Jessi & Millie Poutama's Baby Journey: Insights from Queer Mums
Planning a family can feel like a giant undertaking. And until you’re in the thick of it, you don’t realise how many questions you will have. If you're ready for a baby as a budding LGBTQIA+ parent, you may even feel a few more considerations and questions, so we thought, who better to relieve those than our favourite Queer Mum, Millie Poutama.
Jessi & Millie Poutama are two mums living sustainably off-grid with their toddler Tide and dogs. We love keeping up with their family @jessiandmillie on socials and are grateful to learn about and share their journey to parenthood.
We will let Millie take it away...
Do you remember the first time you had “that” conversation?
The one that starts something like… “I was thinking… that maybe we should try and get pregnant”, or perhaps it sounded something like “, What if I just came off the pill for a few months, and we see what happens?”
Or maybe it wasn't a conversation at all; perhaps it was a moment in time, the ding of an email notification about Becky's maternity cover that awoke something in you? or that day when you held your nephew for the first time and you inhaled that indescribable newborn smell and you just knew, you felt it, that feeling of “I am ready.”
I remember those moments, those first conversations, the excitement and nervous energy I felt as I casually moved my spaghetti around on the plate, searching for the words, feeling the silence between us before I found the courage to look up at my wife and say “Honey I kinda really want a baby” and I will never forget the smile on her face when she said, “me too.”
So what next? If you were anything like us, perhaps you excitedly poured a wine, grabbed the laptop, and started browsing sperm donors, reading the profiles, and laughing as we disagreed about wanting a donor that could play classical piano v’s one who played rugby. Maybe you started a Pinterest board of nursery decor. Maybe you ran out to the shops and bought your first 0000 onesies. Maybe you googled the best prenatal vitamin available and clicked add to cart.
We did all those things and have no regrets because part of planning for a baby is about all those moments of joy, expectation, anticipation and genuine hope [or possibly naive belief] that everything will go to plan.
Some couples try to conceive for years… Some people have miscarriages… Some people have children born with a disability or a genetic condition…
…but that won't happen to us
But what if it does?
Those things did happen to us, but we wouldn't change it because, in November 2021, we welcomed our beautiful baby Tide Koha, who is perfect in every way. There are still some things, however, that I desperately wish I had known at the start of our journey. If you are reading this at the beginning of your baby journey, here are four things I wish someone had told me…
Having a baby is a marathon, not a sprint, and while there will always be some people that cruise to the finish line, barely breaking a sweat and accepting their “medal” with relative ease, unfortunately, this will not be the case for many. Does that mean we aren't going to run the race? Of course not. Just know that if you reach the point when your body and spirit are broken, and you’re facing hills that seem impossible to climb, sometimes having a crowd cheer you on is all you need to keep going. Get a support team in place, and get a therapist if you can afford one because, like a marathon, the road to having a baby is mostly what your body can do, but it's often what your mind is capable of that will get you to the finishing line.
It is a MUCH more straightforward process to do preconception genetic testing than going through the process of genetically testing your child.
If there is one piece of advice I wish everyone would seriously consider is to have preconception genetic testing by Eugene before trying to get pregnant. I talk about it to everyone and anyone as soon as they mention they are trying to conceive.
During our IVF process, I remember a brief moment when genetic testing was mentioned, but it was so fleeting that I don’t remember what was even discussed. There was certainly not an explanation of the pros & cons.
The Eugene at-home genetic test checks to see if you or your partner/sperm donor carry a rare gene variant that could cause a serious and life-threatening genetic condition in your child. I wish someone had taken the time to explain the importance of genetic testing to me. The peace of mind it can bring or the crucial information it can provide to make informed reproductive choices for your family.
The thing about rare gene variants is that they are rare, but when you factor in all the different types of rare genetic variants, collectively, they are common. In fact, for every 40 couples deciding to have a baby, 1 of those couples will both be carriers of the same genetic condition. When a couple are both carriers, there is a 25% chance that the baby could be born with that condition.
The Eugene testing process is quick; it's shipped within two business days and takes on average 3-6 weeks from the day they receive your sample to get the results back and schedule your appointment with a genetic counsellor to learn about your results and have an opportunity to ask any questions.
When our son was diagnosed with moderate to severe developmental delays, we were told a genetic condition could be the cause.
We did a Eugene test because we knew it would be the quickest way to get some reassurance before planning our next round of IVF and for our future babies. Thankfully the Eugene test showed none of the most common severe genetic disorders were shared by both myself and the donor, which gave us much-needed reassurance to start talking about a sibling for Tide.
It is worth mentioning that the Eugene test did, however, show a couple of conditions, which, had we chosen another donor who just so happened to also carry them, then it could have been a very different outcome and really shows the importance of pre-conception testing between partners or donors.
We are currently going through the process of genetically testing Tide with the children's hospital. We are six months in and have been told to expect final results in another six months. In comparison to the quick results from Eugene, the genetic and chromosome testing rounds with the children's hospital have taken a very long time.
Enjoy the ride and find joy in the little things. Don’t get me wrong; this isn't about toxic positivity because some days aren’t going to be joyful; in fact, some days might suck. But finding the smallest moments of joy, even on the hard days, can make the biggest difference to your mindset and overall mental health.
Have a preconception, baby moon. Don’t wait until you are heavily pregnant and can hardly move to go to a hot country where you can't drink the margaritas. When you decide to have a baby, if you have the opportunity, take the holiday then instead and spend some incredible one on one time to kick-start your baby-making journey.
For more information about starting your baby journey with the help of Eugene preconception testing, you can click here.