Jeanne and Melissa are lesbian parents with two children living in Florida. This is their story.
First Name: Jeanne
Partner’s First Name: Melissa
Hometown/City: Tampa, FL
Number of Children: 2
When did you decide you wanted children?
I had never really made up my mind one way or another until I met Melissa. Within days of our first official introduction I fell in love with the 3 year old boy in her life, who instantly became the new love of mine. I knew there would be more tiny loves as soon as we could make it happen. Ayden changed my life forever and it is now hard to even remember who I was before him. Even though I didn’t get him till he was 3, he will always be my first real love of that kind and my first child.
How did you decide to either biologically have a child or adopt a child?
Melissa loved being pregnant with Ayden and defiantly wanted to carry more children. If she could make more kids like Ayden I was all for it. Between the two of us I worked the most hours and it just made sense for her to carry. We assumed it would be the easiest path for us to take, or at least a good place to start.
Did you share your journey with your family and friends? If so, have they been supportive?
Our friends have always been supportive of our desire to become parents again. Before we began trying they all knew us both as parents to Ayden, so I don’t think anyone was too surprised that we would try for more. My family could not have been more supportive of the direction my life has taken (being gay, being gay parents, actively trying to be gay parents again). We always joke that my mom always wanted a gay child so needless to say she was more than supportive. My dad and step mom were also very supportive and happy to be included in our decision to try for a second child. They all loved having Ayden as a grandson and were excited to have more.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced raising children as a lesbian couple? How have you overcome those challenges and what advice would you give new parents in a similar situation?
One challenge is that we find ourselves constantly explaining our family to everyone we meet. Both of our children are the spitting image of Melissa, so it’s fairly obvious who the biological mother is. Occasionally we run into one of those fun people that don’t “understand” how there can be two moms. Being the “second” mom in this situation is always a challenging experience. I don’t know if you overcome this kind of thing or just keep living your life and hope it will happen less and less as time goes on.
What do you wish you would have known before you started?
I wish I would have been prepared for how hard trying to conceive is. I feel like there are no emotions that compare to how you feel about your children, conceived yet or not. This process can take a very long time and we found ourselves missing a child who didn’t even exist yet.
What was your biggest setback in the process?
The first time we saw the positive pregnancy test we were more than excited. I felt like my heart exploded with a joy I had not expected. That pregnancy ended in a miscarriage a few weeks later. I had never felt pain like that in my life and couldn’t imagine going through it all over again; however, I couldn’t imagine giving up either. For me that was an emotional setback but a setback just the same.
What was the funniest thing that happened along the way?
One of my favorite moments was at our first appointment with our new OB. Melissa was newly pregnant and the nurse was asking her a series of routine questions. It went a little something like this:
NURSE- Do you have any history of cancer?
NURSE- Do you have any STDs?
NURSE- Hep B?
NURSE- Do you have cats?
MELISSA- Cats? No, I don’t even know what that is. I hope I don’t have it!
NURSE- You don’t know what Cats are?!?
ME- Babe, cats. She’s asking if we have Cats?!
MELISSA- Ohhhhhh. No…
Every time we went back for an appointment Melissa pointed out that nurse and said “there’s that nurse who thinks I’m an idiot, because I don’t know what cats are.”
Did you ever consider giving up?
I did think about it, I think we both had to have at some point along the way. I don’t know how you could do something so emotionally exhausting and not think about how much easier everyday would be if you weren’t doing this, seemingly, impossible thing. Just thinking about it didn’t mean it was ever really a possibility. There is no one else I could have made this journey with. As difficult and painful as it got at times, I know we came out a stronger couple and family.
How has your life changed during this process? Before having kids and after having kids?
This process has defiantly made us appreciate everything we have, our kids and each other. It made me realize how lucky I was to get Ayden when I did. Once our daughter was born I immediately realized I would go through this tough process ten times for this kind of love. Before having kids I spent a lot of time trying to make myself happy. Now it seems like everything I do is for our family and that’s what makes me happy. Having kids gives you a drive to succeed that nothing else can. They make me work harder, love bigger and just be better than I’ve ever been.
How much did you budget for the process? What were the actual costs and how were they different from what was planned?
We were lucky to find a great, known donor, after two other known donors didn’t work out and three years of trying. We were able to get through it with minimal cost.
Was your state/location a challenge to the process? How did it impact your decisions, if at all?
Florida is not the most gay friendly state so of course it is always going to be a factor in our decisions. We have discussed second parent adoption, and hope it will be possible in the future.
Will you prepare your children to answer questions about their donor/biological parent(s)?
We have been very honest with Ayden, as much as you can be with a 7 year old, about how his sister came into our life. We plan to be the same way with our daughter and any other kids who may join our family. I’m sure they will have many questions as they grow up and we will do our best to answer them as best we can. It’s difficult to prepare for questions in the future considering, we NEVER know what will come out of their mouth at any given time. Ayden has asked some very interesting questions about all kinds of things from Captain Hook to world affairs, we never know what he’ll say next.
Any other advice, comments, or misc. wisdom about the gay parenting process?
My biggest concerns are not with being a gay parent as much as they are with simply being a parent. I think about things like how her first day of school will be, the best way to save for college, what their teenage years will be like, will he drive too fast, will she date a boy we can’t stand. The fact that they will be a little different because they have two moms is a concern, but certainly not at the top of my list. I think if we focus too much on being gay parents we won’t focus enough on just being parents.
Jeanne is a restaurant owner living in Tampa, FL. Her partner, Melissa, is a 29-year-old Stay at Home Mommy. She blogs about family life and more at the blog Two Moms and a Wild Child.