Parent envy: the long road to parenthood for LGBT families

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by danielle
By: Christopher, Tania and Isabelle LunaCC BY 2.0
Being in a LGBT relationship comes with many struggles. Some are struggles that come with any relationship, others are a bit more specific. In the last few years my desire to have children has exploded. Unfortunately, the road to pregnancy/parenthood is a long and winding one for my partner and me.

Because of this I find myself harboring deep envy for those closest to me who have been able to fulfill their parenting desires without a hitch. It's a deep envy I had never experienced before, oftentimes bringing me to tears. I hold onto hope that one day our dream of becoming parents will come true, but I can't seem to let go of the fear that it may not happen for us.

I didn't choose to be Queer, but I did choose to follow that path and I thought I had prepared myself for what that meant in terms of family planning. I did not expect to feel this way — so torn up about the prospect of being childless. So angry that for some it is so easy it becomes accidental. My hope, in sharing these feelings, is to shed them. I can't imagine I am the only one to harbor such emotions and yet it feels lonely here.

Adding to the rising pool of emotional overload is the fact that my sister-in-law gave birth to her second child… today. I'll be holding a newborn by tonight. It was hard with the first one three years ago and it's even harder with number two.

Don't get me wrong — I am so excited to meet my niece and I love, love, love my nephew; however, I am worried that I won't be able to control my tears of envy and fear. I'm prepared to say they are happy tears (my partner and I alone will know the truth).

There are some things I've realized that I just have to hold onto, some fears that must stay hushed. I also hold onto the fear that my partner's family will love and treat the biological children differently than the children we will have via donor or adoption, albeit this is ridiculous because they are the most loving and kind family imaginable. But… they do cherish their gene pool.

I suppose I will deal with that when the time comes. For now, I must be the best Auntie I can be.

Must remain patient. Must remain calm.

Since I teach, I am surrounded by parent-child relationships — it's sweet perk of the job. I see the blessings and the struggles, the learning and forgiving, the connections and bonding and LOVE. It's all so wonderfully heartwarming and painfully heartbreaking.

Over the last few years I have put good energy into my parenting preparations, for it is all I can do. I have worked at creating a warm and inviting home. I have moved to a place where my roots will be glad to be planted. I have read and watched and made notes on things I would or wouldn't do. I have researched all of our options. I have day dreamed and I have prayed.

I have many things to be grateful for, wonderful adventures to seek, and a long list of things to make and do. I love my partner so deeply and this life we are building is lovely and strong. But at the end of the day, I am a parent without a child… holding onto hope.

  1. Oh man. We are in the middle of waiting to see if our insemination worked, and I am already an overwhelming sponge of emotion, knowing how much we want to just be pregnant. We are surrounded by the "whoops, we're pregnant!" friends and every time our insemination doesn't take, I feel as though we mourn a baby that hasn't arrived yet.

    I completely get this. And remember that there are many of us out there!

  2. Thank you for putting this out there. Even though we (really) are not ready for kids yet, I'm wanting them more and more. And I can understand this deep envy you're experiencing. You're not alone.

  3. there are also lots of straight/heterosexual couples that i am CERTAIN share many of your feelings (the envy, the hurt, the anger, etc) … although they (we) do not have the same struggles faced by LGBT couples, those of us who have/had difficulty conceiving can relate to the feelings you mention.

    for us, there was no "whoops, we're pregnant!" either … and when we were struggling to conceive, several close friends and family members definitely had their "hey look, we weren't trying at ALL but now we're pregnant!" announcements. we (a straight, married couple) had to use science/medical intervention to bring us our son.

    i'm definitely not trying to equate the struggles/scenarios – only want to bring up the idea that there is a common thread and that you may find some solidarity within the infertility/adoption community in general. 🙂

    best of luck – you sound like you're preparing a warm, loving home for when you start building your family. 🙂

    • We just finished a two week wait, without finding double lines on the pregnancy test, and it feels like heart break. I had to drop out of TTC process, due to some impressive PCOS symptoms, and only after standing with a foot in both communities could I feel how similar the experiences are. It's not easy, it's not natural and it's very private. It all becomes an isolating experience, that often, mainstream books and media don't touch on…

      But it makes you so fucking sure of your desire to have a family, to build the best possible 'nest' of supportive communities, location and family for that baby. That's worth something, to grow up so wanted.

  4. You are NOT alone. I felt just the same way. Still do, honestly, even though we have been blessed with two kids. It took us years and much money to have our two kids – and when I hear of "oops" pregnancies it's like a kick in the gut.

    When we had our first and went through a second-parent-adoption process (we're in MD and this was pre-same-sex-marriage down here), my dad said something that has stuck with me and made me feel a little better when I think of it. He said: "You shouldn't have to do all this, but know that by doing it you are making such an incredibly powerful public statement about how intentional and wanted this child is to both of you."

    Anyway, I can't write much more now (sort of afraid I'll start crying at work!) but know that you're not alone for a moment – – – and if you have the chance you'll be an amazing, amazing mom.

    • Your fathers words are wonderful! thank you for sharing them. our child will most definitely be intentional and so, so wanted!

  5. I so understand where you are coming from. I feel like I have been trying to make a place in my life where all the elements are ready for me to have a child for years. Five and a `half years to be precise – when I first called the fertility clinic for an information pack. I think the difficulty having children issue is the biggest thing I have had to deal with related to identifying as lesbian.
    I am envious of friends and family members who are having children with ease. Happily my partner and I are on track to start trying in September, so I just try to remind myself of that.

  6. Oh – and also wanted to agree with the woman who mentioned that you may find support from the broader infertility community. I struggled to become pregnant and found that community was helpful. I also (jeez, I sound like I have a lot of problems!) found being the to-be "other mother" was hard. I was fine once our first was born, but those were a hard 9 months. I found good community on the babycenter website – there's a community of lgbt parents and there was a other mother list that helped a LOT. Good luck!!

  7. Thank you so much for this.

    My husband is trans*, and we're adopting, and sometimes I just feel so resentful that people (like my younger brother) can just… have kids! Just like that! With no medical intervention or home studies or tens of thousands of dollars poured into something that might not work.

    At the same time, I love my husband and I wouldn't trade him for anything (seriously. He's the best man I've ever met.) so wrestling with these feelings seems so… small-minded. (Really. Envious of every pregnant lady I see.)

    It's nice to feel not-alone in this.

  8. I spent a long time feeling like you have described in this post, even before I met my wife. Once I met the woman I knew I would spend the rest of my life with I was ready to start talking about babies, but I had an additional hiccup. My partner did not want a baby. That was a huge thing and I feel like we could have dealt with it in other ways and it would have been the end of us.
    As it stands, we started doing foster care to ease my deep desire for a baby and to get her feet wet, but we discovered that we both love, love, LOVE it and we may be perfectly happy just fostering little kids forever.
    I know for some people that could never compare, but sometimes there are really good options out there that you may not have even thought about.

    • we have considered Fostering. I'm glad that it has worked for your family. A home is such a precious gift to give any child. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Thanks for the honesty of your post. My partner and I are currently on a very long road that will hopefully end in us beng parents and your words really struck a chord with me. Take care and I wish you much happiness. X

  10. such wonderfully kind words from all of you. thanks! it helps so much to share and to know i'm not traveling this road alone.

  11. Just another person chiming in with support. My husband and I always planned on having a big family, and we have two wonderful children. But then he got cancer, and radiation therapy left him sterile. While I know that I am beyond lucky to have the kids that I do, it's very hard to mourn the loss of something (someone) who never existed. There will be no happy accidents here, and I totally understand the jealous feeling. I hope that everything works out for you.

  12. There are a few things that keep me away from the envy thing. This isn't necessarily for the OP, just maybe a perspective for anyone who is in this situation.

    One, I think I maybe even read it here, but the idea that someone who has a child didn't take something from me. So it's so far out of my control, that I just don't envy the others who have what I want. It's not like two people went for a job, and I missed out, it's just something that some people have/get in a particular way, and others work harder for. (On that note: Every time I see a pregnant person, I remind myself that I do not know their story. It may have been hard for them, too.)

    Two, I have friends who have accidentally become pregnant, had the child, and are now forced into sticky (to put it nicely) custody battles, among other things. I figure that *if* it were a choice, I would still choose to fight to become a parent in a scenario where my partner is a trusted person beside me, than be in a situation where the children might come easily, but not with the person I want them with.

    Anyway, I hope that helps. =)

  13. It's cool to take care of yourself and avoid the people who bring up these feelings, too. You don't owe anyone an explanation. When my wife and I were trying to conceive, I kept telling her I did not want to be anywhere near straight people. Irrational, maybe, but self protective. And so we surrounded ourselves with our amazing queer community. Of course I have some delightful straight friends, but they were not who I needed then. Don't feel bad about that. And good luck bringing your desires to fruition.

  14. This post brings tears to my eyes. This was something my ex and I cried about from the very beginning of our relationship, and now I don't know how to continue my path toward children, alone. I've always wanted children but for many years those future children were ours, part of these concrete life plans which are gone, and I'm heartbroken trying to make new ones.

    I hope we can read about your successes — whatever form they will take — in the future. Thank you for this post.

  15. I understand completely how the writer feels. My wife and I would love a sibling for our daughter. We have had one try with our remaining frozen embryo and are not sure if we can ever fund another round of IVF. We are in the UK and it will cost us around £6000 of which we have about £150! We are totally blessed to have our 2yr old daughter (1st time IVF), she is our absolute world… we desperately want to give her a brother or sister though. Some very best Heterosexual friends visited us recently with their 1yr old (naturally concieved) and announced that they are expecting again. Whilst we are overjoyed for them, they are fantastic people/parents it felt awful that our happiness for them was tinged with a jealousy at how easy, fun, free it is for them. As bio mum to our daughter I felt quite sick and ashamed at how hollow I felt when our friend talked about her symptoms.
    The worst for me however is when I see the parents in the street that just dont seem to know how lucky they are… the Mum screaming/slapping one of her 4 kids…. the Mum smoking whilst holding her newborn, the pregnant girl with a fag hanging from her mouth! The ones that make the newspapers. They are the ones that make me truly sick to my stomach.

  16. Yeah.

    For me, one of the hardest parts was the cost. We spent $12,000, and we were incredibly thrilled that it worked the first time. I wouldn't change a thing, but it's hard when straight friends question why we still live in a rental or whatever. We spent all of our savings because we decided that owning a place could wait, but we wanted to try to get pregnant before the risks were higher and chances lower. I know we absolutely made the right decision, but the judgey comments about our choices are shitty.

    I also couldn't believe when (straight) people would make comments to us that we were 'lucky' to have to go through all that we did, because we got to decide on the sperm donor (instead of just being stuck with our "husband's" potentially crappy genes I guess???). It's weird to me that I've heard that same comment from several people. If we could have made a baby with my genes and my wife's genes only, we would have in a heartbeat. Now that we have our daughter, I wouldn't change a thing, but seriously? Lucky to have to do fertility treatments? Seriously? No.

  17. I was at the same place as you a couple of years ago. It took eight rounds of insemination and two cycles of IVF to get pregnant. Even our lesbian friends seemed to get knocked up on the first try. It was so hard and I am so sorry you are going through this. If you want to read about my journey, you can check out my blog: http://queerfemmemama.wordpress.com/

    Somehow, one day, you will become parents. It may take a long time, and I know that's hard to imagine. I wish you all of the luck in the world.

  18. I am lucky enough to have two children from my previous marriage, but they certainly didn't come easy and they shouldn't be the only children I have. For me its not only complicated to get pregnant but to stay that way once I do. I lost four babies before my son, and the feelings of jealousy and desire for a baby of my own when friend after friend announced their "whoops" pregnancies grew to be so incredibly overwhelming.

    I'm in a different situation now, one where I have absolutely no chance at an accidental pregnancy, or even one that won't involve doctors and sperm donors. I'm in a relationship with a woman, and while we are both happy loving my two there is still this desire for a child that is hers and mine.

    Its not the same situation because of my first two, but before I got them I had the infertility struggles and with my desire to have another going crazy of late, I'm right there in those feelings again. Its hard and its frustrating but I just keep telling myself that we will make it work and I hope we do. And I hope you do too.

  19. There are so many of us out here feeling the same way! It is so hard to not be able to get pregnant easily, no matter the circumstance or reason why. Infertility blogs and online groups have helped me emotionally so much along the way! Have you heard of "stirrup queens"? That blog has a huge organized list of infertility blogs, if you're interested. Good luck!

  20. We are on try number 11 for a baby. It has been an incredible journey and a struggle. I know how you feel. The envy and the jealousy is sometimes hard to hide. Some days I just want to scream "IT'S NOT FAIR!" and other times I am just brought to tears.

  21. I SO could have written this post! It's mildly relieving to know that others out there have the same feelings that I do, although it doesn't really help with the weepiness. I am surrounded by hetero friends who have either gotten pregnant naturally or through fertility treatments. For one reason or another though, our process just can't seem to get started. This month I thought we were finally beginning and then wham! – the fees for the blood work that I need just to get referred to a fertility clinic are overwhelming and since my partner and I have had a few unplanned expenses this quarter, making a baby is now tabled for another 3-4 months. I get it, and I know we need to be financially responsible, but when I got the news I cried for hours behind my sunglasses outside. At least if we were trying we could be doing something, but this waiting is so emotionally hard! Anyway, there are lots of us who feel the same way you do – we just have to light a little inner candle of faith and hold on to it tightly, that one day we will be mamas too!

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.