The First Pink Sweater

Little did I know how close-knit our wonderful family would become

Pretty in pink

In 1979, my partner Maryann and I decided to visit her family in Chicago. Two months, earlier, Maryann's brother Joe and his wife had a baby girl they named Maureen. I went to my local knitting store and bought a sweet pattern for a baby sweater and bought three skeins of pink wool.

I had made the bold move of coming out of the closet the previous year, but it occurred to me that I was still so traditional that, had the baby had been a boy, I would have gotten sky blue yarn. I was never too good at creating the correct gauge, so I wondered if the sweater would fit a newborn. Over the next few weeks, I followed the directions and carefully created the sweater's cable stitches. As we drove to Chicago, I meticulously sewed the sleeves to the body of the sweater and then added snaps in the front.

Maureen grew rapidly as most babies do. I hadn't thought about that and when I first held her, I could see the sweater was already too small. I took it back and, a few months later, finished knitting a larger sweater for her and put it in the mail. It fit perfectly.

I then placed the first pink sweater in my socks drawer. I always wanted to be a mother but didn't imagine that would ever be an option. A few years after that trip to Chicago, John, Maryann's other brother, asked us if we wanted to be parents. He and his partner Richard had discussed it first and then made us an unusual offer.

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"Would either of you like to be a mother?"

I jumped at the chance. We spent the next few years discussing what our becoming parents would look like, as they lived in Chicago and we lived in New York. Maryann and I would be the parents and they would be more like uncles, with our child knowing John was also the biological father. It was not very common for two women to become mothers back in 1985, so we had trouble believing a child could have two moms. Maryann and I decided I would be called "Mom" and she would be called Maryann.

I then went for a check up at my gynecologist. My doctor was away on vacation, so I saw someone who was taking her place. She was horrified when I explained we were going to artificially inseminate in our own home. I reassured her it would be all right.

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"But it has to be perfectly sanitized conditions," she said.

"Are you sure everyone does it under perfectly sanitized conditions?" I asked. She stared at me.

"OK," she said. "Good luck."

After two tries, I became pregnant on July 4, 1985. Right before I went into labor, I pulled out the pink sweater. Will I get to use this? I wondered. April 4, our daughter, Emily, was born and the sweater fit perfectly—for about two weeks.

By the time Emily started daycare when she was two and a half, she was well-versed at explaining who Maryann and I were. Soon after she started kindergarten, we read her class a book about a girl who had two mothers. That night, she stopped calling Maryann by her first name and switched to Mom. As she grew up, she took great pride in having two mothers.

Now, almost 31 years later, our married daughter has just told us she is pregnant. Her due date is July 4th. I just took out the pink sweater from my socks drawer and texted a photo of it to Emily and Jared, her husband.

"Awww! It's so cute!" she wrote back.

"Do you want to use it whether it's a girl or a boy?"

"Yes! Of course, we do," Emily wrote.

Lily was born on July 9th and if the weather is cool enough, she will be just the right size to wear the pink sweater.

Tags: family

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