Article Title:Mothers' Day: Di and Liz's rough road to motherhood!
Category:True Stories
Author or Credit:Jacqui Stanford
Published on:12th May 2013 - 08:35 am
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Story ID:13310
Text:Di and Liz Harding have a gorgeous family; their adorable twins are now teenagers, which many parents might say is the toughest period of their lives. But for Di and Liz, getting pregnant in the first place was battle, after battle, after battle. Love at first date Di was a nurse working in Auckland when a friend told her “wow I know this young doctor who’s working in Whangarei. You wait till she comes back to Auckland, you and her would be just great together!” However when that doctor, Liz, came back to Auckland, she was seeing somebody else. “I didn’t know anything about this,” Liz laughs at the foreshadowing of their love story. Cupid found them both single at the 1990 Gay Games, where Liz was competing in the water polo and swimming and Di was tenpin bowling. Liz had broken up with her girlfriend at the games and was feeling a bit lost. “Di helped me out, finding somewhere to stay, cause I had nowhere to stay at the time. And I thought ‘oh, what a helpful nice person she is’.” Back home, Liz asked Di to a movie, “and that was sort of our first date,” she recalls. “It lasted all weekend!” Di adds. Funnily enough, they actually spoke about kids on their extra-long first date, while they were doing the dishes after dinner. Liz explained she wanted to have children, but wanted to go back to work rather than stay home and bring them up. Di was the opposite; she didn’t want to carry the children, but was keen on staying home and raise them. “I stored that in the back of my mind and thought, ‘well that works’, but then we just got on with dating,” Liz says. The couple eventually travelled to Nepal, where they worked as volunteers together. When they tragically lost a friend on K2 it made them consider what they would regret if their lives ended tomorrow. “Both of us thought it would be not having children,” Liz says. They immediately had worries: what would their families think? But they decided when they got back from their volunteer service they would start a family. They only knew one other lesbian couple with a child, and Liz says when Melissa Etheridge had a child with her partner, she thought ‘well if she can have a child then so can we’. Donations please! The hunt for a donor began. “I started off wanting to create this super-child,” Liz laughs. “I wanted to go to Mensa and find some fantastically intelligent, good looking sports jock – fantastic sperm basically. “Then we decided that we wanted somebody that we knew, so we made a list of all the gay men we knew,” which was a lot, due to their involvement in gay sports groups. “So we had this list of our gay male friends and their good and bad points,” Liz says. “When you think about what you do …” Di chips in, as they both laugh at the memory. Liz would have ‘unsubtle’ conversations with them, asking personal questions like whether they had a family history of alcoholism, “and a few of them realised what I was on about and quickly said ‘actually I don’t want to have children’. So that was really quite awkward when you think about it. But we were really focused on finding a donor.” A kick in the guts Friends asked why they hadn’t tried a fertility clinic, but then added ‘but of course they wouldn’t take you.’ “That was like a red rag to a bull to us,” Liz says. So they went and saw a consultant at a public fertility clinic. “We said we’re a lesbian couple and we want to have fertility treatment, and would there be any problem with that? He said ‘no, no, since everything’s been decriminalised there’s no problem, you have just as many rights as anybody else. I’ll put you on the waiting list’.” Liz was nervous. She was 37 and the couple wanted four children. “Time was running out,” she says. They waited six months, and then finally received a letter from the clinic saying their appointment had come up. “We were really excited. Then two days later another letter arrived saying ‘we have discovered that you’re a lesbian couple. You have social infertility rather than biological infertility and are therefore ineligible for our services’.” They were devastated. And angry that their time had been wasted. “The thing that really kicked me in the guts was it was signed by the same guy who we had gone and seen six months before. So we were just gutted by that.” Some things are meant to be Liz called a private clinic, nearly in tears, to explain what had happened. She was assured lesbian couples were welcome, so she made an appointment. They were eventually shown an ‘example of a profile of a donor’, to give them an idea. “By this stage we’d gone from wanting absolute best person in the world, to just any bit of sperm will do,” Liz says. “But it had to be a nice guy,” Di adds. “But we were just over it,” Liz finishes. They were asked if they liked the ‘example’ profile, which they did, and the woman said “well actually he’s available if you’d like him?” and they were keen. The woman asked if they were certain which they were, and she said “I didn’t want to tell you before you made your decision, but we only have ten donors available at present, and nine out of those ten have refused to give sperm to lesbian couples. In fact he’s the only one who would be available, but I didn’t want to tell you that before we showed it to you.” While it seemed like fate, the fact nine out of ten donors didn’t want to give sperm to lesbian couples was another kick in the guts. “And also we were the last couple that were going to be able to use him anyway,” Di says. “He’d had his certain number of children.” The entire process of finding a donor took about a year. “A tough year,” Di says. “And it got tougher.” Liz agrees, “Then it really got tough. Because then you’ve got to go through the process of trying to get pregnant.” Cycles, stirrups and hope Liz had been measuring her cycle already, and the process was that when you were due to ovulate you’d get a blood test. “You’d scream over to Remuera where the clinic was early in the morning and have a blood test, each morning. Of course it’s quite busy doing that and getting to work. “Mid-morning you would ring from work and find out whether you had ovulated or not, and if you hadn’t then you wouldn’t do anything until the next morning, when you screamed over and had your blood tests again. “If you had ovulated then you had to suddenly drop everything and in your lunch hour, race over, go upstairs, put your legs up in stirrups and they’d put a little tube up into your uterus and put the washed semen into your uterus. “You’d lie there for about five minutes trying to think good thoughts and then quickly race all your clothes on and zoom across the city back to work. And then catch up on all the patients that were waiting.” That added an element of stress, then the couple turned to waiting and hoping. It “only” took nine months, Di says. “We’ve had friends who have waited two years. It’s devastating every time you’re not pregnant, not only for Liz, but also for me. It just guts you.” Liz explains that any type of PMS symptoms or physical change gives you hope that it’s a pregnancy symptom. “And then people would come to you with all sorts of ideas when you didn’t get pregnant. ‘Have you tried burying a dead frog down the bottom of the garden’ or ‘have you tried wearing certain colours’. And of course you try all the weird things because you didn’t want any chance it wouldn’t work.” The final straw After eight months, they’d had it. Liz says she was ‘going a bit doolally’ as the clinic had decided it was going to do a laparoscopy, which is a diagnostic test for infertility. “I kept having this recurrent nightmare that I would wake up from the laparoscopy and two of the consultants were standing there really angry with me. And they said ‘you’ve completely wasted our time because inside you’re really a man’. And I decided ‘I think the stress is getting to me a bit’.” They decided they would have one more attempt, then take a break. Liz’s ovulation fell on a weekend so Di went with her. “It was a lot more relaxed. And Di got to do the insemination, which was quite nice. And that was the one that worked.” A double whammy They were at a Himalayan Trust meeting when she heard the good news in a phone call. They said “There’s one problem, your numbers are so high that we’re pretty sure you’ve got triplets.” Jokes about My Three Sons followed, and they didn’t care how many babies they had, they just wanted to be pregnant. An ultrasound showed Liz was carrying twins. “In a way it was a bit of a relief,” Di laughs, reflecting on the prospect of triplets. “Two boys,” they said. “Two big strapping boys!” Liz was upset, as since she was a little girl herself, she’d always believed she would have a boy and a girl. She felt terrible, that people might think that because she was a lesbian she didn’t want two boys because she was a man-hater, which she is far from. “I just felt devastated because I wanted to have a little girl. And I wanted to have a boy and a girl. So we named the children to help bond.” Further scans said they were definitely having two boys, but Liz got quite sick towards the end of her pregnancy and had another scan with a radiographer, who was concerned, and said she thought there was something wrong with the genitalia of one of the boys. The couple thought they were going to have an intersex child, and figured there probably wasn’t a better family for the baby, and did mountains of research. Liz had a C-section. “They pulled out a boy. And then she said ‘I’ll just go and get your brother’, and then out came this perfectly formed girl,” Liz says. There were five lesbians in the delivery room, Liz recalls, “and it was hilarious, poor old Glen, they were going ‘it’s a girl! It’s a girl!’. “So I ended up with my boy and a girl.” The family now: Di, Glen, Indigo and Liz Harding A nice happy ending for Mother’s Day! But wait, there's more! In part two, Di and Liz will tell us all about being lesbian mums.     Jacqui Stanford - 12th May 2013
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