There’s nothing like getting beautiful, honest relationship and parenting advice from new moms. And that’s just what I got when someone sent me a copy of the story Paula Gilovich wrote about how she and her partner Carrie Mills conceived their first daughter Harley.
It wasn’t a fairytale story filled with fluff and candy-coated events. No, this story included how, with the help of a friend’s sperm donation, beautiful Harley was conceived in the backseat of a car in Williamsburg, VA. The transparency of the story made me realize that if this couple was so willing to share so much of themselves, they would be perfect for our Moms Who Inspire series.
A Look Into Becoming a Mom with Paula and Carrie, an Inspirational Same-Sex Couple
Paula runs the show as the Director of Content and Production at ABC Carpet & Home in the heart of New York City. The event space within the store is home to some of today’s most outstanding thought leaders and changemakers, such as Deepak Copra. So I was very excited to meet her and her partner, Carrie. But upon meeting them, I felt like I’d known them for years.
Paula had this uncanny ability to make me feel like we’d been friends forever, and her partner Carrie and I bonded over oddly similar birth stories. We all shared our new mom stories, full of sleepless nights, preparing for a baby, trying to figure this whole parenting thing out.
Their honesty and openness about their pregnancy and new mom journey makes me so happy to share this interview with you.
Q: What’s been the biggest challenge being a new mom for the two of you?
A: We miss each other. The direction of our affection is now first, towards our little one. Although, what has been surprising and so important to recognize is the entirely new landscape that has opened up for us. Being new moms has created a brand new love for each other. It’s so deep and complex and even messes with time. It’s as if we’ve been able to travel to another dimension.
But the truth is we are three now. We are no longer two. There’s a loss there. And so there’s this unexpected quality of not seeing each other as directly as we used to, even when we are in each other’s presence. Carrie is my absolute favorite, but now I have two favorites: Carrie and Harley.
We’ve each found ourselves out of our minds for this little one, and each of us is focused on her. And logistically, so much of parenting is about tag-teaming and giving each other breaks. So regardless of fatigue, we find ourselves excited to discover each other at the end of the night when Harley has finally gone down.
Q: What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about both of you as new moms?
A: I think just because of how we look, the surprise is that I am not the one who gave birth to our daughter. I’m the more “feminine” one in the relationship. In fact, Carrie’s soul is very much the soul of an old man – demanding, not easily convinced, grumpy in the morning, and horrified by young people’s lack of manners. Beyond the joke that she’s an old man, she has a very authentic masculinity at her core.
So it’s a surprise even to people in our community that I didn’t choose to get pregnant. I’m such a mama in the world, so it’s surprising. I am someone who has always gone a different route, though. I have designed my life against the standard story. So this is natural how this all came about, how Harley came to be. Even though I didn’t give birth to my daughter, I am the one she will call mama or mom or mommy, and I can’t wait for that.
Q: What lesson do you most want to pass on to your daughter?
A: “Be still and know.” It took me a lifetime of frantic struggles to get to the place where I could settle my mind and trust the quiet, knowing voice inside. We will weave this into her world and give her all the tools she’ll need for a peaceful center.
And I want her to be fearless – I’m not sure how to teach that, but I’m sure we’ll find moments along the way. Again, I spent too many years wracked with fear. So we will take every chance to counter the idea that we are separate from one another and that we should be afraid.
And, not least of all, we will steep her in experiences and education to pursue justice for all people – to seek justice for those who do not currently have it. And to see injustice, not to ignore it.
Q: What’s the one piece of relationship advice you would give to new parents?
A: Know that you are knit together more than ever before – and that you can trust that knitting.
You will have terrible moments – and I mean terrible. Anyone who says they don’t is lying. These extra-terrible moments happen because of the weight of it all and the stress of being responsible for another being.
But those horrible moments have nothing to do with your relationship and your connection.
You have to separate them out of the equation. I think if you consciously act on what you are doing, your exact undertaking of raising a new life and that you take stock in what difficulty you’ve brought into your life, then you can then let the hard parts go, and they won’t end up defining your relationship.
Q: What do you admire most about your partner as a new mom?
A: I’m so surprised at how dedicated a parent she is. Of course, she is a fantastic human being. If she wasn’t, I wouldn’t have married her. Witnessing her in the act of parenting – seeing how present and committed she is and how she doesn’t let the boredom sway her, it’s remarkable. Carrie knows on the other side of boredom is heaven.
You must take the boredom to get to the best moments of your life. And she lives that without any hesitation with our daughter. I had a running coach once tell me the same thing and it’s stuck with me forever,
Get right with the boredom, lean into it, because the mirage becomes real if you give in to the boredom of doing the same thing over and over again.
Her tolerance for boredom and her ability to continue to give and give to our little girl is really surprising. It’s surprising anyone is that generous and creative.
Also, she wrote four original songs for her bedtime ritual. Every night, Carrie sings to Harley, “You are so strong, so brave, and so very loved,”
Can you believe that? And the tune is really lovely – a minor key. And then she ends with singing the line, “We are so happy you are here,” How lovely is that?
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to your pre-new-mom selves?
A: Like really, no joke, do yoga every day before the baby comes. Not three times a week. Do it every day to prepare your body for this.
Preparing for a baby – this is real. What your body goes through, and what happens with the back, it’s real. Do pilates, focus on core strength. I know I’m saying this as the new mom who didn’t give birth, of course. But the core strength you need both emotionally and physically – whoa.
And then, of course, give yourself the gift of sitting. It’s hard for me sometimes, but it’s essential. Sitting cleans your mind. Daily cleaning our mind is the best gift you can give yourself. It gives you a real shot at happiness. And in the tumult that is becoming a new mom or a new parent, all that sitting shows up in the first moment of parenthood. It shows up in the very first moment when you hear the existential cry of your baby entering the world.
All that sitting shows up at that moment. That sitting is what holds you so you can hold her.
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