As a woman in a same sex relationship about to become a parent, Heather Swinsco (HR Officer) shares her journey in getting to this point and the support she has received. Heather also talks about the community she and others are continuing to build for LGBTQIA families at the University.
Back in October 2019 I hosted an LGBT+ Parenting event with my colleague and friend Helen Finch. At the time, my wife and I were just about to embark on our first attempt at IUI (intrauterine insemination). It had been a long haul over almost two years to get to that point. As with many people undertaking fertility treatment, I found the process very difficult, even though I was not the one having the tests.
I also felt (still feel) anxious about becoming an LGBT+ parent, and what that will mean for me and my family.
Helen and I organised the LGBT+ Parenting event as a result of our experiences of being / hoping to become LGBT+ parents. We invited a range of speakers – those in LGBT+ families and allies – to share their stories, and the support available to LGBT+ families within the University. We aimed to make this event inclusive to all – LGBT+ parents, parents of LGBT+ children, people thinking about starting LGBT+ families, allies, etc. – and I think we succeeded.
We also wanted to build a community. I would like to thank all those who spoke and attended, as the event certainly helped me to feel that sense of community.
We want to continue to build this community on the LGBT+ Staff Network’s LGBTQIA Families Teams page.
A few weeks after the Parenting event, my wife and I were shocked and very excited to discover that the IUI had worked. We then found out about four weeks later that we were having twins – another shock! All being well, we will meet our daughters in June.
My wife and I had been thinking about taking Shared Parental Leave for a while, so that I could spend time with our baby in the first year. When we found out we were having babies we decided this was even more important.
I am going to use a combination of Partner/Paternity, Shared Parental and Annual Leave to give me eight weeks with my wife and the babies when they are born.
You can find out more about family leave on the University HR web pages.
I have received amazing support from the University during the whole process, with flexibility from my management that enabled me to attend hospital appointments and plan my parental leave, support from my colleagues, and support from the University’s staff Counselling and Psychological Support Service.
I know I’ve found it useful to talk to people about my experiences. If anyone wants to talk to me about my experiences or their own, please do get in touch or join the LGBT+ Teams conversation. I think we’re all in new territory just now with balancing our working and family lives in the current COVID-19 situation, and Teams can be a great place to share our experiences and ideas.
Heather Swinsco (firstname.lastname@example.org), HR Officer