Category Archives: Pregnancy

Everything You Need to Know About Polyamory and Pregnancy

Not much to change here. Just your standard link list. Obviously, I’ve found a great deal to add since wrapping up this blog series, since I wrote a whole book on polyamory, pregnancy, and everything that goes along with. But you can still find the basics here. Re-posted March 9, 2017.

So, over two months of posting, and a week to think it over, I really think I’ve covered everything related to polyamory and pregnancy. If something occurs to me later that I have missed, I’ll add it here. In the meantime, here is a link list of every post in this series.

Polyamory and Pregnancy – the introduction

Planning for a Pregnancy

Prenatal Care – dealing with doctors and hospitals (you might also want to check out Educating Poly-Friendly Professionals)

Legal Stuff – filling out the birth certificate and determining paternity

Picking Names – who is involved and how do you decide

Polyam Partners getting pregnant

What Makes a Parent – being a parent can be much more then biology

Taking a Break–  sometimes, taking a break from polyamory to focus on pregnancy and a new child may be the right thing

And for a more in depth (and portable) read, check out the Polyamory on Purpose Guide to Polyamory and Pregnancy

Polyamory and Pregnancy: Help! My Husband’s Secondary is Pregnant!

Still not entirely happy with this post, but… it’s an improvement. In the early days I spent a lot of time writing about hierarchy, because it’s what I was seeing. Most posts that focused on hierarchy I have been able to re-write to have a more general focus. This one… This one’s about the hierarchy. I have never seen the sheer sense of shock and betrayal in a non-hierarchical polycule that seems to be the loudest (if not most common) response to a pregnancy occurring in the “wrong” dyad of a hierarchical multi-link. Revised 2/19/17.

The title of this post comes from a search term that regularly brings people to my blog. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by how common this problem is – but seeing it as one of the more common searches used to find this blog actually did surprise me. And made me realize that I had left something important out of this discussion. As great as it is for me to say ‘talk about it before it happens’, that doesn’t say anything about coping with it when it happens. Note that just because the original search term was gendered doesn’t mean this problem only comes up in a male spouse’s secondary link. Pregnancy can happen in any link that includes PIV sex. Calling that link “secondary” doesn’t change that.

Most of this post is directed at the people in a hierarchical primary link, because, well, that’s who is using this search term. But the info/ideas here can be helpful for secondary partners and much of it can apply to any multi-link network.

First Things First:

So, the first thing to do with any unexpected pregnancy is – BREATHE. If you didn’t plan for the possibility (and even if you did) this can be a really difficult, painful and complicated situation. Panicking really, REALLY, doesn’t help.

Second, by all that is holy do not jump to conclusions or start assigning blame. I’ve seen this way too often, but it seems most common in hierarchical multi-links where someone thought promising (or demanding a promise) that a pregnancy would never ever ever happen seemed like a good idea. As someone who got pregnant twice using birth control, and once [twice] with a person who tested as sterile, I can promise you that an unexpected pregnancy does not mean the secondary deliberately set out to trap you/your partner, or that anyone has been lying about the use of birth control. (Seriously, I know of at least two cases within 2 degrees of separation of me where a pregnancy happened after someone got their TUBES TIED. Shit HAPPENS.)

Ditto, just because someone is excited at the idea of being a parent, does not mean this was deliberate. (I promise from my own experience, sometimes, after the shock wears off, the biologically programmed excitement does set in.)

Perhaps most importantly on this point, unless the pregnant person opts for an abortion, this is something all three (or more) of you are going to need to deal with together – starting out by attacking each other, no matter how justified you may feel, just makes things worse.

Moving Forward

Ok, so we are breathing, we are not panicking, and we are not tossing around blame. Where do we go from here?

Time to discuss options. While this is not an exhaustive list, here are a few of the options that can be considered:

Work out custody:

Raising a child between two homes is practically normal these days. Which doesn’t say it is easy or necessarily a good idea – but it isn’t a bad idea either. Yes, this means you and your (or your partner’s) secondary partner will be tied together for the next 18+ years. Given the number of divorcees who absolutely hate each other and have managed this, I promise, it can work.

Move in together:

I do not recommend this option without a lot of soul searching, heavy discussion and compromise, but IF you can make it work, it is one of the better options out there. A very viable alternative is you can afford it is to buy or rent two halves of a two family house. This way you all have your space, both bio parents can be involved daily in the baby’s life, and life can go on as close to usual as possible with a baby coming/here. (Pressuring your spouse/primary partner into allowing your secondary partner to move in with you when they are opposed is a recipe for divorce court/break up. Pressuring your secondary partner to move in when they are opposed is a recipe for drama and possibly/probably a break up followed by custody battles.)

Adoption:

if both bio parents seriously aren’t into the whole parent thing, this can be a very good option. There are a number of options available, including both private and public adoptions. Some arrangements can allow you to still be a part of the child’s life. Alternatively, if one of the bio parents aren’t ready to be a parent, they might be able to arrange an adoption with one of the other bio parent’s other partners.

Give up paternity:

if the bio father is not ready/want to be a parent, it is often an option for them to give up their parental rights to the child. If they choose to do this, they will not be liable for child support, and will also have no legal right to be a part of the child’s life. (You know the comment on moving in together above? Same applies here. Seriously, this has to be THEIR decision, do NOT push for this one.)

Self Care is Important

Now, while this blog is usually focused on the practical aspects of polyamory, I’m gonna detour into the emotional. If your partner and their secondary partner come to you and announce a pregnancy, no matter how tactful they are or how gently they break the news, you have every right and reason to a whole host of negative emotions. ESPECIALLY if they were foolish enough to promise this would never happen. Even worse is if either A) you had agreed that you were never going to have children, or B) you have been trying to have children and haven’t been able to. In either of those cases, this can go beyond a punch in the gut.

There are no good answers here. But I would seriously suggest that you take the time to cry on a friend’s shoulder, take a weekend away, blow a bunch of money on a spa day (if you can afford it without harming your living situation) or WHATEVER YOU NEED to feel at least a little better, and be able to approach this at least somewhat calmly. You do not need to decide how you feel today. You do not need to decide what to do today. You have nearly 9 months to figure things out. So give yourself that time.

So Is Not Being an Asshole

And as hard as it may be, try to have some compassion for the secondary partner in this mess. They are probably scared, confused and uncertain too. Do not ask your partner not to see them/spend time with them while you deal with your feelings. That is taking away one of their sources of emotional supports during a very difficult time, and generally being an asshole.

The above also applies if your secondary partner has just told you they are pregnant and you are upset about it.

And if you are the person who has just done the telling, recognize that the other people involved may need time and space to sort out how they feel about this unexpected change.

If you are the secondary partner in this situation, it can be very scary, and you can feel very alone. Obviously all of the above options as far as what to do are open to you. On an emotional level, don’t be afraid to say to your partner ‘look, I know this is a shock to you, and I know you/your spouse need time to sort out how this affects you, but I need some support here too.’

This post is part of the Polyamory and Pregnancy blog series.

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Polyamory and Pregnancy: Taking a Break from Polyamory

Minor changes here. This post causes a collision in two of my basic beliefs: 1) no one can force or require you to be in a relationship and 2) you don’t dump people you love because it’s convenient. In the end, #1 is an ethical position related to consent and #2 is a personal opinion on how not to be a douchebag. So when they collide #1 comes out on top. You have every right to do something I consider douche baggy. Some minor revisions here, but the gist of the post hasn’t changed. Revised 2/17/17

Love is infinite, time is not.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes/How do you measure, measure a year? – Jonathon Larson, Rent

I’m not sure who first said it, but it is true. No matter how we measure and count the days, we only have so much time. And pregnancy and babies take up lots of it.

For some people, this becomes a time to take a break from polyamory or open relationships. To say ‘we are focusing on this relationship and this child.’

Each individual needs to make this decision for themselves. (Yes, individual. This is not something I believe a nesting/primary partner has a right to require of you.) You, and only you, know what your resources are in terms of time, energy, and support. You do not owe anyone a relationship. If you can no longer give a relationship the time and energy you think it deserves, you have every right to say, “I’m sorry, I can no longer keep my commitments here, I need to step back.”

If you DO decide to step back from some relationships, remember that relationships evolve. You and your partners can remain friends, can shift to a more casual relationship, can be comets for each other. There is a lot of middle ground between “keeping things the way they are” and “ending all but one relationship”.

For myself, I can see a situation where I might say ‘I can’t start any new relationships, I need to close up my triad/quad/v/network/group because I can’t commit to anything new.’ I can’t imagine a situation where I would be happy or willing to end relationships rather than evolve them. Or to stop being polyamorous and living in committed monogamy for any length of time. But everyone is different.

Whatever you decide, whether you are able to continue with your current relationships, consider new ones, or find closure with some relationships so you can focus on your primary/nesting relationships and child/ren; make sure you do it with respect for yourself and your partners.

Blessed be.

This post is part of the Polyamory and Pregnancy blog series.

Polyamory and Pregnancy: When Primaries Have Children

Minor edits here. This post references a post about an earlier post about secondary partner’s becoming pregnant. That post needs a complete re-write and will (hopefully) be up sometime next week. Revised Feb 15, 2017

This isn’t one that generates the sheer Google traffic of a secondary partner getting pregnant, but I think it deserves just as much attention.

The thing is, hierarchical relationships tend to focus on what affects the primary partners. Of course, everyone fully sympathizes when a secondary partner becomes pregnant and the primary is floundering to figure out how to handle it. However, a secondary who finds out their partner is having a baby with their partner’s primary is affected as well. (For this post I will be referring to ’primary relationships’ as opposed to ’primary couples’. Some people have primary triads, quads or other set ups)

Like many things, I’d like to think it is self-evident that a primary relationship that decides to try to have a child should inform their secondaries. (It’s part of that whole ’open and honest communication thing’). However, even if every primary relationship in the world did this, there would still be the unplanned and expected pregnancies.

Every polyam relationship is different, and “primary” and “secondary” are used for such a wide variety of arrangements. So these situations can vary widely. The primary partners could discuss the possibility of a pregnancy with their secondary(s), asking their opinion and approval. They could inform the secondary(s) of their decision. And sometimes they inform the secondary(s) that they are seeking children and have decided to end all secondary relationships.

Personally, I think that last is a shit thing to do, but some people do it. And it is their right to end their relationships anytime they want for any reason (or no reason).

Equally, some secondaries won’t care what the primary partners do or decide, some will have very strong feelings/opinions, and some may feel threatened or left out. Caught on the outside looking in.

If you are a secondary partner in this situation, a pregnancy in a primary relationship will affect your relationship with your partner(s). But it doesn’t have to be a negative effect. Your SO(s) will need a great deal of support and help, especially at the end of the pregnancy and right after the child is born.

If you choose to back away from the pregnancy as ’something that doesn’t involve you’, then your relationship will definitely lose intensity. It may end as the baby becomes a major focus of their time and energy. This can be healthy, if the relationship has run its course and you are ready to move on, or if you decide it is the best thing for you. Or it can be unhealthy if you feel resentful of the ’wedge’ that the pregnancy has driven in your relationship(s).

However, you can choose to be involved as a friend. If you do, you can offer to help with transport to doctor’s appointments, help set up the nursery, or babysit (or help with the dishes) so baby’s parents can get a break. If you do this, then the pregnancy and child can become not something that drives a wedge in the relationship, but another way to have a relationship.

If you are a part of the primary relationship in this situation, try to keep your secondary(s) in the communication loop. Maybe they want to be involved on some level, maybe they don’t. Maybe you want them involved, maybe you don’t. IMO, within reason, the pregnant person should get what they want during pregnancy (they’re the one going through hell). But be considerate of the other people who are affected.

All of this is pretty much the same if the pregnancy is unexpected, except that it’ll be coming at everyone as a surprise. As I believe I’ve mentioned in earlier posts; take your time deciding how you feel about it, and don’t make any major decisions immediately. You usually have nine months or so to figure everything out.

This post is part of the Polyamory and Pregnancy blog series.

Polyamory and Pregnancy: What makes a parent

Since writing this post I have learned that the poem is by Fleur Conkling Heylinger and was probably published in the early 1950s. Unfortunately, my Google-fu is failing me, and aside from one other poem, I haven’t been able to find anything about Fleur Conkling Heylinger. She might or might not be the same as the Fleur Conkling who wrote children’s books during the 1950s.

I still don’t have any words to add. Updated 2/14/17.

The Answer (to my adopted child of choice)

Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone,
But still, miraculously, my own.
Never forget for a single minute
That you didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.

I don’t know who wrote it, or where it came from, but I grew up with that verse hanging next to my bed. I was adopted, raised by people who I had no blood relation to, but who were my family as truly as if I had been born among them.

Perhaps it is that upbringing that makes it so easy for me to see others as parents for my children. To say that being a parent is as much a matter of the love and commitment, as it is conception.

I don’t have any profound words to add. For me, that simple verse says it all. Within your polycule, you need to decide who will be a parental figure to the baby, and who will be an aunt/uncle, friend of the family, god/dess parent, or whatever works.

But if a child grows within your heart, and if you let that feeling become action – to care for and raise and guide, to walk the floor with through an infant’s first cold, hold her hand as she takes her first steps, make him endless lunches for endless school days, bandage his hurts, praise her successes and be there in all things, because of the love you have for them, then you are a parent. Biology be damned.

This post is part of the Polyamory and Pregnancy blog series.

Polyamory and Pregnancy: Contraception and Fertility

I removed gendered language from this post, cleaned up my phrasing and fixed a few typos. On a personal note, I gave up on abstinance eventually, and my fourth child is now a year old. I have plans to get an IUD this month, fingers crossed it works as advertised. After some debate I decided not to add detailed info on different contraceptive methods. This post is meant as a general overview of issues that can crop up in polyam relationships, and I think it does that well. Revised Feb 8, 2017.

Oops–one last thing. Please excuse all the ‘yelling’. I was apparently feeling very strongly about these issues when I wrote this post.

I touched on this one briefly in my discussion of unexpected pregnancies, but it probably deserves some special attention.

To start, I am not an expert on contraceptive methods, because once it was established that the most common methods don’t work for me, I pretty much stopped bothering, aside from using condoms. So I’m not going to be throwing around statistic this and study that. (If you are interested in what is more or less effective, WebMD has a comparison chart. In comparison, you are considered to have fertility problems if are trying to get pregnant for a year and can’t.)

Instead of going into those details, I’m going to be looking at some fundamentals of how contraceptives work, and how this can impact your polyamorous relationships. (Oh, and why is this under pregnancy? Because if you aren’t careful with your contraceptives, you are probably going to end up needing the rest of the pregnancy stuff sooner of later.)

Contraceptives

So . . . first off, the open secret of contraceptives that no one talks about: the person with internal genitalia is in control. Yup. It sucks, but it is true. Except for the most failure prone contraceptives (withdrawal and condoms), all contraceptive medication and devices are designed for people with internal genitalia. Which I’m sure many of us don’t see a problem with – it’s our bodies if we get pregnant. Kind of a foolish and one-sided view, but hey people are people. However, if you espouse that view, and you are polyam, stop and think for a minute how you feel about the fact that your partner with external genitalia has no access to effective contraceptives when with their other partners. Yup, it sucks.

Now, I am not saying that people with external genitalia are excused from responsibility for doing everything they can to protect against unplanned pregnancies. They damn well should be using condoms and doing everything possible to reduce the likelihood of pregnancy. But, reality is .  . .

However, if you have external genitalia you can still be involved in contraception. Ask the people you are involved with what kind of contraceptives they are using, be aware of their schedule, stay informed, if you know a person you are with is forgetful, bad with schedules, whatever, then offer to help them remember the next pill/shot/ring/whatever. Hell, if they are using the ring, make putting it in and taking it out a part of your sex play! Whatever it takes STAY THE FRICK INVOLVED.

And for those of us with internal genitalia, our externally-equipped partners have every fricking reason to want to be involved and aware of what we’re using and how effective it is. For the love of chocolate, do not tell them it is none of their business – if we get pregnant, it’s their kid too! Keep them aware, keep them informed, keep the communication going!

Fertility

Next up: fertility. Personally, I think if it’s affordable (which it isn’t for me or most people) everyone who can, should get their fertility levels checked at least once. Why? Because knowing how fertile you are has a big impact on what contraceptives you should consider and how much you need to worry. Me? I am walking fertility drug. I kid you not, my partner was told his sperm count was so low he was infertile, and I got pregnant. Same thing happened to two of my aunts. And my mother has had 11 pregnancies (6 full term) half of them on various kinds of birth control. I’m told that I am too fertile to get my frigging tubes tied! (I’d end up with ectopic pregnancies – not good.)

A friend of mine had to jump through hoops like a circus dog to get pregnant. If she’d known that years ago, she could have fretted a lot less about the possibility of becoming pregnant before she was ready.

Since fertility testing is so expensive, at the very least, do what you can to check the family history. That can give you some clue as to what you might be able to expect out of your little swimmers or floaters.

Tubal

Number 3: Getting your tubes tied is not a guarantee!!!! A female friend of my had her tubes cut and tied, and a uterine ablation (her UTERUS cauterized) and still got pregnant. A male friend of my mother’s? Had his tubes tied, got his wife pregnant – it turned out that he had THREE tubes, and they missed one. Again, if it’s possible, get your fertility checked after your tubes are tied if you want to be sure.

Plan B

Fourth and ten – three words MORNING AFTER PILL!!!!! If you have any reason to believe that your birth control may be off, may have failed or may just be fricking useless, stock up on this little gem. If you have it you can always choose not to use it. The reverse is entirely not true.

 

Now, folks with internal genitalia jumped on the pill with cries of ‘hallelujah!’ for a reason – overall, the thing works. Since its introduction, there have been thousands, if not millions of people who have happily made like rabbits for years without getting pregnant. My point here is not to be crying sexual Armageddon, and if you are one of those lucky stiffs who can take the pill regularly, have your fun for as long as you want, and then get pregnant as soon as you decide you are ready? My hat’s off to you (and as a side note, I hate you). But please be aware of the facts, options, and what not to make educated decisions about what you and your partners do.

As for me? I am fricking paranoid for a reason (see above), and I am abstaining until further notice. (Michael, the blessed saint, is willing to put up with it too!)

Pregnancy and Polyamory: Picking Baby Names

Did my best to removed gendered language and fixed some really poorly written sentences. Other than that, it’s much the same as it always was. Revised 1/16/17.

Picking baby names is one of the great joys of pregnancy. Also a real pain in the you-know-what. There are two extremes of name picking: those who have known the names they want for their children since they were children and those who don’t figure it out until after the baby is born. (I had a friend in high school who was named after a brand of soap. The hospital wouldn’t let them leave until her mother picked a name).

In between the two extremes are things like those who pore over baby-name books for hours, folks who want to name the baby after a relative, and the stereotypical ’run every possible name by your best friend to see what they think’. Oh – and don’t forget some families have naming traditions!

Like everything polyamory, if a decision is hard for two people, it is ridiculous for more people.

But why does it have to be more than two people? Why not just have the bio parents pick the name? First, you won’t always know who the second bio parent is. And some people may want to involve their polyam family in the decision, especially if everyone in the family is going to raising the children as parents. So, if you know for certain who the bio parents are, and it works for you, then certainly the bio parents can decide on the name themselves. If not . . . well, the ‘if not’ is why I wrote this blog post 😉

When my first child was born, I was in a triad. We did not know who the father was and we decided not to find out the assumed gender until the birth. One of my husbands didn’t want to discuss baby names. When he was born his parents had been arguing between two different names. They saw him and immediately knew which was the right one. So he was convinced that as soon as he saw the baby the perfect name would come to him. (He somehow didn’t notice the difference between picking one of two names and picking a name out of the blue). I wanted the three of us to go through baby books, rate names, make lists, and generally bored both of them to tears. My other husband seemed at least a little interested in the baby name books and my lists, but he wasn’t good at speaking up and voicing his opinion.

When my second child was born, we found out the assumed gender, boy, and the name was pretty much automatic. Both my family and one of my husband’s families have naming traditions for boys. And we were so focused on that, it didn’t even occur to us it left my other husband out of the discussion entirely. Much hard feelings from that.

Unfortunately, and as I’m afraid seems to be common for this blog, I don’t have any concrete suggestions on this one. It will be different for each family and each child. The usually polyam stuff of communication, honesty and respect will probably get you through somehow.

Last Names

Of course, as difficult as it can be picking the first name for your child, it kinda pales in comparison to how high feelings run when you are discussing last names.

It is traditional, in America, for a child to have their father’s last name. It is becoming more and more acceptable (if unwieldy) to hyphenate both parents’ names. Either of these options works well when the bio parents are known.

But what if you don’t know the second bio parent? Oy oy oy this one can be a real problem. For once, though, I actually have a few suggestions, none of which are perfect, but all of which can work:

  •     Use the mother’s name for the children: nice and simple, can work for all relationship configurations, and drs, teachers, etc won’t even blink at it.
  •     Hyphenate everyone’s name: not even gonna go into the problems with this one, but in a triad, especially if two members of the triad are legally married and have taken the same name, it is actually feasible
  •     Middle names: it is somewhat common to use the mother’s maiden name as a middle name for a child. There is no reason this can’t be adapted to polyam. And I have a cousin (child of a mono relationship) with three middle names and a last name, I’ve heard of people with more. So everyone can be included.
  •     Combine names: this one . . . is a stretch. But, if you don’t mind going for the odd and unusual, you can combine syllables from everyone’s last name to create a new name. Can’t say I like this one, and socially would cause a lot of problems, because it’s expected that a kid will have the same last name as at least 1 parent. But, it’s an option.

If you’ve had a child in a polyamorous family, how did you pick a name, and what was done for a last name?

Polyamory and Pregnancy: Legal Stuff

Removed gendered references to the other (ie not pregnant) bio parent. Corrected some info. A few other minor changes. Revised Jan 15, 2017.

Probably the biggest potential hassle in being polyamorous and pregnant is the birth certificate. (Yup, legal messes are always the worst kind.) In this case, it’s the issue of legal paternity.

First off, and to the best of my knowledge, as long as you aren’t legally married, you can do pretty much whatever you want with the birth certificate. Leave the “father” field blank until you have get a DNA test, put your primary down, put the partner your new baby looks like down… Seriously, if you aren’t married, whoever you say is the legal parent, is the legal parent.

If you are legally married, then it can get complicated. (Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, I do not know the law throughout the US, never mind the world. I have given birth in two different states, and know polyam people in a few other states, and so far this issue seems common.) Y’see, some states have this rule that if you are married, your legal spouse’s name goes on the birth certificate automatically. It’s possible you were artificially inseminated to be sure that a specific partner would be the other bio-parent–if you aren’t legally married to that partner you still need to jump through hoops to prove it. (My second to last child, my husband and I had been separated for three years, he lived half the country away and we were in the middle of a divorce–they still wanted to put his name down.)

So, if you are married, and either don’t know who the other bio-parent is or know it wasn’t your legal spouse, what are your options?

Option 1: Save up for DNA testing. Yes, there are DNA tests you can get for $30 dollars through the mail – for this, they don’t count. DNA testing that will be accepted as legal evidence can run up to several hundred dollars (we paid $400 6 12 years ago). Save the money, and inform the hospital ahead of time that you will be having the test done. You’ll have to jump through some legal hoops and forms after the birth to get the certificate straightened out, but it’s pretty straightforward.

Option 2: Amniocentesis – there is a way of testing DNA through an amnio. Obviously, all the possible side effects apply. It is more expensive then regular testing, though if you need to have an amnio for health reasons, you may be able to tack the DNA test on without much extra cost. Big advantage: when the clerk shows up in your room after labor to take care of the birth certificate, you have the papers proving paternity right there.

Option 3: Put your legal spouse’s name down and don’t worry about it. You can get the $30 test later just to know what the medical history is, and otherwise who cares, you are all parents together anyway. Upside – cheapest option with the least hassle. Downsides – emotional impact of the other biological parent of your child not being acknowledged as the legal parent and/or not being certain who the other bio parent is. Some people won’t care, some will – a lot. Possibly greater expense down the line if for any reason you need to change the birth certificate to have other bio parent’s name.

Biggest thing – don’t be blindsided. Happened to me twice, cuddling new baby, happily enjoying motherhood and not a care in the world – bam legal shit. You can speak with a lawyer, your local health department, or the birth registrar at the hospital about the rules your state, so you know in advance what you are getting into.

This post is part of the Polyamory and Pregnancy blog series.

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Random Babble Post – For the Children

I fixed some typos, otherwise I’m letting this stand, bad grammar and all. Since I first wrote this I have seen many polyam families navigate healthy endings to relationships between polyam partners and children. But I think the central point here stands. Don’t forcibly sever your or  your partner’s parental relationship with children in the polycule just because relationships between adults have ended. Revised Dec 25, 2016

So, I’m too exhausted to think clearly, don’t have a post written, and refuse to be late again. What’s a person to do then? Babble.

In theory, I should be writing another post on pregnancy. If I tried in this exhausted state, what would come out is my own emotions and reactions to my experiences of pregnancy in polyamorous relationships, not all of which were good. I guess if I were to sum up the badness it would be: it was difficult and hurtful for a woman who was supposed to be part of a quad with me, to want me to have nothing to do with her pregnancy, and then want to be heavily involved in my own pregnancy later that same year. Of course, that whole relationship was a disaster. None of us handled the situation well, and a lot of people were very hurt before it ended.

Probably the one who was hurt the most was my husband, who left the relationship, left behind me, his brother, and the two children of his heart who he now never sees, living half way across the country. Thankfully, and due to a series of very messed up circumstances, involving extended family, Division of Youth and Family Services, and a messed up legal system, the children had been living with my parents and had barely seen him for a year, as well as being young enough that now, three years later, they barely remember him, so they weren’t nearly as hurt as they could have been by his leaving. Though, sometimes, a few times a year maybe, my daughter asks for him.

And I suppose if this post has a point, that should be it. There are no legal ties to the children of our poly partners. And if things end, it can be so easy to walk away, so much less hurtful to leave them behind rather then see them constantly and be reminded of what we lost.

But if we chose to bring children into a polyam relationship, whether we are the biological parents or not, we have a responsibility to them. I hear it said so often in polyam forums that a relationship that ends is not a failure if it simply ran its course and everyone moved on . . . but, when you bring children in, whether they are born into the relationship, or brought in from previous relationships, we owe it to them not to let the end of a relationship with our partners, take us away from the children who also have a relationship with us.

There is a little girl who called me her parent, and whose face lights up whenever she sees me, who is not allowed to spend time with me. There are two children sleeping upstairs who have a father they will probably never see again. This is wrong, and I cannot change it. But I can hope and pray that those of you who read this, will do everything in your power to make sure these things never happen to the children in your life.

Because our children deserve better than this.

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Polyamory and Pregnancy: Prenatal Care

Another post with minor grammar edits. Nothing much has changed in prenatal care in the last five years, as my pregnancy last year demonstrated. Updated: Dec 13, 2016

Dealing with medical stuff and polyamory can be a pain in the neck when you aren’t dealing with the stress of a new pregnancy. When you are? Well, stupid rules and regulations + hormone swings can make doctors look like very good targets.

With luck, you already have an ob/gyn who is familiar with your lifestyle and is willing to include all your partners in your prenatal care. If you aren’t already seeing a poly-friendly professional, you may need to do a little searching and a little educating.

My best experience was a home birth with a nurse practitioner midwife. She accepted our relationship without a qualm, included both my partners in all our consultations. when the baby was born, one caught and the other cut the umbilical cord.

Midwife-assisted home birth gives you control. In a hospital, you need to deal with their rules and regulations. Since midwife-assisted home birth is just as safe for low-risk pregnancies than hospital birth, it is something you may want to consider. (Actually, some studies have shown midwife assisted high-risk births in the hospital have better outcomes than obstetrician assisted, but you’re in the hospital either way.)

The biggest problem of a hospital birth from a polyam-perspective is many hospitals limit the number of people who can attend the birth. If you have a number of partners or a large poly family, this can leave you needing to choose who will be there with you, and who won’t.

That said, please, please please, put your and your baby’s safety first.

Ultrasounds and any other medical test often have the same problem—hospital or clinic limits on people who can be with you. Hard to blame them in a way—I’ve known people who would have crowded their entire extended family in to see the ultrasound! And there just isn’t that much space in the ultrasound rooms. But it can leave a polyam mom in a tough position.

The best advice I have on this one is to talk with your partners and your doctor. If your doctor understands your relationship and is willing to work with you then you shouldn’t have too many problems. And there is a good chance that if you have a big polycule, not everyone will be as interested in going to ultrasounds and what-not. Some people just don’t see the fascination in smudgy black and white pictures on a screen. Don’t feel bad if some of your partners feel that way. Include them in what they want to be a part of, and be glad that you don’t need to leave someone out who wants to be there with you.

All in all, mixing non-standard relationships and medical protocol can always be a hassle, but with prenatal care, it may be then you may fear. Which means you can focus on taking care of mommy and baby.

Originally posted July 14, 2011.

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