I met Lisa when I was three months pregnant with Master C.
He was to be my final child: the one I intended on raising completely on my own. Years of co-parenting my older three kids had worn me down emotionally, and I was determined not to have to share this little one with anyone. It just hurt too much.
Bright, friendly and brimming with zest for life, I liked Lisa from the moment I met her. She was so easy to talk to, and not the slightest bit judgemental or critical. She knew that I was a single mother who was expecting another child in July. She also knew I wasn’t looking for any kind of relationship. She was genuine, kind and thoughtful and I enjoyed nothing more than chatting to her. We had so much in common – both sporty, both worked in careers with a focus on the wellbeing of children, both quite mainstream in our approach to life – well, as mainstream as two lesbians can be at least – and both of us were seeking new, interesting, relatively normal people to spend time with.
Having previously met online years before on the good old ‘Pink Sofa’ – the lesbian messaging website – we found it easy to rekindle our friendship. Eventually after a month or so of incessant online contact, Lisa offered to drive down from Toowoomba to spend the day with me. This was to be our first meeting. We planned a movie day on one of my child-free weekends, and I was grateful for the company. There had been several iconic lesbian movies we had discussed and both wanted to watch, so we set about making it happen. I felt no pressure from Lisa for anything more than friendship, but I was still very nervous. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but it didn’t matter. Either way, I felt I had nothing to lose.
Something that sticks in my mind about that day is how comfortable Lisa was. I met her at my front gate and instead of appearing tense or nervous, or in any way phased by meeting me, she giggled and said, ‘Here I am’ holding out her arms as if to say ‘Tadaaaaaa!’ She broke the ice and just seemed so at ease with herself. Not riddled with self-consciousness like me.
The day went well. So well in fact, that she invited me to go for a drive back up to Toowoomba that night as she needed to feed her parents’ dog for them while they were away. She invited me to stay in the guest bedroom, adding that we could watch another movie if I didn’t have other plans, and that she would drive me home the next day. When I protested at how much trouble it was to drive me all the way back, Lisa immediately dismissed my concerns. I accepted, thrilled to be going on a little adventure instead of spending the evening alone at home.
Responsible, loyal, family-oriented – tick. It was lovely to have a new friend like Lisa.
I was determined not to mislead her. In saying this, I had perhaps over-emphasised my unwillingness to enter into a relationship, in case it appeared as though I was open to someone becoming a co-parent to my impending child.
In retrospect, I am certain that I bordered on being offensive, for anyone who didn’t possess the steel-clad self-esteem that Lisa does.
It was non-negotiable and she accepted this, no questions asked. At the same time, I felt myself growing more and more comfortable with her, and over the next few weeks spent quite a deal of time with Lisa, whether it be online, via text or in person.
My pregnancy progressed smoothly. My sister Jacqui accompanied me to my 20 week scan, where I learned that I was expecting a healthy little boy. Lisa was thrilled for me. Having her in the background to share my thoughts and fears with made life that much less stressful for me. I grew to rely on her and she made me feel so worthwhile and valued. She helped me navigate some difficult co-parenting waters in a fair minded and completely respectful manner. I saw firsthand how she responded to conflict and her concerns were always related to what was best for our child in each situation.
Like it or not, the more time I spent with her, the more my feelings for Lisa blossomed. I called it friendship, but the reality was, my feelings were stronger than this. How on Earth, though, could I contemplate a relationship with her when I had this baby, as well as my other children, to consider? The last thing I wanted were more attachments I couldn’t guarantee would continue.
Plus, quite simply, I wasn’t sharing again.
I rang Lisa one day after she had been out to dinner with her friends from work. She happened to mention that they had been trying to ‘set her up’ with the waitress, who she said seemed quite friendly towards her. While I felt somewhat incensed at the thought of her flirting with someone, I realised I had no claim over her, given I had made it abundantly clear that I was not in the market for a relationship.
I went to bed feeling strangely betrayed. For no good reason whatsoever.
By the time I was six months pregnant, an event occurred which really caused me to confront my feelings about the role Lisa was to play in my life. My brother and sister-in-law had their first child, a darling little girl called Chloe. We were all so thrilled and excited for them – she was the most beautiful newborn, and the photos we saw were picture perfect images of two adoring parents staring at their pride and joy. Another photo, the one that really hit home for me, showed my brother Steve gazing in awe at his wife as she stared at their little girl. He looked so proud and completely smitten with her.
And for the first time, in an overwhelming, no doubt hormonal-induced panic, I realised that I truly was doing this on my own. There would be no partner to share milestones with, no ‘other half’ to lean on for support and love, and no one to share my late night fears and hopes with.
This little boy would only have me.
Was I putting my child first by keeping him all for myself, when I had someone as wonderful as Lisa only too keen and willing to join me in this? I knew Lisa wanted kids. I knew she was wonderful with them. I knew she wasn’t truly interested in anyone else, and that she enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed hers. My other kids adored spending time with her and she went out of her way to make them feel valued and special.
It occurred to me that if she continued to be in my life after this baby was born, which I wanted very much, he would get to know and love her just as the other kids were already beginning to – regardless of my desire to keep him for myself.
I realised that I didn’t actually want to be on my own, but what I was doing was effectively seeking a relationship ‘money back guarantee’ that in real life, doesn’t actually exist.
An age-old saying – one of my favourites – ran through my mind as I pondered the life I wanted for myself and my children:
“What if I fall? Oh my darling, but what if you fly?”
Could I do this on my own? Yes. Did I truly want to? No.
I wanted to be with Lisa.
I knew what I needed to do.
Full of fear, I spoke to Lisa.
Her response took my breath away.
It was simple, yet perfect. Along with the biggest dimpled smile I had ever seen were three words: ‘I’m all in’. She had no hesitation, no conditions – nothing but complete certainty that it would all work out for the best for everyone. She was truly ecstatic, as was I.
And so, five years ago yesterday, on April 18 – we made it official.
Three months later, on July 25, 2014, we welcomed our little man into the world. Lisa saw him before me, as I had to have an Emergency Caesarean when Master C went into distress. Upon being born, he was immediately whipped away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Lisa was able to accompany him while I was being stitched up.
She didn’t leave his side, and was there for him when I couldn’t be.
It was at that moment that I knew I had made the right decision, and that I had given my little boy the most amazing gift in giving him Lisa as his other Mum.
From the moment she laid eyes on him, she fell completely and utterly in love.
What a lucky boy he is to have her. As am I.
Almost as lucky as we both are to have him.
Cover photo credit: De’Dash Newborn Photography