Today I have a pleasure to introduce to you our new Empowering Moms: Julie and Kris. In the interview they will share with you their story and challenges they have been facing as a lesbian couple.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you become a mom and how old are your kids.
Hello, my name is Julie and my wife is Kris. We are a two mom family and have 2 beautiful children. Parker is 3 and Luna is 5 months! My wife and I are going on almost 18 years together. We met while I was playing varsity soccer in high school. I was around 16 and she was around 23. Kris was our goalie coach. When I first met her, I was obsessed. I had an instant crush on her. She, on the other hand, disliked me. She said I had a bad attitude! Well, 5 years later, our paths crossed again and she asked me out on a date. We hit it off this time and I knew she was the one! It was definitely a mutual feeling! Fast forward almost 18 years and we have built an amazing life with 2 amazing children.
Are you a stay at home mom or are you pursuing your career or passion? Tell us more about what you do?
I am an Emergency Room RN. I work the night shift, 7pm-7am. I have been a nurse for 7 years and worked as a paramedic prior to that. Kris is a high school teacher and has been teaching for 22 years. She currently teaches digital art.
How have you been coping in difficult pandemic times?
The pandemic has been very difficult on many families and we are fortunate to not have suffered like some others. The ER was very busy during this time and definitely kept me on my toes. I had to be so careful because I didn't want to bring anything home to my family. I would get to work, change out into scrubs, work 12 hours and then change back into the clothes I came in. I would then take off my clothes at the front and run in the house and shower before I could kiss my family good morning. Luckily, Kris was home everyday because she was teaching from home.
How would you compare your old self (prior to having kids) to the present self. Let us know what is the biggest thing that your kid/s changed about you?
Prior to having kids, we would probably say our spontaneity has changed. Back in the day we traveled a lot and went to a lot of concerts. Now, we can't just pick up and go somewhere or do something on a whim. We now have to plan everything.
The biggest thing that our kids have changed about us, we would say they definitely calmed us down. I wouldn’t say we were wild before kids, but we definitely toned it down some! Our sex life has changed some since our son still sleeps with us in bed. We always said before kids that when we have kids they will never sleep in bed with us. Well, 3 years later and our son sleeps with us most of the time. We literally have to time our sex life around when he sleeps in his bed.
What is the 1 thing (or more) that you wish someone would have told you about parenthood before you had kids?
You will never go to the bathroom alone ever again😆
What do you think is the biggest challenge of being a "Gay" mother in today's world?
I think we have many of the same challenges any other parent has to deal with but we also have challenges we face as lesbian moms. When people find out that we have kids, many people ask who the father is. I don’t understand why people would even ask that. Would you ask a heterosexual person who the father is? Not every child has a father or a mother. Many kids are raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles or foster parents. Our children have 2 moms and that’s it. They don’t have a father but they do have a lot of male role models in their lives. They are loved and that’s all that matters! Love is what makes a family! We expose our kids now to all different kinds of families and will always tell them the truth about how they were created. We never want them to feel uncomfortable and we never want to lie to them.
One of our biggest challenge, is legal issues. Even though my wife is on both our children’s birth certificates, she still doesn’t have complete rights to our children if we cross Florida state lines. Other states may not recognize that she is on the birth certificate and may not recognize her as a parent. When heterosexual parents are on the birth certificates, no one questions anything.
What is the best memory that you have with your kid/s so far?
Our best memory we have of our kids so far is the day they were both born and the day they both came home from the NICU .
Would you tell us more about your conceiving and pregnancies journeys?
As a lesbian couple, conceiving a child isn't easy. We first had to pick a donor. Do we choose someone we know or do we pick and unknown donor from a sperm bank. We decided to pick a donor from a sperm back. Now was the decision of trying to pick someone. We read through countless donors and profiles and finally found our pick. During this time, I was doing a bunch of tests to make sure my body was capable of carrying a child. Our fertility doctor thought because I was 34 at the time, it was best to start me on oral fertility medication. Now, it was time to start our IUI insemination. After 4 months of getting negative pregnancy tests, the doctor recommended changing donors. We went through a number of donor profiles again and found a profile that was a perfect match for us. After our 6th insemination, we were pregnant! At our 6 week ultrasound we had a confirmed heart beat. We were beyond ecstatic. One week later, I started to bleed and found out I had a subchorionic hemorrhage. Finally, once I entered the 2nd trimester, I was in the clear! Fast forward to 34 weeks pregnant and I ended up having an emergency cesarean due to low amniotic fluid. It was the scariest time of our lives, not knowing if our son Parker was going to be okay. Parker was born 4lbs2oz. He had to go to the NICU where he needed oxygen and feeding support. My wife and I were spending day and night around the clock with our son and learning how to care for him. Finally, after 24 days in the NICU, Parker came home!
Almost 2 years later, we were ready to try for baby #2. After we had Parker, we found out our donor was no longer donating so we had to find someone else. After a lot of long conversations, my brother-n-law agreed to donate for us. My doctor sent me for testing again and I found out I had a low egg reserve. She thought this time it would would be best if I did injectable fertility medicine and progesterone. After the 3rd IUI insemination, we got a positive pregnancy test. We were so happy but unfortunately, I ended up having a miscarriage. Our hearts were broken but we couldn’t give up. After giving my body a month to recover, we tried again. After our 5th IUI, we were pregnant again. We were excited but scared. We were so nervous for our 6 week ultrasound. During COVID, all of our visits to the doctor had to be without my wife. We were able to FaceTime during the inseminations and that made it really hard for me not to have her in there. She was very sad too because she would be the one the inject them sperm in me with the doctors help and couldn’t do it this time. During this ultrasound, we didn’t get the best news we were hoping for. The doctor was having a hard time finding the heart beat. She wanted me to come back in 2 weeks to repeat it. We left the doctor crying and not knowing what to expect or how to feel. But we were still hopeful. The very next morning I woke up hemorrhaging. I was bleeding so much that I thought for sure I was having a miscarriage. I immediately went to the hospital I worked at and had blood work and an ultrasound done. By this time, the bleeding still hadn’t stopped. When the tech was doing my ultrasound, she showed me the monitor and said “look, here’s the heart beat!” I couldn’t believe it. I started crying. I was discharged home on bed rest because I had a large subchorionic hemorrhage and was told the babies heart rate was low and I needed to follow up with OB/GYN. At 9 weeks we followed up and I still had the bleed but it was stable. By the 2nd trimester, it was gone. By 3rd trimester my blood pressure was being monitored because it was on the rise. Fast forward to 35 weeks and I had to have another emergency cesarean for preeclampsia. Luna was born at 4lbs12oz and had to go to the NICU for oxygen and feeding support. Luckily, Luna only spent 12 days there and was sent home to meet her brother!
Can you tell your best advice for the first time mom who is expecting but doesn't know what to expect?
You are going to be a great mom! A lot of people will give you advice on many things about parenting and what you should and shouldn't do but always remember that you are the mom and whatever you choose to do will be what's best for your baby.
Last but not least, can you list 3 things that were really useful and made your life easier during your babies 1st year. Recommend other pregnant moms what they should have on their registry.
The 3 things that we found really useful what a baby bouncer, swaddles and a boppy pillow.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Wish you and your family lots of love and happiness.
Here is beautiful Luna posing on her milestone blanket.