In this memoir, subtitled "One Woman's Search for the Perfect Sperm Donor," lesbian author and academic Harlyn Aizley confronts her approaching fortieth birthday by deciding to have a child. She and her partner, Faith, begin the process of choosing its biological father. The first major decision: a known or unknown sperm donor? Eventually they choose an unknown one, from a sperm bank with an identity-release program that will allow their child the option of meeting her biological father after she turns eighteen.

Aizley narrates, in absorbing and often very funny detail, the eight months it takes her to conceive, and then the nine months of pregnancy culminating in the birth of a daughter. Sad but telling counterpoints to this narrative are the terrorist attacks in September 2001, which occur during Aizley's pregnancy, and the experience of her mother, who dies three months after the baby's birth, of ovarian cancer.


Aizley conveys rich insights, both personal and generalizable, into several aspects of current reproductive and medical encounters: the lesbian (or gay, or partnerless) experience of assisted procreation and the complex processes of selecting (and paying for) sperm donors and of achieving insemination and conception; the "infertility" experience that often arises because of the frequent need in donor insemination for technological interventions like intrauterine insemination; the experience of pregnancy and childbirth; and the rollercoasters of hope and loss that attend both the eventual conception and the temporarily successful cancer treatment for Aizley's mother. This memoir is well written: Aizley's lightness of tone belies the range of penetrating observations she provides about conception, pregnancy, and dying in American society today.


Alyson Books

Place Published

Los Angeles



Page Count