Blogging for #LGBTFamilies: Cynthia Catania
LGBT parenting blog Mombian, which received a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Blog, is taking Monday, June 3rd to show the world for the 8th year in a row that LGBT families are just as loving, supportive and valuable to our communities as straight families. Mombian is asking LGBT families, straight allies and all other supporters to write and submit to www.mombian.com, a blog post on any topic relating to LGBT families.
Cynthia Catania is a singer-songwriter and producer for indie rock band Saucy Monky.
A few years ago I was faced with my ticking chronological clock... and the big big question about whether to have kids or not. Kids of my own genetics, that is. It was a very strange time. I was in a panic. Being a musician and a performer my whole life - I never really thought about having a family. It was never on my radar. What was on my radar was "how do I get my band on that bill?" "How do I get that management company to sign me?" "How can I get that producer to record my song?" "Will that hit songwriter co-write with me?" Being a performer is a very strange, suspended animation type of lifestyle. And here I was, face to face with my biological clock.
At the time, I was dating a girl who was even more lost in her career than I was. She absolutely wasn't ready for a family. It actually became the catalyst for our breakup. Simultaneously, we had friends who were in a solid relationship. No longer fighting the fight as musicians (one of them is a film editor, one of them was a performer and a composer). Here's how it went for me: my gyno, who I loved, sent me to a fertility clinic in Beverly Hills. On my very first appointment, the specialist told me I had 3 days to decide whether I wanted to go for it, as my egg was just about to drop. I didn't even have a donor on board yet! Being the analog girl that I am, I didn't want to go to a sperm bank. I wanted to know something about the character of my baby's father. I wanted to use a friend and atypical to many lesbians, I wanted my friend to be involved in my (future) baby's life. The state of California does not make this endeavor easy. Your real life donor needs to have an STD panel every 6 months! Which means $700-1000 of additional costs right off the bat. The person also has to be 'in person' at the clinic. No container mailings allowed. Both of my top 2 picks, dear friends of mine, were not residents of California. This was the first of many, extremely big obstacles I hit. The next month, the fertility doc told me I needed to start taking shots. Something about my inconsistent FSH levels, and "had I found a donor yet?" I had 2 days to get it all together. This time, in an even bigger panic, I picked a local sperm bank with a decent reputation. I hurriedly went through all the red tape, and, well, they lost my authorization fax.
I decided I couldn't handle the stress. The financial commitment, and even the idea of being a single parent. What I experienced at the fertility clinic was, well, inhumane. They were all about the quick turn around, with no time to even take calls or answer questions. I decided I would just take the holistic route. I started taking herbs, and getting acupuncture on a regular basis. What I really did was chicken out.
So my gay lady friends (two wonderful, smart, funny women) did not back away from their quest. For over two years they went to our shared gyno every month. They endured the tremendous stress and emotional struggles of every false attempt, and several miscarriages. They even came close to breaking up - or at least it seemed that way, because anyone who's been through it knows how challenging this process can be - gay or straight. You want to give up! Sometimes you want to go back to how things used to be. Simpler. Just the two of us. Back to the familiar comfort zone. After taking a long pause, they started IVF treatments. More time, more disappointments, more money, but somehow, they persisted.
Eventually, my friend got pregnant with twins! Today they have the most adorable set of fraternal siblings I've ever met. They couldn't be cuter! Not only did they get their kids - but they get to experience the joy of having a little girl and a little boy. Both chock full of personality and life and love.
This story gives me hope. It inspires me. It points out the difference between parents who really want kids, and those that don't give it as much thought. It highlights how hard gay people have to work to have a family. How two people can come together under times of extreme adversity, and help each other make their dreams come true. It gives me a very human and humble sense of what love and partnership means.
Someday, when the time is right, I hope to have a family. And everything will fall into place, just as it's meant to be.
This documentary is the second in a series of six films that will share the experiences of, and accelerate acceptance for, LGBT people and communities across the U.S. South.