Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Getting Personal

I recently received an email from a very sweet girl asking for some advice and guidance. I'm so thankful that some of you feel so comfortable coming to me and asking my opinions, it's also amazing and such a blessing that my little family can be inspiring to so many of you. I'm going to post her questions and add my responses, I hope this helps some of you! (Some of the personal information has been removed to respect people's privacy) Xo
(Her questions are in bold) 

 I'm 21, and my girlfriend is 23. We've been together for over a year now and I told my parents we were dating a couple months into the relationship. The sad thing is, they never really accepted it  I still live at their house and they still treat me as their daughter but they don't want my gf to come over or even talk to her because they want me to go back to men. Did your parents accept it completely right away? 

When I first decided to start dating a girl, I was still very confused and exploring myself. I didn't share it with many people because I still wasn't sure of what I was doing. The only people that knew were my best friend and I told my mom. My mom of course didn't take me to seriously and said it was just a phase and of course she threw in there that it was against our religion. I didn't argue much with her about it (I recommend that to anyone- don't become hostile towards anyone else's beliefs or opinions. It just makes the whole situation negative). Those were the only 2 people I had an actual conversation with about dating a girl.  My girlfriend would come with me to family functions and we were always together, I think a lot of people assumed what was going on but it was never a topic. My mom has always supported me and been accepting of every decision I've made, so it didn't take much for her to come around to the idea of me having a girlfriend. 
When I met Julie I knew, we knew right away, that this was it and we were going to be together forever. It was at that point that I decided to shout it from the roof tops, that I was in love & getting engaged to a girl. I was nervous with each person I told, but I was confident in what I was doing... I, fortunately, was received with very loving and accepting arms. Love is hard to hide, everyone saw how happy we both were and even some that weren't completely convinced, soon changed their opinion. 

All my friends and coworkers accept my homosexuality but since I'm a lipstick lesbian (you're actually the first one I know who I can relate to) I always get those comments that you don't want to hear like ''you're too pretty to be with a girl'' or ''it's just a phase''. It's hard for me to hear all those things, because I'm happy and this is who I am but it makes it hard to accept that my life will be different. Did you have to deal with those comments? 

When I first started to date a girl, no one really took it seriously. I heard all the comments "you're to pretty to be a lesbian... You just haven't had a good guy... You just don't know what it's like to be with a real man... There's no way a girl can treat you the way you need to be treated..." And so on. I never listened and never cares what anyone said or thought of me. You have to be confident in your choice and feelings. You need to be confident and release the ties (what others think) that hold you back, you're free! You're free to live and free to be you and that's an amazing thing. If you're happy that's all that matters! Once, others began to feel their words no longer have power over you, they soon realize it's not fun to taunt you anymore and they don't have a say over your life. 

How is it to be very feminine and pretty in your life? 

First, thank you! Being feminine and pretty in my life is great lol. I take pride in myself and looking good. I love being girly and really it's the way I've always been. Since I don't exactly fit the "stereotype" I believe I help in changing people's minds about what gay looks like. I like to think that I show people a gay person comes in all different shapes and sizes. I've had people come up to me at Gay clubs and say "you're not gay" and when I respond I have a wife, they're in shock. It happens all the time when I'm out, you should see peoples faces when they mention something about my husband or Lola's dad and I say actually "I have a wife & Lola has 2 moms"! It's quite funny to see the shock. My hope is that all those people I shock might change their opinion or stereotypes and show all that love is love, no matter what you look like. I don't get upset or offended if people just assume I am straight, that's okay, I'll happily correct them and go on my way. I really try hard not to worry about what people think. I guess I'm a femme but I am not big on labels, so I like to just consider myself ME... What matters is what's on the inside, the outside isn't as important as everyone makes it seem, having a good heart is the prettiest thing in the world. 

Do you know other mommies like you?

I've been asked this question before and the simple answer is, no. I have 1 other friend that is a lesbian mom but other than her I don't know any other 2 mom families (in person at least). Instagram has connected me to so many 2 mom families and I seriously love the app for those reasons! It's helped me form relationships with families that are just like ours! When I had my first girlfriend I met a friend who was a mom with 2 beautiful girls, she was separated from her partner at the time and it was the first time I saw a family like this. I remember being amazed and thinking "wow, this is beautiful and this is possible, I could have this one day"! I'll never forget the feeling I had leaving their house and seeing those 2 beautiful little girls, so happy and well adjusted to life. Normal little girls with no differences between them and any other child. I had an instant connection with them and a bond with their mother. She showed me and inspired me to be a mother, with whoever I loved. 
Sometimes I think that it would be nice to have a group of same sex parents that we know in our personal lives but at the end of the day my group of mommies are some of my best friends. They treat me and my family no different and could care less if I was married to a woman, they love my family and I am so appreciative of them!  

I've had boyfriends in the past and it always felt like I was looking for something else, I always felt incomplete... I thought that was love still. Now that I'm with her, I see that she's the only one who ever made me feel this way. I love her and she would buy me the moon if she could! I'm still a little anxious because I don't like sexuality with men (it almost disgusts me) but I still had feeling for them in the past. Have you ever had to go through something like this? Sometimes I feel like pleasing my family and try again but I love my girlfriend and never been happier in a relationship (emotionally and sexually) 

Don't be anxious, love is love. Whether it's with a man or a woman, love is love. Love doesn't know who or what you're loving, it's a feeling and it's an emotion. Go with what your heart feels is right and feels the happiest with. When you're at the beginning of first dating girls it's totally natural to question whether you care about guys or not, it's what you know and it's what you've been doing, it's normal to think about it. Don't go back to dating men just to please someone else or because you think it's the right thing to do, date a man if that's what your heart tell you to. Listen to your heart and do what you feel is best for you, not for others. 
My relationships with men always felt more of like a family or best friend bond. Of my 2 ex boyfriend, 1 is a very good friend who I care greatly about and wish nothing but the best and the other is family. Literally, he is treated as a family member of ours now. 
A sexual relationship says a lot about where your heart lays. When it comes down to it you have to have a sexual relationship to maintain a healthy relationship/ marriage. If the thought of being with a guy makes you physically ill, that says a lot ��! Go with what feels good ��! 

At this moment, I dream of having a family with her and do the insemination technique like you two did for Lola. I read on your blog that you saw the face of the donor and know a little bit about him. Did that ever affect you and Julie? I mean, I would like to see a picture of the donor when the time comes but my girlfriend is afraid we might recognize him in the future or that the donor will want to have contact with our child after...? 

Yes, we saw the donor, watched a video and read all about him. It's something that had to be done in our choosing. It has never made Julie insecure, this donor has given us a gift and we can never forget that. You can't be in denial or not acknowledge how you're having a child. You are getting sperm from a donor and need all of that information to be able to make an informed decision. It was something that had to be done together, and it was actually quite a special process. 
Julie and I are the only people who have seen his picture and know his info. We have NEVER shared his picture with anyone and NEVER will, it is only something that Julie and I need to see & know. People have asked what he looks like and if we have a picture but we would never show them. We looked at the picture when we chose him and have only looked at it 1 time since. It is not something we need to see or look at every now and then. We just have no use for it, we have our Lola and she's perfect and ours, that's all that matters. Julie has never been insecure about him or upset that Lola is technically not biologically her, it doesn't matter to her or us. 
I mean it is a possibility that we might run into our donor but I really don't think that would ever happen, we'd have to be looking and we don't have any info on where he's from or lives. I think if we ever did happen to see him, we would respect his privacy, not say anything and go on our way. 
We chose and paid for a "willing to be known donor" so when Lola turns 18 she has the option to contact him, he also agrees to 1 face to face meeting (if Lola wants, when she's an adult). We hope to raise her and make her feel so fulfilled and loved, that she never needs to seek him out. But it would have been selfish of us not to give her that option when she's an adult. Humans are curious by nature and we could never just assume she won't have questions, we love her enough and are secure enough in our family to give her that and to know she won't need anything from him. 
If you use a good facility you won't need to fear any contact, all of that info is extremely confidential, on both sides. 

Last question I have is about how society accepts your family... Do you still get looked at when you walk around with your wife or does your neighborhood react differently because they see two mommies? Do you feel different anyhow? I mean, being different is great because you are a happy family fulfilled with love and that's what I want for myself but I'm afraid to be judged or something :(

Bottom line is you have to expect to be judged. Being judged sucks, hurts and isn't fun, but it's going to happen. Were a fwd moving society and every day the lgbt community is making amazing strides in the right direction, but we're not there a 100%. People will always look at you, even if your marriage is legal and you have the most beautiful family in the world, you'll still get looked at sideways. We get looks all the time, a lot of positive feedback but we have encountered some dirty looks. We have to think about areas we go to as a family, so we are not exposing ourselves and Lola to any negative vibes or people. Even on Instagram I loose followers at the mention of having a wife, but it's okay. We can't please everyone and no matter how wonderful of a person you are, you will always encounter hate. We deal with it from even close relatives. That's why it is so important to surround yourself with loving and supportive people. Forget the naysayers and focus on the positive. Be happy and when you're happy everything around you will be happy! 

I hope this helps some of you and answers any questions you may have! Please feel free to email me anytime with questions! Joymarie86@gmail.con

Friday, May 9, 2014

Footprints in the Sand

The Footprints Prayer

One night I had a dream...

I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and Across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, There was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it. "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, You would walk with me all the way; But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, There is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, "My precious, precious child. I love you, and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ballet Class

Today we took our first dance class. It was definitely one of those moments that you dream of the day you find out you're having a girl. Getting her ready this morning I was literally in shock that the time was already here and she was old enough for a class. She looked adorable, of course, and I was so happy to see her in her little ballerina outfit. I didn't plan for her to wear a tutu but as soon as we walked in, she spotted one and once she put it on she wouldn't stop twirling. 
The class began with sitting/ floor exercises. She was not feeling it, she freaked out when I was making her sit and was screaming and throwing herself around. There's only so much a mom can do in those situations. I took her in the corner, gave her the bottle and tried to explain to her we needed to sit and listen. I don't know if she got it or understood any of what I said. I did all I could to not get flustered and be "that mom" with "that kid", but she was being a little bratty. 
When the dancing started and all the kids were able to get up and move, Lola was all about it!! She danced, turned, did her leg, put her arms up and stared at herself in the mirror the whole time! 
It made me so happy to see her so happy and just free. 
I'm so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing mommies/ friends, who are just so reassuring and positive, even when your kid is being a FUSS! 
After the dance class I was thinking about how Lola was acting and thought to myself she still is a baby. Yes, she's almost 2 and I would love for her to sit and be able to listen and participate like the other kids but she didn't and I'm okay with that. I hope that it's something that she eventually does understand, and it's something we will continue to work on. She is an individual and always off doing her own thing, but that's her and it's special! 
For now, I'm happy she was happy and had a great time, for the most part.
She's been dancing around in her TuTu all afternoon, I'd say it was a success. 


Monday, January 13, 2014

|| Lately ||

•• (Sorry this is such a downer, but I am only hoping my honesty can help others feel they're not alone. To show nobody has a perfect life. Everyone is fighting their own battle, it's so important to be kind, you never really know what someone is going through... I'm also hoping that writing is somewhat therapeutic & helps get it out) •• 

Lately life has been rough, & by rough I mean really, really, rough. I know it may seem crazy but if you were to ask me what the worst thing that could happen to me was, I'd say something happening to my babies (and by babies I mean my dogs)... I know it's nuts that my first response would be about my dogs, but it's 100% the truth. My first thought is my dogs, my Lola, Julie & then my family and friends. Maybe it's because I've been their mommy the longest, maybe because they are the first thing I've ever been 100% responsible for and have relied on me solely. Maybe it's because I'm a crazy animal lover and am spiritually connected to them. I honestly can't say what makes them my 1st thought and priority, all I know is they are. Anyways, as I'm sure most of you know my baby Banjo, died. The worst thing, I believe, could happen to me, has happen to me. I have lived my worst nightmare. I don't even know if nightmare even describes it, at least with nightmares you get to wake up, but I have not woken up. A piece of me died the day I found out he had cancer, and an even bigger part of me went with him when he died. The past 6 months seem like a blur, I don't know how I've functioned and managed to be a good mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, when most days I want to curl up in a ball and cry. I wake up in physical pain everyday but mostly the pain and longing in my heart hurts the most. Some days my heart hurts so bad I wonder how it manages to keep beating, my better days are the ones that I only allow a few tears to run down my face. 

Only my family & friends know the turmoil I have been in and I've been fortunate enough to have amazing support. My family let's me be sad and never tells me to get over it or move on, my true friends know what I'm going through and have all given me the support and strength I've needed during this time. Some days I don't want to go on, some days I don't want to be a wife, a mom, a friend... but no one ever gives up on me. I ask myself and others "why God would do this to me", and my mom in particular always says "God, doesn't give you anything you can't handle"... I guess God hasn't given up on me either, I'm still standing & I'm still living-ish. 

The holidays were tough, I didn't want to decorate, I didn't want to celebrate & a piece of me wished they would just be skipped this year, but then I'd look down on that innocent face of my Lola, and hear the Christmas cheer in Julie's voice and knew I had to put my sadness back in my heart and keep it locked up until it  was okay to let out again... I was happy to see 2013 go, but sad because I felt I was leaving my baby behind.   

Depression is an awful thing, I've dealt with it since I was 16, I've taken medication before and hated it, it's just not for me. I'm fighting everyday to feel better. I know some people think... How could someone be so upset over a dog, over their pet? How could someone be so sad, when they have so much to be happy about? I don't know the answers, no one knows the answers. 

These last few weeks I've been so down, but the strangest thing has happened, Lola has been SO obsessed with me... I mean her and I are so close but she's always been a mamas girl, the second Julie would get home or the weekends I am chop liver. But recently she has been so so attached to me, all she wants to do is hug me, hold me, kiss me, sit with me... It's the sweetest thing and makes my heart feel full. It's like she knows I need it, God knows I need it & has chosen her to give it to me. She is the only medicine I need. 

I'm at my lowest of lows, but the good news is there's not any lower I can get. I have amazing support and so much love around me, I have a sweet little girl who can't hug me enough. I am also taking essential oils specifically for the emotions I'm feeling (I'll make a detailed post soon, they're amazing) & most importantly I have started Pet Loss Grief Therapy.  

So far I've been trying to cut out processed foods & sugars (that's all I eat), the counselor said that contributes to depression and before I can deal with grief I have to try and get physically healthy. She also suggested writing (so here I am). Mostly, I've been trying to find things that make me happy, being around friends, smiling, letting my loved ones love me; but I still hurt. 

It was a hard weekend and I feel like I've had a set back but I'm praying to keep fighting, find God again and be happy.

Monday, July 8, 2013

.. Banjo ..

My animals are what defines me... Not being a wife, a mother or a friend but an animal lover. 
I love all my babies equally but I have a special bond and love that I share with each of them individually. 
Right now, with everything going on I wanted to try and put my relationship with Banjo, into words. 

He's my boy and my little shadow, when I move he's right there with me. Sometimes I'd be looking for him, when he was really at my feet the whole time- just so close, he blended right in with me. If I was sitting, he was jumping on my legs to be on my lap. 

He's been Lola's best friend since she was in my tummy and always by her side, from the second we brought her home from the hospital. He's let her pull on him, lay on him and play with him- all well being so gentle. 

In April I was rubbing his neck area when I felt a bump- I went to school for veterinary science, so I naturally pay close attention when I pet my animals to notice any abnormalities. I brought him into the vet and had the lump removed. 
The lump showed some signs of cancer cells in it, however the margins that they removed were clear- "phew! A fluke" I thought and the vet did too, just keep an eye on him and all other signs were that he was fine. He healed up nicely and was back to himself. 

4 weeks later I noticed another bump, pretty close to where the last one was. It was a Saturday and I knew I couldn't bring him into the vet until Monday. I told Julie and just started to cry- I didn't have a good feeling- I just knew on the inside something was wrong. He went in and had it removed again. Another surgery. 
My heart was breaking, I just wanted my baby to be healthy and not have to keep going to the vet. It killed me every time I dropped him off. I was worried that all these surgeries would change him and he would become sad or scared or not understand why I am making him go through this. 

After this 2nd surgery I noticed Banjo wasn't healing like he did before, he seemed weaker and more sore, he also wasn't eating to much. The examination of the lump came back as the same thing as before- cancer cells were in it again. The doctor said he wanted me to bring Banjo in for a full body exam with X-rays to take an overall look of his body. He told me not to worry and he was such a young and healthy dog- it probably wasn't anything to worry about. 
The night before his exam I cried to Julie and began having bad anxiety, I told her I just didn't feel right and something was different with Banjo, she told me to stay positive and nothing was wrong with our boy. 
The next morning, I dropped him off for his exam and of course cried as I left... I went to pick him up a few hours later, they brought him out and had me go into an exam room. 
That's when the doctor came in and told me that Banjo had terminal cancer, he said he couldn't sugar coat it and wanted to be frank with me-" its bad". There is no amount of money or medicine that could make my baby better. The doctor told me I was going to have to do the hardest thing I'll ever have to do "be happy & strong for him the rest of the days he's here" 

I've been broken, sick, sad everything awful you can think of. I'm trying to be strong and I try not to cry in front of him. But its hard, I cry at night as he cuddles with me, knowing these cuddles are our last.  I know I'll have the rest of my days without him and have plenty of time to cry so I try not to waste my days with him being sad. 

I hold him and kiss him and tell him I love him every minute & when I'm not doing that I'm praying. I've told him to go if he's tired and not to hang on for me. I've told God to take him, if that's his plan. I told Banjo to run to me the second he sees me in heaven and I that he'll have a piece of my heart with him and he'll always be in mine. 

He's getting weaker and I won't let him suffer, I know we'll have to say good bye soon and I pray I'm strong enough to get through it. I can't imagine my days without him, his bark, his little body- everything. But mostly I'll miss the love he gives me and the special bond we share. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2 Lesbians walk into a sperm bank...

Our Lola
Julie and I decided to start trying to have a baby almost immediately after our wedding. Besides what we had seen on The Real L Word, We really didn't have any information on how to go about this.
So what did I do...Googled it, yes, I googled how do lesbians have a baby..
After I sorted through some articles I came across Pasadena Reproductive Services or PRS https://pacrepro.com/index.php.  It's an amazing lesbian owned sperm bank located in San Francisco and Pasadena. Their website was so helpful and had all the information we needed, we set a consult ($150) for the next week.
The night before the consult I looked up reviews for PRS on yelp, there were a couple of not so great reviews that kind of scared me.
Some said they had no doctors and all procedure are done with nurse practitioners, and that some people had tried getting pregnant through them and hadn't had any luck.
Well, both those things are true- they don't have any doctors on site and it can take many tries and you can try and try and try with unfortunately no results...

I was nervous, scared and excited to have our consult, I knew this was our first step to getting our baby.

The consult went great; the woman helping us was sweet and full of information. We went over the whole process of choosing a donor, the actual procedure and all the legalities. We signed documents stating that Julie and I would both be equally responsible for the child, if one was produced. We left there reassured, excited and more prepared.

That afternoon when we got home we went onto their website and started to look through their donor website.
They have a very detailed search engine- you can pick any trait of the donor you choose, from looks to personality traits, hobbies, education and trades…
We wanted our child to look as close to our child, if we were physically able to make one,
we put in all of Julie’s characteristics (ethnicity, skin, eye and hair coloring and personality).
We looked through about 100 different donors short profiles (no pictures, just a little synopsis of the donor)…
We came across this one donor about 5 different times, I kept writing his number down and saying “This ones perfect” only to find I had already written down, we laughed and went on.
We narrowed it down to 6 donors; the next step was to purchase an adult photo of the donor.
Let me just say some of these donors looked great on paper but not in their picture… I mean I have to be honest- if I wouldn’t look at them on the street, I most certainly wouldn’t use their sperm.
We were just getting to the last donor, and at that point it almost seemed hopeless. This last donor was the one I had written down several times, we bought his picture and waited for it to upload, I remember feeling a sense of disappointment like we weren’t going to be able to find the right donor for us. When his picture popped up, we knew it was our donor; he seemed like the right match. We then went on to purchase his 5-minute donor video in which he was interviewed with a series of questions (like why he was donating his sperm to what he valued in life- all his answers were perfect), then we purchased his long donor profile, which contained his and his family’s extensive health report.

Our donor looked like him and Julie could be brother and sister, and with that, his video, and profile, we chose him. 

We purchased his “specimen”, which PRS would store for 3 months free of charge, after that they charge you a storage fee.

We were told I'd have to wait for my period and 7 days after the 1st day of my period to start testing for ovulation. I started to check my ovulation every morning for a week with no results. On the 8th day my ovulation test came up positive.
Julie and I were so excited, it’s an unreal feeling- you are planning and thinking of this moment and its here! We called PRS and were told to come in the next day for the artificial insemination process. 

We both had a wave of emotions that night: excitement, nervousness and also a little scared. I couldn’t sleep, and I just remember thinking:
My life can change tomorrow!
Am I ready for that? Are we ready for that?
Is my body strong enough?
What if something happens and I don’t get pregnant, am I going to be able to handle those emotions?
All things I think anyone parent planning on getting pregnant thinks about.
The morning came and it was time to head over to PRS, I left my furry babies and thought this could be the last time it’s just us and them.
We checked in and were taken back to the procedure room, this is the video Julie shot well we were waiting to be seen:

When the nurse came in we checked and double check the donor numbers to confirm they were using the correct donor (oh my gosh could you imagine the wrong donor, hopefully that doesn’t ever happen). I laid back, put my legs up in the stir ups; I was shaking and so tense because I was so nervous. The nurse placed the speculum in (with no lubrication, lubrication can kill sperm, OUCH!) and inserted what looked like a long, thin syringe with no needle. For an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) they insert the sperm into your uterus and when they bypass your cervix you get a slight moment of cramping. From start to finish the whole procedure took about 5 min.
We had to sit there for about 15-30 min with a pillow placed under my butt, tilting my pelvis up a bit. It wasn’t what they show in the movies where the woman is basically hanging upside down with her feet straight up in the air.
I was told to just take it easy the next couple days and that was it, we were done.
We went home and I immediately layed on the couch with my legs elevated the whole day (totally not nessecary but in my mind I was helping the sperm "stay in" hehehe)!

Almost immediately I was exhausted, the most tired Id ever been… Ever!

We were supposed to start testing on the 14th day; I started testing on the 11th day… Negative
12th day… Negative, I remember kind of convincing myself that it didn’t work and just to prepare myself for the fact we were not pregnant (even though I knew I was testing earlier than I was supposed to).
13th day… I took the test first thing on the morning and left the bathroom to do my normal things with my animals. I went back into the bathroom, about 30 min later… and saw 2 distinct lines… POSITIVE… I was pregnant!

A love filled my body in that very moment that I had never felt before, we had been blessed, and Lola was growing.

When Julie got home that night, I gave her a box and told her my sister had given me some stuff that she might want. She opened the box unsuspected and was so surprised and excited, I'll never forget how she hugged me in that moment.

From that day to this day our lives have been all about our Lola.

"Love makes a family"

Heres a few of my fav pregnancy photos!

The Day we found out we were having a girl!