My feelings towards wanting to be a parent are profound. I have an instinctive urge to be a mother, which feels very physical, undeniable even. But I also have a strong desire to be a part of a family unit that my feelings and my world have created and contributed to.
It’s funny, but I sometimes have just as much of an urge to be a grandparent as I do a parent, because my own experience of family is bigger than two parents. I have grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins and close family friends who make up this big world of care and love around me, and I’m so excited to extend that care and love by bringing a child of our own into it.
I began to think seriously about it when I realised I was with the person I want to spend my life with. I guess you have so much love with another person that it naturally finds new ways to express itself; renewing, evolving and finding new ways to anchor you both. We are engaged to be married and with that new step, we’ll be stepping closer to creating our family.
We don’t have any children at present but we plan to conceive through a donor next year. If my body allows, I will conceive first and then we’ll see how things go.
We are only beginning the journey toward parenthood so I can only comment on the situation right now. However, I already have an underlying feeling of anxiety around the hurdles and hoops we may have to jump through in order to make our family a reality. Hurdles in the form of getting over comments (from those close and those who don’t know us), opinions and others’ perceptions of morality, and hoops in the form of clinical processes, anonymous participants in what is essentially the most intimate act and decision a couple will make in their life.
I expect there will also be the inevitable challenges that would-be-parents face, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but I think the additional weight of other people’s judgements of your relationship (and whether THEY think you SHOULD have children) is a substantial, often very difficult and unjust weight to bear.
My work at the LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing has opened up some really helpful and supportive conversations for me, around parenting and the decisions that have to be made. Through events like the LGBT Family Planning Event and LGBT History Month’s Story-telling event, I have really benefited from hearing real stories and meeting people who have experienced parenting and making a family in a variety of ways.
I have close friends (a same sex couple) who have had children and being able to witness and share in their experience has been a huge support and source of encouragement for my partner and I, as we think seriously about getting pregnant and making a family.
If you’re thinking about starting a family, use resources but also get in touch with a group like Rainbow Families (Edinburgh), or with LGBT community groups. There are lots and lots of LGBT people thinking about (or already) parenting and there is always more support than you perhaps realise. It’s worth it, even if it’s just to have a chat with someone.
I also recommend taking a breath and speaking to your GP or nurse about it, because when I mentioned wanting a baby with my female partner to my nurse, she was very helpful and encouraging and was really keen to support us in any way that the NHS can. (Despite the shocking fact that NHS Lothian do not provide a useful range of fertility treatments and services presently, they can provide tests, check-ups and all sorts that the private sector will charge a lot for).