relationships

"I want to tell you a love story. It’s a different type of love story."

I want to tell you a love story. It’s a different type of love story.

It’s not the traditional boy meets girl, they fall in love and make babies story. It’s more girl meets girl, they fall in love and some friends from that first story help them make a baby. Two, actually!

It’s an epic story, one where you feel like the director was indulgent keeping too many repetitive scenes. But it’s like that; it takes a lot of planning and time for lesbians to make babies. At first I kept a journal, I made little sketches of places and things, and kept emails between us all. I knew my child would find it challenging to reference their story in mainstream family folklore.

There was lots of planning, charting bell-shaped ovulation charts, talking, and dreaming. Some bits took less planning, like who would carry the first baby was decided by a coin toss whilst on holidays in Thailand. Maybe it was something about the shape of that Baht coin, but it landed in favour of Louise five times.

Other decisions took more planning, like the logistics of matching ovulation with travelling to Canberra, where my friends Pia and David and their children then lived.

We would wait until their children were asleep to do a home insemination. David with a sweet shy smile handing over a little parcel (lunch zip-log bag) me quickly inseminating (some would be surprised a little medicine dispenser works just fine) done just in time for an episode of The West Wing. Imagine the four of us there on the couch, sharing a tub of gelato, one of us with our legs up in the air… like no love story you’ve ever seen on TV. But that’s my love story, and how our babies were made.

David and Vanessa with all the children. Pia and Louise not are missing in this pic unfortunately. Image supplied.
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And then one day that story gathers momentum, and we are driving up to Katoomba hospital with labor pains. All night I labor, while David and Pia pack their kids in the car and travel to the mountains. They pack fruit, their eldest daughter Ruby’s orange baby wrap, little Ash brings a toy of his to give to the baby, they bring brazil nuts and a six-pack of Guinness believed to help breastfeeding.

This plump healthy beautiful boy with David’s deep blue eyes enters our lives. We name him Leo. He is wrapped in Ruby’s orange baby wrap. I am surprised by how much love we feel for this little stranger who has just arrived, it’s like he’s always been here. Louise, David, Pia and the children take turns in looking at and holding him. It’s a universal moment, totally ordinary and life changing all at once.

For my parents Leo was a miracle baby, in that Catholic miracle kind of way.

All the children. Image supplied.

When my mother cried after I came out to her, she says her biggest worry was about how I’d be treated, that I might end up lonely and without children. It wasn’t going to be like that. Weeks after Leo was born the mailman kept delivering cards and parcels. Friend’s elderly mothers knitted him angora cardigans, work friends cooked meals, and a sea of pale blue baby cards with a splash of lesbian-approved Wilderness society cards built up on the shelf. I have never felt so much love and acceptance as when Leo was born. Three years later we welcomed another baby, Joel.

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Maybe this love story is no different to many others. Every rainbow family marching tonight will have their rich story and unique journey.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, for us it took the love and commitment of friends to make a family. I am marching with my little sons this Mardi Gras, and our friends who are now family.

Image supplied.

Leo and Joel are little today, and I wonder what meaning they will make when looking back at a picture of us all at the 39th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

For Pia and David, they share with me that the love and friendships created is two way, and that we too have become so precious in their lives. I think about their generosity and love. They have not only joined our family, but this vibrant LGBTI community. I feel overwhelming love and gratitude for them. And pride.

This parade looks out for a huge red sparkly love heart on a truck, with a simple message “love makes a family.” We are marching with the biggest ever group of LGBTQI parents and their children as part of the Rainbow Families float.

It’s not a traditional love story, but it’s ours.

Vanessa Gonzalez is the co-chair of Rainbow Families. For more information on connecting, supporting, and empowering LGBTQI families, click here.

There's a Rainbow Families seminar on March 25. For more details, click here.

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