Q&A with mum and YouTuber Lisa from Teddy has Two Mams
Lisa and Lynsey are mums to adorable Teddy. The lovely family shares their life on YouTube – from wedding to fertility treatment, life as mummies and much more. We have been lucky to have a chat with Lisa asking her the questions we received from you on Instagram. See the entire Q&A session and read the interview with Lisa here.
Have you always known that you wanted children?
“Yeah, I think so. There wasn’t a big conversation about it, but I think we just always knew. It was like: Do you want kids? Yeah, well I want them too. So, it wasn’t ever a big conversation because we both agreed. We always knew that it would be something we wanted in the future. I think we were more certain about babies than getting married. The getting married part, as much as I love being married and I’m very happy to be married, that was mostly influenced by having babies. Not that it is absolutely necessary to be married. But it gives you an extra layer of protection, so you are able to be named on the birth certificate. So, I’m officially Teddy’s second parent – I’m actually first on the birth certificate. In the UK on a normal birth certificate its father first and then mother. Obviously, there was no father on Teddy’s birth certificate but mother is in the same place. So, I’m above Lynsey as a parent which she was furious about. She put in all that effort and then I was first.”
Lynsey is the one who carried the baby – how did you decide who was going to carry the baby?
“There is a very practical reason why Lynsey had Teddy, and that is because she is just a little bit older than I am. And we are not in an age, where we had a lot of time, shall we say. It’s no secret. But Lynsey was 41 when we conceived Teddy. And I am not quite 40 yet, but not far from. And she knew that she wanted to biologically parent a child. She wasn’t entirely convinced that she wanted to carry. She would have absolutely loved to have done reciprocal IVF, but the time when we were first looking into IVF the circumstances weren’t quite right. So, she went through with the fertility treatment and that’s how we decided. We also knew that we both wanted to raise each other’s children. So, it was important for us both that we both biologically had a child.”
Can you recommend a good clinic – and of course an affordable one?
“The clinics are interesting because there is so much that goes into choosing the perfect clinic. Just as we were practical in our approach to who was going to carry first, we also had to be quite practical when choosing a clinic. And one of the things that you really need to consider is where the clinic is. I would absolutely recommend the clinic that we were treated at and I have done so. But if you don’t live right around the corner from us, it’s probably not much use.
So, what I would be more inclined to do is recommend the type of IVF we had. We are really big advocates for mild IVF, which is the type of treatment that Lynsey had. Mild IVF essentially is fewer drugs basically. It’s all mapped out through your natural cycles and there is not a lot of down-regulation. In fact, there is no down-regulation. You start your medication on the second day of your cycle. The real focus is on quality vs. quantity. So, we never went into our mild IVF knowing we would get like 15-20 eggs. That was never the aim. The aim was to come out with a few really brilliant ones. And then one of those became Teddy.”
When and how do you begin answering the questions about having two mammies?
“That’s an interesting one. We haven’t told him because it’s just his life. He knows he has a mammy and a mommy. That’s how we differentiate between the two. Lynsey is from the north of England and they call them “mam”. So, she is Mam and I am Mom. So, I guess for Teddy it’s actually a conversation about the fact that not everyone has two mums because he doesn’t know anything different.
We are really close to our families, we don’t have a huge extended family, but we have a family, who are all straight. So, his cousins have a mom and a dad. It’s just ongoing learning, I guess. We have books that we have already started reading to Teddy. Stories about families who have two mums, or two dads or one mum or maybe they live with grand mum. We want him to understand how his family is different. I think you have to give that information to your children so they don’t just trotter into the world and then they are confronted with the reality that actually their family isn’t the same as everybody else’s. We want him to understand that people might perceive his family to be a bit different. So, we will just continue to read those books. We just got a really great one, I can’t remember the author’s name, but it’s called “The Family Book”. There is a series of them. We’ve got the piece book and the family book, and it’s really fun, and it just talks about the different kinds of families that exist.
We don’t want to rely on other families to make sure that their kids know. We want him to be confident and self-assured and we are not going to hide anything from him. We are not going to hide the fact that he has a donor as a part of his story. He is 14 months, we talk to him all day long, he can barely say dog at the moment, so conversations are happening, but we are not sitting down over dinner and having serious conversations with him. But we will just introduce it as a part of the conversation. We are not going to hide anything from him. We chose his donor very carefully. It was a journey that we went on to find the perfect person and we are very proud of that person. And we are proud of the role that man has played in our family.
So, when people ask: Do you have a dad? He can say: No, I don’t have a dad, but this is how my family was created.”
What do you think is the biggest challenge you face as a lesbian parent?
“I don’t know. We are really lucky that we live in London. We live in a multicultural city in the UK. We see other two-mum-families, we see girls walking down the street holding hands. He sees all kinds of life where we live. So, it’s not like we have faced over criticism or any situations where being two mums has been an issue.
The biggest obstacle, I guess, was becoming parents. Because everything since then has just been your regular parent-issues. You know, heatwave, baby can’t cope, we’ve been up all night. That kind of everyday parent problems. He tipped over a few weeks ago and we ended up in A&E. Just that kind of stuff – those are our parenting stories really.
So, the biggest issue of being two women has just been the process of getting pregnant. And that was definitely more difficult than we expected. We were so naive, we were like “we don’t really need fertility treatment, we just don’t have any sperm, we just need help in that area”. And then we had 4 IUIs before IVF and that didn’t work. That was a slap around the face and it brought us back to reality and actually, your age is an issue perhaps. We definitely underestimated that.
We were absolutely lucky that we were successful in our first round of IVF – our first embryo transfer. We absolutely know that for some other people, women, straight or gay, that isn’t always the case. Whilst at the time, it felt like a long process. But compared to other families, it was relatively short. I think it was two years in total to get pregnant. And we had 4 IUIs, then we had a break. Lynsey took some time off and completely overheld her diet and her nutrition.
I have mentioned this a couple of times, but we are very practical people, so we approach things in a practical way. And she is a personal trainer, she is qualified in prenatal training. So, she has worked with women who have been pregnant, who are pregnant, who have had babies. She knew the IUI wasn’t working and obviously, age was an issue. So she did a ton of research, she took some time off and she really tackled this head-on. She was in the best condition of her life. I was so impressed. She is so determined and she held her diet and her nutrition. She was literally taking handfuls of supplement and vitamins, she really took care of herself, she worked really hard and it paid off. She was successful on the first transfer which was incredible. I think we’ve got 5 embryos, 3 of Lynsey’s and 2 of mine. So, despite me being the youngest, she actually did better on her IVF. I wasn’t quite as disciplined as she was perhaps.”
What was the number one sacrifice you made on your fertility journey?
“I guess it would be the time off, and that’s not really a sacrifice. For us, the break we took in the middle of our journey was taking the time off. Lynsey talks about mentally after the IUI, she just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. So actually, the time off to take care of herself also had a huge impact on her mental health and it meant that she was really ready for the IVF. Also, we changed a lot of things just head space-wise, she was just in a much better space.”
What’s it like being the other mum and not genetically related to Teddy?
“It’s so funny because I just don’t think about the fact that we are not related. He is just my baby. And that’s it really. And it’s funny, I guess, in the beginning, I had some weird anxiety about how people would see me. And then I said it to someone and they said: Well you wouldn’t think that way about a woman who adopted a baby. You wouldn’t question whether or not she was able to love that baby. Of course, she would. And actually, you think, well that’s incredible and amazing and how wonderful that woman is. And how special that relationship I’m sure is as well. So, I kind of got over that a little bit. It was kind of like my weird thing in the beginning.
I mean he doesn’t know which one of us carried him. Today he is just seeking me out wherever he can. He is not feeling 100 % today, and he just wants to cuddle me the whole time, and then some days he’ll just want Lynsey. So, I just don’t even think about it. He is just my child, he is my son. And I love him.”
How was it when you chose the donor? What were the most important factors for you?
“We definitely went on another journey – we are always on these journeys. But in the beginning, when we were looking for a donor, I was like “they must be olive-skinned like I am”. I thought they have to have dark hair, dark eyes and it was all about the aesthetics for me. And we had one donor when we were doing IUIs. And when that didn’t work, we literally changed everything. We changed treatment, donor, clinic – we changed a lot. And when we were looking for our new donor, at that point we were pushing like 8 or 9 months into the actual fertility treatment.
When we started talking, we realized that our priorities had changed. I think it was one afternoon, I was spending time with my sister, and my sister looks like me – dark hair, dark eyes. My niece has blond curly hair, and I was looking at the two of them, and I thought that she does look like us, we are definitely related. But her hair is this wild, curly, blond mop. And I thought: Why is it so important to me that our future child looks like me with dark hair and dark eyes? So that didn’t matter anymore. Then when we started looking, we wanted someone who’s interests and life was more aligned with ours. So, we started looking for someone who was creative, musical, someone who was athletic. So, the personality traits and their way of life became more interesting to us. At the end that’s how we chose our donor. We called him Music-man, that was his name.”
Did you pick an ID Release or Non-ID Release donor?
“In the UK the regulation for sperm donors is that they have to be contactable in the future. So, whilst our donor is anonymous in the sense that he could walk past us in the street, and we would not know. But when Teddy is 18, he is able to access contact details. That is the regelation in the UK, and that is actually something that we are really happy with.
I think, if we were given the choice, that is what we would choose. We hope, maybe it’s naive, but we hope that when Teddy and any of his siblings are able to contact their donor. Maybe we can all go and meet this man and say thank you and show the family that we created. And thank him for his part in that. We want it to be an honest and healthy conversation. We don’t want there to be any secrets about how he was conceived. Hopefully, when he is 18 he will be a sensible guy, maybe write a nice letter to say thanks, I had a really great life. Hopefully.”
Were you considering other options like a friend, adoption, co-parenting?
“I don’t know whether this is selfish on my part, but I had reservations about using a known donor. Just because I wasn’t entirely sure how I would feel. I mean, we have people we could have asked, who I think would have at least considered being our donor. But I thought, how would I feel if we are all in the room together and this person is related to our child, but I am not? I feel differently about it now. I think our approach to all of this is evolving. We know so much more now than we did in the beginning. Your perspectives change – especially now that he is here. I hope we have made the right decision. That is the truth about why we had reservations, it was me mainly.”
A big thank you to Lisa for sharing her very personal views with us.
BTW, you can follow Lisa, Lynsey and cute little Teddy on their YouTube channel Teddy Has Two Mams here.