Having kids was just a given for me, before sexuality was even part of it. When I started having serious relationships, when I was around 18, I was very aware that I wanted to be a parent one day.
It became more of a reality when I met Esther because we established pretty quickly that we both wanted kids.
In my relationships before, when exes hadn’t wanted children it wasn’t really a problem because I wasn’t sure I’d be with the person forever – but with Esther, I knew. I couldn’t imagine not being with Esther.
It’s an overpowering urge for me to have children but because I’ve known for such a long time that it was going to be with a woman, it wasn’t necessarily going to be a biological thing for me.
Esther was keen from the start to be a mum in the physical and biological sense. I’m petrified at the thought of giving birth, so it was a very natural decision for us. I count that as very lucky. I’ve known female couples where one of them wants kids and the other doesn’t… it’s hard.
Esther and I talked about it seriously for about two years. Then her twin sister got pregnant and that was it! Esther went, “I’m 31, let’s do it!”
We had discussed the possibility of using a friend as a donor. I think a lot of lesbians joke and laugh with male friends about them being donors, so if the dynamic changes and you do talk about it seriously, it can be quite daunting.
To start with, I thought using a friend as a donor could work but we discounted it eventually. We discussed it in detail and I increasingly realised that it wasn’t what I wanted – the baby having more parents than just the two of us.
So in the end, the decision came down to a private clinic and we had to accept what was involved in the financial side of that. We were fortunate to have enough money to try three times. We decided we’d rather pay than wait two, three or four years on the NHS. Mostly the worries were about: what if it doesn’t work the first time, the second time, the third time and we run out of money? But it worked first time! I couldn’t believe it!
My family are a lot better than they used to be. After Esther and I had our civil partnership, we talked seriously about having kids and I got into a fight with my parents when I said it would be Esther carrying the baby. They were upset I wouldn’t be the one physically having it, that it wouldn’t be their biological grandchild – especially my mum. To me it makes no difference at all. I’m there for the baby from the birth and that’s all I care about. I finally got it through to my parents that I wasn’t having a child for them!
Even when we did fight, I thought it would be OK in the end because, I felt, ‘Who’s not going to love this baby?’
As soon as Esther found out she was pregnant we were both overjoyed. I feel so grateful she did it, that she’s going through all these physical changes for us. When she was going through all the early morning blood tests at the clinic – literally 7am every day when you’re ovulating – I felt really bad for her. She was really tired and I couldn’t do all the mornings, what with work.
The day we got the news that she was ready for the procedure was very exciting. The staff had talked us through it all and you get your own room to relax in and have some privacy, before and after. The treatment itself only took about two minutes!
Esther had a little bit of cramping because you get inseminated via a very thin catheter. You can lie down for as long as you like before you go home.
Then you’ve got the two week wait before you go back for the blood test. It was excruciating, the wait, absolutely excruciating. Esther was sure she felt pregnant, felt physical changes within only two days – but I was trying to block it out mentally. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I kept telling myself it was too early to know.
You can find out if you’re pregnant at home using pregnancy tests. Esther started doing them early and they were negative. I remember Esther showed me one test and it was negative and I was more disappointed than I had thought I would be. I thought, ‘Don’t be ridiculous, it’s too early, it isn’t going to happen the first time.’
I realised I would be more upset than I’d thought if it didn’t work. I couldn’t imagine going through the waiting process again and again. Esther started doing the tests behind my back rather than get my hopes up every time! I preferred it that way.
We found out on Boxing Day. At the two week blood test, they ask you if you have tested yourself. Esther said, “Yes, it’s positive” and they were a bit cautious, saying, “Don’t get excited ’til you get the official blood test results.” They phoned that afternoon to say, “Yes, it’s confirmed.”
The good thing with a private clinic is you get a seven week scan. Usually people have to wait at least 12 weeks. The wait still feels like a lifetime though! You don’t really believe there’s a baby ’til there’s a bump. At the scan, they check that the baby has a heartbeat, is the right size and in the right place. If it’s all OK, then you’re finished at the clinic and you move on to regular NHS services.
I’m a worrier so I did think about whether there was going to be something wrong with the baby. I’d think about it all day: ‘What if it’s not OK,’ worrying about what we were going to do if we lost the baby.
By 12 weeks, the baby was practically dancing around! It took 45 minutes to get a good picture of it, it was so active. Now, Esther can feel it moving. It’ll be two or three weeks before I can. Esther tells me how it feels and it’s difficult to imagine, but you feel as excited as each other.
My parents are very excited. They want to buy baby clothes and I’m saying, “Don’t buy too many” because I want to buy lots, too! They’re happy we’re not trying to find out the sex because that’s the way it was in their day, a complete surprise.
Now that Esther’s pregnant, people are being a bit over protective – ‘I’ll do this, I’ll do that’ and ‘I can’t wait to be with the baby, I can’t wait to come and see you in the hospital.’ It’s sometimes as if people are vying with each other to be more important in the baby’s life.
We’re like, ‘Hold on, the baby’s not even here yet!’ We’re already very protective. It’s made us closer.
It has made me start to worry about the responsibility that’s involved. Everyone feels like that – at least they should. Esther will go on maternity leave, so there is anxiety there for me around the time that she’s off and me being the main breadwinner; but it’s more concern about bringing a person up!
The excitement of finding out who this person is going to be overrides that though.
Who is it in there? Hello!
My advice to anyone thinking about doing this is: just go for it!
If you’re with the right person – or even if you’re on your own – it’s definitely not something you’re going to regret. You have to be prepared for the waiting, the financial side, the fact that it’s all-consuming. Don’t worry about all the stories and statistics about success rates and how long it’ll take and it might not work. You don’t know ’til you try.
Read Esther’s story