We’d had it pencilled in the diary for three months. Ourfirst insemination. In fact we hadn’t pencilled it in at all: there was just anominous unmarked weekend on the calendar; a question mark by Days 11 and 13 onmy chart; a pair of affectionate parentheses in my diary, embracing nothing.
There’s an element of trying to be discreet – when I jotdown the time of my next dental appointment, I don’t want Brenda on the surgeryreception to glance across and see…well, what? What would you write? “Man wemet on internet coming to masturbate into cup 6.30pm”. Clearly that’s far tooconvoluted, but the five-syllable “Insemination” doesn’t seem much shorter –“Insem 6.30pm perhaps? At least its obscurity would tick the box for discretion– it sounds like a business meeting with a software company.
It was fortunate I’d been at work during the designated day.Despite occasional surges of excited panic, my mind had been distracted fromthe evening ahead. My partner, however, had been at home, which was useful inthe sense that she was able to review the instructions and put together achecklist, scatter a few candles about in our bedroom for ambience, and place aspecimen cup in the spare room (with a bottle of water and a tube of Smartiesas light refreshments). Meanwhile without the distraction of work, her brainhad been free to muse on our plans. “What are we doing?!” she asked, on myreturn from work and I felt the bile of panic rise.
There were two things going on here:
1. We return to that ‘man we met on Internet coming to masturbate into cup 6.30pm’, but with the added entry of ‘Insert product of said masturbation into me.’
2. To continuein diary entry style, ‘Sacrifice next 20 years of life to child/ren
At that moment, an hour before our donor was due to arrive,it all felt so rushed. It felt like we had just decided on a whim, to have ababy, and having recently read that your nine months start from the first dayof your last period, I realised that I was feasibly already two weeks pregnant,and we hadn’t even done it yet. I had to remind myself that we’d talked aboutthis. For, ominously, nine months, we’d talked about this. We had to rely onthe fact that whatever panic we felt in this moment, we’d made a careful,considered decision.
The familiarity of the sound of the doorbell was strangelycomforting, amid the chaos of my mind and the impending awkwardness of “when hearrives”. Unfamiliar with the etiquette of receiving a sperm donor, since we’reEnglish, we resorted to the offer of a cup of tea, which, to our relief, wasgratefully accepted. Thence an hour of polite conversation before he suggestedperhaps it was time he got on with it.
Meanwhile, leaving him in privacy upstairs, the two of usheaded down to the kitchen and nervously completed a week’s worth of houseworkin about fifteen minutes (‘nesting ‘, I’ve decided, is actually just a feveredrelease of nervous energy encountered by expectant parents). Anyway, just as wegot the iron board folded back up, he popped his head round the door and wasready to get off home; we all knew it was advisable not to leave the stufflying around cooling down for long. My partner put the sample bottle down herbra for warmth while I prepared to be bedbound for an hour or two, by gatheringpersonal possessions like someone about to be deposited on a desert island forten years.
I arranged myself on the bed, with my hips propped up on apile of pillows in a position which I very much doubt is listed in the KamaSutra, and my partner used my tummy as a handy table for her list ofinstructions. I closed my eyes and waited to feel the squirt of the syringe,but when it happened, I felt nothing. I opened my eyes and we smiled at eachother in nervous collusion. After twenty minutes lying on my back, I rolledover and did five minutes on each side, and then on my front, like an obedientsausage turning itself on the grill.
Then, nicely browned on all sides, I watched as my partnersnuffed out the candles and, exhausted, we settled down to sleep. Somewherevery nearby, a million or so little beings had just woken up and were startingto have a look around…