She swallowed two pills with a sip of tap water and looked at me. I don’t know how she knew what was going through my mind — all the what-ifs and why-nots and should-haves. All the regret, and all the sadness, while I watched the person who used to call herself my boyfriend disappear with a sip of tap water. I didn’t miss having a partner who could pass as male. I didn’t even really miss straight privilege. It was something else.
“Would it make you happy,” she asked, “If we tried for a baby? Before it’s too late?”
We had talked about it off and on for months. We already had one child — our amazing little girl, who was born out of a previous relationship — but our little family still seemed like it was missing something. I found my eyes watering every time I held or saw a newborn baby. I would look at the old photos of my wife, a chubby-cheeked kid in boyish clothes that didn’t suit her, and I’d sigh. I felt like there was a child who I had known my whole life, a little boy with intense, dark eyes and an underbite. He was supposed to be part of our family.
We both knew that on hormone replacement therapy, she might have as many as two years of fertility left, or as few as three weeks. It wasn’t the best time. We were broke, we were young, we were stressed, and I had more than my fair share of health problems that I knew would make pregnancy difficult. But we knew it was now or never. There was always adoption, if we would ever be allowed to adopt, and there was always the option of using a donor, if we could ever afford it, but we both knew that putting our child into the realm of “one day” would mean writing him out of existence. “One day” would never come unless it was today.
Later that night, we were skin-to-skin under a pile of warm blankets. I ran my fingers through her black hair while we talked. Just tonight, we agreed. We’ll try tonight, and tonight only, and if it’s meant to be, it will happen. It wasn’t the most responsible possible plan for conceiving a baby, but it seemed right. I had never known my skeptical, atheist wife to put stock into the invisible cosmic force of “meant to be,” but the leap of faith gave me comfort. Sometimes, there’s something to be said for leaving the most difficult decisions in the hands of destiny.
I kissed her and she pulled away for just a moment. “You have to promise me,” she said, locking her eyes on mine, “Promise me that you will never, ever call me the father.”
Last week, my wife and daughter sat by the examination table while an ultrasound technician pressed a wand against my swollen belly. A grainy black-and-white image developed on the screen: a fluttering heart. A little round head. Tiny arms and legs. I felt a tiny quiver when it raised its hand — five little fingers — as if it were waving hello to us. I smiled and looked at my wife, who suddenly burst into a high-pitched fit of tears. I knew what was happening to her. It hadn’t really hit her that the baby was real. Not until she saw it.
The sonographer smiled at both of us. I wondered how many times she had witnessed this scene in her career. She moved the wand a little to my left and smiled again.
“It’s a boy.”
I already knew — I’d told my wife that I was sure it was a boy, just two weeks after we conceived — but, in my mind, I put an asterisk next to the word. It’s a boy, until and unless he tells us otherwise, I thought. It’s a boy who will be raised without gender roles. It’s a boy who will be defined by his heart and mind, not by the organs that happen to be between his legs. It’s a boy who will be loved wholly, deeply, and completely by the two women who created him.
A preacher in North Carolina wants to send gay couples to concentration camps, where he says we will become extinct, along with our queer genes, within a generation. “You know why? They can’t reproduce!”
My stepmother says that being gay doesn’t make sense, because two men and two women have never, “in the history of the world,” conceived a child together.
Sixty-two percent of people in my home state vote against marriage equality. Their number-one argument is that queer families aren’t real families. Most of us — or, by their perception, all of us — can’t have children who are biologically related to both of their parents. That, they say, makes our love unnatural, and even sinful. I’ve often wondered when they’ll start trying to ban postmenopausal women and other infertile people from marrying.
Here, there be dragons. We aren’t the first queer couple to conceive a child, and we won’t be the last, either. But this territory is strange and uncharted, and it often feels like we’re alone. After scouring the whole online globe, I found a total of two other couples like us who are expecting babies this year. The conversations have been strained. We’re looking at each other and desperately hoping that at least someone might know what we’re supposed to do next.
Our baby will be born this summer and will join the family with two loving moms, one doting big sister, a hyperactive dog, and two purring kitties. I don’t know what the future has in store for our family, or, in particular, for my son. I don’t know how much his rights will be limited by our relationship, or if boys really do have a need for masculine role models, or when we will all grow exhausted with the people who lean in close and ask, “Is she the dad?” I do know that our son will never once doubt that he is loved and wanted, and I’m grateful every day that we have the rare and wonderful opportunity to be his mothers.
Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” column exists for individual queer ladies to tell their own personal stories and share compelling experiences. These personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.