Posted by: chicagoshells | March 15, 2014

Brain vs. Body

The plan was always that Trouble would carry and birth our first child, and if, after that, I felt that I was “missing something” by not having that experience, or found that I just wanted to try it for whatever reason, I would consider being the bio-mom of the next one.  Because Trouble was going to the “the body,” I made myself very much part of the process by being “the brain.”  I did all the communication with the sperm bank and the clinic.  I did the majority of the donor selection.  I tracked Trouble’s temps.  Etc. Because I was so involved, I can say with certainty that Mulberry would not exist without me, despite the fact that I didn’t contribute in any way to his genetic make-up.  For Trouble and I, it struck a very nice balance.  Now, I toy occasionally with the idea of being the gestational mom for Baby #2, but the fact is, personality wise, I know I would still end up being “the brain” in a lot of respects (that’s not a slam on Trouble.  It’s my inability to not be a control freak).  And I don’t know that I want to the “the brain” and “the body” at the same time– I think it would just end up making me irritated and resentful.  If I really WANTED to carry and birth a baby, of course, I wouldn’t let that stop me.  Trouble and I would have to do a lot of talking and I would have to work to let her take over the “brain” aspects.  But the fact is…I don’t have any desire to do it.  Watching Trouble go through pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery– all of which were “easy,” comparatively speaking– didn’t give me any urge to do it myself.  I have no doubt that Mulberry is bonded to me and now that he’s no longer breast-feeding, he’s as likely to reach for me as he is for Trouble.  I feel completely his mother.  My family, Trouble’s family, and our friends recognize me as his mother.  I don’t think it would be possible for me to feel MORE “a mother” than I do right now.

So why do I ever even think about it?

I’m afraid that I’ll regret it later.  That even though right now I feel no need or desire to grow a child within my body, to have the biological connection, that someday, when it’s too late, I’ll wish I had tried.  And I don’t know if that tiny seed of “what if” is enough to really, seriously, consider it.

If I’m being honest, there’s also part of me that wonders what’s “wrong with me” that I don’t want that experience.  Of the lesbian couples that I know (mostly online, some in real life) with children, it seems like it’s very common to take turns and each birth a child.  Of those who don’t, they seem to fall into two groups– 1) the non-bio mom wanted to carry, and often tried, but couldn’t get pregnant or carry a child to term successfully or 2) the couple has a very traditional butch/femme relationship and therefore the femme member did the child-bearing.  I don’t fit into either of those groups.  I mean, I would likely have a harder time getting pregnant than Trouble, based on things like cycle regularity, but I have no reason to think it’s impossible.  And we don’t have a butch/femme dynamic at all, but if we HAD to take those labels, I’d probably be the femme one.

The longer I sit and think about it, the more I can think of other couples that (to my knowledge, as I of course don’t know the details of everyone’s fertility or lack there of) are similar…one member is equally “femme-y” (or not) and possibly equally fertile, but still made the decision, for whatever reason, not to carry.  I wonder if they all wondered if something was “wrong” with them too.  I wonder if they all wonder if they might regret it some day.



  1. Am I …married to you? Seriously, I think Sugar wrote this. I’ve sent it to her with explicit instruction to comment. Meanwhile, I wish you were closer so we could go out for a drink.

    • Ha! You and Sugar were, in fact, one of the couples that crossed my mind as I was thinking of other people with a similar relationship dynamic. And I do think I remember a similar post of hers from awhile back. I’d love to hear how she’s feeling now that you’ve had your second…and yes, as always, I wish you were closer.

  2. hi, sugar here. um, yes, I totally still wonder what is maybe wrong with me. I just sat down after rocking Jackalope back to sleep and the whole time I was rocking her I was thinking that there have always been women rocking babies to sleep that did not come out of their own bodies, but that that was “supposed to be” just practice for thier “own”. I don’t have awesome words of wisdom except that now that we have two I’m still fine with the fact that I did not give birth to them, but also my brain still gives me a lot of shit wondering why I’m fine with that. I think it’s because you can’t get away from our heteronormative culture. I mean, I still wonder whether men think I’m attractive too, and really, why the hell does that matter even at all?

    • Thanks for commenting. I’m glad to hear that you don’t feel differently now that your second (adorable!) little one is here. Ultimately, I think the tiny niggling worry that I *could* regret it someday isn’t nearly enough to make me commit, mind and body, to actually trying to carry. I do expect that the “Is something wrong with me?” may continue to plague me, but again, trying to silence that isn’t a good reason to do something that the rational part of my brain knows I don’t want to do. And I’m sure that if I DID end up birthing our second, some other neurotic worry would simply take up residence in that corner or my mind anyway…but it’s always nice to know I’m not the first person to have a particular neurotic worry.

  3. Well, we’re pretty matched in the femme sphere (I guess I’m a little more so, but not by much), and my lovely wife has shown no interest in carrying. I ask regularly, in case she changes her mind but is too afraid to say something lest I…I’m not sure what, really. We did have lots of back and forth about using her eggs, but in the end, the price (nothing would be covered) won out and she decided that it doesn’t matter to her. Like you, she and I have been pretty equally bonded to our daughter–at the moment she’s the preferred parent, which would make me sad, except that I know when we have two new babies who need me for food it’s going to be better that their sister would rather be taken care of by their other mama than by me. For what it’s worth, my wife says that she never thought she’d carry children, even when she was dating men exclusively. She thought she’d find someone with kids and be a stepmom or something–pregnancy hasn’t ever been on her checklist. And there are so many examples of awesome parents that have no genetic links to their children–I feel like the regret would be worst if you had never had children but wanted them, not as much if you have them but they don’t share your blood type.

    • You’re pregnant. With twins. That is so fantastic! I’ve been totally out of it in the blogosphere (and haven’t gotten to the Chicago meet-ups for awhile either, sadly) so I had no idea. I am so thrilled for you 🙂

      On topic, you remind me that even before I was out, I thought I would probably adopt. The whole idea of raising children was always incredibly important to me…birthing them, no so much. I think it’s just that no, approaching 35 and that “advanced maternal age” thing, I feel like it’s now or never in a way I never had to think about before…

  4. I always said I wanted to adopt, even before I knew I was going to marry someone with a uterus. (And hey, I got my wish didn’t I; thank you second parent adoption!) However, I’m headed down the baby path now despite complete and total security in my non-gestational parenthood and a complete and utter lack of biological craving/need to carry/birth a child. It’s only partly because I worry about future regret. More because I realized the reason I didn’t want to carry a kid was because I was scared to do so. Attempting pregnancy is my way of tackling this fear and challenging my aversion to risk. Yes, I like the idea of my wife and I sharing our parenting experience/building our family in this way but mostly it was me telling myself there are so many women who do this; why do I think I can’t handle it? It’ll be like the zip wire in fifth grade–I didn’t go on it because I got scared at the last minute. However, I don’t regret not going on it; I regret not overcoming my fear.

    Or maybe I’m full of sh*t because this may not even work. But at least I’ll know I tried. And I agree that there are plenty of other things to be neurotic about and that missing out on motherhood would be a far bigger regret.

    You titled this post “brain vs. body” and most of what I see written seems to be coming from the former. As someone who gets super tied up in overanalyzing everything intellectually, I have to ask: what does your body (read: heart/emotions) have to say about this question? Can you convince yourself you’ve decided once and for all and then see how the whole of you sits with that decision? (I never could, but hey, worth asking, right?)

    • A really good question. I’m not very good at turning off my similarly over-analytical brain. I *think* that my heart is truly fine with my place in my family as a non-bio mom. I certainly couldn’t love Mulberry any more and am entirely comfortable with our bond. I’m fairly certain that it’s just that pesky brain whispering the “what if”? While I’m not in a hurry to try for #2, I imagine that the what ifs will keep popping up until then, just because that’s the way I work. And it’s entirely possible that if I WAS to try to get pregnant, I would keep coming up with other what ifs to take the place of this one. It makes me wonder what it would be like to be a person who didn’t think this much!

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