BY ROBIN LOWEY
When I grew up in the 60’s as a rough-and-tumble tomboy, I used to fantasize that I still had a choice as to whether I would grow up to be male or female. I was sure that if I ended up as a boy, I’d be shipped off to Vietnam. But if I were a girl, I would have to bear a child — an equally horrifying prospect. Neither option was appealing in the least. One day while I practiced flexing my muscles in front of the mirror, I noticed little breast buds forming. Game over — I was indeed a girl, but at that moment I became resolved to never marry a man or have children.
Later, when I first attended “Lesbians Considering Parenting” workshops in San Francisco with my partner who was ready to get pregnant, I still never dreamed I’d actually have a baby myself. She was joyful throughout her entire pregnancy and bore a beautiful, even-tempered, smart and loving boy. I used to wonder why the other parents looked sleep deprived or why their children would let loose earsplitting screams. “There must be something wrong with those parents,” I thought. Life was relatively easy with our boy and because of this fact, we were duped into having a second child.
She tried hard to get pregnant again, but there was a secondary infertility issue. My brother, our donor, had already had a vasectomy and the sperm we had saved at the bank was all gone. This is when I decided to step up. I hated the thought of having an only child, and after all, parenting thus far had been fun and relatively easy. This being a woman thing came in awfully handy just then.
We used an anonymous donor, and got right down to business. I was pregnant! Sicker than a dog for three straight months. Out the window went my surfing, snowboarding, and skating—I was miserable. Then on the last day of the 12 weeks — I miscarried! This was horribly painful and disappointing. And since I hate to fail, I went right back and got pregnant two months later. I remember we were watching “Fried Green Tomatoes” on TV as I held my legs up in the air for hours.
What followed was the worst nine months of my life. Sick all over again for three more months and worse than that—no extreme sports. In the end I weighed over 200 pounds and looked like Mr. Peanut with my long skinny legs. I had two sprained ankles and messed up my feet so bad they bother me to this day. I grouched and moaned at home and at work I tried to pretend I was just getting fat so I could keep up with the boys at the ad agency. I routinely disappeared for naps under my desk. My fears about losing my job were not unfounded. When they figured out I was pregnant I was out, and the new guy with no kids was in. I felt like a freak. I hated being pregnant. I began worrying I might die in the process of giving birth.
Then came the 48 hour labor, and an exceedingly painful natural childbirth. I know — what in the hell was I thinking? And out came the funniest looking, shrieking, most difficult baby I could have ever imagined. The next five years were a blur, between the sleep deprivation and trying to lose all the excess weight. I was seriously sidelined. I was 39 and it felt like I got old overnight.
The funny part is I look back at giving birth as one of the defining moments of my life. I stepped up, faced my fears and lived to tell the tale. It was truly a miracle and so empowering that nothing can ever scare me like that ever again. I’m so glad to be female and to have had the opportunity to create — inside my body — a very wanted child. The best part is my amazing son, who looks like me and shares my quirky sense of humor. He is 16 now and has turned into a wonderful, caring human being that I am infinitely proud of. Of course he was a difficult baby—he came out of me! And just like me, no one is going to push this kid around. He’s a leader with a strong moral ethic. Far from having regrets, I am proud to be a mom and grateful everyday to have been blessed with two sons. The irony of two lesbians sharing a home with boys is another story for another time.