Today my son turned one. I can barely believe it. It’s so cliché, but the past year really has flown by. In October 2016 I wrote a post, about my expectations and fears of becoming a parent, more specifically a same-sex, non-bio parent. This went on to be my most popular blog post ever.
For those of you who don’t know our story, I’ll give a brief recap. My wife, Hannah, and I have been together since 2012 and married since 2014. We were incredibly fortunate to be able to conceive our son, Frankie, through at home donor insemination, without any financial implications or medical interventions. I am Frankie’s non-bio mother. He arrived into the world, a whole 13 days late, on the 21st January 2017.
So, since I have now had a whole 365 days of motherhood experience, I feel like I’m in a position to comment on some of those fears and expectations I discussed three months prior to his arrival and mention some of the other things I’ve noticed about being a same-sex parent.
- The fear that the love would not come naturally to me
Well, that was a load of crap. The moment that my wife started to push during labour, I became a blubbering wreck. I literally couldn’t keep my shit together, as I was so incredibly overwhelmed with emotion. Just to give you an idea, I had to leave the room after he was delivered, to get myself together. When I went to cut his cord, the midwife had to tuck his manhood in to avoid my shaking hands from cutting it off
- The fear that Frankie wouldn’t know that I was his mother
At the moment I guess he has no comparisons and doesn’t recognise what a ‘conventional’ family looks like, but he definitely knows I’m his Mum. The way his face lights up when I come home from work, the way he clings to me when he is feeling poorly, the way he comfortably falls asleep in my arms and grabs my ears to pull me in for a kiss. There’s no denying he knows I’m his Mum.
- The constant need to out myself
I’ve always been super open about my sexuality, and probably spent less than a few months in the closet after realising I wasn’t straight. I have never been adverse to colleagues, friends etc knowing I was in a same sex marriage, however, I wasn’t prepared for how often I’d have to out myself after Frankie was born. Approximately 8 weeks after he arrived I started a new job. Soon came the curious questions, ‘so, do you have children’. ‘Yes’ I’d respond, knowing that I’d quickly be asked his age. When I replied 8 weeks I’d inevitably be looked at with surprise and questioned about how and why I’d returned to work so quickly. This would be the point I’d have to explain that I’d not given birth and that my wife was on mat leave. Luckily, I’ve not encountered even a faint whiff of discrimination and the confusion has eased now he’s older.
- The strange need to spend six months announcing he wasn’t biologically mine
This one is odd. For the first six months I felt like an absolute fraud every time someone said ‘your baby is cute’ or other such compliments. ‘oh, I didn’t give birth to him, my wife did’, would be my response each time. I felt that I hadn’t earned the right to accept those compliments, since he does not have my genes and I didn’t do the hard work of birthing him. My wife has since taught me to smile and say thank you.
- That I’d lose the chance to be myself or care for myself
We were repeatedly told to make the most of being child free, since once he arrived everything would change and we’d lose the chance to be ourselves. Yes, having a baby changes everything, but with good support around you it needn’t be the end of YOU. I still get to enjoy seeing friends, blogging and going to events. My wife still gets to enjoy going running and the gym and going out with her friends. Together we get to enjoy date nights and stolen hours together in the evening after his bedtime. I have 100% changed since my son arrived, but wouldn’t view that as a bad thing.
- That two weeks ‘paternity’ is nowhere near enough and being a working Mum is tough
Having to return to work after Frankie was born was like losing a limb. I was sleep deprived, emotional and devastated at having to leave my wife on her own with our tiny bundle. I was in such a mess in fact, that I filled my diesel car with petrol. A mistake that cost me over £200 plus. Working full time has become easier now and I accepted that it’s just something I must do to support my family, but I still experience pangs of sadness that I miss out on so much, like the chance to take him to groups and go for coffee with other mums. I’m sure this isn’t unique to us as a same sex couple and that plenty of Dads feel bereft when they must return to work.
- That my family and friends are INCREDIBLE
Don’t ask me why, but I always had a niggling concern that my family and friends would perhaps not consider Frankie mine or part of the family, since the biological connection was lacking. How very wrong I was. Everyone has accepted him with open arms and watching my parents, brother and sister-in-law, nephew and cousins with him never fails to melt my heart. They absolutely adore him. And can you blame them?!
So, there you have it, my life as a non-bio, but very much Mumma. If you have any questions I’d be more than happy to answer them. I’m an open book, so hit me with them……