I closed the door behind me, tray in hand, and took in the small exam room. It felt like all the other exam rooms I've been in -- fluorescent-white and unnervingly sterile, the aromatic scent of rubber gloves and laboratory-grade hand soap wafting around me. There was an exam table covered in that endless roll of tissue paper that sticks to your back and butt when you sweat, with stirrups attached to its sides, like alien arms, something I've only ever seen in movies -- not too surprising, as most males make it through life without needing a pap smear. A desk chair sat beside the exam table, and a line of white cupboards and drawers surrounded a sink on one wall. On the counter sat a combination TV/DVD player, strikingly similar to one I had in the mid-'90s, on which I watched endless episodes of Seinfeld,Will & Grace, and ER. I set my tray down next to the TV and stared at the little plastic cup and the lone wet wipe perched upon it.
The cup taunted me. Are you ready?
I picked it up, raised it to eye level, and nodded. Let's do this.
I looked around for some assistance but didn't see anything. Seriously? I started to sweat. The last thing I wanted to do was rely on my imagination, not with so much on the line, and Sam the Scientist (more on him later) waiting outside the door. Then I noticed a "magazines" label taped to one of the drawers. Bingo. I opened the drawer to a small stack of ragged Playboy and Penthouse magazines, likely as old as the TV player. I breathed away my germophobia and rifled through them in search of any male anatomy, but found only unusually contorted, hairless female bodies. These definitely wouldn't do the trick. Just as I was about to relent to my imagination, I spotted a lone DVD buried beneath the magazines: Spunk Junkies.
Thank God. Now, that I could work with.
I rolled the desk chair in front of the TV, loaded the DVD, and watched, with the volume muted (because, Sam the Scientist), as a busty blonde woman hiked up the side of a hill, only to chance upon a shirtless cowboy repairing a fence. Here we go. I paused the movie, closed my eyes and, for the first time ever while watching porn, said a prayer that went something like this --
May I bring as much love and intention into this session as I can. May my sperm help my dear friends realize their dream of having a child. May it play a part in creating a new life. And may my sample fill at least three vials -- the average -- so that I don't feel like less of a man. Amen.
I unbuttoned my pants, smiled hopefully downward, then pressed play.
Let's make a baby.
The seed (so to speak) for that office visit had been planted several months earlier, with a text from my friend Gina.
Gina: What would you think about donating sperm to Sarah?
Me: Are you serious?
Gina: You two should talk.
She didn't even bother to include any emojis, not even a little stork. A few days later, Sarah, a dear friend from college, sent me an email asking if I would consider being the sperm donor for her and her partner, Ryan, who was a transgender male and couldn't father children biologically. Sarah had failed six times to get pregnant with anonymous sperm and had never felt comfortable with the process. They wanted the sperm of someone they knew and trusted. Ideally, someone they loved. Though Sarah and I hadn't had much contact in the twenty years since college, we never stopped loving each other. So she asked me.
My gut response was "yes, of course." If I could help two friends realize one of their dreams, simply by masturbating into a cup, why wouldn't I do it? It was just sperm, after all. But it wasn't just sperm. It was sperm to be used in the creation of a child. Which would have made me some sort of father, even if just biologically.
There's the rub: I'm not into kids.
I don't want children. I never have, not really. Sure, my nieces and nephews delight me, and babies' smiles have melted me too many times to count. In those moments, I think "maybe." But those moments last for minutes at most, and my "hell no" quickly reinserts itself. I find little kids super cute and generally tedious. So boring! The stories that make no sense and go nowhere. The insipid questions. The repetition. Oh, the repetition. How do parents do it? I'm good for one round of patty-cake, that's it. And forget about peekaboo. Talk to me when you've learned Uno, at least. Better yet, talk to me when you're old enough to interact intelligently. I want to hang out with kids who can deconstruct The Power of Now, or at least offer some insights on A Course in Miracles. I'd settle for an impassioned discussion of Game of Thrones. That's probably not very kid-friendly, though.
There I was, a self-proclaimed child unenthusiast, being asked to help create a child, one with whom I would certainly have contact. I talked it over with my partner, G, who told me he'd support whatever decision I made. He doesn't always tell me this, by the way, especially when I'm making restaurant or movie choices. "Not Thai again" and "No more superheroes" are his most common objections.
With sperm donation, however, he was on board. "But give it some serious thought," he advised. "I think you're taking it too casually. Once the baby is born, you might be more attached to it than you think."
I doubted it, but how do we ever know what we're going to feel about something until we actually feel it? Even my robot heart was likely to stir the first time I held a baby I'd played a part in creating.
SCOTT STABILE is the author of Big Love. His inspirational posts and videos have attracted a huge and devoted social media following, including over 350,000 Facebook fans and counting. A regular contributor to HuffPost, he lives in Michigan and conducts personal empowerment workshops around the world. Visit him online at www.scottstabile.com.