"There's a big difference between being the partner who's pregnant and the partner who isn't. Neither is better or worse, they're just different. We can attest to that because we've both given birth." Parents: Sanna and Lisa Children: Adrian, 3 years and Ines, 6 months
Sanna's and Lisa's LGBT family consists of two children and two childbearers. Both partners can share their different experiences of pregnancy, since Sanna gave birth to Adrian and Lisa gave birth to Ines.
Sanna, what were your milestones during the 40 weeks of pregnancy?
"The first milestone was the insemination, the second was the positive pregnancy test. The third was the ultrasound scan, seeing a foetus. The next was feeling the baby's first kick."
Lisa, what were your milestones during Sanna's pregnancy with your first child?
"The same as Lisa's - the insemination, the positive test and the first ultrasound scan. Next was the first time I put my ear on the bump and heard Adrian's heartbeat. And of course when the waters broke."
Sanna, did you miss being pregnant the second time round?
"No, I'd decided not to get pregnant again. I had a difficult delivery and found it hard to bond with Adrian after the birth because I felt so physically bad. I couldn't really focus, so Lisa took the stronger role. Being the pregnant partner has advantages. But it also has many disadvantages. Naturally, there's a big difference between being the partner who's pregnant and the partner who isn't. Neither is better or worse, they're just different. We can attest to that because we've both given birth."
Lisa, when Sanna was pregnant, how often did she and others remind you that you were also expecting your first baby?
"We talked about it so much during Sanna's pregnancy that I felt like I was pregnant too. I always felt that we were sharing the pregnancy, that it was both of our business. Which of course it was."
Did you make it clear to other people that you were expecting a baby?
"Yes, we talked about it a lot, and continued to do so afterwards. A year after Adrian was born, we were still sitting round the kitchen table saying how strange it felt to be parents. We both find it hard to get used to our new role."
Did you feel involved in each other's pregnancies when you weren't the pregnant one?
"Yes, we included each other right from the start. We took the pregnancy test together both times. We've heard that with many straight couples, the woman takes the test alone and surprises the father with the news. We can't understand this at all. The couple gets pregnant together. The child is both partners' equally, and we think it's best to do the test together to both parents get off to the same start."
Sanna, what did you do to make each other feel equally involved?
"We took the test together and visited the maternity clinic together, not just for the ultrasound but for all the appointments. During the visits, the midwife asked us both how we were feeling and how the pregnancy was going. So me and Lisa both got the chance to talk during the visits, regardless of which of us was pregnant.
My blog also helped me feel more involved, since I was blogging about Lisa's pregnancy. It felt important to document the process, and it was nice to get comments from people who identified. I also wanted to share our perspective because there's not much information available about LGBT families."
Lisa, what did you do to make both partners feel equally involved?
"When Sanna was pregnant with our first child Adrian, I Googled just about everything. It's important for both partners to learn about becoming parents. But the most crucial thing in a relationship during pregnancy is to talk openly and share any feelings that come up. Otherwise you risk losing each other along the way."
Did you both find it important to feel equally involved during the pregnancy?
"Yes, absolutely. It should be equally important for all couples. But we think many straight couples take the traditional view that the pregnant woman has the key role, while the dad is less sure about his role. I think this is slowly changing though. After all, both parents are expecting the baby, even though only one of them has to bear the physical pain!"
Lisa, did you experience any issues due to not feeling included during Sanna's pregnancy?
"The non-pregnant partner gets less attention, and that bugged me for a while. Another issue was that later on, when I was pregnant, I would tell Sanna about my physical symptoms and she would just say 'Yes, I know'. That sometimes felt a bit unfair. After all, our pregnancies were very different. People's symptoms are never the same. I didn't feel sick like Sanna did, but I needed extra time off work because I got symphysis pubis dysfunction, which Sanna hadn't had. And our labours were very different too. I wouldn't have coped as well with giving birth if I hadn't already been through Sanna's pregnancy."
Did the two of you feel an emotional bond with the babies before giving birth?
"Yes, we felt a sort of bond. We sensed their personalities by the way they kicked and moved in the womb."
Were there times when either the pregnant or non-pregnant partner felt alone?
"An LGBT family generally feels alone when it comes to pregnancy. There are no books for us - neither for children nor for parents. You always have to mentally remove the dad from the picture, which is tough for the non-pregnant parent. There's nothing for us to read. As an LGBT family, you feel ignored in the literature that's available. It's as if your role doesn't exist."
Did you find certain subjects hard to talk about during pregnancy?
"We talked about everything. Every little slimy mucus plug. It feels like you've got nothing to hide when you're both women. We understand each other's bodies and can talk about absolutely anything without being embarrassed."