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by The Next Family August 27, 2010

By: Heather Somaini

Decisions are critical in life. We make them every day, all day. Some are small, some are really big. When I started thinking about kids, I never realized how many questions I had to sit down and think through. I never realized how many questions and issues Tere and I would have to discuss and work out. Looking back, it was immense. But when you’re at the beginning of something, you’re always a little naïve. I’m glad I was, otherwise we would have never done it.

Tere and I had lots of time to chat during the Jupiter Drive remodel – we were always in the car or painting or staring at a project that needed to be completed. We talked about what our family would look like and how we would create it.

At first there were cute questions like what baby names do you like? That one was actually easy. I always liked the name Isabella and Tere did too. We both liked the idea of family names and thought Tere’s mother’s maiden name as a middle name was a nice homage to her family. The girl would be Isabella Lara. I mentioned that I always wanted to name a son after my grandfather. He had two girls and I always felt badly that his name was sort of lost forever. Tere seemed to think it was a good idea and our boy name was set –Libero Colombo. I know…that’s a mouthful. Libero is an old, Italian name and means “freedom” in Italian. I wanted to call him “Free”. We agreed on two more names – Jackson Benjamin – Jackson was my maternal grandmother’s maiden name and Benjamin was Tere’s grandfather’s name. The other was Sophia Chamberlin – my mother mentioned Sophia and Tere really took to it and Chamberlin was my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. To this day, Tere asks me when we’re going to use all four names. I get tired even thinking about it!
Now the difficult part of the conversation – the last name. Both Tere and I are cursed with names no one can pronounce with lots of vowels that no can spell. I really wanted it to be my last name but I had no idea how she would react. I hated the idea of a hyphenated name. Why start a kid off with a mouthful right from the get-go? I asked Tere what she thought and held my breath. She said the kids should have my name and that she would hyphenate hers to make life easier for us at hospitals and schools. Wow! It was done, just like that.

Since Tere was older, we agreed that she would try first since her clock was about to explode. One idea we discussed was using my brother as the donor. I don’t think we ever actually discussed it with him but realized quickly that we didn’t want to get into any type of situation that could produce a custody case in the event of either of our deaths. We just couldn’t bear the thought of one of us having to fight our relatives or friends over our own children. We ruled out all known donors even though we had MANY gorgeous offers from some of the best looking men we know – Greek Gods in fact. It’s amazing how many men happily donated their services. Anonymous was the way to go.

One of the things that we thought was absolutely ridiculous because of the expense and effort was any IVF procedure and especially egregious was using eggs from one of us in the other, essentially as a surrogate. It seemed silly when we had two perfectly good “ovens”.

We decided that we would each carry once and have two kids with the same donor so they would be at least half-siblings. We agreed that since Tere was 42, that we should probably limit the number of “tries” in some fashion. I agreed to six – Tere agreed to a few more.

Since Tere had always lived down south all of her doctors were down there too. We needed to consolidate and get Tere into a practice up in LA. It made the most sense for our baby making process to be in the same practice where everyone would know and understand what was going on. I loved my doctor but never really intended to see him. I had actually picked another doctor in the same practice (Dr. C) back when I first moved to LA but she was booked solid. The receptionist suggested I see Dr. K – a man –not exactly what I wanted. She spoke so highly of him, I couldn’t say no and he’s still my OB/GYN today. Since there is something sacred about your relationship with your gynecologist, we didn’t want to have the same doctor. We asked Dr. C if she would take Tere on as a patient. She agreed. Knowing what I know now, it was the best decision we ever made.

I think the last decision we decided on around that time was becoming domestic partners. I know that sounds kind of odd since we had already had a big commitment ceremony, owned property together, and had survived two remodels, but we hadn’t actually done it. I suppose I needed to make an honest woman out of Tere before we started trying for babies! I hunted down the paperwork, filled it out, signed it, and had it notarized. It was one of the most boring processes ever but it was done. She was stuck with me.

Now our children wouldn’t be born out of wedlock…well, sort of.

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