It’s May by now. I’m staying in Jo’s flat in Liverpool to help her pack up before she moves to Ghent.
Along with her moving, everything else seems to be up in the air right now as well. After finding out about the legal implications of co-parenting with the father, we decided to give up on that dream completely. But where do we go from here?
Late at night, we sit on Jo’s faded red sofa and talk and talk. And eventually, we give in and Google ‘sperm bank’.
We send an email, and he answers.
Over the next few hesitant back-and-forths, it becomes clear that I managed to find someone in that disaster of a baby-making speed date that is actually kind, realistic, and funny.
I agree to meet him again in person in December. We sit across from each other and talk about co-parenting, and our families – who had cancer? Any other illnesses? Do you have good teeth? Eyes? What is your relationship with your mother like?
It’s all out there, right from the beginning. We can’t hold any of those bits back, and that makes it intense and odd and so far beyond the usual way of getting to know another person that we can’t do anything else but laugh. We find out we’re both massive nerds. We chat about Game of Thrones, discuss our favourite authors and films and board games, and then consider the fact that we might end up with a sporty kid despite all of that – what if they (heaven forbid) want to play football?
Amongst some awkward laughter we also discuss how he would have to ‘make the donation’. When do we start trying? How could we ensure we would have the best possible chances of getting pregnant? (Did you know it’s best to have an orgasm right after insemination? I DO NOW.)
Next time, he comes to my flat.
We set up the laptop and Skype with Jo in Liverpool in a slightly comical three-way conversation. Hello, how do you do, care to be the father of our future child?
It’s November 2017, and I am about to do one of the strangest things of my life: I’m going on a baby-daddy speed date.
I signed up as soon as I heard about this event from Meerdangewenst (a Dutch organisation connecting queer people interested in co-parenting). But somehow that all seemed a lot more idyllic from behind a computer screen than actually meeting these men. In person.
Jo is in Liverpool, so I’m on my own. I’m wearing her Nana’s ring she gave me so that she’ll be here in some way tonight, and I catch myself playing with it nervously as I walk into the building.
The location – somewhat anticlimactically – is similar to a school cafeteria. It smells like it, too, like watery soup and damp. There are cheap tables and chairs, and an assortment of people already seated and waiting. Some are in couples. Most came alone, like I did.
The nerves are clear in the room. So are mine. Looking around, I realise that I might not look like any of these people’s idea of an acceptable mother. Is my hair too much? Are my clothes too bright? Should I have worn makeup?
And then it starts.
Most posts here will be made by my amazing partner, Nele, but every now and again I’ll pop up to share my perspective on things. I’m Jo and I’m the other half of Meemamas.
I’m really a quite laid back, go-with-the-flow type of person. So while I was daydreaming about our future and making a family in terms of ‘wouldn’t it be nice if that happens someday’, I hadn’t thought any further. And then we were in Portugal and Spain, celebrating my 32nd birthday in the height of summer with days full of blue skies and sunshine, and it happened…
It’s June 2017.
Jo and I are travelling from Faro to Seville. We’ve just reached our one year anniversary of being a couple, preceded by four-and-a-half years of being in various degrees of love with each other. Through some miracle we have managed years of long distance friendship and travel, and then, finally, a relationship.
It’s been a year, but it doesn’t feel like it. Brexit happened only weeks after we got together and it shook us both. We haven’t figured out yet which country to live in, let alone everything else. I moved to Liverpool, then moved back. I feel the aching sense that I want to be with her, but it’s hard, so hard. We are stuck, turning circles around each other and our relationship.
We talk about everything and nothing, wandering through bright blue Faro, then the sand-coloured squares of Seville. It’s in a restaurant there, tucked away in some small street, that I say it.
“After I have my degree, I plan on having a baby.”