I am a woman who was married to a woman. I am a divorced woman. I married a woman only my friends liked. I am a woman who spent five years in a marriage I thought would last a lifetime. I thought I would watch my hair turn gray, aging through my marriage. But, no, five years is all we had. Five years is all it took for life to change me, in the second most significant way. Second to having my daughter.
For privacy, I will call her Maria. Maria and I met after I had broken up with another woman. A woman who has since passed away, and so I try not to speak too ill of her. When I started dating Maria, this other woman became enraged. And with the thought of losing me (even though we were broken up) she told me she loved me. That was the first time in almost two years of dating, she had ever said it. What made her finally want me was the thought of me being with someone else. Jealousy. Not being number one.
This woman cried in my lap at her sister’s funeral. I was with her when her cousin was suddenly killed. I drove through the night to make sure she was fed. I made sure I was awake for her early morning calls. Through all of this, she never told me she loved me. When I was finally done with her, and gushing over another, she said those three little words. And wanted me to choose.
I stared at her sincere, hopeful face. Her dimples, sure and confident about my answer. I had spent almost two years fighting for this moment, of course, I would choose her. I chose Maria.
In D.C. we call Maria’s type “Dom.” Short for Dominant. Doms have swag. They are gentlewomen who wear chivalry on their sleeves. They are at times very masculine, putting on a hard front, letting the world know they aren’t to be fucked with. And at other times, their sensitivity is so strong it angers them; frightens them to the point where only extra aggression is the necessary pill that will bring them back to their chosen reality.
I was running an event and Maria flirted with me. Her full lips revealed a gap-toothed smile that made me smile back. Freckles sprinkled the bridge of her nose. She was shorter than me, but tough and confident. She had swag for days, and a sexy style.
Our attraction was strong. Our chemistry, off the charts. The night I knew I was all in, ready to commit for the long haul, was the night she finished singing the lyrics to “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Being a Black girl who loved rock music always made me feel like an oddball. I used to hide that side of me that longed for a great guitar riff.
But as I matured, I simply longed for someone who would either embrace my music or love it just as much. When we were first starting out, Maria would sit on the sofa and watch me sing. I would get to the chorus, and she’d join in. Nine months later we were married.
Over the years, we had our ups and downs, but were pretty solid. We understood that marriage was hard, but we also grew up in two-parent households and wanted our marriage to work. We had a vision for our future that included a home and children.
Early on, the decision was made that I would carry the child. Maria was Dom. She wore men’s underwear. She was not going to carry a child. One of her brothers agreed to be our donor. And when the time was right, we would collect his sperm and inseminate. This all sounded perfect, on the surface. We had friends doing this. We were a lesbian couple. This is how lesbians get pregnant, right?
Then, one night something changed for me. I woke up from a dream where I had a baby. Everything felt so real. So real that I could feel my body pushing a baby out. I was happy. My parents were there, talking with my child’s other grandparents. But, they weren’t Maria’s parents. And Maria was not there. Instead, there was a faceless, blurred image, the presence of someone who was attached to this child. This person was a man and I had my baby with him.
I woke from my dream, confused. All day I grappled with the symbolism of this dream. What did it mean? I had been having my reservations about the insemination, but couldn’t put my finger on what specifically those reservations were. But, waking up from that dream, I fully understood the brevity of my reservations. I wanted to get pregnant “naturally,” but my wife couldn’t get me pregnant.
Then my clock started to tick. And I mean, tick like a time bomb. I became baby obsessed. Almost every dream was about a baby. I would watch men on the street and size them up. What’s his sperm count? Does he have a healthy diet? I started making a list of male friends who were either married with kids or single, and not looking to have kids, who I could have sex with for the sole purpose of getting pregnant… But, there was no way to explain this to Maria.
For weeks, whenever I was alone, I would cry. I cried to my one straight friend, because I was terribly afraid to discuss this with any of my lesbian friends. I was afraid of how I would be perceived in this community that nurtured my growth. I was afraid of how I would be viewed by lesbian friends who got pregnant the “right” way; the way Maria and I were supposed to. I was afraid to admit my reservations about being part of the club. The club started feeling uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be shunned.
All I wanted was to get pregnant. My insides screamed this in my soul’s ear, daily. I wanted what I had always seen in the movies. I wanted to randomly notice that my period was a week late, and recall that last month we had oops sex. I wanted to pace the room with my mate, desperately waiting for those double lines to appear on the test. I wanted to settle into the surprise of it all, the “how did this happen”, the “wow, we’re pregnant”. The idea of an invasive process, lacking in surprise, felt like a massive dream deferred. I certainly couldn’t cheat on Maria, so I kept quiet. I kept my feelings to myself.
Then Maria gave me an out. She told me she cheated on me. We had separated for a few weeks the year before, part of the ups and downs we were having. She went to stay with her parents and I stayed in our apartment. I was sad and smoked cigarettes and drank wine on our patio. She went out with her brothers and met girls. When she came home, I asked her about her time away, if she hooked up with anyone. She told me no.
A year later, she told me she’d lied. She had hooked up with several women, actually. And the guilt had just been too strong. I was pissed and hurt and felt like a fool. But, this was my out; the universe justified it for me and so I took it.
A year later we divorced. Not long after that, I made a baby with a man. And though that relationship also didn’t work out, I’m able to look at my daughter and know that she came into the world exactly as I had hoped, exactly as I had dreamed, exactly as she was meant to.