For civil rights lawyer Nicole Harvey, having children was never really on the agenda.
“To be honest, I knew same-sex couples had kids, but I was always very adamant about not having kids,” Harvey says. “I’m the oldest of eight siblings altogether. I come from a Mormon family. It was a big family … As I grew older, I never really was shopping for a co-parent, until I met my current wife and that was one of our first conversations.”
Harvey met her partner, Jessica, and immediately reflected on her past convictions. Shortly after, they got married and had their first daughter via a sperm donor in 2005—a baby Jessica would carry.
“It’s never been my desire to be pregnant,” Harvey admits.
Not everyone was happy with the life-changing developments. Harvey’s conservative family wanted no official ties to the child, but eventually melted when seeing the baby. These days they are treated normally at family functions.
“I had a lot of anxieties about the nature of my non-traditional relationship,” she explains. “Even during Jess’s delivery, the doctor came in, made all these stupid jokes. If my partner hadn’t been going through such terrible pain, and needing me there by her side, I don’t know if I’d been there. It wasn’t pleasant.”
The frustrations continued after the birth of their first daughter. Two years ago, when the couple decided to expand the family once more, after finding the prior sperm donor wasn’t available, they looked into adoption. In the beginning stages of the applicant process, both moms were asked to take a parenting test. At first, the two felt confident and excited, but eventually met with confusion and anger once the results were announced. It seemed Harvey had not passed her test and would need to take parenting classes to proceed.
“They told me I had probably too high expectations for my kids and demand too much respect from them,” she says. “I was like, ‘Are you sure you got the right test?’ and they showed it to me. Then they said what was funny was if they graded my test for fathers, then I’d have the perfect score, but since I’m a woman they had to grade it for mothers, and I wasn’t acceptable for a mother.”
Harvey was livid.
“I asked, ‘Do you really want a gender discrimination claim? You know I’m a civil rights lawyer, right?’” she laughs. “I was really angry though, really angry in that meeting. That really backed us off adoption, and we were back to finding a sperm donor.”
Soon after the couple gave birth to their second daughter, a child they thought was to be a boy.
“We were very sure she was a boy, because Jess carried her differently, had different cravings, and we had no ultrasound because we had a midwife this time around,” Harvey explains. “It was a very different pregnancy.”
The pregnancy and delivery was the polar opposite of the first child. After such a negative experience in the hospital, the couple decided on a more hands-on approach, one that proved to be superior.
“Jess held her right away, we could touch her and hold her,” she says. “It was a very different energy.”
Starting a family has shifted everything, according to Harvey, who has her own law firm. Being the breadwinner can be stressful, but family can balance life in the most unique ways.
“I have a lot on my plate, running a law firm,” Harvey says. “Some days I come home and I’m so tired, tired of work and clients and other lawyers, but I get to come home and play Barbies.”
She keeps a smile and laughs a little. “My kids keep me grounded.”