I was in a committed relationship with two people—and then I got pregnant.
The night I found out I was going to be a mom I sat down next to my husband Kevin, clutching the pregnancy test in one hand and holding his hand with the other, the three minutes waiting for the test results felt like forever. I think in that span of time I felt every emotion known to man: happy at the possibilities, mad that I had thrown up the steak and cheese I made for myself earlier that day, anxious to know the results, and of course scared beyond belief. My husband has always been someone I could see myself building a family with. We were together for three years, but I knew on our first date this was a man I could spend the rest of my life with.
As the test turned from the little hourglass into a sign that read ‘Pregnant: 1-2 Weeks’ I looked at my husband and began to cry. I couldn’t handle the wave of emotions that came over me. As for him, he was thrilled to be a dad. He’s always been the type whom you could tell wanted to be a father since they were younger, as he was always taking care of those around him. That’s just his personality. He’s always thought of everyone else over himself, even at this moment when he was glowing with excitement he asked if I was alright.
I gripped his hand tighter and nodded while continuing to cry. I was happy. With his next breath he said, “I can’t wait to tell Sarah.” And in that instance I knew I had the perfect partners to start a family with. Sarah is my girlfriend and together she, Kevin, and I were about to begin a new journey as we started our family.
I’m sure that sounds confusing, so I guess it is best I should start from the beginning. From the moment I met my husband through our mutual friends, he and I spoke about how I’ve never really believed in committing myself to one man or one woman for the rest of my life. I was upfront from the start that I am polyamorous and he accepted me for all that I am.
For those who don’t know, polyamory (or ‘poly’ for short), to put it simply, is the belief that you can love more than one person. It has no religious base. It is not some weird sex fetish. It is just the word that describes thousands of people throughout the world who choose not to limit themselves to one person for the rest of their lives. There are many different forms of poly relationships; some people have as many as 5 different partners at a time, but for me I could only see myself being with one man and one woman.
Whenever I had dated someone monogamously, I never felt whole. It always felt as though there was something missing. When I met my husband, I knew he was the only man that I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. I fit so perfectly into his life, and he fit so perfectly into mine, but I still longed for the other piece to our puzzle. I missed being in a relationship with a woman.
While we were together I had a couple of girlfriends, some more complicated than the others, but all unable to accept that I had an equal relationship with my husband. It was very hard to find someone who could accept not only myself, but Kevin as well.
Then, I met Sarah. I met Sarah because I swiped right on an ever popular dating app, and from day one as I did with my husband, I told Sarah everything. I told her I had a husband (fiancé at the time, actually), I told her that he knew and accepted that I was searching for a girlfriend, and I told her that above anything else I wanted her to be comfortable with everything before we moved forward.
Although she was hesitant at first, she gave me a shot. I had been with Kevin for just about three years when Sarah came into our lives and having them meet one another early on was a big deal for all three of us. Sarah was nervous, of course, and afraid that Kevin wouldn’t like her but I knew that wouldn’t be the case. Needless to say, they hit it off. Sarah not only clicked with me, but Kevin as well. She fit so effortlessly into our lives and in my mind I could see no other woman I would rather have in my life. Kevin was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, just as Sarah was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Flash forward six months later, and here I was sitting on our bed about to tell her we were going to have a baby. From the beginning of our entire relationship, Kevin, Sarah, and I had decided that we wanted a family together. Within the first few months of Sarah and I dating, Kevin actually began looking up the legality of Sarah being able to ‘adopt’ our child as a third parent so that she could have legal rights just like he and I could. Luckily, we live in a state where this may be a possibility. Even if we couldn’t, we knew we had a solid foundation to begin a family anyway.
What a lot of people don’t understand is how much work a poly relationship can be. You have to have complete honesty and openness by all partners in order for anything to work. With my past relationships there were a lot of things that had been left unsaid between my ex-girlfriends in regards to their true feelings with my husband, and I had told both Kevin and Sarah from the start that if anything were to happen, we needed to talk as a family.
It was a struggle at first, as Sarah had never been in a relationship like this before and Kevin isn’t exactly the type to come right out and share his feelings. However after months of constant talking and work, our relationship finally hit a smooth and steady pace. Kevin and Sarah even became best friends. Sarah moved in with us shortly after and we began talking about what we wanted for a future. One thing was for sure, we all wanted to be parents. So like any other family wanting to have a baby, we started trying. Barely a minute later, I was pregnant.
When I told Sarah, I sat her down in our bedroom alone, as she was out with friends and stayed at their house when I took a pregnancy test. I had wanted to wait for her, but I needed to know as soon as possible. When she sat down on our bed she could tell that I was hiding something since I tend to giggle like a little kid when I have a secret. I showed her the pregnancy test and told her she was going to be a mom. She was speechless, but like Kevin, she asked if I was alright.
I hugged her tightly and shortly after we emerged from our bedroom, Kevin went over to her and gave her a hug saying “you’re going to be a mom!” He must have been able to tell that she was scared sh-tless so he said “everything is going to be alright.” Words cannot express how much love I felt surge through my body when I saw that. Kevin and Sarah truly love one another, and they let me love them. So, our journey began.
Starting a family with anyone can be scary, what with all of the doctors appointments and special classes you have to take, but from the very beginning I not only had my husband with me, I had my girlfriend too.
We were upfront with the doctors from the start. Kevin attended all of the appointments he could make, as did Sarah, so from the very beginning my doctors office knew that our situation was a bit out of the ordinary. Through the entire process they were both by my side. Sarah would drive me to doctors’ appointments and hold my hair back when I got sick. Kevin would take care of fixing things around the house, and console me when I would have a complete mental breakdown over ordering pizza (true story).
Between Kevin and Sarah, I had the ultimate pregnancy partner team. They were phenomenal through the whole process. It wasn’t until after the baby was born that they told me about how they bonded even more with one another when I was on one of my hormonal tirades. They would sit up and have chats about what they were going to do when the baby was here, or how they wanted to paint the nursery to surprise me, or they would just go for a ride to BassPro and buy the baby everything in camo that they could find. They bonded together throughout a process that can sometimes push people away from one another rather than bring them together, especially in a situation like ours.
Around the end of my pregnancy my doctor gave me a packet I needed to fill out for the hospital. It contained all of the standard information; our address, my name, the baby’s father’s name, what type of birth I wanted, all of that… and then I got to the line that said “Name of partner during birth and relationship.” It was just one line, with only room for one name. So I didn’t think twice, I just wrote “Kevin (husband) and Sarah (girlfriend)” and that was that. My doctor looked it over and sent it off to the hospital.
The day my water broke, the three of us went to the hospital, nervous about what was going to happen. We hadn’t met any of the nursing staff, or the doctor on-call, and we worried that they would try to split our family up. When we got into the delivery room, a nurse had asked who everyone was. She knew that Kevin was the father, and when she got to Sarah she asked who she was. I responded “Sarah is my girlfriend.” It took the nurse a moment to process, as it does for most people, and she asked the standard question of whether we all lived together. I explained to her that we live together, we all love one another in some way, and that this was our first child.
There is always that split second of fear that we all get when we tell someone about our family. Although we have been met with an overwhelming amount of love and support from family and friends, there are still the losses that we have faced due to the rejection of our little family and how we choose to live our life. Not everyone gets it.
I saw the nurse’s face turn from inquisitive to accepting as she turned to my girlfriend and said “Well, that’s awesome!” Those words of acceptance were like music to our ears. Soon after clearing the air, the nurse made it clear that we were not to be separated no matter what happened. Six hours and one epidural later, it was time for me to push. With Kevin holding one leg, and Sarah holding the other, at 3:19pm on September 12th our daughter Eleanor took her first breath in this world.
The beauty of this baby that we had created, and everything we had been through washed over and made me weep. Every emotion I had came out in each one of those tears. I didn’t know how much love I could have for this tiny little human that had been kicking me the past 39 weeks. I looked at my husband beaming with joy and my girlfriend crying along with me, and I fell even more in love with them. For all that they had endured with me throughout the pregnancy, for all the work they had put into our relationships, for all of the love they had in their eyes looking at our daughter, I fell even more completely and totally in love with those two incredible souls at that moment in time.
Due to a few complications at birth, Ellie had to be taken away to the nursery soon after she was born for monitoring, and as my husband followed to keep an eye on her, Sarah stayed to help the nurses get me ready to go see her. She helped keep my nerves calm. She went to spend time with Kevin in the nursery while I rested for a moment, and together her and Kevin informed our family members of all that was going on.
I have to hand it to the hospital. After hearing about our family, they made sure that Sarah was granted access to every part of the maternity ward that my husband and I were. They even gave her the nickname “mom squared” whenever she was around.
We were told that we could not hold our daughter until she had been taken off of the monitors the next morning, so Kevin and Sarah went home to relax and came back bright and early to spend time with Ellie and myself. We all went down to the nursery together to see, and finally hold, our baby girl. She was six pounds and eleven ounces of pure perfection. I watched as the nurse handed her to Kevin as I held Sarah’s hand, and then I watched as the nurse handed her to Sarah as I held Kevin’s hand. Our family had become complete.
There are so many different meanings of the word “family,” just as there are so many ways to define love. For me love is seeing Sarah laugh as she dances around the kitchen. Love is seeing the passion in Kevin’s eyes as he tells me about his day at work. Love is waking up and seeing the smile on our daughter’s face first thing in the morning. Love, in all of it’s forms, is my little family. In our own perfectly imperfect, boundary pushing, weird, goofy, and unique way, we have created our own definition of love. And it only gets better from here.
Lizzie Leis is a 26 year old woman working in the Human Services field by day and singing in the rock band Project Alice by night. She lives with her husband, girlfriend, and daughter in a suburb outside of Worcester, MA. You can find her socially awkward social media ramblings on Twitter @LizzieLeis.
[Image via Sony Pictures Classics]