For most of us, pregnancy is an exciting, almost magical, time. Okay, in theory, anyway. Aside from all the puking and peeing and weight gain and crying you are creating human life! A baby is growing inside your body!
When I was pregnant for the first time my husband couldn’t help but tell everyone from the Walmart cashier to the dude who takes tickets at the movie theater. “My wife is pregnant! It’s our first!”
Usually I would hush him. I mean, in all honesty, nobody but us and our immediately family members really cared about my knocked up condition but Serge felt he must shout it from the rooftops, so excited was he to become a new dad.
But can you imagine being a grown woman and having to be almost embarrassed of being pregnant? That’s what it was like for Staceyann Chin, a single, black lesbian who opted for IVF.
You can’t even begin to imagine what she’s dealing with. Strangers, neighbors, friends, and even the LGBT community – all confused about her choice to become a mother. All that on top of a difficult pregnancy. Sheesh. Makes my eight straight months of morning sickness feel like a walk in the park. Almost.
It’s like coming out gay all over again. Except this time Chin is coming out pregnant. In her words on the Huffington Post:
But the coming out process continues. In ways I never imagined. Mid-examination, medical personnel will ask if daddy and I have been abstaining as is recommended for women who are placenta previa. The forms in the hospitals all require father’s name and mother’s name, never just a partner. They suggest you ask him to do this, or include him in that, or talk to him about something or the other. Friends and family members speak of my donor as the baby’s father, or the baby-daddy. There is no room for the woman who has decided to do this alone. The registries in the three places I am registered, buybuybaby.com, target.com, and babiesrus.com, all have advice for what to do with your partner as you prepare for “the shared joy of your baby’s birth.”
I find myself saying, over and over again, “No. I’m lesbian, so I don’t have a male partner. And yes, I’m single, so I will be doing this alone. And I must point out that ‘alone’ does not mean I don’t have help. I expect my vast village of friends to be a part of our lives. But there is no father, no partner, no husband, no lover. Legal responsibilities are solely mine.” Everyday, I find myself needing to affirm that this was a willing choice, that though I may have moments of doubt or loneliness, I’m largely at peace with my path. I have to assure all sorts of people that this baby is wanted, and loved and will be amply provided for with respect to diapers, and discipline and encouragement and the space to be whatever he or she can be in our not-so-traditional family.
Chin’s experience is a much-needed reminder on how society views pregnant women. It’s extremely important not to assume you know the details of anyone’s story. Here we have a beautiful woman who has longed for a child for a decade and is making it happen on her terms. How awesome is that? Yet, in stark contrast to the celebratory vibe that surrounds the “traditionally pregnant” woman, Chin must constantly explain herself to strangers, and yes, even her own friends, who don’t understand her choice.
Remember, although pregnancy is personal, every single woman’s pregnancy should be publicly celebrated. Not only for her, but for the life that is to be. Who knows who that baby will become? Every, single pregnancy is amazing. Don’t forget it.
Thank you, Staceyann Chinn, for such an eloquent reminder.
I fathered a child to a lesbian couple– should I do it again?