Parenting in my shoes – Our family has two mums

Ranae, who lives in Dublin, is a 30 year old actress, singer and writer who has a particular interest in natural health.  She’s married to Audrey, a freelance assistant stage manager currently working in the Abbey, and together they have one daughter.
Ranae is pregnant with with their second baby and here she talks about the life as a same sex parents, why she chose to carry both their babies and the reactions of other people to her family.

Meeting my wife…

We met in Bull Alley Theatre Training college 11 years ago. We started dating a year later- next week it will be our 10 year anniversary. We got married 2 and half years ago. We waited until it was legal in Ireland. There of course was the option of going abroad to marry, but we always said, if we can’t do it at home, then we won’t do it at all. So we were thrilled when it passed in 2015.

The baby question…

Since day 1 we always knew we wanted kids. We both come from huge families and are both baby mad. It’s a natural thing for us both. We’d have 10 kids if we could afford the IVF!!! So yes, we’ve always been on the same page about that. Deciding how to do IVF and when we decided to do Reciprocal IVF, was always a joint decision and we always trust what the other has to say about it. With something like IVF you have to be 100% a team. It’s such a hard process, I can’t even imagine if you were at odds over it.
Ranae, Audrey and Ava

Who gets to be pregnant…

We made this decision very naturally together. I have always wanted to be pregnant and to breastfeed, whereas Audrey had no desire to go through pregnancy if it was at all possible to avoid. Besides that, her work is a lot more stable and wouldn’t make sense for her to be the main stay at home parent. It just made sense this way for us. And it has worked so beautifully. I can’t even describe how beautiful it is to have carried our baby and then see every day a little mini Audrey. The 3D scan picture of baby number 2 looks identical too. It’s so precious.

Ava

Whose eggs to use…

Because we decided that I would carry our babies, we thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool to use Audreys’ eggs?’ We didn’t even know it would be an option. Way back when we first were dreaming of these things we didn’t realise there was an actual name for it…Reciprocal IVF or Shared Motherhood. When we started looking into it, we found it was one of the most popular ways for female couples to do IVF. Well the most popular in basically every other country besides Ireland, where it is not legal/not legislated for.

Choosing a sperm donor…

This was done through the clinic. Because we were forced to seek treatment abroad, in a lot of Europe the only option is for anonymous donors. So our donor was anonymous and chosen for specific features to match as closely to my own. That how donors are usually chosen, to match the features of the non genetic parent (in this case, me. So basically the male version of me!)
Ranae, Audrey and Ava

Reciprocal IVF… 

Reciprocal IVF is IVF with a female couple where one partner gives the eggs that will be used to form the embryo along with donor sperm, and the other partner will carry the pregnancy.
IVF was one of the hardest things to go through. It’s such an uncertain time. It’s a massive burden financially, physically and emotionally. And there is no guarantee of a baby at the end of it all. But at the same time, it is amazing that we live in a world where all of these scientific advances have been made and that this is something available to those who need it.

Supporting each other…

We just really stuck together as a team and made sure that the other was ok every step of the way. When we first went to Spain for the first full cycle, we stayed for a month in a lovely Air b & b by the seaside in Barcelona. We just relaxed and cooked really nice meals and went for walks and then walked TV in the evenings. It was bliss and we felt like we were in our own IVF cocoon!
The first attempt worked but I had an early miscarriage. The 2nd embryo transfer a few months later was successful and resulted in our now 2 year old, Ava. We had another failed transfer recently when trying for baby number 2 and ended up changing clinics (and countries!) and we went to Portugal to a clinic called Ferticentro. We actually blogged about that whole journey and we were so lucky it worked on the first attempt.

Family and friends’ reactions…

Everyone has always been so excited for us to have babies. Well aside from the fact that we could no longer be the number 1 babysitters for all our nieces and nephews. Ava is absolutely adored by her cousins and the whole family.
There was definitely some ‘getting used to it’ from my mom, who is a conservative Christian and has had to come to turns with the fact that her daughter is in a same sex marriage. But to be fair to her, since Ava has come along, she has been an absolutely incredible Nana to her and a great source of support for us. She is very hands on and always willing to babysit or do whatever we need. It’s funny how babies can change peoples perspectives sometimes isn’t it?

And reactions of the wider public…

Aside from a few internet trolls (no surprise there!) we’ve generally been met with positivity. Any questionable comments that we’ve ever heard, usually come from a place of ignorance, not of hatred. I think as more and more different family types are shown in the mainstream and in our societies, it becomes less of an issue.
However I do think that because we are two females, people are more ready to accept it. I’ve seen how hard it can be for gay dads, I definitely think that they are treated differently.
Ranae, Audrey and Ava

The biggest challenges same sex sex parents face…

Financial- as I’ve said, IVF is a massive burden. You could spend as much or more on IVF as you could on a house deposit.
Legal- currently I am considered a single parent. Audrey is not recognised as a parent to Ava. There is legislation coming in soon that will change this, but it’s a very narrow bill which will only include certain family types. It totally excludes those who have done at home inseminations and excludes gay dads. So it’s not good enough by a long shot. We need legislation NOW that will protect all of our family types and also much more legislation in the way of IVF.
As I said before, Reciprocal IVF is not legal in Ireland, which is an absolute disgrace. If egg donation is legal, and sharing genetic material between a heterosexual couple is legal (this is just standard IVF) then not allowing Reciprocal IVF is just blatant discrimination to female same sex couples.

Future questions about the biological father…

It’s absolutely something that we have thought a lot about, but it’s just something that we will have to deal with when the time comes. Hopefully our children will have been raised in a way that they understand that there are lots of different ways to make a family. Unconventional families like ours come in all shapes and sizes and with all the challenges that go along with it. We plan to be open with Ava from the start about how she was conceived. And we hope she will see how much she was wanted and loved from before she was even a tiny poppy seed in my belly.
 I think children are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. I remember my nieces Juliet(8) and Robyn(6) asking about our IVF just before we were due to travel earlier this year. For a split second I thought, will they understand this? But I decided to just tell them. That Auntie Audrey and I would go to a special hospital where we would use Audreys’ egg and some ‘seed’ from a kind man (donor) to make a baby. Then we would put that baby into Auntie Naes’ tummy and hopefully I they would then have a baby cousin 9 months later!
I expected a lot follow up questions, but they kind of just got it. And then moved onto a more exciting topic. Gotta love kids. Much more open minded than most adults.
So yes, we will just have to cross that bridge when we come to it.

The best thing about parenthood…

It has been the absolute best thing we’ve ever done. To create a life together is incredibly special. We absolutely adore Ava and cannot wait to welcome her baby sister. I’m really looking forward to breastfeeding again, even though it was so challenging for me, it was still one of my favourite things I’ve done. Also the newborn snuggles. And seeing Ava with her sister might just kill me with cuteness. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they interact with each other.

Advice for same sex couples who would like to have a child…

Get in touch with other Same Sex couples who have been through the process. When we first started there was NO information about reciprocal IVF, and there still isn’t much besides what I’ve written. That’s the whole reason I started blogging. It’s such a lonely place when you feel like you are the only one going through this crazy time. Fertility treatment is no joke. Its hard in every sense. Physically, emotionally, financially. Feel free to get in touch with me via hello@ranaevonmeding.com and I’d be very happy to chat to you.
Ava

One thought on “Parenting in my shoes – Our family has two mums”

  1. My best friends sister and her partner just had a baby using reciprocal IVF. I think its the best solution for involving both parents. Really hope the law changes to recognise both soon too. #blogcrush

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