Experience of Non-Bio Moms - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 32 Old 08-29-2007, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I've been wondering about the experience of the Non-Bio Moms out there. I want to make sure I do everything I can to make sure my DW always feels equal to me and just as much a mother to our child as I am.

I know there may be some things I'll do or say along the way that I don't even think about, but may make her feel slighted. Just wanted to solicit some advice about this in advance. I'd be happy to hear any advice or personal experiences out there.

Pranava

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#2 of 32 Old 08-29-2007, 05:56 PM
 
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I worried about this also and we found a great book and DW enjoyed reading it!

Confessions of the Other Mother: Non-Biological Lesbian Moms Tell All
by Harlyn Aizley

Also we will have all the paperwork possible to give her every right possible. Even a "statement of intent" stating that it is our intent that this child is both of ours. We will also write up something in the case of break up. Everything including child support and visitation rights. Our child will have her last name because I changed my last name to hers. We are also naming the child after one of her g-parents. Unfortunately our state doesn't give many benefits to the non-bio mom. But like you I am trying to do everything possible to make sure she feels included.

Also there is a neat non-bio mom blog that I think is neat. Lesbian Dad

HTH

-Rachel

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#3 of 32 Old 08-29-2007, 10:03 PM
 
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I don't know if there's much that you can do during the ttc process or pregnancy. It's really not an equal experience. Everywhere I went, strangers knew that I was going to have a baby soon. No one could tell that dw was also! The non-bio mom is not going to experience what it feels like to have a baby growing inside, the movement, the exhaustion, the hormonal shift. I felt like a mother when I was just barely pregnant with our twins. Dw didn't feel like a mother until after the babies were born.

After birth, I think there are certainly ways to help your dw feel included. For us, having twins, it was easy to include dw since she had to carry one baby in a sling, help out with all of the diapering, hold babies up to my breasts so that they could nurse, bathe with the babies. With one baby, it is slightly more difficult because YOU will likely want to be with your baby all the time. Since our singleton was our third baby, and dw already felt secure in her role as mother, and felt certain that she would bond with our baby eventually, we decided that it was okay for us to follow my instincts that said I should have the baby on my body 24 hours a day. Certainly dw did spend some time holding him and slinging him, but the vast majority of the time, the baby was on me. By the time he was 6 months old, he began reaching for dw and crying for her even if he was in my arms. He is a mama's boy for sure (dw is Mama). I am still the primary care giver (I am a WAHM), but Zeben spends more time on dw's body when she's home than he does on mine. Dw definitely feels like he is her baby and like she is his mother. This did take longer with Zeben than it did with our first babies, I assume because dw was so much more involved the first time.

So, for a first time baby experience, I think the best way to help the non-bio mom to feel like she's a mom is to have her spend a lot of time with the baby. Wearing the baby in a sling, bathing with the baby, changing the baby's diapers . . . all of those things will help. Skin to skin contact is great for bonding. Dw always especially likes wearing the baby in a sling when we're in public, or taking him out for a walk by herself. The experience of having strangers assume that she's his mother is very validating for her (if we walk around together and I am wearing the baby, people likely assume that I am his mother and that dw is a friend/relative of mine).

Don't expect your dw to experience motherhood the same way that you do. The experience of becoming a mother without the hormonal shift is definitely different from experiencing it with the change in hormones. The baby will be an extension of your body for a good few months (at least) after the birth. The baby will feel that, and so will you. Your dw may have no trouble bonding with the baby the moment he/she is born (or even before the birth), but it will take some time for her to feel that same kind of connection.

My dw was excited about our first pregnancy, but she wasn't nearly as excited as I was. She didn't obsess about anything. She didn't read any pregnancy or parenting books, or care to research which car seats and slings we should buy. At first this bothered me because I really wanted her to be into it in the same way that I was. But, of course, she's a different person. And she didn't have twin babies in her womb. I read everything, I researched everything, I kept myself awake thinking about what our babies would look like and how it would feel to hold them outside my body for the first time. I worried that dw wouldn't bond with the babies because she wasn't reacting to the pregnancy the same way that I was. But dw became a mother the moment our boys were born. She was so natural at it. She knew just how to hold them and change them and talk to them. She fell in love instantly. I shouldn't have worried at all.

Today, we are very different mothers to our three boys. We have different roles in their lives, but we are certainly both their mothers. I'm not sure if I really answered your question, but I don't think you have anything to worry about. I would just caution you not to push your experience onto your dw. Let her have her own experience of becoming a mother. It will certainly be different from yours, but that doesn't mean that it won't be as good or as real.

HTH!

Lex

Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
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#4 of 32 Old 08-29-2007, 11:15 PM
 
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Well, we're BOTH non-bio mothers since we adopted, but I can share some experiences about how to make mothering "equal" which I think might apply after your little one arrives, even if one of you is breastfeeding. I was the legal adoptive parent, so my partner probably experienced a bit of the "non-bio mother" thing, especially at first.

We have really tried to arrange our lives so that we both have plenty of time to spend with our daughter. Even though I was able to take more leave right after the adoption, in general, we both have certain times each week when we are the primary caregiver and the other mom is working and not available. We take turns putting our daughter to bed. We both fed her when she was younger (solid food and bottles; this would apply to you once your daughter starts eating actual food.) We took turns carrying her in the sling, (and we made sure to have a sling that fit both of us.) We are both called Mama. She has both of our last names and is named after my partner's grandma. We never talk about who was the actual first legal parent.

In short, after pregnancy and the very early months of life are past, for the majority of your child's life you will have the opportunity to equally share mothering, in my opinion. I have never regreted having a real partnership in parenting, and my daughter is equally connected to both of us, although we of course have unique relationships with her as well.

Best wishes -
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#5 of 32 Old 08-30-2007, 10:06 AM
 
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Lex, Thank you so much for sharing that. I've copied and pasted your post and sent it to my partner. I really needed to hear what you said. So I really appreciate it!

I also forgot to mention that DW had full say over the donor. She looked over the donor profiles and she picked the donor. I had a say but she had the final word. This was "her" part.

-Rachel

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#6 of 32 Old 08-30-2007, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thanks for the in depth replies. I think I have been trying to get my DW to have the same experience as me, but you're right she is a different person and will come to it in her own way. I'm much more a researcher and planner than she is anyway. She's more of a fly by the seat of your pants, learn on the go type person. I suppose that's how she'll parent as well. She listens and enjoys when I share info with her, she just has no desire to seek the info out herself.

I did get the Confessions of the other Mother book for her at the library, but had to take it directly back. She flipped through it haphazardly for one day(wich is totaly her style) and the only information she picked up was that our sex life was about to go to hell. All I could do was try to reassure her that I would try to not let that happen, but if things did slow down, it was not because I didn't love or desire her. Seems like this will be an issue we have to deal with once baby is born. Maybe some preemptive counsling is a good idea. An objective 3rd party we both like who can help us see the compromise in regards to our parenting styles, and reassure us both that changes in all aspects of our lives are normal.

Anyway, thanks again for the replies, and keep them coming. It's good for me to hear this stuff.

Pranava

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#7 of 32 Old 08-30-2007, 12:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pranava View Post
Wow, thanks for the in depth replies. I think I have been trying to get my DW to have the same experience as me, but you're right she is a different person and will come to it in her own way. I'm much more a researcher and planner than she is anyway. She's more of a fly by the seat of your pants, learn on the go type person. I suppose that's how she'll parent as well. She listens and enjoys when I share info with her, she just has no desire to seek the info out herself.
Pranava, Are we living parallel lives because I totally could have written this word for word about DW and I. Whoa.

As for the book, after reading a little, DW reassured me she would NOT be jealous of me breastfeeding and then gave me the "eww" scrunchy face.

-Rachel

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#8 of 32 Old 08-30-2007, 07:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BurtsGirl View Post
DW reassured me she would NOT be jealous of me breastfeeding and then gave me the "eww" scrunchy face.
Mine too! And I have to say, the scrunchy face did not fill me with confidence. (but then part of me wants her to be jealous : - so that i know i still rock her world...y'know?: )

One gorgeous solstice babe 12/08, two smitten mothers - mothering consciously with conscience and compassion. Birth & Postnatal Doula. Student Midwife. Expecting #2 November '12.

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#9 of 32 Old 08-30-2007, 07:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pranava
I did get the Confessions of the other Mother book for her at the library, but had to take it directly back. She flipped through it haphazardly for one day(wich is totaly her style) and the only information she picked up was that our sex life was about to go to hell. All I could do was try to reassure her that I would try to not let that happen, but if things did slow down, it was not because I didn't love or desire her. Seems like this will be an issue we have to deal with once baby is born. Maybe some preemptive counsling is a good idea. An objective 3rd party we both like who can help us see the compromise in regards to our parenting styles, and reassure us both that changes in all aspects of our lives are normal.
I think it's a great idea for you guys to work through what's going to happen post-baby now, before you're actually living it. We were pretty clueless ourselves, and our relationship did go through some really rocky times after the babies were born as a result.

I think, in discussing how things will likely change (i.e. little to no sex in the first year post-partum, exhaustion, little time for cuddling, etc.) that it helps to remain focused on why you're choosing to have a baby in the first place. We often have to remind ourselves that we didn't decide to have kids because we thought it would be easy. We didn't think that it would mean more time for us to be alone together, or more sex, or more energy for pursuing other things. We did it because we knew it would bring us more joy and fulfillment than anything else we'd done thus far. And it has.

Ideally, you will try to figure out ahead of time how you are going to keep things in perspective and not lose sight of each other in the chaos of early parenthood. Weekly date nights are well worth the expense for us (2 hours=$20 for the baby-sitter, dinner adds another $20 usually, so I often pack us a picnic dinner). Cuddling in bed and watching an episode of L-word or some other tv show (that we've bought on I-tunes) just before we fall asleep can be really nice.

But, above all, recognizing that it's going to be really hard and that things will not be the same in your relationship and recommitting yourselves to each other is essential. We also enjoy reminding each other that someday our kids will be all grown up and we'll be left alone way more than we'd like (so sad to me right now!).

HTH!

Lex

Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
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#10 of 32 Old 08-30-2007, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My DW is not at all jealous of me having the pregnancy and BF experience. That's the last thing she wants! I will really enjoy experiencing the whole thing, so I don't mind. We've already dedided that I will also pump so she can do every other night feedings. That's only fair, and I think it will help her bond with the baby too.

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#11 of 32 Old 08-30-2007, 08:38 PM
 
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We've already decided that I will also pump so she can do every other night feedings. That's only fair, and I think it will help her bond with the baby too.
Hmmm . . . sounds good in theory, but in reality it'll be MUCH easier for you to just nurse the baby in the night. Otherwise, you'd have to get up and pump instead, and I don't know anyone who'd rather pump in the night than nurse a baby. Assuming that you're planning to sleep with your baby, you'd be able to nurse pretty much without waking up (I completely sleep through my baby's night nursings), whereas dw would have to get up and warm the bottle, turn lights on, etc.

While breastfeeding does enhance bonding, the part of breastfeeding that is about the transfer of milk is only a very small part of it. There are many better ways for your partner to bond with the baby that have nothing to do with feeding the baby (i.e. bathing with baby, slinging baby).

I may be biased because I hate pumping and have no actual need to do it (I am with my baby whenver he needs to eat), but a division of nightfeedings with a breastfed baby and only one lactating mother does not sound like a good idea to me.

HTH!

Lex

Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
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#12 of 32 Old 08-30-2007, 09:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Lex! I will think about all that. This will be my first baby, so I don't really know a thing about breast feeding. I guess I don't understand why I'd have to get up at night to pump? Will I be physically unable to NOT pump or feed all night - as in my breasts will be too full and need to be emptied? Anyway, I'll be pumping during the day becuase I have to work. I'm the one who carries the health insurance for DW and future baby. I guess I thought I could just pump in the day and she could get up with the baby at night.

As for the family bed, I just can't do it. I have friends with 3 little ones who assure me that the baby will be fine. But, I am majorly paranoid about it because last year my 85lb golden retriever rolled over on my 5 week old kitten and killed him. After that, I traumatized the poor dog freaking out every time she attempted to lay down near one of that kitties litter mates. It was terrible, and I just don't think I'd sleep at night with the baby in the bed, but she/he will definitely be in our room.

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#13 of 32 Old 08-30-2007, 10:11 PM
 
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Yes, you will need to stimulate your breasts in the night by pumping if you are not breastfeeding your baby. This will be especially important for you as a working mom (who will be pumping during the day). Prolactin (one of the key breastfeeding hormones) levels are highest from about 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., and it is pretty essential that the baby nurse or that you pump during that time (unless the baby is sleeping then, of course!). It will be hard enough for you to keep up with your baby's daytime breastmilk needs by pumping at work, and your milk supply will be hugely strengthened by nighttime stimulation. Even the very best breast pump cannot stimulate your breasts as well as your baby will be able to. Because breastfeeding works by means of supply and demand (i.e. your breasts make as much milk as your baby asks for by sucking on them), breasts respond best to regular stimulation. So nursing your baby all night one night and then taking the next night off completely would not work out well for your breasts. You would either not have enough milk for your baby on the nursing nights, or you'd become engorged (which can lead to plugged ducts and breast infections) on the non-nursing nights, or some mixture of both. Does this make sense? Breastfeeding is in some ways so simple and obvious, and in other ways is quite complicated.

As for cosleeping, well I wouldn't trust your dog not to rollover on your baby either! But I don't think you would have rolled over on your kitten, and I don't think you would roll over on your baby. Of course, every one has to choose what feels best to them. I was nervous about cosleeping with our twins for the first week until I realized how tuned in to them I was, and figured out that I slept much better knowing exactly where they were (on top of me, lol) and that they were breathing. Later on, when I mastered the side-lying nursing position, I realized how amazing it was to be able to nurse them all night without ever really waking up. Dw has become even more of an advocate for cosleeping than I am. She feels like the nighttime snuggles are the best bonding time she's gotten with our kids.

Of course all of your ideas and everything will be morphing and changing and growing on your journey. I've been a mama for 4 years, six months and two weeks and all of my parenting ideas are STILL morphing and changing and growing. Nothing is set in stone. The best advice I can think of is to keep an open mind and trust your instincts.

HTH!

Lex

Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
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#14 of 32 Old 08-31-2007, 10:34 AM
 
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hi! i am posting here as a non-bio mom. let me assure you, your child will make sure that your DW has full experiences as a mother! while it will be a different experience, there are things you can do to enhance every step of the parenting journey to make it belong more to both of you.

i don't know how you intend to conceived, but my DW and i did at-home insemination with a known donor. it was all thoroughly in the minute. he made his contribution and left it on a table for me while running to the washroom. i picked it up once i heard the door slam and took it to our bedroom, where DW and i filled the syringe and injected it ourselves. so even from conception, it was a personal experience rather than a medical one, and it took place in our own home, which helped that much more to make me feel a part rather than a spectator.

then came the pregnancy itself. throughout the course of the pregnancy, i think that DW only had to go to three midwives' appointments without me, because we made it a point to schedule our appointments when we were both available. the midwives knew me at least as well as they knew her (maybe more, since i tend to be a bit mouthy!). so again, the fact that they had a relationship with a couple made me a more integrated part of the process, even though my body wasn't involved.

the birth ended up being totally not what were hoping for, in terms of how we wanted it to go, ending with a c-section, but that just gave me one more chance to step in and twine these two lives with mine. DS wouldn't latch, and he wouldn't take a bottle after the first 24-hours, so i had to finger-feed him for three days. that was a happenstance that truly bonded DS and i, and it was just dumb (bad) luck that it had to happen.

and finally, once you have your child home, share the things you can, but cherish to yourself the things that are yours and yours alone. your DW will end up having things that are all her own with your child as well. now, at nearly 9 months, DS has no use for his bio-mom as soon as i return home from a day at work - what he wants is his mama (me)! and i am more than happy to spend that time with him, feeding him, getting him ready for bed, playing with him, and giving my DW a break from having been doing it all day.

so all this to say, start now with making this journey a partnership venture. it is the experiences that will really make it belong to both of you.
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#15 of 32 Old 09-04-2007, 04:01 PM
 
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Hey Pranava! I think it's great that you want to make sure your wife feels involved!
As a soon to be non-bio mom, I feel really involved in the whole process, but I'm also a take-charge kind of person. I've read lots of pregnancy and baby books, I go to all OB appointments, I hang out on MDC, and I have a blog I write that's devoted to the pregnancy. My wife really doesn't do any of those things (aside from the OB appts), so we are kind of opposite. She is happy to just have the day to day feelings of being pregnant and doesn't concern herself with other baby-related things.
I expect that it will get a little harder for us once the baby is actually here since my wife will be occupied and I'll have to be more on the sidelines. But we're aware of it and will do our best to get through it.
Something that has been helpful during the pregnancy is that my wife, who is normally pretty shy and won't speak up for herself, is making sure people use the correct terms we'd like them to use. For example, her dad asked about the father, and she corrected him with donor. And when we were at a store last week, someone asked if I was her best friend (since I knew a lot of info about our baby registry) and she said, no, her wife. So...I think you should definitely be aware of those kinds of things, and even ask your wife ahead of time what she'd like you to do in those situations.
It's a little odd to be a mama-to-be without a pregnant belly to show off, but I see that as more reason to tell people about my life. We said from the beginning that we wanted to be as open and honest with people as possible because we didn't want anything (good or bad) to happen down the line and not each be congratulated (or consoled).
Just my 2 cents. Meredith

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#16 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 03:39 AM
 
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Just found this interview on mombian and thought it relevant to this discussion.

One gorgeous solstice babe 12/08, two smitten mothers - mothering consciously with conscience and compassion. Birth & Postnatal Doula. Student Midwife. Expecting #2 November '12.

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#17 of 32 Old 09-05-2007, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the info! This has been very helpful. I enjoyed the link MMM and will definitely keep reading Goldberg's research as it comes out.
Pranava

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#18 of 32 Old 10-02-2007, 05:26 PM
 
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Hi--My wife is getting ready to conceive. We've been charting, meeting with a midwife for preconception care and drawing up legal documents. I'm really excited, but I'm also jealous! We both really want to experience pregnancy in our lives. She is six years older and has been ready to be a mama longer than I have, and we both agree that she should carry our first child. I think the things that are hardest for me are not having the validation of the biological connection, not knowing our child so intimately in the womb and not breastfeeding. What I'm really excited about as the non-bio mom-to-be is supporting my wife through her pregnancy. I'm a massage therapist with a private practice focusing on pregnancy and postpartum, and I can't wait until the incredible pregnant belly on my table belongs to my wife! I'm looking forward to her experiencing pregnancy and being the one who knows her process so well. I look forward to seeing and feeling our baby grow inside of her and to letting her squeeze my hand black and blue during labor like she does when there's turbulence on a plane. But, what to do about the jealousy bug?
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#19 of 32 Old 10-04-2007, 02:08 PM
 
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Ouch about the black and blue part! I was the non-carrying mom this time around ( I carried our first) and my entire arms up and down were bruised for 3 days. And my thighs, too, from balancing on the side of the tub without using my arms for 2 hours! Kind of evens the playing field when everyone's hobbling around for 2 days after birth...

Anyway, I'm the researching/planning/first carrying mommy, so here's what we did with our first to make the family "equal". We basically went over the top asserting that she is a real mom, since the rest of the world was going over the top telling us she wasn't. So it was super important to us to make her "more real" than I was, if that makes sense...hey, it worked for us:

Went to all midwife appointments together
Laughed about how she WAS soooo a part of the physical changes of growing a babe: weight loss with sympathy nausea, throwing up when I was upset about declining a prenatal test, tiredness, being the one who was "really" in charge of growing the child since I was so sick I couldn't move and she had to literally feed me pineapples and strawberries and sour patch kids for a good trimester
She was in charge of convincing the midwife to give me anti-nausea drugs and advocate for me when I couldn't
Last name is hers (this was for good legal reasons too, since if I dropped dead a court could still see that I perceived her as "real" family to the child)
First name reflects both of our backgrounds
She read to the tummy every night
She did the insemination
She installed the dang carseat
Traded all feedings equally so we wouldn't have to fight over who got to feed at first. we didn't breastfeed because 1. I had no desire to and 2. this kind of equality was our priority :
Shared all other childcare as equally as work schedules allowed
Moved chairs over at mean family's shower so that DW could open presents too!!!
She read the pregnancy test
She announced the sex
Made sure we were as out as possible before the birth -- everyone at her work knew she was expecting, etc.
Had millions of talks about who should do what and made sure we were very comfortable with that


...can't think what else. Basically made it obscenely obvious that she was the mommy! This time around, we did do prenatal ultrasound and I found out the sex of the baby that she carried. So that was a very fun bonding experience for me and babe. I felt like I knew her.

HTH,

Jessica
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#20 of 32 Old 10-04-2007, 05:26 PM
 
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Good post, Jessica.

I'm going to be carrying our first child (fingers crossed) and I want to make sure that my DW enjoys the experience of motherhood just as much as I do. She's already expressed concerns that people won't see her as being "a part" of the baby (since we're using a donor and she won't be the bio-mom), and afraid that she's going to be an outsider (this largely stems from existing feelings of alienation/otherness resulting being adopted into a family for whom "adopted" was practically a dirty word, sigh). I emphasize to her all the time that she's my partner in every sense of the word and that she is going to be an integral part of this adventure. I've assured her that our families will see her fully as our child's other parent. We've talked about how we will handle the "who is the real mom" question (by answering "we're both his/her real mom" and leaving it at that). One of us is going to take the other's last name so we all share a family name (we're still deciding who's name to use). She's coming to every medical appointment and I'm hoping the dr. will let her do the insemination (I've been told he does). She's very excited (she just called me from work a few minutes ago to tell me that she was "thinking about our baby" : ) I just hope she enjoys the ride and feels good about her very important role in bringing our child into the world!
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#21 of 32 Old 10-10-2007, 02:06 PM
 
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Thank you for the support ladies. On one hand it's so amazing to get to create our family's identity since there's not really an accepted social norm for queer families...on the other hand, that means being bigger than the bigotry and not taking it personally. It's hard. It is nice that my wife and I share a last name and want to name our child after members of both of our families. (Okay, we've got a girl name in mind, no idea for the boy! Not that we need to know yet..)

We had lots of sperm donor excitement this week. We are working on backing our way out of working with the first guy we asked. It got really messy--we found out that he's always wanted a kid, but his wife doesn't. He wants his mom to be involved and to see the kid on birthdays and Christmas (um, we celebrate Chanukah...), and have full custody of the kid if we die. Aaah! He's gotten so attached to the idea that our first meeting where we said no literally fell on deaf ears. Anyway, in the meantime a friend of a friend offered his sperm. He is queer and seems to understand our situation so much better. Plus, wants to make sure he doesn't have to help raise the kid or be financially responsible, etc. He called with a list of questions for us in hand. My partner was miserably sick to her stomach, so I answered all the challenging and forthright questions on my own. Definitely made me feel so involved. It was very cool.

I really appreciate the help. I haven't spent much time on MDC yet, but how amazing to tap into other mommas going through the same exact experience. THANK YOU!
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#22 of 32 Old 11-13-2007, 03:49 PM
 
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We TTC for awhile last year and now have to wait for the 6 month HIV test because we're now using a doctor...my partner will be carrying the baby.

There's just something I want to observe in this conversation. I hear--and I'll own that I hear it--in "how do I include my partner so she's equally a mom?" kind of conversation an implied, "I'm the real mom". My emotional reaction to this sense is -- your partner already is equally a mom. This isn't about "inclusion" or making her "feel like one". Tt's about what divisions of labor , recreation, and baby responsibilities (money making, laundry, time with kids, etc) are going to work for you in your two mommy house? By positing the question in the way I've heard it posited here, it almost sounds like this is something the biomom has more responsibility for solving...which wouldn't fly with me.

Honestly, a few of the posts from bio moms, if I heard from my partner, would hurt. But...as I said, that's mostly my own stuff. I just wanted to share, because I'm sure I'm not the only nonbiomom-to-be with that reaction!

We're also realizing that so much of our family patterning really sets us up for some dilemmas in parenting (we're parenting nieces ages 3 and 4 right now). Women over-function in her family and men under-function. I've noticed that her over-functioning around babies and our nieces pushes my buttons in a way that leads me to under-function. Noticing this is key, because then we can talk about it. I don't want to compete with her for a title of highest functioning mommy. Nor do I want to respond like a teenager ("well--you're doing it, why should I?".) I'm finding my own way to respond now, and I'm also asking her to reflect on her over-functioning. I picked up more of my family's male instructions, so it's not surprising that with her as the biomom, I am easily affected by this pattern from her family, even though the under-functioning father is much less a pattern in mine. Just thought I'd observe that these old gender roles affect us too--and that I'm learning that it's not all the father's fault for not doing what the mother thinks he should be--I can feel in me that part of that not doing has to do with what she is doing and with what kind of attitude she does it.
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#23 of 32 Old 11-13-2007, 04:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ewcarvill View Post
There's just something I want to observe in this conversation. I hear--and I'll own that I hear it--in "how do I include my partner so she's equally a mom?" kind of conversation an implied, "I'm the real mom". My emotional reaction to this sense is -- your partner already is equally a mom. This isn't about "inclusion" or making her "feel like one". Tt's about what divisions of labor , recreation, and baby responsibilities (money making, laundry, time with kids, etc) are going to work for you in your two mommy house? By positing the question in the way I've heard it posited here, it almost sounds like this is something the biomom has more responsibility for solving...which wouldn't fly with me.

Honestly, a few of the posts from bio moms, if I heard from my partner, would hurt. But...as I said, that's mostly my own stuff. I just wanted to share, because I'm sure I'm not the only nonbiomom-to-be with that reaction!
I agree that non-bio moms ARE moms just as much as bio moms are. Bio moms are often unecessarily concerned that their partners will not feel like mothers, when in fact the non-bio moms feel totally secure about their status. I don't think the concern comes from the bio mom feeling like her partner isn't a real mom, it comes from not knowing what her partner is experiencing.

As lesbians, there is so much that we experience with our partners in the exact same way, especially when it comes to our bodies. We can identify with our partners in a way that heterosexual women cannot. So when the journey to motherhood is suddenly such a different experience for each woman in the relationship, it can be hard to know what your partner is feeling. I remember desperately wanting Lena to feel what it felt like to have "life stirring" within. I worried that she'd feel like she was missing out. But she was really quite thrilled with her role, and I was just projecting my feelings onto her. It's all so hormonal and intense for the pregnant mom, and I know that I could never imagine what it must be like for my partner to be experiencing the pregnancy from outside my body.

I think this thread isn't so much about "help me help my partner feel like a mother" as it is about, "help me understand that my partner WILL feel like a mother even though she didn't give birth to our baby."

I'm guessing that this is a concern that heterosexual women have about their husbands/the fathers of their babies too. The question is really, "will my partner feel the love that I feel for our baby?" And the answer is "YES."

Any shared experience of parenthood (lesbian, straight, whatever) will not be equal. In fact, all of the experiences will be really different. Just as a mother's experience is different from a father's experience, a bio mom's experience is different from a non-bio mom's experience, an adoptive mother's experience is different from a birth mother's experience. But all of the parents will be equally REAL parents.

Lex

Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
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#24 of 32 Old 11-13-2007, 04:50 PM
 
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Well said, Lex, I couldn't agree more from my own personal experience.

-Rachel

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#25 of 32 Old 11-13-2007, 05:07 PM
 
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Thanks, Lex! That phrasing is so much more helpful!
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#26 of 32 Old 11-13-2007, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Since I'm the one who started this thread, I feel the need to explain where it came from. . . and this is a little long winded. . .

My partner and I babysat 3 nights a week for a little boy-Sam. We started when when he was 6 months and continued until he was nearly 3. We worked out a lot about our parenting styles during this experience, but a jealousy issue came up huge and un-ignorable.

My style with Sam was nurturing while my partners was fun and playful. When sam needed a need met (emotional or physical) he came to me. When all his needs were satisfied he prefered to romp and play with my partner. This was not a division of roles we created - Sam did this on his own. The problem was that my partner became very jealous every time Sam seemed to favor me over her - even though he would some days favor her and the next favor me. Who know why, he was just a kid and I'm sure they all go for one parent more than the other some days.

This led to my partner pouting like a child, treating Sam like he had betrayed her, and an angry arguement between us in the end. Any arguement between us while Sam was around led to Sam clinging to me for comfort. Then, I felt the need to be less nurturing to Sam so that my partner wouldn't be jealous.

All in all, bad situation. I've talked about it to my partner since then, and expressed my worry that this would happen with our child. I'm not about to give my child the cold shoulder so that my partner doesn't feel slighted and jealous. Maybe my MDC friends have some words of wisdom for me

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#27 of 32 Old 11-14-2007, 04:30 PM
 
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Pranava, I admire your openness in describing what happened when you and your partner were babysitting Sam. Three nights of love and play each week made you two big figures with important roles in his life. It sounds like this experience also gives you some insight into some of the personal issues that are coming up to be resolved around parenting.

A therapist once told me that the issues we don't resolve, we pass onto our children to work with. This makes sense to me, although I'm not sharing this as in ominous warning that we all strive to reach zen before conception! A couple of mamas and mamas-to-be in this post have brought up how their own parents' roles have filtered into their relationships, regardless of the fact that these patterns don't fit into neat gender role categories in a queer relationship. One of my biggest fears in starting a family is being too much like my parents! I sometimes wonder how my unresolved family/personal crap will affect my someday kids.

It sounds like you and your partner have some work to do just like the rest of us! You wrote that your partner pouted and treated Sam as if he'd betrayed her, and that you became less nurturing toward him to try to ease the jealousy and fighting. This is an intense and difficult situation. There is surely some background to your partner's jealousy and feeling betrayed, as your nurturing compassion, her playful creativity, and Sam's designation of roles toward you two doesn't include any actual betrayal. And you're right, you don't want to be fighting about your kid in front of them or giving them the cold shoulder! It's hard not to care for someone when their feelings are hurt, and it sounds like nurturing comes easily to you. Caring in this situation probably has more to do with standing back while your partner examines where her feelings are coming from than with trying to go against your instinct and cater to the jealousy. What do you think needs to happen?

Ah, jealousy. I've been thinking about my feelings of insecurity around being a non-biomom as I reflect on everyone's posts. I think a lot of it for me is about grieving what my role won't be so I can embrace what it will be. My partner and I always said that she'd carry the first baby and I'd carry the second, but this isn't necessarily in the cards for us. I don't know if I can go through the process of asking friends to be known donors, looking into sperm banks and months of TTC a second time. And I don't know if I can get pregnant. I'm healing PTSD, and although I'm doing really well right now, it's partly due to a little cocktail of anti-anxiety meds. The pressure of tapering off when I want to have a kid rather than when my body is ready is an unwelcome plan, and the risks this much medication poses in pregnancy is not something I want to take on. I am very lucky to be queer, because I can still experience pregnancy intimately with my partner. But I will need to grieve and let go of the fact that I'm not the one with the big belly, the quickening in my womb, the finally sizable breasts with the ability to breastfeed, and the little person who grew inside of me and created a rhythm with me before birth. (Yes, I know I'll miss out on morning sickness, months of side-lying sleep, joint pain, breast-feeding soreness, healing my perineal floor and the full extent of the sleep deprivation as well. And that I get to have a sexy pregnant wife!) My close relationships to my niece and nephew who are my partner's blood relatives as well as seeing the beautiful bond between my friends and the kids they adopted out of foster care definitely provides a little perspective. And I'm sure I'll still give my kids some fodder for therapy and a memoir anyway!

Thanks everyone for all your input and honesty.
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#28 of 32 Old 11-14-2007, 05:38 PM
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This is a very helpful and sophisticated thread and so I would like this opportunity to dumb it down a bit... Nah--I just want to make a simple statement abut a few things that I have committed to to level things out.
In our plan I will carry our first (because I have 7 1/2 years on her--no real contest there, mostly I'm ready to carry and she wants more time to think about doing it)


Mollie will be the sahm (while in school) wahm (if all goes as planned?)--I'm sure this will provide a unique connection for the two of them.

We hope to try Lact-Aid so Mollie can also participate in BFing? we'll see how that goes??

I let her have absolute first dibs on what she wants to be called and she choose "Mama"--I'm still searching for what feels right to me, but she knew Mama was who she was

We have stopped referring to her in the negative (ie NON-bio mom, NON-carrying Mom) she is the mom and I ma the mom--if people push we will say that I am the carrying mom--But she will NEVER be the NON anything.

She is present for all insemination, all HPTs, and will attend all appointments. No matter convenience, conflicting schedules, or the complications involved it making this happen--I mean it wouldn't happen if I couldn't be there and so it won't happen if she can't be there.

We also have a friend that is moving in with us for the first year (at least) after birth and though all 3 of us are very close--the truth of the matter is that she was Moll's friend for several years before Moll and I met. We made this decision based on what Mollie will need to feel supported and completely comfortable starting a family (when she is still on the young side)

11/24/08 SMBC with a loving LTR DP in a Queer & Poly relationshiploving my new baby Kale Cqolbi Justice!!!!!
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#29 of 32 Old 11-14-2007, 06:29 PM
 
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Some of you may be interested in this blog entry by a non-bio mum who is now pregnant with their second child. After waiting someone else to do it forever, she's decided that she will write 'the book' about non bio mothering and would definitely be interested in hearing from some of you.

One gorgeous solstice babe 12/08, two smitten mothers - mothering consciously with conscience and compassion. Birth & Postnatal Doula. Student Midwife. Expecting #2 November '12.

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#30 of 32 Old 11-14-2007, 06:36 PM
 
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All in all, bad situation. I've talked about it to my partner since then, and expressed my worry that this would happen with our child. I'm not about to give my child the cold shoulder so that my partner doesn't feel slighted and jealous. Maybe my MDC friends have some words of wisdom for me
I guess my words of wisdom are that while you can gain some insight from that situation, babysitting is really not the same as having your own child - it just isn't. I guess I would ask if this is something you've seen in other situations - a deep pattern between you - or something that came up in this particular situation with this particular kid. If it's a deep pattern, work it out NOW, but if it just came up in this situation, I would not assume it will happen again. You also might want to do a lot of talking about your own childhoods and parents. My experience has been that we become our parents when we have children, even if we think we won't! The more conscious we are of it, the more we can make choices about it.

You will have different roles at different times with your child. One of you will probably be "better" at certain parenting aspects than the other. One thing that we try to do is acknowledge this with each other. We play as a team, and we work to our strengths.

Another thing we do is not let our daughter control who gets to provide the nurturing - for example, even if she's unhappy about it sometimes, we take turns putting her to bed. Whomever is closest provides the comfort in case of a fall or injury. If she calls for one of us and it's inconvenient or that mom is busy, the other one responds. It's not that we aren't unique to her, or that we don't have different styles, but we both want to be available for her emotionally, and we make sure that happens. So you have some control over this, I think. You don't have to set up a situation where one of you is "nurturing" and the other is "fun" (unless you like it that way.)
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