Maybe God is Trying to Tell Me Something

R and I have been wrestling with indecision over whether or not to continue updating this blog as our struggle grows more painful and lengthy. It’s difficult to remain your plucky correspondent these days, and we both tire of telling the story. But today I remembered that one of the reasons we started this blog is to help others have a better understanding of the unique challenges GLBT families face as they grow. We also wanted our friends and family to have a way to read about our choices and experiences when we don’t feel like delving into all the details. So in the spirit of our original intent, I’m writing to update you on the goings on of your favorite infertile Myrtles.

[Imagine witty commentary about Christmas vacation here]

In the middle of our annual pilgrimage home to the Midsouth, we made a 24 hour trip to Ohio to see a new fertility specialist, Dr. A. The long and short of this sudden move is that our adoption prospects seem dim, and we certainly cannot afford to undergo IVF here in the Pacific Northwest. We looked into treatment options in Canada, Israel, and…Ohio. Perhaps not surprisingly, the latter turned out to be the most sensible option. We have relatives we can stay with in Ohio, and Dr. A came highly recommended by a family friend who is currently prego thanks to his medical intervention. On a whim, I called Dr. A’s office to ask if they happened to have any appointments during the short window of time we were planning to be in the Midsouth. They did, and so in the midst of finishing up the maddening preparations for Handmade Christmas, Part Two, we scooped up all of R’s and the KD’s medical records from various and sundry clinics (four in all). Armed with a mountain of papers and a healthy dose of skepticism, we arrived at Dr. A’s office ready for a grueling four hour visit.

I wanted to leave as soon as we stepped through the door.  The other patients were reading Redbook and Ladies Home Journal. The penholders said something about miracles and God. I was petrified.

Well, either my fears were unfounded or the staff flagged our chart with a big fat LESBIAN sticker because every single person treated us like the couple we are, and I give them mad props for that. The only hiccup was when T, the financial coordinator, asked R and I to pose for our “mom and dad picture.” She quickly corrected herself and we all had a good laugh. After we had our picture made Dr. A came in to greet us, starting off the conversation by congratulating us on our newly won freedom to marry. This, from an avuncular Egyptian-American man casually sipping on a caffeine-free Diet Coke. Well, alrighty.

After a perfunctory review of the stack of records I brought, Dr. A put forth his hypothesis on why we haven’t conceived, and declared his optimism for our chances of success with IVF. We were led to the exam room, where R endured the usual poking and prodding while I made a half dozen phone calls to Dr. T’s office in the PNW. Four hours and a mountain of paperwork later, we were all set up to start the treatment protocol in about two weeks.

Then we came home. I looked at the prescriptions for eight drugs R will take over the course of three weeks. I contacted the pharmacy for price estimates. I calculated the nauseating cost of one fresh cycle of IVF. Even though Dr. A’s price tag is roughly half what it would be here in the PNW, I felt sick. And today my queasiness has turned to rage mixed with incredulity.

Pause and try to picture this. You want something very badly. You’ve practically tripped over yourself to make it happen, spending one year’s salary and at least 20% of your time on the effort. You haven’t succeeded, and whether you ever will is anyone’s guess. Over the course of two and half years you meet with multiple experts who try to help you solve the puzzle. You watch your spouse stab herself in the abdomen with hormone injections, drink wretched potions of Chinese herbs, cut out all manner of tasty food, limit her intake of alcohol, cut out caffeine, avoid vigorous exercise, and go to acupuncture on a weekly basis. When you are finally told that none of these measures is going to cut it, you look into other paths to your goal. They all appear blocked. You’re getting desperate, and all around you other people are easily (and cheaply!) succeeding at the very thing you want so much.

And then you meet someone who proposes to help you. He sits behind a desk and makes small talk with you. He is confident when you are not. He tells you exactly what you need to do to achieve your goal. It won’t be easy. It will involve many more injections and significant physical discomfort.  You are willing. More than willing. And then he asks you to give him $15,000, and promises in return, a 35% chance of taking home the thing you’re after. Do you say “Where do I sign?” or do you laugh maniacally?

On the bus (AKA Tax Payer Trolley) this evening I was chewing on this very scenario, and wondering what on earth possessed me to ask where to sign. I became enraged at the whole business of fertility. I can’t imagine another (realistic) scenario in which I’d be willing to part with tens of thousands of dollars for a 35% chance of getting something that other people get for free. I can hear my mentor clucking her teeth and saying, “If you’d go for that I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell ya.”

I don’t know what the “right” course of action is. I only know that I keep getting the sneaking suspicion that we are trying to force something that simply wasn’t meant to be. And I don’t even believe in “meant to be.”

Nor do I believe in special messages from God, and yet today I’m reminded of that scene in The Color Purple in which Shug hears the choir singing from her estranged father’s church. When she can no longer ignore it, she joins in the refrain

If you can’t sleep at night

And you wonder why

Maybe God is trying to tell you something

Cried all night long

Something’s gone wrong

Maybe God is trying to tell you something…

The tearful and hesitant reunification of Shug and her father gets me every time. And anytime I’m unsettled, her song reverberates in my mind. And now I’m left to wonder, is God indeed trying to tell me something?

Fresh Perspective

Yesterday we started care at a new fertility clinic. So long, Dr. S, and Hey There, Dr. T. We were both really nervous about the appointment because we honestly didn’t know if Dr. T would send us away with no hope for a biological child–a reality I feel guilty admitting we aren’t quite ready to face. To brace myself for the meeting, I began looking into our adoption options again, which seem fairly limited because we are a same sex couple with neither the money to pay the exorbitant private adoption fees nor the emotional strength to bond with and raise a foster child who may be removed from us after months or years in our care. But still, I wanted to have some hope to hold on to in the event that Dr. T advised us to stop TTC.

We were in Dr. T’s office for three hours, the majority of that time was spent with her. She gave us a layperson’s version of a talk she gave recently, flipping through powerpoint slides on her computer and using fairly complex graphs from clinical studies to explain her plan for us. I was in nerd heaven. R said she just wanted a pie chart. That reminded me of one of my stats professors, who thought there was only one legitimate use for pie charts, pictured below.

In the end a pie chart might have been more helpful because all the the charts and statistics are just sitting in one giant word salad in my brain. But the gist of it is that even accounting for 4 poorly timed cycles, we are in the unfortunate position of having passed through the stages of TTC that had the highest probability of success and entered the stage that yields diminishing returns for the same effort (and cost). That was disappointing to hear out loud, but not so different than what we already suspected. There is no explanation for our lack of success thus far, which is really frustrating, but I’m glad that none of us is interested in wasting time trying to suss that out.

Dr. T suggests 1-3 more cycles before we call it quits and move on to IVF or adoption. She’s stepping up our game by adding in two more medications, one of which is an injection R will have to take for 5-7 days. These medications will not only increase our chance of pregnancy but also the risk of twins or higher order multiples, so the first cycle will be a little nerve wracking while we figure out how R’s body responds to the injections. We have to go to the doctor multiple times this month for more tests and closer monitoring to be sure we don’t end up with an octomom situation. It all feels very invasive and it’s hard to know where to draw the line and say ‘we’ve given it our best shot but now it’s time to re-envision our family.’

Each month it feels like we are renegotiating boundaries between us and medical intervention, between us and the amount of risk we are willing to accept, between us and the amount of money we are willing to part with, between us and the KD. It’s an emotionally grueling process to constantly make decisions about these factors that could have a long term impact on our health, finances, and social life. It’s also difficult to make all these decisions in front of others (doctors, KD,  a small group of family and friends) and wonder if we seem crazy or selfish. One of the women who responded to the quandary I wrote about the other day had this to say about her experience with infertility treatment:

We went through infertility for at least 5 years. For many of our close friends and family member, however, it was a very fertile time. This was extremely hard on us. In spite of trying to access our best selves – their fertility represented a lot of heart ache…at seeing we could not do what “anyone” could do….and our heart ache at feeling jealousy and anger instead of joy over a loved one’s miraculous pregnancy. It felt wrong to feel that way, but it also felt wrong to have to have shots in the butt every night. Wrong at having to talk to doctors about our sex life. Major life ick.

If you are pregnant, God bless you and your beautiful child. You are entitled to your joy, whether you struggled or not! Joy!

But…your friend/sister/cousin who is in infertility hell (mourning/hope/mourning and on and on) is in heartfelt pain – most likely masked, but it is deep and sad and life altering. I get it. We went through it.

During this time in our lives, it was almost impossible for people to know what to say. Yet, somehow, one dear friend said the most touching and poignant thing to me: “I have no idea what you are going through, but I want you to know I will always be here for you.”

Done! That said it all – even those of us who have gone through and survived infertility are different. True, we have a commonality, but our reaction to the same ludicrous invasions of privacy and dashing of “normal dreams” is highly different.

I think her comments on how invasive this whole process is, and how unrelenting the cycle of hope and mourning, are a clear window into the pain we have experienced over the last year and a half. But I think we are stronger for it, cheesy as that sounds. Our relationship has been tested and strengthened by the conversations we’ve been forced to have, by the decisions we’ve had to make, and by the coordinated effort this whole endeavor has required. And we’ve learned to let it be one piece of life–occasionally at the center, but not always. I hope that some day Bean will occupy its place, and we’ll have a whole new set of decisions to make.

OPP (Other People’s Pregnancies)

Last night I spent an embarrassing amount of time reading through NY Times readers’ responses to another woman’s quandary. The woman wrote to the Motherlode blog to ask for readers’ advice on how to gently break the news of her pregnancy to her infertile friend. I was touched by her sensitivity and admire her kind spirit, especially as someone who has found myself having an unexpected and unpleasant reaction to OPP.

Some of the Motherlode readers were real ass hats about the way that they described the infertile friend. They assumed (based on the pregnant friend’s fear of telling her happy news) that the infertile friend is the antithesis of a friend–a childish, self-focused, emotionally stunted tantrum thrower–if she can’t be immediately thrilled for her pregnant friend. But the majority of readers were kind to the pregnant woman and her friend, helping illuminate the best way forward for both of them so that their friendship can (hopefully) continue to thrive. It was somehow cathartic for me to sift through the responses, and discover two gems. First, that other infertile women have experienced the same unsavory and embarrassing responses to OPP. Second, that many of those women are now parents by hook or by crook.

So, dear reader, in case you ever need to know how to sensitively announce your pregnancy to a close friend who is trying desperately to make one of her own, I have distilled the readers’ responses (excluding the ones from the ass hats) to a tidy list.

Don’t delay. Don’t wait until you are visibly pregnant and there’s a chance someone has already spilled the beans on Facebook. Your dear friend shouldn’t be the last to know. That will make her feel like you assumed she couldn’t handle your news.

Consider giving her privacy. Readers had pretty mixed reviews on this one, but I think most agreed that it might be best to write a very honest and loving email, or to call your friend on the phone. Some vehemently opposed this approach, advocating for an in person convo–but then your friend risks displaying an uncontrollable emotional response that she feels badly about later.

Do NOT, under ANY circumstances say you were not even trying to have a baby. This is pretty much the worst thing you can say to someone who is devoting considerable time, energy, and finances to conception.

Acknowledge that you anticipate the news may be hard for your friend to hear. This is NOT coddling (I’m talking to you, ass hats). It IS giving your friend the space to grieve without embarrassment or shame, if that is what she needs to do.

Let your friend take the lead. A lot of women suggested that you avoid talking obsessively about the pregnancy (your symptoms, the nursery, baby names) and wait for your friend to ask you for details. This seems like a reasonable approach to any subject and any friend.

Try to understand that your friend’s sadness does not mean she isn’t happy for you. In our culture (and in most others) we greet the news of a new human with joy and celebration. In most cases, your friend will join the party, but she may just need to grieve a little first. It’s not that she isn’t happy for you, it’s just that she’s unsure if she’ll ever experience the same joy, no matter how much she wants it or how hard she tries. This is the thing that some readers just could not grasp. I thought that this woman did a nice job of explaining:

Having been on the infertility side of this, I can say it isn’t jealousy that you feel. It’s in no way the same thing as getting jealous over a friend’s new job or nice clothes. “Appease her bitterness?” Wow. I’d frame it more like trying to be sensitive to someone in a difficult situation. I have a friend who’s a widow; I try not to complain about my husband around her or go on and on about comparatively small problems. I think that’s OK. It doesn’t mean I’m coddling her and that she should just deal.

What infertility feels like is that multiple times every day you are confronted with something very fundamental that you and most others want to do, to be, but that you cannot. You are stuck in repeated monthly cycles of hope and despair. You feel broken, defective…

I think it is nice that the pregnant woman wants to soften the blow for her friend. It’s hard to know what to do when you’re in her position. I think the best advice is to email the information so that she can hear the news and let it sink in without having to put on a reassuring display of happiness. She almost certainly WILL be happy; she just may need a moment to process the news and find the right words.

So, there you have it. The basic rules are be sensitive, try to understand your friend’s perspective, know that she will be happy for you in good time–just your average approach to friendship in general.

I have talked with other women who struggled to attend (or simply didn’t attend) their friends’ and relatives’ baby showers. So I was really touched to read this sweet post about two sisters, one expectant and one infertile:

I was the infertile person among my friends and my four sisters. It was awful to feel so jealous and sad. When my sister Michelle got pregnant, and my sister-in-law, and my other sister and I didn’t, it was just so, so difficult.

My sister did something very kind that really helped me. On the day of her baby shower, I was having a very hard time, but I told myself that it wasn’t right to make everything all about me. I retreated to the bathroom once or twice, but I played all the games–and won them–and bought a great gift.

At the end, my sister gave me a beautifully wrapped gift and card. In the card, she said, “Thank you so much for coming to my baby shower. I know this was a difficult day for you. This gift won’t make up for what you really want, but hopefully when you wear it, you will know how much you are loved and how much I appreciate you.”

Inside was a gorgeous, soft angora sweater in one of my favorite colors, fuchsia. And though it didn’t make up for what I wanted, a baby, it showed great compassion on her part because up until that point I’d felt like the most selfish, self-centered negative person.

So, back to your friend….It won’t be easy to tell her, but tell her–in person if possible. And tell her that you wish the same thing for her…and you understand that she may not be able to take full participation in everything, but you will continue to reach out. And be kind.

We should all be so good to one another.

Post Script

Cop’s Wife’s post about her son dressing up as Daphne is still generating about 5 comments per day, and one of the comments led me to Crystal Smith’s blog post about gendered language in TV toy ads. Smith has added a prologue to her post, in which she addresses its two main criticisms and acknowledges her observations were not part of a rigorously researched academic study. That said, it’s fascinating. A University Professor told me that the goal of ethnography is to make the familiar exotic and the exotic familiar. Smith has done just that. I don’t think any of you will be completely surprised by the distinct difference in the word clouds generated from an analysis of TV ads for boys’ and girls’ toys, but seeing it in print makes the implications more difficult to ignore. My quick review of a few blogs and articles about gender norms for children seem to offer more advice for parents of children who don’t conform than for children who do. And what’s an educated, liberal pacific northwesterner to do when her daughter LOVES princess crap?

Mom, R and I talked about this a bit during Mom’s recent visit. R and I have joked that we’ll probably wind up with a princess girl because we loathe all things pink and sparkly. Mom (with 33 years of parenting experience) advised that we can’t control what Bean likes or doesn’t like, and we will need to find a way to nurture her interests even when they are incongruous with ours. I don’t suppose this would count?

Gender Benders

In the TTC (trying to conceive) world, there is plenty of chatter about sex selection and some family planning books devote a few pages to the topic. In Stephanie Brill’s book, The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth, the section on sex selection did not provide any “how to” advice. Instead, Brill advises would be parents to answer a few questions, like ‘What does having a girl mean to me?’ or ‘What is it about having a boy that appeals to me?’ Hers was the only book I read that asked thought provoking questions where most others dole out advice. She cautions the reader against confusing sex with gender, noting that a child of the desired sex may not fit the mothers’ gendered ideal. The questions made me think a lot about the cultural imperative to define a child’s gender from infancy. I have a friend who just gave birth last week, and she did not learn the sex of her baby until he was born. Keeping the baby’s sex a surprise was one way she shielded him from gendered expectations (and the clothes that go with it).

Apparently sex specific clothes (pink for girls, blue for boys) are a relatively new phenomenon that began when marketers realized they could get affluent parents to buy twice as much stuff by distinguishing girls’ and boys’ clothing and furniture. No matter how much I want to opt out of this prescription for gender appropriate clothing, toys, and behavior, I’ve been socialized to fit it and it’s really hard to fight! Before I knew his sex,  I went shopping for a gift for my friend’s baby. I left the store empty-handed because I was afraid the clothes I liked would be too boyish for a girl or too girlish for a boy. Now, I could blame this failure on the clothing manufacturers for dichotomizing the options, but the truth is that I am the one who chose to conform. Not everyone does, and bucking tradition can have major consequences for mother and child, as this blogger surely knows.

I love that Cop’s Wife stood up for her son, and I hope I’ll be just as fierce an advocate for Bean. (I also hope I’ll read as many books as Cop’s Wife does…better get crackin’!)

How it works

A lot of folks are curious about the nuts and bolts of artificial insemination (AI). As a scientist, I totally get that. Today’s post is in response to the oft repeated question ‘So, how does that work?’

I’ve already talked about the preliminary (and IMHO, most important) steps: thinking about why we want a child and looking at all the options available to us, keeping in mind the legal, ethical, and emotional implications of each option. Our next step involved reading two books, Taking Charge of Your Fertility and The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth. For heterosexual couples trying to conceive, the first book is probably sufficient.  For us the second was really important because it covers topics that are unique to lesbian couples–considering the range of donor options, deciding who will carry, defining the role of the non-birth mother, and timing insemination with the viability of frozen sperm. Both books taught us how to chart R’s fertility signs so that we could accurately predict ovulation and time the insemination accordingly.

When the chart suggests we’re within a week of ovulation, we call the cryobank and order vials of our donor’s sperm. The vials arrive in a large tank that looks like this:

We sit and stare at the tank until an ovulation predictor test confirms that R is experiencing the hormonal surge that occurs just prior to ovulation.  The test shows a blank circle when the hormone is not detected, and a smiley face when it is. This can be a stressful time, because the tank only holds its charge for 7 days. If we don’t detect the hormone surge within 5 or 6 days of the tank’s arrival, we have to rush the vials a local fertility clinic for storage, which is exactly what happened this month. The text conversation below adequately captures the stress involved in that midday field trip.

Since the vials cost between $250 and $630 apiece, one must treat them as precious cargo, like so:

When we finally get the smiley face that indicates pending ovulation, we remove the vials from the shipping dewar (or the cooler with dry ice, as the case may be) and that’s when things get serious.

The first time we opened the dewar and removed the vial, the nitrogen vapors created a small cloud around my face and I immediately  felt like I was in a B-grade sci-fi movie. I couldn’t follow that thought train too far down the tracks though, because the sperm have short viability once thawed and there was no time to lose! The vial was too cold to handle right out of the tank, so I had to put it on the counter until it could be warmed by hand; that’s when I noticed how tiny it is!

Once the tiny vial is warmed to room temperature, it’s ready for use. And then we enter the dreaded two week wait. We continue charting R’s temperature and other fertility signs, proceeding as though we’ll need the data for the next cycle while trying to remain optimistic that we won’t. A lot of women start testing for pregnancy from 9 days after insemination, but we try to wait until day 14. We’ve found it’s best to hold on to our optimism as long as possible. Right now we’ve got several talismans to supply us with energy and hope during the two week wait: a ceramic fish from Israel, a medicine wheel made by our friend’s mother, and a tiny red and white striped hat that R wore on her first Christmas. If The Bean is taking root right now, she’ll arrive sometime around Christmas. And that sounds perfect to me.

Planting The Bean, Part 2

I dare you to conduct this thought experiment: visit the website of one of the major  sperm banks–California Cryobank or Fairfax Cryobank–and try to choose someone who will contribute half of your child’s DNA. How did you filter the candidates? Were you able to pick one? How long did it take? What questions did it raise?

Some banks offer a quick search feature, which filters by hair and eye color and ethnic background. Most banks have an advanced search feature that allows you to filter by hair and eye color, skin tone, blood type, ethnic background, ancestry, education level, area of study, identity options, and specimen type. Maybe this search is inconsequential for others, but for me it was thought provoking and expository. R left much of the donor selection up to me, I think partly because it was overwhelming for her and partly because it gave me some power. Power is not quite the word I’m looking for, and may be a bit off-putting to you. But in some ways this process has been a power struggle: me vs. my own body, my biological clock vs. R’s, our relationship vs. a heteronormative society, time vs. biology.

I’ve already touched on some of these struggles, but let me briefly address the tug of war between me and my body. I had always hoped to carry a child. I love children, and I love the idea of being pregnant. Sadly while I have a strong maternal instinct, I have weak reproductive capacity. Many well meaning friends have told me that being pregnant is overrated, but it’s still terribly sad to know I’ll never carry a child. From my perspective, infertility means missing more than a big belly and swollen ankles. It means missing breast feeding, and the bonding that comes with it. More importantly, it means rethinking my role, and shifting my vision of self as mother from being the bleary eyed woman in the hospital gown, fresh from the victory of birth to being the person standing beside the bleary eyed woman.  It took some time to adjust to a different vision, and the nature of my role as non-birth mother is still a little mercurial. And though I have no doubt that I will think of myself as Bean’s mom, I know that some other people will persist in asking ‘But who’s the real mom?’ and sometimes that makes me feel powerless. So, focusing on selecting the donor sort of returned some power to me.

The subject of race featured prominently in our discussions about donor preferences. Was it racist to filter out donors whose ethnic and racial background did not match ours? Was it naive to choose a non-white donor? Does the color of our child’s skin really matter? I talked through these questions with friends of many different ethnic and racial backgrounds, and got a pretty wide range of opinions on the subject. Ultimately, a combination of  conversations with friends, reading articles like this one from The Stranger, and combing through online forum posts about donor selection combined to tip the balance toward choosing a donor whose ethnic and racial background matched ours.

The Stranger article takes aim at white folks who adopt children of color and ignore the fact that their children have different life experiences in our decidedly NOT post racial society. She fires at people who claim to be “color blind” because ignoring race is more comfortable than confronting racism, and harangues whites who adopt children of color and then insulate (or isolate) them in white neighborhoods and among white extended families. I don’t think the author or the adoptees she interviewed are calling for an end to transracial adoptions. I think they simply want white folks to think twice before adopting a child of color, e.g.

“What I’d ask parents is, are you willing to be the uncomfortable one?” Goller-Sojourner says. This is how he’d question a prospective parent if he were a social worker. “Because somebody’s gonna be uncomfortable, and it seems the burden is on you. You have to be the uncomfortable one.” He means that if white parents of black children, for instance, don’t live in black neighborhoods, join black churches, have black friends, and send their children to significantly mixed-race schools, then at least they should cross the thresholds into black barbershops even though it’s awkward, or drive out of their way to shop at grocery stores in black neighborhoods. Parents should be careful to raise their children to live in this world, not the one they wish existed.”

The article, like it or not, raises a lot of great questions, and I found myself considering its implications for choosing to create a transracial family compared with becoming one by adopting a child of a different race. I also read a heated debate posted to the online forum for families who are trying to conceive with donor sperm from a local cryobank. A single white woman posted a question about whether it is ‘weird’ to choose a Chinese donor, which she wants to do because she always wanted to adopt an unwanted baby girl from China (costs and legal regulations prevent her from doing so). Several women of color, including one Chinese American woman, replied to her with honest and thoughtful answers, imploring her to give the decision careful thought and to try to understand that her child may face unnecessary discrimination from whites and Asian Americans. The comments were offered from personal experience, and what could have been a fruitful discussion devolved into an argument that was ultimately cut short by the forum moderators. The white woman attacked anyone who suggested that it is not a great idea to pick a donor of another race for the sake of having a baby who reflects an ‘admirable’ or ‘fascinating’ culture, or because the baby will be ‘cute.’ I thought the responses were well reasoned and in line with the outcomes of our discussions with friends and reading, all of which suggested that we should look for a donor who reflects our racial and ethnic background.

I began cruising the websites of the big cryobanks, looking for the perfect donor–someone with decent answers to the essay questions and a profile that screams “science nerd!” When reading the answers to short essay questions like “What made you want to become a donor?” and “What advice would you give to the recipients of your donation?” being mindful of the fact that the donor is likely a college student in his late teens or early twenties helps keep the answers in perspective. To the first question, most donors say something about wanting to do good and make money at the same time. To the second, the most common answer is “good luck!!!”

After an inordinate amount of time searching, I found Perfect Donor, a man with sensitive and intelligent answers to the essay questions, musical inclinations, and an interest in political science. R liked his short profile, so we paid to see the full profile, which includes a complete family history and some additional information about his SAT scores and hobbies. He seemed really likeable, smart, and a little quirky. Unfortunately he was not listed as an “open ID” donor, which means that at this point he has no interest in meeting Bean when she turns 18, but since open ID donors can change their minds at any time, we figured it’s best to consider other desirable traits. PD seemed perfect indeed, but we lacked one piece of information to confirm our choice–a photograph. Most of the larger banks have photos of the donor as a child or an adult, or at least a silhouette of his face. PD is not affiliated with one of these banks, and so there was no photograph or silhouette of his face. It seemed weird to select someone we couldn’t picture, and so we got cold feet and ‘cheated’ on PD.

We found Almost Perfect Donor–a physician (whose sperm cost is commensurate with education!) who likes to cook, admires his mom, and was a pretty adorable child. We decided to use him, and I caught myself staring at his picture several times per day, trying to imagine Bean as a cross between APD and R. Our initial attempts failed, and we felt compelled to rethink our decision. We took another look at PD and I just knew he was the one for us. After waiting three months to make sure R won’t be too pregnant or Bean too little to fly to R’s sister’s wedding in the fall, we returned to PD. Last week we made attempt number 3 at planting The Bean. I hope she’s taking root.