How to Convince Your New Partner to Have a Baby with You Right Away 

The following is the second to last installment (#13) of the hilarious series by author and squirrel hunter Amy Bronwen Zemser called “How to Thaw Your Unborn Child.” Give yourself a treat and start at the beginning here. Or jump in below: all you need to know is that after divorcing her husband and having a tumultuous gay love affair, Amy started dating Lynn… 

When Lynn and I first got together, we had sex constantly. We’d do it before we went to sleep. We’d wake each other up in the middle of the night and then do it again first thing in the morning and continue on through the morning and early afternoon. By four o’clock in the afternoon we’d limp out of the studio, starving and exhausted.

“Let’s get a hamburger,” she’d say. I’d nod, coughing up a little blood.

Part of the reason we had sex so often had to do with the recent circumstances of our lives. Lynn was dealing with coming out late in life and finally having access to the kind of intimacy she’d been longing for and avoiding for years. She had to make up for lost time. After the trauma of being with Moira, I needed to be loved and understood, to be wanted. Sometimes the intersection of these vulnerabilities worked to our advantage, but often there would be a panoply of misunderstandings and misplaced sensitivities, and so we would fight. The arguments were never about whatever it was we were arguing about. We’d have an extended dialectic about which hamburger place to go to, but the fight was really about her being too embarrassed to hold my hand in public. A fiery argument about why Tootsie is not a feminist picture actually had everything to do with why I’d forced her to hide under the covers when Moira paid my studio a surprise visit.

Sometimes we would actually fight while we were having sex.

“Don’t call my dogs yappers,” she’d say, lifting up my blouse and sliding her hands around my back to undo my brassiere.  “They’re all I have right now.”

“I can’t hear you when I call on the phone,” I’d say, wiggling out of my underwear and throwing them on the Boston Terrier, who was snoring away in the corner.  “They’re so freaking loud.  Can’t you get rid of one?”

She’d throw up her hands and say I didn’t respect her if I didn’t care about her stupid dogs, and look what I’ve done, now the moment is ruined. She’d start to sit up and look around for her t-shirt.

“Get back here,” I’d say, pushing her back down on the bed. Then I’d flaunt some body part which, to a person who has recently come out, is seriously distracting.

“You don’t love me if you don’t love Wags,” she’d whisper furiously, lying on top of me and pressing her lips against my ear.

“I want to eviscerate Wags,” I’d whisper back, putting a hand on the back of her neck and running my fingers down the sides of her body.

“You’re horrible.”

“I want you really bad.”

So it went.

The thing we fought about more than any other thing, more than Moira or coming out or the dogs or which diner we’d eat in, was the fact that I wanted to be pregnant, and I wanted to be pregnant as soon as possible. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve wanted to have children from the time that I was very young, and becoming a homosexual and hooking up with a woman who extradited me from parenting was a major setback. I was thirty-four when I met Lynn, and I’d read the fertility statistics on the internet, and looked at the little bar charts and line graphs and felt the quickening in my veins.

“If you don’t want children,” I told her, on our third date, “then don’t even bother with me.”

We trudged along St. Johns Place in Park Slope.

“Can’t you give me a few years, at least,” she said, after a moment.  “Before you whack me over the head with talk of a baby. I’m not even out of the closet yet. Let me get through therapy.”


In the spring of 2006, in the hallway of a Brooklyn elementary school where I taught ESL, I stood whispering ferociously into my cell phone. The person on the other end of the line was a  representative from Xytex Cryo International, a sperm bank headquartered in Augusta, Georgia. It was my lunch break, I had a few minutes, and I had finally worked up the nerve.

“I’m — I’m interested in buying sperm and I was wondering how you go about the process.  Do I just give you my credit card information and you — you send the, the, um — stuff?”

“Yes, ma’m.  You tell us which donor samples you’re interested in and we tell you what’s available.”

The woman on the phone sounded like she was about eighteen years old. I remember thinking it was amazing that something so personal came down to a process no different than buying a pair of shoes. 

“And — how much does it — what are the fees?

“It ranges from three-hundred and fifty dollars to four-hundred and fifty.”

A third grader was walking to the bathroom. She looked up at me and smiled adoringly. I felt like I was on the phone with some underground cartel dealing in the exportation of crystal meth.

“So I just order the stuff and you send it to me?”

“Depending on where you live.  We either send it to your physician or to your house. What state are you in?”

I panicked and hung up.

I’d spent a few months looking at donor profiles, but I’d never actually made a telephone call to speak about making any kind of purchase in real terms. It’s possible that I made that initial call as a way of proving to myself that places like this really existed, that it was entirely conceivable (ha) to order your children from a Sears Catalogue of semen.  The idea does take some getting used to. I also wondered if the young representative on the other end of the phone could tell that the same woman called every week or so to ask the same questions repeatedly.

“So…the stuff just gets frozen and sent out?”

“Yes, ma’m, after a six-month quarantine.”

I was at least a year away from actually trying to get pregnant. Lynn and I were still fighting about having children, and the argument always went the same way.  She wasn’t ready; I was born ready. She wanted more time to spend with just me, and I was afraid that by the time she’d had her fill of me exclusively I’d have grown a long beard and would be in active menopause. Also, we still weren’t living together properly. She was ninety minutes north of the city and I had moved to a one-bedroom in Park Slope. I often traveled during the week to be with her for dinner, but the trip was five hours round trip and unbelievably exhausting.  I often took the trip midweek anyway. I hated being alone in that apartment. I hated being alone generally.

Sometimes we fought for so long and hard on the phone or via text message that Lynn would write me a long email afterward telling me that she thought we should break up. Obviously I wanted a child more than she did. She wanted me to be happy. Perhaps I should get pregnant on my own if I wanted it this badly.

I always called her after these emails and said there was no way we were breaking up. If she wasn’t ready, then we would have to wait. If she didn’t want to have a child, ever, then I would do without. I loved her — what could I do?  I figured in the least I could torture her for several hours every day. Or spend time on my nights alone in Brooklyn reading sperm donor profiles, which, in case you are interested, can be a very preoccupying hobby if you really put your mind to it. First of all, there are over seven-hundred sperm banks in the United States, and all of them provide online access. This means you don’t have to talk to anyone to peruse the lists, nobody knows you’re looking to have a child in an unconventional way and, if you’re willing to spend a little bit of money, you can have access to an absolutely massive number of donor profiles. You can find out if a donor has musical interests or prefers sports, if he’s shy or extroverted, and what his career plans are. Most sperm donors donate while they’re in college.  Fellow lesbians and single moms looking for seed: be wary of the ones who are actively donating but long out of college. They’ve got to be weird.

I figured if Lynn wasn’t ready to have a child then at least I could line up some candidates while I was waiting. I looked up all the sperm banks in the United States and was surprised to find only one company that had a list of men (boys, really) who were willing to disclose adult photos of themselves. It is actually amazing to me that so many women don’t care about this. Most, if not all, sperm banks give out baby pictures, but how can you not want to see a grown-up photo of the man who will be contributing to your child’s genetics?  Little kids are always cute. They’re naturally chubby-cheeked and large-eyed and precious. Not so much for grownups. A grown-up picture of somebody can give you a lot more information beyond the obvious question of good or bad looks, too. Where is the photo taken, for example?  What are they wearing? What is their posture in the picture and how does the information they write about themselves match up with their image? There was a photo of this one guy that I looked at again and again. His ethnic background was Italian and Cherokee Indian, and in his photo he wasn’t wearing a shirt. He struck a dramatic pose that suggested he thought he was a total god. Any woman who didn’t choose his seed, he seemed to be saying, had just got to be crazy.  I thought he looked pretty stupid. Conceited, too. But his profile was nice enough, and his essay, if a little simple, seemed just fine.  Without the adult photo, he’d have been a viable candidate.  With the photo, he was immediately eliminated from the running.


Since Lynn wasn’t ready for me to get pregnant in 2006, I showed sperm donor candidates to all my friends over the next year. Most people I know who have used a sperm bank chose their donors quietly and privately, but since I tend to make all my decisions by committee I figured this shouldn’t be any different.  Why not? It can’t hurt to gather as many opinions about a topic as you can before coming to your own conclusions.

What about this one, I’d say, during a curriculum meeting or a professional development seminar at PS 261.  How about this guy, I’d ask the assistant principal, sliding my laptop across the faculty room table. It was kind of like I was trying to figure out a wallpaper design, or a new sofa cover, and I needed a second opinion. The variety of opinions I received was fascinating.

“Oh my god, you can’t pick that one.”

And, “He’s too normal looking, get somebody weirder.”

And, “Think about all the guys you’ve looked at so far.  Who is the one you want to talk to at the party?  The one with the ten-gallon hat, the one with no shirt, or this guy?  I want to hang out with this guy.” 

I wanted a sperm donor that had decent looks, an excellent mind, and most importantly, a good temperament.  Temperament is more important than people realize, I think. You can be brilliant and handsome, but if your disposition is lousy then the rest just falls to the wayside.

I narrowed my list down to two men and called my friend Leesie in San Francisco.

“Oh, Zoomie,” she said.  “They’re all fine.  It doesn’t matter. You love the kid you get.”


If you are looking for relationship advice, take it from me: there is a big difference between being together for a few months and being together for a few years. In 2007,  three years and four months into our relationship, Lynn said she wanted to take a trip to Amsterdam over Christmas break. She wanted to go to the Van Gogh museum and see the Anne Frank house.  I wanted to smoke legal pot and eat stroopwaffels. 

“Let’s do it,” I said.  Then, with a confidence I hoped would frighten her into submission, I added, “And when we get back, I’m getting pregnant.”

Lynn sighed and shrugged.  “Fine.”

Read more of Amy’s adventures on her blog,

Amy on coming out, homophilia & sexual identity:
My Husband Has No Penis