When we first met, she made it known that she wanted to someday have children. Perfect, because I too, wanted children and wanted even more to carry and experience pregnancy through to the most beautiful part. Labor and delivery.
On June 20, 2008, I met and had lunch with the most beautiful and sexy woman I’ve ever met. She was charming, intelligent and shy, to say the least. I was intrigued and knew from that day, she would be the woman I would spend the rest of my life with. Five months later, we were living under the same roof; totally and utterly, madly in love.
In February, 2009, she proposed to me at an upscale restaurant in Midtown, Atlanta, where the table cloths were white, candles were lit throughout the space and the tables were topped with brown runner paper down it's center.
We had this thing whenever we went out to dinner (which was often in these times), we’d play hangman to pass the time as we waited for our orders. Liz works in HR and (to release the stress of hospitality running through our blood). Liz works in HR and I, at the time, worked for an audio visual company. All in a day's work.
This night in particular was the night before Valentine’s Day. We got dressed up, valet parked, the mood was flawless and the atmosphere screamed, “Love is in the air.”
We walked into the restaurant and I was in awe. We ordered as usual and talked amongst ourselves. A few moments later, we decided it was time for a game of hangman. I cannot remember who went first but it was Liz’s turn. She drew out her lines and the post where the “man" would eventually, but hopefully not, be hung. As always in this game, you want to recognize how many words there will be. My wife, Liz, my girlfriend at the time, had chosen to create a 4-word-guess.
A few go’s at it and a few letters later, my hand looked like this:
letters guessed: CTS
_ _ _ _
I looked up at her as she written in the last letter guessed (I cannot remember what that letter was) and said, in confusion, “Will you marry me???” Right as I said, “me,” her hands came from her pocket and she placed the most beautiful, princess tri-cut diamond ring on the table. I was stunned. Shocked. Happy. I held back my tears and smiled BIG and said, “YES!!!” We kissed and I just couldn’t believe it! My dream was coming true! I was floating in space yet still sitting in my chair.
We were married in August of that year on a beach in faraway Connecticut. It was a rainy and cloudy day but ironically, it was the most beautiful kind of rainy day. The clouds were strung across the sky as if God had painted in many shades of blues, greys and ivories. Close family from three different states joined us and the next day, we headed down to city hall in New Haven,CT, to collect our MARRIAGE LICENSE!
It was official. I had become Mrs. Nadia Harris. Well, I was still Dawson and because we didn’t live in the state of Connecticut (where same-sex marriage was recognized at that time), I had to go through the 90 day process of legally changing my name in the state of Georgia where we resided at the time.
Four months later, on New Years eve, we had our first IUI (intrauterine insemination or artificial insemination) and we decided after a long talk that Liz would be the one to carry our first baby. Since she 3 years older and we knew we would eventually want more children, we decided that she would go. This would make for a great blended sibling mix and we were excited to have children that would be biologically connected to the both of us.
We found out a couple of weeks later that our plan had failed. We were devastated to say the least. We were certain that this would be a new beginning, a thrill, finally! we had each met and married our soul-mates and now it was time to throw a baby into the mix. We were sadly mistaken. We weren’t sure where to go from there but we knew that we would have to take a break a save a little more money.
We decided that from there on out, I would be the one to carry. After all, it has always been a dream of mine to conceive, carry and spend hours and hours in labor building up to seeing that precious face that I had created. Would it look like me? Have my smile? My eyes? My dark silky, hair??? This baby would be loved, wanted and created out of pure love. Created because two people desperately wanted to become parents. Two “untraditional” parents. And though we knew I would without a doubt be the biological parent, Liz would very much be the baby’s mom as well. She would also have her part in creating this child.
We went through a donor bank located in California by the name of Cryo Bank. Togetherwe searched and sifted through our “matched” donor criteria and profiles to find the “perfect” donor. Initially, we looked for a donor who was similar to Liz. At least we would have the possibility of creating a little human whom could possibly possess characteristics of her like - skin tone, height, athletic abilities, etc. And then, we found “him.” The one whom would eventually be “The Donor.”
He has music abilities, like those from my parental side, he’s athletic like Liz and very intelligent. He’s also tall…unlike Liz, we thought, well, we’ll just have extra tall children. Liz said she wouldn’t mind being the shortest Harris in the household. We’ll see if that remains true once they begin to tower her. I vow, though, never to make short jokes.
In spring of 2010, 3 months after our first IUI, we relocated from Atlanta, to New York City. Laying down our first relo together in the great burrow of the “Boggie-Down Bronx.” It was a great part of the Bronx. We were just blocks away from the legendary, Yankee Stadium and all was well. We began exploring the infamous, Big Apple, skipping along and ducking into secret places. Some known, others you just stumble upon. Winning free bar parties, drinking and eating with co-workers, shopping and embracing this new, fun and speedy life.
My career had also taken off. I was a first time Director for a small Audio Visual company and i was elated. I had worked my way up the corporate ladder, no college degree, just intelligence, integrity and the will to set and obtain my own personal goals for success and ownership of my own destiny. Liz and I were on top of the world. She was a second time Assistant Director of Human Resources but one of the largest hotel in her company. We were on top of the world, living it up but, something was missing. We knew it was that baby we were planning.
We begin by researching fertility clinics. We wanted to seek a professional who was familiar with our kind of story and ready to just get to it. We found the NYC Fertility Clinic. Certainly with their credentials, we would have no problems getting pregnant right away.
Our initial visits were of a couple of counseling sessions. They wanted to be sure that we were ready, mentally ready to have children before we began anything. We thought at first, “who are they to tell us when WE’RE ready to start a family!?!?! Who the hell do “they” think “they” are?!?!? humf!” Ok, now that that was out of our systems, we figured, whatever, let’s do what we have to do to make this happen. Come to find out, we actually receive some good advice from them.
We were given some literature on how to talk with your children at different stages of their lives involving same-sex families and how explain to them where they came using age appropriate explanations. Fast-forwarding a bit, now that they’re here, we know now that we can take or leave some of that information obtained. Today is much different now than they were five years ago. We’ve also learned that all children are different in the way that they may perceive information given to them. In short, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Once, we were “approved” to begin our baby making journey, I had to go through a few tests and the doctor we worked with decided that I needed a little assistance in becoming pregnant. He prescribed me a fertility drug called Clomid. Three failed IUI’s and $10,000 dollars later, we were left feeling defeated, exhausted and disappointed ( or for a lack of better words, heartbroken). So, we decided to take a break, save more money and relieve ourselves of the toll that the whole process had flushed over us. It was tragic. We spent many nights asking why and questioning whether or not this was the right decision. I began to lose focus on my career becoming cloudy and mentally exhausted while in the office. Not achieving our ultimate goal of becoming Mom’s was the worst feeling I could ever imagine. Liz was totally supportive. We were to each other. We stayed busy and before we knew it, we were relocating to New Orleans.
Our relocation to New Orleans (A.K.A. NOLA - short for New Orleans, LA) happened in August 2011. Once we were settled and enjoying the new atmosphere of parades, festivals and southern comfort, we decided about 6 months later, we would begin trying once again. This time, we thought we would try at home in hopes we wouldn't get caught spending thousands of dollars only to have more failed attempts. I had a close friend that offered to “help” us out. Over a course of three months and 3 home inseminations, we were not pregnant. It was devastating to say the least. We were tired and ready and lost. Why??? Why wasn't this happening!?!?!
We decided it was time to reach out to the professionals and get this done. We talked to our OBGYN, alike, Dr. Stacey Holman, MD Assistant Professor of LSU Department of OBGYN, and she referred us to Dr. Peter Lu at the New Orleans Fertility Clinic. Once, we met with him, he ran a bunch of tests and found out that my body didn't ovulate. This was the trouble with me getting pregnant. During these tests, he also found that I had a few cysts , one the size of a golf ball, on the fallopian tubes. Before we could do anything, I had to take birth control in hopes that they would dissipate. He advised me if in any case, this wouldn't help, they would have to be surgical removed. I remember thinking to myself, “gosh! this is going to be a long process!!! I’m just ready to be a mom!” And…then I was afraid. Surgery? I’ve never been put under in my life. What is this. Well, I trusted in God, as I always do and Liz and I prayed.
It would be two weeks before we would know if the birth control would have worked and…it did! We were ready! Dr. Lu decided to try a medication called Follistim. I had to inject myself in the stomach for 9 days, at the same time everyday to ensure follicle growth. For those who aren't familiar with the anatomy of a woman, the follicle is where a woman’s eggs are grown and released before conception. Over the course of the week and a half that I had to inject myself, every other day I had to go into the office to monitor the follicle growth.
My follicles were growing at a slow rate yet, Liz and I remained optimistic. At the end of this process, I had 1 mature follicle (equivalent to one egg) and the very next day, I was to give myself a trigger shot to release the egg from the follicle. A day later, we would be ready to inseminate.
On the day of insemination, we had already ordered two vials of the donor sperm in the case we would have to try again the following month. Instead, we asked Dr. Lu if we could use both vials, one day after the first insemination. He knew of the struggle we had been through and probably could feel out desperation. He agreed and we inseminated in March 2013, one day and the next. This started our 2 week wait period.
Two weeks later, we showed up and I was given a pregnancy test and yet, we had to wait another two hours to find out. Our favorite mall in NOLA was just a couple of miles away so we set off to window shop in hopes we would get positive news. As we walked through the mall, we couldn't help but look through the windows of children shops and yet walk by with fear that we would yet again, be let down with news that again, we were not having a baby.
And then. My cell phone rang. It was Dr. Lu’s office. I answered and sat down at the nearest bench I could find. Liz stood in anticipation. The nurse immediately told me that I was pregnant! I was elated and relayed the news to Liz for I didn't have the call on speaker. She immediately called her mom (who at this time, lived with her sister in Connecticut). As she told her mom the great news, I was given the news that I was, “very pregnant. We are expecting multiples.” I’m like, “Wow!!!!” and the nurse advised me to take it easy, yada, yada, yada, and come in next week for an ultra sound. I hung up and told Liz verbatim what they nurse said. We thought, maybe we’d be having twins. My youngest sister had given birth to twins and currently (while I didn't know yet) my middle sister was also pregnant with twins.
One week later, April of 2013, we went in for the ultrasound. Nervous and excited to find out about our “twins” was exciting. They called me back and we were led to the back room. As the technician examined me, Liz and I never took eyes off one another. She then said, “well, I see 5 gestational sacs.” I replied in fear…”oh my gosh! Are the cysts back?!!?!?!” she replied, “No honey. That’s five babies.”
Part 2: Coming soon!