How I Went from
To Gay Superdad
Jerry and his partner Drew decide to have a baby. Since they are both men the only way they can do this is by borrowing an egg and a womb. The egg is to be bathed in the sticky residue of a trip to a "sample" room where Jerry spends a few tedious minutes with a couple of dirty magazines and a plastic cup.
This concoction is to be delivered to a doctor who will have culled a few dozen baby-eggs from a willing donor. He'll bring everything together (zygote!) and will place them into a borrowed womb. The designated mommy will do the rest until it is time to retire to the hospital to present the two new "fathers" with their own nestling.
At least that's how it all goes in theory.
Mommy Man tells in exquisite detail how Jerry and Drew (the designated fathers) are to do the deed. If nothing else, if you are in the market to become a father, the book can be used as a twelve-step guide. In the beginning, if you are gay, you have to decide that you are gay. Then you have to tell everyone. This only took Jerry twenty-seven years.
Then he had to find someone to be gay with. This took him a few more years, until Mark appeared on the scene. Then they had to decide that they want to become fathers ... and they don't want to travel to China to do so. This leads to Mommy Man.
§ § §
A company called Rainbow Extensions charges $109,728 to do all the detail work to make babies. No more Saturday night drunken roll in the hay-loft. But also "There were no financing options, no coupons in the Sunday paper, no deals for free delivery. $109,728 was due in full, in advance --- or no baby." Since Drew and Jerry both work (one as a fairly important executive at MTV) they figure they can swing it.
Then they start on their Easter egg hunt. The federal suggested list price for a standard Grade-A no-frills baby egg is $8,000. But there are Grade-AAA double-deluxe super-eggs if you want to go first class. The baby-making egg company offers production ladies like Heather who "graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth."
She was a Rhodes scholar and a second-year student at Harvard Business School. She was also blonde and blue-eyed and had an absolutely perfect figure. Price: $25,000.
It's Heather DNA versus non-Heather DNA. "Not that Heather cared."
She'd earned almost a quarter of a million dollars passing on her genetic material to strangers. Unlike at Rainbow Extensions, there was no pretense that she was in this to help infertile couples. It was a get rich quick scheme, nothing more. You wonder why she even needed business school anymore. She'd struck gold with her genes.
"If she kept this up until she was thirty, she could retire comfortably and still have time left to make ten kids of her own."
Who's going to be the dedicated father, anyway? Jerry's mother asks, "So whose sperm are your going to use? Yours or Drew's?"
I knew coming out of the closet would mean sacrificing some privacy but I never expected that a few years later, I'd be having this conversation with my mom.
The same question comes from their case worker at Rainbow Extensions. "She spoke a language that sounded much like English at first, until you realized that in her native tongue, every fifth word was the clinical name of the male reproductive cell."
"Who's sperm we gonna use?" she asked. "We need to collect your sperm, test your sperm, sperm your sperm, and enspermanize your spermological spermograms." This was what SpermEnglish sounded like."
Then they have to agree on the woman who will carry the babe for nine months. Their first choice is Kristen. "Kristen's lady parts were at the top of their game. Her uterus was easier to get into than the University of Phoenix ... She was the perfect baby incubator." But Kristen, for various reasons, didn't work out. So they choose Tiffany. With her husband Eric, they'll become part of the family. In fact, if you are ever going to have a surrogate family with rent-a-womb and bought-and-paid-for ovum --- you'll learn from Mommy Man that it ain't like renting a Hertz or a condo in Acapulco for August. One does become bound up with all these strangers and their various body parts. They become part of your life. Which is why Drew and Jerry finally decided to use a few eggs from Drew's sister Susie.
Why not? She's already a relative, in the family (if not in the family way ... yet) and the two of them dote on her.
If they use her eggs, and there are quite a few involved, they'll get to have a kid who will be just like someone they love. Most fathers and mothers in the pre-rent-a-womb era just didn't have the same options. My mother and father, for example, got me as a surprise package, long bony me, with all my quirks, prickles and oddities intact. If they had had a say-so in the matter, they might have opted for one a lot less strange, certainly cheaper ... one who didn't come into the house with all those twists and turns I brought with me so long ago. Welcome to the New Age of Baby-Do.
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Mommy Man is a little hard to get in to. Jerry's early adventures into gaydom are not very gay ... in the oldest sense of the word. Under the designated "misfit gays" are "the lap band guy, the massive head injury guy, the guy with eight pet rats, the voice-over actor with the lazy eye, the professional paid audience member on infomercials." Jerry's chosen area of humor, practical jokes --- he calls them pranks --- are awful, should have got him drummed out of the lodge long ago.
But once the let's-make-babies song-and-dance gets rolling, it's hard to set this one aside. There are some choice passages on the irony of two guys, no (real) mum, and Millennial America. On being double-fathers:
We were making heterosexuality completely irrelevant to creating life. Drew and I were gay breeders --- two dudes making a baby with our own DNA.
It set the perfect tone for Susie's second egg harvest since we were going for a kind of immaculate conception of our own.
On the surrogate mother's ultrasounds:
Tiffany's Uterus became my favorite weekly TV show. We tuned in every Tuesday morning to enjoy the ever-developing adventures of our lovable main characters.
After going into labor, this, on Tiffany's inability to go into deliver the goods:
Maybe the labor would never end. What if our kids just grew up inside Tiffany? They'd lose their baby teeth, learn their alphabet, go through puberty --- all within the confine of our surrogate's uterus. Once a year, we'd shove some birthday cake up there, and they'd make a wish. Then, seventeen years from now, Tiffany would poop out two college applications, and Sutton and Bennett would become the only fetuses in the Harvard class of 2012. A couple of uterus-bound IV twins raised by gay dads? Talk about ideal diversity bait.
But the cap, the best of them all, is the extra-uterine conversation that Jerry has with his two children, still hidden from the sunlight:
Hi, Bennett. Hi, Sutton. This is Daddy. Well, one of your daddies. The other daddy thinks it's dumb to talk to a belly. Maybe you'll think so, too, but too bad. You're stuck in there, so you're going to listen. I really can't wait to meet you guys. I promise I'm going to love you no matter who you turn out to be, and I'm going to let you figure that out all on your own. Personally, it took me a while. Hopefully, you'll get to it a little quicker. Just hang tight in there. You've been doing a great job these last few months, and I know it hasn't been easy, but it's all going to be worth it. Just keep taking care of each other, because thats what a brother and sister should do. Oh, and Bennett, I know its fun to kick, but take it easy on Tiffany.