Years of love, years of slow change, and what's next?

SlowPoly

Member
I'm too old for this (I keep hearing in the general buzz of society), but I'm hoping that the embryo inside me will stick around and become M's first child.
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I met M when we were in high school. I loved M early and long. M tolerated my puppy dog behavior in high school, and in college we became (I guess) what people now call "friends with benefits." M moved away when I was still in college. We touched base electronically every year or two after that. Never lost the good feelings. Never lost the love and care.

I met W a couple of years (and one serious relationship) later. We eventually married, had kids, and stayed monogamous through the years. W was philosophically poly, and had navigated poly relationships without complaint. Our marriage was monogamous, but the discussion of alternatives was always easy and honest.

When I finally joined W as philosophically poly (in my 30s), I stretched my little poly wings and fell on my face. While dusting myself off, I visited M. I hadn't seen M in 15 years, but we had communicated every few months through the year of my poly exploration and newbie stumbling. M was always good for my heart and my brain. A short visit with M helped me heal, and we parted knowing we still loved each other, but might not be together again.

I regrouped with W and started feeling poly from a more secure place, without a sense of "ideal" geometries, without it meaning I *had* to have multiple partners. Dated a friend here or there, but didn't find anyone who wanted what I wanted nearly enough for us to open each other's can of worms; I've tried the "sex first, compatibility later (if ever)" model, and it doesn't really work for me.

I've learned so much.
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I continue to have a good relationship with W, and the children we have together are a joy to us.

I can still hardly believe I get to fall asleep and wake up next to M, regularly. We have slowly (over years) evolved from long distance but perpetually "ex" lovers to present and engaged partners.

And now we have decided that we would be parents together, if nature would cooperate.
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It's way too early to tell anyone outside of a small circle. Pregnancy loss is hard, I now know. While I feel I can tell you all from this anonymous shell, it's quite hard to imagine telling everyone I know. At some point in the coming weeks I will either need to regroup and heal from another loss, or I will embrace the outing of my semi-secret second family, as my belly swells and my kids ply the currency of the slightly scandalous story which won't surprise them, but will shock almost everyone else they know.

As we wait and see what's happening in my body, I'll journal here. About life so far. About our structure and how things work. About the challenges I see coming. About whatever's stuck in my brain today. About things you ask about, if they are things I can share.
 

SlowPoly

Member
I'm right at the point where I lost the last embryo my body was trying to gestate. I have all sorts of phantom symptoms, and phantom disappearance of pregnancy symptoms. I have partners to lean on who are just as eager for success as I am. And just as realistic about the way my older eggs will produce viable embryos less frequently. We all know my body knows how to figure it out. They are being incredibly supportive and understanding about my emotional ups and downs.

For all the slow growth that has characterized my poly life, I am somewhat impatient to get past this point, either on to the next try, or more confidently along in this pregnancy.
 

SlowPoly

Member
Quietly out. Content to be private. Not wanting to lie.

Up until a couple of years ago, only a handful of friends and family knew that W and I had opened up our marriage to the possibility of either of us having other partners. When we realized that M and I intended to stay together for life, I slowly began telling more people about the situation. All of my friends and family had known W for 20 years, and they were close to both of us. They didn't know M. They wondered how it would work out. M only told a couple of very close friends about me.

I suppose when my friends and family learned (casually, a few months after the fact, because why announce such things?) that W and I had legally divorced, it was too late to call it failure or to blame polyamory for anything. They still didn't know M. But they could see that W and I were still being good partners to each other.
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Last time I was obviously pregnant (10 years ago) I was monogamous and married. I'm only eight weeks along, but part of allowing myself to feel this pregnancy, and not get caught behind a wall of apprehension about miscarriage, is that I'm sharing the news within a broader circle of people. Anyone I make an effort to spend time with is going to know about the most important thing going on in my life, in my body, right this minute. It's "too soon" to be telling. But I need the reality of it. I need for my people to share the experience, for better or for worse.

So far, the people I've told have already known and been neutral-to-supportive about my having two partners. They were close to me and W when we had our children. They want to know which is the father, and how the other feels about it. They still don't know M. They wonder how it will all work out.

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As time goes on, the pregnancy will become more public. Many will assume I'm carrying W's child, especially those who only know us as a family unit with the older children. I wonder how we will handle the assumptions. I don't yet know at what point, or with whom, I will be motivated to correct them. But I think I probably will. M won't spend time at W's place. I will be there often with the baby, but it will be obvious to neighbors that I mostly sleep elsewhere. I get tired of the little white lies that protect outsiders from knowledge, and make a secret of my everyday way of living. The truth will come out in W's neighborhood, and among the people the kids know.

M's people will learn of my existence, and hear about my kids. They'll meet me when they meet the baby. With his people, will we gloss over the closeness of my continuing relationship with W? The easy assumption will be that W is a normal "ex". What would prompt anyone to ask whether I still sleep with him?* How hard will I want to work to correct those assumptions with M's people, when there's little to be gained?

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* On the one hand, I hate secrets and lies. I want to be what I am and do what I love, and let others sort out their own mixed up feelings about it. On the other hand, it seems like such a violation for people to inquire whom I'm sleeping with these days, or even to imply that too much time spent with my "ex" is unseemly. Marriage makes it simple - they don't ask, they just assume, and any deviation they discover is treated as an affront. Were I still married to W, the fact would have offended M's people the minute it was known. Now that I'm divorced, the comfortable assumption is so much easier. But if it becomes obvious that I still stay overnight with W and the kids, at what point does someone ask, or assume, that I'm sleeping with two men? There's no point ducking the questions when they come - refusal to answer is an answer in itself. But if someone's gonna be offended by my relationships, I'm gonna reflexively hop back a step and be offended by their need to police my sexuality.
 

SlowPoly

Member
I've assigned nicknames to Mitch and Woof, formerly of those respective initials. Now if I can just keep from calling them those names to their faces.
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Is a nearly drama-free relationship even worth blogging?

Mitch is getting his first real experience of having a pregnant partner. I'm nauseated, tired, occasionally sensitive and weepy, and much less interested in food and exercise than my usual. Eating all the time, but it's for comfort, not pleasure. I know the drill, though it's been ten years. Mitch is taking it as it comes. I've scheduled my first prenatal visit, and he will go with me.

Woof sends loving support from far away (he's traveling with the kids). He is so excited about this pregnancy, so confident and encouraging.
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I called myself SlowPoly because it seemed like the more patient I have been with the evolution of relationships, the closer I've grown to my partners, and the better we've managed to get all our needs met.

A new or changing love is not an emergency to triage. It's a place to visit together, to learn about, to accept for what it can be. Processing then becomes not so much putting out fires, but comparing field notes and building plans.
 

SlowPoly

Member
Pre-worrying meeting Mitch's people

Mitch is a very private person. I asked him the other day whether his people (very small family and a few close friends), when he tells them he has a baby on the way, would respond, "With whom?" I am pretty sure they don't know, and know better than to have asked along the way, if he's seeing anyone. He pretty much confirmed that. A couple of his friends know about me. A few will be curious with the news. And anyone outside his tiny (and mostly long-distance) circle will remain shut out of his privacy screen.

Of course my large family and handful of good friends (all also many miles away) know an awful lot about Mitch's role in my life. Woof and the boys are open and honest with their close friends and family about how our lives are structured. Two of Woof's sisters have been my earliest and dearest confidantes in the journey to start a family with Mitch.

So yesterday I had some anxious nap-time dreams about meeting Mitch's family (echoing my prior post, I guess). How would I answer their questions about me? How mincingly would I prevaricate about Woof and the kids? Would I essentially lie and pretend our divorce is the normal kind, calling him my "ex"?
I say "would" not "will" because it's still early in the pregnancy (~9 weeks), and while I'm feeling quite pregnant, I can't bring myself to count our chicken yet.

I pictured his family of origin, unimpressed with me and suspicious of my motives/fitness/stability. How can I be good enough for them? How can I make them accept me?

Breathe, SlowPoly. Do what's always worked. Claim your rights, be for real, and be gentle in dispensing your truths. The ones who accept and love you will be dear to you. The others will fade in presence and importance.
 

gorgeouskitten

New member
SlowPoly, I am really enjoying your writing. Best wishes on the pregnancy! I have had three myself and those early months are so hard. I wouldn't have another with D. though, hats off to you ;)
 

SlowPoly

Member
SlowPoly, I am really enjoying your writing. Best wishes on the pregnancy! I have had three myself and those early months are so hard. I wouldn't have another with D. though, hats off to you ;)

Aw, thanks, gk!

The idea of having a child together went through a roller coaster of extremes on the way to now. I'm so into it at the moment. But if I miscarry (again), will I be burned out on the idea (again)? Time will tell.

I'm reading your "turning mono" blog, too, gk. I can't imagine experiencing a change like that, but you just never know. Could devotion to a second family change the way I feel about Woof? When my libido dips in the baby's early years, will I find that "real" divorce is a shortcut to some kind of social simplicity? Anyway, it's great to have your voice, and YAH's, and so many various angles represented in this community.
 

gorgeouskitten

New member
Aw, thanks, gk!

The idea of having a child together went through a roller coaster of extremes on the way to now. I'm so into it at the moment. But if I miscarry (again), will I be burned out on the idea (again)? Time will tell.

I'm reading your "turning mono" blog, too, gk. I can't imagine experiencing a change like that, but you just never know. Could devotion to a second family change the way I feel about Woof? When my libido dips in the baby's early years, will I find that "real" divorce is a shortcut to some kind of social simplicity? Anyway, it's great to have your voice, and YAH's, and so many various angles represented in this community.

Thanks for the response :) D never wanted kids, so I don't think we'll have to have that discussion. I hope this pregnancy continues swimmingly!!

As for me, yeah big change. all very weird. If you don't mind me asking...you and Woof are legally divorced, but are you romantically involved? (sorry fi I missed the answer in your blog)
 

SlowPoly

Member
If you don't mind me asking...you and Woof are legally divorced, but are you romantically involved? (sorry fi I missed the answer in your blog)

I don't mind at all, since this whole community is about our relationships with our partners. :)

Yes, Woof and I are legally divorced but still just as together as we ever were. Just a little less of the time because I spend some time with Mitch.

Woof and I sleep in our shared bed when we're both home, we have sex when we both want to (and the kids are asleep or absent), do stuff together in our free time, hold hands, kiss, and do mom and dad stuff. The people in our (Woof's) neighborhood probably see us as a normal and presumably married couple. Well, some know I spend long weekends away, but they don't really pry.
 

gorgeouskitten

New member
Gotcha :) I suppose that's how we used to be....though now it looks like we will get whole and completely divorced :/ Im glad your two loves is working out for you :)
 

SlowPoly

Member
gorgeouskitten, I hope you and your soon-to-be-ex (?) can find a comfortable intimacy in co-parenting. Just like friends don't always cuddle, exes don't always do battle. Don't let divorcing define you. Be what you want to be to each other.
 

SlowPoly

Member
Clamming up

Preparing for my first pre-natal appointment, I talked to Mitch about transparency with my medical professionals. I've never hidden from a provider that I have two sexual partners, and that we're all free to have more, but we mostly don't.

But. I'm about to start seeing a new set of providers, and they are smack-dab in the middle of the community Mitch works in. He has always been concerned that someone who disagreed with our way of life would find out and make it hard for him to keep his job. Now that I'm not married (which sometimes isn't a thing you can lie about - think birth certificates and presumptive paternity) we pass pretty well as unmarried partners.

So I've been trying to figure out if there's any reason the providers that will be seeing me during pregnancy and childbirth need to know about Woof. Sure, they may see his name alongside Mitch's on my medical power of attorney paperwork. But do I need to tell them I have two sexual partners? I'm not seeing them about a sexual health problem, and any activity restrictions along the way will simply apply to both partners. If something came up that made their knowing about Woof essential, of course I'd tell. But I just don't see that in the base case.

I'm feeling like there's no good reason to push Mitch's comfort ("I fear I could lose my livelihood") by divulging everything, nor to choose a much less convenient practice that's nowhere near his worry radius, but where I can be totally transparent about being poly.

"Oh, hello, closet! I've had just one foot in you so long, I forgot you were right there at my back. Make a space for me to tuck back in there a bit..."
 

SlowPoly

Member
So how does Woof think about having another infant in the house? Will he help coparent the new baby?

Woof is pretty excited. He celebrates every complaint of nausea from me, as a good sign. He loves babies, and he's happy for Mitch that he will get to experience parenthood. Woof and the kids will definitely help me out when the baby and I are there. He has also expressed that it will be nice to be more of an uncle this time, and to be able to get a break from the infant-care grind.
 

Inyourendo

New member
Woof is pretty excited. He celebrates every complaint of nausea from me, as a good sign. He loves babies, and he's happy for Mitch that he will get to experience parenthood. Woof and the kids will definitely help me out when the baby and I are there. He has also expressed that it will be nice to be more of an uncle this time, and to be able to get a break from the infant-care grind.

That's really awesome!
 

MusicalRose

Member
That's a tough call on what to divulge. I would say the laws surrounding medical confidentiality are pretty strict though. You would almost certainly have a case if a medical professional leaked anything that in any way caused harm to your life.
 

SlowPoly

Member
That's a tough call on what to divulge. I would say the laws surrounding medical confidentiality are pretty strict though. You would almost certainly have a case if a medical professional leaked anything that in any way caused harm to your life.

I agree, and that has been enough for me, especially when Mitch was long distance. But Mitch is far more concerned about the effect of outing than I ever was for myself and Woof, and he has good reason. It only takes one zealot, or even one petty gossip, to drop enough hints in the right bucket... And then no matter how firmly we're on the right side of the law, the repercussions can come, and fighting for reparations won't necessarily mend the damaged career.

It's my least favorite part of our relationship, but it's always been a known element of the package that is Mitch. He's never been actively or outwardly poly because of his vulnerability and the sense that he's living in a fishbowl. More's the pity, because he's rational and a good communicator, he understands the importance of good partner selection, and he doesn't have jealousy or comparison issues. If he went seeking other partners, he would handle it well. Maybe someday...
 

SlowPoly

Member
"I'm still pregnant!"

"I'm still pregnant!" It's funny how that sentiment pops into my head now and then, revealing the lack of confidence I have in some aspects of my older body. In my 20s, I never doubted a pregnancy. Now just into my 40s, I've miscarried, and I know the stats.

I had an amazing new blood test that quantifies fetal DNA in the mother's blood, to verify that the chromosomal proportions are normal. My impatience this week is for those results. I always have some impatience brewing. Just because I've learned to be Slow doesn't mean I have totally conquered the nervous vibe of impatience.
_____

I met someone in Mitch's life, somewhat by accident. It was a little awkward, but the world didn't end. It was a brief interaction, and the person is a colleague, not a friend. Suddenly Mitch is known to have a (probable) girlfriend. I joked that money probably changed hands the next day as the office pool paid out on whether or not he's gay.

I am just gonna assume that someone meeting me for the first time wouldn't notice the visible signs of the pregnancy. My belly is a little thicker and I'm up a couple of cup sizes. Lots of women my age have a little extra curviness here and there, right?

Soon, the pregnancy will be out there for everyone to see. This, I'm not impatient for.
 

SlowPoly

Member
Telling more people; getting more real

Because of my age I was offered Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing, using cell-free fetal DNA in my blood to verify the baby's status for the most common trisomies (including Down Syndrome). It's amazing what science can do -- I was expecting to need an invasive procedure (CVS or amnio) to rule out Down Syndrome. The results came back low risk (<1/10,000), and suddenly I realize this pregnancy is really going to proceed, and Mitch and I are very likely to have a child early next year.

Woof cried when I told him the news. He loves babies. I finally felt ready to tell the children I'm pregnant. The teen had concerns and mixed feelings. I was so glad he shared those instead of just shutting me out. We talked a while, and will talk more, but he said he felt better even by the end of our conversation. The younger two are happy and very excited. I didn't say that Mitch was the dad, figuring they either assumed, or would ask. Youngest asked if the baby would be a step-sibling. I said they would simply be siblings, even if the new baby had a different daddy. Everyone seemed content with that answer.

Mitch seems to be switching from "wait and see if this works" mode to "accept the inevitable and possible consequences" mode. He is processing his worries about workplace effects, and sounds more and more like he doesn't think privacy will hold. [I checked in with Woof about my concern that letting people in Mitch's world assume that Woof and I are "properly divorced" does a disservice to our love. Woof says he is comfortable. His happiness is not about being acknowledged as my partner. So I suggested to Mitch a perfectly acceptable front for him to use: I "birds'-nest" co-parent with Woof, and the rest of the time live with Mitch. The baby stays with me. Simple, simple. But Mitch figures there will be a breach at some point, no matter how simple I make it sound.]

I'm going to keep following Mitch's lead on this. I don't want him constantly stressed about being outed. But I hope he's coming around to the conclusion that having a partner and co-parent who happens to have another partner and co-parent doesn't really mark him as a target for the morality police. Or at least not enough to justify it stressing him out in the day-to-day of things. It would be nicer to have it out in the open with his closest colleagues, just for the ability to relax the constant vigilance.

I've told the dear relative (chosen family) whose reaction I was most apprehensive about. She was shocked and worried, but says she's happy if I'm happy. We talked some about her own experience with (unwed, single) motherhood and how my situation is so structurally different, that her knee-jerk negative feelings needn't apply. Then she asked about yarn colors for knitting me a baby blanket. :)

My parents and siblings, even some of Woof's siblings, the kids, my closest friends -- so many people are now expressing acceptance and support.

Mitch will tell his family in a week or two, when the arbitrary, invisible milestone of the end of the first trimester is behind us. At this point I feel like I can take whatever comes on that front. I don't know how much he will tell them about my attachments, or whether he will even answer all of their questions. I'm curious, but it's truly up to him.

And now on to shopping for a slightly bigger home, with a guest space. I am going to want one of the kids to stay with me, and sometimes a friend or relative. Maybe even Mitch's mom, if telling her reaps the same acceptance and willingness to be involved that telling everyone else has.
 

SlowPoly

Member
Twelve weeks pregnant. The belly is pooching out, especially when I'm tired. I'm definitely in the phase to prompt "is she, or isn't she?" musings.

I just learned that one of Woof's sisters is also twelve weeks pregnant. I told her first (via text) and she (blown away) said "Well, your little one is going to have a cousin-twin!" This is not one of the sisters who knows about our situation - we haven't bothered to be out with the conservative half of his family. She doesn't know we're poly, and she doesn't know we're legally divorced. She doesn't know to wonder if Woof is (biologically) or will be (in the ways that matter) the dad.

It's clear that this baby will be a sibling to my children. "Half sibling" is an accurate genetic term, but won't be used casually in our homes. But will she be a cousin to Woof's nieces and nephews? Will we ever draw the lines? Why bother?

I didn't correct her -- that would have been too much 'splaining for two pregnant ladies, too late at night. When I told Woof about it, he wondered if it wouldn't be easier to let the assumption ride forever. I don't think it'll last. The kids are too confident in their management of information to let it last. And the new kid, when she's old enough, won't have ambiguity about which is her dad and which is her brothers' dad. I can't imagine a five-year-old not correcting someone who has it wrong.

But for now, I'm not gonna rock the boat with Woof's family of origin. It'll come out eventually, and by then it will be still more obvious that the way we live works for all of us. They will be opposed, for religious reasons. They will be concerned for the children and for our souls. But they will have to work that out for themselves. Ultimately they will have to choose to accept us if they want to have contact, because we won't brook proselytizing.

I am so glad my parents are embracing my happiness, and even my most conservative siblings say I'm weird but they love me, and love babies, so they're happy for us.
 
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