years of every day acts of love went into the making of our daughter. How much love can be expended between two people over the course of years? If you could quantify and add up all those small, medium and large exchanges of love how big would it be? How much love went into making our beautiful duck and bear loving Toddlerbeast? So much love.
Maybe you conceived your baby through having the most mind blowing earth moving tantric sex of your life. If so I’m really pleased for you, truly I am. If there was love involved in that act then that is wonderful too.
There was love in my daughter’s conception too. Perhaps you can’t imagine it when you get caught up in all the details of how we made her, and how foreign and far removed from your situation that is. Just believe me when I say that my baby was created from love too.