How do two women have a child?
May 24, 2007 10:12 AM   Subscribe

I want to have a baby with my wife. Problem is, we're both women.

I'm 25, my wife is 24. We're lesbians. Both in excellent health. We've always wanted to have kids (we'd like 2). We're looking to do this in about 4 or 5 years, so no real rush. In the past we've gotten lots of suggestions:

a) Adopt (totally not against it, but we both have a real urge to "pass on our genetic line" even though it's egotistical.)

b) One of us uses a donor, and has a baby. Wait 2.5 years. Then the other one of us uses the same donor, and has the other baby. That way we would each have a chance to pass on our genetic line, and the two children would still be genetic half-siblings. Our fear with this option is that no matter how hard we try, we would somehow each favor "our" genetic child over the other.

c) Some people have the genius idea we both get inseminated at the same time. I think this is horrible because 2 pregnant women in the same house alone would likely cause the end of our relationship. Plus who would get us pickles and ice cream at 2am?

d) One of us has both children. Unfortunately, one of us wouldn't be able to pass on our genes, but that would alleviate the concern with option b.

e) The creepy option (in my opinion), I have a brother who says he'd like to be the donor. Obviously my wife would carry the child. My mom thinks this is a great idea because it would still kind of be "my child" because it's from my genetic line. My wife has even decided she's not against it. My brother's rationale is that he is single (he's 23) and this is his way to do a good deed and also pass on his genetic line w/no responsibilities. I'm a little hesitatant to let him make this decision so young. Not to mention he would be the baby's daddy AND the uncle.

f) there has been talk of a scientific procedure that would allow 2 women to have a baby that was genetically completely theirs. It's called haploidization, and the link is here: Haploidization Article
I haven't seen any updates on this, or the other couple of methods scientists are working on since this article was published in 2002.

My questions to all of you are:

Have you heard anything about this "haploidization/haploidisation" since this article? Are there any new techniques out there? I remember hearing about something else that was similar in the works. This would solve all our problems.

If that's not an option, and remember, we aren't looking to have kids for 4-5 years, which option do you think is the next best thing?

I really appreciate any feedback, everyone I talk to is already too involved with the situation to be non-emotional.
posted by misswiss to Science & Nature (49 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Four to five years? With that much time, I'd say the smart money is on science. I'm sure someone is working on haploidization or something similar right now, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see results by 2012. Good luck!
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:19 AM on May 24, 2007

The problem with plan B is that is unlikely (if you use a sperm bank) that the donor would be around in 2.5 years.
posted by bigmusic at 10:19 AM on May 24, 2007

I don't think option E is creepy at all, actually. I think it was on Penn & Teller's Bullshit! where a lesbian couple did that exact thing - one's brother donated sperm for the other (twice, even) so both of them were related to the kids. I thought it was rather sweet and a way to make sure you were both related to the kid without some complicated machinations (like the haploidization).
posted by sutel at 10:20 AM on May 24, 2007

Not to mention he would be the baby's daddy AND the uncle

The way I see it, he would be the baby's uncle and biodad. You would be the daddy (where daddy = one of the parents). Seconding option E as not creepy, it sounds like a wonderful way to get the results you and your SO want.
posted by jamaro at 10:24 AM on May 24, 2007

Thanks for the answers so far!

If we did option B we would buy a bunch of the chosen donors sperm vials and keep them frozen, so when it came time to have the next kid we'd make sure it was available.
posted by misswiss at 10:26 AM on May 24, 2007

Depending where you live, option E gives the uncle/dad legal rights you might not want him to have, or that he might not want to have.

If you and your wife break up, he would be on the hook for child support. Or, he could ask for custody. I know you're all happy-friendly now, but it doesn't always last. I don't mean to be a downer, I'm sure you guys will have a fabulous family, but option E has serious legal implications that aren't part of the other options.
posted by GuyZero at 10:31 AM on May 24, 2007

A quick medical literature search on "haploidization" as a keyword reveals that while research is ongoing in the field, it seems to have only been done in lab animals, and with mixed results. The technology is very similar to that used for cloning, which means that it is controversial (limiting the amount of research) and that, like cloning, it is likely to be "just around the corner" for decades. When it does eventually come it is likely to be expensive and hit or miss, so for a number of reasons I would not pin my hopes on that technique.

Given that, of the remaining options I like B the best, but that is just my opinion and whatever the two of you agree on is best for you.
posted by TedW at 10:31 AM on May 24, 2007

I like E, and don't think it's creepy, either. But it's your call, since you'll be the one related to Old Man UncleDad.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2007

(c) isn't so nuts. I would've loved a same-age sibling. Odds are dodgy you'll both end up pregnant at the exact same time, too.

I -- currently eggplant-shaped myself -- would have no objections to Mr Kmennie being pregnant as well, so long as we'd budgeted for a fair whack of maid service. Even non-pregnant parents-to-be weird out to some extent; it's not like the non-pregnant one of you will be all that stress-free anyway...

But. Had I not had convenient access to sperm, I would've been thrilled to take either of my little brothers up on an offer like that, though. 23 is not crazy young, and if 4-5 years is plenty of time for him to solidify that decision.

With (b), are you sure you won't fret over the reliability of somebody else's freezer? How upset would you be if the same donor just didn't work out 2.5 yrs later for whatever reason?
posted by kmennie at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2007

I knew a lesbian couple who had two children, each carrying one, and used donors who matched the physical/hereditary profile of the other, which sounds "fair" but might not satisfy your genetic/preferential concerns. Those however, have to go. If you love your partner, you're likely to love her child very much, I would think. Part of what makes me want to procreate with my partner is the desire to have more of him around, not me.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:36 AM on May 24, 2007

b or e are probably your best bet. can the non-birth parent adopt the child in your state? that would also solve your problem.

i like the idea of b, because it genetically covers all your bases. e, less so, because being the child's biological aunt may not give you many (or any rights) in your state. i'd consult a lawyer about the legal implications about your choices.

whatever happens, make sure the biological mother of baby #1 lists the other mother as the legal guardian in her will, and vice/versa. not to be grim, but you never know when you're going to step in front of a bus or something.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:38 AM on May 24, 2007

I like option E too, it is a shame your wife doesn't have a male relative you could tap for your own child though (I have heard of several couples chosing that option). I wouldn't think of him as the dad either, he would be the uncle and you two would be the parents. If you are really uncomfortable with the idea four years from now then choosing the same donor sperm would be my choice.
I don't know about haploidization though, if it is so new might there be complications (your body rejecting the embryo, developmental delays etc). Do you want to risk that, not to mention the time lost and expense?
posted by saucysault at 10:40 AM on May 24, 2007

I also get the gut reaction that e is creepy, but I don't think I can come up with a good reason. That reaction is probably based on social values developed before women had children together.

Also, option b looks like a good idea. But I would add that I don't think it's necessary to get the same donor. I have a sister from my mom's previous marriage (i.e. she has a different father than me). She's still my sister. I call her my sister. The only use I see in having terminology to differentiate between syblings, children, step-children, half-syblings, adopted syblings, etc. is to make clear the genetic, legal, and other "practical" differences between them. So my point is, being half-sisters wouldn't make their status as sybling any more "real" than if you got different donors. Yeah, it still would be kind of neat. But in the end I think you'd find that it doesn't matter a whole lot. And it may save you money to just take the best donors available at the respective times you have children.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 10:42 AM on May 24, 2007

You might want to talk with other lesbian couples with children about the 'favouring your own genetic child' thing. Perhaps others have had the same concerns before they had children, and would have some insight about it.

Perhaps your b-option could be tweaked a bit... her egg + donor sperm, carried by you; your egg + donor sperm, carried by her. Then each of you would be the birth mother of the other's genetic child. Might be unnecessarily complicated idea, but there it is.
posted by CKmtl at 10:43 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Another thought on F (and probably why it's not an option for humans yet) is many genes are imprinted as paternal or maternal, and this has important implications for development. In fact, this is why scientists said for so long that mammals would never be clonable; I believe for Dolly they had to "reset" the imprinted genes.

I think you'd do all right both being pregnant. I've found being pregnant with pregnant friends to be a good support; take classes together, commiseration, etc. Midnight cravings for ice cream really don't happen too much. :) The problems would probably come from both of you being very fatigued, or when one of you couldn't make the other's delivery because you had a sick newborn, or even in the trial of raising two newborns (who in the long run would probably be very close).
posted by artifarce at 10:46 AM on May 24, 2007

I was in a childbirth preparation class with two women who what CKmtl suggests.

Although only one of you passes on your genetic material, both of you have equally strong claims of motherhood (though in different aspects), which may obviate your concern B (although I agree w/ Ambrosia Voyeur that the love in your family should be enough alone to obviate that concern).

In the family I know that did this, the egg donor was the younger of the pair, which meant she had the healthier eggs. Risk of transmitting genetic diseases was another of their concerns. I also belive another factor was the discomfort of the donor (who was very butch) with taking on, for nine months, the quintessential identity of feminity.
posted by hhc5 at 10:48 AM on May 24, 2007

"who [did] what CKmtl suggests"
posted by hhc5 at 10:49 AM on May 24, 2007

Also, if you can't find other couples who've done option b (i don't know how (un)common this is), you may have better luck finding couples who have adopted as well as given birth to a child, or someone who has a their own child(dren) and children through marriage (step-children). Those situations would raise similar concerns.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 10:49 AM on May 24, 2007

I think option E is quite possibly dangerous from a legal perspective, because the courts seemingly haven't worked out exactly how to assign custody, child-support, and other things (at least not consistently) in non-traditional families. There's a big chance that if your brother was the donor, and remained involved in the children's lives (even as an "uncle") that if you and your wife ever broke up, he could be on the hook for child support, or more disturbingly, he could go to a court and get custody as the biological father and use that to deny custody to one of you. (I'm not saying that he would do that, I'm sure he's a good guy ... but you really have to think about the worst-case scenarios here.)

I think there's a lot to be said, given the current legal situation, for separating the sperm donor from the real 'parents' and keeping the sperm donor completely and totally out of the children's life (preferably so that the donor doesn't ever know who the children are, or if there are any), just so that there can't be any custody issues later.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:51 AM on May 24, 2007

Get 'The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth'. I've been reading it over the last couple of weeks (in a similar, but not identical situation to you), and it's awesome about explaining all the current options and how they've worked out for real people. It also brought up some concerns I hadn't thought about, for example, they feel your chances of getting pregnant are much higher with fresh sperm than previously frozen.

Personally, in your situation, I'd opt for choice B. It's absolutely possible to use the same donor's sperm, although I wouldn't set your heart on it, it just might not work out for one of you, or you might run into unforeseen problems and use it all up. The situation with your brother seems better than lots of similar situations I've heard about, but using a known donor can be very complicated legally and personally (sure your extended family will see it as your kid and not your brother's? sure your brother won't want input into its upbringing? is he? will he still be once it's born?).

Get that book. There's a lot to think about here (not least how much all this is going to cost), and the book is awesome.
posted by crabintheocean at 10:57 AM on May 24, 2007

The problem with option (c) isn't both being pregnant at the same time, rather, it's if you both deliver at the same time and you are both learning to breastfeed at the same time. I was fine when I was pregnant but I was an absolute psycho for a good 6-8 weeks after delivery.

On the upside, you would always have a back-up breastfeeder, which would hopefully limit the amount of pumping you would have to do.

I think that staggering by 3-6 months or so would be a great idea (if it turned out that way) - you could be done with diapers sooner, and get the advantages of having a back-up feeder! I think that if you each breast-fed the other's child, you'd help build a parental bond.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:57 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think you're both probably worrying a bit too much about option B. To me, it seems like it solves the biological issue nicely enough without the potential emotional and legal complications of option E.

What if the children ask who their biological father is someday? "It's Uncle Larry." That would squick more than a couple of people out. Though I'm sure if you were clear about your reasoning, it could work out.

But a lot of times we fear things that don't come to pass. It's part of life. I think it's entirely possible to love both children equally in the B scenario. When kids are born, it just changes people in so many ways, most become less frivolous. You're so totally responsible for this person's life and growth, that those old fears kind of get replaced by new ones. Each wouldn't be any less yours or your wife's kids because of genetics; they'd be both of your kids. That's how you raise them, that's how they'll grow, and you both probably would too.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:00 AM on May 24, 2007

Also, in my opinion don't try for both being pregnant. Pregnancy isn't that predictable - how will you feel if one of you can't get pregnant or miscarries and the other is too hormonal or sick or feels too guilty to really be a support? Also double the pregnancies = double the medical expenses!
posted by crabintheocean at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Our fear with this option is that no matter how hard we try, we would somehow each favor "our" genetic child over the other.

I hate to say this, but it's pretty likely that even if you had two biological kids, which were both a mix of your genes, you might find yourself favoring one over the other. That's something they don't tell parents, but it does happen.

Maybe you'll even start favoring the child who is genetically dissimilar to you, since he or she should logically have some of the traits of the woman you love.
posted by muddgirl at 11:02 AM on May 24, 2007

I am not a lawyer (WHAT UP, HERMITOSIS?), but with option E, could some kind of pre-pregancy legal document specify exactly what the custody situation would be in the event of legal disagreements? Like a pre-nup type thing?
posted by Greg Nog at 11:02 AM on May 24, 2007

Perhaps your b-option could be tweaked a bit... her egg + donor sperm, carried by you; your egg + donor sperm, carried by her. Then each of you would be the birth mother of the other's genetic child.

I think that sounds like a good idea!
posted by KAS at 11:03 AM on May 24, 2007

The National Center for Lesbian Rights has excellent publications available on their Web site that address legal considerations for lesbian parents and parents-to-be.
posted by rtha at 11:03 AM on May 24, 2007

I am a 24 year old woman, married to a 25 year old woman, and we have been going over this discussion for the past several years. We have thoroughly discussed each of the options you listed off, and have come to our own decisions. If you look through my AskMe history you'll see a bit of that history. Anyway, here are my thoughts on each option:

a) Adopt - we came to the same conclusion as you - that although we like the idea of adoption, each of us wants to actually go through the process of pregancy/childbirth. We decided that if we want more than 2 kids, or if either of us is unable to carry a child to term, we will do this. For the first two, though, we would ideally each like to carry one.

b) Same donor, switch donee - This is what we decided to try, and then stepped off a bit. On the one hand, this is the only way our children will be able to be genetically related, but on the other hand, if you don't think that non-genetic siblings can bond, then what makes you think a non-genetic parent will? If you doubt that non-genetic parents will bond with the kids, just ask anyone who has ever adopted. Once you see that beautiful baby, it will have your heart completely - there is no way that the non-carrying partner won't bond. Of course it's a concern, but maybe read some fathering books - men don't carry children and often have paternity uncertainty, but they can bond just fine. So: if you can find a donor who is willing to donate successively, or a bank that you trust to keep your spare samples frozen, I think it's a great idea. If neither of those work out though, there is really nothing wrong with having multiple donors.

c)Both at once - Ha ha ha ha! Ah ha ha ha ha! Do you get PMS? Have you ever both had PMS at once? How about, have you ever both been really sick at once? You each want someone to baby you, neither of you has the energy to baby the other, and you both end up miserable and bitchy. Times that by nine months. And then, at the end, when you each give birth, each of you will be totally obsessed with the child that you gave birth to and won't have time to reconnect with the other, or with the other's baby. No. Bad idea.

d) One has both children: I don't see why. Just so the kids are genetically related? Not worth it. If you both want to get carry a child, then do it. Your kids will love/hate each other just like genetic siblings, I assure you.

e)Brother as the donor: I understand why this is creepy to you. I personally would be uncomfortable with it as well, although I understand the benefits. It might be hard for your brother to maintain an "uncle" role when he knows he's responsible for 50% of the genetic material, it might be hard on the kid to learn that uncle Pete is really Daddy Pete (I know that he won't be a dad - just a sperm donor, but kids are very literal). You would get to know that the kid has some of your genes, though. What would you do when it's your turn to get pregnant? Get a new donor? How would that make your partner feel, that both kids are genetically related to you but only one has her genes? Also, I think your brother is too young to be making a decision like that. You did say that you want to do this in a couple of years, though, so see what happens in the meantime.

f) Haploidization - you said you want to wait 4-5 years, not 20-30. I think this process (which is certainly a dream of mine) is a long way away from being available to humans, and longer still from being affordable enough for regular Joes and Josephines to access it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the issues. If you have a lesbian parenting group nearby you might want to go and get some support. Otherwise, I recommend the great forum at Rainbow conceptions.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:09 AM on May 24, 2007

b)...Our fear with this option is that no matter how hard we try, we would somehow each favor "our" genetic child over the other.

Is your only fear about option (B)? If so, then I respectfully submit that you rethink your reasoning.

(1) Consider that your fear is false. This is not a given. It is just as (probably more, IMHO) likely that you will both love both of your children, because they are your children and thats what matters. Many, many parents really want a boy (or a girl) and fear that they might not love a girl (or boy) child as much. Many of these are initially terribly disappointed when they do wind up with a girl (or boy). But they soon find that their initial fear was overblown, and wind up loving their child just as much. Would you seriously counsel them to forego having children simply because they are afraid that they might favor some gender over another? If your answer is 'no,' then that reasoning might apply to you as well. Also, if you're both willing to consider adoption, then that bodes well for your ability to love a child who is not genetically your own.

(2) Consider that your fear is true, but not such a big deal. Its quite normal for parents of all kinds - gay, straight, adopted, natural, etc. etc. - to favor some children over others. Some of the aforementioned parents may have a few kids and wind up favoring the boys (girls) over the girls (boys). Certainly, in some cases this can be serious and psychologically detrimental; but in many others it is simply one of those facts of parenting that you learn to deal with. You sound like a mature, prudent, thoughtful couple - again, this bodes well with having to deal with the fact that each of you may prefer one child or another.

(3) Consider that your fear is true, but that preferences are unavoidable. You may prefer one child because s/he is more "yours" then "hers." You may also prefer one child because s/he is more athletic, or more intellectually gifted, or taller, or more outgoing and affectionate. It may just be that you can't avoid preferring one child to another for some reason, and that this is simply something that you will have to learn to deal with.

If any of this rings true to you, then you might well move option (b) to the top of your list.
posted by googly at 11:09 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

What if the children ask who their biological father is someday? "It's Uncle Larry." That would squick more than a couple of people out.

Not what if, when.

how will you feel if one of you can't get pregnant or miscarries and the other is too hormonal or sick or feels too guilty to really be a support?
I miscarried, and it was the worst thing I have ever gone through. If my partner had been pregnant and her pregnancy had continued, I wouldn't have been able to handle it. My perilous grasp of sanity would not have held.

Get 'The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth'.

Yes, do.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:12 AM on May 24, 2007

Hey, I just had a baby using a known donor, one we found from an ad I had mefites help me write. I'm much, much older than you and my partner doesn't plan on carrying a child. We didn't get too concerned about the "even" or "fair" thing. She is in the process of second-parent adopting our daughter. Our known donor has signed away all parental rights and obligations. He would be willing to help out again if we choose to have another kiddo, but I'm 38 so unless I get right on it we're not sure that's going to happen again.

My best advice is to get out of the theoretical. Yes, there are lots and lots of options for lesbian couples, but you need to pick the most practical and just go for it.

I love option E personally and I know lots of other lesbians who have concieved or tried to concieve that way. Just make absolutely sure the legal issues are worked out in writing. If you think you can't afford a lawyer, then you can't afford a kid. It shouldn't take more than $3K to get all the paperwork straight, and if you don't do it now, it could cost many multiples of that if you and your partner split or if he marries some fundamentalist who gets his head turned around.
posted by pomegranate at 11:25 AM on May 24, 2007

Option b) with CKmtl's tweak would cover the bases I'd think. You can always stimulate lactation in the one who isn't pregnant if you want to share more of the experience; two breastfeeders would be neat I'd think! Option c) sounds too overwhelming; one pregnancy, and one infant, is plenty for two parents to juggle and adjust to; just ask anyone with twins! Option e) doesn't sound creepy to me and I understand the legal complications, but it would also safeguard having a claim on the child should your relationship split, through your brother; otherwise you could be cut off with no claim at all, couldn't you? At least in parts of the US anyway. Option f) sounds neat if you're willing to sit back and wait a while, although I'd be leery of what could go wrong when you're the among the first trying out something like that.

Embryo with two mothers approved (Sept. 2005) - apparently they've already done this at least 30 times, but the procedure is banned in the UK.
posted by Melinika at 11:26 AM on May 24, 2007

I am not a lawyer (WHAT UP, HERMITOSIS?), but with option E, could some kind of pre-pregancy legal document specify exactly what the custody situation would be in the event of legal disagreements? Like a pre-nup type thing?

You can try, but it will rarely hold up in court. As we've discussed here previously I think, courts decide what they think is in the best interests of the child, not what the adults involved intended. In fact, one thing you should decide (and not work with a known donor who won't agree to) is that you will keep any problems that arise out of court - agree on an arbitration service. Courts are not friendly to unusual families (depending on where you live this can be a huge understatement).
posted by crabintheocean at 11:33 AM on May 24, 2007

I can't speak to whether (e) is "creepy," but I think it's a bad idea. This isn't donating a kidney. There's a reason that sperm banks are anonymous. You're talking about a long-term, fluid, emotional situation and I'd advise you not to be one of those people who says, "I know other people's situations go awry, but my life is different." People behave (and change) in unpredictable ways, and inviting your brother into the middle of your "spousal" relationship strikes me as unwise.
posted by cribcage at 11:37 AM on May 24, 2007

If you go with the known-donor option, make sure that all of you receive legal counsel -- including the donor. There are legal risks to non-anonymous donation that everyone should be aware of.
posted by aramaic at 11:42 AM on May 24, 2007

Greg Nog, legal issues surrounding sperm donations, especially with known donors, are very murky, and many courts have set aside contracts and other legal documents to grant parental rights to or order child support from sperm donors. Basically, family law is centered around the best interests of the child, so regardless of any arrangements made by the parents before the child's birth, if a judge thinks the child would be better off with visitation by Uncle Daddy, the judge can set aside the contract and grant the father legal rights. It's happened before. Many courts all over the country are considering similar cases, and many legislatures are considering myriad ways to deal with the complex array of technologically assisted family situations arising today.

I think that you need to work on getting over your fear of loving your non-biological child less than a biological child. Because haploidization is a long way from being a real option for you, you are unlikely to have a realistic chance of producing a child that belongs biologically to both of you. I think that B and D are both lovely options, but that you should hold off on having children until you are both comfortable with the idea of raising and loving children that are YOURS even if they are not biologically related to you. Talk to people who have adopted or inseminated. Read books about it. Seek counseling if you think that will help. But don't have kids until you're sure you're overjoyed about the idea of YOUR children being born, regardless of whose genes they carry. I believe that you can do this, because it sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your partner and you really want children. I just think you need to take some time to get used to the idea and let it settle in before making any decisions.
posted by decathecting at 11:52 AM on May 24, 2007

Ok, I'm a guy, so maybe I'm missing something here, but I think the simultaneous pregnancy option might be better than you believe. Shared suffering is always easier than the lone version, and if you give birth around the same time, it will let you both nurse both children. And your partner won't be treating you like you're a fragile flower, because she'll be in exactly the same place. :)

I think you'd bond MORE that way, not less. Women who have twins bond with both their kids. You'd sort of have twins but with two feeders available, so it won't be as stressful as real twins. You're all hormonally wired to bond with and love children right after pregnancy, so I would think this would be absolutely ideal... even to the point of being worth arguing over who was going to go get the pickles and ice cream in month 8. :)

From what I know of IVF, there's no guarantee you'd both catch at the same time, so this might not work anyway, no matter what you try. Regardless, if I were female, I'd sure be interested in that route if I could talk my wife into it.
posted by Malor at 12:03 PM on May 24, 2007

My wife and I are a decade older than you and have a 13 month old. We’re in the process of trying to get pregnant again. We went with option B. Here was our reasoning:

a) Both of us wanted to experience pregnancy and birth, if possible.

b) This is what we have done. But there are some real issues. We may not have the same sperm donor for #2, since there is a finite amount of sperm available. In our case we had 4 doses to try for baby #2, and we are now waiting to find out if IUI #3 worked. We knew this was a possibility and decided we were OK with it. Genetics is not the most important thing for us. Also if you do go this route remember you will have to buy your sperm ahead of time and pay for storage. This varies from place to place, but for us sperm was about $500CDN a shot and storage is about $150/year. We were told to count on spending $6000 to try for each baby.

c) Even before having a baby I thought this was nuts. Now I know it is nuts. No way.

d) We have friends that have done this because only one person was interested in carrying. You could also do the IVF route as mentioned above with donor egg from one partner to another. From my readings IVF starts at about $6000/try not including medications.

e) I was open to this idea; my partner was dead set against it. So we didn’t even bother asking her brothers. In any case, I don’t have any brothers so it would only have worked one way. We recently met a couple that did this with sperm from one woman’s 16-year-old brother. They are keeping it a secret from the grandparents. What a horrible situation.

f) From my reading this isn’t likely to be happening anytime soon.

Don’t forget the possibility of using a known donor. We also have friends that have done this. As long as your legal agreements are good it is a real option and one that many people are very happy with.

In addition to book recommendations by earlier posters I also strongly recommend Everything Conceivable.

posted by Cuke at 12:19 PM on May 24, 2007

A modified option (d) would be to use artificial insemination on each of your eggs, and then one of you would carry both to term. That way she would be carrying her own biological child and be acting as a surrogate to your child at the same time.

This would ensure the children were genetically related (as long as the same donor was used) and that both of your genetic lines are passed on. Plus the children would have the added bonus of being pseudo-twins.
posted by toftflin at 12:19 PM on May 24, 2007

This isn't donating a kidney. There's a reason that sperm banks are anonymous.

I'm going to disagree that the anonymity of a sperm bank donor is an advantage here. If Option E were to be undertaken you would have a clear picture of the biological father's medical history and any pre-existing conditions or potentially adverse genetic issues (if you were so inclined to care). If given the option between an anonymous donor to which you had access to no historical information and someone who could disclose everything to you, I'd go with the latter.
posted by Asherah at 12:19 PM on May 24, 2007

I thought Option E was creepy when I first learned about it (on an episode of Six Feet Under, I think), but since I've thought about it, it seems like a great idea to me. You would need to get a good lawyer to draw up the paperwork, but (depending on your local laws), I think your brother can sign away his paternity rights, and you could get legal guardianship of the baby. I think it's totally doable if you get your ducks in a row.

I've become interested in genealogy lately, and I think it would be awesome if your baby's genetic ancestry would reflect both you and your partner.
posted by donajo at 12:30 PM on May 24, 2007

By the way, even if your state or federal laws currently say that your brother or known sperm donor can sign away his parental rights, those laws can change, and he can later be declared your child's father, especially if you and your partner ever split up. That's the way a lot of these very messy court cases begin. Signing away his paternity rights doesn't mean squat if a judge later disagrees with you. If you live in a state where the rights of gay couples are even remotely in question (i.e., all of them), there's a lot of very murky territory here. Second parent adoption is the best way to protect your family.
posted by decathecting at 1:15 PM on May 24, 2007

Also, I don't mean to imply by all of this that your brother, who I'm sure is a wonderful guy with only pure motives and a generous heart, has any intention of trying to steal your child away. I'm sure that most men who donate sperm to friends or relatives don't go into it intending to embroil themselves in years-long, messy custody battles. But just as you don't know how much you're going to love your child when s/he is born, regardless of biology, your brother may be surprised by the depth of his feelings for his biological offspring after s/he is born. He may have feelings about his child that he never could have anticipated, opinions about how s/he should be raised, and he may find himself in the impossible situation of feeling torn between his love for his sister and his love for his son or daughter.

Or, alternatively, if you and your partner split up, a judge could declare him the child's father over all of your objections and force him to pay child support. The point is that with a known donor, it's not up to you. It's up to the whims of the law, which can change at any time.
posted by decathecting at 1:38 PM on May 24, 2007

Brother donor is a bad idea. The New York Times magazine explored the issue a year or so ago pretty well. I have a sister and she has a wife and we talked about the same thing a while back.

Using the same donor for both would probably work if you buy a bunch of extra sperm and keep it frozen. I don't know if that is possible (would a fertility clinic do that for you).
posted by crhanson at 2:19 PM on May 24, 2007

another vote for c from someone in a straight relationship who wishes we could both be having babies together. we think we might want two and i am currently pregnant with number one; we were initially hoping it would turn out to be twins with no annoying age gap (no such luck). sure it has been nice to have my husband doing extra stuff to help out, but i have also wished often that we could share this experience more and that he could better understand what i'm going through. i also agree with what was said above, that having bonding hormones around the same time and being able to breastfeed both children would go a long way toward feeling connected to both of them. chances of conceiving at or around the same time especially if you use fresh sperm and are aware of your ovulatory cycle are really not that bad, and chances of actually giving birth at the exact same time are very low (plus you could probably still be together in some facilities even if you were in labor at the same time if worse came to worse). though i only think this would be a good idea if you had plenty of savings (for extra time off or help as needed) and lots of help (doula, housework, friends to send on errands, etc).
posted by lgyre at 3:13 PM on May 24, 2007

I'm 26 and my gf is 22. Our opinion FWIW is that option B is a path to disaster. "Me and MY kid are going to the park, your kid doesn't want to go so you're welcome to go somewhere else." Or what if (lord forbid) you break up? You each take your own kid? I can see this blowing up even in a disciplinary situation. "Look what YOUR kid did now!" I definitely agree that you'll both love both children but I just think it would create more bias than most people could handle. (Me included!)
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:43 PM on May 24, 2007

I love option E personally and I know lots of other lesbians who have concieved or tried to concieve that way. Just make absolutely sure the legal issues are worked out in writing.

And another comment:

Don’t forget the possibility of using a known donor. We also have friends that have done this. As long as your legal agreements are good it is a real option and one that many people are very happy with.

This advice is just plain wrong. Courts in the US currently decide based on the best interest of the child and they have decided you cannot sign away the rights of the child. No amount of paperwork in the world will matter if it goes to court. If the brother or other known donor decides he wants visitation or joint custody the courts may grant this if they feel it's in the best interest of the child. If the mother decides at some point she wants child support the courts will likely make the donor pay.

I think having a known donor opens you up for a potentially extremely messy situation, even if all parties involved are well intentioned and the absolute best of people. Were I asked by a couple in your situation, I'd decline, or at least start setting aside money in the event I was ever ordered to pay back child support.

I think anonymous donors are the best idea and, at least from this guy's perspective, simultaneous pregnancies don't actually sound like a terrible idea.
posted by 6550 at 5:06 PM on May 24, 2007

The problem with plan B is that is unlikely (if you use a sperm bank) that the donor would be around in 2.5 years.

Sperm banks plan for this. Some will allow you to buy sperm and have it stored for a fee. The one we worked with stored a certain amount of "sibling sperm," available only for subsequent pregnancies. They charged storage fees only retroactively--you paid them if you used the sperm, so we didn't have to pay "just in case" storage.

We bought three samples and had them shipped to our RE's office and then got pregnant in one try (we were trying to save on the very expensive shipping). He stored them free of charge for us until it was time to try for #2.

Simultaneous pregnancies sound like a bad idea to me. What if one of you is very sick during pregnancy? I had nausea and vomiting beginning about 10 days after conception and continuing until the baby was born in my first pregnancy. Even with the miracle of modern medicine, I wasn't able to cook, shop, run errands, work for a living, do housework, or eat normal meals for most of my pregnancy. If my partner had also been pregnant? Disaster. You might both be the kind of women who sail through pregnancy with a glow, raving about how you've never felt so good in all your life...but you might not.

One baby has the potential to exhaust two parents. If both of you are breastfeeding every three hours? It's always good if at least one grown-up can get some uninterrupted sleep. Just affirming your notion that option C is perhaps sub-optimal.
posted by not that girl at 11:24 PM on May 24, 2007

A few things (from much personal experience):

1. Option B is unlikely to be a disaster. I know two couples in which each partner gave birth to a child fathered by the same known donor. You would never, EVER, think that the biomom favors her biological child more than the other one. EVER. This is very common in the lesbian community and a lovely idea. In California, the non-bio mom can even get her name on the birth certificate.

2. Do NOT get pregnant at the same time. You need to be available to fully support your pregnant partner, and it will be difficult to support one another when you're both preggers. Imagine two women in a household unable to lift anything, sleeping constantly, unable to face cooking, taking turns throwing up in the bathroom, etc. Bad idea. Plus, you're both really young -- you probably have many fertile years left in you (lucky ducks). And I second what arcticwoman said about a miscarriage.

3. I agree about the Stephanie Brill book, even though she's a little kooky. You should also definitely read Toni Weschler's Taking Charge of Your Fertility.

4. If you go the sperm donor route, don't buy a huge quantity of a single donor. Some donors don't work for people, and you want to keep your options open. And, by the way, some sperm banks offer donors whose identity can be disclosed to their biological children when they turn 18. You want to buy a decent quantity after your first trimester, at the earliest.

5. If you do choose known (brother donor), get massive legal advice. Not sure if you're in the US, but the laws vary considerably. Also, you will want to have lots of blood/STD-type tests done before you choose a brother as a donor.
posted by stonefruit at 3:37 PM on May 25, 2007

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