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Thursday 10 November 2016

Becoming mums: tips for getting started

Posted in: True Stories
By Jacqui Stanford - 16th September 2015

Nearly Eight months down. I’m a waddling mix of fatigued excitement and impatience. I can’t wait to meet this baby. Yet the hardest part is still to come! To keep my mind off childbirth I have decided to get my own back a little and join the cycle of advice that I have met at every turn since I revealed I was pregnant.


To be fair though, a lot of people have been in touch and actually asked for advice, so I thought I would share what I have been telling them. Most of the questions I have been asked from other lesbians and queer women have been around the initial part: getting pregnant. There are plenty of options here. However bear in mind that the waiting list for lesbians for a donor through Fertility Associates, from what I am told, is about 18 months. This is because donors can specify they only want their goods going to a straight couple. And there is also high demand from lesbians.

If you don’t want to wait for 18 months to even start trying to get pregnant, try and find a private donor. There are plenty of multi-parent families out there where there are two dads and two mums, or a gay dad and a lesbian mum, or any straight/queer/trans mathematical formula you can come up with. There isn’t really any place that links people who want to be donors or co-parents with mums – someone should set one up. But feel free to ask in the forum. It has brought people together in the past. Perhaps try with people you know first though. You never know who might be willing to help you out or combine to make a big happy gay family. The ‘gayby boom’ is real.

If you and your partner, or you alone, want to be the sole legal parent/s, try and find a donor who is willing to be only that. New Zealand law is really good in that you can have two women on the birth certificate as the legal mums, and any donor would only really have grounds to fight that in the courts in cases of abuse or neglect. Yet, I would recommend sorting out a very clear legal agreement stating what rights and responsibilities everyone has – this protects the donor too. You don’t want to have a messy drama in a few years’ time. Make it all very clear. And sort out a will at some stage.

Remember how you decide to do things and what roles you want people to have are decisions for you and those you are starting your family with - set up whatever you decide is right for you. If you mention you're thinking of having a child, people from all sides will probably wade in with their opinions and expectations. Just ignore them. You will quickly get used to dismissing unwanted and often just plain rude and judgemental opinions. And don't tell people anything you don't want to. If they get pushy and invasive, just smile while thinking "f-off" in your head. (That's a great piece of advice a dear friend gave me!)

So you're ready to go? Obviously make sure your donor has a clean bill of health (an STD check is a must) and ask them about their family medical history and so on before you proceed. You can’t have any doubts.

They call it the 'turkey baster method', but you actually want to use a syringe

When it comes to the baby-making logistics, the cheapest way to try is DIY at home. And before that panicked look crosses your face, I don’t mean the traditional way (unless you are keen on that, well then whatever). I am talking a non-needle syringe and a specimen cup. Syringes you can get at a chemist, and kind doctors or nurses will swing you specimen cups if you ask nicely. You can use any clean vessel really though - a condom is fine, if you can cope with that.

Make sure you are really ready. Not to get too preachy, but I can’t help it (becoming a mum does that to you!). It’s a huge responsibility to bring a baby into this world. Think finances, how much time you can take off work, whether you’re emotionally ready, whether your relationship is solid enough, whether you have the space in your house for all the stuff a baby seems to need, whether you have enough support. You will NEED support. That can’t be overstated.

If you’re sure, figure out when you’re ovulating (there is even an app for that!) and give it a go. There is a good guide here … and yes it works, if luck and science decide to shake hands.

If that doesn’t work for you after a few months of trying, it’s probably best to get some professional help to check things like fertility and sperm quality. Fertility Associates will help you out – but of course that all comes at a cost.

All the best of luck if you’re endeavouring to become a mum. It really will be among the most amazing, rewarding and beautiful experiences of your life.

That still stands, even if you are nearly eight months’ pregnant, trying to sit at a desk and type and your baby is apparently trying to hammer their way to freedom out of the side of your enormous belly.

But more on actually being pregnant next time!

For now, I will leave you with my very best advice: select the advice that sounds interesting to you and give it a go. If it works, cool. If not, throw it on the heap with the ridiculous suggestions you’ve been given. That includes anything I have written above!

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Jacqui Stanford - 16th September 2015