This week we have a special guest blogger: my lovely wife! I thought I had shared (over-shared?) a lot from my perspective, and that it would be interesting to hear from my other half! Without further ado, here’s Larissa’s thoughts on our fertility journey thus far. Enjoy!
The process of waiting to find out if Katie was pregnant, or if we would go through the whole process again, and worrying if we should invest in another couple units of sperm so that they would arrive in time for a third cycle…was not fun. But a necessary part of any fertility journey. I think I was being more patient than Katie. While we waited, thoughts meandered around my mind that I have had many times before. What will our baby be like? Will they be more like me or more like my wife? Will the baby look enough like me or will people know right away that I have no biological connection to the kid? Will people think I’m the Auntie or the Nanny? … These thoughts stubbornly hummed in my mind while we waited to two long weeks to discover what our future held.
Being a same-sex couple offered a unique opportunity that few couples have; we got to choose which one of us would carry the child. This was an easy decision for us and the obvious choice was Katie. We briefly considered the interruption that pregnancy would have on our respective careers and salaries, as well as potential for fertility complications. In the end those factors didn’t make much difference for us. What mattered more was our personalities. My motivation to experience pregnancy and childbirth is pretty low (a rare miss for evolution). I am so much more excited about raising the kid. Luckily, Katie is ecstatic about the idea of growing a human. She shows her excitement heart-on-her-sleeve style though is often concerned that I am not excited about our potential baby because I don’t do the same. But I am excited. I am excited about all the moments we will get to experience together. I am excited about all the things that I get to teach him or her and all the things that he or she will teach me. I am also confident that, although I won’t have an instant connection to the kid as strong as my wife, my connection will grow over time. My confidence is tempered with quiet fear and doubt. I am sure most new parents have these types of worries . Though, unlike most parents, my uncertainties primarily stem from me being the other-other-mommy: the fact that I am not the bio-mom.
Otherness is not new to me. I have always been interested in activities and fields that don’t attract many women (like engineering and flying planes). Also, as one of four girls in my family, I often strayed from the beaten path by having drastically different interests, hobbies, and jobs than my sisters. Being the “other” doesn’t regularly bother me (I would have had a hard time being the sole woman a lot of engineering classes if it did). But I am finding that it is cropping up in some interesting ways on our journey.
The first time that I felt like the “other parent” was when we asked how I would become the child’s legal parent. This is something that most couples do not have to think about. And to be fair, our process will be basically the same as any other couple who has a kid. There is just something that irks me about having to fill out the “Father/ Co-Parent” portion of the birth certificate. It makes me feel like I am lying on the form because I am not the father. Or it makes me feel like I am not a valid parent by myself; I can only be a co-parent. Why can’t there be two “Mother” parts on the birth certificate? Okay, maybe that would cause more confusion than it would be worth. But I am sure that this won’t be the last time a form presents this problem and we will continue to adapt to a world that is catching up to change.
Speaking of breaking the mold, eventually our kid will realize that having two moms is not the norm. They may start to wonder who their biological dad is. They may be satisfied with a quick answer about a nice guy who decided to donate some sperm or they might want to know more about who the person is. The logical part of my mind understands this fundamental drive to find one’s origins. The emotional part of my mind lashes back with the thought that my child’s questions of their father will only be present if I am inadequate as a parent. I know from my relationship with my own father that biological connection means very little without presence and time spent. Therefore, I know how ridiculous my insecurity is, and yet it persists. I imagine this is how step-parents or adoptive parents may feel.
The last major thing I was concerned about was what our kid would call each of us. Obviously this was the most important, very urgent matter and MUST be decided months before the kid is born…right? It may seem like a silly thing to worry about, but once again, I felt as though I was the leftover. As the biological mom, everyone would know Katie was The Mom. The doctors and nurses at appointments, anyone who sees her baby bump, everyone at the delivery, anyone who notices Katie feeding the baby, will all know that she is MOM. Who will they think I am? Unlike Katie, society doesn’t automatically label me. After some discussion we decided that I will be known as “Mama”. The name that is far enough from Mom that we will be able to understand who our kid is asking for even as they are learning to speak, but close enough to fulfill my need for normalcy.
Otherness and normalcy are neither good nor bad unto themselves. Being traditional and “normal” allows us to follow the unspoken etiquette of society and allows for easier information processing through assumptions. Otherness creates conditions that can spark creativity and can grow empathy. Katie has and will describe the exciting and fulfilling parts of our shared journey. This post described the part of my experience that differs from Katie’s. I know that these doubts are not totally founded, and they are probably parallel to the challenges faced by many other step-parents and non-birthing parents (read: Dads). At the end of the day, I know that what really makes a parent, is time, attention, and above all, love. We may be somewhat “other” but it doesn’t change the immense love we have for our kid.