Jun 26, 2017

a giant can of sperms? my flirtation with sperm donation


I just got off the phone to Yolanda, the recruiter at Fertility Associates. I’m not infertile! I had wondered after an ex didn't get pregnant. Yolanda says I’m in rude health. She was excited.
I’m thinking back to how I got the idea of becoming a sperm donor. I had a crazy week in Autumn. My dad had an operation on his heart. I didn’t know if I’d get to continue with my Masters at art school, as I'd gone over a deadline. In mid-March, my three older siblings had three babies within two weeks. I’ve always been left for dead by my siblings, they're champions of the world. 
I was single, the girl I’d been seeing in Jan had left for London. Fooling around on the internet, I googled 'sperm donation' and found Fertility Associates. I fired off an email, and forgot about it until Yolanda rang to make an appointment, three months later.

Yolanda had shoulder length blonde hair, and glass partitions of the office sparkled. The first part of the appointment was ok, but then I got overwhelmed. This happens to me in doctors' surgeries. I fainted once, after a Doctors appointment with my first girlfriend, Julia. I was inexperienced and Julia and I had somehow broken two condoms in three trysts. As third-year Arts students, we were anxious at the prospect of parenthood. Julia decided that she wanted to go on the Pill. She was so wound-up when she went to see Uni Doctors, that they wouldn't give her a prescription due to high blood pressure. 
We went together to her local GP, a few weeks later. He was describing the risk of blood clots to us (1 in 10,000), and I began to feel it coming on. The appointment ended and we walked out the door. Two steps from the consulting room I crumpled, like a tower being demolished. Two Nurses rushed towards me and asked Julia why I'd been seeing the doctor? Afterwards Julia bought me a Moro bar, and said it was sweet that I'd been so worried about her. 
A few weeks later we were staying over at her parents house and she heard a branch snap in the garden. Julia was terrified; her Dad was a judge and she thought that one of the perps he'd sent to prison might come one night, seeking revenge? To calm her I said, "I'd protect you..." "What would YOU do?!?!", she replied. I now think Julia wanted a perp to attack the house, as long as the newspaper article emphasised her Dad's profession.

I almost fainted when that fast-talking surgeon was explaining how the operation went to my dad, in Autumn. I pretended to read a newspaper on an adjacent gurney, I didn’t want to make him any more worried. 

Back to the appointment. Yolanda was fine — friendly and professional — but she did start racing through the paperwork. And there were some unexpected questions. OMFG, Yolanda asked me to write down my sister's name, or the name of any woman who I wouldn't donate to. Imagine that list!? 1. Paula Bennett.

Yolanda asked if I’d consent to IVF. The words ‘frozen embryo’ that pushed me over the edge. Thinking of a life beginning, so cold. She also talked about donors meeting up with the families, twenty years later. I find this hard to imagine, in that I don’t like imagining it. In my mind it is a suburban BBQ, and I am 51 years-old.

I didn't think it would all affect me so much. What's another wank? "I'm not doing anything else with it." What's going on in my Unconscious? I broke out in a sweat and told Yolanda I felt woozy. She apologised. It’s a curious job, Sperm Wrangler, and afterwards I wished I’d asked her how she’d ended up doing it. Probably because it pays well. Fertility treatment is expensive. Donors can not receive payment for their contribution, to ensure that they're doing it for altruistic reasons.

The interview concluded. “Now for the fun part!” Yolanda said. Bet she says that to all the guys! Yolanda handed me a clear, plastic jar with a pink screw top. It was nice to be encouraged to have a waz, for a change. Have you ever been in a masturbatorium? It's the lovechild of a clinician and a home-maker. An armchair made of wipe-down fabric. Analog porn inside manila folders, labelled 'gay' and 'straight.' The masturbatorium’s window-less, wood-veneered, womb-like. I lay a white towel down on the seat of the armchair. I had to take my sweet time, being a bit freaked out. Ten minutes later I handed my ample sample to Yolanda, across the reception desk, to be tested.

 *    *    *

I mentioned the appointment to my psychologist. She said, "I'm not saying don't do it, but we'd need to talk about it!" The psychologist said that I still might have kids of my own. She could understand donating as a single forty year-old.
On my own I had started thinking about what it would be like to have offspring who you couldn't protect, or guide. There'd be someone else in that role. What if I didn't like the recipient parents? You get to choose who you give yourself to in real life, for a reason.

On the phone call in which Yolanda confirmed my eligibility, she said that there was a severe shortage of donors. I got a slightly pushy feeling. I told her that I couldn't donate. I hadn't grasped the theoretical implications of it until I experienced them in the consulting room. I'd sent a boy, to do a dad's job.

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