Lara

PAR36-Lara

Name: Lara
Age at interview: 45
Gender: Female

Background: Lara and her partner are in a same-sex relationship and have a son, aged 3. They live on the outskirts of a large city. Lara is a mental health social worker and is from an Anglo-Australian background.

About Lara

Lara experienced low mood, tiredness and lack of family support after the birth of her baby. She used St John's Wort, meditation, mindfulness and counselling. Things have improved, but Lara is still saddened by her son's grandparents' absence from their lives.

More about Lara

Lara began a same-sex relationship with her partner 10 years ago after they both ended their marriages to be together. She said this 'created some havoc' and as a result her father and her partners' parents decided to end contact with them. Only Lara's mother has stayed in touch.

Soon into their relationship, Lara 'started to get strong ideas' about having a child. Deciding that Lara would carry the baby was a 'no brainer' because Lara was younger than her partner. They conceived following their first sperm donation from a friend but Lara experienced a 'pretty traumatic' miscarriage at 10 weeks.

Lara and her partner then made contact with another man through a forum for people of different sexual orientations considering parenthood. To ensure everything was 'above board' Lara and her partner met the sperm donor and his wife. The sperm donor did not want a parental role but agreed to meet their child should s/he wish to in the future, which Lara and her partner appreciated.

Lara conceived again and had a 'healthy' pregnancy. She and her partner were aware that intervention rates were higher in medically managed births and that this often led to more difficult experiences. They wanted to avoid intervention unless 'absolutely necessary' and felt supported in their wishes by the midwives at the public hospital they had chosen. Lara laboured for a long time, and gave birth to her son an hour after arriving at the hospital. She described feeling 'lucky' not to have experienced complications during pregnancy or birth.

Lara said that her 'difficulties started' after bringing their baby home - due to tiredness, low mood and lack of family support, especially while trying to keep her career going. She thought the 'physical toll' of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding lasted about six months, and that her partner's initial lack of recognition of this caused tension in their relationship.

Finding she was continually feeling very 'tired' and 'down', Lara decided to take St John's Wort. As she did not think her feelings were 'severe' enough for antidepressants she used various self-help techniques such as meditation and mindfulness. She also saw a counsellor both individually and with her partner, which was helpful.

Lack of family support as a result of three of their son's grandparents not being in their lives and Lara's mother's limited availability caused them significant loss, anger and grief. They had to create 'alternative systems' of support through friends with young children and Lara's mothers' group.

Over time, Lara began to feel better. She stopped taking St John's Wort but continues to practise mindfulness and meditation. Lara advises others to be aware that early parenthood can be 'exhausting', and to ensure you have support and make time for yourself and your relationship. She described discrimination as potentially a 'big issue' for same-sex families.