When Jamilla started work at a bank in Atlanta, Georgia in 2011, she was told to shadow Que, one of the other employees.
“From the moment I met her, the first thing she said to me was ‘What do you think about lesbians having babies?’” Jamilla smiled. “Most people start with ‘What’s your name, what’s your sign?’ She wanted to see a future.”
After a few relationships with women who weren’t serious about starting a family, Que wanted to be sure the next person she got involved with would be on the same page as her when it came to having kids.
As for Jamilla, she said she had considered motherhood, but creating a family was not really on her mind at that time.
“I’m about five years younger than her, so I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but family planning was not top of my list,” Jamilla said. “She got me.”
Que and Jamilla were married in 2016, and Que gave birth to their first daughter Harper in 2018. Then, Jamilla became pregnant with their second daughter Holland, who came into the world in late 2020.
“She was very serious about that family planning,” Jamilla laughed.
While each mom’s experience of pregnancy was different, both babies were born premature, and during their pregnancies both moms said they faced struggles specific to race and sexual orientation.
When Que was pregnant with Harper, she was put on bed rest, which Jamilla said was very worrying to watch.
“There’s a Black maternal crisis going on in healthcare, where these high profile women are pregnant, and no matter their socioeconomic status, they are dying during labor,” she said. “So it was a very scary time.”
During labor, as Que was being given an epidural injection into her spine, the doctor asked the couple the last thing they wanted to hear. He asked, "Can you explain your relationship?"
“She’s having an emergency C-section,” Jamilla said of Que. “As the doctor is about to give her the anesthesia, he looks at her, and he looks at me, and he says, ‘What are y’all, sisters?’ I’m thinking, ‘This baby has to be delivered in an emergency, and that’s your concern?!’”
After Harper was born at 35 weeks, she was kept in the NICU for 12 days before the couple could go home and start their sleepless but joyful life together as moms.
With Holland, the pregnancy was difficult for a very different reason; Jamilla went through her entire pregnancy amid COVID-19, which she said felt very isolating.
“It was mental and emotional. You want to celebrate this beautiful life you’re creating, but you’re in the middle of a pandemic and a lot of people are losing their lives,” she said. “So for me, I went through a lot emotionally with that.”
Jamilla said the issue of Black maternal mortality rates also played on her mind during her own pregnancy.
“I was making sure I was researching, and really paying attention to my body,” she said. “Because as a Black woman, I wanted to make it home to my children.”
The couple formed their family through artificial insemination with a known father, who is still an active part of their daughters’ lives, and is affectionately known to them as “Papi.”
“That was very personal for us,” Que said. “Of course, we think everyone should research and make their own decisions about what they want to do.”
Que and Jamilla have been telling stories of their life experience in “two-mom motherhood” on YouTube and Instagram, with the occasional cameo appearance from their “known donor,” to answer questions about their family dynamic as “two moms and a Papi.”
“I’m Mama, and Que is Mommy,” Jamilla said. “Harper, who is now four years old, knows that she was in Mommy’s tummy, and her baby sister Holland was in Mama’s tummy. We have a lot of books around family planning, but we just tell her we needed a little extra magic to create our babies and a little extra love, so you have two mommies and one papi, and we all came together and created our babies.”
And of course, with three sets of parents comes three sets of grandparents. The entire family holds blended holidays and birthdays for the girls, and both moms said their extended families have been incredibly easy-going and supportive of their relationship and their kids.
For other Black women who are considering becoming a mom, Jamilla said her advice is to do your research and make sure you’re getting the best care you can. To lesbian couples who want to start a family, Que said it’s important to keep conversations honest and open with each other and the kids.
“To children, their family is normal, and it’s all they know. But they often need the words and language to use when they are confronted with others who have questions about their family,” Que said. “Unfortunately it’s going to happen, we were all bullied in school, but as parents, it’s up to us to do our due diligence.”