For the first instalment in our same-sex parenting series, we spoke to Ale and Eva about their journey to parenthood, what their lives look like as lesbian mothers and how a queer family is just as stressful, sleepless and spectacular as everyone else's.
Many people say that having a child makes them feel complete. Would you agree with this statement? Why?
Ale: I feel complete with Eva. I don't want to be too sweet, but I really do. I think that having kids makes me feel a family where before I felt more like a couple. Plus, once you have kids, you completely forget life before they existed. It's a very remote memory. I guess that's why you feel complete. You don't picture life without them anymore.
Was starting a family something you have always wanted to do together?
Ale: We always dreamt of building a family since we started our relationship in 2006. We always felt like we were on the same page with what we wanted in life ‚Äì getting married, having kids, moving to London and then back to Italy.
Eva: After getting married, we knew it was the right time for us to start a family. We had thought a lot about it and talked about the values that we wanted to share with our children.
I've always had a strong maternal instinct and I wanted to go first with the experience of pregnancy. Larry was born in November of 2017. After I gave birth, Ale decided that it was the right time for her and fifteen months later, we added Kobe to the family.
How did you decide which option to choose in becoming parents?
Eva: In the school where I used to work, I met two mothers of two amazing kids. They gave us the name of a very good fertility doctor. We went to see her and she told us what to do based on our age and situation. She advised us to try with the IUI at first. We were both lucky enough to get pregnant quite quickly, but we also had one miscarriage each. It wasn't easy, it's hard to get up and start again but when a strong desire is there and you have the support of your partner and family, there was nothing that stopped us.
Ale: A miscarriage is never easy, but also talking about it with other people helps a lot. I personally hadn't even thought that there was a possibility before the first miscarriage. You start all excited and then you realise that it doesn't always go as you expect and there's nothing that you can do. Unfortunately, after the first miscarriage, you know there's the possibility of another. As Eva said, we were very lucky. The IUI worked for both of us and we got pregnant very quickly.
Now that you have children, do you think it is the same or different from that of opposite-sex families?
Eva: Life with kids is the same for everyone. It doesn't matter if you're straight, gay, lesbian or a single parent. You don't sleep, you don't have time to have a shower, you don't have time to cook a proper meal and you don't get the chance to go to the bathroom on your own.
Our families have always been supportive and they all wanted us to have kids. They all love our children in the same way, no matter the genetic heritage they have. We are lucky for all the love they and we receive.
Eva: We lived in London for the first 17 months of being moms and to be honest, no one cared that we were two moms. The people there are so open-minded, nobody ever made us feel uncomfortable or not right. We then moved to Italy, in a small village in the northeast. Strangely enough, we found lots of supportive people that are positive about us and our family. Of course, you get looks but when they see that we are no different from them, everything changes.
Ale: I would say that you always get attention. It's normal and people are curious to know our journey. We don't mind explaining. I hope, in our small way, to help others be more accepting, especially in Italy. If people see us and get to know us, they have a chance to change their mind if they have issues with this topic. Most of the time, people don't accept same-sex parenting because they've never seen it. The fear of something different is there until you get to know it. At least for some, it works in this way.
I do think that our daily life is different from same-sex parents just because we are both at home right now. Because of this, we both feel responsible for our children at all times. I'm also sure that because we both experienced pregnancy and breastfeeding, we can understand each other completely. We have our discussions as every couple does but we always understand the other's tiredness.
How important do you think it is that schools incorporate LGBTQ relationships, marriage and families into the curriculum at primary school age?
Eva: We went to school in Italy and nobody ever talked about LGBTQ relationships. When we discovered that we were in love, we thought we were wrong. We questioned ourselves a lot as a result.
""I think it's important to talk about different families and relationships from very early on. I'm a former nursery teacher and the sooner you start talking about every possible family, the better. LGBTQ families exist, so it's correct to let kids know that to respect us and our children.
""At the seaside few weeks ago, a couple of kids that were playing with my son asked me how it was possible that he has two moms. I replied that there are some families with two moms, some with two dads, some with only one parent. We need to show kids the reality. To be honest, they also don't care much. They prefer to talk about cars and games.
What is the best advice that you can give to LGBTQ couples who are thinking about starting their own family?
Eva: Just do it.
Ale: Get to know other LGBTQ families so they can advise you on the best process in your area. Arm yourself with patience and enjoy the time as two. You will feel like the luckiest person to have a new member in your family, but you will miss the solo time with your partner. I would say to overcome your problems with your sexuality if you have any. You need to be proud and confident of who you are as your kids will learn from you.
How do you deal with discrimination towards your family? What do you say to people who don't believe children should grow up with two parents of the same sex?
Eva: Luckily, we have never met people like that. If I had to, I would just show them how happy our kids are. There is nothing else to add to that. If they have problems with our family, they can get their things and their ideas and go away from us. No way that I accept negativity around my kids.
IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a female uterus to facilitate fertilisation. The goal is to increase the number of sperm that reaches the fallopian tubes, subsequently increasing the chance of successful fertilisation.