NW Cryobank Baby Update

The Northwest Cryobank baby has returned! More accurately, one Northwest Cryobank baby has returned, and a new Northwest Cryobank baby has debuted. The Northwest Cryobank baby of Look Who’s Stalking fame remains at large.






The judge-y open-eyed baby is back, now directing her scorn toward Firefox’s navigation toolbar. Hey, I don’t like the Awesome Bar either.











I’m delighted to welcome gleefully shirtless Asian baby to the rotation. He loves half marathons, road closures, April 27th, and Nike!

News Round-Up III

1. The Northwest Cryobank baby has gone AWOL. Now I see mostly Uniqlo ads where the baby once mocked me with its stubborn indifference. The last time I saw the little dickens was on a discussion board about early miscarriage, which I did not think appropriate to commemorate with a screenshot.

2. I am proving as inept at scheduling dewar deliveries as I was at catching buses. My attempts to time my commute to minimize waiting resulted in many sojourns at the Pentagon, wondering what my fellow commuters would taste like if I were forced to kill and eat them to survive.

My attempts to time the arrival of dewars — which are only good for a week, so I can’t order them too early — have been equally pathetic. These avenues of failure differ in two primary ways: Missing a bus doesn’t cost $160, and I’ve yet to contemplate eating any part of the dewar or its contents.

3. This blog comes up first in Google search results for “fairfax cryobank ‘death star'”!

the dewar's profile

Confused? Read this or Google Image “dewar’s profile.”


This is what the dewar looks like without its costume, left. This is what the dewar contains (+2), right.

I expected dramatic vapor to emerge from the dewar when opened. Nope. I did “burn” my fingers on the contents because I ignored the directions’ exhortation to wear gloves.

The little vial sits out until the frost goes away. Then you stick it under your arm for 10 minutes (to bring it to body temperature) and it’s ready for action.

Action involves a syringe and catheter that, for all practical purposes, amount to a baster. Happy Thanksgiving! You don’t want this in your turkey!

One does one’s business, then one watches “The Mindy Project” for two hours so one can tweet Mindy Kaling that one conceived while watching classic Season One episodes and then maybe Mindy will come to one’s baby shower.

Repeat twice on consecutive days, return the dewar to a licensed UPS facility and hope you don’t need to do more of this because every round costs $1,100. That’s a lot of Modcloth!

Look Who’s Stalking

As a reward for giving Northwest Cryobank $900, this baby started following me around the Internet.


The Northwest Cryobank baby does not show any enthusiasm for my hobbies.



The Northwest Cryobank baby remained unmoved by this corn maze depicting New Jersey’s gubernatorial candidates.



Jaded sports reporters gave Mike Tyson a standing ovation when he confessed that he’d been lying about his sobriety for years. Nothing, Northwest Cryobank baby?



On Radar, I only ever see the “Nine months to ten tiny fingers” banner. The Northwest Cryobank baby doesn’t slum it.

Note the Modcloth ad. Modcloth gets even more of my money than Northwest Cryobank does.


Very occasionally, I glimpse the unicorn of Northwest Cryobank ads: the judge-y open-eyed baby who gives the stink-eye to whatever online filth I’m wallowing in. For the record, judge-y open-eyed baby, I was looking up the rules of text roulette FOR WORK.

Paging Dr. Freud

If Freud were still alive, he’d have had a doozy of a time coming up with a term for this dynamic.

As I mentioned, donor profiles are gushing affairs, awash with details about glossy hair, bright eyes, athletic achievements and stunning smiles. They are online dating profiles with some bonus information, like blood type and how Mr. Perfect’s grandparents died. The donors are made to sound sexy and virile.

It’s surreal to read about how sexy a dude is when you’re choosing a dad for your baby, who will ostensibly inherit said sexiness. It’s like reverse Oedipal. We are talking shades of Louis Malle’s “Murmur of the Heart.” I have not seen “Murmur of the Heart,” because merely reading about it scarred me for life. The last thing you want to sexualize is YOUR KID.

On a less-creepy level, maybe you just want to date your anonymous donor. I think that’s a bad idea.

Let’s read this Marie Claire article. It starts out like this:

Michelle, a clinical researcher in Boston, Massachusetts, was contemplating grad school when she saw an episode of Lipstick Jungle that changed her life. “A woman was freezing her eggs, and it hit me: I’m 37, and I want to have children.” Within three months, Michelle had purchased eight vials of sperm from a bank, an experience she likens to “match.com, because you’re looking for qualities in someone you’d want to date. I used Google for everything.”

Michelle means the qualities one admits to publicly. Based on years of observation, I have found that “qualities in someone you’d want to date” include:

  • asshole tendencies
  • commitment-phobic
  • underlying similarities to father
  • slovenly (aka a “fixer-upper”)
  • emotional unavailability

Going the donor route means you don’t have to deal with your intimacy issues. Yay! But I digressed.

More from Marie Claire:

Mattes, of Single Mothers by Choice, recommends using this filter: “Is he someone I would have happily dated?”

Sperm banks want all their donors to sound like someone one would have happily dated. That’s their job. I happily dated a person who smoked, yet I would never choose a donor who smoked, not even if he were a Benedict Cumberbatch sound-alike talking about how much he loves doing yardwork. (Audio interviews: $34 at Fairfax Cryobank.)


“Instead of trying to have the perfect designer baby, look for a donor who, if you met him and introduced him to your family, they’d feel comfortable with.

No! You should choose a donor that, if you met him and introduced him to your family, would AWE your family. You should be scraping your family off the floor, so flattened will they be by the gale-force awesomeness of your donor.

The only thing emancipating about this process is that you can uncouple who you thought you wanted from who your child could be. Throw some new variables into the equation. Choose a cyclist if you hate cycling, or a nature nerd, or a tuba player. Odds are these things aren’t heritable, but breaking out of your comfort zone is generally not a bad thing.

Also, let’s forget the part of this post where I talked about incest.

They Get You With the Add-Ons

Another way sperm banks inhale your money is through extended profiles, childhood photos and, if the cryobank is Fairfax or California, all kinds of other crazy shit. If cryobanks are movie theaters, the extras are the $5 Cokes. If cryobanks are Best Buy, the extras are the extended warranties.

Here is Fairfax Cryobank’s a la carte menu.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 2.38.36 AM

California Cryobank’s puts Fairfax’s to shame. Example: “Express Yourself allows a donor to present himself in a manner that best captures his personality including original poetry, songs, essays, photographs, drawings, recipes and more.”

I tried to imagine how a donor might Express Himself poetically, based on my analysis of several donor questionnaires.

There once was a broke college lad,
Whose car payment made him feel sad,
So he went to a bank,
Where he gave it a yank,
And said, ‘whatever, so I’m a dad.”

I also tried to imagine how a donor would Express Himself with a recipe, but failed.


Northwest Cryobank offers just the extended profile and baby picture options. I broke down and spent the $50 for both.

I held my breath as I waited for the baby pictures to download. Surely, this baby would be my soul mate.

My reaction was a resounding “meh.” He wasn’t that cute and didn’t look like the sharpest hoe in the shed.

This lack of connection to the baby depressed me for a couple of days. I only bought three vials of Daddy. I could return him for a modest restocking fee.

Then I was all, whatever. This child is but a crude physical manifestation of my actual purchase: genetic material. I was a doofus-y baby, and that’s not stopping me from kicking in my half.

Congenital Gingervitis

Who is THIS handsome fellow?

Who is THIS handsome fellow?

Dear [Not-Yet-Conceived] Cooper,

I chose the donor I did because I wanted you to have red hair. I’m sorry you will be emotionally savaged by your hair-color-normative peers. Also, I named you after my car.


This is not 100 percent true. I had other criteria, like a lack of grammatical errors in the donor’s writing sample. (Because that’s clearly a more defensible stance.)

I do want you to look like me, so if you get lost in a corn maze you won’t be returned to the wrong parents. But I also want you to have some contrast between your hair and your skin, because otherwise you’ll look like an egg if you wear your hair short.


This is why you might have red hair.

‘His Smile Is Captivating’

Most donor descriptions read like OKCupid profiles written by the donors’ moms.

Here’s one of the less-rapturous profiles from Fairfax Cryobank:

Kind and gentle, this donor has a passionate talent in the arts. A great singer and actor, he aspires to be in the theater. He is cute and charming. He has shiny, straight brown hair that he keeps long and pulled-back. He has bright blue eyes. Of average height with a lean, fit physique, he cycles and runs to stay in shape. His smile is captivating. This donor has a desire to help others in any way possible. He is honest and direct with his opinions and he has an innate ability to make others laugh.

HOW DO THEY KNOW ALL THIS? Did the staff see him act and sing? Is the staff the panel of judges from “The Voice”? What was the sample size used to determine that he has an innate ability to make people laugh?

Also: Is long, pulled-back hair a heritable trait? (No.)

Here is Northwest Cryobank’s description of my donor:

He is a unique and eclectic man. He has many varied interests from biking to school to agriculture. He is funny and not afraid to laugh at himself. He seems to be dedicated to his jobs and hobbies.

This is the sort of spare and workmanlike prose I want from a cryobank. No assumptions here.

OK, so they could have hedged a little more:

He appears to be a unique and eclectic man. He says he has many varied interests from biking to school to agriculture. In the presence of Northwest Cryobank staff, he is funny and not afraid to laugh at himself. He seems to be dedicated to his jobs and hobbies.

I know choosing a donor is a crapshoot. I’m limited to CMV-negative men and I want one who is open to contact, which leaves me with, like, .5 percent of the sperm-donating population. I don’t want to pretend my bank did a New Yorker profile’s-worth of research (written up by an Us Weekly intern) on my chosen dude.

Celebrity Match Game II

California Cryobank takes a different approach to monetizing celebrity resemblance.

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 9.58.43 AM






Instead of uploading a photo, as with Fairfax Cryobank, you choose a celebrity from a menu or browse donors flagged as lookalikes. (You can’t tell whether they are or aren’t. Few donors release photos of themselves as adults. When a cryobank DOES get its icy hands on an adult photo, it sets the price to the astronomical “click here to request pricing.”)

The list of celebrities is full of surprises.

For one thing, it is in alphabetical order by first name. This is useful if you want a celebrity named David but care whether he’s a Beckham or a Wenham or someone in between.

Some of the entries are in rather poor taste (Cor(e)ys Haim and Monteith).

Who is Daniel Faraday? He is a character on “Lost.” He has his own Wikipedia page, though. I can see how that could be confusing.

As at Fairfax, James Van Der Beek is a favorite. He is on the list twice, as Van der Beek and Van Der Beek. Data validation is for pussies, says California Cryobank.

The list is subtly judge-y:
Seth Rogen (thin)
Joe Rogan (with hair)
Alec Baldwin (young)
Neil Patrick Harris (straight)*

Some of the lookalikes listed for donors don’t look very much alike:

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 11.13.59 PM






See what I mean?



What person looks like these three people? I asked morphthing.com, a “Mommy, What Will I Look Like?” style-tool.











Morphthing proved intoxicating. Sorry.



*this one I made up

Celebrity Match Game

Fairfax Cryobank offers Face Match, which uses advanced technology (that cannot handle glasses, mustaches or hats) to match sperm donors to photos you upload. The database coughs up HIGH, MEDIUM and LOW matches.

This called for some exhaustive user testing.

Let’s start with the gentlemen of “Top Gear.”

captain_slow James May: 10 LOW matches.

jezza Young Jeremy Clarkson: Three MEDIUM, 17 LOW.

hamster Richard Hammond:  20 LOW matches.

Moving on to “Doctor Who.”

10 David Tennant: Two MEDIUM matches, 18 LOW.

11 Matt Smith: 20 LOWS.

And “Sherlock.”

bennie Benedict Cumberbatch: One MEDIUM, 19 LOW.

watson Martin Freeman: ZERO matches??!!

Is Fairfax Cryobank racist against Britons and hobbits? What else gets ZERO matches?

abarth Fiat 500 Abarth: ZERO matches.

What do I have to do to get a HIGH match?

dawson James Van Der Beek: Two HIGH matches, five MEDIUM, 13 LOW.

Ugh, Fairfax Cryobank.