By Lex Jacobson
About a half hour after I woke up yesterday, I started to get abdominal cramps. They felt like really bad constipation cramps, so I tried to do what I could to get rid of them. Shortly after, they didn’t feel like cramps anymore; they felt like they were getting more and more intense and building up to a pain so bad that I had to consciously breathe through them to get through the pain.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fertility. Since I’ve become pregnant, two of my good friends have also shared pregnancy news, as well as three colleagues in my relatively small office. So far, I’ll be the first to give birth, if everyone goes full-term.
I honestly don’t know what I’d do had we not conceived and had we still been trying to get pregnant and I heard all of these announcements. Although it felt like forever at the time, we were actually incredibly lucky that we got pregnant in nine months of trying with fertility treatments. It was an incredibly tough road, but reading other people’s journeys – especially those of LGTB couples – puts everything into perspective.
Unfortunately, when I couldn’t get pregnant, I also couldn’t let myself be happy for other people who got pregnant, no matter how close they were to me. I couldn’t help it – I really wanted to, but couldn’t find it in me. Selfish, maybe, but definitely something I felt I needed to do to get by.
Every time I’m on Facebook and see that my sister-in-law, who has four beautiful children, posts yet another status about how she can’t wait until school starts so she doesn’t have to deal with the kids all day or how there are too many mouths to feed or how she needs booze to get through the endless soccer games and gymnastics practices or how she should be paid for her incredible homemaking, I can’t imagine reading this without crying every time. Her comments are heartbreaking and I wish I had it in me to tell her how it might be hurtful to people trying to conceive – or how much harder it was for me to read when I was trying to conceive – but so far, I haven’t had the ovaries to do so. She thinks she’s being funny.
I feel similarly about people who update their statuses 5 times a day about their children, and though I do “get” this one a little more than I do bitching endlessly about your children, it’s still tough sometimes. I am a big fan of STFU, Parents and use that as a good meter of what not to do when the time comes. (I will not be updating my Facebook status during labor.)
At work, I can’t imagine what it would be like to see all these women around me grow beautiful, big bellies, when mine was just getting emptier. I realize I wouldn’t have the strength to deal with these everyday meanderings – on social media or at work or within my group of friends – had I still been trying to conceive. I just don’t know how this would look. Devon and I have one friend who refuses to see me right now, as it is too painful. She’s been pregnant 5 times and has lost each and every baby. I understand why she wants to sever ties, but wonder whether I would do the same. But maybe this is the only way to deal with the pain.
I’m incredibly lucky that things worked out the way they did, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not thankful. I think dealing with fertility setbacks has taught me a lot about how to deal with certain situations, and I am not that pregnant lady that won’t shut up about every single aspect of her pregnancy. My personal blog is really the only place where I let loose about everything… and that’s one of the purposes of the blog for me, but I still feel horrible that there are some readers out there who are struggling to conceive, and there I am writing about how awful heartburn is.
Puts things into perspective.
By Lex Jacobson
Funny how timing works out with things and worlds come together. I had an appointment with my doctor the other day and she asked who would be in the delivery room with us. I told her just us, a midwife, and that we were trying to find a doula, but couldn’t afford an “experienced” one. Turns out one of the Registered Massage Therapists in her office just finished doula training and is looking for a few couples to work with for free to finish her qualifications.
Ideally, it would be great to have someone more experienced, but we just couldn’t justify the cost. We met with the potential doula yesterday after work and we instantly clicked with her. She’s awesome. She’s young and extremely passionate. I did really like the fact that she is an RMT who specializes in pregnancy massage and fertility – I’m sure having an RMT in the room during labor would be an added plus. She’s also gay, which doesn’t really change anything, but I like that she understands the additional complexities of our situation.
My main question for her was how her role would work when I really, really want Devon to be my primary birth partner. She explained that she’s mostly there to be my voice and that if I want, she would coach Dev to do things that might help me through certain times in the labor. I appreciate that. She’s never been to a birth. Does that bother me? Not really… we all have to start somewhere. It also can’t hurt to have an extra pair of hands in the room. If I were spending money, I’m not sure I would invest in someone nobody can vouch for, but I like the fact that we are giving her this opportunity, as she is with us. We’re pretty excited.
Something weird happened this week, and I’d love to hear from others about similar experiences. I was on our sperm bank’s Facebook page just to check it out and started clicking through photos that clients have posted of their children. It amazes me that people can post so many pics – which include personal information – with comments thanking donor #9346 or whatever.
Here I am clicking through the pics and I come across a picture of a mom thanking a donor and I’m suddenly staring at my future daughter’s half-sister. You could definitely see some of the donor’s features in her… oddly enough, the one characteristic that I’m not super keen on… and I was fascinated. She was a lot darker in coloring than I expected (eyes, hair, and skin), and her mom was very blond and light-skinned. Our donor has reached his maximum number of offspring and has retired, so god knows how many are out there. I followed the link to the mom’s profile and totally Facebook-stalked the family.
It’s a surreal experience, and one that I realize I haven’t really figured out how to deal with before. Part of me wants to join the donor sibling registry, but part of me wants to keep my family just that – my little family that’s mine and mine only, you know? We did choose a donor who is willing to be known eventually, and I have no problems with our daughter finding him later in life, but I still don’t know what I’d like to do about half siblings.
Is this part of the process that would be helpful for our future daughter? We plan to tell her from very early on that she has two moms and a donor and explain what a donor is, but I have no idea what to do about bringing sisters and brothers into the mix. I know some of you are in contact with half siblings and some of you have chosen not to be, but I don’t even know where I want to stand on the issue! Would love to hear some advice from others who have already dealt with something similar.
By Lex Jacobson
My wife Devon has been a dream through this pregnancy. She’s so thoughtful and does things for me before I even think about them. She’s always been supportive, but I’ve never seen her like this. It kind of makes my heart melt every single day. I’m extremely lucky.
Devon is extremely excited to be a mom but I think she’s struggling a little bit with what she’s supposed to feel during the pregnancy part… and also what her role will be when the baby comes, but for now, the pregnancy. She’s read several stories from Confessions of the Other Mother and her overall comments so far have been that, unlike many of the other mothers, she doesn’t have a drive to be masculine and fatherly. Yes, she’s protective of me, but she’s always been. She also does not hold any of the resentment that many non-bio moms in the book seem to hold for not being the body that bears the child.
As I talk about the stories and posts I read on pregnancy forums, she often asks whether I’ve seen any such sites or resources for non-bio moms. We’ve searched for websites that support non-bio moms and though we’ve found an odd story and anecdote here and there, there really isn’t much. I’m wondering if any of you have any advice or resources that I can pass on to her. I want her to feel as supported as I feel, but I am at a loss as to how to help her.
I just need to say that it’s not like she’s extremely affected and can’t move past this; it’s definitely not like that. I guess I’m feeling as though she’s doing SO much for me, I just want to do something for her. There are a billion support systems for pregnant women, but yeah – it’s like it’s the dark side for the non-bios.
She’s not sure what she wants to be called when the baby comes. For a while, she wanted to be “Mama D” but that’s something I really don’t like, because to me, I can just see the “Mama” being dropped and our kid ending up calling her Devon and me Mum. That might work for some people, but I want her to be an equal and for some reason, having a “mom” name is part of it. I will start by being Mumma and end up with Mum (British background) and just today she said that “Mommy/Mom” might be okay… but it’s taken a long time to get here. Not sure what we’ll end up with, but I guess we don’t need to think about it at this point.
Anyway, any advice on the resources would be splendid.
By: Lex Jacobson
I love kids. So much. Hence the fact that I’ve wanted my own since I was a kid myself. (I’m glad I didn’t want them *that* much when I was in high school, because my life would have worked out much differently… back when I had free access to sperm.)
I’m so excited to hold my own baby come January and watch it grow through all of the stages of childhood. I’ve been hanging around a lot of kids lately – whether they’re related or not – which has scared me a little. Because I’m realizing something.
Kids are assholes. Not always, but man, they can be assholes. Demanding disrespectful dickheads. I love my nieces and nephews, and all of my friends’ kids, but I don’t know what I’m going to do when my kid throws a tantrum in the middle of a dinner party or hits another kid while we’re playing at the beach or tells me they hate me in front of everyone. Because I know all three of these things will undoubtedly happen. And Devon and I are going to be as ashamed of ourselves as mothers as our friends are when their children do shit like this.
Though Devon and I were raised in extremely different environments (she in a single-mom-best-friend type relationship and I in a militant-tough-love environment), we do agree that the one most important thing for us is to have respectful children. Both of us were very respectful children (though my “respect” was more out of complete terror of my mother, not true respect) and we would like the same for our children (without the terror part).
But as we’re realizing with hanging out with numerous kids these days, we can only shape our own so much, and even though he or she may be an angel at home, undoubtedly at some really embarrassing point in the future – at a most inconvenient time – my child will be an asshole and I will feel like a horrible mother. And it will probably happen around my own mother, just to rub it in even deeper.
I can only hope that my kid’s core ethics are strong and clear and that the asshole moments are really just moments (perhaps most of his or her second year?) and that I will give myself credit for raising a generally decent child. Hell, I know lots of adults who are decent people who have asshole moments, so maybe I’m putting way too much pressure on my unborn child, and myself.
I think really we’re just a bit scared. It’s easy to hand over my asshole nephew to his mother and let her do the parenting, but knowing that’s up to us shortly is a little terrifying. All of this is a bit terrifying.
By: Lex Jacobson
We are into our second trimester and have started to announce this pregnancy. Most of our friends know, and last week I told my boss and then my colleagues.
I am amazed at how similar I’ve found the coming out experience and the announcement of a pregnancy experience: They are both secrets you’ve held for a long time (granted three months is a little different than three years) and it is the most important thing in your current life.
Ten years ago, I was terrified to come out. I was scared of not being accepted, of living a life that was frowned upon by many and of losing my nearest and dearest friends. Though with this pregnancy, the fear of losing people is much lower, there is a sense that my choice to have and raise a baby in a queer family is not a lifestyle that would be celebrated by many.
However, just as I was surprised at how people stuck by me and supported me when I came out, the reaction to the pregnancy announcement has been nothing but positive. I honestly didn’t expect people to be this happy for us and excited about the prospect of a new little heartbeat entering the world in six months.
I have also been a little bit worried about my wife Devon’s heart through all of this too. I was scared that people would put the focus on me, because I was the pregnant one, and forget to celebrate her impending motherhood, and again, have been surprised.
So far, there have only been a few questions about the “dad” in all of this. What is the dad like? Did you see a picture? How did you choose? What are you going to tell the kid about his/her dad when they grow up? I wish I could educate people to not use the word “dad,” as that is a growing pet peeve of mine. We used a donor, not a dad. He is no more a dad or father than a man who leaves a woman while she’s pregnant and who has nothing to do with the kid.
There is no dad. There is a donor. And we are extremely grateful to that nameless man from a mystery state who has given us the biggest gift of our lives, but he is “just” a donor and though one day we may get the opportunity to meet him, this baby is my wife’s and my baby. We are the parents and the baby is ours and ours only.
The biggest similarity for me between coming out and announcing the pregnancy has been the utter relief I’ve felt after the message had passed out of my mouth. In both scenarios, it was like exhaling a breath that I’d held for far too long.
So no more holding our breath. We will breathe into this new life and feel extremely blessed that we get to share this miracle with those we love, those who support us, and those who are part of this little village that will help raise a child.
By: Lex Jacobson
As I write this, tomorrow will be the 12-week mark in this pregnancy –that “safe” milestone that I’ve been looking towards since we got our positive home pregnancy test result. It feels awesome. This baby has decided to stay, and though we’re not sure at this point of any abnormalities or issues with the baby’s health, it’s nice to know that there is still a little heartbeat enveloped within my own.
I thought telling people that we are expecting would be an easy process. Set up dinners with friends, call those that I don’t often see but want to tell personally, pass the news via my mother and father to extended family that I’m not close with. But things have been so busy – we are moving, work is crazy, family is in town – that I haven’t even told the person who I consider to be my best friend. And I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to anytime in the next few weeks.
I didn’t think it would be a nerve-wracking experience, but I am quite nervous about some of the announcements. My very best friends have known that we’ve been trying, but we haven’t mentioned that part of the puzzle to that many other people. Obviously, with the exception of my 92-year-old Christian grandmother, most of our friends and family will be thrilled and extremely supportive. Maybe I don’t have much to worry about with my friends, but there is that added population of people who may not really support our same-sex family choices.
My work is very corporate and quite conservative. Even though I won’t be telling them for another couple of weeks, I’m already worrying about that announcement. It’s protocol to send out a company-wide email announcing the news (after you tell the boss, of course), and I’m struggling with what to say. Though most of my level of workers know I’m gay, many at the higher level do not. I do want to make mention of the fact that my partner and I are expecting, and I guess it would be easier to get the point across if my partner’s name was not gender neutral. I’m trying to avoid the awkward hallway conversations of, “Your husband must be so excited” and “Do you think the baby will look like you or your husband?”
These are the things that straight people don’t need to think about and though it may sound trivial, I’m not one of those out, loud and proud lesbians that can deflect comments like those. But I also don’t want to spend my life explaining. I’m also struggling with how open I want to be with work colleagues about how we got pregnant. Do they really need to know that we went to the doctor’s office every month for 9 months and got a syringe inserted into me with the sperm of a man we’ve never met? If I don’t answer their questions, will they assume we did it “old school” with a male friend of ours? I’m not sure I want that either (not that there is anything wrong with that).
It should be happy news and I know I shouldn’t dwell on the questions and comments that have yet to come, but I am a sensitive being who is not necessarily 100% secure in my sexuality when it comes to people who don’t agree with my “lifestyle”. I should be, but honestly, I’m not. I know that is going to have to change by the time my child is in school and may be bullied for having two moms, but for now, that’s something that my pregnant belly and I have to work on – before the belly gets too much bigger.
By Lex Jacobson
Things are falling into place on the home front. We’ve signed a year lease to rent an apartment in a pretty cool part of town and we’ll be fully moved by the second weekend in July.
That second week of July is an important one for me. First, it feels as though all the important, stressful stuff will be over (moving, work events). But more importantly, July 10th marks our “safe” 12-week mark, which I’m hanging onto so tight. Through the entire process of trying to conceive, I found the two week waits between IUIs and pregnancy tests so hard, but these next three weeks feel like they’re going to be harder than all of my two-week-waits combined (and there were a lot of them!).
My most apparent pregnancy symptom is lack of symptoms, which people tell me I’m so lucky to have, but it’s terrifying. For the day or two that I was puking in the mornings, I finally felt like something was going right with this pregnancy, but with the lack of current symptoms, I’m left wondering why I don’t feel anything.
I’ve dealt with anxiety all of my life and I knew it wouldn’t get better during pregnancy. I’m trying to hold onto that feeling that I actually DO have that all is well and my baby is healthy. I also know the risks of mood disorders – and treating mood disorders – in pregnancy, and I’m not oblivious to the fact that my fetus may have heart issues, or low birth weight, or a cleft lip… and it’s hard to trust, but I do.
The baby WILL be healthy and I will be too. We have learned a lot about this process and have worked with some amazing doctors who are extremely knowledgeable. There is absolutely nothing I can do except breathe, breathe, breathe and remind myself that little fetuses are insanely resilient… and so am I.
By: Lex Jacobson
This first trimester is an interesting one. We haven’t told any of our close friends yet, just my mum and dad, so I feel like I’m hiding the most important thing in my life from my best friends. At the same time, it’s an awesome place to be where only my wife and I have a secret and can spend the time to share with each other.
It’s been tough not to want to climb on the rooftop and shout out the news so that I can rejoice with everyone. I know that time will come soon, but I feel as though I’m avoiding important situations just to keep this secret (I missed my best friend’s stagette last weekend). To us, it is important to keep to ourselves for a while; neither of us want to go through the process if we miscarried of having to figure out who we told, so that we didn’t miss following up with anyone with the bad news.
This week, our baby has officially graduated from an embryo to a fetus. We’re at eight weeks, and all I can think about is that we have only four more weeks to go before we’re at that elusive “safe place”. Every day, I celebrate a little more that the baby is still inside me. We got to see and hear the heartbeat last week, and the reality of potentially having a baby in seven months is setting in. It’s awesome.
We are in the middle of house hunting, as we are moving into a more diverse community from a smaller town with our current 3-hour daily commute. We’ve sold our condo and are going to become renters again. Our house is no longer ours and though we haven’t officially moved out, I feel slightly homeless. This limbo land of not having a home and carrying a secret that nobody knows is slightly overwhelming. Things all seem to be changing at once (including my body), but I’m so excited for this next stage.
We’ve been marking down “single couple, no kids” on all of our apartment/house rental applications, and today we saw a place which is the bottom floor of a house of a childless couple, and I felt awful having them consider us as their renters when we’re going to bring a screaming baby into their/our home. But I don’t want to tell them I’m pregnant and not get the apartment as a result. I don’t know, I just want to shed this secret and be myself: a soon-to-be-mom. That feels so awesome, and weird, to write.
All of this is weird and awesome.
By: Lex Jacobson
Well, it’s the post I’ve been waiting to write since I started writing for The Next Family over a year ago, and yet I don’t really know where to start.
How ‘bout: I’m pregnant.
It seems easy enough to say, but there have just been so many emotions powering through me over the past few weeks, nothing seems to make sense. But there are no ifs about it – I’m definitely pregnant, and praying each day that this baby holds on and we’ll get to meet our first son or daughter early next year.
My partner was out of town when I just knew. My boobs (which I’ve never really given a passing thought to, because they’re hardly there) felt like they were going to explode and I could smell things that I’ve never been able to smell before. I didn’t want to test until Devon got home from her trip, but I picked up some home pregnancy tests on the way to the airport, and peed on a stick as soon as we got home.
Seeing those two blessed lines was overwhelming. Although I was “feeling pregnant,” my protective mind was saying that it was because I was feeling sick, or tired, or it was all in my head. But those two lines made everything real. The blood test the next day exemplified that feeling.
We’re thrilled. Yet terrified. It’s a sketchy time, these first few months, when there is nothing to do but wait and hope and pray that things will stick. With my depression and my treatment for depression, I am at a higher risk of miscarriage, but overall, I’ve been able to let myself dream that this is it. This may just be it.
Nine long months of trying and two years of medication prep before that have made this a very long road. I don’t know what I’d do if that road were to end, because I can’t imagine what it would be like to do this for another nine months. The stakes are high.
I’ve been surprised at how good my mood has been so far. I know we’re hardly six weeks in, and despite the anxiety around losing this pregnancy (which I think is fairly normal), my mood has held and I do feel strong. Who knows what the next 34 weeks will bring, but for now, I feel very lucky to be where I am. And I can’t wait to finally meet our baby.