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Perfect, With Childbearing Hips

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

SEVERAL years ago I went to the California Cryobank’s Web site to buy sperm. I was single and a lesbian and wanted to have a baby. I’d always wanted a family and dreamed of creating one with a partner, but I’d proved to be a love loser. When it didn’t work out with anybody, including my most recent ex (after six years of couples counseling, meditation, acupuncture, hypnosis), I gave up.

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I thought romantic love, the kind of love that sustains an adult relationship, was impossible, at least for me. As I approached 35, the age doctors say fertility becomes compromised, I thought I was running out of time. Resigned, I went for it alone.
I looked for healthy sperm. Smart sperm. Tall, athletic sperm. Sperm that loved its mother.
The donor I picked was 6-foot-2, played baseball in college and said in his audio interview that he loved his mother.
To reduce anxiety and to assure that my top pick would be available when I was ready, I bought 10 vials at $250 each. As long as I paid the $142 annual storage fee, my sperm would be there for me, waiting at the Cryobank on very sophisticated ice.
I became pregnant on my second try, leaving me eight sperm vials to spare. As soon as my baby was born, I wanted another one, both for me and so my daughter would have a sibling. But I hated pregnancy and delivery. I would never get pregnant again. But I could make another woman pregnant. I had sperm.
And even though I had given up on love, something had changed. I was a mother now and wanted to do right by my child. I suppose I still clung to a shred of hope for love and family. And so began my search for a young wife.
I went online again, this time to Match.com and filled out my profile. I wrote: “I’m looking for someone who loves children. I want her to have big breasts. A pretty face is nice too.”
Studies show that men (and perhaps people in possession of sperm) are more attracted to women with large breasts and wide hips. Large breasts give the illusion of more milk to feed the young, and wide hips suggest greater ease in bearing children.
Scientists have discovered that the lower the body’s waist-hip ratio (medically known as the WHR), the more attractive the woman. Marilyn Monroe, for example, had a 0.7 WHR, meaning her waist was 30 percent smaller than her hips. Salma Hayekand the Venus de Milo also have small waists relative to the size of their hips.
I didn’t know any of this at the time, but I would find myself walking along Lincoln Road on South Beach, where I’d notice a woman between the ages of 18 and 35 spilling out of the top of her dress. She’d pass by and I’d turn to leer at her behind. If it was big, I’d have an uncontrollable urge to club her over the head and drag her to my fertility cave.
I wasn’t objectifying women. I was a woman of science.
In six weeks on Match.com, only two women responded to my profile. The first was a woman who compared herself with Raquel Welch. She didn’t say she was the same age as Raquel Welch. The second had no ratio. She was filled in from hips to chest.
Why weren’t the women lining up? Couldn’t they sense my virility?
Finally, Victoria responded. She had a 0.75 WHR.
On our first date, Victoria told me she was planning to have a baby, alone if she had to. She knew I had done it alone, but she didn’t know I still had eight viable sperm vials.
I don’t normally believe in love at first sight, but at the end of that first lunch, I wanted to offer Victoria my sperm. She had a calmness about her that calmed me. She was smart, spoke English and Spanish perfectly, and was pretty in a geeky sort of way, with bad posture and good cheekbones. And even though she grew up in Venezuela and I grew up in Miami, she felt familiar. She reminded me of my best friend from high school.
Two months later I said, “You know, maybe, if we stay together for a while, maybe that will mean forever, and if that happens, do you want to use my sperm?”
Victoria didn’t say yes. She didn’t say no. Instead, she decided to put her pregnancy process on hold to relieve pressure on our brand-new relationship.

Andrea Askowitz, who lives in Miami, is the author of “My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy” (Cleis Press).
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: February 22, 2011

An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the waist-hip ratio, or WHR. The waist measurement of a woman with a WHR of 0.7 is 70 percent of her hip measurement, not 70 percent smaller than her hips. Scientists associate a smaller WHR, signifying a smaller waist relative to hips, with attractiveness in women, not a larger WHR.

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