Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I couldn't be happier, but ...

My wife is kind of an NGP ("non-gestational parent") master. Really, she’s quite good at being a non-bio mom. She’s like those professional ice skaters that make it look completely effortless. Sure, I remember back in those days when I was pregnant with Leigh and we had many conversations that included expressions of frustration and tears (from one or both of us). I learned a lot from watching Lyn as an NGP. One of the biggest things that I learned is that non-bio moms can and should be a central part of their families. In some families (especially some heterosexual families, but in some lesbian families as well), the bio mom and kids together form the inner core of the family with the non-bio mom (or father in the case of traditional families) in a satellite orbit. When I was pregnant with Leigh, Lyn and I had a vision of a family that had room for two moms at the core. After Leigh was born, we went about making that vision a reality.

So when it came time to do my own stint as non-bio mom, I went into the task with some confidence. I understood what this would be like – after all I’d really been through the whole thing with Lyn. And I had the advantage of already being a mom and thus feeling very confident that I would never feel like an outsider in my own family.

But there is one thing that I forgot about. Pregnancy. How could I forget about pregnancy? Pregnancy is the ultimate two-person party to which no crashers are allowed. I suddenly find myself in a wobbly orbit around a planet that I thought didn’t exist.

Have I mentioned what a happy pregnant woman I used to be? OK, I’m sure I wasn’t happy the first trimester, but I blocked that memory out. Once the second trimester rolled around I spent the next six months looking and acting like the fat cat that ate the canary. Luckily I had a very enthusiastic and supportive wife who put up with my strutting and preening, who struggled and worried as we worked through structuring our developing family, but who never tried to push me out of that limelight of pregnancy.

Honestly, I don’t want to be pregnant again. At least not very much. At least not the bad parts. I really don’t want to feel sick and exhausted, to pee 200 times a night, and to have hips that never stop aching. But it sure is nice to have everyone worrying about you and treating you with special kindness because you contain a miraculous secret. It sure is nice to have everyone smiling at you and standing up to give you their seat on the bus. It sure is nice that somebody new is growing inside of you and that to that somebody new you are the whole universe.
Now Lyn is taking a turn at being the whole universe to a little one that’s about the size of a grape right now. And I’m really excited that I’m going to be a mom again in eight months. But I hadn’t quite realized that I would be in a strictly supportive role for those eight months. I know, I know, that was probably obvious to all of you. I had just gotten so used to sharing all of the aspects of parenting, I forgot that this one really can’t be shared. I guess in this case, the sharing already happened, and is on a longer time scale. And of course I’m involved in the ways I can be (midwife appointments, planning, etc), but none of that will bring me truly out of orbit and into the core. I guess I have to wait for that.


Anonymous said...

Funny how emotions sneak up on you isn't it? Sounds like all of you will find your way together though ;)

J said...

You know, I never, ever comment anywhere, but your blog is SO HELPFUL to me (NG parent) and I just thought I'd say that. Even though mathematicians kinda scare me because you are probably smart enough to unravel the fundament of the universe with your math-i-ness. :)

Lyn said...

J- Thank you! Gail felt a little bashful about posting this but I insisted that if I had found such a thing back when she was pregnant I would have wanted to fall down and kiss the earth...or do something else dramatic anyway. It means a lot to know an expecting NGP is reading here because I so so so needed that (and had trouble finding it) the first time.

And we're really not that scary (at least compared to other mathematicians...but that might not be saying much)

Alayna said...

I almost never comment anywhere either, but what you're going through is incredibly similar to what my wife's and my experience.

I gave birth to our first child and, even though we both consciously worked to have both of us included in the experience and have continued to do so over the past two years...I had NO idea what it was really like to be on the other side until my wife got pregnant with our daughter.

I think you're exactly right about it being much easier to be equal after the baby is born. Now that our daughter is here, our family is rolling along just fine and there's more than enough parenting to go around!

The pregnancy, however, was tough. I had no idea how left out I would feel, and that was with my wife doing everything she could to help me feel included. I gained a lot of compassion for what it must be like for fathers everywhere, as well as other non-gestational lesbian moms.

I really appreciate your writing and sharing how you work through these issues as they come up.

Denise said...

This is exactly why I refused to do more than contemplate having a baby (or babies) with my partner. I could not enjoy her pregnancy in the way I'd want to. And I don't think she could enjoy mine, either. It IS a two person show, as it should be. O am quite simply too selfish to let her be the bio mom. :-)

I am so glad you were honest and wrote this.