Creating your parenting village – Tayler’s Story

We’ve never really adopted the societal labels of being in the ‘rainbow community’ or being ‘lesbians’. We don’t see ourselves as different to any other people in the world trying to live out their hopes and dreams. I think what has enabled us to think this way (and survive) is by only letting those people in who we feel will respect our dynamic, and more relevantly… our way of having a family.

Holly and I signed up to Parents Centre’s Childbirth Education classes, turning up feeling awfully rotund and wishing I was in pyjamas already. I wasn’t really thinking about the prospect of meeting a room full of textbook couples; I think it crossed Holly’s mind though. We had both been raised in families that didn’t fit the garden sculpture so were very understanding of other’s circumstances. In saying that, we are both accustomed to ‘coming out’ repeatedly, many times in a week. Every time we meet someone new, they ask the generic questions about our husbands, our children. My husband sure does get talked about a lot for a man that doesn’t exist! The most entertaining revelation from strangers is what on earth our kids will call us.

I vaguely remember standing out like sore thumbs in this class… but mainly because neither of us was a tradie or worked from home. I’m sure there were whispers between couples about whether we were in fact a gay couple or maybe we were friends, sisters…it didn’t really matter because we did the same. We gossiped about who we knew from school and who they were friends with, who seemed loud and who worked for that local business. I think that’s just human nature. The educator took us aside at the break and apologised in advance if she addressed us incorrectly, or used nuclear titles which didn’t quite fit us. We appreciate the effort people go to, to understand a different way of life. In return, others appreciate us giving them space to navigate interactions with us. It’s all learning with respect, and that’s what was important.

We often got asked questions that started with disclaimers like “tell me if this isn’t appropriate but…”, followed by many a discussion about fertility treatments, deciding who carried the baby, how we chose our sperm donor, and who will be ‘mum’. The reality is, we asked ourselves these same questions. One of the most challenging moments was the hesitation of hospital staff around me breastfeeding our second child, who was birthed by my wife, Holly. In other cultures, feeding or wet nursing is not uncommon, but the idea was too far-fetched for some and I found myself foolishly justifying why I was breastfeeding my own child (albeit not my biological mini). This is where we went back to inviting those who appreciated our way of living into our baby making experience, and disregarding the naysayers.

By about session 4, having Holly and I in the class was the norm. Holly chose what group activities she was part of and what role she played based on what was going to give us the best and most well-rounded education (and value for money). We had a class-wide coffee catchup planned, and then another after the last session before the first of us gave birth. Our wee group blossomed from there and many a quiet flower in our bouquet let out their vibrant colour, supported by this group of former strangers. I don’t think we missed a Wednesday coffee catchup for the first six months and are still close and catch up regularly 16 months later!

In terms of parenting, I feel any parents of a newborn (regardless of gender) fall into similar roles – one of you birthed the thing (and maybe you feed it) and the other keeps said birth parent alive via snacks and coffee. After our first child, my wife Holly carried and birthed our second and the original antenatal mama group was there for her like they were there for me. They’re there for her sleepless nights, her frustrations, postpartum worries, and cute baby pics. I feel like our closest friends are now other parents from our antenatal class. Obviously similar circumstances bring people together, and that’s true in the sense that we wouldn’t have met these other spectacular humans in real life, but we wouldn’t have stayed friends with people and let them into our village if they weren’t the real deal. I sometimes look at our group and pinch myself; we never imagined we would have such a support system and have formed unbreakable bonds with strangers.

Oh, the class itself – the whole reason we’re here – to learn about carrying, labouring, birthing, feeding and bathing a baby. You could read the book of gold standard parenting exactly seven times, but you’ll still lay awake, repeatedly checking that your baby is breathing. You’ll still douse your whole body in lanolin, spend hours trying to wedge your high tech mountain buggy into various small spaces and encounter poonamis soaking into the car seat. The classes kind of briefly exposed us to all that, and I think those small mentions came back as 2.00am exclamations “oh my gosh, I remember being told that, it all makes sense now”


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