Hello Mama and Maman! Welcome to VillageQ. I love this interview— I know, I say that a lot, but it is true every time. I love this interview because of how willing Mama and Maman were to talk about their struggle with infertility and the loss they have faced (something that too often we are silent about). I appreciate how clearly they support each other and love each other through the challenging times.
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Name(s): Mama and Maman
Age: 33 and 39, respectively
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Social media handles: @mamaetmaman (Instagram) Mama et Maman (blog)
Number and ages of kids: currently 11 weeks pregnant (Update from Clare: they are now 2nd trimester! Yay!)
Number (and type) of pets: 2 dogs- one little, one big
Day job: Teachers
Relationship status: Happily married
Favorite children’s book: The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Favorite flavor of ice cream: Pistachio and Cookies & Cream
How did you create your family?
We did 4 IUIs using anonymous donor sperm, which were unsuccessful. Then we moved to IVF#1 with Mama’s eggs and did two transfers into Maman (reciprocal IVF), both of which ended in early miscarriages. At that point, we switched to transferring into Mama, who got pregnant, but due to undiagnosed autoimmune issues, ended in a late first trimester miscarriage. We then decided to do IVF#2, and with the help of immunosuppressants, Mama is currently 11 weeks pregnant.
How do you balance work and home life?
We find it very difficult to balance work and home life. In fact, it’s something that we’re focusing on right now. We’re both very active and dedicated teachers, so our work day often runs from 7am to 9pm (after school support for students, coaching sports, committees, prepping lessons, and marking), leaving nothing left for our relationship or self-care. Add in the tragedy of infertility and pregnancy loss, and we literally broke. The losses impacted us differently, but what it revealed was that we needed to start saying no to extra stresses, and we needed to start making our family a priority. As workaholics, this has been very difficult.
What challenges have you faced as a queer family and how did you overcome them?
The challenges we have faced have mostly been due to the heterocentricity of the medical system and society in general. For example, all of the forms at the fertility clinic require signatures from the “wife” and “husband” (also very traditional values). I would always cross out “husband,” and write “wife” instead. I’m curious how things will play out at work once we have this baby. Most teachers feel comfortable being open about their families, but for us, this would also coincide with “outing” ourselves, and the multitude of intrusive (and sometimes offensive) questions that people seem to feel comfortable asking. We have been open with friends and coworkers as much as possible, so that there is greater visibility and understanding of non-conventional ways of making a family. When we come across rude or inappropriate questions, we take the time to educate, and also to set boundaries when necessary.
What is it like for queer couples and parents in Canada?
I think that downtown Toronto is a wonderful place to raise a queer family. There is so much diversity, and for queer parents, it is nice to know that there’s another child from a queer family in your child’s daycare/class. The suburbs are less diverse and less tolerant, so we do worry a little bit about what it will be like for our child growing up with two moms. But living in Canada, there is greater systemic protection for queer families than in many other countries, due to our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is adhered to in the public realm. I also love that when our baby is born, my wife will be the other parent listed on the birth certificate, and she will not have to adopt our child like in other countries.
How do you keep the love alive?
We can’t get enough of each other. Honestly, we can spend a full week together, and not get sick of each other. We are highly compatible, but also work with a team mentality- so at the end of the day, we acknowledge the contributions made by the other person. We also feel extremely lucky to have one another and do little things or make kind gestures frequently. Infertility and pregnancy loss has made us stronger because we realize that the only way that we will survive it is together.