How pregnancy really feels when you’re in the role of the ‘other mother’

Lotte Jeffs, co-host of the Some Families podcast (which is dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ families), admits that she felt a little disconnected when her wife fell pregnant with their daughter. Here, she speaks authentically around her experiences of pregnancy as the ‘other mother’.     

For the first month after we found out that she was pregnant, my wife had no symptoms. In fact, if it wasn’t for the positive ClearBlue test that I kept in the drawer of my bedside table as a souvenir, it was all too easy to forget that – all being well – our lives were going to be transformed by the following summer.

At that time, it felt equally abstract for both of us. In fact, it wasn’t until the second month – when I used my redundancy money to relocate us from the UK to a treehouse in the Hollywood Hills for winter – that I began to realise the act of being pregnant was something that was definitely happening for her, and not for me. 

The experience was supposed to be fun, glamorous and a great antidote to the stress and misery of having lost a job I’d loved. Instead, she was so sick and exhausted that she could barely get out of bed.

I experienced a disconnect that I knew I’d have to reconcile as the pregnancy progressed

As two women, we’re very close, and can usually empathise with most things the other goes through. However, this was different and the hardest thing was this: there was nothing I could do to help her feel better. 

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I spent a lot of time exploring the city and sitting in cafes on my own. I’d bring her back a smoothie or a sandwich, but she was so nauseous that they mostly ended up in the bin.

My role then was fetcher of things, listener, back rubber, and Googler. And, while I was grateful not to be feeling rough like she did, I also experienced a disconnect that I knew I’d have to reconcile as the pregnancy progressed.

“I began to realise that the act of being pregnant was something that was definitely happening for her and not me,” says Lotte Jeffs.

By the end of the first trimester, she felt normal again – better than normal, actually. We had fun together, went travelling, ate out and I attended every pregnancy appointment with her.

I shared in the joy when we heard that little heartbeat for the first time, but I understood that the fact she was carrying that heartbeat inside of her meant her physical closeness with this child would be something truly profound. 

I felt more involved as the bump grew and I could feel prods and kicks and hiccups

Still, though, it was always such a relief to know that everything was progressing well. And I felt more involved as the bump grew and I could feel prods and kicks and hiccups. 

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We took a hypnobirthing course closer to the due date and I enjoyed having defined actions and things I could do to help. And, in the run up to the birth, we went to sleep listening to a meditation soundtrack each night, a soporific tale of swarms of coloured butterflies.

Unfortunately, no swarms of butterflies descended upon us with rainbows and prancing unicorns during the actual labour, which was about as far from our birthing plan as Jilly Cooper is from Dostoyevsky. 

My role then was advocate, cheerleader and, once again, fetcher of things. I also made the atmosphere in the hospital room as pleasant as possible with a fan (it was a hot July), lovely scents and mood lighting (I packed a pink globe lamp in the hospital bag. Yes, really).

The fact is, physically, a pregnant person is in it alone, and there’s a limit to what anyone else, regardless of their gender, can do to help. But, from the very second my daughter was born, I’m happy to report that our roles as parents became equal. 

And, despite everything my wife went through, I’m still keen to experience it for myself.

Baby Dove is the proud sponsor of Some Families, the UK’s first LGBTQ+ parenting podcast series. Listen in to hear more from Lotte about her parenting experience and the full range of Baby Dove products, wherever you get your podcasts.

Images: Getty

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