Birth of a miracle baby

Michelle and Sunday

Michelle and Sunday, moments after the birth

On July 5th in a Melbourne hospital, a miracle slipped into the world. I know that’s true because one of her moms called me moments later to tell me I was officially “Tutu”. That’s a Hawaiian word for grandmother and will be my nickname as this most beloved of children grows.

I never experienced motherhood so never expected anyone, ever, to consider me a grandmother. So I’m feeling especially honoured to be drawn into the family circle of little Sunday Margaret.

Let me back up. I’ve written earlier about Robin’s daughter Michelle and her partner Miriam and their dream of starting a family. (Falling in love with Peanut and Farewell, Peanut, and thank you) But I’ve been quiet here during the long and complicated journey from their initial elation and then disappointment. Instead, I’ve lit candles, held my breath, talked with these two beautiful women and Robin, and held a vision in my heart of the baby they would one day hold in their arms.

The entire story is far more detailed than I’ll share here. Michelle is a gifted writer, and I’m anticipating one day I’ll be reading the book only she can write. So this is just the teaser for a much richer story yet to come.

Same-sex couples and parenting in Australia

Same-sex couples face special challenges when they decide to start a family. Australia eased restrictions just in time for Michelle and Miriam to start the IVF (in vitro fertilization) journey. But anyone who’s been down that road knows it’s a bumpy ride, with more failure than success.

Miriam, as the older partner, tried first. After several attempts, the couple could see their best hope was for Michelle to carry Miriam’s fertilized egg.

That’s where gumption, persistence, and determination came in. What Michelle and Miriam were proposing was unprecedented in Australia. That meant more time lost to bureaucratic roadblocks before they could re-start the IVF procedures, this time with Michelle as host mother to Miriam’s egg. (Thanks to the legal changes these brave pioneers pushed for, other Australian women in same-sex relationships have the same right to increase their chances of starting a family.)

The final hurdle jumped, they tried IVF again. On the second try, Miriam’s tiny frozen embryo wasted no time dividing. As soon as it was thawed, it began splitting and expanding, as if this little drop of life was eager to become part of the family. Once inside Michelle’s womb, it attached firmly. To say it grew normally doesn’t capture the sense of awe we all felt as Michelle went through the weeks of morning sickness and began to show the unmistakable shape of a pregnant woman.

I know calling a baby “it” seems cold, but the mothers chose surprise over foreknowledge. For those of us waiting for every update, the child’s sex was not even a secondary consideration. We were awaiting the birth of a miracle.

Sunday Margaret and Miriam

Sunday Margaret and Miriam, home at last

A special connection

Well into a healthy pregnancy, Michelle was finding sleep difficult. When she lay down at the end of a busy work day, the little munchkin inside her would start dancing. Michelle tried everything to settle it so she could sleep. Nothing worked. Nothing, that is, but the tender touch and voice of the baby’s biological mother.

When we heard that, I thought of sheep. That’s not as odd as it sounds. I have no experience with human babies but quite a lot with sheep. Ewe and lamb know each other’s voices from the instant of birth, which makes me believe they recognize it long before. So it seems both magical and entirely reasonable that the baby growing inside Michelle would recognize the voice of the mother from whose body she originated.

Another grandmother

As the pregnancy progressed, the baby’s mothers insisted I choose a grandmother name. I was reluctant because I know grandmothers who’ve earned the name through years of love and heartache can be sensitive about that. I’ve been quite happy having Robin’s son’s children call me by my given name.

But Michelle and Miriam insisted. Robin and I had been part of their journey to parenthood right from the start. We had supported every choice they made, cried with their disappointments, and celebrated their victories.

So when they insisted I choose a name, I Googled “grandmother names” and sent a list of possibilities. “Tutu” was their choice.

Minutes after a six pound, eleven ounce, healthy girl was born, Michelle rang from the hospital. I felt my heart break open when she called me “Tutu” and told me little Sunday Margaret was “perfect”.

Sunday Margaret, a child most beloved

Surrounded by love

Sunday—the day her beautiful mothers fell in love, the day they learned they were pregnant, the best day of the week. As soon as they sent a photograph, I posted it on Facebook and sent it to all our friends on e-mail, as proud as any grandmother who’s earned the name through decades of love. Friends had followed our side of the baby journey and greeted the news with joy.

She’s a miracle baby, little Sunday Margaret. She carries into the world the love and welcome of people scattered around the globe. She carries our hopes for a world moving beyond the misunderstandings and prejudices that have prevented other same-sex couples from knowing the highs and lows of parenthood.

Welcome to the world, Sunday Margaret. We’ve been waiting for you for a long time.

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15 comments for “Birth of a miracle baby

  1. July 13, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Congratulations on becoming Tutu!

    What a lovely baby. I just know Sunday Margaret is going to have a wonderful life. :)

  2. July 13, 2011 at 9:53 am

    What a wonderful story! Congratulations to the very proud/happy moms on the birth of beautiful Sunday Margaret. Congrats also to Robin and Tutu!

  3. July 13, 2011 at 10:32 am

    We are beyond thrilled and feel so blessed to be part of this beautiful family.

  4. July 13, 2011 at 10:32 am

    This is all new territory for me. I’m feeling incredibly lucky to be witness.

  5. Margaret-Ann Hooper
    July 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    How wonderful of Michelle and Miriam to insist that you be called grandma in whatever language and what an honour for you, Cathryn. Sunday Margaret is definitely a miracle baby and your beautiful words brought back emotions and memories of when ours were born. Have fun!

  6. July 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Robin and I have been so thrilled to follow along with your grandchildren. Being able to share the ups and downs with you has meant a lot to us.

  7. emmie
    July 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    we are so happy for the new moms….and for you and robin….and for all of the family and friends who wait this miracle to happen….
    sunday margaret has just show her creating power in making new moms, new grandparent, and new any member in the family…..wonderful….!!!!!
    please sis….send our love and congratulations to michelle and miriam….
    we love you and robin very much…
    emmie and jerry….

  8. j
    July 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    A baby gives birth to us, as well—we grow in ways that we never could have imagined. As much as Miriam and Michelle love one another, they are probably already amazed at how vast and fierce and tender is the love for their baby girl. How good that you a chosen grandmother, already a part of her grand adventure of life! Heartful well wishes to all of you…
    j

  9. Brian
    July 14, 2011 at 12:05 am

    Congratulations Tutu and Robin, Not forgetting Michelle and Miriam.
    Life will be a whole new ball game from now on.
    Brian

  10. July 14, 2011 at 7:23 am

    We will share your good wishes with the beautiful new mothers. Thank you so much for your loving words.

  11. July 14, 2011 at 7:25 am

    You write from deep personal experience, as your beautiful son has given birth to so much in you. Who knew life would hold so much for us all?

  12. July 14, 2011 at 7:25 am

    They’re already learning some of the rules of that new ball game. ;-)

  13. Michelle
    July 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Hello everyone and thank you for your kind and happy best wishes for our darling daughter Sunday. All your love pushes us forward to endeavour to be the best parents we can be for this little slice of perfection, currently feeding contentedly from my body. Such an honor to be featured so amazingly in Tutu’s blog. Thanks to each of you for taking the time to read about our miracle :). It does take a community to raise a child and we are grateful for those in our community who know us personally but also for those of you in our community who we have yet to meet, but who already wish love and happiness for our family. Thank you everyone and oodles of rainbow joy to all. :). Love Michelle, Miriam and baby Sunday (oh and Wilbur the dog!!!!) xoxo

  14. July 15, 2011 at 8:06 am

    A beautiful blessing well worth waiting for! In my journeys I heard many stories of joy, and grief and healing around pregnancy and birth, courage and great love are the common components. Wishing you all both of these and more! Congratulations!

  15. Rose
    September 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    “A Little Ray of Sunshine” well describes the beauty of this precious and gorgeous child, Sunday. I hope they all had a good trip over and have a superb visit. Hugs, Rose

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