This post is part of Mombian’s 12th Annual LGBTQ Blogging for Families Day! Here’s the link to contribute!
I came out in February of 2001 when I was in 10th grade and only 15 years old. It was not well received at home and the first thing my mom said was that I would never have kids. I had been saying I wanted to be a mom when I grew up since 2nd grade, was always a baby magnet, and played with dolls until I was at least 12. I took her comment to heart and decided by the time I was 18 that I would not have children as I couldn’t bear to bring them into such a messed up world (9/11, Bush, no legal gay marriage, hate crimes, racism…). I was also afraid of imparting my health problems on another child, namely migraines at the time.
I didn’t know any LGBTQ people with kids until a couple years after I moved to Chicago, and even then it was just in passing. It all seemed distant and not really attainable for me. When I was 21, and was in the midst of an emotionally messy and drawn out breakup, I had a strong feeling that I would decide to be a parent on my own. I had never heard of single moms by choice before and after making the statement I promptly forgot about it until much later.
By 23, my main occupation was as a nanny. I still loved babies and kids and was honing my skills of diaper changes, bottles, teething, and managing twins on trips to the park. I entered a two year relationship and while recovering from two wrist surgeries in 2005, I discovered the world of parenting blogs. I clicked, scrolled, and read for hours on end like it was my job. I wanted to know all the details of being a lesbian parent (I didn’t find many dad blogs) from how they got pregnant to the day to day and to how they dealt with negative people and incidences. My girlfriend at the time was well aware that I liked kids and knew I wanted to be a mom, but then began joking about how she’d only make a good accidental parent and didn’t really want to have kids. When that relationship ended, for that and other reasons, I immediately threw myself into getting pregnant and becoming a single mom by choice. I didn’t want to wait around for the “right” partner when what I really desired was to be a mom. I no longer viewed becoming a parent as reliant on first having a partner. I could do things out of order and if I ended up meeting someone later they would accept me and my child.
My first order of business was deciding how to go about getting sperm. I knew my options for this part as it was something I would have needed regardless of being in a relationship or not. I also knew that while some people could get pregnant easily at home with fresh or frozen donor sperm, other women needed much more extensive medical help to get and stay pregnant. With my nanny income, I doubted I could afford to purchase sperm from a bank, but knew that if I did I’d want it to be from a willing to be known, or ID release, donor. I started perusing banks and making lists with the knowledge that health and a little extra height to offset my 4’11.5″ were all I really cared about. In the meantime, I approached an old friend who had offered to be a known donor many years before. He liked the idea and agreed, but the night before I was to take my second pregnancy test, he changed his mind stating a conversation with his mostly absent father as the reason. I was heartbroken, not only because I would no longer be trying to get pregnant, but because I had fallen in love with him. I was mostly in denial of my feelings, as I had been out as a lesbian for 11 years, but we continued to see each other often and acted like we were dating. I knew it wasn’t going to last because he had decided he didn’t want kids, even one he had no responsibility for.
I put my baby dreams on hold and focused on work and my health as well as dating women. I also started reading everything I could on lesbian conception and found a few resources for single moms by choice. My friends and roommates knew that I wanted to have a kid and eventually that lead to me finding another known donor. It turns out he had been under my nose for quite a while and we had even spent hours over midnight cornbread discussing my donor sperm options, race, and parenting. By this point, I had decided to move to Denver for a holistic nutrition school and had one cycle to attempt to get pregnant with his help. This time, I kept my heart out of it, but my cycle was a mess due to move stress and lots of physical activity. I inseminated five time in the matter of a week and a half and the other side of my two week wait was post move. I was naively hopeful, but it didn’t work.
After I moved halfway across the country, it became apparent that it was a good thing that that cycle hadn’t worked. Money was tight while I got situated in Denver and I had zero support system there. I spent the next year working, in school, enjoying the queer scene, dating, and biking, while I tracked my cycle and mourned every ovulation that I could not inseminate. I had no idea how to go about finding a new donor and my financial situation was not great. After landing a decent paying nanny job, finding a great apartment and a roommate who appeared stable (turned out she wasn’t), I decided to start trying to find a third known donor. I searched on craigslist and eventually found my way to the Known Donor Registry. After a few anxiety filled failed attempts at communicating and meeting up with potential donors, I got an email on the site from a man who immediately set me at ease. I knew this was the way to go and was filled with a sense of calm relief (and a hint of excitement) when we emailed.
This donor and I emailed a handful of times in the spring of 2012, he sent me his family health history, pictures, and a sample of the contract he had used before. He is married and a dad to two girls as well as a donor for at least 3 families now, I haven’t kept up on how many but have a feeling we will all connect in the future. The catch with making an insemination happen is that he lived an hour and a half drive south of me and I was happily car-free. I mentioned my plans to some of my friends at the gay country bar, where I was learning to line dance and two-step, and a friend volunteered to drive me. I estimated my ovulation, hashed out our work schedules, and I loaded myself up with “smiley” ovulation tests.
Though I was realistically hopeful, I had no idea in the moment that this would be it and I was finally about to become a mom. The rest of the insemination story, two week wait, and testing will have to be saved for another post. Overall, my parents were supportive when I told them I wanted to be a single mom. I had found an online group for lesbian parents that proved very helpful and became a community for me. I started this blog between my first and second donors as a place that I could write about this journey and have been keeping this space for 6 years! I have since found other lesbian SMCs through Facebook and blogging, which has helped me to know that I am not alone on this journey no matter how lonely and alienating it can feel at times.