Making a baby is like baking a cake.

Making a baby is like baking a cake :: You need the right ingredients in the right order for the right amount of time.

But how the cake comes together also depends on who the bakers are. When you have two mommas in the kitchen, making a baby looks a little different.

How are we going to make this baby? As a same-sex couple we knew our road to parenthood had many potential avenues. We were open to adoption and fostering but recognized the costs and limitations placed on LGBT couples trying to adopt. We recognized this could be a long, grueling, and potentially very disappointing process for us. We also knew that we were lucky to both be two healthy, able-bodied women with potential ovens for baking this baby!


Who’s going to carry this baby?  I never had a desire to be pregnant or feel those magical flutters. My body was not made for making babies. Christina on the other hand was game. She couldn’t wait for the morning sickness, the cravings, and the massive expansion. For us the decision was easy. Christina really wanted to be pregnant. I wanted nothing to do with this. So Christina it was! We opted to bake that cake in Christina’s oven.

But we didn’t have all the ingredients so we needed to go shopping.


We opted to work with a sperm bank. Interestingly, shopping for sperm is very much like online shopping for shoes – except its DNA. The stakes are much higher than a pair of loafers, but the process is very similar. It’s really all about research. First you start off with the Google search. Some key search terms I tried :: sperm bank, sperm donor, costs of sperm, IUI vs. IVF, how to pick sperm, how to transport sperm. I never knew I would have so many questions about sperm!

There are several sperm banks throughout the United States, each with different donors and different costs. The bank we worked with was having a Thanksgiving blow-out sale. That’s right, a sperm blow-out sale. So that’s how we decided which bank we’d work with. Buy 6 vials of goodness, get 2 free. You will come to learn that our family is frugal and bargain driven. We only buy it if it’s on sale. So it was a sign from above, this was our place. Sold.

Deciding you want to go with a sperm donor is a complicated and ethically implicated process. First off, do you want to go with a known or anonymous donor? A known donor is someone you may be friends with or related to. {For a story about known donors, read here.} This person can be involved in the child’s life depending on what is agreed upon between both parties. To us this option seemed much more complicated than we wanted for our family.

When working with a sperm bank you can decide to select an open or fully anonymous donor. An open donor can be contacted once the child reaches 18 years of age. Conversely, with a fully anonymous donor, the identity of the donor is never revealed. For us, Christina and I were the chefs and we just needed some ingredients. We didn’t want any other cooks in the kitchen. So we opted for a fully anonymous donor.

Once you have the ingredients, you have to figure out how you’re going to mix those ingredients. Are you going to use a spatula, an electric hand mixer, or a Kitchen-Aid. This is what we call insemination. How are you going to get that sperm where it needs to go? We know two momma families that chose to do at-home inseminations, or what is commonly known in the LGBT community as, “the turkey baster” method.


In this case the sperm bank ships the goods and they arrive at your front step with a giant liquid nitrogen tank.

Or you can choose to work with a local fertility clinic. While an at-home insemination is much less expensive, we weren’t willing to risk not “doing it” correctly. Also, at the time Christina was 34 and on the edge of being an “at-risk” pregnancy because of her age. We knew the cards could be stacked against us, so we wanted all the help we could get with doing it right. We sought the aid of a reproductive endocrynologist. Luckily, at the time we were living in Eugene, Oregon, a very liberal and LGBT affirming city. We opted to work with a fertility clinic that is known in the community for helping two momma households make babies. Working with two moms is a run-of-the-mill practice for them.

After establishing ourselves as patients with the clinic, we started monitoring Christina’s ovulation cycle like hawks. We went to the Dollar Tree and stocked up on ovulation tests. The cupboards in our bathroom were filled with stacks of tests. So was our trash can.


We knew timing was essential. Christina peed in a cup so many times during the six months it took us to make Quinn. She did this little ritual so many times that I went out to the Goodwill and bought a little vintage mug with a rainbow on it, which I called the “pee mug.”

When Christina was ovulating, we’d call the clinic and go in for an insemination. This required a very flexible schedule and the ability to drop everything and go. We had several 7:00am insemination appointments. Once at the clinic, our doctor prepped the ingredients {aka thawed the sperm} and filled the syringe.


Christina got ready in her paper gown and assumed position {aka laid down on the exam tables with her legs up in stirrups}.


Not exactly a birds and the bees kind of moment, but an awesome, and scientific, and beautiful process nonetheless.

When everything was in place and the doctor located Christina’s cervix, it was my time to shine. I was able to inseminate Christina by injecting the sperm. Every time I did this, my hands were shaky. I didn’t want to mess this up. This stuff was expensive!

Between regulating Christina’s ovulation {with the crazy hormone Clomid} and flushing out her fallopian tubes{through a process called a hysterosalpingogram}, it took us five inseminations and six cycles {since we missed our window one month} to get it right. On March 17, 2013, I injected those sperm and they found the egg. The oven was set to 98.6 and that cake was baking.


And that, my friends, is how making a baby is like baking a cake.

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Erica is a New England native who moved to Houston with her family in June 2014. She and her wife Christina live in Pearland with their daughter Quinn {Dec 2013}, dog Charley, and two cats Phoebe and Oliver. Erica is an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston where she teaches classes on strategic communication and social media. When Erica isn’t busy teaching, researching, or being a mom, she enjoys getting her yoga on, creating culinary delights, scoring deals shopping online, and exploring Texas with her girls.


  1. Thank you for sharing this first part of your story! I love that this blog is sharing so many kinds of stories of parenthood. Welcome to Houston, and I hope you find much kindness here.


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