I remember having a conversation with someone during the second week of our daughter’s life, just days into her colic phase. They closed the conversation by saying “Enjoy the 100 days of darkness!”. We responded with a subtle laugh.
But wait- we googled it and this is a real thing! The 4th trimester is actually referred to as the 100 days of darkness!
Now on day 90, this has often crossed our minds. We have had good days and bad days; good times and challenging times. We’ve dealt with hormones and emotions, sleep deprivation, incessant crying, diaper blowouts, scarfing down food whenever we get a chance, and fighting our baby’s first cold. We have walked more of the neighbourhood than we have even with our dogs and white noise has become our new silence. Colic was our initiation into motherhood, submerging us into learning about food sensitivities, baby sleep training, and ourselves. What’s more, it has tested our patience with each other.
During the rough times, we remind ourselves that it’s temporary. During the good times, we remind ourselves that this is just the beginning.
Regardless of the day, one thing rings true: There isn’t any love like the one we have for Alaia.
As you read this, I’m sure you can relate to us and our experience as new parents. You see, we are the same, and yet, we are different.
To Alaia, we are mama & mommy. We used a donor to conceive and create our baby girl. We have been asked who her father is, to which we always respond: Alaia doesn’t have a father, she has two mothers.
Growing up, neither Alejandra nor myself had known a same sex couple, nevermind an LGBT family. Being anything but straight was rarely spoken about. In fact, in high school kids used to call things that they didn’t like “gay”. Being “gay” was never associated with anything “positive”.
While Alejandra has been attracted to women for as long as she can remember, I realized I was attracted to women in my late teens. A typical peak time of identity development and self-discovery, when most people figure out who they are and where they fit in the world. It can be a challenging time in the best of situations. Add to that the feeling of not fitting what families, cultures, and society expects, and it’s an even greater challenge.
For both of us, the most difficult time was prior to coming out. There was so little exposure to non-normative families and same sex couples in our life experiences. We didn’t see them in the media, it wasn’t talked about at school, and neither of our families ever discussed different types of families, either. It was the time of unknown, and it was really scary. We didn’t know how our family, friends, and community would respond when they learned of who we really were.
Coming out can’t be undone. Once it’s done, it can change everything. Deciding to come out meant putting everything on the line in order to have the ability to live an authentic life. Everyone’s coming out story is unique. Thankfully we are both lucky to each have a very supportive family, group of friends, and community.
Alejandra and I met years after coming out. We now live in Toronto, Canada which is predominantly a progressive city and country. A couple years after getting married we decided to grow our family. Even living in our bubble of acceptance, we acknowledge that the child we brought into the world will be faced with challenges. Although times are changing, Alaia will experience living in a world that supports heterosexist and homophobic attitudes and beliefs. She will observe these mostly outside of the community we have and while travelling to parts of the world that are not as progressive in their acceptance of LGBTQ people and the conceptualization of family. Easy or hard, we will navigate these experiences together.
At 6 months pregnant, in July 2020, Alejandra and I decided to start an Instagram account together. We wanted to track our journey of growing our family, picking the ‘best of’ pictures and having a modern-day photo album. Through comments and PM’s from followers, we soon realized that sharing our story publicly was offering guidance and hope to other LGBTQ people. Although we are accepted by our community, many people are not. We have received countless messages from those who are unable to be their authentic selves because of where they live or who they are surrounded by.
Messages like “I wish I could do the same and be who I am. Where I live, it is taboo and would go to jail.” & “You have given me hope that I’ll be happy and not so insecure about myself and sexuality one day” fill our inbox. By sharing our lives, we are contributing to normalizing gay families. Our account has gained a greater purpose.
Although LGBTQ families will not be accepted globally in our lifetime, Alaia will live a normal life. Having two moms is all she will know. Generally, results from studies show that differences between those raised by same-sex and different-sex parents are few and small. And parenting tasks faced by same-sex parents are similar to those faced by heterosexual parents. You see, we are different, and yet we are the same.
Our #1 wish, like many parents, for Alaia is to be healthy and happy. Our game plan is to communicate acceptance, teach open and honest communication, and promote resilience. We want her to know that in her lifetime, love is what makes a family. That we will love her for who she is and who she will become. Our conversations will remind her of this, so that she will never be fearful of being her authentic self, like we both did before we came out.As parents we are given the opportunity to shape the future through the conversations we have with our children. By letting your child know that you accept and love them unconditionally - regardless of who they love or are - you are teaching them to do the same with others. You are teaching them to care for others and are raising children to lead with love, always.