Choosing our Baby Donor: Our story - Part 2
Updated: Feb 23, 2022
Ever sat down to peruse a menu of sperm? Neither had we.
In 2016, after years of unequivocally avowing that I was never having kids – EVER – a biological emergency emerged and Alex and I set out to have a baby, stat.
We had absolutely no idea how to start. Friends of ours were already on the same-sex couple baby-making train, so we went straight to them for the recipe.
They were seeing an IVF specialist through Queensland Fertility Group, so we got referred to the same doctor. We went along to one of their information evenings about IVF, along with a dozen or so other baby-starved, starry-eyed, parents-to-be.
I remember the doctor talking about the percentage of embryo transfers that end up in a pregnancy, and the number seemed suspiciously high. I was quick to raise my hand and ask “Are you talking about pregnancy or actual babies in arms?!?! Because lots of pregnancies don’t end with a baby.”
And I was right. He was talking about confirmed pregnancy – whether it resulted in a ‘live baby’ at the end or not. Mrs Fisher’s Fact Check calls bullshit on your odds, doc!
Still, the chances were pretty good for a woman my age. I was 36 at the time, and although that was considered a little long in the tooth for a first-time sacred baby-making vessel, the average chance of conceiving was about 30-40% per transfer. We liked those odds!
The next step was to see a counsellor to talk about what donor conception could mean, how we felt about it, and how we would talk about it with any future offspring. It was a very bizarre and abstract session, but a necessary step in the process to get access to ‘The Database’ – in our case, operated by a company called Xytex.
To access ‘The Database’, you pay around $700 per uterus. That’s right – because Alex and I were each planning on carrying a biological baby of our own at the time, we got to pay twice.
That’s because, in Australia, each donor is legally allowed to donate to a maximum of 10 ‘families’, and a uterus counts as a family. So in the case of lesbian couples like us, if we both wanted to have a biological child using the sperm of the same donor, we had to purchase two ‘family positions’ out of the donor’s 10 family limit. Confused yet?
Once we’d paid our fees (the first of oh so many), we were given Xytex login credentials to access ‘The Database’. The Sperm Menu. The Donor Daddy Directory, if you will.
Alex and I sat at our dining table, each with a laptop and cold beer in front of us, and perused the menu separately before coming together to compare our findings. We had a shortlist of criteria we’d agreed on:
Physical characteristics similar to Alex’s. Because we were using my egg the first time, any resulting baby was going to have plenty of me in it (sorry, Ivy). It was important to Alex that the baby had a chance of having some physical characteristics reminiscent of hers. We were looking for someone tall, blue-eyed and athletic (Alex was athletic at the time LOL. Kids, eh?).
Someone who sounded sane and calm. It sounds laughable, but as you’ve probably gathered by now, I’m quite an anxious, Type A personality, and Alex is very laidback and even keeled. I was eager to add some balance to the kid’s temperament.
Someone healthy! This was an easy one. Everyone wants happy, healthy kids.
Not a dickhead! Someone who seemed to be donating for the right reasons, didn’t sound like a giant tosser, and was willing to meet the resulting kid/s when they turned 18.
So there we sat. Laptops open, reading donor profiles 20+ pages long. They included highly detailed physical and medical descriptions of each donor and their immediate family members. And I mean detailed. I’m talking, we knew whether they had attached or detached earlobes.
Most interestingly to us, they also included a ‘personal essay’ from each fella to give a sense of them as a person. Most of them either read like cheesy dating profiles or showed little to no effort, a sign that they were only donating for the $50 beer money they’d later spend at the college bar.
Alex and I both saved a couple of possible candidates, but we each had a clear favourite. Thankfully, when we compared notes, we’d chosen the same bloke. He was our guy!
Let’s call him Leo, because I’ve always loved that name. Leo was a 6 foot 5, 230 pound American college football player with strawberry blonde hair who was studying Psychology. I can’t say we were in the market for a red-headed man-mountain, but his essay got us right in the feels.
Where the others had written cheesy bios about themselves, Leo spoke directly to the future children. He shared that he’d been raised by a wonderful stepfather, and that, though it was a non-biological relationship, it was the most important and formative in his life.
He spoke of how much respect he had for the journey that the people using his ‘product’ were taking. He told them he hoped when they were 18, they would contact him as ‘he was sure they’d have questions and he’d love to answer them’. He sounded intelligent, sensitive, considered, and mature.
And that was it. He had our hearts. And Xytex had 3,000 of our dollars for two vials of Leo’s manhood. Thanks for coming.
Leo the man-mountain was going to help us make a family, and make a family we did.