Like most people, I always look forward to the longer daylight hours of spring. This year though, I await it with a particular eagerness, because the lighter mornings will bring an end to frantic half-conscious scrabbling around in the dark for the thermometer, torch, pen and notepad. I’m not sure quite how she does it, but whilst I am still fumbling around on my bedside table sending the random paraphernalia of my nocturnal life in all directions, I invariably hear the smug BEEP of my partner’s thermometer: waking temperature taken, job done.
Never mind the life transformation new parents undergo; we’re already experiencing a whole new world – and language – of BBT, ICI and FSH among others. Our collection of monthly charts is growing and a daily analysis of the ups and downs usually leads to me wondering whether typing “=OVULATION” into an Excel spread sheet might be worth a try. I’ve prodded and pondered on the texture of parts of my body I barely knew existed. And the Sarah Waters and Emma Donoghue novels have been shelved in favour of titles which usually include the words “lesbian” and then “insemination”, “conception” and/or "pregnancy”. The Americanisms – it seems most are from over the Atlantic – get a bit tedious, but we’re lucky such publications exist at all – I don’t suppose anyone looking for such material ten years ago would have had much success.
One result of finding myself in a happy long-term lesbian relationship that I could not perhaps have predicted, was a serious interest in sperm. And I no longer find myself performing a dramatic squirm of disgust when the word is mentioned – spermatozoa (yes I’ve learnt the full name, and you need to trust me on this – that I just typed it with a serious and thoughtful expression on my face, no eeugh face or sperm squirm now). Try as I might though, I think I’ll always struggle a bit with looking at things from a scientific viewpoint; I need some frame of reference and sperm have become for me the athletes I’ll be following this year. It’s all about having a well-formed shape and getting up some speed as far as I can see. And if they do it in time for a gold medal in London this year, well, all the better – we’re ready for you.
Because it’s amazing how your mind-set changes, and how in six months you can go from “we’d better start discussing the baby question before it’s too late to decide” to “right, where’s the sperm and when do we start?” It seems to happen so gradually, with each smug thermometer BEEP, you find yourself not only in the new world of BBT, ICI and FSH but wondering whether it’s too early to talk about which bedroom he or she would have, which high-chair seems like a good buy and will we get chance to go back to the gay book shop in London for that children’s book about the kids who have two mummies and/or two daddies or should we get it now? (We decided pre-definite sperm donor was a bit soon.) So the life transformation is already well underway – perhaps when we actually have a baby, this process will have made us so ready that we’ll barely notice it slip into our lives. Yes, parents reading this, I’m joking – I know – or rather, perhaps more to the point, I really have NO IDEA!
So there you are: mittens and bootees might have a job to do sometime next winter, and as for my partner and I, we’ve got our eyes on the gold this summer, and next time the lighter mornings are on the way, perhaps we’ll be welcoming them with a new member of the family. And the nocturnal noise level might just have risen above that smug thermometer BEEP.