I'll try to make this the short version. My partner and I have been together for six years. We both decided we wanted to start a family, so I went first since I had a stable career type job & good insurance, and she was still in school and her job may change. Skip to now. I carried our daughter. She is beautiful and almost 2 years old now. We both feel that our daughter should have a sibling. We want her to grow up with someone close. I'm cool with that, but I also have a selfish side that wants to be done expanding the family so we can get back to camping, traveling, going out etc. I love directing all my attention to the baby! Just recently, my partner has had the "baby bug." She wants to carry the next one, which I understand and would never want to take that opportunity away from her. But, I have a huge fear of not treating our children equally. I'm scared of the whole your baby and my baby thing. We are a family - it should be "our babies." But I feel that I will have some severe favoritism for my (our) daughter. Which is not fair. I don't want to be that way, but it is just how I feel. I even felt that way when we got a second dog. The first dog got top priority and special treatment. I thought that might happen with the dogs and it did. How can I expect it to be different with our kids?
Also, my parents are our daycare. They love watching our daughter, but I have a feeling that they don't really want to watch two kids. That's understandable - it's a lot of work. I have a feeling tho that if I were the one having another baby, they would be okay with watching another, but not so much if my partner carried. The child wouldn't be blood related to them, but why should it matter if they really see us as a family now?
Another twist to the story is that 6 months ago or so, I had a short affair. (I know, don't flame me. I am stupid. We are working on it.) We've been thru counseling and have "graduated," per the shrink. But my partner did mention to me that she is still not completely sure about our relationship. That is legit. It wasn't that long ago. I have to rebuild a lot of trust. But that throws a giant red flag up to me. Why would I be positive about bringing another baby into the world if our relationship is not stable? I mentioned that to her and it just doesn't seem to matter to her. She has the baby bug - wants a baby and that is that.
If I can get past the favoritism issue and our relationship proves strong, I'm all for having another kiddo. I'd be all for it now if I were going to be the one to carry (given that our relationship is ok.) What do ya'll think about the favoritism thing - and all the rest of this mess?
I feel if you both are not in the same place as far as having the baby you are not ready to conceive another child. That being said I KNOW how strong the baby bug is. It is nearly impossible to ignore so I understand your partners readiness to get preggo even though it might not be super logical. THis pregnancy (that I am in) might not have super logical (I am the "breadwinner" but get no actual maternity leave, my time off work will make us very poor indeed) but the desire to add to the fam overwhelmed the practical side of things. I also understand your wanting to be the one to carrry the next baby. My partner wants to have the next baby but I too feel I want to continue to be the one to bear children. As selfish and ridiculous as it is I am the more feminine and "motherly" of the 2 and it seems more natural to me to continue to have the babies. Plus I make really cute and smart ones, what if hers can't compare?! So I am not any help on what you guys should do but I do want you to know that I understand both side of the problem. I don't know what I will do when it comes time for her to have the baby but I guess the best thing to do is to support her desire to birth a child, if you think your relationship is strong enough.
I have many thoughts on this, less the affair thing, though I think you're wise to think about relationship stability. For the duration of my response, I'm assuming your relationship actually is stable and speaking to your questions on switching uteri/ going first/ going second, since this is exactly what my wife and I did. [We've written about a million posts about the dynamics of this -- it's a major theme of our blog (check out our posts under the switching uteri tag here: http://firsttimesecondtime.com/category/queer-families/switching/ ]
You and your partner decided to have kids and it sounds like from the outset part of the deal was that you would both carry. If that's the case, you have an obligation to step up now and support your partner in carrying herself. This was true for us (my wife carried first because she was older, we were both strongly committed to two kids from the outset, we always planned for me to carry our second), but still, once our oldest was born and it was time to gear up for number two, we had vastly different motivation levels. After all, she'd already gotten everything she'd hoped for, both becoming a mom and her experience of pregnancy/birth -- and while I was thrilled to be a mom and deeply committed to my daughter, I still had an important goal left. And face it, there are always a million reasons not to have a second kid. Money. Time. Travel. Sleep. Of course her motivation was less, but that discrepancy still sucked, especially since for our first, we were both 100% gung ho.
Remember how excited and supportive she was for trying for your first (I'm guessing she was since it sounds like you were both excited to become parents)? You need to try to muster some of that same level of excitement and support and give it to her. And you need to refrain from playing any cards about how actually you should carry. Not because of worry about your parents accepting your second kid via her uterus. Not because you have proven fertility and she doesn't (yet). Not because suddenly it feels super important for the kids to be full genetic siblings. Not because suddenly you have an all consuming desire to be pregnant again. You need to do this for her, and you need to not whine about it, because going second is already kind of a sucky and fragile place for your partner to be. See here for a post on the pressures that conspire to make that promised "second try" disappear: http://firsttimesecondtime.com/2008/12/the-disappearing-switcheroo-2/
Now, some of your other questions, on favoritism, on your parents accepting a second that your partner births, actually get at some of the strengths of switching uteri, because thinking about it at all forces you to take a good hard look at your current family structure, and how much of a role biology has played in forming parental relationships, for good or ill. Seeing these hidden assumptions laid bare can be uncomfortable, but can also put both of you in a position where you can more clearly choose how you want to structure your family. How much confidence do you have in your partner's relationship with your daughter? A lot? Would you swear up and down that she is really truly an equal parent (even if her role is somewhat different than yours) and an equal mother (assuming you both identify as moms, which it sounds like you do) and has an amazing relationship with your daughter? If so, and you really have confidence in that deep down, then she is your role model as you build your relationship with your second kid that she hopefully births.
But it's also possible that she's really more of a "back-up" mom and that right now you are the primary parent, and while that can work fine for lots of families, and is far more common in queer families than most of us are willing to admit, contemplating switching uteri if you haven't really acknowledged this to yourself or to each other can be really uncomfortable. If that's the case, then yes, you do need to think about favoritism, about the very real possibility of dividing your family down the middle along genetic lines, and those things might turn out to be very real problems if you don't address them head on. But I posit that the solution is not for you to birth again or to not have a second kid at all, but rather for you and your partner to really dig in, look at how things are now, how you parent together, and whether it's really working, for BOTH of you. If your partner hasn't talked to you much about how it felt for her when you were pregnant, or how it feels for her to be parenting as a non-bio-mom, then it's possible you have some work to do here.
Best of luck as you move forward. It IS scary to step onto the non-bio-mom path, and 100% reasonable to feel worried/scared/apprehensive about it, whether you are already a mom or not. There aren't many role models out there at all, and even fewer of us who have done "both." These aren't necessarily easy things to think about or do, or easy conversations to have, but I really do think this is where some of our strength as queer families can come from, since we more often have to face our hidden assumptions and really figure them out.
I can't say much about being non-bio-mom. I'm not there yet. And Lyn said some really great stuff.
I wanted to slightly address your concerns with having a second child. I carried both of my kids. I had no idea how I could love the second as much as the first. My son was first and he was the "perfect baby," Not into crying, lots of good habits, walking, talking and potty trained by the time his sister came along. When she was new, I wasn't incredibly attached to her. She slept and screamed and that was about it, I honestly contemplated who I would save first from a car accident if it came down to it. That might have lasted a week. I am head over heels with both of them. He still gets some privileges because he is older (when she was a baby it was obvious, but even now he gets to go to bed later, more freedom in the kitchen - it's not that she's less loved, she's a different person, she has proven different things about her personality and the choices she makes). I don't think it's a huge risk that you won't love your kid just because she didn't come from your body (There are a couple of advantages to not birthing, for example, if chocolate is off limits to the nursing mom, that doesn't mean you can't have some out of sight).
Also, regarding travel, going out and camping, They are all completely do-able with a newborn (ok, I would get a babysitter to go out). I only took DS camping once in his first year, because having a baby was new to our family. However DD was camping at 2 weeks. Her 4th camping trip was before she hit 6 weeks. She had crossed half the country before she could crawl. I think travel is easier with each subsequent child. I also think once the baby is walking, 2 kids are easier than 1.
My wife and I switched off having the girls. I had the first, she had the 2nd and I had the 3rd. Teagan is as much my child as the other 2 and often times I forget that I didn't give birth to her. Our families have accepted all the children the same. I understand that this doesn't always happen, but there are also a LOT of adopted children (closed adoptions and adoptions from China) including myself, so was very easy to accept all the children equally regardless of the "biology". Good luck!
It's DW turn...and I am thrilled! Our guy is 8 months and I'm not ready to be pregnant again (and don't know if I want to be pregnant ever again) but we want a sibling close in age for him (and always have been clear that we wanted more than one). I think for us, the reason, it doesn't feel all that weird to switch is that it has been our plan from the beginning. And, our son has made it easy to see that no matter who births them we will love them immeasurably!
Two moms and two boys enjoying the truth that love always wins!!!
I gestated our first three children and my kids' other mom gestated our fourth. I was never worried about favoritism, and it hasn't been an issue for me at all. I absolutely couldn't love my fourth son (who is currently nursing in my lap as I type this) any more than I do. All of my relationships with all of my kids are different from each other. I take turns liking each of them "best." I am equally attached and devoted to all of them. In many ways, my relationship with my fourth son is more special for the fact that it has not been biologically driven. He is my baby (or, um, my toddler. Shoot. Time FLIES). My kids' other mom, however, is definitely more attached to our fourth son than she was to our first three (this makes sense to me, biology and gestation aside, seeing as she has had a much more active role in mothering him). That has been a little bit hard for me. But, at the same time, some of her new mothering hormones have transferred to our older children, and she is also more involved now with them than she was before she got pregnant, which has been really great.
Becoming the NGP was really hard for me, and it was something that I very, very much wanted to do (it was really my idea). I imagine that it would be only harder still to go through the transition if it's something that you're resistant to from the start. But I definitely cannot understand why you would be open to another pregnancy--right now--if you were to be the gestational parent, and yet not open to your partner becoming pregnant. It seems clear that either neither of you should get pregnant in this moment, or that she should. But it would likely be most wise to wait until your relationship is more stable regardless. Have you processed through everything that led up to the affair yet? That is really important work to do. Don't just sweep it under the rug. It will come back to bite you someday.
Lurker here piping in and I hope you don't mind...
I think it's great that you (the OP) are looking so clearly at yourself.
It sounds to me like having a therapist might help, if you can swing it. I say that because it sounds to me like you have some healing to do around the subject of feeling safe in relationships. I thought it interesting that you brought up how your parents might view watching another child if it was born of your or your partner's womb. You have the same issue (or think you do) that you think they'd have. Do you not feel validated enough in your relationship? How secure do you feel? How much of your parents feelings/life perspective have you borrowed for yourself?
I would work on my own stuff and explain to my partner why I need her to wait, if I were you. I think it's valid that you have the feelings/thoughts you have and I think you can heal past them, if you want to.
Yes, yes. I'm fabulous. Moving on...