Lesbian couples" "painful" struggle in deciding which of two women should bear their children

How we chose our birth mother: Lesbian couples' 'painful' struggle in deciding which of two women should bear their children

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UPDATED:

12:26 GMT, 18 July 2012

A lesbian couple has told of the emotional hardship in choosing which of them would carry and give birth to their children.

Kimberly Aceves, 41, from Oakland, San Francisco said she experienced a period of mourning following the decision to allow her partner Carmen Iniguez, 34, to bear Mateo, their first child.

Ms Aceves told MercuryNews.com that the prospect of somebody else giving birth to her child was 'painful'.

From pain to joy: Kimberly Aceves (middle) has told of the hardships that she and her partner Carmen Iniguez (left) experienced in deciding that Ms Iniguez would serve as the birth mother to their son Mateo (right)

From pain to joy: Kimberly Aceves (middle) has told of the hardships that she and her partner Carmen Iniguez (left) experienced in deciding that Ms Iniguez would serve as the birth mother to their son Mateo (right)

She added that making the decision to allow her partner to have her child was a 'journey before the journey of even getting pregnant for us'.

It took one year's worth of contemplation for the couple to decide that Ms Iniguez was the more suited candidate and would seek out a sperm donor to assist.

After all, Ms Aceves, a youth centre executive director, had attempted to conceive during a previous relationship, and failed.

Happy family: The couple, posing inside their home in Oakland, San Franscico, have come a long way

Happy family: The couple, posing inside their home in Oakland, San Franscico, have come a long way

As a result, she struggled to accept that she would not be carrying her own child.

Her sadness, however, eventually turned to joy
after she discovered that her partner had fallen pregnant.

The news helped her to
realise that she 'wanted to be a mom more than I wanted to carry a
child'.

Ms Aceves, a youth
centre executive director, cared for her partner throughout the nine
months and while her son was delivered on February 20.

'It was the
most amazing, life-transforming thing that's ever happened to me,' she said. 'We were in it together the whole way, and when she had to go to that
place during delivery, I helped her. I feel at peace with this.'

She added that she even wanted to start a support group for non-birthing lesbian mothers.

Arlene Lev, a family therapist, said the couple's situation is common.

'When
a woman is dealing with infertility, having a partner who can conceive,
and may easily conceive, can be very painful,' the New York-based
expert said.

'It is
wonderful that they may have other ways of bringing a child into their
family but that may not ease the pain of infertility for a woman who
really wants to conceive.'

The Mercury News article also told of a couple who take turns in giving birth to their children.

Judy Appel and Alison Bernstein had been
together for six years before Ms Bernstein became pregnant through the
use of a sperm donor.

She went through the process first for several reasons including the fact she was one year older than her partner.

'I realized I wanted to be a mom more than I wanted to carry a
child'

Her physical appearance, which consists of short hair and ensures she 'was always getting mistaken for a 12-year-old boy', also played a part.

'We
very intentionally wanted to hold up the feminine side of her that
people from the outside wouldn't expect based on the way she looked and
carried herself,' said Ms Appel, who is the executive director of Our
Family Coalition, a support network for gay and lesbian families.

She added: 'She is the most caring, maternal mama bear that I know.'

Ms Appel and Ms Bernstein are the parents of Kobi, 14, and Talia, 11.

Ms Lev added that it is common for lesbian couples to take turns, just as these women did.

Doting parents: Judy Appel (right) and her partner Alison Bernstein (left) took turns in giving birth to their children

Doting parents: Judy Appel (right) and her partner Alison Bernstein (left) took turns in giving birth to their two children; Kobi (second from right), 14, and Talia (second from left), 11

Keeping things fair: Ms Bernstein (right) gave birth to Kobi (second from left) and Ms Appel gave birth to Talia (second from right), ensuring that both mothers had their wishes fulfilled

Keeping things fair: Ms Bernstein (right) gave birth to Kobi (second from left) and Ms Appel gave birth to Talia (second from right), ensuring that both mothers had their wishes fulfilled

For other couples, choosing a birth mother between two women is an easy decision.

Erin Bayer and Lori Shannon, a couple from Oakland, told the paper that Ms Bayer's lifestyle and personality made her a more suitable candidate.

'She had the busy career and I didn't, so it was much easier for me to take time off,” says Bayer, 37.

'Plus, my personality is such that I would be perfectly happy staying home, and she would lose her mind.'

The couple are the proud parents of two-year-old twin boys.