Jaimie Kelton and Robin Hopkins launched a podcast earlier this year as two lesbians taking deep dives every week with guests who talk about creating babies the nontraditional way in a world full of straight families. If you’re unfamiliar with them, check out our review of the podcast first! Beth McDonough recently sat down on behalf of AfterEllen to chat about everything from comedy to fertility and learning as you go.
AfterEllen.com: In case we have readers who haven’t been listening from the very beginning, can you guys just give them a brief introduction on who you are and why you decided to start this podcast?
Jaimie: We knew each other before through like, mutual friends really. We really only saw each other once a year at this gay pride family picnic. A big group of our friends would all meet and then we’d all go to this bar with the kids after and take over the back room, so that’s always where I would see Robin (…). So this last family picnic last June, I was pregnant and I was talking to Robin, and I said Robin you know what? I have this idea for this podcast. Because, I had gone through 2 1/2 years of infertility, and I was looking to hear my story in a podcast. I was looking to hear of other people who were going through the same thing, and hear comfort from people like me who were going through infertility. And everything I found was straight. I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a lesbian podcast about making babies. I was like in shock over that.
Robin: Because there’s everything on the internet
AE: Right, and the narrative is just so completely different.
Jaimie: Right, yeah, and so I was frustrated because I couldn’t find anything and I had the thought that this podcast needs to be made. I need to make this podcast. Then I was like well who do I know who could really actually probably made a podcast, because I don’t know how to do anything. And Robin popped into my head, which is random because I didn’t really know her. But you popped into my head about a month before the picnic. I said to my wife Ann, I was like, I’m gonna tell Robin about that and see what she says. And then I did, and I didn’t think it was really going to happen, and little did I know that Robin hits the ground running.
Robin: I’m like an insane person.
Jaimie: (laughs) And I didn’t know that from hanging at the bar with you at all.
Robin: So I’m also an actor and a writer, and I had just finished this digital short series that I acted in called “Stupid Michelle, Dumb Robin” and I was writing producing, whatever, and we ran out of money. And I was looking for something I could do on my own without being beholden to everybody else. I’m a producer in my day job, so I was like alright, let’s meet! And then I started about 47 Google docs.
Jaimie: The funny thing was, at the bar, all of our friends were there and our wives too, and I mentioned this. Usually I mention things and people like, don’t even listen to me, that happens a lot, but everybody at the bar said that’s pretty good! It was just really interesting, and from that moment it was like that awkward spiraling thing that just kept going and going, and Robin made the Google docs and there we were.
AE: That’s a really interesting story. I spitball ideas out all the time because I always think, if you can’t find something then you have to do it yourself, right?
Robin: That’s true! That’s always been my thing, like I produce my own work, so I was just kind of like well let’s do it. When we started, we started really with the intention of being fertility-based, but we got the first few episodes in. And after we got like two of them, we were like, well this isn’t going to have legs because it’s just going to be “I’ve heard this story” if you’re coming at it from an educational point of view. I think really quickly, we did the Sarah and Hillary episode, which is where their child died stillborn. It was this horrible, horrible story, but in that moment we knew what we reacted to was not the IVF story, it was their resiliency. How they coped with the death of a child. I saw amazing things, like the fact that they called the sperm bank, or the fertility clinic, right from the hospital to keep going. I mean I’m getting goosebumps, and as soon as we walked out we were like, this is where the show is. The people. And we just made a quick transition in the production and just moved it there.
Jaimie: But what’s still really important is that it’s all nontraditional.
Robin: Yeah and that became our focus, highlighting nontraditional families, not just the fertility process. We still are in there because that’s part of how we make our families, but it became really clear that these are stories about people that people wanna hear.
AE: Yeah, it’s been fascinating to me to listen to you guys, because I live in a very small town. So, my family is pretty much the only same-sex family I even know of here, and the lesbian community is so tiny. (…) I’m a transplant here because my stepdaughter’s other parent, my wife’s ex, is from this town. So I moved here and everybody is connected to her in some way (…). I work in this coworking space during the week and a friend of mine just bought a house. I asked where her house was and it turns out it belonged to my wife’s ex’s ex, so it’s just one big web! It’s really comforting to me to hear all of these stories on your podcast because it makes me feel like this sense of all of these other people who have families like mine that I don’t see anywhere else.
AE: So what’s your favorite episode that you guys have done so far that you’ve been making these for a while and have kind of pinpointed your direction. Do you have a favorite story?
Robin: I feel like they’re all our kids to us.
Jaimie: I mean I love them all. I love everyone equally, but actually we’re going to do an episode where we look back on season on and doing a roundtable. So I’ve been re-listening to older episodes, and the first one I listened to was Jana and Linda, and I think that they’re amazing women. They’re two powerful, strong, hardworking women with important jobs and important things they do in the world. And then also they have this amazing dynamic, crazy family with the donor who’s involved but lives in another country and their exes, and they’ve met. And so there’s all these parents for all these children, and they sang a song at the end that I just love. I sing it to my wife all the time.
Robin: I love so many of them, like I loved Rae and Margie. I mean I didn’t saw much in that episode, which we all know is rare, because I was so fascinated by Rae. Because I thought she was just like the lesbians who paved the way. Like Emma’s moms. I just thought what an interesting story to have a child in the ’80s. And they have such an interesting dynamic, and hearing from Emma. But I also love Lisa and Jennifer, their cancer story, and they’re friends of mine. I was there in real time, but hearing what they went through in an order was just like, whoa, that’s a lot.
Jaimie: I don’t know, they’re all so special (…)
AE: So have you guys been seeing growth since you started?
Robin: Yeah it’s been building, and we’re just really started to get positive feedback from people. We’re starting to do like a listeners segment where people are sending us voice memos of things they love, so it’s really starting to get a good little fan base.
Jaimie: My neighbor told me, she stopped me in the hall the other day because she was telling a coworker about my podcast because her coworker is gay, so she has to know about it. And her coworker was like I already listen to that! Me and my friends all listen to that. So that was cool.
Robin: I think one of the tricks is because we’re doing a lot of social sharing within gay and lesbian groups, we’re trying to get a hold of the podcast community of regular podcast users who might not know we exist yet that we haven’t been able to reach with our grassroots social. We don’t have a lot of budget for advertising, so.
Jaimie: And we were in iTunes, Apple new and noteworthy. So we got in that!
Robin: We were featured in Stitcher. Spotify’s done some programming for us and has committed to program us again for gay Pride. We’re just doing a lot of grassroots outreach, like we’ll be at the Brooklyn Pride parade at a table, handing out stickers.
AE: Yeah, June could end up being a huge month for you guys.
Robin: Yeah, we hope so!
AE: So you mentioned earlier that after the first few episodes you shifted gears a little bit. What points of views or perspective of yours have changed or grown since you first started this podcast? Whether it’s perspective on families, fertility, something that you’ve gained or has maybe altered since the beginning.
Robin: That’s a really good question. I would say, I think for me, I had my story of how I made my family, and then a few other friends. But hearing the repetition of how hard we’ve had to work to create a family. And just seeing how dedicated everyone in our community is to creating and families and to leading with love and the openness. So to me it’s just, my field of vision has really just grown. I’m seeing what a community we are, and how resilient we are, and how, we wanna have families and it’s not gonna stop us that it’s difficult. That’s been my main takeaway.
Jaimie: Yeah, I agree with you there.
Robin: I mean you couldn’t not, that would be rude.
Jaimie: I’m there too, but also, I love that we all have intentional families. We never have families on accident. And that’s become more and more clear to me as we’ve had these conversations. And also the different ways that we all have done this. Everybody is slightly different. Everybody I knew used an unknown donor before this podcast. And now we’ve had all these conversations with all of these families who’ve had known donors who are still in their lives, and I didn’t really think that could work. And it works with every single person we’ve talked to, which has been eye opening and heartwarming. Um, and I will say it, beautiful.
So that’s been interesting to me. And also that so many people want to tell their story. Because when I first started it was in the back of my head that people might not wanna put this out there. People might not want to tell their story on a podcast. It’s private, or it used to be. There’s like this stigma or perceived stigma maybe. And I’m finding it shocking that so many people wanna tell their story, And we’re hearing from people who listen who are like I would love to tell my story to you guys. There is something, like you said, in the comfort you feel from hearing all of us doing our thing, making our intentional families. You’re not alone. We’re not alone. We all do it differently, but we’re not alone. And that’s been really nice.
AE: I agree with you, especially with the known donor perspective. My wife got her daughter through adoption. We’ve been starting to talk about having a baby and starting fertility, and we had always assumed we’d do an anonymous sperm donor. As we’ve been talking about this and listening to the podcast and now we’re make joke when we see someone we’ll be like “what about him?” Because it works for some people! I just always figured it would be so complicated.
Jaimie: I know! It’s interesting that you say that because I wish this podcast was out before I tried. I think I might have been swayed more to really look at a known donor. I’m happy with all it turned out but…
Robin: I don’t think I would have changed my mind, but I get it.
Jaimie: Yeah, it seemed to scary before, but not it doesn’t seem so scary it’s like, whatever works for you. It’s great. I was gonna say beautiful but I stopped myself.
Robin: I’m the beautiful police.
AE: Well beautiful is a beautiful word!
Robin: I think our first product should be a drinking game for the word beautiful.
AE: If it were shots I don’t think we’d last very long. (…)
AE: So, you guys both have a really refreshing sense of humor. And I find that really important, especially when it comes to the heavy topics that you can get into sometimes. How do you approach injecting the comedy aspect into some of these stories that are really intense and sometimes might not always have the happiest endings?
Jaimie: I personally diffuse uncomfortable topics and situations with humor a lot in in my life. Don’t you? I think you do.
Robin: Yeah for sure.
Jaimie: So I think that’s just a natural thing for us to do. But we have had to have conversations, like before Sara Hilary’s episode where we say, you know, we gotta cool it a little bit on the humor when they’re telling their story if they’re having a hard time.
Robin: Yeah I mean, we’re human beings, so it’s like we’re sensitive ladies. So I think a lot of the personal essays and stuff I write, I like to talk about hard things in a funny way. It makes something that’s difficult for people accessible. And I love a Jeanette Winterson book, but that’s not really how I am. Like, it’s so poetic and it’s beautiful, and moving, and smart, but it’s just, it’s not my lens of the world. So I like to take a tragedy and find something funny in it, and then the next minute have something be real. I think realness is what we’re always going for. Because I think we’re really with those people, and you can make a joke if they know you’re with them. So I think if we use our sensitivity to be like, this is the moment or this is not the moment. And you know, there’s always editing when it’s not the right moment.
Jaimie: It’s funny, we are so similar in that way, I remember, I was going through something, and I told you this Robin, and we had these other close friends who were asking how we were feeling and what’s going on. Oh yeah! Orion was sick, and then Robin you just texted me. I don’t know what you said but it was something funny and I was like that’s my person. Because I cannot handle these sappy text about it. (…) We feel each other on that.
Robin: I truly believe that we can say anything because we’re coming from a good place. Because intention matters, that’s one of our mottos. Especially in this area because there are a lot of different groups of people and a lotta ways people say things. We’re constantly just like hey, if we say something wrong, talk to us. Let’s talk about it. That’s the whole point of this in my opinion. To have conversations and to bring people in, and to understand families, How do we expect people to understand our families, I grew up in a small farming town. I didn’t even know that rice and beans was a thing that went together. There’s just like, hick white people in upstate New York. I’m not even making that up. So you have to be able to talk about these things. You’re not going to get it online. Humor has to go with that, it just does. We just do not take ourselves that seriously.
AE: I can totally relate. When I talk to family and friends, you know, I have not only a same sex family, but also a blended family, so there are SO many moms in this situation. And people don’t always now how to ask how we do things, and I’m always like well, we’re really busy on Mother’s Day! I just, I don’t ever want anyone to feel like there’s a question they can’t ask, because how else are you gonna figure it out? Because I’m figuring it out as I go, too.
Jaimie: Yeah, and then it takes away the weirdness in the room, because you know they’re thinking it. You know they’re looking at you, and then they go home and they’re like who’s the real mom?
Robin: It takes some moms a couple of drinks and they’re like I didn’t wanna ask, but who had your babies? But it’s like, you shouldn’t feel bad, just ask.
Jaimie: That’s us though, and some people don’t feel that way.
Robin: Then don’t come on our podcast! (laughs) Because I’m gonna ask. And then Jaimie’s gonna apologize for what I said. (laughs) (…) We’re lovable idiots, that’s our new tagline.
Jaimie: We don’t know what’s going to happen in these conversations, we really don’t.
AE: That’s one of my favorite things about it. It’s not predictable, and if it was, people wouldn’t keep coming back every week.
AE: So, with the fertility aspect of things. You’ve had, as far as experiences yourself and the guests you’ve had on, what’s the difference in advice you’d give someone who is just getting ready to start growing their family and someone who’s maybe pretty far along and not having success?
Jaimie: I mean I can speak to the second on there. The latter. (…) as someone who’s been trying on their journey. I think that the biggest takeaway from me, from listening to all these stories and having gone through a hard time getting pregnant myself, is to educate yourself. Do what feels right for you. Don’t listen to what the “experts” say. If you don’t agree with one expert then go to a different one. Find what works best for you. For me, I spent way too much time at a doctor that I probably shouldn’t have. Once I changed that up, everything, my whole mental state changed, which probably affected the outcome, among many other things. Just basically, do your own research and figure out what’s going to be the right thing for you personally. It’s your personal journey (…) listen to what the expert is telling you but weigh it.
Robin: I think what you’re saying is what I would say too, but I’ll just take it out even more for like a 30,000 foot view and say that this is all parenting. Listening to your gut, figuring out what you want, and then do the best you can. And if you make a mess, clean it up. And leave the glove. That’s all you can do. Before you get on the rollercoaster, really figure out what it is you want, because once you get on the rollercoaster it’s going to be mayhem. But I could take that same exact thought and move it to parenting and talk about what kind of parent you wanna be, because that’s a rollercoaster. So just being patient, checking with your gut, take advice. Take the best and leave the rest. You have to go with your gut, because nobody knows what they’re doing. There’s just a lot of people out there who think they know what they’re doing and they’re liars. None of us know. We’re just trying to hold on.
Jaimie: And you know what, if you’re just starting out, listen to our podcast. Because you’re going to learn a lot from just that. That’s the whole reason this is out there.
Robin: All of the information is out there. That’s why I think the key thing is about knowing what you want and being true to yourself. Because we live in a time when all I have to do is just lean over to my computer and all of the information is there.
AE: And there’s not a one size fits all.
Jaimie: There really isn’t.
Robin: And if our show doesn’t show that, I don’t know what it does.
Jaimie: All of these families got their families in very circuitous ways. I mean some of it was straightforward, but for the most part things changed along the way. Like, okay maybe it doesn’t matter to me if it’s my egg, right? (…)
Robin: Which is again is everything right? Even in parenting what I thought it would be and then what it really is. I mean you have to know that too, you just became an insta-parent, right?
AE: Yeah and we split custody right in half, and even just the adjustment. Like the time we spend with just the two of us with no child in the home, and then it’s right into five days in of being a mom. You learn on the fly.
Robin: You are going to be on the podcast. I’d love to hear that story.
AE: I could probably talk my wife into it!
Jaimie: Take a road trip! (…) We don’t have any adoptions yet.
Robin: Or blended family and split time, that’s a great story (…)
AE: Yeah and you know, it never starts out perfectly, but we have a really great dynamic with the three of us as parents, so it’s worked out really well. Especially because it’s such a small town that we live in and being a minority. We basically come into this as it’s the three of us. We have to be a unit together.
Jaime: Right, and once again, it’s an intentionally made family. So everyone is having this child’s best interest in mind because you thought this whole thing out so well (…) These are intentional families and I think that’s why these blended families and crazy families just seem to work out for everyone we talk to. Everyone is happy and it’s so interesting. Because you talk to other people who have been divorced and they’re not so happy always with the situation or the custody. I don’t know maybe we need to find a nontraditional family that’s not working so well.
Robin: I mean I’m sure that exists too. We’re just starting so we continue to reach out.
AE: Well especially in the family I’m in. I mean they didn’t have a child accidentally so they knew they wanted to be parents together. And so you start with that foundation where you respect the other person as a mom no matter what.
To hear some of these incredible stories about nontraditional, intentional, lesbian families, be sure to listen to If These Ovaries Could Talk. They’re wrapping up season one and planning guests for season two as we speak. Reach out to them if you have a story you’d love to share, and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify now!