We're not a typical family, although I'm pretty sure there is no such thing. But I'm positive that we're not one.
I'm gay, married to a woman and my two children were conceived using an anonymous sperm donor and in vitro fertilization (IVF). So yes, we're probably doing this the hard way. On the bright side, however, after spending so much money and working so hard to get pregnant, parenting my kids somehow seems relatively cheap and easy.
And like a lot of experiences in life, there is no handbook. We're making this up as we go along, and somewhere along the line we decided that none of this was going to be a secret. We wanted to answer our children's questions using facts and what seemed like age-appropriate conversation about human reproduction. And we weren't going to sit our children down one day and have a big talk about how they were different or the same, either. It would just sort of come out over time. And it did.
One night, we were sitting around the living room after dinner with our 2-year-old and our 4-year-old enjoying a few minutes of "family time" before some half-naked, half-crazed member of the family went running off screaming that it's time to watch a movie, and the topic of how our daughters were born came up.
"I want to look at pictures of me in Mima's belly," said Wynn, the 4-year-old.
She never gets tired of hearing about how she was in my uterus for 10 months. I worry that this is because she's lazy and relishes the idea of being curled up somewhere warm, carried around and automatically fed through a tube in her stomach.
"I want to look at pictures of me in Mima's belly, too," said Marlo, the 2-year-old.
"You were frozen at the time," said Pam, my spouse.
"I was frozen, too," said Wynn.
"No you weren't. Only Marlo was frozen," I said.
Wynn and Marlo were part of the same batch of fertilized eggs and Wynn was hatching (this is really what they call it) so they put her in my uterus -- her favorite place in the whole world -- and Marlo went into the deep freeze along with some others to wait for the next round of child-bearing.
"I want to be frozen!" cried Wynn.
"Listen, not everyone can be frozen. Only Marlo and Han Solo."
"Who is Hand Solo?" said Marlo.
"A space cowboy."
"I want to watch Toy Story!"
And then family time was over.
And although I appear confident at the beginning of the post about telling our children (and the world) about how they were born, I was still wondering if this was a good conversation to have. And here is where I landed:
"Shame thrives on secret keeping," says Brene Brown in her book Daring Greatly. And I am not ashamed of my children or how they came into this world. And I don't want them to be ashamed, either. I think it's amazing that they came at all, and that I am lucky enough to live in a country and a time where the resources to have children are available. And I'm just really looking forward to the time when Marlo tells someone she was frozen, like Hand Solo.