dosmamas

two uteri, two mamas pregnant, AGAIN, with baby number two

wow **w/ update January 11, 2008

Filed under: ttc — charlotte @ 12:42 pm

Her body, her birth, her choice, her baby.

Just to be clear I told S that if she wants her mom there I will find some way to make peace with that. It was hard to say that. We are doing much better.

Even though I am making the choice to leave the MIL decision up to S, and come from a place of support and love rather than hating my MIL, it is not because I believe that I have no say because it is “her” birth.

“Her body, her birth” is not something I believe, but apparently many people, if not most, do. Over the last 2 days my belief about this, my role in the birth of Pip, and my relationship to her in general is shifting and becoming more clear.

*

I am aware whenever I ask for honest advice that I am going to hear stuff I don’t like, but I am shocked (why? I should know better by now) by some of the comments I received that first day. Ultimately I am grateful because I am coming to a deeper understanding about my role and what I need to do, but dang folks, despite good intentions some of what you said was harsh.

My favorite insensitive comment was “Get over it, itโ€™s her body, itโ€™s her mom…Even if it sucks for you a little bit.”

So.not.helpful. Hurt my feelings.

It sucks a lot to have MIL there. I need to find a way to be okay with her being there, but “get over it” implies that I am doing something wrong by feeling unsafe around MIL who is, in fact, selfish, inappropriately genetically focussed, and narcissistic.

Silly me, why would I get so upset over such a ‘little’ thing??

Fucking up someone’s birth is serious business, and my nightmare is that MIL will fuck this one up too, either with her narcissism, or by ME and S letting this issue come between us.

*

In my last post I thought it was clear that this was a very raw, vulnerable topic for me as the non-bio mom and that although I wanted people’s honest opinions, those views should be expressed gently, in such a way that I could hear them even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. And there were a lot of those responses (thank you), but I should have been more explicit! I know better. I should never say sarcastic things like “if there was a vote and everyone said, Charlotte you are being weak and immature and you need to buck up for your wife” because people think I am steely enough to have you tell me, literally, to ‘buck up’. My bad.
In fact, I was needing understanding, and I was feeling very insecure in my role as the non birthing mom. Thank you so much for the comments that really acknowledged my position, my needs, and S’s needs in a way I could really listen to, even when it was hard to hear. Those ones made me cry (in a good way – I’ll send you $90, Chicory), and helped me make a very needed change.

After I told S that I was going to support her decision about her mom during her birth, we were able to enter a different space. We are having some difficult but fruitful talks.

*

Now onto the rest of the post in which I go on and on about the issue of making decisions about pregnancy and birth, with two moms. This part is not coming from an offended place, maybe a little defensive? Mostly I’m surprised that my opinions are so so different most people’s.

I was shocked that I didn’t hear more about me having a say birth of my next child. Yes S is pushing it out of her vag, but does that mean I have NO say? none? really??!? I must admit that it was hard to hear.

Here is a message I get, in general: the bio mom, from pregnancy through breastfeeding has more say. Her body. Her birth. Her boobs. Her choices. Don’t interfere. Make suggestions, have your own opinions and share them, support her, but ultimately she has all the say and the final say.

I am a bio mom too, and I don’t think this is right.

I think (this is just my opinion) that the”her body = her choice” message is rooted in a reaction to women not having choices. It’s goal is to support women in making decisions about their bodies when historically, legally, in every way, women have been disempowered. Clearly, a husband shouldn’t be able to tell his wife to stop breastfeeding, or demand sex, or demand that his mom be in the room for delivery. I get it. I’m on board with that.

But this is not that issue. I am the mom too. This changes the dynamic. For me, it becomes very NOT black and white.

Just because S is pregnant she does not get to make all the choices or have the final say, per se. Honestly, I don’t have many opinions about Pip’s birth. I am deferring to her about everything (except for the MIL issue). Actually it isn’t even a deferment, it just feels like of course she will make the decisions. How, one might wonder, is that different from someone who says “her body = her choice about who is there for the birth”? It just is. I don’t see it as clearly as most people, I guess.

S wanted her mom there for Smarty’s birth and I said no. S is saying yes this time, and she will probably get what she wants. This looks an awful lot like the birthing person gets what she wants. It is…mostly. But I also think it is crap. Pip’s birth is not just S’s birth. Smarty’s birth was not just my birth, my birth story. Yes I pushed that effer out of me, but S was right there the whole time, exhausted, stunned, helping me, pulling Smarty out of me to lay on my chest, loving him. It was her birth experience too. She needed support too. She needed to feel comfortable. She needed support for herself and so she could fully be there for me.

When he came out it was the most amazing moment of my life. Whenever I think of it, even as I type this, it makes me weep. Weep. In many ways it was my birth, my body, but I also see, call me crazy, that my body was a vessel for our baby, and in that way it was S’s birth experience too giving her rights to make requests, collaborate and even make demands. No, she didn’t push him out of her vag or get a needle in her spine, or spend 36 hours in pain, but she was watching me do all of those things, helping me, not sleeping, attending to me, never complaining, helping our baby be born.

It was the most amazing moment of S’s life too. Her son. His birth. My birth. Her birth. Our birth.

Honestly and truly if she had not wanted my mom there, my mom would not have been there. Period.

I think that the involved, respectful, loving non bio mom should have a voice in the birth, the breastfeeding, all of it. Does that make everything more complicated? Maybe. But to my core I do not think the bio mom should, by some unwritten law, have the final say. For me, it must be a collaboration.

Hopefully there is not any conflict at all.

But should I be able to veto having a toxic person present at the birth? In this case I think I have that right…a veto right, EVEN if it is her mom.

I’m not an dictatorial prick telling my wife what to do. I’m the other mom, and I don’t want the unquestioned assumption of the birth and early infancy of our daughter to be that my voice counts less.

I still think I have the right to exert my wishes about MIL, just as S has the right to exert her wishes about her own mom. Hence the impasse. But I have decided I want to give this one to S. I am willing to make the sacrifice (believe it or not, not in a martyry way). I am willing to put S’s need above mine, but not because this is her birth. Because she is pregnant, and hormonal, and I love her. Because I was shocked into it. Because it is, maddeningly, the right thing to do, for me and for S right now. But I must say, I don’t think it would be right for every nonbio mom.

I know that the idea of deferment to the biomom about all things birth related is not intended to make the other mother or partner feel small. I am also aware that if the other mom defers everything to the bio mom that does not mean that either of them is valuing the nonbio mom less. That is their choice. I just don’t believe (and feel defensive about, can you tell?) the unquestioned assumption that the biomom automatically has the final say about everything.

Jeez. How many ways can I say the same thing? I think I’m done :). Admittedly the reason I’m repeating myself is that I’m scared to be misunderstood. I feel like it is a big deal to say that I believe the birthing mom doesn’t have the inherent right to dictate all the terms of her birth – that the other mom should be able to make requests and even demands – well, it seems unpopular to say the least. Although I am all big talk and opinions here, I’m also always concerned about being different.

I’m curious about other people’s experience with this issue. Sometimes I think that it is such a sensitive topic that it isn’t discussed. And there are so many assumptions. I know that for S and I the bio/nonbio thing feels delicate, and we try to tread lightly around the topic. And for eff’s sake why don’t we have words that are better than “nonbio mom”? Please don’t be afraid to comment. I really grow so much from having a dialog about this stuff.

Dialog is good. Our conflict about MIL surfaced all of our resentments and fears around biology, staying at home, breastfeeding, fairness, taking turns, and equality. Complicated shit. And after being the bio mom 1st, I must admit that this other mother position is kinda hard for me sometimes. Maybe other people seemlessly slide right into this role but I’m struggling with it. At times it is a little invisible and thankless.

I know now that the nonbio mom sometimes (everyone is different) needs *a lot* of support. I knew that before, intellectually, but I didn’t “get” it. I didn’t feel it. I know now that this is not in at all the same situation as a heterosexual couple. At all. I’m not the dad, even though I will be the breadwinner and not the breastfeeder. We are both the mom. We share that role. And sharing that role, for us, means we share other things more intimately too, like the birth. This is our birth and S’s birth, in which my amazing and strong S will, knock on everything, safely push our Pip out. Possibly with my MIL watching.

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post, and helped me come to a place, finally, where my Mother In Law no longer has the power to ruin this birth for me, whether she’s there or not because I am the other mother, and that is so much stronger that she is.

**Hmmm. In response to some questions I think that I am partially wrong about the dad thing…I think that Lo is right that dad’s might be effed here too. I think that it is a little different that we are both moms and in this case each giving birth to one kid, but I can’t say why that is so different. Can anyone articulate why it is different? Maybe someone else can explain it better. Ultimately though I will amend this and say if the other partner is respectful, understands in some way (not necessarily through experience) what giving birth means, and has his partner’s best interests at heart, he should have a voice too. Same as a nonbio mom. I think what I was getting at is that my voice and my opinion, in the position I am in, for this birth, are not the same as a clueless dad. But hey a nonbio mom could be just as clueless. Yes, I’m changing what I said because that was just me being defensive and not wanting to be lumped in with clueless dads. See? Dialog is good.

Oh! And I do want to make it VERY clear, despite this ginormous post about how i should have a say, that aside from MIL issue, I defer to S about all other aspects of the birth, and that is totally how I want it to be.

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43 Responses to “wow **w/ update”

  1. I have to “disagree” with one comment. You kind of ARE the dad in this situation. In a hetero relationship dad often “doesn’t get a vote” because it is the mom who is pregnant and its her body her boobs her birth. The only difference here is you are wrapped up in the biology, and not the fact that you are also this little girls mother.

    No you don’t have a penis, and it wasn’t your sperm that made this little girl BUT she was formed out of the love that you and your mate have, and no matter what your MIL tries to do, and has done thus far she has NOT been able to divide and conquer that love.

    It is too bad that we are such a closed minded society that legal marriages aren’t recognized in all 50 states, and that instead of a birth certificate listing MOTHER FATHER that it can’t list PARENTS instead. That would eliminate a lot of the fear here I believe!

  2. Kathy Says:

    I feel for your situation. I was the bio mom, our daughter is almost 2, and my partner still reminds me of how my mother intruded on our daughter’s birth-day. I invited my mom into the delivery room (she was present during the birth of her other 9 grandkids), but neither one of us anticipated that she would show up at 8:00 am (scheduled induction) and take up residence for the next 14 hours on the pull out bed/sofa that was supposed to be for my partner. Is there any way that she can compromise and have her there for the delivery only and not for the labor? Just a thought. Good luck!

  3. ohchicken Says:

    i think you pose a lot of really valid points. and i think you’re right when you say you don’t speak for all bio/non bio moms.

    as my pregnancy progresses, i’m making every attempt to consider this h’s pregnancy too. the appts are “our” appts with “our” midwife, etc. i want her to be as comfortable and supported throughout all of this, so that she feels empowered when the birth rolls around. and for her? she defers to me. the role she’s given herself in this pregnancy is to protect me at all costs. no matter how many times i ask for her thoughts/choices/opinions on a pregnancy matter, her honest answer is for me to choose for me, and that will be the best for us. thankfully, we have not come across an issue as sensitive as who will be at the birth.

    i am so sorry that the MIL issue has become so raw and painful. i wish i had some sort of insight that would help reconcile the decision, but ultimately i agree with chicory’s declaration of love will overcome fear (and toxicity).

    lots of hope for peace coming your way.

  4. Lo Says:

    I think you’ve made some good points.

    It makes me think about dads, too….familyoftwo above says that dads don’t get a say, but maybe they should. Maybe this is a piece of patriarchy that hurts men, too, excluding them from birth, and having a say.

    and you are not a dad. Being called a dad is my worst fear (as a nonbio mom).

    I think a doula is a phenomenal idea. I’m also wondering if there are other things that would help you in the having of MIL…like other people or something…something S. can give *you* (like you are giving her with MIL).

    Maybe someone can slash MIL’s tires? (I live a *whole contintent away* so dont’ blame me if it happens!)

  5. Bri Says:

    I think I get weirdly defensive about this issue. I am somewhere in between the hetero and the homo stuff. I end up feeling some sort of bizarre need to defend the straights. So just ignore me while I type to figure out why I feel that way.

    I don’t really get why it’s different. I TOTALLY get that it feels different to you. I totally support and love you and want you to be happy. But I don’t really get why. Now, of course, it is also impossible for me to TOTALLY understand what it’s like for the average straight couple. Because I am seriously the only person I know whose husband gave birth. That REALLY messes with my whole outlook here.

    Does it somehow tie into something about men? Because I feel like this is sort of not fair. But maybe I am misunderstanding. I feel like you are saying that a husband shouldn’t be able to have as much input as a nonbio mom. Am I misunderstanding? If I am understanding, I am curious as to why. And again, this is all coming from just MY experience, which is not the usual.

    I honestly would have kicked Wes’ ass if he tried to tell me who I could have in the delivery room. To me, it was very much my body my birth. But this was an assumption both of us shared, so it was never a fight and therefore I never had to explore what we would have done. Plus, no one was there since it was a c-sec, so, you know.

    It doesn’t mean anything about him being less of a parent to our son. It doesn’t mean he has less pull in decisions about what to do. It just means that I was going through the physical bit and therefore that ONE day was my call. Whatever I wanted to do. Maybe it was like the fact that Wes was REALLY nervous about epidurals and would have strongly preferred that I not have one. But he wouldn’t have said that. Well, he said it and then I gave him a look and he smiled and we went to an epidural class where he was made to feel better. Too bad there’s not a crazy m-i-l class.

    But then, in a way it’s also different than the physical. We talked about your situation last night. We tried to think of what would have happened if I had wanted someone horrible in the birth room. He feels much like I do, predictably, but he also made the good point, YOUR point, I think – it may be unwise of S to have someone there who will mess up your ability to be HER support. I get both sides now. I see that you need to be in a good place to be there for her. So that sucks. Basically, she is asking you to be a GIANT enough person to suck it up for a day. It’s a GIANT, hard request.

    The other thing Wes and I both thought was what some commenter said – important to realize that you really have NO idea how it will go and all best laid plans may fall apart. S’s mom may drive her crazy in short order. C-sec may happen. It may go really fast. Etc etc. So it may end up moot.

    But if it doesn’t, we think a role for her is important. And maybe a compromise about time. Like, maybe she can come in for the very end, or the middle, or something. And when she’s there, one of your massive army of people attending can help make her not drive you crazy. Or you could even step out for a bit while she’s being annoying, since you do have the Birth Army (seriously, that is a LOT of people!).

    Love you. Sorry if I said anything weird. It was like “But it’s a MOM!” So hard to step out of one’s own neuroses

  6. meanmama Says:

    I just read my good friend Bri’s comment, and it’s interesting how different we can be. I don’t believe in the “my body my birth” thing at all. I think that husbands should have a say all the time (in a respectful way, not a demanding one), even in the birthing, and that compromise needs to be reached as much as it can be. I get irritated when my fellow straight women treat pregnancy and birth like their property. Another thought- my husband is less “the dad” and more the “co-mom” in his actions. My hope is that more dads will increasingly become nurturers and equal partners in parenting so that dads get a better rep.
    But you know what? I don’t think that most of your post was really about how nonbio moms are or are not like dads. I think it was about all of the stuff that YOU need to work out. And you are not a dad.
    I’m glad that you can vent and get some clarity via your blog. I really enjoy your writing, and you always make me think, whether I can directly relate or not. Personally, I really don’t know what it’s like to have such a profound birthing experience. Reading about how important yours was to you even makes me a little jealous. I went into threatened labor at 27+weeks and then was hanging out on bedrest until 34, when I was taken off of a drug that was preventing labor. All the while I was having contractions up the wazoo and wondering if today would be the day for 6 damn weeks. Then I went into labor, and my boys were in crappy positions and I had to have a c-section, during which I was throwing up and didn’t even want to hear about how they were pulling the babies out or anything, because I was just trying to keep from passing out. And then my boys were preemies, so I couldn’t hold them or feed them or anything. It just was a way to get them out safely, far from a rebirth for me! Certainly not the best day or my life. I didn’t have the opportunity to have anything close to my ideal, because it just wasn’t physically possible regardless or who was or wasn’t there. I am not saying this for pity (I can do that on my *own* blog!). My point is this: it sounds like even though your MIL meddled in your son’s birth and that was really bad, it was still a really amazing time for you and S. And I just hope that you and S have another amazing experience, another rebirth, even if MIL is involved in this one.
    Thanks again for sharing. I really wish the best for you on this.

  7. Jeannette Says:

    I totally understand your feelings here. This was my situation – My husband and I lived 1200 miles away from family when my son was born so there was no question of anyone attending the birth. For the birth of my daughter 5 years later, we live 5 minutes from my parents. This was my mom’s 2nd grandchild. I know she would have liked to be there. I wouldn’t have minded here there. (she’s not a total loony or anything, she’s actually pretty cool) BUT. My husband has very strong feelings about the birth being about us. Me and him and the child we created. He wanted to be my support and my only companion. I asked him about my mom being there and he was against it for the reasons above. I decided to go with just me and him in the delivery room because I felt like I wanted to give him a say in the whole business. He was there when we made the kid, but I got to carry her and grow her and feel her inside me and would probably end up doing most of the care taking while I was on maternity leave.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that I totally understand how you want S’ birth to be between the both of you and I would understand that even if your MIL wasn’t the person that she is.

    I feel it takes a very strong person to let S have her mom in there if that’s what she wants. And I think because it takes a strong person to let S have her choice in this, you will be totally fine when it comes to the birth. I hope that regardless of your MIL being there that your daughter’s birth is everything you and S imagine it to be.

  8. Im sorry, I didn’t mean to “lump” you in too clueless dad state…let me think on this…

    Different because its “not you” this time…different that even though biology doesn’t matter maybe you are “afraid” that somehow it does. The fear of the unknown too is there I am sure…which is what it has too be like for the non gestating parent. You know first hand what the experience was like for you as the bio parent…but what will it be like not being the bio parent?

    Different because the situation is completely different and its all big nasty and scary…

    I know, i didn’t shed much more light on it for ya. I tell you I commend you in your blog, adn commend that you don’t pull punches and tell it like it is. That is what made me put this blog on my favs list and keeps me coming back…I don’t “know you” but I do know that you will figure this out…the good the bad and the ugly of it all…

    *Oh and this is off the topic…but somethign that may help with breast feeding and too feel more involved in a feeding role…look into the feeders that are used for adoptive moms who try to re-lactate, or lactate at all. It utilizes a bag and tube aparatus that is taped to your breast, and baby uses your nipple to suck, but is fed through the tube…somethign that may help too once Pip arrives…and I do apologize if that weirded you out…really I do…

  9. meanmama Says:

    ps- I just read my comment and realize that maybe it sounded like I was irritated with Bri personally when I said that I get irritated when straight women treat pregnancy and childbirth as their property. To be clear, I don’t think she did that, she doesn’t irritate me at all, and she is a super and foxy lady.

  10. Chicory Says:

    I have to agree with Lo here. I think it shortchanges men to push them out of this experience, too. But then I know so many ass-hole men and I cringe at the thought of them barging in and telling a woman how to manage her body, so then I pause again. I guess you can’t just bottom-line it.

    But I guess for me the whole thing wasn’t really about her body. You weren’t telling her that she couldn’t have pain relief (like Tom Cruise) or making her give birth in a cave with only a sharpened stick and yourself to help her out. Everything relating to her body you are (and should) defer to her. After all, you might witness her pain, but you won’t feel it. But having the MIL there goes beyond S’s body into the common space between you — a space where you should have some say.

    And I have to say, for me, I’m different from a dad becasue I haven’t had the “dad” role and expectations socialized on me from birth. I’ve had the “mom” role socialized on me. I know there are women out there who DO embrace the dad (or at least a parental role that’s closer to dad than to mom) role and for them they’re perfectly comfortable taking the socially-prescribed dad role. That’s not for me. That’s not how I relate. And those expectations aren’t mine. My expectations (which, to be fair, are really all you have at a birth) were closer to baking cookies and kissing boo-boos than throwing balls and scaring away dates and standing at a distance while the mother does all the emotional care-taking. So I *expected* to be emotionally involved at the birth and during the infancy. And yet, I got so many messages that I should not be — that I should step aside and let Klove have the final say.

    Case in point. We both decided that breastfeeding would be best for our child. Of course, Klove had the final say of that, or at least she had the final say that she would breastfeed. As for our plan to exclusively breastfeed, I was on board for that, too. But then Klove’s breastmilk didn’t come in. And it didn’t come in. And we had a hospital pump and a flood of lactation consultants, and it still didn’t come in. And I watched our happy daughter get hungrier and hungrier and my wife get more and more frustrated and despondant. I begged and begged to be able to give the baby a bottle — and yet she didn’t want me to because it would ruin her breastfeeding relationship and undermine her efforts to get her supply going. My instincts to feed the baby however that happened were pushed aside in the face of her desire to breastfeed. I have never felt so disempowerd as I did during that week.

    After a night of hours of screaming I convinced Klove to let me give Sassa the sample bottle of formula that had come home from the hospital, but it wasn’t until the doctor the next day told us that our baby was starving that Klove agreed to supplementing with formula.

    I could say that this is only our particular situation, but I think it’s bigger than that. If I had been on the M0thering.com boards telling our story, how much support would I have received to go against Klove’s wishes?

    Keep your $90. Put it toward the doula. I’m so glad you moved into a space of love.

  11. dlvc Says:

    You are writing what very few people are actually willing to say. You’re right that we, as a community, don’t talk about these things.

    It can be super-lonely and extremely disorienting finding your footing as a non-bio-mom, perhaps even more so if you’ve already become a mom by the more standard route. Yes, pregnancy/birth/nursing is really grueling, but lots and lots of women do it, so support does exist. There aren’t so many of us who become mothers the way you are for Pip, and it is hard in ways that are invisible, sometimes in ways you don’t even notice until they blindside you. For what it’s worth, all of my own worrying along similar themes paid off. The transition to actual mothering was amazingly smooth, which I like to think was because we figured some stuff out ahead of time. S has been through this already. Maybe you can compare notes.

    I absolutely agree that non-bio-moms (and dads) should have a prominent voice in birth and early parenting, even in nursing. Based on extensive reading (and reading between the lines) it seems there are many leaders (or at least authors) in the queer parenting world who would disagree, so you aren’t making it up that you are going out on a limb here. I’ll refrain from going into lit review in your comments, but Chicory has my e-mail if you are curious about the books I’m referring to.

    In reading your comments, I find myself wishing I had a Chicory writing me comments during our pregnancy. $90 is a bargain ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Bree Says:

    Oooof, this has brought so many feelings to the surface for me. It turns out that being the non-bio mom sometimes sucks a$$. I would go so far as to say that, although my daughter is a beautiful gift whom I would never return to sender, I wish that I wasn’t the non-bio mom. It hurts me that much, at least sometimes.

    Although I can’t empathize with your was-the-bio-mom-now-becoming-a-non-bio-mom-too status, let me say this: I feel for you. Even though some commenters will be a$$hats, go ahead and rage sometimes. This is such a new frontier, and we need to lay bare the horrible feelings that come along with the joys. I will listen (read, actually) and will try try try to be supportive.

    Rather than hijack your comments section (which I very much did on the last post), I’m blogging about it over at (Indefinite Hiatus from) Project Kjetil. Anyone who wants an invite is more than welcome to email me at bree davidson at earthlink dot net.

  13. Lo Says:

    So, I am going to take a stab at why being a non bio mom is different from being a dad:
    1) (this is way obvious) A dad has a biological connection, so a nonbio mom feels like she starts with a deficit. Anything that makes her feel less a part of the experience hurts especially.

    2) this is not always true, but it is for me: There is this part of me that wishes I was the only mom. I adore Co, and I am thrilled to have a baby that is a part of her. The truth is, if I had pressed to be the only mom, I am almost certain she would have let me; she was never too attached to pregnancy and birth. I *wanted* a Co-baby and now that we have Jo I see how right I was. I am madly passionately in love with the little tyke.
    But that doesn’t change that little voice, which does not turn my life upside down and I have learned to live with, that wants to be the only mom. It’s just there.
    And because I have those feelings, my connection to, my feelings about, Co’s pregnancy and birth and nursing, are going to be different than a dad’s. Because there is this piece of me that wishes I could be doing it too, all the time. Even though I will get my turn; even though, in your case, you had your turn.
    That’s my two cents.

  14. Calliope Says:

    One of the 5 million things I love about you is your ability to bring up the juiciest and most thought provoking topics. I seriously learn a lot here.

    It’s weird, and this is a tangent so be prepared, but being a single person with no in-laws and the smallest of families I am sort of envious about all of the options for support during a birth. One of my fears is that I will end up birthing alone (that is if I can ever manage to get knocked up properly). But I guess I would rather be alone than be in a room with someone toxic.

    I don’t feel like I can contribute to the conversation going on here, but I just wanted you to know that I hear you.
    much love
    xo

  15. Chicory Says:

    yes, Lo, exactly. The deficit. And the wanting to be the only. In fact, I wrote most of a post about this very thing, and had forgotten about it. http://anaccidentofhope.wordpress.com/2007/04/25/my-motherhood-as-an-elemental-force-my-family-as-molecule/

  16. cooler*doula Says:

    Such an interesting issue you raise here. Because, if I think about it, I might give more weight to the opinion of my partner if she were another mum than I did to my husband. Although I can’t totally explain why.

    As it happens, we lucked out in being of the same mindset – birth center, just us, parents live thousands of miles away. Mind you – there were some potential differences.

    As a photographer, I know he wanted someone there to shoot the birth. I said no. He left it alone. I came around. The pictures are amazing. Mostly because they allow me to see what HE was going through, which is why wanted them.

    This time, my folks will be here around the due date, and mum is a midwife. Still – my first thought after “I should maybe invite her to be there” was “I must check that it’s OK with Tim.” He loves my mum, and again, we agree on this, but if he’d said no, I would not have pushed it. And actually – we still haven’t mentioned it to her. 20 weeks is a long way to go, things might change.

    But getting back to my original thought – if he had been pro-hospital birth, nothing would have budged me from the birth center… Or if he’d wanted his mom there, I would have refused. But if he was a she? Might I have listened? Conceded? Hmmmm… Not with THAT mother-in law…

    Birth is just, I don’t know, I feel very strongly that as women, it’s ours. Not in a “we own it, get lost” kind of way. But in a “I imagine it’s pretty damn impossible for you to imagine what this is like.” I know I had no idea until I went through it. And to be honest, I have no idea how it really felt for him. But it surely was different.

    I’ve been reading a book by an anthropologist who did a study of pre-natal testing, and something she said speaks to the sense of difference I feel here between the genders:

    “Because pregnancy and motherhood are culturally marked as such totalizing female responsibilities in the contemporary U.S, women’s decisions [surrounding prenatal testing] take on a weight they might not if the burdens were more widely and socially distributed.”

    Does that help? Explain? Can we change that? I suppose that is the interesting question.

  17. Hi!! Well, I can’t really give any feelings one way or another as I have not gone through this process yet.. only the TTC part, which has been extremely hard on both of us with the negatives we get. We both feel that when we have the baby, we want us both to make the decisions, even if I’m birthing or she is. Of course, I know that could change, but that’s the start of the dialogue.
    I’m so glad ya are talking about it. I thought your opionions were great, this is your blog and a place for you to be open and honest and vent all you want, not to be judged.
    Just my 2 cents!

  18. ~ d Says:

    I once thought that since we were both the moms, we both have the same roles, we both get input in all decisions – I viewed her as the other mother in a very equitable way. I was the biomom. Then the shoe was on the other foot and I was the non-bio mom. My views have since changed. I have been forced to acknowledge that while we are both mothers, there are differences in our roles. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she or I have no right to make decisions about the others bio-child, or insinuate any stereotypes about the ‘dad’ role, but (for us) there are differences. That said, I also feel those differences bring a uniqueness to our roles that makes them special in their own ways. Just as our children are intrinsically unique, so are we as parents, regardless of gender. But I suppose characteristics are one thing, rights and responsibilities are another.

    Being on the other side of the fence has really forced me to realize what it was like for her to be the non-bio mom, I realize how naive I was when I dismissed Tig’s feelings and insecurities about Bub and being the non-bio mom. And I’ve been surprised by the insecurities I’ve felt around parenting Ms. Baby and by some things that Tig has done that make me feel like I do not have equal rights to her (not intentionally, instinctually).

    I think it takes a really strong couple that is very intuitive to themselves and their partner and possesses very good communication skills to maximize the mom-equality in a relationship with two moms. If we aren’t careful, there are real pitfalls that can sneak up on us.

    Just my 25cents… I hope you do not think I was insinuating you get no vote when I mentioned the ‘no vagina, no vote’ thing. I should have clarified that was what was said to me and it really pissed me off.

  19. shelli Says:

    Charlotte. I’m so very, truly sorry if my words, read by you, but with your own imagination implying tone, hurt your feelings. that was never my intention, and for that, I am truly sorry.

    I think in my “get over it,” comment, I should have elaborated, in that one of my biggest bits of advice I give to myself is to “get over yourself, Shelli.” I stand in my way SO often, it’s a shame. I over-process, I put too much weight on things, (including my ass, truth be told), and I’m working on letting go, and focusing on being more present.

    THAT is the message in ‘get over it.” To be present, in the moment, and appreciate what S is going through. it sucks that MIL ruined your birth experience. I said that in my previous post as well, but when one is so enmeshed in an immediate emotional experience, it’s hard to see beyond the feelings.

    Again, I’m sorry if my words hurt your feelings. I just wish we could all leave voice messages on blogs, because the reader always implies their own tone to the message.

    You can always e-mail me if you feel that I’m being too snarky, or to ask me WTF am I talking about, and I’ll do my best to explain.

    So to repeat, in a kinder, gentler tone…

    Getting over it is getting over the resistance to being present in the moment. I only wish I could follow my own advice all the time…

  20. shelli Says:

    And also, maybe I should just really keep my words to myself, because although I tried for over 2 years to get pregnant, i never got knocked up, despite the best medical interventions.

    but I am a mom, and ultimately, for us, the fact that Malka exists, and despite HOW she arrived, there is no doubt in her soul that we are her mom’s, and THAT, for us, is the most important, so maybe that shadowed my initial post.

    it all just makes me want to cry, really, because I try to support all of the preggo friends I have, and I ultimately end up pissing on myself, which simply tells me that my infertility grief still lurks. and snarkily shadows what I say.

    So again, most sorry there.

  21. Jude Says:

    I guess when I said she should have the “final say” as the birthing person, I meant that she should really have everything that she thinks she needs during labor and delivery. I mean, if she said, “Charlotte, I really need ice chips!” you would go get her ice chips as quickly as you possibly could. And if she asked for something that was more difficult to obtain, I bet you would be all over yourself trying to find it. You know? Because when it comes to the actual hard work of labor, the support person (be it spouse, friend, other relative, etc.) kind of gets the short end of the stick – you know, the support person ends up being exhausted and sore but doesn’t really get to SAY SO. So for me, I guess I saw this MIL thing as something S said she really needed for her L&D… heavier than ice chips, but that’s where my mind was going.

    And I still think it’s sad that you didn’t get to have the MIL-free birth that you wanted.

    This is going to be an issue with J&me, too, if she births a child. She has already said she would want her mother there. I find her mother to be one of the most caustic people on the planet, one of the LAST people I would want at the birth of my child. Yet, if it happens, that’s exactly where she will be. (Just wanted you to know that I’m planning to put my money where my mouth is, God willing.)

  22. TTC4years Says:

    I hope I didn’t make you feel bad as well-as with Shelli- everything in my life these days comes our of my own infertility..I had a harsh couple of months on clomid that have had lasting effects on my being… so forgive any pain I threw your way.

    Really- I WANT you to have a glowing delivery experience- as I have said before- I live vicariously through your pregnancy experiences. I NEED you to be happy and beaming, even though I have no idea who you are out in the world.

    I have an incredible mate, and he looks to me to make most of our choices on this road. I guess I have a hard time seeing it another way. If he had a strong opinion on something, I guess there would be discussion, but it just generally isn’t that way. We are a funny couple- where I take most of the “Dad” role and he takes the “Mom” side- he would be the one staying home in the event of some miraculous birth occurring. He washes the dishes and I do the yard work. We are weird, but have been together over a decade, and it has worked for us.

    But I digress- in all these procedures, he has also taken the stance that you have to deal with the pains, so do what you need to, and I will be there. And to be fair- I should add that he has guilt issues, as this infertilty is male factor- so I go through treatments and he gets a cup and a dirty magazine… you know?

    That is where I come from. Where I am going to? Who knows. But I know you will work it out because there is love, and your hearts will be bursting with love in that delivery room, and you are going to have a great experience. I know it.

  23. Although we are not ready to start talking about birth quite yet, still being in TTCing land. I wanted to say that your posts have made me think so hard and grow in my own opinions. I feel like I should be sending you 90 dollars for the session.

    Thank you.

  24. Bri Says:

    Just wanted to be sure to challenge Lo’s first difference – I imagine you may already have realized that I would speak up about the bio connection of a dad. That certainly isn’t true in a large number of cases – I read once that as many straight couples use donor sperm as adopt. They just don’t talk about it. Biology doesn’t make a dad anymore than it makes a mom.

  25. Lo Says:

    Good point, Bri. Sorry for missing it.

  26. Chicory Says:

    yes, perhaps not necessarily genetic connection. But those men are automatically granted the legal and social position of parent if they’re married to the woman giving birth. The lesbian partner of the birthing woman has two strikes against her — no direct genetic connection AND not having a guaranteed legal relationship to the child AT BIRTH. Unless they’re in one of the few states (California? is there somewhere else?) that grants such a right. There’s the deficit. (at least for me)

  27. ethansmama Says:

    I wanted to comment on your last post and chickened out because I was afraid you would think I had no clue as a straight woman with a husband, how you felt. But I really wish I had. I completely get where you are coming from. The birth of a child is the most amazing experience for both parents, regardless of who is doing the pushing. I have 4 children and my husband and I decided everything together about each one. I would never have tried to take away his right to have a say in every aspect of the birth process. We discussed the where and the how, the who and the pain meds and birthing options. I wanted less conventional, but that made him nervous, we compromised. It’s just what you do. It is what you are doing here and I applaud that, but I agree it’s not about it being “her” birth “her” choice, it’s about you supporting her because you love her and she is bringing your child into the world. This is just as much your child as it is hers, and there is no way that anyone should be allowed to spoil that. I am so sorry that your mil is so focused on the genetics that she can’t see the beauty of what the TWO of you have created. Does S feel like her mother ruined Smarty’s birth for her, was she in any way sad that this woman barged in. I know it effected you but what about her? For our births the compromise was that we wouldn’t have anyone in the room with us during the birth. They were allowed to visit before, when I was still comfortable, but once things got serious they needed to leave. It was our time to meet our child, together, just us. After that they would be invited back in, in small groups, starting with the grandparents, to meet the baby. I hope that this gets resolved for both of you, not just stuffed down, only to come back later. This is a big thing and will only lead to more dirty fighting down the road.

  28. Judy Says:

    Hi I am a lurker coming out to let you know that I believe your thought process, intelligence, empathy, self awareness and love for your partner came through beautifully in this last post.
    Thank you for your honesty. I admire you and hope everything works out for this upcoming birth.
    Judy

  29. dlvc Says:

    Chicory–In Massachusetts non-bio-mom has full parental rights at birth provided she is married to the bio-mom (at least according to our lawyer). Both moms go on the birth certificate. However, these rights apply only in MA, so most same-sex couples still complete second parent adoptions if they can afford it. These adoptions are routine, though they set you back a fair amount of cash and some annoying paperwork, but I’ll take it.

  30. This has been an incredibly honest and thought provoking set of exchanges. I guess I had a very narrow focus when I answered the first post. I still do believe that if both birth partners disagree and are at a complete impasse, the one who will physically birth the baby should have a bit more say. But in saying that, I was assuming that every attempt had been made to come to some agreement without having to resort to the “body” argument. I now realize that I was also thinking primarily about the physical aspects of birth and not the totality of the experience. Anyway, I am glad to have had the opportunity to think more broadly about it. Best wishes to you both for a wonderful birth experience.

  31. Erin Says:

    To echo what Chicory was clarifying, I think for me the biggest “difference” is that the dad is assumed to be the bio parent, socially and legally, whereas the non-bio mom isn’t. In a two-mama family everyone knows that someone didn’t contribute genetically. Those heterosexual couples who use sperm donors but don’t talk about it still have the privilege of that basic assumption.It feels much different being out alone with my non-bio daughter than it does as a two-mom family; people assume I gave birth to her until they see my wife and child together(who are sooo damn cute) and obviously “mother and child.” I’m curious to see if strangers’ recognition changes when I give birth to our second. Will they assume they are both mine, hers, or that they are unrelated? However, I agree with Bri that biology does not a parent make!

    Our daughter’s birth experience was both traumatic and healing for me. I had given a *lot* of thought to how I would want to give birth. My wife hadn’t and low and behold she was the one carrying our child. Her feelings on where to give birth, how to prepare and who would be there largely won out. After all, it was most important that she feel safe giving birth. While I did have a lot to say in the matter, I didn’t push for some of the things I wanted so badly (a birthing center or homebirth, namely) because I knew I’d likely get to dictate where I would give birth when my turn came! Did that make a difference for me? Hell yeah. The birth of our daughter was a life changing event, and as much as I wanted it to go a certain way, when it came down to it, my wife’s wishes, comfort and safety in that moment trumped mine. I realized as she was getting the epidural and I was sobbing in the hallway that I would have to let go of HER having the birth experience I wanted. Shortly thereafter I realized that the end product (our beautiful little girl!) was so much more important than the birth. Now as I get closer to giving birth myself, I am trying to prepare for the birth I’d like to have, but remember that in the end it’s actually the baby’s birth, and come what may having a baby safely is the most important thing in the end.

    Charlotte- I feel for you and your partner and the icky icky situation you are in. Is it completely ridiculous to say that when you mentioned your MIL “winning” by getting to be there for both births I wanted to enlist my services as a saboteur to make sure she misses the upcoming birth? I hate it when the bad guy (or evil) MIL wins…Alas, perhaps a doula is in order. She could be under strict instructions to shoo MIL out of the room on cue so that you feel safe and protected and able to care for your partner and yourself while not compromising the agreement that MIL be allowed to be there.

  32. k77 Says:

    I guess I am different again (nonbio mom 1st time, pg now) because I think I should get all the say no matter what ๐Ÿ™‚

    When DS was born, it was a planned c/s and DP could only have one person in there with her. I was almightily offended that she had to even THINK about whether it would be me or her mother. (It was me).

    I know she would kind of like to have her mom there this time, but I know that I am going to need to feel as comfortable as possible, and quite frankly I am done with having a large audience when my vagina is on display. I’m having DP & a doula, no more.

    Anyone who comes into the birthing room for me has to be someone who is there to support me, not a spectator.

    DP accepts that what I want is what I want.

    However…. I did have to let go quite a lot when DP was pg, very difficult as a control freak. We just had such different ideas, and still do to a degree. I want to be fully informed and make my own choices, DP is happy to hand it all over to the Drs, which I couldn’t disagree with more.

    Really it’s quite a nightmare, I wish you luck.

  33. k77 Says:

    Another issue that STILL bothers me, though it’s more in the back of my mind these days is that MIL has a genetic link to my son. I don’t. She has legal (grandparent) rights. I don’t (parental).

    I don’t know if maybe this is in your subconscious at all, but I’m putting it out there anyway.

  34. Cindy Says:

    I just happened across your blog from another blog (you know how that goes) and my heart goes out to you with this horrible situation you’re dealing with. I don’t really have anything magical or helpful to say but, your feelings are what they are, there is no shame is stating how you feel. Feelings aren’t “wrong” of “right”.

    On a side note, I think “shoulda”, “woulda”, “coulda”, “oughta” are some of the most harmful words we have. They serve no purpose except to harm you and make you second guess and/or persecute yourself.

    I can only think of 2 ways to handle this (although I’m sure there are thousands).

    1) The 3 of you sit down with the MIL– with your partner mainly sitting there to support you…NOT to enter into the discussion-only to support you. Tell the MIL you want her to listen to everything you have to say before she responds to anything. Then just tell her how you felt about your birth experience and how you feel about her being present for this birth and why. Her response may make the decision much clearer. She could really impress you and make you more comfortable with the situation or she make act like such a God awful ass hole that your partner will no longer want her there.
    Either way, you will have approached the situation as an adult trying to work through a problem and will know that you tried your best.

    2) Make a compromise, she can be there for the actual birth but not the labor or vice versa. If it were me (which thankfully it is not! Sorry, I know that sounds awful) I would probably pick the actual birth rather than suffer through hours of being with a person I don’t want to be with.

    3) Try some kind of COMPLETELY different approach with her than you have ever tried before, even if you’re sure it won’t work. Obviously the coping mechanisms you’ve tried in the past and are trying now are not working, maybe something new will shock you with the results.

    It sounds a bit like your MIL has some emotional blackmailing going on. I’m all for not hurting someone’s feelings but not at the expense of my own feelings.

    It sounds to me like you are having a normal aversion response to someone that hurt you. If the fact that you don’t want to be around the MIL hurts her feelings, it’s no ones fault but her own. When you choose a behavior, you choose the consequence. When a child breaks a rule and has to have a punishment, it’s not the parent’s fault, it is the child’s.

    Wow, that was pretty wordy……bet you’re sorry I found your blog! Good luck and I hope everything works out for the best, I don’t think I could handle my DP being the pregnant one, you’re stronger than I am!

  35. Cindy Says:

    Sigh…okay so that was 3 ways

  36. kim Says:

    Now, while I’m the bio mom in my relationship, it was always very understood that certain decisions were mine. I never *wanted* my mother there, and that was just fine with my other half. But had I wanted her there, regardless of her feelings otherwise, my wife would have had very limited say in that issue.

    The reality is, SHE is the one putting her life on the line to birth a child for you. And she gets the say in who is there supporting her. Period.

    And I disagree that every decision is a joint one because the baby is both of yours. I’m honestly surprised, as someone who has been through birthing a child, that you don’t recognize the incredibly different experience it is for the birth mom than the other parent (father, mother, whatever). Being a woman doesn’t give you a pass on being the supportive parent and make you something more. Natural or medicated birth, breastfeeding – those are her decisions because it is about her body and her experience. You’ve had your experience, and what a gift it is to be able to give her a similar one. But you have to remember that it doesn’t have to be the same as yours was.

    I apologize, but I’m in the her body, her choice camp (not the her child one). You can have a say, but ultimately the decision is hers.

  37. I’m chiming in here from a very different perspective (age 50, grown daughter, 2 grandkids). I was not at either of my daughter’s births and certainly did not feel offended. For the 1st, I was out of the country on a years’ planned trip with MY mother, and for the 2nd, I was watching big brother, which was the best way I could help. Anyway, from long years of dealing with “stuff” in my life, I have learned this: You cannot change conditions. MIL is and will be MIL no matter what. Trying to get her to change or even understand how you feel is like trying to paddle a raft UPSTREAM in a whitewater river. If you quit struggling so hard, and let your raft turn, you will most natrually go with the flow, and everything you want is in that flow and DOWNSTREAM, not upstream. The flow in this case is that you and S are having your daughter!! I haven’t read your blog for very long, but that’s the biggest thing I have gotten out of it. You 2 wanted her to be pregnant–SHE IS! And you wanted a daughter–AND SHE IS! Go with that wonderful flow and let all the other unchangable conditions just fall away and stay upstream where they belong. You can’t go wrong with that. Many blessings on all of you!!

    GG

  38. gertielover Says:

    I am delurking from Unwellness to say give some unwanted, but maybe practical “assvice.” (Don’t have much to say about the complicated issue at hand. I have a “straight” sahd husband, and am trying to find the time and energy to figure out what I think about this all. I do think there is rarely equality in a relationship, but that you can work to reach some sort of equity over time.)

    But – the assvice – could you have a doula or a friend who could serve as a doula with the sole purpose of crowd control? You could set some code words/phrases ahead of time and either time one of you needed some space she could firmly but nicely usher the mil or anyone else out of the room so you could both have some space?

  39. I am still reading with interest. Honestly I NEVER thought of so many of the issues here! In the end, I think we all have our own issues with moms and mils.

    And I don’t care who you are .

    IT can drive you crazy. Glad you are conceding. Hopefully she can meet you half way.

    And MOM, well! I understand , truly I do! My mother is a REAL monster mil! Nowdays grandmother in law with my son marrying in May. GOSH, they have requested that that everyone deal with the wedding planner . My mom flat refuses. And has voiced it over and over again.

    Event coordinator, mediation on site might help? Remember, this is a very special time for three people. You, yours and the baby ultimately.

    Wishing your little family a beautiful stressfree birth.

  40. I meant four people. You, yours (babies.) I sorry! Foot in mouth. Tastes horrible.

  41. Jan Says:

    I didn’t comment on your post about the disagreement. However, I did give it a lot of thought. I’m sorry to hear about this difficulty b/c it’s painful for both of you. As a MIL myself, I would be truly shamed to be the cause of such stress and, if I was, I would count on my daughter to tell me. What I think is the S needs to help her mother understand how you feel. If MIL makes the birth difficult, the conflict between the two may be extended. Furthermore, it may bode for more conflict post-partum, especially if MIL is inappropriate about a genetic tie. Because this is S’s mother, the responsibility falls to S (in support of you). While I’m not advocating that S needs to tell mom she can’t attend, I think she needs to help her mom understand that this is a source of conflict and cannot be tolerated. Mom needs to understand what you both consider to be appropriate behavior and if she can’t abide by that, then she will need to leave. This is your family. This is about family loyalty and family bonding. MIL cannot disrupt that. Having said all that, you cannot call the shots for S — but S needs to take the responsibility that is hers in terms of her mother. Wishing you both some courage and good luck.

  42. Sacha Says:

    I had a really hard time during pregnancy with M.’s view that my pregnancy was 100% our pregnancy. As an example, M. was very set on having a specific midwife. I kind of wanted to use our family practice doc for the delivery. When I met said midwife, I didn’t really click with her, but we went with her and a big part of that was it was important to M. We did end up switching to our family practice doc in the end because of issues with the pregnancy and insurance, but I would have stuck it out with the midwife til the end if that’s how things ended up.

    As the pregnant partner it was REALLY hard to not say MY PREGNANCY. No matter how much M. wanted it, ultimately labor would be **my** experience as well as **my** job and I didn’t always feel good about her having equal say about things. I still worked hard to swallow those urges, pick my battles and support her as the other mother. Because she plans to birth as well, I knew how important it was to her to be as involved as possible.

    I did learn that when we are pregnant with #2, I will intentionally work to support her choices. Because it really is HER pregnancy I want to be able to give that to her. It’s my gift and I can’t wait to give it.

    I think that pregnancy is the territory of women and when you have two women involved, there can be some turf battles. It sounds like you and S. have already found your way through some of it. After all, we have almost no blueprint for how to have a lesbian pregnancy so we’re all learning as we go.

  43. […] I made my big concession (which can be read about here and here) a few months ago it was a huge relief. I decided that S could make the decision about her […]


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