Family / Family-building

Weekend Reading: Emotions, complexity, and the 2 uteri family

I really need to ask myself why all my posts over here have my inability to perform up to my expectations and follow-through with my stated intentions as a primary theme.  It could be that I’m here to write about parenting and family creation and my path to parenting and family creation was full of the crumbling of my intentions and the flummoxing of my expectations (e.g.: our child will be conceived in a romantic moment between the two of us and our syringe; my child will eat only home-made, organic foods).  Or it could be that I’m lazy.  There are many people who will vouch that I’m just lazy.  See, I didn’t even post last week, and this week instead of getting a cheery and funny round-up of some of the intriguing posts made during this last week, you’re getting a emotion-laden discussion based on posts more than a week old, and we all know how quickly things can change in the blogosphere in a week.  Regardless, I am charging forward.

I was struck last week by the discussion on several blogs about different ways the not-getting-pregnant partner of a TTC couple feels as the time to conceive stretches out longer and longer.  Charlotte talked about the slow and painful realization that she and her partner need to switch rolls; Lo wrote of her feelings around Co’s decision to take a break month and how frustrating the TTC journey has been for her;  Jay wrote about her own stresses and grief over how tenuous her participation in the attempts to conceive her and Jay’s child feels and; E. shares a conversation that she and her partner have had about living in a 2 uteri home.  So I thought I’d add my own voice to the discussion.

When I first met Kristin I was set on getting pregnant within 2 years.  I was planning on being a single mother and then she came along, and she was not ready.  Further, she felt that the best way to build a family would be through adoption.  In one of our first serious discussion on family I told her that I would be happy to adopt as many children as we could care for, but that I was going to get pregnant and give birth at least once, and for us to be together she had to accept that.  And, eventually, she did.  But by the time we were ready to add to our family, she had great health insurance through her job and I had nothing.  Though intellectually I have no problem with lesbians going on Medicaid when pregnant because they can’t be insured through their partners, emotionally I have a strong working-class distaste for taking assistance from the government (this is only a distaste for myself taking such aid, I don’t have any problem at all with other people receiving aid).  So, even though I am older than Kristin and have a strong desire to be pregnant whereas Kristin did not, we decided that for us it made sense for her to be the first one of us to get pregnant.  So that’s what we did.  And I poured all my desire for pregnancy into getting her pregnant.  But the term “getting” implies control; as the not-getting-pregnant expectant mother, control was something I had to realize had been forfeited.  This realization took, um, until Julia was (I’m embarrassed to admit this) 14 months old. That’s right, folks, I have been free of the need to control Kristin’s TTC and pregnancy as a way to prove my value and worth to the family for a whole two months now. What can I say?  Letting control is all about faith, and I have never had an easy time with faith.

I was miserable and conflicted through the time we were trying to conceive Julia.  I felt like a 5th wheel.  There were times when our donor was in the basement, producing his contribution, when I would look at Kristin readying herself on the bed and think that if I were gone Kristin could be getting the stuff direct from the source, as it were.  As time went on I began to be convinced that such directness would be the only way to produce a child.  I felt that my demands for intimacy during the process, my bumbling fingers, my extreme distaste for the semen, my conflicted emotions and thought processes were all contributing to the failure of our endeavor.  Such was the way I maintained a sense of control.  If I couldn’t control success, I could damn well claim credit for failure.

It didn’t get better when Kristin finally got pregnant.  Oh, yes, there was joy.  There was excitement.  There was tenderness and love.  But there was bitterness, too.  I lost my job.  My job was part-time and very flexible – I was able to work from home a great deal.  I had been consoling myself that I wasn’t to be the birthmother by saying that I was still to be the main caregiver.  When the company I worked for folded, I realized that I would have to get a full-time job to be able to make the same amount of money: I was no longer to be the main care-giver.  At that point I felt that the only thing I could offer our family was a paycheck and some emotional support.  But as my job search stretched out longer and longer I lost all sense of value.  Even the paycheck I thought I could give my family was in doubt at this point.  We were keeping our household afloat with my unemployment checks: I was on gov’t assistance. And with that reality I became jealous and bitter.  I was jealous that Kristin was pregnant.  Her pregnancy was a high-risk one and secretly I was certain that if I were the one pregnant everything would be smooth sailing.  Further, I had been hoping to be able to continue my education by getting accepted into the PhD Creative Writing program at the U: after months of being kept in limbo it was finally revealed to me that I had never been waitlisted, my rejection letter had simply never been sent.

As I sank beneath the turbulent and turgid (like this prose) emotions of depression, anger, bitterness, disappointment, worthlessness, and shame I became unable to support Kristin emotionally.  Oh, I tried, but I was too busy concealing all of the emotions I deemed to shameful to share with my partner.  Further, I did not know any other woman in my position.  All the lesbians who were mothers in my acquaintance had given birth to their children, and all of them were separated from their “deadbeat” “worthless” ex-partners.  If their ex-partners had any contact with their children, the bio mothers were hypercritical and resentful of such contact.  I think if I had some one to talk to, some other lesbian who had gotten children the way I was trying to get a child, I would have had a much easier time emotionally.  I needed someone I could reveal these emotions, who would tell me that they weren’t shameful, that they were natural, and not indications that I was unworthy to become a mother or be partnered to a woman about to give birth.

And now, I’m afraid, this post is getting too long.  To be continued…

No Comments

  1. I think your feelings are so normal! I really don’t know how I would have weathered not being the bio mom, especially with a known donor. I can’t wait to see where this goes. I love your writing!

  2. Thanks for sharing the perspective of a non-bio mom who wants to be pg. So hard. And how you felt makes perfect sense to me.

    TTC with more than one uterus–there are so many levels for so many different couples.

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