Carrying on the pride celebrations this month, we wanted to sit down with and celebrate some members of the LGBTQ+ community who often get overlooked; parents! We all know parenting is often a tough but incredibly rewarding job so we decided to find out what parenthood is like for first time mothers Lucy and Stacey. Lucy and Stacey are a Kent-based lesbian couple who have been together for almost 4 years and have a lovely little 1 year old boy named Axel. Stacey is currently studying for a PhD focusing on the role of physical activity during fertility treatment, whilst working at Canterbury Christ Church University as a research assistant. Lucy works part-time as a delivery driver, with her main role in the family being caring for Axel. She also works as a freelance dog and cat groomer! We sat down with this young family to find out all about what it is like to be same-sex parents and how they are finding motherhood.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Lucy & Stacey! Firstly we have to ask, what’s the best part about being a mum?
The fact that every single day you know he will bring you happiness and smiling comes easy no matter how much else is going on around you. No two days are the same, our little boy Axel is constantly changing, growing and learning new things which is unbelievably rewarding to watch! Coming home from work and seeing his face light up with excitement never gets old. It has evolved our relationship as a couple and brought us closer and stronger because we are now working together as a team to bring up our son.
Also, you get to relive every experience, no matter how small. Things we used to do and take for granted are so exciting to a baby that has never seen the world before, it really changes your perspective of life and the little things really are important. A simple walk to the park can be so joyful for him and it makes it all worthwhile to see him happy.
Did you always know you both wanted children?
Stacey: Yes, from a young age I have always envisioned myself having children but when I came out as gay I was sceptical about my chances of becoming a mum. At the time I didn’t know many gay people and was unaware of the possible routes into parenthood for same sex couples. I have worked in various schools coaching and teaching sport or supporting SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) children and it made me even more sure that it was something I wanted for myself.
Lucy: Not always , from a young age I used to see a more stereotypical future for myself but as I got older and matured and realised I was gay, it put that kind of future out of my head as I knew nothing about how to become a mum within a same sex relationship, so I thought it wasn’t an option for me anymore. I always really enjoyed relationships with friends and families children, and as time passed and I entered into a nurturing and positive relationship, this quickly reaffirmed my desire to become a mum.
Do you know many other same sex parents?
Before we went through our fertility treatment, we didn’t know anyone our age with children but more recently there have been a few of our friends that have just had a baby. Having been around a few older same sex couples at work and school was really encouraging and supportive of what we were about to take on.
What has been the most challenging part about becoming parents?
Having not known many other same sex couples closely enough to ask them about their experiences meant we had limited information on clinics, treatments or costs so we had to do a lot of research ourselves. Also, adapting your entire life and shifting the focus of every daily activity to be directed onto Axel. Every activity or place you go needs to be properly planned in advance and it takes a lot longer to leave the house because you need to be carrying everything you need! As well as the sleep deprivation from when Axel is poorly or simply wants to play at 2am and he doesn’t understand we can’t just nap all day like he can when he’s up all night.
What has surprised you the most about motherhood?
The different opportunities it gives you. It changes the people around you, the conversations you have (who knew how much parents talk about their child’s nappy contents so much!) Also, the bond that you make as a parent with your child is unlike any love before. We were also surprised how much closer it has bought us as a couple.
Do you think it is more challenging for same sex parents than heterosexual?
The first challenges come from simply wanting to start a family. You have to look around a bit to find information on the methods for starting your family as there are various ways and options to conceive. GPs are generally not a go-to place for this. We were lucky that our fertility clinic was exceptionally helpful and supportive from our first introductory appointment. They filled in the gaps in our research and helped us plan our method and budget. Once pregnant, the rest of it went smoothly as did the birth and early years, other than the odd confusing moment when we had to explain we were both his mums (one of these times being at the registry office because of a misunderstanding Stacey was missed of the birth certificate!) But for us personally it has all, so far, been comfortably challenging . However, we think that it might be more challenging when Axel is older and attends school and makes his own friends etc. They might ask questions as well as Axel having his own so it is just ensuring that we are open and honest with him and continuously provide him with a loving home.
What do you think could be improved for LGBTQ+ parents?
I think it is being more publicised on social media and tv etc. that same sex parents exist, and there is a lot of information available if you do your research. However, I think it would be nice if you could receive some funding to assist in the process as we can’t help our sexual orientation and starting a family is such an extensive financial investment, moreso for same sex couples.
Can you sum up your experiences as new parents in 5 words?
Challenging, rewarding, life-changing, expensive, unimaginable-
We would like to thank Lucy and Stacey for taking the time to sit down with us and share their experiences of being same sex parents. If you are a same sex parent, a member of the LGBTQ+ community looking to start a family, or just want to learn more about gay and lesbian parenting, the charity FFLAG has some great resources available on their website. Happy Pride month to all the wonderful LGBTQ+ families out there!