Michelle Tea’s New Memoir Queers the Fertility Narrative

I know you’re used to writing about your life, but does talking about this book feel more inherently personal than past projects?

I’ve written a lot of memoirs, so I’m used to talking about my personal life in Q&As and things like that, but it’s interesting to write about something that other people might actively be going through or looking for stories that they can really relate to, that can help them through these tough spots, because going through IVF can be so hard. I haven’t had that level of engagement with readers before. It’s very nice to think that this book could possibly be helpful to people.

Do you have any favorite books or pieces of writing about queer fertility or parenthood?

The most helpful book for me was Ariel Gore’s book The Hip Mama Survival Guide. It’s not queer, per se, although Ariel is, and it’s not necessarily talking about IVF, but it’s really a very punk, feminist, DIY parenting book that just made me feel like someone like me—you know, someone who doesn’t fit the normal sort of “mom mold” that the culture shows us—could have a kid. I like the idea that you don’t need to be a rich person, you can be where you’re at and go forward; I read that in my 20s, and it really altered the way I viewed parenthood.

Is there any particular lesson from your IVF journey that you want to pass on to other prospective queer parents?

Well, I guess what I really learned is that I could carry some ambivalence and still move forward. There was the sense that I had to absolutely be, like, baby-crazy, or be like, “Nope, I’m totally child-free.” For a while, I was in this sort of stasis because I didn’t fall into either camp, and I didn’t know what to do. And then I realized, Oh, it’s okay if I only want it, like, 80%. You know, it’s okay to have doubts and be uncertain, and then just sort of employ some trust and move into it and see what it feels like.

Right. I mean, straight couples just kind of get pregnant and go from there all the time, right?

I think with straight couples, there’s so many stories where somebody gets pregnant sort of unexpectedly, right? And of course there’s ambivalence. They weren’t planning it, but they’re gonna see what happens. For queer people, on the other hand, having a kid can be such an undertaking, and there is a sense that you need to be really certain that you want it because it’s going to require money, it’s going to require planning, it’s going to require a different type of strain on your body. It’s such an enormous undertaking, to bring a child into this world, that it completely makes sense that there’s a lot of ambivalence or uncertainty. And so I just accepted that, and then once I accepted that, I felt like it gave me a little more freedom to pursue parenthood.

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