I am Shoe

~Tiffany

Who is “Mommy” and who is “Mama”?

One of the things Aly and I have been talking a lot about lately is what the babies will call us. In an effort to understand where some of our community stood on this, we went onto one of our LGBTQ parenting support group sites to see if this was a topic that had been discussed in previous posts. It turns out it was, and it turns out that, yet again, Aly and I were in the minority in what we were inclined to go with and what felt right for us. 

Aly and I have decided to be called, “Mommy”, and “Mama”, respectively. However, we noticed a lot of the responses centered around assigning a “Mommy”-like name to the mother carrying the child and then something entirely different to her partner. We were reading things like the kids calling them by their name or calling them “Mama” but followed by the initial of their first name, while the carrying mother didn’t have that delineation. We were reading comment after comment of families approaching the situation this way, and we thought, “what makes us different?” It was glaring that we were. There were a few responses where couples had a person who identified as non-binary, and so they preferred and went with, perhaps something more similar to “Mama”, “Papa”, and that made more sense to us for that situation, but approaching it in a way that seems to elevate the place of the carrying mother wasn’t even something that had entered our mind, so we tilted our heads in question at that one. Let’s discuss.

This is our perspective: in every way, the babies Aly is growing in her tummy, are just as much mine as hers. She is as much their mother, as I am. That she has been, and will continue to provide nourishment to them well after they are born, in no way means that she holds a higher status than I do. As far as we’re concerned, it was our love, faith, and God that brought these babies into our lives, irrespective of the fact that they won’t be biological or genetic representations of me. They feel so wholly hers and mine, that we forget that a donor even exists. Aly and I often say that we made them together with a little help from our doctor. 

Aly said she felt like she was, “the vessel” to bring our babies into our lives. I imagine, that’s what I would have considered myself as well, had I been the one to carry them because I’ve always felt that our children didn’t need to be a genetic representation of us for them to be ours and meant for us. That Aly is carrying them and that they will have her chin and her lips and her eyes, makes this experience all the more special, but it does not mean that they are any more hers than mine. In other words, I’m their mom, too, in equal measure. Thoughts?

Who is Shoe?

I’ve chosen “Mama” because it feels right to me. It feels like who I am supposed to be to our latkes. However, I know that there will inevitably come a time when they assign to me their own moniker that they’ve created from well-timed and articulated babble. I’m well aware that one day, I could be, “baba,” or, “lala,” or “shoe.” All of which I am okay with because they will be uttered from their cute little baby lips. So, if for a time I am Shoe, so be it.

The Roles We Play

Reading through the comments on that discussion thread got us thinking about the roles we will play in our childrens’ lives and whether there was something we were missing about our thinking or approach, because we weren’t in agreement, and in many instances in addition to this one, we haven’t been in agreement with a lot of the couples who have responded to these threads. We came to the same conclusion we always come to, and probably the one that each of those families came to, we’re doing what feels right for us and our family. The reality is that our kids will likely call us whatever we want them to call us because we will teach them. The more important thing is that the roles we play in their lives will be equal. Different, I’m sure, because Aly has her strengths and I have mine, but, equal. 

The more we get into reading through these parenting blogs and threads, we realize that we’ve already made decisions about how we want to approach this thing we’re doing, raising good humans. We have no idea if the way we will do it will be right. We have no idea if we will be successful. We know immediately when something feels right or doesn’t and in the end, our instinct has usually made up our mind about something before we’ve looked it up to see what popular opinion is, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t malleable if something strikes that we haven’t considered and that feels more right. 

Sometimes, parenting feels like chess. Our babies aren’t here yet and I feel like we’re already moving our pawns in this game of life, avoiding pandemics, setting up strategies to make them face the battalion of people who won’t like them simply for who their parents are, and protecting them the best we can from those who seek to do them harm. It feels like the best decision we made and the scariest one at the same time. Can I get an Amen?

While They’ve Been Growing

~Tiffany

The Elusive Kicks

Try as I might, by sight, or sound, or touch, they elude me. Aly has been feeling Bella and Benny for days now. DAYS! As soon as she alerts me that she feels something, my hand immediately goes where hers is resting, presumably, hovering over where they’ve been bouncing. Nothing. I place my ear to her tummy where I can feel my daughter is laying just out of reach and she has nothing yet to say to me, so all I do is sing to them. Songs that I sang just to Aly before we were pregnant, but now they’re our songs, our not-so-little family’s songs. 

CORN!

The many apps we have, tell us how they’re growing (11.3 inches and about 1.5 lbs each now – the size of an ear of corn!). And the phenomenon that I already feel like a parent before they’re even here, when they’re just 1.5lbs, is astounding to me, but I do. As I build their cribs, to make sure their place to sleep is safe, and paint their room, to make sure the place they call home is soothing, I’m doing everything I can outside of Aly’s womb to make sure I can be the best parent I can be. 

The Parenting 

I keep saying that I will only have a chance at being good at this parenting thing, because I have Aly by my side , as with all things in my life. I know I have so much to learn from her. She’s so naturally nurturing with kids. They immediately connect with her and she knows how to connect with them. It’s what made her such a great teacher. 

When these babies are born, there will be a lot of experiential learning. After all, neither of us has ever changed a diaper, but the diapers will get changed, and neither of us has ever bathed babies, but they will get bathed. 

Most who know me, know that I’m not the most animated person. Pretend play will not come naturally to me; Aly has always been better at that. We’ve talked before on this blog that I’m naturally a fixer, rather than a feeler and Aly is naturally a feeler. That means that when they come to us and say that someone hurt their feelings at school, she will immediately tend to their emotional wounds and I will be holding them thinking about who will incur my wrath at their school the next day and who I can contact immediately to rectify what has been done to my child. We will navigate this world of parenting balancing each other out as we always have. She will calm me down and tell me that my wrath is unnecessary, and that my focus should be on bandaging the hurt that was caused to our son or daughter, and I will take her with me to the principal’s/teacher’s office the next day, so that she can keep me calm while I rationally explain to them that they need to do better to protect my children when I’m not around.

I read all these posts about parenting and all the profound things that you want to do for your children and wish, hope, pray, that I will be able to do them. I read a post by Glennon Doyle that said, “I used to lie to my kids all the time, back when I thought my job as a parent was to shield them from pain to keep them safe rather than walking them through their pain to make them brave.” I think about how I want them to be safe AND brave. I think about how I can possibly ensure both and how daunting just that sounds.

Delivery Roulette

We’re taking this online twin parenting class, because of course we are. The good news is that we’ve made the right decisions with things like our cribs and cars seats and the multitude of mom blogs and Pinterest boards we’ve consulted have led us to the right products to put on our registry. The not necessarily great news: One of the tasks that the class gave us to do was to watch some birthing videos to compare a C-section and vaginal birth of twins. An hour and half later, I’m convinced twin mommies are nothing but heroes. HEROES! All mommies are, but twin mommies… Do yourself a favor and watch one of those videos if you don’t agree with me. The moral of the story is that there is no easy way for us to have these babies. 

Here are some interesting facts for you: Vaginal or C-section delivery will be rough because there are two of them growing and if you didn’t know, all of this depends on the positioning of Baby A, which in our case is Bennett. All of this rides on if Bennett is in a good position for vaginal delivery. If he’s head-down and ready to go, then we’re at least starting off that way, otherwise, he’s decided that they’re both coming out through C-section. Our baby boy holds the cards in this crazy game of delivery roulette.

So I Guess While I Wait…

For now, I’ll keep putting my ears and hands to Aly’s tummy, hoping to hear them move or feel them kick. Until then, I’ll just keep singing to them and thinking about how to make them safe and teach them to be brave and kind and compassionate. Also, we’ll be waiting for Benny to decide how he wants Bella and him to make an entrance into the world.

As always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers and well-wishes. We appreciate all of them and hope that you and your loved-ones are staying healthy and safe.

Superstitious

~Aly

There are many stereotypes that are associated with lesbians. I hate to perpetuate any because, like every community, all members of our community are unique. Yet, Tiffany and I do validate a few stereotypes- one being that we met on our high school softball team. I was a freshman on the varsity team desperately looking for someone to pair with for warm ups. She was new to the varsity team and needed a partner too. A friendship developed and more blossomed later. The rest is history. 

Something you may or may not know about athletes is that their lives in sports are surrounded by superstitions. There were people on our team  who didn’t wash their socks during winning streaks. We all had to cross 3 body parts (fingers, arms, and legs) when traveling past a cemetery to a game. Specific bats, mitts, and balls were deemed to be lucky. While Tiffany and I are past the stage in our lives of participating in team sports, sometimes old habits die hard. 

A few days ago, while Tiffany and I prepared for the second insemination (we are currently in our two-week wait again), I noticed that our superstitious mindsets still surrounded us. The routines being setup by us to try to ensure a positive IUI result were and are aplenty. 

Us about to go into the Dr.’s office for IUI Round 2

Our Positive IUI Superstitions:

  • Putting the right movie on before bed the night before our IUI will create a good day the next day. The choices are normally “You’ve Got Mail” or “Mary Poppins.” They set the optimal scene for the next day, apparently. 
  • Jewelry is an important accessory choice that brings the right energy into the procedure, if you choose correctly. 
    • 3 Alex and Ani bracelets:
      • Disney Christmas bracelet- to bring us a Christmas miracle this year.
      • Elephant- for luck, of course.
      • Cross- to bring strength, faith, and blessings. 
  • A specific perfume will make the doctor give us a good report. I didn’t wear it once to our appointment and our 1st IUI got delayed. This further validated the use of this perfume as a necessary part of our IUI routine. 
  • Wearing matching t-shirts, with the word “Love” written across the chest, to the IUI procedure will remind us of the strength within our relationship and will help us keep the right mindset throughout. 
  • Making wishes when the clock shows 11:11 for a healthy pregnancy and baby can’t be missed. 

Do I really believe that all of these things will determine our IUI fate? No, but my gut says “Why chance it?!”

I am able to recognize the hilarity, absurdity, and desperation in it all. When it comes down to it, all of this is just an attempt for this type-A woman to have the illusion of control. I’m grateful that Tiffany joins me in these ridiculous antics, so that we both can embrace our weirdness.

Ultimately, we are so ready to be mamas that we are willing to go through all of these silly routines to help get us there, even if they are just based on superstition.

If you know of any more lucky things we should add to our routine, I invite you to share it with us. After all, it can’t hurt! 🙂

IUI: Round 1 Part 2- Aly’s POV

~Aly

I won’t keep you in anticipation. I’ll start this blog by letting you know what everyone has been waiting for. I’m not pregnant. Am I upset? Yes. Is this the end? No. This blog post was written the night that we found out, so it’s pretty raw, but I thought it would be better to purge it all and also fill everyone in.

The Two Week Wait

After IUI (insemination of sperm deep into the uterus), which by the way was quick and painless, comes the dreaded two-week wait. I had read about this several times and heard about it on other lesbian couple vlogs. I remembered feeling like the two weeks would go by very fast. I thought about all the things you have to do daily- work, cook, clean- and thought this left little time to obsess over this. I was wrong. Never have two weeks felt so long. Days felt endless.

During the two week wait, the reproductive endocrinologist also had me taking progesterone daily. This helps to increase your chances that fertilization will occur by making your uterine lining sticky and decrease your chances of miscarriage. The benefits are great. The downside is that once you’re pregnant your body produces more progesterone naturally. This means that the early signs of pregnancy are also side effects for those taking progesterone. I felt pregnant, with all the early pregnancy symptoms, but without the benefit of actually being pregnant. I felt cramping constantly, extreme fatigue, considerable abdominal bloating, pain in my back muscles, aches in my leg joints, and emotional ups/downs daily. This kept Tiffany and I symptom spotting and truly made us feel like we were dealing with a positive pregnancy result. I think this hope made the fall feel that much harder.

Tiffany was truly a champ during the two week wait. They say to take it easy during this time. You don’t want to over-exert yourself. My wife took this to heart. She did EVERYTHING around the house and insisted that I stay off my feet. She also was my solid emotional foundation through the rollercoaster. Getting through this would be impossible without her. Just thinking about how blessed I am to have her support chokes me up.

The Results

We broke the cardinal rule of the two week wait. Don’t take a pregnancy test early. Take it too early and you risk a false positive from the trigger shot that Tiffany administered (per the doctor’s orders) to induce ovulation. Alternatively, taking it too early can also give you a false negative because the HCG that pregnancy tests are measuring may not be high enough yet, even if you are pregnant. By the time we took the test, the package insert stated that it would be 75% accurate. It clearly was negative, but we kept up faith. We stayed hoping for a false negative within that 25% wiggle room. Unfortunately, the blood test that the doctor ordered confirmed that this indeed was a negative result.

The Aftermath

Getting the final result has been a whirlwind of emotions for both of us. Tiffany has grown very quiet, as I know she is processing her emotions internally. Certainly, she is still trying to be my pillar of strength.

At 14, while undergoing testing to determine the cause of my symptoms, an ultrasound tech looked down at my terrified 14 year old face and said, “Yeah, you definitely have PCOS. You’re not going to be able to have children.” This woman doesn’t know how her words crushed me at 14. She certainly doesn’t know what it does to me at 29, as it still echoes around me like a threat in my mind. The negative result made me go back to that place and feel 14 again, despite that my doctor feels that I have an excellent chance of conceiving.

I have been all over the place. I feel sad that it didn’t take. I feel guilty that my wife and family have been so excited and that now as a result of me not getting pregnant, that they are now disappointed too. I feel like I’m being too hard on myself, while simultaneously wondering what else I could have done. I feel like God has the perfect timing and that this must not be it. I feel hopeful that the next time it will take. I feel loved from all of the support. But most of all, I feel exhausted. The journey just to get here has been so long and I desperately hoped that this next step would be easier. I wanted something to go smoothly for us in this process. It’s hard to keep stumbling and pulling myself back up, but I certainly will.

What’s Coming Up

When the doctor called to officially give us the news, she also gave us a light to look forward to. She told us that she thought we should just keep moving forward and go directly into the next IUI in just a few weeks. We agreed immediately.

We knew that the chances the first round were only at a 20% success rate. Your chances go up each round as your doctor makes adjustments based on the unique aspects of how your body reacts.

I am so hopeful for the next round. Praying to God for His will to be done and praying for strength and faith for what is to come. This process brought me so much closer to God as I’ve come to realize how little is in my control. I’m learning to give up control to Him slowly but surely through it all.

With the hope of another round also comes significant pressure. Each round costs us $2000 and I know each round is also critical to our morale through our fertility journey.

Thanksgiving

All of this comes during Thanksgiving week. While I am sad, I know that my life is full of blessings.

  1. My wife, family, and friends have provided me with a circle of support and encouragement.
  2. This blog has encouraged people to reach out to us and shower us with love and hope. All of it is incredibly meaningful.
  3. We are blessed enough to be able to continue to pursue multiple rounds of IUI, both physically and financially.
  4. The doctor still feels the odds are in our favor.
  5. I know that God, and family members who have passed on too, are moving us forward to our divine destiny.

Closing Round 1

I know that this is only round 1, but the journey to get to this point has been years in the making. This has been emotional for us.

Writing this blog has been a journey for me learning how to be open and honest, rather than only letting people in slightly. I’m being candid through this because this it is only worth writing if it’s real. Perhaps you’ve gone through something similar, know someone who has, or will in the future. I hope this long post helps you to understand the journey of others.

Life isn’t always a pretty social media post. Sometimes, many times, life is messy. Thanks for sticking with us through our mess. Keep praying and sending good vibes. We love you all.