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Baby by


In her latest dissection of the gay parental process, Maggie Quale heads to the sperm bank and discovers too much choice can be bad thing

Last week Kim and I finally had our long-awaited appointment with my ob-gyn, who gave me the OK to push forward with the baby-planning. Things got very real, very fast.

Suddenly tough choices abound. It's not just about picking the right prenatal vitamins or researching which ovulation kit is the most accurate and affordable. The Maggie-and-Kim dilemma du jour is selecting a donor, should we decide to take the pregnancy route.

If you've never searched for a donor before, let me help you understand the process. At most sperm banks you can preview brief profiles of donors, which include hair and eye color, height, weight, hobbies, medical history, and so on. It's like browsing personal ads on a dating service. Once you've chosen some candidates, you can purchase additional information such as photos, essays, and even audio CDs to help narrow down your selection. In theory, once you find your favorite, you leave the baby-planning stage and progress to the baby-making stage. We've stalled in stage 1.

The sticking point is the appearance of the new baby in relation to our firstborn, Calvin. My gut says our new baby should physically resemble Calvin, who happens to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed like his birth mom (me). I get it -- this sounds problematic. But from my experiences, I know that even the slightest differences between siblings can potentially drive wedges between them. Our children will already have to deal with the fact that Calvin will have a present biological father, whereas the new baby won't. Talk about sibling rivalry.

Sometimes I wonder if it's wiser to intentionally celebrate our new baby's differences by selecting a donor with markedly dissimilar physical traits. Kim thinks so. She also happens to be brown-haired, brown-eyed, and is hoping the baby resembles her -- it wouldn't hurt if the donor had type O-positive blood, had an athletic lifestyle, and was of Manchurian decent.

I'm sure we seem ridiculous. I fully expect to receive a deluge of e-mails titled "All that matters is having a healthy baby." But when you are forced to choose, when you have the ability to pick your baby's appearance like furniture from a Pottery Barn catalog, it's hard not to grow consumed by the options. The truth is that if tomorrow we woke up and discovered I was magically pregnant, we wouldn't give a rat's ass about his or her gender or hair color. Perhaps this is a good reminder for us as we embark on this next stage of our baby-making journey -- all the small stuff will melt away when my belly feels those first flutters of a heartbeat.

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Maggie Quale