The most unlikely mother


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.

A very pregnant Robin LoweyWhat 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.

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