A Lesbian Conception: A Journal of My Quest to Have a Baby by Yvonne Keller
“We are illegal: Susan is not supposed to be leaning over me as I lay naked on my back, closing my eyes to hope that this time, with these tools, I will get pregnant. We’ve promised to keep secret where we got our equipment, our information, our drugs. The sperm has come via a FedEx delivery man who, after frequenting our door with urgent deliveries from ‘OverNite Male,’ looks at me strangely. I push myself into our flannel sheets, feel the flickering, brown warmth of our bedroom. ‘This time, honey,’ Susan says. I hear her preparing the catheter.”
America uniformly imagines its moms as heterosexual. However, honoring her powerful desire for a child, professor Yvonne Keller fights the prohibitions—cultural, legal, familial, and internal—against lesbian motherhood. Given her severely disabled brother, she also fears for a potential baby’s health. And then comes finding a donor, money worries, and the most difficult news: she may be infertile. Keller alternates between intimate, candid storyteller and public intellectual in this emotional memoir that results, three IVF cycles and a borrowing of Susan’s eggs later, in the birth of their daughter.
Keller’s book should find a place alongside parenting classics like Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions, Peggy Orenstein’s Waiting for Daisy, and Dan Savage’s The Kid. Her queer-dyke-stuck-in-the-heartland point of view, as well as her Ph.D. in feminist theory, buttress her insights into the contradictions of her position during her four-year, roller-coaster quest.
Arielle & David: This is a memoir idea we’ve heard many times, but always from a hetero perspective. So it was really refreshing to read your new take. We like to say that publishers like to do something that’s familiar but a little different and A Lesbian Conception fits right into that sweet spot. We’re also very intrigued by what exactly is illegal that you’re doing. It makes you want to open the pages of the book to see what covert operations are going on here. What can be improved? We were also confused about what was illegal. We think this needs a tiny bit more explanation while still leaving us wanting more. We also felt that the information about your brother should be reserved for the book and not the pitch. Instead use that space to give us a little more sense of your journey. Your relationship with your partner is almost entirely missing from the pitch and we’d like to get more of a sense of who you are individually and as a couple.