Telling Our Reproductive Stories

I’ve been thinking lately about the importance of sharing our reproductive stories. By reproductive stories I mean how we decided to have children, how we did or did not get pregnant, how our babies came into the world, and how all of that impacts the kind of parents we are.

As queer parents we had to do a lot of planning. I often say to my wife that if everyone had the choice to plan their children as much as we did, the world would be a much better place.  We are lucky enough to have a known donor and were able to do everything at home (more on the joys of having a known donor in a later post). Ari is a true Turkey Baster baby (well…plastic medicine syringe). We then labored and birthed at home with two midwives and a close friend (who also married us) as our doula. We were so lucky to be able to make the choices we made and have them supported.

Now, enter the rest of the world. What do people know about how queer people, specifically two women, have babies? A movie or two? The L Word? There are not a lot of stories out there like ours, or with people like us at all. So what does this lead to? Two major assumptions:

One (most common): Where did we adopt her?

Two (less common): What medical facility did we use to inseminate?

I do not judge people who do either of those things, adopt, use the medical system to get pregnant, etc. However, I have a problem with the assumption that either of those things are our experience.  I realized lately that straight couples can sometimes have a similar experience. Folks assume that they a) gave birth to their babies, and b) that it was an easy process. I recently had an experience where a woman with twins asked me how my wife and I “got” Ari. I started off being pretty defensive and (I’ll admit) braggy about our process. A little while later she said that she had asked because her twins were adopted. I realized that by not talking about our reproductive stories, we isolate ourselves. She was asking not to be aggressive or making assumptions about me, but because she was hoping to find someone with a common experience. And because I assumed that she was being insensitive, I lost the opportunity to find commonality in the fact that we both share “alternative” reproductive stories.

So my new goal is to tell my story truthfully and often and trusting peoples best intentions.

What is your reproductive story?

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2 comments on “Telling Our Reproductive Stories

  1. Allison Jacobs Friedmann says:

    I love your story first of all because it is so Boston in so many ways and because there were so many decisions that you made that show how much you value people and community. What a wonderful world for your little girl to arrive into.

    Our story is a bit more fraught with internal conflict than many would at first assume. I always sort of assumed I would adopt. I have always loved my students who have trauma backgrounds. And we have fostered. When I got to the age that everyone started asking us about kids, no one could understand why I would adopt. And then I had to do some soul searching because I didn’t really know why. It turns out that I was terrified to go through a pregnancy as a diabetic. I knew that if I didn’t keep my blood sugars in impeccable control, our child could have serious birth defects (or worse – there is a 30% still-birth rate for diabetic moms). I couldn’t imagine making a mistake and having it affect another human being so permanently. Note here that since becoming a parent, I realize that this level of responsibility for another human being did not end at birth. It is actually what parenting is for the rest of forever. But at the time, I doubted that I could manage my diabetes well enough and that I would harm another human. And that scared me to death.

    In the end, I realized that I really did want to be pregnant and give birth (although I imagine adoption or fostering will still be somewhere in our future). I went to countless doctor’s appointments, measured every morsel of food that crossed my lips, even croissants as we wandered the streets of Paris on our babymoon, scheduled a c-section to protect my eyes (and cried for a week grieving the loss of the birth I wanted), had no side effects from diabetes at all, was able to go into labor naturally and labor up until minutes before I would have pushed, was able to nurse easily and now have the most amazing little human I could ever imagine. Even when I was rocking her for hours in the middle of the night at the beginning, I just kept thinking that in a different time period before insulin pumps and blood sugar meters, I wouldn’t have had her.

    I have this theory that people who have to be intentional about reproduction in any way end up rolling with the punches better when they are actually parenting.

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