The Tale of Two Dads

Louisa Leontiades Open Relationships

They can call me Papi,” Janus said. Papi means Dad in Icelandic.

“I’ll be Pappa,” Morten said. Pappa means Dad in Swedish.

The two men in front of me were doing some very cute Dad bonding shit but it was all about to take a darker turn.

“And if you die,” Morten said to me before turning back to Janus, “it would be you and me and our three kids together. Family.”

They meant my three kids. Our three kids. They looked at each other meaningfully before Janus looked dreamily into the distance and said,

“Man, we would be babe magnets.”

“Yeah,” said Morten “Just us and our kids mourning the loss of the mother…”

I could see him imagining sympathetic women flocking around them. No, I thought, they wouldn’t be short of attention. But I wasn’t dead, nor did I have any intention of dying and I said as much.

“Well” said Janus thinking aloud, “she doesn’t have to die for us to use that story.”

“No,” said Morten giggling, “But we’d have to tell the kids to lie.”

These. These are the men I live with. I love them.

This week has brought many surprises. Not least the fact that I’m unexpectedly pregnant for the third time at forty two. One of these two men, Morten, is the father of my two elder children and partner for nearly ten years. The other, Janus, is my boyfriend and partner for four years. In Sweden they call us a rainbow family, although I like patchwork family–stitched as we are together with the thread of love, trust, communication and commitment… and maybe some things I don’t care to mention. We are the core patches. There are six of us including Sophia, my superb and unconventional metamour–Morten’s girlfriend–and the two kids. In about eight months time, if all goes well, the core patches will become seven. Figuring our names for our family members is the least of our concerns, but smaller decisions are easier to take. This will be Janus and I’s first child. At my age, with his history of chronic illness and a liver transplant, it is a miracle child.

“I never thought it would happen,” I’d said. “Not with my old eggs and your chronically ill sperm.”

“I assumed it would,” he’d replied nonchalantly. But he hasn’t been the focus of media who relentlessly tell you that after 35 your fertility plummets off a cliff into the murky waters of peri-menopause. After three years of severe anaemia brought on by almost constant menstruation from a variety of birth control methods, I gave up on contraception and left it to fate. We didn’t try. We just didn’t not try and according to my calculations, we never had sex at the right time. So I thought that given the minuscule probability if it happened it would be a miracle.

God is a bit of a shit stirrer though. A third child, with a different father.

In less than a week we are to move to Berlin, where I was due–after two children–to restart my career by doing a masters in journalism. Moving your family to another country, with another language is logistically and psychologically complex.  It involves putting two kids in new schools, researching healthcare, housing… well you get the idea. But the universe laughed at my year of careful planning, threw a curveball and said ‘try this on for size’.

As a practitioner of radical honesty, lying is horribly difficult for me and it’s been nigh on impossible to disguise this news from my family and friends because it has been all I wanted to think about, talk about. It is, as you might imagine, overwhelming. So despite the risk of miscarriage that any early pregnancy holds, I’ve needed to talk about it. And since we’re leaving the country, I’ve seen more people than usual. I’ve told more people than I ‘should’.

But there is a narrative around pregnancy to remember and that is that 42, although touted as the new thirty by the greetings card, is old. The risks are high. I have to worry about this pregnancy. Not only is it happening at the same time as everything else, but my body simply might fail me. Which is a terrible pressure to put on it what with everything else going on. Pressure that I feel in my bones, in my silently screaming mind which says ‘the more you worry the more likely you are to have a miscarriage.’

Great. That makes me so much less likely to worry…

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