Middle Aged (35-54)
North American (General)
North American (US Mid-Atlantic)
Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
Yeah, welcome to the poly family podcast exploring broader forms of life, love and family. Hello, this is your host Juliet Siegfried Coming to you from Leiden in the Netherlands. This is our very first Polly family podcast and I'm delighted you could join me, polyamory is the belief or practice of having more than one intimate loving relationship at a time with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved. This podcast is about living together as a polyamorous family of four adults, one child and assorted pets. I live here in Leiden with my husband of nearly 20 years Roland, Our partner of seven years laurel Our five year old daughter, Maya and our family friend Barry as today is our very first episode. I'll be sharing with you how our family got together. Future podcasts will explore some of the questions we've gotten over the years, challenges, and reactions. We faced successes and failures and I'll bring the family members in for those sessions along the way. I'd really like to hear your questions too. Please send them to me at poly family podcast at gmail dot com. Or there's a submission form on our website, which is Polly family podcast dot com. So let's get started. Roland and I met at work in 1995 while I was married to someone else. It was a pretty typical office romance and secret affair at the time. I thought I'd probably have affairs all my life because I already felt stifled just two years into my first marriage all my life. I've had this phenomenon of loving someone and then falling in love with someone else too. Not all the time. Only every couple of years or so, but that made long term relationships a real problem. I knew it was unacceptable to openly love more than one person. So I cheated on almost every long term boyfriend I ever had. I'd really never considered there might be another way of doing things when Roland in my relationship was discovered it was a painful time mostly because of all the hurt I caused my first husband who was and is a genuinely nice guy. However, although I knew nothing of polyamory, I didn't know I was going to have to start living differently if I wanted to have any chance of happiness in love and relationships. So I told Roland I clearly had a problem and that I'd probably cheat on him too. He's the one who said maybe there was another way he gave me a book called The ****** Silence of the American Housewife. It contains stories about women who had loved more than one man at a time, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, but always genuinely neither the book nor we used the word polyamory, But the idea resonated with us and we launched into our own not quite traditional marriage in 1998. We were married in a civil ceremony. Just the two of us at the courthouse. We began exploring getting closer to others without opening all the way up to sexual relationships with others. It was a wonderful way to slowly get used to the idea of sharing ourselves and sharing each other as well as all the communication that's needed along the way. During that time, we also learned about the polyamorous community. But funnily enough we didn't think that was us. We thought those folks were a little bit weird. However, other big changes were headed our way In 2003, we decided to move to Madrid Spain to try a new way of life. The political situation in the US had become unbearable to Roland and we were both ready to try something new since he had grown up in Mexico and I had spent some time in Spain. We both spoke some spanish and Roland had relatives in europe. So we basically sold everything we owned except for what we could put into two suitcases and off we went, it was quite a liberating move. We had no job or apartment lined up, but we did have some savings. However, it was surprisingly easy to get set up in Madrid to find a place to live and to find jobs as english teachers for Spaniards. That's how I met Louise who was the first person with whom I would have a full on sexual relationship while married to Roland. He was one of my students and Roland knew him and liked him. Great start. However, the cheater in me was still there. I slept with Louise and told Roland the next day which was not part of our agreement and in polyamory Breaking an agreement is as bad as cheating for obvious reasons. This didn't go over well with Roland and it took us about six months to decide if we wanted to continue on this polyamorous path together or if we should strike out on our own. It was a really important time for me because I pretty much lost everyone and everything I knew and I had to decide whether to reinvent myself. Was I really ready for the level of honesty that polyamory required or would I continue to cheat at that time I basically decided to start over on my own and let Roland go his own way. If he wanted to, I would begin a new as a polyamorous person, committed to honesty and openness with everyone. Roland himself while fully supporting my openness as long as I was honest about it wasn't particularly interested in relationships of his own in addition to ours. So I thought perhaps he decided not to continue with me and to start a new himself. However, he came back And wanted to try again and we started a new together in 2004. During these early years I dated several men for short periods of time just learning how this whole new world of polyamory worked mostly what I learned is that it is very unlikely that a monogamous man can be converted to polyamory, which is why my relationships were so short. We started a group online, a yahoo group called polyamory in the hopes of meeting more polyamorous people for many weeks. It was just Roland and I sitting alone in a bar having put out the word that we were there if anyone wanted to come talk about polyamory. Eventually a few people came along and we met a lovely woman online named Nina who was from Portugal to Roland's great surprise. Nina was quite interested in him. The two of them began to get to know each other and they got along very well. I like Nina a lot too. It was his first relationship other than ours and it was brief but very educational. I had wanted him to have other partners like I did but I was a bit unprepared for the jealousy that hit me. However, since Nina was very experienced in polyamory, She had an eight year relationship of her own. She was able to help me with my jealousy very much. She took very good care of my emotions as they explored their partnership. I felt secure, knowing she was secure in her relationship and it was really nice for all four of us to have found other people who saw polyamory the way we do as a family venture. I was beginning to learn during that time how many different ways there are to see polyamory. So even if you meet someone who says they're polyamorous, they still may not be a very good partner for you sadly. The relationship between Roland and Nina did not last very long due to incompatibilities in their personalities. However, thanks to that relationship, the poly family idea had been sparked in both of us in terms of our own Children, we've been thinking about it since some years earlier, Around 2000 or so. Roland and I decided not to use birth control and just to see if I got pregnant. I had been through infertility treatments with my first husband and I really didn't want to go through that again. So we just figured we'd leave it up to nature By 2007 it hadn't happened. So we figured one or both of us was probably infertile. That's when we began considering the possibility of dating someone with Children. We thought that would be a great way to incorporate Children into our lives. That same year we met laurel in Barcelona through a mutual polyamorous friend. She and Roland clicked immediately and she and I got along well too. We began spending lots of time together. Both she and I and he and I and pretty quickly we realized we all belong together. We shared very similar views on openness and polyamory and by now we knew how rare that really is. However, when I asked her if she was interested in having Children one day, she said absolutely not and that made me a little sad. However, everything else between us was so good and we got along so well. There was just no stopping the development of this particular triad. I'll mention here that laurel and I are heterosexual. So we're in a V. Formation with Roland. A lot of people ask me about my jealousy when laurel came along and I'll admit it was pretty fierce since she was only Roland's third relationship ever. I was still a bit afraid that he might decide that I wasn't the one and that he'd rather be with her than be with me and not knowing her very well. Yet I assumed she was perfect in every way and better than me at everything. But as I got to know her my fears just faded away. She made it very clear she didn't want to steal Roland from me and that she wasn't looking for a traditional monogamous relationship. I also saw that she was human and imperfect. Just like me. Even more important though was Roland's behavior with me. When people ask about how to deal with jealousy, the typical polly responses that it's your own responsibility to deal with your jealousy. Also known as own your own stuff. Yeah. When people ask about how to deal with jealousy a typical policy responses that it's your own responsibility to deal with. It also known as own your own stuff and to a large part I agree. However I also believe it's really important that everyone supports everyone else in the relationship, especially during the beginning times of intense new relationship energy or N. R. E. And that's what Roland did after their very first night together. Roland came back to me earlier than planned, took me out to dinner and told me how much he loved me. It was an amazing night I'll never forget. He's always taking care of me. Even when madly in love with someone else, he played his part perfectly in helping me get over my jealousy, which I did within a matter of weeks. However, more surprises were headed our way. Within six months of the start of Roland and laurel's relationship, she became pregnant. Apparently they were both pretty terrified to tell me about it because they had been careless with birth control and they didn't know how I'd respond. The very first thing I felt when Roland told me was sad, I don't think I realized how much I really hoped to have a child with him. And I assumed laurel would not want to have the baby since she told me she didn't want to have kids. But to my surprise and delight, he told me she actually wanted the baby and thought we were the right people to embark on this adventure with. I was really overjoyed. So we all began looking for a place to live together in Sitges Spain where we were living at the time and we found a really nice house with a view of the sea and we started planning for our family. Our first conflict happened when laurel told me she wanted to have the baby at home rather than in a hospital. I was pretty terrified. Like many people, I was conditioned to believe that the best and safest way to have a baby was in a hospital and I thought the home birth idea was way too hippy and way too scary. I was also afraid that laurel would feel so uncomfortable with my fear that it would wreck the beginning of our little family. But that didn't happen. She offered me some resources to look at and just asked that I read up a bit on the topic before making a decision in doing so. I learned so much. I learned that not only was having a baby at home safe in many ways it's safer and better than having a hospital birth, especially for uncomplicated pregnancies. I learned about the medicalization of the birth process and how it makes it all so unnatural for the mother and baby and so convenient for the doctors. The more I read, the more I did not want this baby to be born in a hospital. There's an organization in Barcelona called Mari Nostrum that provides midwives for home deliveries, we began going to them for laurel's checkups and to learn more about the home birthing process. We set up a contingency plan to go to a hospital if needed and before long I was fully convinced that we could do this at home On January 18, 2009. Maya Julia Avery Coombs was born right in our living room, in a small pool With the help of two midwives. Although the labor and delivery were extremely difficult for laurel, she and Maya made it through with no injuries whatsoever and I had the joy of being there from the moment of Maya's birth. So we really were all in this together. Another common question I get regards how it is for me to have a child that's not really mine and how it is for laurel sharing the baby with me. The first part of the answer to that question is that having Maya at home altogether made the difference. It made it much easier for me to feel like a real mother to Maya than if I had been in a hospital waiting room. The other part of the answer to that question has to do with the dynamic between the three of us at the time I was prepared for the birth of Maya to change our structure such that I wouldn't be primary anymore. We don't use that terminology ourselves as we don't really believe in primary, secondary and hierarchical terminology for polyamory. But the reality of the situation is that Roland and I have been together for 15 years and he and laurel for much less. So there was sort of a natural primary secondary dynamic. Initially at least until Laurel spent more time with us. But I was prepared for all that to change with the arrival of their baby. However, what ended up happening was really interesting Roland in my long history and Roland and laurel's baby ended up balancing each other out. It's like each of us had our special entity that we brought to the relationship and we brought it all together into one big happy family vibe. I didn't expect that outcome, but it's exactly what happened. And we've all felt very even keeled since Maya's birth as a result of that and of laurel's generosity and sharing Maya with me. I felt absolutely a real mother to Maya and Maya has felt absolutely natural about having two mothers. Also important is that no one yet has indicated to Maya that there's anything wrong with having two mothers. So to this day she finds nothing wrong with it either. So the very next day we embarked on life together with a baby in the house. It wasn't easy even with three of us. We were all living and working at home because we were freelancers. So we basically added a baby on top of everything else. We were trying to do. It was a bit difficult for me because I stayed in a separate room from laurel, Maya and Roland while she was breastfeeding and co sleeping. It did make me feel a bit apart from things for a while for the first six months I think we really struggled. The first six months were incredibly difficult trying to adjust to no sleep, maintaining our work, keeping some semblance of a family scheduled together and learning how to raise a baby Around seven or 8 months. We were particularly worried because our sleep deprivation had gotten so bad that we weren't doing anything properly. We went to see our pediatrician to ask for some advice. You may be wondering what the pediatrician thought of having the three of us coming with our baby. But actually it was no problem whatsoever. The first time we went to meet with her, we all went together and we simply let her know that we were together and that we had a child and that there would be three contact numbers that she could use to get in touch with us. It was no big deal at all. We didn't offer any more information and she didn't ask any more information. That's basically the reaction we found from people in general. So we asked the pediatrician about her thoughts on how we could get some more sleep. And she suggested that Maya should have her own room. This goes against the attachment parenting process which we had adopted pretty much to that point, which pretty much insists that Children sleep with their parents sometimes up to the age of five. We hadn't planned to do that. But we thought for the first year it was an important thing to do. We were also very opposed to the cry it out strategy of getting Children to go to sleep by letting them cry in their rooms for longer and longer until you go to them. So the prospect of changing things and doing it this way was very difficult for laurel and I and we found ourselves in tears that night at the prospect of it. But we knew we had to do something different or we wouldn't get any sleep and everything would just get worse. So, with heavy hearts, we put Maya into her own room, in her own new bed. A bigger crib closed the door and went to the living room to wait for her to cry. Maya didn't wake up for six hours. It was the first time she had ever slept for six hours since her birth. And we were shocked. She apparently loved having her own room. And this new way of doing things was going to work out much better for all of us. So that's pretty much how we made it through the first year of life with Maya. Lots more big changes were to come in our next podcast, we'll talk about why and how the family moved to the Netherlands. How we incorporated barry into our home and how we organize and run the home here in the Netherlands. I'm so glad you could join me today. And I really look forward to hearing your questions and your comments. Send them to me at poly family podcast at gmail dot com. Or use the submission form on our website at poly family podcast dot com. On that site, you can find out more information about each of us, as well as how to get in touch with us or even come visit us. If you find yourself in the Netherlands, I hope to see you next time. Yeah.