Sperm banks across the UK and USA have different criteria for selecting their sperm donors. Some simply require screening and testing for diseases whilst some expect specific criteria to be met (including educational and academic criteria). Some would suggest that such criteria is tantamount to eugenics and therefore immoral but these are issues which have yet to be resolved. By law sperm banks simply have to carry any type of sperm which meets laboratory standards and has been consensually given.
Choosing to conceive via Sperm donation is not an easy option and is something which everybody involved should consider in depth. If it is right for you however then no one has the right to judge or question your decision – you know it’s right for you.
It was a sunny Sunday morning at the end of March. While we waited for our NCT instructor to arrive at our house (the block of sessions we had booked months previously had been cancelled due to lack of interest so we were having an intensive private session) we stomped around the driveway, digging our cars out of a three-foot high snowdrift – well, thirty-five weeks pregnant I stomped about waving a broom rather ineffectively, while my partner, Sally, did some serious work with a spade. It was the first time we had bothered with this sort of lark –in the past I’d looked a little condescendingly on those who have the time to potter about their driveway with a shovel when half an inch of snow falls – but in today’s conditions, without removing mounds of snow, our cars would be going nowhere, and we had our nephew’s christening to attend that afternoon.
So it was that we were wielding our implements when a laden figure lolloped into sight through the drifts. We called out greetings from a hundred yards away – the layer of snow seemed to make the world smaller, such that from quite long distances you were really rather friendly even to people you didn’t know. There was a quiet, a thick solid feeling, where a shouted greeting carried crisply and clearly to its intended recipient. We expressed gratitude to our instructor for hiking through the drifts with her bags of plastic pelvises and baby dolls, but she seemed unphased, despite the early hour – it wasn’t yet ten o’clock, and on a Sunday morning – but we knew she had kids, so that means you’re up at…well…what o’clock? Six perhaps? Seven if you’re very lucky? So much to look forward to.
“We’ve read quite a lot already, so we know the basic stuff,” we said. And we did. Despite recent concerns over my amniotic fluid levels, I was still determined to have the natural birth I’d planned, the wild animal burrowed safely in the undergrowth, the hunter-gatherer woman finding a quiet corner of the forest. Nevertheless, birth was still rather an alien concept to us and I knew even then that shoving a baby doll through a plastic pelvis and examining an (albeit colourful) NCT birth progress wall frieze would do little to change that. I was certainly getting to grips with the idea of a long period where the little bumps in the chart got bigger and closer together, and then this odd bit called transition that would be bad, and then pushing for quite a bit and then the baby coming out. I was also vaguely aware of a bit after that concerning the placenta which didn’t seem very interesting. But I really had no idea of what a contraction might feel like and trying to imagine all this as a process I was going to experience, at some point in the next few weeks, partly here at home, partly at the hospital (or if we were very lucky and they let us in, the birth centre) seemed impossible.
Then we moved on to the baby bit. And here I really didn’t have a clue. I knew three things about babies: firstly that they cried, and we should try to ‘regulate’ this crying so they didn’t get too stressed – we’d read up on that; secondly that they didn’t sleep very well; and thirdly that they wore vests and baby gros of which you needed many – presumably because they were sick a lot/nappies didn’t work very well. So I made a careful study of the NCT images of baby birth marks, rashes and a whole range of bizarre blemishes and blotches which it seemed babies were frequently born with – apparently much to the surprise of their parents, who are expecting it to slip out all fresh faced and rosy, as if they have just been for an invigorating constitutional in the Autumn air. Then we studied pictures of baby poo. Black and tarry for newborns, then greenish, brownish, and yellowish with bits in. Lovely.
Finally, the instructor demonstrated a Stretchy Wrap. We had a mound of various slings and carriers, all of which had been passed on by a friend, except one, the Ergo Baby carrier which we had bought ourselves, months ago – in fact it had been the first piece of baby equipment we had actually purchased: sleepless and sick at 3am one morning back in November, I had researched the topic in some detail. Wraps and slings scared me – I’ve never been particularly dexterous (and was already slightly concerned about how I’d manage all the plaiting and pig-tailing if we were to have a girl) and so thought I’d be more at home with the structured carriers.
My nocturnal reading had taught me about the importance of hip position, about how most of the carriers available on the high street are designed to allow the baby to dangle from the crotch, which didn’t sound ideal. So we’d bought the Ergo Baby carrier, a carrier which places the baby in a comfortable seated position with their bottom low and knees high in a sort of squat. It was supposed to be very comfortable for parents too. And came in a lovely shade of purple. Nevertheless, the stretchy wrap demonstrated to us by our instructor, despite just being a long piece of material, seemed very cosy, very easy to tie and clearly encouraged the good hip position; after she’d left, promising to send us various links and book recommendations, we ordered one – a ‘Sabe’, in green and grey, reversible.
Then it was on through the snow to the Christening, and as always happens, when we arrived at Ramsbottom, our destination on the other side of the Pennines, there wasn’t a hint of the white stuff; we were the only guests dressed for blizzard conditions in what turned out to be rather a bright spring day.
But on Monday morning, for us at least, it was back to navigating carefully between the gigantic white mole hills down either side of our little cul-de-sac as I headed to my now weekly scan/consultant appointment. Amniotic fluid still disappointingly low. Not especially low. But enough keep me under consultant care and out of the birth centre. Enough to warrant induction at forty weeks.
Once home, we tried another angle and I phoned the consultant midwife for the area. Clearly thoroughly passionate about birth, she had answered her work mobile on a day off and spent an hour enthusiastically discussing our situation: the hospital’s ‘diagnosis’ and desire to intervene; our desperate quest for the gentleness and tranquillity of the birth centre. She went away to do a bit of research and then phoned back, supportive of our wishes: she thought I could have a midwife-led birth. We had an ally.
Back at work it was the final week before the Easter holidays. I was dashing around desperately trying to ensure that everything was up-to-date and ready for me to leave. I was due to go back for two days after the holiday, but knowing that the hospital could suddenly decide to induce me after any one of my weekly scans, I wanted to make sure all loose ends were tied: A’ level and GCSE coursework completed and marked, classroom tidy and cleared of my stuff, responsibilities transferred to others. I dashed around, dragging my pregnancy risk-assessment trolley full of books, out of breath and gulping from a litre bottle of water at every opportunity. And as each task was ticked off the list, I could almost feel my bump breathe a sigh of relief – at last, you’re going to concentrate on me.
Article: 20th October 2013 by Lindsey, West Yorkshire
Read more Lesbian parenting blogs at www.prideangel.com
You want to be a best parent, not a best friend. With this generation of children, it's important to be an "old school" parent. What does that mean, you ask? Basically, be a tough parent. Learn to say no instead of yes, yes, YES! Parenting is really hard work: it's physically demanding, financially and psychologically, and as a parent all you want is for your child to love and respect you. But that won't happen if you baby your children or be the best friend. They'll grow to like you, but not respect you authoritatively; they'll only see you as their equal.
Here's how you can become a respected parent and not a best friend:
It's OK if Your Kids 'Hate You'
Mother and grandmother Joan Robach, for example, said that she was very disciplined with her kids when they were growing up and wasn't a friend to them. "My kids didn't like me when they were teenagers and that's okay, that's a good sign. If your kids love you and think you're just the coolest mom ever, you're probably making a lot of mistakes," Robach said in an interview with CafeMom (.com).
It will hurt when you hear your children say "I hate you!" Or, "you're the worst mother in the whole world!" But they say that because of their teenage hormones — they never actually mean it. In the long run, they will respect you far more as an adult and will thank you for being hard on them and not the "cool mom."
Show Your Children Discipline and Teach Them Right From Wrong
Ed Young and his wife Lisa, for example, have been married for over 25 years and have had success in raising their children. That's in part because of the role model and parenting by his father, who wrote the book, "The 10 Commandments of Parenting: The Do's and Don'ts for Raising Great Kids." The insight and rules every parent should follow to raise headstrong children (and to be careful not to turn into the best friend).
When I read about the remarkable teachings of Pastor Ed Young I was instantly hooked right in to his parenting tips. Some of the 10 commandments are:
- Thou Shalt Teach Thy Children
- Thou Shalt Spend Time With Thy Children
- Thou Shalt Discipline Thy Children
- Thou Shalt Encourage Thy Children
- Thou Shalt Provide Stability and Security for Thy Children
- Thou Shalt Not Be a Passive Parent
Be the Boss
According to MAD Life, a segment on CafeMom, the happiest kids are products of authoritative parents. Try a little experiment: When you're at the mall or anywhere with parents and children, observe them and see what happens. If the children constantly roll their eyes, talk back to their parents or have no respect, then that parent is a friend to their child — not a parenting model. You can always tell which parents are friends to their kids and which are parents, because the children that have lax rules and "friend" parents just don't show any respect for their parents.
Don't Be Afraid to Be a Tough Parent
Oprah Radio host Rabbi Shmuley says that it's irresponsible to be your child's best friend. According to Shmuley, you should never parent out of fear. Remember, you're the one in charge, and in turn, show them your weak side, they'll disrespect you.
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The Unimportance of Mothers by Jon Holden Galluccio, author of “An American Family”
My daughter Madison just turned 15. My baby is now 15, a young lady and a quite accomplished young lady at that! The truth is that most of the time over the past 15 years Madison has basically walked on water. She has always been one of the most caring loving souls on this planet. Ask anyone, it is not just parental bias here. I say that with the utmost humility because I know in many ways I am responsible for it. Michael too of course, but for this piece I’m taking credit because this is about the unimportance of “Mothers”.
Offensive, maybe but read along and hopefully you will be less offended and more enlightened for isn’t that the point of everything I write?
Michael and I, along with raising three children, have always advocated for families like ours, gays and lesbians having and raising children. Recently, someone coined the phrase “growing up in a homocentric household” not sure if it makes sense or not but I like it so who cares, it makes sense to me and I’m the author here!
So in advocating for families like ours we have always been barraged with questions about “growing up in a ‘homocentric’ household”. “What’s it like?” “How is it different from growing up in a ‘heterocentric’ household?” For us, as gay men, there have been two questions asked over and over and over again.
The first question Michael and I resolved very early on and that is “Won’t gay men raise their children to be gay?” Of course, our parents raised us to be heterosexual and that didn’t happen so we knew that was just ridiculous. However, in the beginning we were quoting statistics that proved that to be unlikely etc. Then during one radio interview while we still lived in Maywood (so this was early), after discussing this with Michael, I responded “So what if they turn out to be gay because of us, there is nothing wrong with being gay!” From that interview forward there was no longer a debate on that issue. We have repeated that answer over and over and have yet to have anyone come back on that. Issue closed!
The second question has taken quite a bit longer to resolve and that is something like “Won’t your children suffer without having a mother?” Michael and I have both spoken volumes on this to our friends and foes alike. We have given examples of all the female role models they have. We have probably even over compensated with making sure Madison had all these connections. Last month, at Montclair State University, I watched Madison struggle with the same question as the world in general still seems very concerned about how there is no mother in our family equation. Madison immediately spoke up about how Rosa, her 29 year old sister is “like a mother to her” and the audience accepted it, felt better about it and moved on.
I, however, did not accept it and am only moving on now as I write this. So here’s the truth. The un-sugar coated reality is kids don’t need mother’s, they need nurturers. I swear to you, it is the God’s honest truth but I have never said it before for fear of offending mothers, motherhood, women, etc. While I am at it I will even go on to say that men (meaning at least me) can nurture children as well as any woman can. A vagina is not required to nurture a child. I am just trying to say that our ingrained bias on the whole male/female thing skews people’s view of families like ours. It’s a gender bias that in this day and age has to be addressed. For my lesbian counterparts raising kids in a “homocentric” household I’m sure the same argument can be made for the unimportance of fathers! Again, I do not believe that one must have a penis in order to demonstrate discipline and stability for their children. This probably applies to all the “heterocentic” families with stay at home dads and working moms too!
So I’m not against mothers because honestly my role, my culturally ingrained role, is that of a mother. Not the noun mother but the verb. Ok, maybe it isn’t an actual verb but by now I hope you got my point if not I will share this one more story.
When Madison was 11 (she’ll probably hate me for sharing this one!) she got her period. This is probably the single most important experience for a female in their young lives. When the heralding of her impending womanhood showed up, my mother was visiting and I said to Madison “Oh wait do you want me to get Nana?” and she said “No I need you Daddy”. So for the most intimate female event in her young life she did not need a woman, she needed her Daddy.
Her Daddy who has been mothering her since she was a baby is all she needed.
JON HOLDEN GALLUCCIO, AUTHOR OF “AN AMERICAN FAMILY” WITH MICHAEL GALLUCCIO AND DAVID GROFF, IS A FINANCIAL SERVICES REPRESENTATIVE WITH METLIFE. HE RESIDES WITH MICHAEL AND TWO OF THEIR CHILDREN IN NORTH HALEDON. HE CAN BE CONTACTED AT WWW.GALLUCCIO.COM
Brisbane couple Melissa Keevers (27) and Rosemary Nolan (22) welcomed 5 new lives into their family in January. They immediately contacted Australian Multiple Birth Volunteer Support Program consultant Lynne Dunoon for help. She’s searching for 50-60 volunteers to help with their daily parenting operation. Volunteers who pass police checks will chip in with tasks such as settling, feeding and washing baby clothes, between 8am and 10pm daily. Ms Keevers was artificially inseminated with sperm from an anonymous American donor. The quintuplets have an older sister, Lily, 18 months. The man, a 27-year-old law student, has waived all rights to access the children.
[via Herald Sun]