The Journey of a LGBT Mummy

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I always knew that I wanted to be a mother & had it in my head that I would go down the heteronormative route - being from a staunch Catholic upbringing it was always my dream to get engaged, married then have babies - four to be exact. Who I was married to, however, was hazy until the point of coming out, at which I knew, regardless of my sexuality I wanted to be married in some form.
Fast forward fourteen years later, my wife & I have been together the whole fourteen years, married ten & are blessed to have two miracle children, and a third baby due in summer this year. But things haven’t always gone to plan.

When people talk about equality for our community, they always say ‘but you have marriage equality now!’ yet when it comes to parenting & even general healthcare, many are unaware of the multiple barriers LGBT+ women & people face to become parents.

First is the obvious lack of sperm (or eggs), & sometimes both. When you decide on your chosen route to parenthood, you may like us, decide that you’d like to have a child of your own (whether you carry yourself or your partner if you have one).

The journey TTC can be a lengthy one for many. For us it took five attempts of IUI (including a miscarriage) to have our first child, two attempts to have our second, & surprisingly for our third child, it took five attempts, including a move to IVF due to my sudden drop in fertility (my ovarian reserve has halved since I carried our second child) all during a global pandemic.

Then it is the barriers of navigating pregnancy as a LGBT+ couple. Not both being recognised as ‘mothers’, suffering discrimination & navigating the journey as a non-biological parent. I suffered greatly when we had our first child from PND- after a horrendous experience where a doctor refused to deal with me as she announced ‘I don’t want you, I want the REAL MUM’. Those words haunted me for years to come. I felt the need to announce who I was in every social situation to ensure I felt valid & people knew I was ‘the other mother’.  Had someone prepared me for these situations I do feel I would have handled them better. An understanding of how people in society & general healthcare would or in some cases would not support us would have better prepared us- at the time, nearly a decade ago, it was a minefield.

That’s not to say we haven’t had some amazing experiences- from the amazing midwives who cared for us when we had our first child, to our clinic CRGH & sperm bank Xytex both of whom treated us like family through the process over the last decade- comforting us with every failed cycle or loss- whether it be taking calls, mopping up tears or celebrating with us when we became pregnant.

It has been a difficult road to venture down over the years, but we have always tried to err on the side of caution- being pragmatic whilst being positive that we were on the path to creating the family of our dreams. Because of our own lived experiences & the lack of community or support for LGBT+ women & people like us at the time, is why we founded our organization The LGBT Mummies Tribe.

We wanted to provide a global safe haven where LGBT+ women & people could come for guidance, support & a community, so that they could make an informed choice on their path to parenthood, whilst hearing others lived experience & make friends in a safe & positive environment. Yes, we are open & do talk about the difficulties of becoming an LGBT+ parent, but we also celebrate the miracle of life, the egg retrievals, transfers, BFP’s & the multiple ways to prepare yourself for the path ahead of you- and what a wonderful journey it is- and we have witnessed so many families being created, & met the babies born of those whom we have supported- which is the best feeling!

The guidance that we would give to other LGBT+ people looking to start a family is to not rush things. Really take your time to research every path to parenthood available to you, & speak to others with lived experience & ask open & honest questions. Prepare yourself for questions from others outside of our community who may be curious or want to educate themselves about it. Whether it be a medical professional, friend or family member- in most cases, it is because they want to better support you or understand you and we always say that’s a good thing. If you don’t feel comfortable answering you can always politely decline.

Another great thing to do is to join support groups- there are so many around now (including ours) & they can really be a source of strength & knowledge- also a source for amazing new friendships too!

And we’d always say- whatever you think it may cost (dependent on your route), save double or as much as you can. You may not need it & be lucky, but in many cases, if you use a fertility clinic costs can escalate, NHS funding may stop after you get your allotted funding & you may need to invest further to have your baby.

The path to parenthood for LGBT+ people may be a difficult & bumpy one at times. But it is also the best rollercoaster you’ll ever ride in your life, & the prize at the end is worth every penny, tear, painful procedure to get to hold that baby in your arms.
Hold tight to that thought & it will get you through.

The LGBT Mummies Tribe is an organization whose sole purpose is to ‘educate, share, celebrate’ LGBT+ women & people on the path to parenthood globally through their guidance, support groups, events, & global community. They are also LGBT+ family activists who work directly with the NHS, the government & other global organizations to create positive policy change across pregnancy, birth, & general healthcare for LGBT+ families.

Website: www.thelgbtmummiestrie.com

Instagram: @the_lgbt_mummies_tribe

Facebook: @thelgbtmummiestribex