How a Lesbian Gets Pregnant

If some one is heterosexual and they become pregnant, most people say “Congratulations”.

I was pregnant with twins and I am a lesbian. People initially said “Congratulations” but I was huge, because there were two, so eventually it came out that it was twins, then I would get asked “Was it natural?” “Did you do IVF?” “Do twins run in your family?”

Then God forbid they find out I was a lesbian, “Oh really, how did you do it? Did you get sperm somehow? From some one you know? Did you do it at home? Did you have sex with someone? Did you do IVF? Will your wife still love them if they are not hers? But how will your wife bond with them? Will your wife breastfeed too, because that’s a thing you know? But so they won’t have a Dad? Who will their Dad be? Wait so how do lesbians have sex?….”

Yes. People asked me all of those questions. Everywhere I went. From total strangers to very good friends. I found all of those questions insulting, intimate, and irritating. Let me phrase those questions a different way, “How did the sperm get into your vagina?” “What penis did that sperm come out of? Was he masturbating or having sex with you in your vagina?” “Did the sperm get stuck up your vagina by a doctor or did your wife stick it in your vagina at home?” (the how do lesbians have sex will be a separate blog post…)

If you really think about the above questions, my translation is actually what people want to know. And honestly, what goes into and out of my vagina is my business, and no one else’s.

So to spare other pregnant lesbians from these horrible questions I decided to write this blog post. If you are a pregnant lesbian, print this out and carry it with you. If you are straight, read it and learn how to be polite. You don’t need to know the details about a person’s fertility journey because you are essentially asking about that person’s vagina. Unless you want her to ask you about yours in return I recommend sticking to the script.

In order to get pregnant a person basically needs three things- a uterus, sperm, and an egg. Lucky for lesbians we have two uteri and multiple eggs between us. So our pregnancy journey generally starts with deciding who will be pregnant and finding sperm. I knew I wanted to be pregnant, and my wife knew she didn’t, so it worked out for us.

We decided to use a sperm bank because we did not want to go through potential legal issues by asking someone we knew. Many lesbian couples use sperm from men they know which is fine. I’ve known people who have used family members (in-laws so not related by blood, e.g. brother of one wife gives sperm to other wife), friends, and even acquaintances. In these instances people generally ask the man to get a battery of bloodwork and screenings done. Then they work out the logistics. If they are in separate states, careful tracking of ovulation is required, and when Mama starts to ovulate there are emergency calls to sperm-man, long car rides and potential masturbation and then inseminations on the side of a highway. I’ve known couples who have flown their sperm donor to their home monthly during ovulation so the person can stay there a few days, and masturbate a few times to provide more than one fresh sample. Then one partner inseminates the other. There are home insemination kits, and turkey basters work too. Before any of this happens, a legal arrangement is usually worked out. Will the man give up parental rights? Will he have parental rights? Will the kids call him by his first name, Dad, or Uncle? An attorney is required to work all of this out.

Because I have an underlying medical condition we chose to go through a fertility doctor and a sperm bank. We chose one particular sperm bank because it did the most genetic screenings and was reasonably priced. Sperm from sperm banks is expensive. Anywhere from $300.00-$1100.00. I was lucky that my health insurance covered at least a percentage of the fertility care I received. Using a fertility doctor was great, but also extremely time consuming, painful, and expensive.

We tried three intrauterine inseminations (IUI)- the sperm is “cleaned” and inserted directly into my uterus. My cycle was tracked via transvaginal ultrasound (yes it sucked a lot) and bloodwork almost daily (yes that sucked too). When I grew an egg or two I would do what’s known as the “trigger shot” to time the release of my eggs with the insemination of the sperm. Then I started the progesterone shots after the insemination. Daily intramuscular shots in my butt that my wife administered, or my friends. I work in healthcare so there were plenty of people willing and able to give me a shot. The IUI’s were stressful because of the time, energy and money that is put into them. All three of mine produced a negative pregnancy test. I went through a lot of blood tests, ultrasounds, shots, and inseminations. After the third time using Clomid, we knew my eggs were not the problem. I was growing a lot of beautiful eggs. But the sperm wasn’t making it to them. It was time to do IVF. I took a few months off, fell into a deep depression, turned thirty, booked a cruise, and while jumping off a pier in Mexico realized my life was good, and I could handle whatever was coming next.

IVF sucks ass. I was on hormones for six weeks leading up to the actual retrieval (egg retrieval= being put under anesthesia while the doctor goes up your vagina and cervix and uterus out the tubes and collects the eggs that have grown). I had to take birth control for 3 weeks, then start Lupron shots. I developed an allergy to Lupron so every night when I injected myself I had big red welts pop up. I told my doctor and he said, “Huh, that’s not good, but we really need you to be on it, so maybe take some Benadryl every time you take it.” Great. For two weeks before the egg retrieval I was on a total of three subcutaneous shots daily, one of which I was allergic to. I was running out of skin and space. I had bruises and hives everywhere. It was so painful by the end I couldn’t self-inject and was having a friend do it daily.

I grew an amazing number of eggs. We did the retrieval. Then five days later I went back and the doctor put two embryos into my uterus. I got to watch the two embryos, who would eventually be my sons, implant on the ultrasound. That was cool. We chose to do two because I didn’t think it was going to work. I thought for sure, after three failed IUI’s, that I was doomed for failure again. Ten days later we had our pregnancy test, and it came up positive. I remember crying and smiling. Then I had the six week ultrasound. I didn’t think there would be two sacs. I truly thought I only had one. The ultrasound tech said, “There are two fetal sacks, both with heartbeats.”

I asked her to look again. She showed me the monitor, and there they were. Two beautiful little circles with heartbeats.

There are other ways that lesbians can get pregnant, but sperm meeting egg is a must, and the resulting embryo landing in a woman’s uterus is also a must. Some lesbian couples who have excellent fertility coverage or who are wealthy, can do a retrieval from one woman, and implantation into the wife’s uterus. This makes both women feel connected to the baby as one is genetically the mother, and the other can carry and breastfeed. Some lesbian couples do have both mom’s breastfeed. It takes commitment and hormone treatment, but it is possible.

In response to questions about bonding. I can only speak from my personal family, and the other lesbian families I know. My sons know that my wife and I are their Mom’s. They are equally bonded with both of us. I breastfed them for eleven months, but my wife was there literally from conception through birth. She held them first, and she took care of them on her own for the first twenty-four hours because I was bed bound due to complications with the delivery. She is as much their mom as I am. To ask a lesbian couple who is more bonded to their kids, or if their kids love one mom less is insulting and hurtful.

Just as love is love, family is family. My sons do not care what vagina they came out of or where the sperm came from. They care who cuddles them in the middle of the night after a bad dream. They care who greets them with smiles and hugs every morning, and kisses them good-night every evening. They are still toddlers, but they know intuitively that their two mom’s would literally walk through fire for them. To say that my wife is less of a mom because she didn’t carry them is bullshit. She held my hair while I vomited on a daily basis. She gave me many of those injections. She cooked, cleaned, and cared for all of us while I was recovering from birth. She did more than her share of nighttime feeds with pumped breastmilk. Just as she will continue to be there for all of us going forward. My son’s do not have a Dad, they have a sperm donor, two Mom’s, extended family, and many friends. My son’s are happy, sweet, and most importantly they are loved. They were wanted. If there is one thing you can be sure of when you meet lesbians and their kids, it’s that they really wanted those kids. Because as stated above, we are missing sperm and penis’s, so there’s a lot that goes into baby-making for us. Every prick of a needle, every test, and every journey up my vagina by my doctors and nurses was painful emotionally and physically. But I look at my son’s faces, I smell their beautiful scent, I hug their chunky little bodies, and it was beyond worth it.

I went through a hell of a lot to have my kids. All together it was one year of hormones, testing, and procedures. My marriage went through a lot too. But my son’s are beautiful and loved. I have no regrets.

I ask you to not demean or diminish any lesbian’s fertility journey by asking heart-breaking and intrusive questions about her vagina, her ability to love, and her wife or partner’s ability to love. Just hug her, and say, “Congratulations, your baby is so lucky to have you both.”

 

How a Dyke Made Her Foul Shots

First off, I’m allowed to use the word dyke. Because I am one. It’s a process known as “reclaiming”. We are reclaiming that word so it cannot be derogatory any longer. If you have never been called a slur as part of a minority, you don’t get it. That’s okay. You don’t have to, you just have to know lesbians can say dyke, and you can’t. But I digress. This post is about making a foul shot in basket-ball. For those of you who have watched or are familiar with the game you know a foul shot is taken when a player is fouled. They get two shots, one point each, and they take it at the foul line. Not rocket science.

My high school basketball coach was…I don’t want to say insane because he wasn’t actually clinically mentally unstable…let’s say extremely intense about winning. My sister and I were both on the team when I was a freshman and she was a senior. My sister and I are very different people. At the time she was “out” and I was not at all even thinking about being gay. I was actually very much into boys. We lived in a small town, and she and I both faced discrimination because she was gay. As I said, we are very different, and her way of handling discrimination is very different than mine. For example, if some one muttered a slur like “dyke” under his breath within our hearing my sister would likely ignore it and move on with her day completely unaffected. I would turn, look at this person directly, and in front of every one present ask him to repeat himself and then likely engage in some verbal argument. I confront directly whereas my sister is more indirect in her approach. And I have to say that her approach is awe-inspiring at times. Because literally without saying a word she puts people in their place, and it is stunning to watch.

The one time I remember her doing this quite vividly was at the girls basketball state finals. Life leading up to the state finals was chaotic. We shouldn’t have won all the games we did to make it there, but miraculously we did. We were then reminded at every practice in between by our slightly intense coach that we shouldn’t have won those games and that we likely wouldn’t win anymore. He meant it with love. Sort of.

I was on the bench, which as a freshman was an honor to have been picked to sit on the bench with the varsity team and dress for the games. My sister didn’t start, but she definitely played. So we made it to the state finals, we were at a state university gymnasium and it was full. I mean completely full. Hundreds of people were there. Many who wanted us to lose. The opposing team’s fans were behind our bench, so that was fun.

We were down by a lot in the third quarter. Then some one made a 3-pointer, then some one made a lay-up, then we were only down by 3 or 4 and we were in the fourth and final quarter and my sister got fouled. She had a buzz cut at the time. So naturally about fifty of the fans behind our bench yelled “dyke” “butch” and “bitch” repeatedly before she had even placed her feet at the foul line.

We all knew these were crucial shots. We were running out of time, and we needed her to sink these shots. My coach knew it too, and for once he wasn’t screaming his head off. He actually came directly to me on the bench as I was about to turn around and give the finger to every one screaming “Dyke” at my sister. In a very not-insane moment he tapped my shoulder told me to turn my ass around, sit down and shut-up. He knew something I didn’t. My sister wouldn’t be phased by the jerks in the stand. She would be distracted if she saw her little sister upset or getting picked on. Smart man. I very angrily turned around and sat in the seat. I was hoping my coach would go back to the other end of the bench but he didn’t budge. He knew me pretty well at that point and likely knew I would eventually peel my ass off the bench and dive into the stands throwing punches.

The gym did not go silent when she got the ball. All she could have heard were guys yelling “dyke” “butch” and “bitch”. My sister didn’t even look over. She did her routine at the foul line that I had seen hundreds of times before, she bent, released, and freaking sank that first shot. My coach, my team, and I went wild. The jerks in the stands didn’t stop for the second shot.

“Dyke” “butch” “bitch” “dyke” “butch” “bitch”

She was only seventeen. She bent, released, sank it a second time. Again she didn’t even look at the fans in the stands. She just slapped her teammates high five, and jumped into her defensive stance.

We won the state finals. My sister got to cut a piece of the net. There were a lot of clinch moments in that game, and I know for a fact my sister’s foul shots were one of those moments. She helped our team turn it around and regain the lead. She kept the momentum going, and in her own way she gave all those discriminating jerks the finger. She also taught me something.

What’s interesting is I’ve never talked to her about those foul shots. Because I know her, and she would just shrug and laugh and say, “No big deal,” but it was a big deal. It was a big deal to our team and it was a big deal for her as a lesbian. It was a moment when she could have gone low but she chose to go high. In going high she taught everyone in that gymnasium what it looks like to go high. It looks like someone poised in the face of jeers, hatred, and intolerance. It looks like someone who doesn’t have the time of day for ignorance because she was going to win the game. It looks like someone who practiced thousands of foul shots over the years and she wasn’t going to let anyone or anything interfere with her regimen.

Her grace under immense pressure at age seventeen has clearly stuck with me, because now almost twenty years later, I can still see her at the line, staring intently at the basket. I can hear the guys behind me “Dyke, butch, bitch” and I can see her stance and when she bent her knees and released and then the swoosh of the net…it was a beautiful moment.

For lesbians something as simple as taking a foul shot can turn into a statement for our sexuality. Everything we do is suddenly defined not just by our ability to do it, but that a lesbian did it. We represent a minority at all times, and in that moment her representation for lesbians was perfection.

How a Lesbian “Meets the Parents”

There’s a lot of angst in heterosexual relationships about “meeting the parents”. I can tell you from experience there is the same if not more angst in lesbian relationships. Not only are you meeting the parents, but you are meeting their judgements. Are they okay with their daughter dating a woman? What are their expectations? If their daughter is more femme are they expecting some one more butch? Are you letting them down? Are they going to ask you about grandchildren and how the heck that is supposed to work? Are they going to ask you about your parents and their beliefs?

The answer to most of that is yes. They will have preconceptions and inappropriate questions. Now, I was lucky. Sort of. My wife’s family disowned her due to their religious beliefs when she came out to them at the age of twenty. They gave her two hours to pack a bag, leave her keys, and get out. They kept her phone and her car, and just about everything else. Obviously she was devastated, and still is in some ways, but that’s not my story to tell. What is my story is the one time I did meet her mom. It was in Starbucks. She found out we were getting married. She asked to meet. I didn’t know what to expect, I thought they were evil because I saw my wife’s hurt and suffering through the years when she had to cope with being separated from them. I was wrong. They are not evil. Her Mom was clearly a warm, caring, and kind person. It made the refusal for them to be part of my wife’s life even more painful for me. Why couldn’t she be evil? Then it would be easy to separate from them.

She pulled out a bible. In Starbucks, while I was sipping my lemonade. She read a few passages. I’m familiar with the bible. I was raised hard core Christian. I went to a Catholic college. I took religious courses throughout college. I interrupted her and told her how familiar I was with the bible. She said, “You must hate me,” I said, “No, I pity you. I pity you because this woman is so worthwhile I have agreed to be her wife. To spend the rest of my life with her. And I pity you because you have chosen to not be a part of her life. You have chosen to miss out on the life of one of the best women in the world. For that I truly pity you.”

My statement didn’t go over well. The rest went downhill. She basically told us if we got married we were going to Hell. That was truly the one meeting I had with my wife’s Mom. Her Dad I met very briefly another time, and there was really no discussion about anything.   As you can imagine this meeting was very painful for my wife. And now that we have children, knowing that her parents are good people, just close-minded due to their own set of beliefs, it is painful knowing they will not meet our sons. Our sons are amazing. I mean what parent doesn’t think their kid is the best kid in the world? We are no different. And again when I think of her parents, I feel such pity because they are missing out. This divide between us because of religious beliefs is so great, such a chasm, that it has broken the bond between mother and daughter, father and daughter, grandparents and grandchildren. That is what lesbians have to deal with when we meet our “in-laws”. That is one of the reasons I started this blog. Because people want to hear the happy, fun side to being lesbians/gay/queer. Well there is a dark side. It’s icky and painful, but I’m not scared to rip off that band-aid. Light needs to shine into the dark.

I said I was lucky in the beginning of this. I’m getting there. I am lucky that my wife is so kind and compassionate like her own parents. Because in her handling of being disowned I learned so much. She handled it in a way I would never have been able to. My respect and love for her grew tremendously as she navigated something so painful with such grace. I am lucky that I only had to meet her parents once. I am lucky that my wife faced a choice- her parents or her sexual orientation and she had the courage and strength to choose her true self. She chooses me and our sons every day. There are heterosexual couples who have those same devastating choices, but not as frequently as lesbians. And it adds a layer of depth to our marriage because of everything she had to sacrifice to be with me. It made the growing of our family with our sons even more profound for her because we are all she has now. Except for my family too…but I’ll get to them later on! Meeting the parents is usually awkward for any one but for me, as a lesbian, it was so painful for all parties involved. It was filled with intolerance, discrimination, and judgement. And not just on her parents end. I am guilty of judging them as well. I absolutely judge them for not being a part of her life- I’m working on it. I try and respect them and their beliefs, but it’s hard because I disagree so completely. I post this with the hope that people reading will understand meeting Mom and Dad (or Mom & Mom or Dad & Dad) when in a same-sex relationship is fraught with emotions and different scenarios then heterosexual couples may face. Be supportive, be accepting, and be kind.