Approximately one year ago I shared my struggles with learning to identify as a mother in a way that was brand new to me on Offbeat Mama. My wife and I had been trying to have a baby for a year. We had been unsuccessful with my uterus, and had made the decision to switch to hers. To me, my being a mommy was carrying a baby, nursing a baby, seeing myself in my baby’s face. I had never done motherhood in any other way.
Well, the day I received the email from Offbeat Families telling me they would be publishing my story, I also learned that I had successfully impregnated my wife!
We traveled through a fairly uneventful pregnancy. I had my difficult moments of jealousy — wanting my baby to be in my tummy, with me every minute of the day. It was the most heartbreaking when I knew my wife could feel our little one moving but I couldn’t. I felt so excluded at that time.
But I found my own way of being a mom in this pregnancy of not carrying my to-be baby. I created a weekly drawing on my wife’s belly starting around 10 weeks. I also went through the process of inducing lactation, which takes almost as much time as the gestation. And I sat back and let my heart be warmed by the beautiful image of my wife growing along with our little babe.
When D-day arrived my wife woke up crampy, and we had a feeling something significant was happening. We knew not to get too anxious, and I was sent off to work. Barely after arriving I got a text from my wife telling me her water broke. I ran around the agency I work at letting everyone know, and was shoved out the door with lots of warm wishes from my coworkers. We had the baby the next morning. I was by my wife’s side during every second of her 24-hour, all-natural unmedicated labor. She was amazing, and our baby boy was beautiful! I saw my wife’s face in his, and I nursed my baby boy. There is no other experience that can compare.
Before our baby was born, we started the process of a second-parent adoption. In our state, we were able to include both of us on the original birth certificate. To be recognized as a 100% parent, legally, at a federal level, the second-parent adoption was necessary.
There have been so many mixed emotions while being engaged in this process. There have been feelings of relief and gratitude at being able to make our family safe. There have also been feelings of anger and resentment at having to go through a legal process, and pay money to be considered an official parent to this baby I created.
For me, the second-parent adoption has been an ongoing reminder that I need to reframe my ideas of motherhood for myself. Through this entire journey of conception to adoption I have been tested on my ability to bring myself out of melancholy thoughts and into recognition of everything I have to be grateful for. Just because I have always identified as a mother in one way, doesn’t mean I cannot be as much of a mother in different way.
When our adoption went through one week ago (our baby was 2 ½ months old), I was elated! Then, anger crept in. I was so resentful about being in a position of very intentionally creating a life, yet still being required to hire a lawyer and plead with the courts to allow me to be legally responsible for this life. This resentfulness created a physical sickness inside of me.
I knew that I was lucky to be living in a state where it was even possible to have a second-parent adoption. I know other two mom families who do not have this option. I didn’t feel like this should discredit my very valid feelings of disgust at having to request permission to parent the son I conceived.
As I did with every other difficult moment in this newly experienced journey of motherhood, I allowed myself the time to sit with these feelings of resent and self-pity. I needed the time to accept them, not try to deny them. My wife knows this is what I need, and she tells me how much it sucks, that it isn’t fair. Giving myself time to acknowledge my struggles has allowed me to come out of them, instead of suppressing them, only to have them working undercover to dictate all of my other emotions. I feel I have become a much more well-rounded individual. I am more in touch with my emotions, and more insightful. I believe that makes me a happier person and a better mom.
As I write this story, baby is asleep on my chest. He is an everyday reminder of how grateful I am to have the opportunity to experience motherhood in this way. I would not feel any more connected to him if I had been able to carry him in my womb, see my face in his, or have been a legally legit mama without the help of the court. I suspect there will be more emotional hurdles in this journey, and I am also confident that each one will make me a more whole individual, and a more appreciative mom!