VIDEO: Queer Mama Episode One — Meet Haley and Simone!

I’ve always wanted to get pregnant, have a baby, and be a mom. It’s one of the few things I’ve been certain of for as long as I can remember. I’ve always thought that growing a baby would be the coolest, most trippy, most transformative thing I could possibly do with my body. And I love kids — their absolute zest for life, their curiosity and silliness. That unadulterated fascination they have with the world, how everything is up for grabs. How easily they love. I adore make-believe and singing all the time, jokes and new adventures. I love constantly discovering, and the way kids remind us how much there is to teach and learn. I’ve always filled my life with children.

My family describes me as “capricious,” which I don’t think is exactly fair, though it’s true that I throw myself passionately into new things, and there have been quite a few new things.

Haley kid

When I was a kid, I thought I’d be a mathematician or an actress. Then I thought I’d work in post-conflict zones or be a professor. Then I wanted to be a writer. Or a professional activist, or a lawyer, maybe, just briefly. I wanted to live by the ocean, abroad, on a farm — no! — definitely in a city.

When I landed a full scholarship to college, I took the money I’d saved waiting tables during high school and flew to Cape Town. I spent the next 15 months in 25 countries spanning Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. I thought, then, that I might be a traveler forever.

turkey!

Turkey!

In college I went to sit-ins, disrupted white supremacists, got arrested and became, for a moment, the poster child for everything wrong about radical left youth. (She’s queer! She’s been to Africa! She’s majoring in performance art!)  As a performance artist, I was booed off a stage at Mondohomo in Atlanta. As a gardener, I sorta accidentally grew hundreds of pounds of tomatoes and thus learned to can a lot earlier than I’d initially planned on. I’ve got a lot of passions that turn out to be whims. In 2010, I moved to San Francisco. I had a place to crash, but beyond that, my only plan was to meet some queer people I (or my exes) hadn’t already slept with.

So I understand why my loved ones sense they’ll never know where I’ll end up next, or if my next passionate whim will stick.

But no matter what, I’ve always, always, always known that I would be a parent. I’ve always wanted to have a baby. Actually babies, plural. Lots of them. One miscarriage, four embryos, dozens of pee sticks, 18 months, and approximately 132 injections later, I’m 18 weeks pregnant!


Even though I grew up without queer role models, I’ve been privileged enough to never feel the need to be closeted or worried that my queerness would conflict with my desire to be a Mom, and as a cisfemale femme, I didn’t grow up with the kind of gender policing that less gender-normative queers often experience (although I’ve certainly experienced other forms of gender policing!). I came equipped with the hardest-to-come-by parts of conception (uterus, eggs), as well as the desire to carry a child. So I was surprised when someone close to me responded to me coming out by saying, “but you’ve always wanted to have kids!”

at slovenia pride 2009

At Slovenia Pride 2009

I know there are so many queers out there who’ve felt this external questioning, or an internal one, emotional or physical, about whether their queerness would prevent them from having children. Will I find a partner to start a family with? Will someone love me in my queer wholeness and brokenness? Do I/we have all the necessary ingredients to make a child? If not, how will we afford them? If not by procreation, will some authority let me take home a child? Will my partner and I be legally protected if we have a child together? Will our child be safe in the world, this child of queers?

I’m so fortunate that for me, the answers to those questions never led me to think a child couldn’t be part of my life story.


On my first date with my now-partner, Simone, I said, “I want to have kids young, and I want to have them on my own. I don’t think I’ll find a life partner until much later, maybe my fifties.” I also told her that I didn’t believe in monogamy and wasn’t looking for a serious relationship. Long-term relationships were not for me. I wasn’t necessarily charming first date material, but at least I was honest!

I’d moved to San Francisco only three months prior, and I was getting acquainted with every experience and person I could get my hands on, reveling in what still felt like a queer mecca. I was ready for only one kind of long-term thing: having kids. But I’d just emerged from a decade of variously devastating relationships and couldn’t imagine meeting a potential girlfriend I’d want to commit 18+ years to any time soon.

On that first date, Simone told me she was looking for something serious and wasn’t interested in anything casual. “I find you too attractive to just sleep with you,” she said. I told her I was disappointed when she said we shouldn’t date, but that I understood. I was hoping we could be friends, because I thought she was very cool and very fascinating.

Then, at 1:00pm on a Monday, before going back to work, she drank a chocolate martini and kissed me. Everything changed.

s-and-h-motorcycle-2012

Nearly five years later we are expecting our baby. To be precise, I’m the one “expecting,” but the two of us are in it together. I’m every bit as thrilled as I imagined I’d be, even if it hasn’t been exactly the road I was expecting. It’s been so much harder, longer, stranger, more expensive, and more joyous, too, than I ever knew it could be.

So I’m doing this thing, this column and video blog, to share this journey with you, fellow queers! I’m excited to contribute to a growing conversation on queer parenthood — how we get there and what the fuck we do once we’re there.

I’m writing this all from the only perspective I can speak from, that of a white queer cis-female femme, living in San Francisco, partnered with a female-bodied masculine-identifying person who is the love of my life. I’m 28, and she’s 39, and we spend our days making movies and drinking lots of (decaf) coffee.

photo by Miriam Beach

photo by Miriam Beach

There are so many other things I feel like I should tell you about me, about us, about who we are and how we got here, but instead I’ll let you watch this first video. In addition to getting to know me a little better, you’ll catch a glimpse of my hot butch sweetie and our cute dog.

This column is just beginning, and definitely still evolving, so give a shout in the comments if there are things you want me to address. I’d love to connect with other queer expecting parents as well!

Next column you’ll learn how I got knocked up (hint: not the old fashioned way).


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haley has written 12 articles for us.

117 Comments

  1. 0

    (ed note: this comment is in response to a different comment that was deleted)

    I think some people including the author of this piece have a desire not just to raise a kid, but to experience pregnancy. Fostering or adopting isn’t gonna give them that experience. Also, in some states it’s not even legal for same-sex couples to foster or adopt.

    All that aside, why is it selfish for queer people to want to make use of their own reproductive organs? This is coming from someone who has fostered/adopted cousins who I love on both sides of the family. Let people make their own reproductive choices, period.

  2. 0

    I’m only two weeks ahead of you! But I’ve had a very different experience thus far, I’m sure (we lost our first baby at 24 weeks last year). I’m looking forward to seeing where the rest of your pregnancy (and the first year) take you!

    • 0

      oo! We might be pretty darn close then, actually (wrote this a couple weeks ago).

      Also, so sorry for your loss. It’s an awful, sad thing to go through. Different experiences for sure, but I’m definitely going to talk more about being pregnant after a loss, as it has really informed my whole journey and experience of pregnancy. And has/does for so many, more than I could have known. It’s been good for me to find community around that.

      Really glad to connect with you. Stay in touch.

  3. 0

    Even thought I know (now) that I have friends and co-workers who occasionally come on autostraddle and I absolutely use a real picture of my face, I’m not ashamed to say I’m already living vicariously through you. You two are so cute and I am beyond jealous.

    That is all.

  4. 0

    This is the best.
    I am so excited for this.
    Congratulations on your much-anticipated pregnancy!
    I can’t wait to follow your journey and learn about how you got to where you are now.
    My partner and I are planning to have a baby in the next few years, and I’m so pumped that I’ll have this resource to add to my own journey.

    Also you guys are so cute like omg and your dog is freaking adorable.

    • 0

      <3 thank you!!! I'm delighted to be a resource. It's sort of amazing how little there still is out there for us queer families. please feel free to get in touch if you ever need to be pointed towards info or support. would be glad to share knowledge!!

      (also, right, isn't he a little muffin face?! I was not really a dog person before, but he came with Simone and now of course I'm totally in love.)

  5. 0

    I’m very excited for this, esp. because the representation of queer pregnancy/queer families with children seems to be shit. Like, the only framework I have for my future potential queer family is the movie, ‘The Kids are Alright’? I’ve mentioned this before elsewhere, but basically that movie (and other forces like shitty people in my life, blah blah) has instilled a fear in me that my children will grow up hating me because I ‘denied them a father figure’ and/or will want to find their ‘father’ (donor), in which case said donor will RUIN ALL OUR LIVES.

    So…. how did you decide to go the donor route? were there feelings/fears involved? could speak to this at some point? Maybe? I don’t know. There are many feelings over here.

    Looking forward to this though, ya’ll are g-damn adorable.

    • 0

      ugh, this! exactly. I searched far and wide for resources/stories/media to guide me, and they are few and far between and often awful. Some gems, but not nearly as many as there should be.

      and yes, SO MANY FEELINGS AND FEARS! still got ’em, even after making our decision, even though it’s one I feel is so right. gonna do a whole column on this for sure, but know what you are going through is super normal. it’s a bizarre and tricky thing – this business of having to involve another person (who is not a partner) in the creation of our families.

      really looking forward to chatting more about this topic as I think it’s complicated and fascinating and so worth talking about. please stay tuned and stay in touch.

    • 0

      I hate that godawful, homophobic movie. The story reads like a patriarchal cautionary tale of what will happen if a lesbian couple tries to have a family. Your children will be desperate to meet the donor! Lesbian bed death! Your wife will leave you for the donor!
      And that sex scene with Julianne Moore and the donor where she just stares at his dick like “THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN MISSING!”
      I could write a book about how much I hate that movie.

        • 0

          I guess that goes to show how desperate we are to see some representation of queer families in movies/tv. I was confused by my feelings when I first saw it because all the promotion for it made it sound like it was this progressive film with a lesbian family at the center. Queers were supposed to flock to the movie theaters to see it! But no no no. It was actually a terrible exploitation of the patriarchal lesbian doom and destruction narrative…i.e. “Your ‘un-natural’ family will never succeed.” There wasn’t a single original idea in the movie. I wonder if Heather Hogan wrote anything about it because I’m sure she could explain it far better than me.

          • 0

            So true. I’m prettttty sure I’ve seen the movie more than once, only driven by my desire to simply see *any* representation of a queer family. Of course I just got angry each time.
            And I think you’re doing a fine job at explaining it!

          • 0

            TOTALLY! I’ve never seen it. was all excited and then read the plot and was like, um, what the fuck?! and decided not to torment myself.

            this is why we need to make our own movies, because we sure as hell can’t count on Hollywood to do it for us.

    • 0

      Hi Rone,

      Thanks for watching our series! It’s already been a blast to make, but I imagine it will only get more wild as we go. There is a major vacuum in the media of representations of queer families of all sizes, shapes and forms! I am excited to contribute to our story and share it with folks like you. We are going to reveal our process of how we chose a donor in the coming weeks so stay tuned! I totally understand your fears around your child having some sort of resentment around not having a father figure. My thought on that is that what makes the biggest and most lasting positive impact on a child is loving them and supporting them every step of the way, regardless of whether you are a single parent, queer couple, or average mother/father family. I wholeheartedly believe this. Every child will have issues with their parents at some point in their lives because it’s a natural stage of growing up and differentiating yourself as individual. I hope our series can shed some light on the process and offer some hope in your journey! All my best, Simone (Haley’s partner in life)

  6. 0

    First I was excited because YAY TELL ME ALL YOUR SECRETS so I can plan for 5 years down the road, but then I watched your video and now I’m just excited to watch your adorable family grow more. Seriously, you 3 are already charming as hell, so I can’t wait to see how charming #4 will be 😀

  7. 0

    Pumped to read more of this column / watch more videos!

    I’d be interested to know if you and your partner’s age difference is a factor in baby decision making. I’m 30 and dating someone five years younger than me and one of the only times I really think about the age difference is when planning to have kids. How are we going to figure out a time that works for both of us (financially, emotionally, etc) to have kids and for my body to still be able to do it? Thoughts?

    • 0

      thank you! and YES. it totally was. I will talk more about this next column, too, as it was a big factor.

      With Simone rapidly staring down 40 we knew we needed to use her eggs now or never if we were going to do it.

      I always knew I wanted to have kids young-ish (in fact I was probably more antsy than she!), so that made it somewhat easier, but there was still the getting our lives in shape (especially financially) piece to deal with. And we’d only been together about 3 years when we started trying.

      If I’d wanted to wait until 35, say, like lots of people I know, that would have been tough to navigate, as even though she never wanted to get pregnant she didn’t want to wait too long to become a parent.

      And queer age/time can be different, with many of us coming into ourselves (esp vis a vis gender and sexuality) later in life, which might delay a procreation timetable.

      So much to think about! Definitely stay tuned for next column and chime in with your thoughts. Curious to hear how other folks process this huge decision.

  8. 0

    OMG this fills me with joy. You two are an enchanting couple and I’m so excited for you. Being a mommy is by far my favorite thing about my life, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve been so incredibly lucky. Sending lots of hope and good wishes.

    • 0

      awww, I love this comment. thank you so much. and it’s totally rad to hear that. I am so grateful for my wee one already and am just overflowing with love and amazement. <3

      also, keep reading so you can give me tips later when I have my new mama freak outs 🙂

  9. 0

    Ahhhh Haley! I can’t WAIT to follow your journey! I love all things pregnancy and baby related and have been reading parenting magazines since I was 12! Although I have no desire to be pregnant right now at 22, I can’t wait for your story. Something that I also LOVED in your story is that you traveled extensively. I’m going to europe for the first time this summer and I know I will be hooked and want to go for a longer period like you did! Can’t wait for the next episode!

    • 0

      Ria, thank you!! And congrats on your trip. I hope it’s absolutely magical.

      Traveling for that long, and much of it solo, was one of the best things I ever did. So special and transformative.

      My top 3 (ahem, unsolicited) pieces of travel advice – pack very little (I mean it!), get/stay off the grid/offline/out of touch as much as possible, and go with the flow (meaning be open to new experiences and all manners of spontaneity). HAVE SO MUCH FUN!! and stay in touch.

  10. 0

    I am so happy about this! Getting to watch you guys on your journey dealing with something that I imagine to be a part of my future as well is very encouraging and empowering. Also you are adorable and I’m so happy for you guys so thank you for sharing!

  11. 0

    Congrats! Not sure if you remember me but we travelled in Africa together for a few (amazing) weeks. Really fun to watch your video..and as chance would have it I was watching while pumping for my new little one! One of the biggest challenges I faced while pregnant was figuring out how to have the natural birth I desired but still in the hospital setting. It’s tricky! Good luck and I’ll definitely keep following your blog. 🙂

    • 0

      Livia, of course! That was an amazing, ridiculous, inspiring trip. African tour reunion with all our babes one day? :p

      And CONGRATS on your little one! just checked y’all out on fb and my is she CUTE. And also, love that you watched while pumping! perfect!

      Re: natural birth in a hospital setting. Totally. This is something I’ve thought a lot about. And I feel lucky that in SF more places seem to be more receptive to it, but it can still be a challenge. My doula recommended “Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds,” which has been a good resource.

      Do stay tuned and stay in touch! xo

  12. 0

    This was great. I’ll be looking forward to the updates. But gosh, with all the things you do/ like how do you even have time to read?! Lol good luck with all those hobbies once the bun is fully baked 🙂 You and Simone seem awesome. You’re going to hv an amazing child.

  13. 0

    I love this so much! Thank you for sharing your story because there is so little information out there to help queer families figure all this stuff out.
    I’m hoping that you’ll be open about how much all this cost. My partner and I are going to start trying in a few months, and it is SO HARD to figure out how to financially prepare ourselves.

    • 0

      I agree that talking about the financial side is important. So far my wife and I have spent a little over $2,000. We’re using her gametes that she stored before she started transitioning. So far we’ve used three of the four vials we had- the third one this past Monday. If this one doesn’t work, then we’ll have to see about money for IVF. We were doing a pretty good job of saving until she lost her job because of depression. The issue of money definitely complicates matters.

      • 0

        that’s so hard! (to be down to the wire with vials). I imagine that could add to the stress of trying and waiting each month (which can already be such a rollercoaster.) IVF next because you want to end up with as many embryos as possible from the last vial?

        and yeah, we spent over $7,000 on sperm because we wanted to buy enough vials for possibly 3 kids and not be too stressed about how many tries it might take. it’s such a huge cost though, and I know many just can’t afford that. (thanks, credit cards!)

        sending you all the positive thoughts during this two week wait!! please come back (if you want) and let me know if you get good news. fingers so so crossed for you that this time works.

    • 0

      so little info! it’s kind of shocking. and what is out there is often super outdated (e.g. The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth, which I loved but is out of print and was published in 2006…)

      and yes, happy to be. I can also share cost figures from clinics, sperm bank lists, etc, depending on needs (given things like – what reproductive organs do you have between the two of you that you are planning to use. are you thinking at home insemination, known or unknown donor, IUI or IVF, etc?)

      lots of info on our particular process coming in my next column so stay tuned and then feel free to follow up with any additional questions.

      and thanks!

  14. 0

    It is so important to have visibility into successful queer parenting. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences honestly; we need more people telling their stories, and I can’t wait to keep hearing yours!

    • 0

      Chloe, agreed! We need so many more of us telling our stories. It is remarkably hard to find good and real accounts of queer parenting and family building out there. I was pretty surprised by the dearth.

      And thank you. As both an artist and a person it is such an honor to have people like you bear witness to my work and life. Stay in touch!

  15. 0

    Congratulations to you and your family! I never comment on here, but this was incredibly meaningful for me and I just couldn’t help myself. Thank you so much for sharing your story and journey with us – I have been needing to see a vision of my future as a queer mama, just to know it’s really possible.

    • 0

      thank you, Lizzy! I treasure your words. And I hear that so hard. It’s one of the challenges of queerness (and many other ways of being that are outside the mainstream) – not getting to see ourselves reflected in stories/media. It can feel lonely and make it harder to imagine a future. I am totally here as a resource and to say “it is possible!” Please feel free to reach out for info/support whenever. xo

  16. 0

    Love this! My wife and I are just starting reciprocal IVF, just moved to Oakland after 7 years in SF, and I’m super excited to check out your experiences! I don’t know many other queer parents to be in their late 20s/early 30s (my wife and I are both 29) and I’m super interested in following your journey!

    • 0

      Oo, welcome to the wild ride! And I know, I’m younger than most of my child bearing friends. Lots of people told me I was “too young” actually (I’ll save my thoughts on that for another time haha.) Definitely feel free to hit me up for resources/ideas/support etc. We’ve been through it twice now, with very different experiences each time, and I’m happy to help whatever way I can.

  17. 0

    This is such a breath of fresh air! Thank you for posting and letting us come along on this journey with you. My wife and I are about to embark upon a similar path and I am so grateful there are other queer mamas out there to navigate this space with.

  18. 0

    This is so amazing/wonderful/fantastic! Thank you Haley and Simone for sharing your journey and thank you Autostraddle for including queer pregnancy/parenting content!

    My wife and I have been on a somewhat similar journey, although we live in Canada and managed to get pregnant with IUI, so somewhat different as well. Still, I had a loss a several months ago too so I’m glad to see you mention that you will also touch on pregnancy after loss as it has definitely coloured how I have felt this pregnancy. I am also 28 and as naive as it was, I just never thought I would have any difficulty getting or staying pregnant. Yet in comparison to others I know that we have still had a relatively easy road.

    I am just so excited to follow your story! Congrats!

    • 0

      Esther, thank you! It is awesome to have so many generous readers, and I, too, thank Autostraddle for creating this space for us to talk about our experiences building our queer families.

      Really thinking about you on this journey. I am so sorry for your loss. And yes, it has informed every aspect of my pregnancy/TTC journey since. I will do a separate video update on that (subscribe to my channel as it may not be posted here), but will also be integrating it into much of my content as it’s been so central.

      I too thought that getting (and staying pregnant) would be all bliss and ease. Yikes. There have been some seriously hard earned lessons on this road, and I’m grateful to be in dialogue with other folks about it. Do stay in touch!

  19. 0

    Because I’m an emotional wreck of a human, I am currently sitting at my desk crying at at the very idea of one day sharing this experience with my partner. Which is selfish and horrible because, I mean, THIS IS YOUR TIME, WHY AM I CRYING ABOUT ME? I’m so happy for you guys, and can’t wait to learn more about your story. IS THIS NOT THE MOST MAGICAL THING THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN TO TWO HUMAN BEINGS? 🙂 Congratulations you lovely people, and thank you…For being an inspiration.

    • 0

      Miriam, this is just the sweetest comment ever. Also, you’re hilarious! And also, not selfish and horrible at all, because why do we write except so that others can find and lose themselves in our shared stories?! your tears are the best gift!!! And I, too, think it’s pretty much the most magical fucking thing ever 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing and stay tuned for more! xo

    • 0

      No, I hear you. I feel the same way, and I haven’t had a partner for two years now. So it’s hard, because it’s like…this is what I want and yet it seems so unattainable and just.

      Feelings. Too many feelings.

  20. 0

    This made me cry, and I never cry over internet things. One day I want love like the kind you two share, it’s beautiful.

    Also, congratulations. *scuttles off to watch the rest of the episodes*

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