Back to the sperm *eyeroll*.
After deciding on Denmark, I read as many articles as possible on it and it seemed like the right thing to do. Yes, it’s expensive but nothing like the prices you’d pay in the UK. We’ve just sold our house and are currently renting so have a bit of money we could use.
I like the look of this one. A agrees ( I suspect because they have pictures of the midwives who do the insemination on the website and she thinks one of them is ‘quite fit.’)
One thing neither of us want to do though is to get sucked into the cycle of obsession over fertility treatment. You hear so many stories about how it ruins relationships and wholly consumes people for years and is heartbreaking and intrusive and horrible and so we both make a pact to try a limited number of times and then go down the adoption route. I wonder if it’s more important to heterosexual couples to have their own biological baby; a child that will look like each of them and carry on their genes? Ultimately I’m not going to be biologically related to the baby but I’m pretty hopeful that nurture is just as effective as nature. I work as a teacher and see so many children who, with a bit of love and patience would be just fine. And when you can see what an impact 6 hours a day with people who really care and are really trying makes – even if they go home every night to smackhead parents who don’t even feed them – it makes you realise that love and positive attention are really the main things that a kid needs to turn out okay.
A says that my job in this is to do all the research and she’ll just show up and get inseminated. This is good! This is what I do best! As a historian I can read up on everything and present her with key points every night. I get on the internet and bookmark everything that seems relevant. I pour over Amazon and order a load of books about lesbians and childbirth and polycystic ovaries (more of that later!)
It soon becomes clear that the most important thing to read about is the legalities of donor insemination. It’s confusing and complicated and there doesn’t seem to be one website that explains it all. Thankfully, Stonewall have published a really great handbook for prospective gay parents which I would highly recommend. It’s called ‘Pregnant Pause’ and is brilliant. You can download it straight from their website or request a hard copy.
These are the main points I find out that apply to our situation:
1. In the UK, all children born from donor sperm have the right to information on their donor when they turn 18.
This seems reasonable to me. By that age you’ve hopefully spent 18 years showing them that biology isn’t that important and they’re not going to ‘divorce’ you American-style and go off to live with their REAL DAD. Hopefully.
2. If you get inseminated at home or in a clinic abroad AND YOU’RE IN A CIVIL PARTNERSHIP, the non-biological mum automatically gets named on the birth certificate as the 2nd parent. If you’re not in a civil partnership she has to adopt the child.
A and I aren’t married. Mainly because neither of us really like weddings and would rather spend the money on holidays, takeaways and alcohol. Also because I don’t feel like having a ceremony would make any difference to our relationship and we’re pretty much married now. I like the idea I’m with her because I want to be and not because I’ve made a commitment and feel like I should stick with it. I’m already as committed as anyone could be. And finally, as my friend Layla said, ‘I just don’t want to do anything that David Cameron wants me to do’. We probably will get married at some point in the future- you know, for the party and the gifts etc – but it’s not something that I’m desperate to do.
After reading this we toy with the idea of just running off and getting married, just to make things easier. And don’t married people get tax breaks too? Hmmm. A doesn’t know why I would be bothered about adopting the child after it’s born. ‘It’s just a piece of paper’, as she points out and it wouldn’t make any difference. I know it sounds stupid but to me it would. I resent the idea of someone else coming round to see if I’m suitable to write my name on my own child’s birth certificate. I briefly toy with the idea of marriage. It might be nice. And ooh, you can go to New York and get married now! New York is my favourite city in the world. We could go to City Hall like Carrie in Sex and the City and have the reception in Henrietta Hudson’s! I am tempted.
That is until another friend, who’s a nurse, points out that we live in Liverpool where the Women’s Hospital is the IVF capital of Europe. And apparently they are really good and don’t care if you’re lezzers and – this is the best bit – you can ship the sperm over from Denmark and get inseminated right here. And according to my Stonewall bible:
3. If you go to a clinic in the UK you can buy sperm from another clinic in Europe as long as it fits UK standards. That basically means that the clinic is licensed and the donor has not had their sperm used more than 10 times.
Brilliant. I am a little worried about the idea of shipping sperm though. Where would you keep it? In the freezer? What do they deliver it in? If that bloke turns up on his sperm bike he’d be terrorised round our way and would never make it up the main road. Also, I am never at home when the postman knocks and I don’t like the idea of queuing up at the post office with your red card and being handed over a large vat of sperm on ice.
My nurse friend assures me that they’ll deliver it straight to the hospital, which seems like a much more sensible idea.
One more important thing to point out from the Stonewall handbook:
4. Some lesbians can encounter barriers when trying to access fertility treatment. In some Primary Care Trusts (basically you’re local NHS area) you have to be infertile to receive treatment and being a lesbian doesn’t automatically entitle you to fertility treatment.
Again, I am thankful for living here. You may not think that Liverpool is a liberal utopia like San Fran in the 60s but really I work in a rough, inner city area and can pretty much confirm that being a lesbian isn’t the torturous stigma that it once was and most people aren’t that arsed. (Most. It’s no Lesbos). Apparently they don’t discriminate against lesbian couples and the waiting list is not that long.
Really, I can’t recommend the Stonewall book enough. It has everything you’ll need to know in it. Like, did you know lesbians and turkey-basters is a MYTH! Because apparently it’s ‘like using a pint glass to drink a teaspoon of liquid’. EYE-OPENING. Also, it’s FREE. Please consider donating to them though if you’ve got a bit of spare cash lying around. They do amazing work.
 I once said the words ‘as an historian’ in front of my work colleagues who pissed themselves laughing and then said, ‘never, ever utter that phrase again. Dickhead.’