Though she’s new to poly lifestyles and still adjusting to the terminology, one might call Heidel’s living arrangement a poly-fidelitous closed triad, though she prefers to just call it her pride. Prior to discovering poly lingo, that’s what she called her family: a pride of lions. Heidel’s pride consists of one other beautiful woman, one gorgeous man, three sons, two stepsons, a step-baby on the way, one very, very old pitbull named Jones, two snakes, a bunch of lizards and toads, and one ham-eating Eastern box turtle named Gary. Heidel writes from Central California.

Previous editions of this column can be found in the Monthly Columns Archives.

And Baby Makes Nine

It’s mid-October and I had hoped to publicly celebrate the birth of our son in this month’s column – the Lion and Lioness’ first. He hasn’t arrived yet. We are all quite certain that this is indicative that he’ll be stubborn and/or independent. That’s ok. He’ll come by it honestly.

As we speak, the household is gearing up for the birth – the nursery is decorated, baby clothes and diapers and bath supplies neatly stacked, birthing books read and reviewed each night, Lioness’ hospital bag packed and ready, birthing plan in place. We’ve hit a bit of a wall the last couple of days in that Lion is certain that Lioness’ experience will be just like his first wife’s -- that she’ll require copious amounts of drugs (no matter how often Lioness explains that drugs aren’t in her birth plan). Lioness’ mother and I are happy with the birth plan and have every intention of following it even when Lioness’ labor progresses into that inevitable shady area when Lioness will herself forget the plan amidst the pain of labor. I am a little worried that Lion will exert his infamous will at that point rather than letting us ladies – who have a bit more experience in these things – guide the situation. But this little bit of contention really isn’t anything new in this pregnancy. It’s the least of it for me, actually.

Nine months ago, I went through a roller coaster of emotions when we found out. We were making breakfast and Lioness brought the pregnancy test to the dining table. Neither she nor Lion could decipher it (I think they were too nervous), and asked me to read it. “Yep, you’re pregnant,” was how I told them. My stomach dropped. Our intimate relationship was only three months old – I was the new one in this marriage. We were still trying to agree on how much coffee to put in the coffee maker. How the hell would we agree on raising a kid? Prior to this, I had decided that should an unplanned pregnancy occur (hers or mine), I would move out. I didn’t see a place in the family for me; not with the two of them starting a new family.

I suffered through feelings of martyrdom for a few days, and did a fairly good job of keeping my feelings and intentions hidden. But thinking about leaving this newfound love and happiness made me so sad, I had to tell them. Their reactions shocked me: Lion said he had no intention of excluding me from this experience, and Lioness said she wouldn't have considered doing it without me, considering she was frightened to do it in the first place (hence why it took them 13 years to get pregnant). So, we all agreed that I was to stay and to be a part of it, to be involved in this pregnancy.

They let me define how I wanted to be involved. I chose to jump in head first; and it also helped me emotionally to do everything in my power to make this a textbook, fairytale pregnancy for Lioness. I knew exactly what to do: I’d been through it myself a few times. I chose to be her doula, to go to Lamaze and will be there for the birth. After the birth, I’ll participate in midnight feedings and diaper changes, snuggling and cuddling -- everything. And I am, amazingly enough, excited as hell to be a part of this. (Honestly, it’s a bit of a relief not to be the actual breeder this time.)

What has been tough for me to negotiate are 1) baby envy and 2) letting Lion and Lioness have a somewhat private experience. I’ve been chastised and mocked for the baby envy – I guess not every woman gets it, and explaining this to men is somewhat frustrating for me. As a young mother, I defined myself early on as a breeder, a reproducer, a mother. After the birth of my last son 10 years ago, I had to redefine myself. I went back to school and pursued a career, and that helped. But watching my wife, my best friend, go through this experience brought it all back. All my goals, my aspirations, fell by the wayside, and I yearned to go back to that somewhat innocent time when I was younger – when all I wanted to experience was childbearing and child-raising. It was somehow a simpler time, and for anyone who has ever borne a baby, you have to understand when I say that it is the single most amazing experience a woman can have. The baby envy has since dissipated, thanks in large part to watching someone else go through the hard parts of pregnancy -- the growing, bloating, uncomfortableness of pregnancy that in the decade since my last one, I had conveniently forgotten. The envy comes back once in a while, in waves, when I smell a freshly washed baby blanket or run my fingers through the little one’s clothes in the dresser drawer. But now I’m anticipating the baby that is actually coming – he is mine, too, and that is more than enough for me. Perhaps envy is the wrong word for it. It is more of an aching anticipation.

Second, because our relationship was so new, I had a hard time with the fact that Lion and Lioness are sharing something intimate and personal that I can't physically share with them. But after reflection, I have chalked that up to insecurity. And insecurity can be dealt with. I participate in the ways that I can: I hold her hand and rub her back while they do the ultrasound. I go to all the doctor appointments. I help her spruce up the nursery. I feel Baby kick and rub Mama's feet when she's tired. The little guy won't look anything like me when he comes out, but I've had a hand in this pregnancy too. He’ll recognize my voice – I’ve been here all along.

In the end, despite my roiling emotions, this experience has been a positive one, and that is on purpose. In order to be positive, I had to change my attitude. At first I looked at it from a "missing out" perspective. I looked at all the aspects of the situation that I couldn't participate in. Then Lion brought to my attention that I was whining. So I changed my attitude and decided I'd start enjoying all the things I COULD participate in. That made all the difference in the world.

At an early doctor appointment, Lioness asked the doctor -- a jovial, wide-hipped woman -- not to close the curtain. “Heidel has seen it all before anyway,” she said.

“Oh,” the doctor replied. “Are you two a couple?”

“Heidel is my doula, and my wife,” Lioness replied.

“OK,” Doc said. “Who is the other support person you have listed … Lion?”

“That’s my husband,” Lioness said. “We are all three together.”

The doc didn’t skip a beat. “That’s creative,” she answered. And that was that. I later asked Lioness why the full disclosure and she said that in the delivery room, if we are intimate, she doesn’t want any strange stares or any unknowns to get in the way of her having a good birth.

For that same reason, she insisted that her mother tell her father the exact nature of our relationship as well – we’d been holding off doing that, too. Mums told Pops the truth a couple of weeks ago and we bit our nails to the quick waiting for his response. We got it – a couple of days ago they met us at a restaurant and Pops sat next to me and gave me a hug. Mums later called me and said, “I just want you to know that I recognize what you have done for my daughter. You are doing your best to make sure she has the best experience she can have, and I appreciate it. I love you. I am glad you are there.”

That was the best thing anyone could have said to me to make me realize that, despite my earlier misgivings, everything is as it should be. I am glad I’m here too.

Heidel is a contributing writer as well as a member of this online Community. She can be contacted here or through our message board Forums.

Heidel ; October 27, 2007


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