“I met Zaynah 14 years ago, we first met in secondary school. We had been friends for around a year; spending time together, seeing each-other after school, the usual things you do at 15-years-old. We had both been in relationships with males previously, I don’t think either of us ever thought about being with a female. Fast forward a few months, we were at a concert and at the end of the night we leaned in to kiss each other goodbye and we kissed on the lips. I went home that night so confused, we spoke on the phone for hours, I cried as I really didn’t know how I felt. Zaynah reassured me everything was OK, that it was friends messing around, having fun. I guess at 15-years-old I didn’t have a clue what or who I was; this was a struggle for us both. As things developed, we would be more intimate, we spent all our time together or on the phone; it just worked.
Nobody knew about us; what was there to know? We were two girls having fun or so we thought. We realized after a few months maybe it was more than that, we loved each-other if that was possible at 16-years-old. We both went to separate colleges and Zaynah ended up moving away for university while I stayed at my local one. Zaynah being away put a strain on our relationship, it was hard but we loved each other. We both committed to each other but we weren’t ready for people to know, I guess we were naive at how serious our relationship actually was.
I can honestly say I loved Zaynah more than I can explain. Our relationship was either amazing or awful and learning how to be together while Zaynah lived away and both being so young was difficult. I would go see her regularly but everyone thought we were just best friends and to be honest this really got me down. Zaynah would reassure me but I guess I was sick of being a secret as if it was wrong or dirty, as if our love wasn’t acceptable. We didn’t want to hurt our parents or for them to be disappointed in us. Zaynah’s mom is from Pakistan, she is the only girl in her immediate family and for religious reasons it put more pressure on us. We would carry on living our lives together as a couple in secret.
We both developed our own careers; Zaynah a nurse and myself a police officer. We decided to officially buy a home together in 2015. Even at this point our families thought it was us buying a home as best friends; now I don’t know who was more naive. I begged Zaynah to tell our families; it broke my heart lying everyday. I wanted the same recognition other couples received. I would be around Zaynah and her mom would talk about eligible males for her to date or marry; it was harmless but awful.
Over the years we travelled the world which was our favorite thing to do, we had been all over Thailand, Paris, Rome, and America to name a few. America was our favorite; we travelled seven states in just over a month, it was amazing and to be honest proved to us both we couldn’t be without one another. We found the longer we were together the harder it was to tell our parents. We found ‘coming out’ very difficult. I guess my issue was I didn’t ever remember my brothers or sister ‘coming out’ as straight. So I didn’t see how or why I should, I guess an issue with myself. It took us 10 years before we told our parents. For all of that time our families either knew us as best friends or had their suspicions but didn’t ever raise them with us.
My dad asked me outright one day if I was in a relationship with Zaynah; I was in shock and to be honest got upset. I was so relieved to not have to lie anymore. I wasn’t ashamed of our relationship or our love, but because of cultural differences on Zaynah’s side we believed keeping it to ourselves was better for everyone. But after my parents found out, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. I could finally be ME. I was no different, just happier. Due to this, Zaynah messaged her dad and mom via text message (I know, I know) but it seemed the only way to tell them and who was I to judge? After she told them her dad turned up at our home and hugged us both. We were so emotional and so relieved that everything would be OK. Zaynah’s family were all so accepting and loving.
Our lives changed after finally being allowed to be us. In reality, no one was stopping us from being a couple but ourselves and our worries. But this had put so much pressure on our relationship, if I could turn back time and tell them sooner, maybe I would but then maybe that time of only us and our friends knowing gave us time to find ourselves and us as a couple and where we want to be in the future. We knew we loved each other and wanted our life together so maybe it was perfect timing.
In reality our families were accepting; we were in a loving and happy relationship, what more could you want for your children? I feel for those people who are turned away or disowned because of their sexuality.
For many years I left a few subtle hints about how I wanted to be engaged, not psychotic at all. But who asks who you wonder? There is no such thing as roles; at least not for us. Sure, I wear more dresses but what does that mean?
Zaynah chose to ask me to marry her, she planned it and picked my ring. This all happened a month after telling our families. Zaynah pretended we were going for a few drinks in town; I went to my sisters to get ready. I returned home to find a sign on my gate door saying ‘this way to happy ever after.’ I thought nothing of it. In my back garden there were fairy lights on the fences, lit candles all the way to the back door. At this point I had an idea what was coming but felt so nervous, imagine the let down if I was wrong! Through the downstairs of our home there were flower petals scattered everywhere, candles and numbered notes in a trail, each one stating a memory of our life over the years. My favorite singer at the time was playing Jason Mraz, the trail continued into our bedroom. Zaynah stood there looking as pretty as a picture with a build a bear teddy and a rose, the teddy had a bag on his back. Zaynah told me to press the arm which said ‘I Love You, Will You Marry Me?’ Of course I said YES.
The ring (which was perfect may I add) was placed on my finger and we celebrated at our home with family and friends. The only downfall being engaged to a girl is I had to also buy an engagement ring!
We got married a whole six months later, we don’t do things by halves! Zaynah was amazing and planned so much of it. We had been together 11 years; what was the point in waiting? We were so lucky our parents helped us out with our wedding, we chose a smaller venue which cost less, so that we could put money towards future fertility as we have always wanted a big family.
Zaynah went shopping with her bridesmaids and my maid of honor who is a friend of us both for her wedding dress to make sure we didn’t pick the same dress; imagine how awkward that would have been! I went with my bridesmaids and my mom. Zaynah stayed out two nights before with her bridesmaids; I wanted time to prep and get myself ready as I hate being the center of attention so the whole walking down the aisle and saying our vows was a part I dreaded. The morning came, we both got our hair and make up done, put on our beautiful dresses and our photographer took photos of me, then headed over to take photos of Zaynah as we both needed the ‘getting ready’ photos.
Zaynah then headed to our venue of choice and our guests were seated. Zaynah walked down the aisle with her dad and waited for me at the end, I walked down with my dad and the vows took place, I felt so anxious at this point but I knew I had my wife by my side.
Zaynah looked beautiful and amazing which I knew she always would. We had five bridesmaids and a bridesman, cool right? We had such a magical day getting married, no civil ceremony in sight. On our wedding day I was even lucky (some would say unlucky) enough to have my wife sing a song to me with lyrics she had written. Zaynah can’t sing, but It was sentimental and based on us and makes my wife who she is which I loved.
We always discussed getting married before having a family; we wanted to do something ‘traditional’ I guess to get married first. Plus being married meant when we have children, by law we have the same rights. We both will be listed as parents on the birth certificate with the same surname, (we decided to take my wife’s as my maiden name just didn’t go). Everything was so exciting on our wedding day as we knew this was a day to show everyone our love and our stepping stone towards our very own little family.
Unfortunately for us, you need sperm to make a baby, who would have known? Now I don’t want to compare choosing a donor online to buying a pair of shoes you have always wanted, in my case a pair of Louboutin. But the website is set up that way. It’s very informal and you don’t have to speak to anyone you click on. You pick your order, pay for it, get some forms to fill out and are sent to your clinic of choice. It’s all pretty crazy if am honest I would have loved personally to speak to someone and get some insight. For some this maybe perfect, but it was a massive decision and something we didn’t want to take lightly. So the ‘shoes’ (sperm) you choose the origin you want your donor to have, skin colour, hair colour, eye colour, weight and profession.
The bit I loved was the bio from our donor; he seemed like a lovely person. To do such a selfless act, he clearly is. You get to know about who they are, their extended family, their interests and job and even a bit to say if they would be willing to meet your baby when their 18. We have been asked before does it bother us that Winnie one day will want to meet this guy (some refer to as dad which we hate as he is a donor! A dad is a title that’s earned not given, and for our case he has no rights to Winnie) and my honest answer is no. Winnie will always be brought up in a loving and caring home and will have everything she could ever need in her life. She may want to meet the donor as so would I. I am interested to know who he is, Is he a nice person? What does he look like? I would love to meet the guy who made our dreams come true of being a family; without him it wouldn’t have been possible.
Both Zaynah and I wanted to carry our children, the decision for me to go first was based on my medical past. We had to go through numerous fertility treatments to have a baby, we initially tried three rounds of IUI (Intrauterine insemination) this was the least invasive treatment, basically a catheter filled with sperm is placed inside your cervix as you are ovulating, we ended up spending around £10,000, all which failed. It was heartbreaking to have so many setbacks and a year of our life was taken focusing solely on fertility, I guess you forget to live when going through the process as everything is ‘baby.’
So after a lot of discussion and what felt like a wasted year, disappointments and failure, we believed our next step would be IVF. We changed clinics and had to buy more amps of Sperm; which may I add costs a fortune! We had months worth of consultations, we were given a plan, we were put on the long protocol (there’s long and short). We had to take medication regularly, we were given a master class on the drugs we had to take, how much, set times, how to mix, where to inject, it’s a long process. Stabbing myself in my butt and tummy took some time to get used to but I knew the end result was worth it. I tried to stay healthy eating correctly and exercising.
We would have regular ultrasounds and blood tests to monitor our eggs and follicles, once they believed I was at my peak I was given a trigger shot which meant I would have my eggs retrieved the following day. Egg retrieval by far was the hardest part of the process; it was painful as I had a lot of eggs, therefore I was in theatre for around an hour while they retrieved them all. After the egg retrieval we had to wait five days before we would have the egg put back into my body. We would speak to an embryologist daily who would tell us how many eggs were fertilised, we were hoping by day five to have numerous blastocysts. So we could have one for our ICSI procedure and some frozen for future cycles.
We ended with two blastocysts, because of my age and it was our first attempt we were only allowed to use one for a fear of multiples. The other egg was thrown away; they wouldn’t freeze one egg (we fought for our egg but left with no choice) we were told one would be better. At this point frozen sperm was injected into the blastocyst and placed into my cervix.
The two week wait was hard; so, SO hard. I over analyzed everything. Am I pregnant? Aren’t I pregnant? Is this a symptom of pregnancy? If I rest am I more likely to be pregnant? Do I go for a walk to take my mind off everything? Don’t stress or else it could impact being pregnant. They say just go relax and live your life like normal; don’t over think anything, like who are they kidding, everything was pregnancy related.
I tested daily and each day the line would get darker, it was official we were pregnant!
In all honesty we were both so excited but too afraid in case anything happened to actually enjoy the moment. We tested officially on our test date and were so happy to see those beautiful words on that tiny stick. We called our clinic, got blood work taken and had our pregnancy confirmed; what a day! Nothing mattered after that. IVF was hard but knowing we were going to be parents made everything worth it. My pregnancy was amazing; I didn’t suffer and was so very happy.
We were one of those couples who had a gender reveal, we were so excited and I hate surprises, I needed to know if we were having a boy or a girl! We booked a private scan at a local clinic at 16 weeks to find out, we had the scan and both closed our eyes when the sonographer checked our babies gender. We had already planned a gender reveal with our families and close friends for later that evening to find out. The lady had written our babies gender in an envelope, we gave this to the guy who made our balloon which had colored confetti inside to match blue for boy, pink for girl. The party arrived, we popped our balloon and inside was PINK confetti. I cried, I was that happy, it was the most amazing experience. I always said a healthy baby means a happy mummy. But when I was younger I wanted a little boy first, I have lots of nephews so it made me want one more. Finding out we were having a girl made my dreams come true. The thing IVF taught me is quality over quantity, always. I had lots of eggs but only one left of perfect quality and that egg made my Winnie.
I was 41 weeks pregnant and Winnie showed no signs of coming. Therefore I was told I would need to be given medication to kickstart my labour. I was so excited to know she would be here in a few days but also sad because I always wanted a water birth. I never knew people messing with your cervix would be so painful. After my first pill I felt fine, I thought ‘if this is all it is I’ve got this’ how silly was I. I shook my butt all night trying to take my mind off the pain. After numerous hours and telling my midwife so many times I needed to push or poo (I didn’t poo) she examined me as she couldn’t find Winnie’s heart rate and noticed Winnie’s head a second later and with one push her whole body was out. We were in complete shock, we expected the whole ‘put your chin on your chest and push’ exercise. I was handed Winnie who instantly started feeding and I got the most amazing cuddles and love. I had various complications with my labour but at the end of the day it was the best day of our lives, on the 3rd July 2018 we received our beautiful girl, Winnie Maiya weighting 7lb 13oz at 7:59 AM. Life has never been so perfect.
I have so many amazing memories in my life, but nothing compares to being a mummy. Winnie Maiya has completed our lives.
She is so content, always smiling, is so cheeky, has just the right amount of sass, has the most amazing little personality and is such a beautiful little girl.
The last six months will always be my favorite, Winnie has taught me how to love unconditionally, how worrying about the small things aren’t important.
She showed me how long I have always wanted her and how big my heart truly is. And my beautiful and amazing wife, she is the most amazing Mommy, seeing them together melts my heart, their bond is magical.
Over the past six months, my life has been filled with hope, compassion and love. I try to find happiness in every day and to be thankful for everything I have. I am so proud to be with a female I love, she is kind, caring, loving and the best mommy for our daughter. Winnie will be brought up in a home filled with love, happiness and laughter. Most importantly, she’ll be in an understanding home no matter who she chooses or doesn’t chose in life. No matter what decisions or mistakes she makes along the way as long as she has a heart filled with love and compassion I couldn’t ask for anything more.
I have dreamed about the day I had Winnie. I believed it was possible and planned for my future putting actions into place because without dreams, life isn’t worth living. In the end, love is all what matters.”
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