I’m 29, which means that I’m perpetually scrolling through social media in my 551 square-foot studio and reading birth announcement after birth announcement on my Facebook feed. It must be noted that I live in the Midwest, but I’m from California; while I vaguely know a few people who maybe got pregnant in California, the bulk of these pregnancies occur in the Midwest, along with marriage, home ownership, and stable careers before the age of 30.
I know, it’s weird. And yes, pretty much everyone is straight.
Then there’s me — the weird self-appointed auntie who came out as queer at the age of 27. The thing is, I, too used to be one of those people: a stable relationship with a cis dude and a mortgage on a 1911 bungalow. As I grew older, though, I realized that I was scoring a little too high on the Kinsey scale to be leading this life. Furthermore, the thought of marriage and children scared me more than my deeply confusing attraction to Rhea Butcher. I ended the relationship, sold the house, and relocated to my aforementioned studio.
When I dated men, I never understood the desire to carry someone’s child. If anything, I pictured myself as a single mother, traveling the world with a daughter who only resembled me, not the nameless, nebulous person who fathered her. Then I met my partner, who is non-binary. For the first time, I feel that biological tug to procreate, and it’s literally impossible to naturally conceive a child with my partner. I wish there was a magic formula to slam our DNA together and make a baby — that’s how it works, right? — because I love the shit out of this human, and I want to carry their child. It’s confusing, exciting, and bionic at best.
The only way for me to become pregnant with my partner’s child is through reciprocal in vitro fertilization, which requires my carrying their inseminated egg to term. Unfortunately, this arduous process costs upwards of $30,000, and insurance refuses to cover it, because the patriarchy.
On our third date, my partner and I had the Proper Third Date Conversation: childbearing. This conversation always involves the following questions: Do you want to have kids? If so, how many? Do you want to conceive or adopt? If you want to conceive, who will carry the child? Will it be an anonymous sperm donor, or will it be someone we know? You know you’ll be rubbing my feet the second that sperm is inside me, right? Do you want pepperoni or cheese pizza? Because I’m about to order.
You see, when you’re queer, you can’t just magically do the bam-bam and make a baby. There are logistics involved. Further discussions may or may not include: What will our child call us? How can we convince our families to use gender-neutral pronouns for our children until they feel comfortable with a specific identity? How the hell can we afford this? Should we just buy a Subaru instead? Yeah, let’s buy a Subaru. Damn, wouldn’t a toddler look cute in a Subaru, though?
In some ways, it feels like my body has betrayed me. Why is my brain telling me that I’ve found the perfect person to co-parent with, but conception alone will cost us the equivalent of a down payment on a house? Why doesn’t my biological clock tell me to adopt, or simply sleep with my partner’s super cute male cousin, who’s also gay, so it’s like a two-birds-one-stone kind of deal, except we’ll both be hating it the entire time? Why do I even want children, when just a few years ago, the thought nearly caused me to hyperventilate?
I guess that’s love, and I’ll be damned if my hormones get the better of me.
Still, my desire to parent does fluctuate. The other day, my partner and I were in line at a museum. A mother blinded by exhaustion cut in line; she had five children strapped to her body, and seemed so consumed by her biological need to get her wolfpack to the front of the line, she didn’t even notice us. What does it mean to walk through a world so consumed by your own sleep-deprivation that you lose all self-awareness? Where does the self-awareness go to? Is it consumed by your offspring? My partner and I turned and searched each other’s faces. “I don’t want that,” I signaled with my eyes. “Me, neither,” they returned.
Ultimately, parenthood is up in the proverbial air for us. Until then, we have other queer dilemmas, such as making sure our plaid shirts aren’t too similar when we go out in public, or the terrifying feedback loop that is menstruating and weeping together. For real, though; coming out is the best decision I’ve ever made, and I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. Except for maybe a Subaru — and a child in the back someday.