Mount Royal University creative writing instructor Natalie Meisner is an award-winning playwright, poet and non-fiction writer. But she is also a mother to two young boys, and wife to her partner, Viviën. Meisner’s upcoming autobiography, Double Pregnant: Two Lesbians Make a Family, tells the story of Meisner and her wife during their journey to start a family.
“The book deals with issues that I feel are important to the campus community: the changing faces of Motherhood in the 21st Century and important legal and cultural shifts for glbtiq people,” said Meisner in an email. “These are serious issues, but in the book I deal with them using comedy.
“I am a great believer in the ability of comedy to cross divides and create moments of social understanding. Also, I feel that when we are being entertained; being told a great story… this is the moment we are most capable of learning and understanding.”
Double Pregnant describes the unique process that Meisner and her wife took. Because her wife is a woman of colour that was adopted into a white family, it was important to the couple to have more than just a sperm-donor.
“[My wife] had a happy childhood yet always carried the [weight] of her biological question with her… and felt strongly that she wanted our children to know their bio-dad. The more we thought about it, the more it seemed a good idea to try and find a sperm donor who wouldn’t mind being known to the children,” said Meisner. “It seemed that there were a lot of men out there who, while they didn’t want the full role of a parent, would still benefit from having children in their lives.”
In order to do so, the couple set up “a series of ‘speed-dates’ in order to find Mr. Right.” After finding the right man, both Meisner and her wife were able to become pregnant within two months of each other.
Now, with her boys two years old, Meisner hopes to share her story with other young families facing similar issues.
“[Writing Double Pregnant] has scared the pants off me,” said Meisner. “But as a writer and artist, I have learned that inside that fear there is usually something really worthwhile. You need a bit of it, to make the work of art alive and vital.”
But for Meisner, being out and visible as an instructor in the campus setting is important.
“The laws in our country have changed so much since I was a student. In the book, I write about [how I] never dreamed I could get married, for example. We can’t take these rights for granted and we have to still keep fighting for individuals worldwide who are being persecuted and worse for who they love,” wrote Meisner.
For Meisner, it is also importtant to allow for open communication, so that her students are able to explore themselves and their own differences.
“I try every day to make my classroom a safe zone and open learning for students of all ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, belief systems, genders, sexual identities, etc… And it isn’t always easy to put yourself on the line in this way but I have found it is worth it to my students and so I strive for it every time I teach. Having experienced [discrimination] as a lesbian and also as a member of an inter-racial family, I am willing to do anything I can to prevent this from happening in my class.”
Double Pregnant: Two Lesbians Make a Family will be released in time for Mother’s Day, however there will be a pre-release party on campus on April 9 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. hosted by the Mount Royal Positive Space and the Office of Diversity and Human Rights.