When this book landed on my desk I liked it instantly. I loved the gorgeous image of the little boy, the soft green colour of the background and the smooth natural texture of the actual cardboard. Yes, I was clearly judging a book by it’s cover, but the cover was a good a place to start as any.
This is Susan Newham-Blake’s true story of how she was desperate to fall pregnant but, like so many women these days, couldn’t do it without a little help. The twist? Susan is gay, in a committed relationship with her girlfriend Roxi, and the major problem they face is that neither of them has a penis.
Capetonian Susan begins by explaining that ever since her youth, she’s felt this deep-seated need to some day be a mother. Are all of us women born with this instinct, this desire? I don’t think so. Society conditions us that at a certain age, if you’re in a stable relationship and solvent, it’s now time to pop out babies, regardless of whether you have any inclination to do so or not.
So even though Susan desperately wants to be a mother (and would be a very good one), she still faces an uphill battle in her journey towards motherhood. I found her insight into sperm banks and anonymous donors and artificial insemination fascinating, and her story was both courageous and excellently told.
One of my favourite scenes involves her and Roxi trying to narrow down their sperm donor candidates by going through various application forms. Imagine the pressure: all you have is a short description of a man’s hobbies, his eye colour, height, hair colour and skin colour and you have to choose your baby’s father based on that! They eventually narrow down their shortlist to a Hot Genius (he’s a member of Mensa), The Mexican and The Tall, Dark, Handsome Stranger – but that’s not the end of their story…
Reading this book made me truly appreciate how easy it has been for me to become a parent – I know I’ve been very lucky. It highlighted to me that there are a myriad of other ways people become parents, and it takes a huge amount of bravery, determination (and sometimes money) in order to succeed. This book also shows us that the privilege of being a parent should be open to anyone who is committed to the task and has enough love to give, regardless of their family structure.
I loved reading Susan’s story and my only gripe is that the book was a bit on the slim side, as I was hungry to find out more.