Ariane Audet

Katie & Stephanie, Montclair VA (USA)

Ariane Audet
Katie & Stephanie, Montclair VA (USA)

(K) I always wanted a kid. I think we had been married for a year when we started thinking about it. I kind of had to convince my wife, but eventually she agreed, and we started trying. We went to the Fairfax Cryobank and picked a donor. We rejected a lot because I wanted someone with a specific blood type and a redhead, like me, so our choices were limited. The profiles are very thorough: you can hear them answering questions and they have to write an essay. We tried three times and it worked the third time, which was lucky because the process is kind of complicated and expensive. I was really surprised it worked, honestly. I have really bad anxiety and on our last visit to the doctor, I was freaking out and having a panic attack. It might have been the fertility medicine too. The pregnancy was fine. I was terrified of giving birth my whole life. I thought it was the worst thing ever, but I really wanted a baby so I was like… I got to do it! Fortunately, the birth was quick and not as bad as I thought it would be. The hospital stay is kind of a blur though. We were there for two days and it was just a revolving door of people, nurses, and strangers coming in and out while we were trying to sleep because - obviously - we were all exhausted from being up all night. I also started nursing him at the hospital and it went pretty well. But when we came back home, I had to have a lactation specialist come because I was getting sores and it was bleeding. My wife looked up online and found someone in the neighborhood. She was awesome and came right away, at 11 pm on a Sunday night. She gave up tips and different positions that the hospital didn’t allow us to use. Nursing ended up getting better. He loves it now. It’s so much easier than having to make bottles and to clean them. Although I never clean them. My wife does!

Katie1_Faces_of_Postpartum

(K) He gave us a scare after I gave birth to him. You can see his ear is a little bit misshapen. He was born like that. That was kind of stressful because they didn’t know if he could hear or not. It ended up being not as serious as it seemed at first, but in the hospital, we kind of freaked out because he failed his hearing test twice. As a newborn, they do it right away and there’s no explanation of the test: it’s either you pass or fail. We didn’t know what it meant. After we came back home, we took him to an audiologist. They did a special hearing test and the doctor said that he had a nerve there and was physiologically capable of hearing. Maybe not a lot, but it’s there. It was such a relief. And he hears fine from his other ear. For now, he’s developing perfectly. He babbles like any other kids. He adapts, too, like he will turn his head to hear. The ear will have to be fixed cosmetically later, but we’re going to wait until he’s older. We want for him to be able to make a decision and we’ll ask him if he wants to have it fixed or not. We don’t want to force it on him: it’s going to be his choice.

Stephanie2_Faces_of_Postpartum

(S) I’m absolutely fine being the non-biological mom and I 100% feel like his mom, too. I was a little hesitant at first, wondering if I was going to bond the same, but it’s been great. There’s been some people that just automatically assume I’m not the mom and will ask "Oh, but who’s the dad?’ or ‘Who’s the mom?" Well… actually, both of us are! People aren’t used to see two women together so they make assumptions. They know someone is the ‘birth’ mom and they want to know who is. Same thing happens with the donor: we always refer to him as ‘the donor,’ but people keep asking who’s the dad. And the answer is: there’s no dad. There never was and never will be. Also, there are still people around here who might be bothered about having lesbians around their kids. Hopefully not, but we know it can happen, so when we meet a stranger, we feel it’s better to let them know beforehand so you don’t have an awkward situation. At work also, she can’t be out to her students. It sucks because they do ask questions. They know she has a baby and they’re like, "Are you married?" Most of them wouldn’t care and know there’s nothing wrong with gay people. But there’s a couple of them we know their parents told them it’s wrong, because they make remarks about other students as an insult. I have a photo of her and him at work, and I’m very open about it. I know she’s not trying to hide me from anyone, I met her coworkers and all. But to her students, our family can’t really exist.

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(S) She stayed home with him for four months because she had him at the end of April and was off from teaching for the whole summer. I got two and a half weeks off after he was born, and it was pretty much sick-leave. I think she adapted better to it than I did. I don’t really like change too much so it took me a month or two to adapt to his schedule and all. Obviously, babies change your entire life. You can’t be spontaneous and take off to the store and there’s no such things as ‘sleeping-in’ anymore. He wakes up at 6:30 am even on weekends! Those are things that you don’t think about when you don’t have a baby. It takes time to process. But then you get so much out of it. I adjusted my schedule after a while and I’m off on Thursday and Friday. It’s nice because I have that one-on-one time with him that I didn’t have in the beginning. That really helped our relationship. At first, she was with him all the time and was very protective - and doing everything. But when she went back to work and I got to be alone with him, I had the space to figure it out myself. I think all parents have to go through that in different ways, but that alone time, it really helped me bond with him.