My Journey to Momhood

Jan 1, 2009 | 2009 Winter - Children in Our Lives, Articles

By Carla Imperial

I’m standing in a field. Alone. In the distance I see the ocean, and its vastness makes me feel empty. I came here to search my soul, to dig deep and uncover truths that have been embedded in layers of fear. I am hoping that somewhere beneath the muck I’ll find some peace in what I am about to embark upon.


I wish I could claim youth or a failed condom that got me into this predicament. On the contrary, I’m here by very thoughtful and deliberate actions. When two women decide to have a baby together, every step is considered and hashed and rehashed. Who will carry the baby? Who will be the sperm donor? How will we inseminate? No, there is nothing unintentional about what is happening. And this isn’t about getting cold feet before the bambino arrives. Or about second thoughts. Truth is, I didn’t want to have a baby in the first place.

When we got married ten years ago, I was in a different space. I was thirty-five and it seemed like having kids was the logical next step. But then shit happened. Major life blows. Relationship challenges. Loss of a beloved parent. Before I knew it, I was forty and life was whizzing by. Grab on, a voice said. So I did. And suddenly I was in a gloriously self-indulgent place. My relationship was healthy, I was finally pursuing my dreams, and I was exactly where I wanted to be. Wouldn’t you know it, that’s when she brings up the kid thing again. And wasn’t it a shock to her ears and a crushing blow to her heart to hear that I no longer wanted to be a parent.

I tried. I really tried to change my mind. I spent countless hours trying to embrace the idea. But each time I ended up with the same mindset. Scared shitless. How do two people who love each other deeply, one who wants a child desperately and one who is undeniably certain that she doesn’t, resolve this impasse? Tears. Hard talks. Ultimatums. Lots of visits to the ocean. During this particular visit, I explore all of the reasons that I don’t want children, once again. The permanent responsibility. The loss of freedom. The financial burden. Feeling old. Being the non-biological mom. An intense ache that my mother won’t be around to be a grandparent. And suddenly the answer comes to me.


And with faith, I am able to go one step towards my partner. We agree to take everything one step at a time. Let fate decide if we’ll be parents. Let things fall into place as they will. It was clear who would carry the child. I’ve never had that maternal yearning. When we find an anonymous Filipino donor whose baby picture looks just like me, it’s clearly a sign. When my wife gets pregnant on her first try, on the outside, I am thrilled for us.

On the inside, I am panicking.

She’s pregnant.

Hurray for her.

Fuck me.

I remember to breathe. I remember about faith. I remember how happy my wife is. I take baby steps to let go of the fears, one by one. At the first ultrasound, I cry tears of joy. The first heartbeat we hear, my own heart expands. My wife is the glowing, perfect pregnant woman. All the while, she has been gentle and gracious with me. Her gratitude toward my going on this journey is apparent. As we watch her belly grow, I am slowly falling in love with what’s inside. The day before our due date, I see my mother’s reflection in the mirror as I sit in our empty nursery. And then comes the day. January 16, 2008. Our daughter is here. By god, she looks like me.

There are changes of the heart. Then there are transformations of the heart. In the short ten months that my daughter has been on this earth, I have been taught more patience and grace than throughout my entire lifetime. She is miraculously a mix of my partner and me, and I have no idea how we did that. And sure enough, my capacity to love unconditionally was under all that dirt, and although the dust settles every once in awhile with old fears and longings, I have zero regrets. None.

I ’m standing in a field. My arms are open wide, and my daughter, who has just learned to walk, is running toward me. As I scoop her up in my arms and feel her soft cheek on mine, I cannot imagine feeling more complete.

Carla is a bi Filipina writer, living in Jamaica Plain, MA with her partner of 14 years, Megan, and their 10-month old daughter, Kai.

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