Yep, that's me and my wife in the matching shirts above. She's pregnant, I'm not the father.
My wife, Becca, and I have been married for four years. We live on a couple acres of land where we take care of three goats, eight chickens and three dogs. Our Sunday routine consists of rooting for the Seahawks, followed by watching Downton Abbey. Beyond the goats, our life is similar to a lot of couples.
Except that in six months my wife is having a baby. And I’m not the father. I’m the other mother.
But let's back up a bit.
I met Becca through a charity bowling league I joined through work. She was beautiful, witty, intelligent ... as close to perfect as it gets. Watching her was like watching the lead in a romantic comedy and thinking, 'No girl is actually that cool,' but she was. At the time, I didn’t even care that she considered herself heterosexual; I was so in love with her that each Thursday felt like Christmas day.
One brave day I asked her to go to a bar with me and she quickly accepted. Becca has an open heart (and mind) so the fact that I was a woman didn’t hinder her connection to me. It was in that bar that we had our first kiss. The next day we had our first date and that was it: I was head over heels, ready-to-grab-the-U-Haul-in-love with her. Somehow, she felt the same. I couldn't believe my luck. (I still can't!)
A year in, I proposed and a year later we were married.
Before meeting Becca, I never thought about having children. (I mean, I still eat fruit snacks and have an obsession with Harry Potter; I'm basically a child myself.) But she didn’t have to convince me. Watching her interact with kids and seeing how big her heart is, made me excited to start a family with her.
The hardest decision wasn’t who would carry the baby. Since my wife dated men before me, she grew up dreaming about getting pregnant. I never harbored that desire, so that decision was easy. The more difficult decision was about who we would use as a donor. So many questions went through our minds as we weighed the options: Do we want to know the biological father? Would he be in our lives forever? Will I feel connected to our baby if I’m not related to it? Will our child have questions someday if he/she doesn't know who the donor is?
Ultimately, Becca and I decided we wanted this child to be something we created together.
We chose an anonymous donor. The next step was finding a sperm bank we trusted. After a lot of research (and typing “sperm” into Google more times than I can count), we went in for a consultation. At the end of our meeting they handed over a binder ... of men. Well, of boys really. (They only show you pictures of the men when they're very young).
Surprisingly, it didn’t feel that important which donor we used. Our primary concern was that we wanted a healthy child—what color eyes or hair the man had were minor details. After all, the child was going to be ours and we cared far less about physicality and far more about raising him/her with the same beautiful values our parents instilled in us. From that point, I learned more than I ever thought possible about sperm, insemination and fertility. (And yes, there's an app for all of that.)
We decided to go through a fertility clinic for the actual IUI (intrauterine insemination) instead of doing it at home. Getting pregnant this way has a lower success rate and it’s incredibly expensive. Each time we got a negative result our hearts broke a little. We always said this baby would be a “third round draft pick,” like our favorite quarterback, and we were right.
On my wife’s 28th birthday we tried for the third time. And it worked.
As Becca's pregnancy progressed, I wanted to document it since she looked more beautiful every day. We asked our good friend Alec Mills to take our photos and thought it would be fun to cleverly reveal the news on Facebook. After throwing around a few ideas, Becca had these pregnancy shirts made (see above).
When we posted the photos to Facebook, the response from our friends and family was overwhelming. A co-worker told us we should post it to Reddit. We've never posted anything there before, so we didn't know what to expect. Let's just say we were floored by the reaction. Within an hour, the photo was all over the internet. Within a day, it felt like every single news outlet had picked it up. Within a week, we started receiving texts, emails and calls from people we hadn't heard from in years.
It felt like everyone in the world had seen our pregnancy photo.
I work in digital media so I understand the power of viral content, yet I never would have predicted this. Since we posted the photo last week, complete strangers have sent us emails telling us our photo has given them hope that they, too, can start a family someday. The most fascinating part of it all has been watching the conversations our photo has sparked: How can two women make a baby? What are the legal hurdles of artificial insemination? What will the baby call each of us?
The truth is, we took this photo just to make our friends laugh, but it's a huge bonus for us that it's also sparked larger discussions around such an important topic.
But it's hasn't been all sunshine and roses. Some threads have been disheartening and sadly, even in 2015, despite the progress we've made as a country, homophobia is still alive and well (especially from people who can hide behind their computer screens). People have told us we’re robbing our child of a father, that our child will be unstable, and that we couldn’t possibly know how to raise a son. We haven’t responded to those comments, but we would like to respond here and say this:
Our child will be so loved.
He or she will be born into a family that's just as beautiful as everyone else's. He or she will have two moms who will always be there and provide a safe place to find out who he/she is. Because that's what parenting is: Loving your child enough to put your own biases aside. And we hope one day, love wins out.
I know Becca will be an amazing mom and that fact, more than anything, makes me excited about this pregnancy. And I know I'll be a great parent, too, even if I'm not the birth mother OR father.
Because I'm the mother.