Lesbian Husbandry: Testing Times

Aurelia Paterson's partner takes over this month to report on their quest to conceive.

Feature by Rebecca Siminski | 04 May 2010

Once we’d decided we were going to go down this alternative baby-making route, we of course all needed to get checked out for diseases first. We decided that going as a team would make it less weird; I’m still not sure if that was true. But all three of us tramped down to the open clinic at 7:30 and took our place in the middle of a room full of lone people staring at their shoes. Happily chatting and reading the magazines seemed somehow deviant and we took great joy in it. Besides, testing for STDs should be something everyone is open and honest about, and we wanted to negate the atmosphere of shame in the room.

Although I have to say that, once in the room (I wasn’t allowed to take Aura in with me in case I had sexual history that I was keeping secret from her), the embarrassment set in somewhat more. I was quizzed about my sexual history:

"Have you ever had sex with anyone from sub-saharan Africa?"

"Well I slept with a black man once and I was very drunk, so I’m not sure."

That’s me. Racist and a slut.

I got through the poking, prodding and pricking by telling myself that childbirth would be much worse, but on finding Aura still waiting with Tom when I got outside, I had to tell her in no uncertain terms that we were buying him lunch.

Two weeks later, the test results were due and I nervously called the automated service.

"Good afternoon!" (She sounded so happy! Do you think you get a more sombre voice if there's anything wrong?) "If you are male, press one, otherwise press two."

The cheery lady went on:

"Cervical chlamydia is negative.
Urethral gonorrhea is negative.
Syphilis is negative.
HIV is negative.
Trichomonas vaginalis is negative."

One piece of advice, folks: If you are going for these tests and think that the answer to any of the above might be 'positive', don't use the automated service. Just don't. Sit in a lovely room with tissues and biscuits and have a real person break the news to you. Certainly don't put it on speakerphone and have the neighbours over.

The post brought with it the self-insemination kit we ordered off eBay. (eBay? Really? I know. My defence is that I bought it by accident and don't remember clicking a 'commit to buy' button. The listing, however, did assure me that it was new. We were really, really, pleased about that. But I never want to tell my child that I bought her from eBay.) Tom was due to leave for the States for six weeks, meaning next month wouldn’t be possible and the fertility charting I’m doing suggested I was ovulating that very day. We wondered whether the fact of him being here at just the right time might not be a sign from God.


I'm not sure who said it. It doesn't matter. At times like this, there is always a giant "so?" floating in the air above us.