Laura: We got together 8 years ago and we have a little boy who is 4 going on 14.
People want to know about the nitty gritty, like how did it happen? Generally turkey basters come into it somewhere.
Another common question is, “What does he call you?” We worried about that for a while, what he was going to call us. But we kind of left it and he decided for himself. So Jean is Mum Mum and I’m Mummy. Unless he’s having an attitude – then I’m Laura and she’s Jean!
People are very reluctant to ask about the donor. It’s like he’s a non-entity. Even for family, it’s a question they skirt around. But people need to ask these questions if they want to know what to do to have a child.
When we got together, Jean already had a son who was 18. She wanted another child and I wanted a child so we knew it was on the cards from early on. I think we even started buying baby clothes before we did anything else.
Jean: We started by getting a dog, a cat, fish, all that…
Laura: And we started looking on the internet, not looking for a clinic but to try to have a relationship with a donor. Not as a parent but because our child needed to know where they come from.
Jean: We didn’t use someone we knew because we thought it could go horribly wrong. We went through everyone we knew thinking, “What if this or that happened?” We ruled it out pretty quickly. It would be too complicated.
Laura: We were looking for the donor for 12 months. This was the longest bit. We found him through the Rainbow Network Forum. It took us a while to check him out.
You feel quite vulnerable. This was the internet! Who was this person? But once we met him, we knew. We met a couple of other guys before him but it didn’t feel right. With him, we just clicked – it was instinct.
He donated for a clinic. He’d been challenged on the forum for donating privately – he’d done campaigns about donating. He’s straight but passionate about fertility and anyone being able to have children. He believes that if he can help anyone overcome barriers to having children…
We were clear with the donor about what we wanted and he was laid back. He was clear too. He also had a wicked sense of humour like us which is great because you can’t approach a situation like that [turkey baster] seriously.
He lived six hours away so that was a barrier but we were really lucky in that I got pregnant straightaway. We called up and told him I was ovulating and he said, “Fine, OK,” and we did it and went to work next day as if nothing had happened.
We’ve been lucky. In the hospital when I went into labour, the midwife had had her kids the same way.
We’re from a rural area which can be very backward but we’ve been very open and people accept us. The more you make of something, the more of an issue it is. We just said, “Laura is having a baby in so many weeks – does anyone want a coffee?” and got on with it. Now we just say, “This is our family” and people accept it. If we were uncomfortable or embarrassed it wouldn’t be so easy.
After our son was born, our donor had two children of his own. We wanted our son to know where he comes from so we kept in touch with our donor and our son has met his half brother – a bit weird as they look quite similar.
We have kept all the correspondence we’ve had with the donor so our son can see it. It’s important to be honest and open with him. When he was three, he was talking to a friend who had a daddy. He was, like, “You have a daddy? Really?”
I asked him what he thought about having two mummies. He – looking puzzled – said, “I don’t have two mummies. I have a Mum Mum and a Mummy.”
Jean: It’s been an incredible journey. I’ve seen it from both sides – I’ve given birth and I’ve been a supportive mum and it really is a privilege.