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When water is thicker than blood

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I hear so often about the challenges faced by a NGP, I am wondering what people experience as bonuses?

Also, I'm looking for a better word. Obviously IRL I just use the word mom, but is there a word or phrase to describe the role of a parent who is connected to their child outside of biology that uses positive phrasing? Non-bio mom and non gestational parent both have the negative and refer to the relationship that isn't. How do we describe what is? (for example, donor/sperm donor is a lot better than something like non parenting father)

My answer to the first question, I have noticed that our son smiled and laughed with his mama long before he started smiling and laughing with me.
post #2 of 31
What about "Bonus Mom"? Or do you think the word bonus implies a lack of necessity?
post #3 of 31

My DW and I have 4 children, we are blended - but the kids have been raised together - she even caught the youngest! We are now planning for a final baby to unite and complete our family. When we talk, or the kids ask - we tell them they have two moms. Simple as that. DW is called mama and I am called Mii Mii. When people ask we say we are both their moms.


I find the NGP label and what not only really occurs when the two of us are talking. In my case for our 5th child she is carrying and I am the NGP, and its a hard role. The NGP label definitely gives an air of the relationship that isn't, and bonus mom does imply a lack of necessity. I dont think, as queer parents, we will ever have a socially accepted equal label to mom. At least not for a long while. It requires explaining, and rather than accepting the lesser than label, we should be open to explaining - to show ourselves as equal, as normal.

post #4 of 31
Oh, I don't like bonus mom At. All. I know we haven't had to deal with this one yet, but I'm hoping to just be very, very vague about who did what unless we're with friends--I hate the idea that my DP will feel like she's not the real mom or as much of a mom or whatever just because she didn't do the pregnancy part of things. My guess is that once the kid is here she's going to be so much more self-assured about all aspects of mothering that people will naturally confuse us, until I have to get out a boob, anyway...
post #5 of 31
Thread Starter 
Lol, I think bonus mom is cute.

I asked because I wanted to ask a simple question about the brighter spots of what is often described in terms of its challenges and I was stumped for a positive word. I've been parenting a long time and outside of writing I simply use the name Mama.

I don't think it's that big of a deal, answering the who's the mom questions and getting on with my life is preferable to the follow up line of questions. (No, I mean who is the Real Mom? It's you, right, he looks more like you. You gave birth to him, right? Why not her? Is she infertile?) If one of us is alone with the kids, that one is automatically mom in the eyes of strangers. When we are both together (before DP started showing) people assume the kids are adopted.

My older kids don't always remember who gave birth to them. It comes up when we talk about genes. I think it's fine for them to know. My oldest once said that his mama wasn't his real mom and I told him that she had been taking care of him just as long as I had.

Because the kids call me Baba, the easiest answer to the mom questions is to just look at the baby and ask, "Where's Mama?" I have never worried about being unrecognized myself, the kids know who I am. I don't worry about it with the next baby, either. Not IRL. Just looking for something to say in writing.

Today at story time the librarian said, "Shay brought both his moms today." it worked for everyone, but our family is explained often because the little babies are closer in age than biology allows.
post #6 of 31
Great questions. I know that some people use terms like "chosen mom" or "adoptive mom," but we don't do that. So far we haven't really run into a situation where we needed a term like that. We refer to my wife as his mommy or his mom. I don't think we have used the terms "birth mom," "non-birth mom," GP, NGP, etc. except when talking to other queer parents about our experience. I agree that it is too bad that there aren't better terms.

We don't think it is a big deal to talk about who gave birth to him, and we'll freely answer questions about that if they are asked. Although we mostly don't correct people who make incorrect assumptions. When he was tiny my wife got a lot of compliments from strangers on how great (i.e. thin) she looked. But everyone in our life knows that I gave birth to the kid, especially since I'm breastfeeding. And I guess especially because he looks a lot like me. Neither of us feel like that makes me any more of a real mom than she is.

When I asked my wife just now about what she thinks are the advantages of being a NGP (for lack of a better term), she immediately said "Oh, it's great!" Mostly though she says she just feels like his mom, not specifically his NGP. She does think that being the NGP was an advantage right at the beginning, in that her hormones weren't going crazy and she felt pretty good physically so she was able to do more and enjoy more in those first few weeks. All the care she was able to give him right away also meant that she immediately felt like she was his mom, while it took me much longer to feel like I was his parent. She also feels like she sometimes gets to interact with the kid in more interesting ways while I'm stuck feeding him over and over. But other than that she (and I) feel like our relationships with him and our interactions with him are very similar. She has not felt that her experience of being his mom is at all similar to the NGP horror stories out there (in the book The Other Mother among other places).

Isa: I hope very much that your DP has an experience similar to my wife, and that she quickly and fully feels like she is absolutely your baby's mom. You're getting so close now! Hooray!
post #7 of 31

We refer to each of us as mom. The only time I refer to NGP-hood is in online discussions like this or perhaps when discussing inducing lactation. That seems to work just fine! No one has ever asked us who the "real" mom is- do people get asked stuff like that often? When people DO ask questions about who carried our kid, they are generally coming from a place of true curiosity don't tend to come across as rude. I am pretty sure no one has ever treated DW as if she were less of a parent than I, though I guess it's pretty hard to claim that the baby attached to someone's boob doesn't really belong to them.

post #8 of 31
We haven't experienced any questions re: who the "real" mom is. We are mommy and mama. If people ask it has been phrased as "which one of you was pregnant" or "which one of you gave birth. I do use "birth mom" or "I'm the one who carried DD" online.

I've never heard my DP refer to her self as anything other than mommy when talked to others. And she's actually more likely to tell people I was the one who gave birth than I am.

No one ever guesses that I'm the birth mom because DD looks much more like her donor than either of us! Maybe people think she's adopted. I dunno, I'll ask my DP what she thinks of this question. We've honestly never talked about what to call "the person who doesn't give birth" oter than a conversation over who would be mommy and who would be mama.
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
I was only asking if there was a better word for communicating in writing. Like I said, I just say mom when talking.

My kids are older than many of y'all's kids, maybe that's why I've gotten more "real mom" questions. I think families like ours were less common/visible closer to the turn of the century. Might also be my Midwestern existence.

Esher, your comment about getting I interact in more interesting ways made me laugh, I really think that's why our guy smiles so much more for DP.
post #10 of 31

I can't speak for DW, but when I'm out and about I do find that I tend to say things like "I think you've met DS's other mom, right?" (oh, I'll also say, "I'm one of his moms"  or "DW is mommy and I'm mama")  There are enough two mom families in our community that it is neither surprising or terribly unusual to have two moms here.  I do have an allergic reaction to "bonus mom"--for some reason that just makes my skin crawl and it feels like a phrase that doesn't honor the "essentialness" of both moms.  


We actually moved over a year after DS was born and so unless we specify no one knows, or cares really, who carried him.  What matters more is who is home with him.  I'm a SAHM and since DW works we find that I tend to make more of the "mom" connections...but I tend to make more of our connections in general.  I don't expect that to change if it works out that DW carries our next child.  I do look forward (if it works out for me to be the NGP next) to not being in the throes of postpartum hormonal awfulness!  I had a hard time emotionally as the GP (post partum anxiety issues) and I look forward to being more present with our next child!

post #11 of 31

Hrmmm, interesting question!  I'm the intended NGP and I've never had someone comment on how I would be less of my child's mother because I didn't carry him/her.  My co-workers are intensely curious about our methods of attempting pregnancy (they often ask "so you're doing IVF?", nor realizing that there are options other than intensely invasive ART), but they're not rude about it at all. My boss has thanked me for being so out too, which I think is awesome.  :)


As the intended NGP and someone whose also a NICU RN, I'm really excited to be able to be so calm and useful after the birth, and know when the panic and when it's OK to just chill.  Diapering, breastfeeding, giant poop blow-outs and cranky babies do not phase me in the least.  I'm looking forward to being able to thoroughly enjoy my new baby and not worrying about everything else.  A dear friend just adopted a baby (yesterday!) and no one would ever say that she's less of his mama just because she adopted him and didn't give birth to him.  

post #12 of 31

The question of naming is something I've been thinking about a lot, particularly in terms of how it emphasizes connection between the parent and child.  As the GP, I'm going to be 'mama' and I've suggested that DP be 'mom' and 'mommy'. She loves it! Mommy is so much more mainstream in North America, so it means a lot for her as the NGP.  It's also what she calls her mom so there's a strong connection there.  Because I'm from Ireland, I call my mother 'mam' or 'mammy,' but that doesn't translate so well over here and DP has a hard time pronouncing it right, so I'm taking on 'mama' and I love it. 


Seraf, I know this doesn't actually do anything to answer your original question. I don't love GP/NGP either, but I'm having a tough time coming up with a better set of terms.  I think the problem is that NGP takes a negative perspective. It only emphasizes what they're not doing, rather than emphasizing what they are doing -- loving, supporting, decision-making, extra-chore doing etc.  How about physical carrier / emotional carrier?  Okay, that doesn't work at all... I give up! :)

post #13 of 31

Well, interestingly enough, our almost 2 year old is a late talker and does not call DW "mommy" despite the fact that is what we've taught him, since birth!  We are mama (ME) and mommy (DW) and we are very clear with him and the world about what our "names" are.  He seems to find it funny that we keep repeating "mama and mommy" when it works perfectly well to call us both "mama".  It's a tad aggravating, but, it is always really clear to us who he means!  In his eyes, it doesn't matter who carried him, we are both his mamas--because when he says mama we both respond!

post #14 of 31

Wishin' haha! Yes, they'll do what they want in the end! Love it!

post #15 of 31

To add, if we ask him who is who in a picture he points to DW when asked "where's mommy?" and me when asked "where's mama?"  He knows...he just won't say it!

post #16 of 31
Thread Starter 

Dandy, because my relationship to my first three children will never be questioned, I wanted first naming choice to go to their mamas.  When the first mama chose mama, I didn't like the mommy alternative (sounds whiny to me, personally).  Mom still sounds "more real" than mama, so I went through other easy sounds because I wanted an early one. dada and papa were out for obvious reasons.  Na-na is nursing.  Baba is what most babies I've known called their bottle so it is easy to say and my family could get it, since I was nursing them, which is close enough to a bottle, LOL. 


While I'm not recommending it to anyone (no trouble with it besides, "where's you mom, I mean Baba?" I just think most women want a mom-er title) I do love certain things about it.  At the playgroung my ears are on fire a lot less.  mommymamamommommommymamamamamamamommBABAmommymommama.  Because Baba is easier to say than my name, I've been Baba to about a dozen kids over the years.  Having so many people call me baba reinforced the name, surely.  My older kids started calling their Mama by her first name years ago so I like that I'm still Baba.


On GP/NGP, I have been thinking step-mom doesn't define the the relationship in the word "step."  Why can't we just add a couple of letters to the beginning of mom and start using it and wait for public concousness to catch up?


Physical mom/emotional mom.  We go through so many different roles.


During pregnancy:

pregnant mom / expectant mom

physical mom / spiritual mom


During birth:

laboring mom / praying mom

pushing mom / catching mom


During infancy:

nursing mom / rocking mom

nourishing mom / nurturing mom *

nursing mom / dancing mom

milky mom / moving mom

(man-oh-man do I get out of a lot of work by nursing, LOL, I see how very much work DP puts in on days I work.  He has milk aplenty but nursing is so much more than that to him.  She puts in so much work that I know it helps their bond.)


The majority of months spent carrying the baby:

belly mom / hip mom*


Due to where we live:

Legal mom / outlaw mom



Biology and chemistry mom / Arts and humanities mom (ok, a little tongue in cheek)


*these are my favorites.  They both recognize the work/effort that mom puts in, but hip has the added cool factor and it's a short word.  


Have a great day.






post #17 of 31

For the first few months people were always telling my partner how amazing she looked because she was so thin an in shape, whenever we went anywhere people would comment on it. She would explain about how I was the bio mom and they would look at me and be like "oh, I see," Or something like that. :-(  It came up so often she just started saying "oh, thank you," she wouldn't bother to explain anymore. Typically, though, we're open about the situation unless we feel like someone is being rude, but it doesn't come up that much unless it's at the Dr or something. DD does seem to prefer me a little bit over DP, I think it is that bond that comes from breast feeding, other than that there is really no difference. DP is Mom, I'm Mama, I don't see the need to differentiate as far as a name that refers to bio and non-bio status.

post #18 of 31

How did you feel when people responded with the "oh I see"? I cant imagine how heartbreaking I might feel...both because its about my child, and because it seems they are judging the relationship...yk?

post #19 of 31
Thread Starter 
I read the "oh I see" as, "you look postpartum." interesting how many things it could mean.
post #20 of 31

Part of the reason I don't mention the fact that I'm the non-bio parent on the other forums here is exactly because of the mentality that "you don't count" if you're not the birth parent. I have been with DP longer than baby daddy, I am the person who packs lunches, takes & picks the kids up from school, does the laundry and the cleaning, prepares all the meals, etc. I am essentially "the housewife" in the family even though DP is the birth mother and I refuse to let anyone tell me that it's not my place because of it. I spend more time actually raising the kids than anyone else in our parenting tribe, but I don't get Mother's day or Father's day, so the kids picked their own day to celebrate me :) Because I wasn't around when mom and dad labels were doled out, they just call me my name, although the little one wanted me to have my own special title so she called me "J-man" for a while when she was littler. I don't know what we're gonna do when #3 comes along, I figure DP will stay "mom" and I will pick something else although "daddy" seems kind of wrong when you carried the baby and only pass as male 40% of the time. I just don't really see myself as "mom" since I don't identify as any gender, and "mom" has always been troubling with the kids we already have. Since I am the parent the kids' classmates see at school, they just assume I am her "mom" most of the time. Some kids know she has two of us and will say something like "one of your moms is here" which is always cute. If a kid asks me, "You're ____'s mom, right?" I answer with "Yes, I am one of her parents." Sometimes they look at me with a confused expression, but other times, they get it. DD11 goes to a school with a lot of queer/trans parents so most of them are used to the idea of families not being a mom and a dad.

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