Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son


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Items, Glorious Items

Were you in Oliver! ever? I was. Eight grade. I do not love that show. Sorry if this song is now in your head for the rest of the day, too. I don’t know what gets into me. We were instructed to wear our fathers’ old shirts for that scene, so while the rest of the orphans (whose fathers were bigger than mine, I gather) looked waif-ish, I looked like a blue, permanent-press sausage. At least I got to sing the pretty rose seller bit later, in a peasant blouse.

Sorry, as ever, for the silence. I’d say it has been difficult to find time, but the real issue is energy. I am just so beat these days. I feel fine in the morning, but by evening, forget it. Makes me rather nervous about what’s coming next.

Meanwhile! Pease porridge and items:

  • Thank you for your many thoughtful, um, thoughts, about the doula situation. I/we have not decided what to do, but your comments have been very helpful. After meeting with friend-doula, I feel about the same as I did before: I think she is a good personality match for me, but I am worried about the experience issue. On the other hand, it is very, very valuable to me to know her personality well enough to trust that she won’t be crazy at me during labor. The doctors I have met at my new OB place all seem very nice and swear they aren’t insane, yet I find I am having enormous difficulty believing that. Just having that concern out of the way about a doula might be valuable enough to make up for a lot. As for the “morning-after” problem, I never saw my last doula after delivery, and I think that on balance that hasn’t been so great for my mental health. I do plan to have some pretty clear guidelines for anyone in this role, namely: pay more attention to me than the baby; tell me what a great job I did more times than anyone could possibly need to hear. Especially if this isn’t the kind of birth people carry on about the beauty of.
  • Speaking of mental health, I did go see that therapist last week, and I have an appointment for next week. She seems good, I think. She said several good things, things many of you have said, but it is different to hear them from someone who doesn’t like me, you know? (Wait, maybe you don’t like me, either? Someone who I’m not trying to have a friend-style relationship with, anyway.) I chose her because she has training in CBT and EMDR; a cognitive approach to this situation feels much more to the point than still more mucking about in my feeeeelings. Of course, what did I do? I talked about my feelings for a fifty-minute hour, that’s what. But I am a narrative gal, and I did need to tell her the story.
  • I only cried once! Rather suddenly, at the point where I said the thing about how, when I imagine things going well this time, I imagine myself surrounded by warriors. That was surprising timing, to me. The therapist — she might need a bovine name, not because she herself seems at all cow-like, but because the waiting room of her otherwise very midtown office (converted apartment, doorman, and so on) is entirely decorated in strangely urbane cow art. Let’s call her Caroline, as long as we’re on a musical kick, for the new, blue, true, moo cow in Gypsy, the one who is willing to moooove to the city with Baby June. Anyway, Caroline stopped me and asked me to dwell on the feeling that brought up, and woman, I wanted to shout, all I DO is dwell! But anyway, I think that went about as well as expected.

how bovine is thy dwelling place
How…bovine is thy dwelling place

  • I paid another visit to the high-risk place with the fancy u/s machines, for part two of the anatomy scan. It was…a bit of an ordeal, frankly. (With the obvious caveat that I mean “ordeal” in the limited way the word can apply to a situation with a good outcome.) Sugar had an important work meeting, so it was just me; God bless my friend the Dane for taking the Bean in addition to her own kids for the afternoon.
  • First, there was the Great Cervix Search, the longest stretch (as it were) of dildo-camming I have as yet experienced. My cervices, you may recall, are of particular interest because having the two of ’em means I am at increased risk of cervical incompetence, number two on my list of most-despised obstetric terms. (Number one is “habitual aborter.”) On the MRI I had prior to ever being pregnant, the two of them are smack next to each other; before the Bean removed my septum with his head, they were fairly easy to find on physical exam, since each had its own little vagina. How cute. Post-Bean, one — the one he used — has been easy to find by hand, as it were, one much more difficult. When I was in labor, they only found one, so my hunch is that the other made itself scarce in late pregnancy, and many thanks I send it.
  • So, back in the stirrups: the tech spent a while poking around with the ultrasound wand, pursing her lips and printing pictures and, as they all do in these moments, interrogating me about how I knew there were two, anyway. (MRI, plus I used to bleed out of the un-tamponned side, plus the other tech found it a month ago.) This is a slightly annoying conversation to have while being dildo-graphed. After a while, she stopped but told me to stay put while she found a doctor to decide if her pictures were satisfactory. Enter doctor. “I’ve never done this before,” she says, and off to the races we go, complete with the same interrogation. Eventually, she gives up, too, and in comes the senior doc on duty, who is very luckily the southern one I like so much. “How does it feel to be a medical marvel?” He has a firmer hand with the whole business (GOD, I do not like being able to compare technique in this way, but there’s only so long I can stare at the ceiling and think of England.) After quite a hunt, at least punctuated with jovial asides and no dubious eyebrow twitches, he declares himself defeated by my marvelous anatomy, too, but willing to assume things are okay in the absence of symptoms, given the fine state of the less shy cervix and the full-term status of the Bean.
  • Now is the part where I insert a little prayer that Jackalope doesn’t get any funny ideas about using the untested one. Do you hear me, young…person?
  • Jackalope, who has been kicking up a storm through all this, has fallen asleep, and in a position not conducive to measuring anything relevant. Now we see what fun toys the fancy place has at its disposal, like the tilt-a-whirl electric bed I am soon sliding off of, head first. (Seriously, I braced myself only by putting a hand on the wall behind me.) I am basted with more and more gel and rotated like a rotisserie chicken. The paper under me tears into little, goopy pieces. Just…yuck. Eventually the creature shifts enough to show off everything except what the tech keeps calling “the gender.” I resist the urge to parrot a women’s studies lecture at her. Jackalope has her feet between his legs, or the other way around. As I am instructed to roll over again, I mention that they did, after all, get a look last time, but apparently they have to look again. Lord knows why — is it all that likely to have changed? I guess that would be noteworthy.
  • Eventually, the tech’s rolling and prodding and jiggling pay off. She releases me to attempt to squeegie some gel off of myself, though it is clear this is more a job for a pressure washer than a paper towel. Dr. Southern returns to say everything is fine, Jackalope is a good size, the cord, which they couldn’t see well last time, is inserted in the expected manner, and while the placenta is still marginally previa, it’s only by 2 mm, which even I can’t manage to fret over. And no cervix searches again until the third trimester, though I’m back for another growth scan in a month. Phew.
  • Because she is an angel, the Dane has not only kept the Bean all this time but has also made enough quiche that I can inhale half a pie-plate’s worth upon my return to Brooklyn.
  • I did at least get lots of pictures to show to Sugar and the Bean, who respectively described the Jackalope as “a barracuda” and “scawy.” So now you have to look at them.

USWeek20001

I think all that dust is on the scanner and not in my uterus, but who knows?

USWeek20003

USWeek20004

Clearly, my mind is going, because I even thought the creepy 3-D ones were cute.
USWeek20005

…But maybe I also see where the “barracuda” idea comes from. Still not half as scary as the dragon-lizard the Bean appeared to be at a similar age.

 

  • Speaking of the Bean, he is charming, obsessed with street sweepers and the alphabet, awfully tall all of a sudden (36″), and still not much of a sleeper, very much to my consternation, though it is Sugar who gets the brunt of the night work, since he refuses to let me be the one to come in when he wakes. He mostly still naps (and is a holy terror if he doesn’t), but he rarely falls asleep before 10 pm. This would be annoying enough if he could be allowed to just stay up, but he really cannot function that way. So we start bedtime at 8 or 8:30, read books, brush teeth, all that, and then one of us sits in the dark for an hour or so. Every night. Thank God for iPads. (If he does not nap, he falls asleep much more quickly, but you will have to take my word for it that his mood and behavior for the last several hours of the day in that case are such that, NO. Artificially shortening his nap does not speed up bedtime.)
  • I did not answer the cat-torture question because I kept hoping I would find an answer or at least discover that his current delight in pestering the household felines was a short-lived phase. Ha. I don’t know what brought this on, but I know I want it to stop, pronto. Also a thing that could stop any time: “knocking” (read: hitting) his mothers.
  • He’s down to refusing all food except smoothies for dinner. (At lunch he will usually eat a peanut butter sandwich.) I don’t know anymore. He loves to cook and talk about food, just not so much to eat it.
  • He is very sweet about the baby, though, hugging and kissing my stomach and whispering, I love you, baby, in that not-very-whispery two-year-old way. This is very clever, as it is impossible to remain annoyed with whatever shenanigans he has been pulling when he does that.
  • Potty training is under way, in the most lazy way possible. His little butt is extremely cute in underpants. It is extremely hilarious when nude, as it often is, especially when he starts practicing being an acrobat.
  • This post is even more scattered than usual. Winning!
  • Sugar did come with me to today’s OB appointment, with the original doctor I know in the practice, the one who dealt with my Return To Stirrups last summer and also with Sugar’s menacing ovarian cysts, back in the day. She is very nice. She says no one at that practice is going to yell at me in labor. I have some trouble believing she can really know that about her colleagues, but I at least think she would not, so that’s a start. She did say, however, that she favors having women hold their breath while pushing, which I found ridiculous and panic-inducing. But we will work on that next visit, I guess. Time for another lit-review….
  • In the meantime, I am to acquire a blood sugar monitor in preparation for testing four times a day for two weeks, starting around week 26. This strikes me as overkill, but still better than having my brains scrambled the way they were by the glucola last time.
  • I asked whether it was really okay to be taking unisom every night, because if I don’t the first time I get up to pee is the end of sleep for me. “It’s not a great idea to take anything every night,” she started, but when I asked what I should do instead about being up for the day at 2am, it turns out she didn’t think half a tab was such a big deal, after all.

THE END.

  • (Don’t you always stick around, just to see if something comes after the credits?)
  • I’m going to DC for the weekend, for a baby shower. This is emphatically not the kind of thing I usually travel for, but the gravid friend in question organized my shower from DC, so it seems the least I can do. I will be there Saturday and Sunday, basking in the glory of the closed museums and terminally borked transit system, and while this was supposed to be sort of a treat, it isn’t feeling like much of one. So let me know if you are around or have great ideas for something nice to do that doesn’t involve alcohol or the federal government.
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Post-Ovulatory Items

Sshhh, internets, the Bean is sleeping. Finally. I should be in the other room, using this time to finish my semester grading, but the Bean is also sick, and if I move, nap over. So how’s about some items, since I’m here for the foreseeable?

Item: for those following along at home, I was finally deemed worthy of triggering on Saturday. Transfer day is Friday. Cross your fingers, if you don’t mind, for an easy transfer and a conclusive beta to follow. Of course, I’d prefer a conclusively high beta, but what I’m most focused on at the moment is numbers that mean I get to go on our planned summer trip of friends and family and beautiful, quiet places in the north woods of Michigan. When I ran this idea past Dr. BF, he said it was all fine as long as they were satisfied nothing ectopic was happening. No one wants to risk a rupture that far from a hospital, not even me.

Item: There will be Valium at the transfer, and don’t think I haven’t made mention of that to every warm body I can find at the Baby Factory. (I know some clinics always use Valium — and I find their logic of reducing uterine contractions convincing — but mine doesn’t.) Look, I know things have changed in the down-there department, post-Bean, and it’s wholly reasonable to suspect at least one of those pesky cervices is a little easier to navigate now that six pounds of baby has gone through it, but I don’t care to test that theory for no good reason. A tiny part of me is holding out hope that Valium plus baby plus lack of septum (and therefore more space for the hand that rocks the speculum) might mean no tenaculum, even. A girl can dream.

Item: I mentioned this to the nurse who took my blood on Tuesday (progesterone check), and she asked if my inseminations had always been difficult. They were, I said, but less bad with the Valium. I think the first one, with no Valium, was traumatic for everyone, not just me, and for me it was downright ghastly. (To say nothing of the pressure I felt to think warm, welcoming thoughts for a baby, while I was getting stabbed and prodded to the point of tears.) Yes, she said, I think I was there.

And you know what, I feel downright comforted to know that she remembers. The Baby Factory is a big place, with a lot of patients, and this was some time ago. I just looked back at the post I wrote at the time, which in no way captures the horror — no doubt I was imagining some future baby reading about his beginnings and didn’t want to scare the mite (guess who hasn’t filled in the birth story page of her son’s baby book?). We don’t need to go back over such old wounds as that, but suffice it to say that directed coughing in no way distracts from the pain of having yet another cervix stabbed with pointed tongs yet another time, and that seeing the doctor break a sweat isn’t very calming. No one said anything much about it at the time — and what could they have said that would have done anything but worry me? — but I am relieved to know that my impression of the day wasn’t crazy.

Item: That the transfer is on Friday means a doctor I haven’t met before (I think. Unless she was at the aforementioned IUI of nightmares.) will be on duty. And thank heavens for that. Had it been Thursday, we could have had the same guy who did the Bean’s ET, which has a cute aspect to it and all, but also has the less winning quality of requiring me to spend more time pants-less with a paternalistic asshole.

Seriously, I don’t know what this guy’s deal is, but it certainly could use a slightly more robust idea of his patients’ bodily autonomy. I found myself in stirrups with him again last week. He looked at my chart and said, in a disbelieving tone, “natural FET cycle? Why would you do that?”

You know that thing when some guy asks you some supposedly neutral question, like what your name is or why you look a certain way (usually: not thrilled just to be near him), and you just know that no matter what you say, you’re about to get hit on/told you are misbehaving/both? (And okay, I’m sure there are instances of women doing this, but stick with me here.) And you seem, in that moment, to have a choice about how to respond — to take the question at face value or to address its obvious subtext by ignoring him/ rolling your eyes/ telling him off — but really, there is no choice, because either you are going to walk right into the condescension (by being nice), in which case you aren’t allowed to complain about it, or you are going to socially overreact, which means you get called a bitch? Anyway, Dr. Paternalistic (who shares a name with a city in California, if you are local and curious) is like that. There’s no right answer. Except instead of his being a stranger on the street, he is the only one in the room wearing pants, and he’s holding an ultrasonic baton.

Gamely, I said, “why not?” And really, why not? My actual doctor thinks my odds of success are the same this way as in a more medicated cycle. But he didn’t like that answer, because this kind of cycle means I have to come into the office a lot, which, by the way, I haven’t indicated any impatience with, because I don’t actually mind. So I said that I liked that this cycle meant I could avoid the progesterone shots (since my body will make its own, meaning the suppositories are sufficient insurance). This isn’t an insignificant reason, to my mind — a few extra office visits versus stabbing myself in the increasingly lumpy ass for three months? No contest — but he looked unconvinced. “Also,” I said, bracing myself, “I liked the idea of letting my body do its own thing, since there’s no indication of any problem with my hormones.”

“I GUESS,” he replied, with all the self-effacing deference I’d expect from a fourteen year old. And then he stuck a dildocam in my vagina. Because that’s how this game goes. At least there’s no septum for him to make me feel bad about anymore.

Item: I cried on the bus ride to school after that. I’m sure it’s frustrating, as a doctor, when patients don’t make the same decisions you would — hell, I’m frustrated by other people’s decisions all the time — but maybe make a distinction between decisions that actually have anything to do with health outcomes and those that don’t. And then maybe try not to be a jackass, also.

Item: On the other hand, the nurse who gave me my trigger shots (two, because they are subcutaneous now and therefore weaker) on Saturday is in my good books. She, too, noticed and commented on the NATURAL scrawled on my chart. They don’t do many cycles this way, and that note has a lot of highlighter on it. “Good for you! Making your own follicle!” And then she stabbed me in the stomach (because that’s how this game works) and we talked about people eating their placentas. Not our thing, we agreed, but no reason others can’t do it. Imagine that.

Item: For the medical record, the progesterone is different this time. Last time, it was little waxy bullets from a compounding pharmacy, but this time I was given a choice between Crinone twice a day or prometrium thrice. My decisions was entirely based on math: 2<3. So far, the crinone is fine, except for making me crampy and leaving an absolutely revolting substance behind for removal during shower-time spelunking. Still, I will take gross over painful any day of the week.

Item: For the further medical record, following an awful morning of intense nausea, I decided to be pushy and ask if I really needed the doxycycline I'm on, given that I've had no invasive egg retrieval this time, no one thought I needed prophylactic antibiotics for an IUI (which is not essentially different from an embryo transfer), and my stomach is still all ducks and drakes from this sinus adventure. Message relayed via nurse is that I can indeed stop it, and I think I shall. I shall carry on with the methylprednisolone (how much extra do you think my insurance paid for the pre-metabolized version of a cheap, old drug?), as I can see the medical point of that one.

Message goes on to say that I must also stop taking Prilosec and Pepcid post-transfer, which is less good news. (Sinus doctor wants me to stay on both for another month while things heal; they a not presently back to normal.). I remember from last go-round that Dr. BF didn't even want me taking lysine for cold sores while under his wing, so this is hardly surprising. Lysine is an amino acid, for crying out loud; it's in FOOD. Similarly, I was directed to take both Pepcid and Prilosec while pregnant with the Bean, though admittedly later in the process. I guess every drug is suspect except the fertility drugs, which we all know wouldn't hurt a fly. I am at heart a Good Girl, though, so I will try for a bit and cry to my new OB if things get hairy.

Item: I can't believe the Bean is still asleep, but I woke him up prematurely yesterday (following his passing out on the floor in the late afternoon, following heroic meltdown, following utter refusal to nap earlier) and he still didn't go to sleep in a timely manner last night.

Item: Acid reflux and moral purity be damned, Sugar and I are going out for what I hope is a last-gasp cocktail tonight. Which means the Bean will have a babysitter, and sleep, well, that's her problem.


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In which I gaze thoughtfully into the depths of my psyche and discover that I am a murky pond full of duck-weed

Hi folks, Sugar here. In an attempt to relieve Bionic of the crazy posting frenzy that is November, here is a blog post about my weird brain!

A couple of weeks ago I friend asked me whether I was interested in giving birth to our second child. This was the first time I said out loud, “No, I’m not. I’ve really never wanted to be pregnant. It’s great that I happen to be in a relationship with someone who does.” I found that this was really difficult for me to say, and I did not feel good about it.

Uh oh. I am supposed to feel good about all decisions I’ve ever made, all the time, or I’VE FAILED. Or something.

I’m having a very hard time figuring myself out about this.

Here are some things that I know to be true:

  1. I do not, in fact, want to be pregnant. Rather the opposite. I used to have a nightmare in which I was supposed to get pregnant for a school project and nobody around me seemed to care about the rather major problems this assignment presented.
  2. I love the Bean. We are happy and satisfied with our relationship with each other.
  3. Bionic liked being pregnant. Baffling but true.

Here are some things I’m afraid of:

  1. Regretting this later. Will a bomb go off inside me when I’m 46 and I’ll be like NOOOOO WHYYYY DID I LISTEN TO MYSELF ABOUT THIS?
  2. Other people thinking I’m the lesser parent. I already have this problem (fearing that other people think this, not other people telling me this), so I guess I must have a fantasy that being the biological parent of one child would somehow justify my relationship to both.
  3. Feeling unwomanly. Again, I already have this problem. Apparently being gay is totally fine in my world view, but not wanting a baby bump is just over the top strange, abnormal behavior. I should get my head checked.
  4. Telling my mother. Just no. Maybe we can just wait until Bionic is 90 months pregnant and say to my mom, hey, what do you know, look at that?

On the whole, I’m not comfortable making a decision based on a bunch of fears. Hence our decision to have Bionic try to carry the next child. But I just keep worrying that I’ve missed something.


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Home Study Eve (Blogging for LGBT Families Day 2012)

Internets, I have heard your request for Bean photos, and I am helpless to resist them. I have such a 50-megaton photo-dump post in the works, your interblag tubes will be clogged for a week. (This is why I don’t do photo-dump posts: zero self-control.) It will be up this weekend, maybe even before our home study on Saturday, because the social worker said not to clean and hell, we are certainly paying her enough to ignore a few dust-bunnies. Plus, she doesn’t get paid until the adoption goes through, which isn’t a conflict of interest At All.

But today is, besides the Bean’s fifteen-month birthday, Mombian’s Blogging for LGBT Families Day. It’s a bit of a fluke that I remembered in time, but I did, so I thought I should scribble something out.

…okay, it’s been all day.  I meant to write about North Carolina — my home state and the most recent to pass an anti-marriage equality amendment to its constitution — but that hasn’t happened.  So…have this.  (Hope you like parenthetical comments.)

Tomorrow is our second-parent adoption home study, wherein a social worker to whom we will pay an enormous amount of money will come to our house and decide if we are fit to parent the child we have been parenting for the past 15 months.

On the bright side, she seems nice, but really.  What is the point of all this?  If the state decides Sugar is not fit to adopt, the Bean will still be my child and will continue to live with us.  That’s extremely unlikely to happen: not only is Sugar pretty obviously the superior parent in the relationship, but second-parent adoptions are all-but automatic in our area, the all-but referring to the huge chunk of change we will probably-but-no-promises get back from the IRS as an adoption tax credit.  (Nice of you fellow tax payers to kick in for these costs, but really, I think the lawyers will find a way to scrape by without the subsidy.  I tend to think the adoption agencies would, too, but that’s a soapbox for a different day.)   Since we all know this is essentially pro forma, it pretty much amounts to a tax on being gay.  Kind of like that $450 we had to pay to be offended by the psychologist at the Baby Factory, back in the day.

It’s important, I think, to note that this is not about genetics: if I had conceived using anonymous donor sperm but were married to a man, his legal parentage would be automatic in every state.  Husbands are presumed to be the fathers of their offspring, even if said offspring have the postman’s ears, because these laws are at their core about the inheritance of one trait only: property.

I know what I’m supposed to say right now is how grateful I am that we live in a state that not only allows second parent adoption by same-sex partners but one where they routinely go through without comment.  (Unlike in NC, where once again, some crazy divorcing lesbian ruined it for everyone.  People, can we all agree that once someone does something like this to our community, that person — even if hot — gets no sex again ever?  Call it Operation Lysistrata.)  In a limited way, I am grateful, or at least I am aware of how much worse things could be. I don’t mean to sound to those living in states with awful laws like a spoiled brat, but neither do I feel inclined to do a lot of sucking up to the powers that be just for being allowed the basic piece of human dignity that is having my child’s relationship with his parents recognized by the law.

Before I got involved in this TTC and parenting lark, I had some sympathy for the “people should be screened to be parents” kind of argument that springs up in conversation, usually about some abysmal behavior on the subway or, less forgiveably, in the context of parents in poverty.  I didn’t exactly agree, you understand, but there was something appealing about the idea of a test, because, I realize now, I was so blindly comfortable in my race and class privilege that I never dreamed such a test would be given to me.  Even if it were, it was obvious I would pass (see: race, class, education), and tests you know you’ll pass are kind of fun, amirite?

No, as it turns out, they aren’t fun.  They are enraging.  Moreover, sometimes the standards get changed even after you took the test (see: NC second-parent adoptions revoked in wake of nasty case mentioned above).  Being informed or reminded that an external authority has control of — or even and opinion about — your right to reproduce and/or parent is galling and frightening and in no way conducive to good parenting.  Even knowing that no one is the least bit interested in taking our child away from us, I feel under surveillance, nervous of any perceived misstep.

We in the privileged quarters tend to talk more freedom from reproduction, via birth control, abortion, etc., than freedom to reproduce.  Yet, as a wise friend of mine once remarked to me, the eugenic impulse is strong in American thought; tiptoe out of the world of the white, the middle-class and above, the able-bodied, the straight, the sane, and it’s right there, not just disapproval, but policy, ranging from the kind of nuisance barriers I’m complaining about here to real bodily control, sterilization, confiscation of children, and so on.  (Do you think, as I did, that forced sterilizations of, for instance, welfare mothers was a thing of the past?  Read this.)

I don’t mean to draw false equivalencies.  However bad my attitude about tomorrow’s hoop-jumping, I am not so self-involved as all that.  Being gay in this time and place has its inconveniences, but being white and educated and middle-class sure does help out.  (So does not looking different — when my white, middle-class, educated aunt and uncle brought their baby daughter to the ER, was it the cut she’d gotten on the shower door track that triggered the suspicions of abuse and the subsequent nightmare of temporary custody loss, or might it be possible that their Muslim dress had something to do with at least the severity of and contempt behind the official reaction?)  But it is true that having our right to parent scrutinized has made me think differently about the right to reproduce, which is about as basic a biological drive as you can name, and how — and for whom — that right is limited.  (Overpopulation exists, but our system isn’t China’s, seeking to control absolute numbers.  We are quite proud of that, of not telling rich, white, healthy people how many children to have.)  I expected to learn things from motherhood, but I didn’t expect this would be one of the lessons.


13 Comments

Invisibility and Visibility

Sugar here again.  Something sad and something happy:

sad

Bionic sent me this link to insertmetaphor’s post on the problems inherent in trying, as a same-sex-relationship parents, to mix with the mommy/daddy gender divisions that are casually set up everywhere.  I have had the same questions and issues, feeling angry while not hating the actual people in the actual gender appropriate mommy/daddy pigeonholes.  “It’s not them, it’s their paradigm.”  Yep.

In the comments on that thread Halfadozen writes about not wanting to feel invisible during this important life event.  That is what I am struggling with also.  I want to be seen as an important parent with a real parenty job to do, and someone who is undergoing a major life change, not some uncategorizable and therefore sidelined auntie.

I mentioned in my last post that my mother asked me if I was going to ‘have one of my own.’  (And thanks, Twangy, for the righteous indignation.  Yes.)  This kind of question really throws the invisibility cloak right over what’s happening in my life now.  Before the Bean was born, Bionic’s extremely well-meaning mom took me aside and tearfully thanked me for ‘everything that I was doing’ and repeated exclaimed that ‘there should be a word for me.’  She admitted that Bionic had told her that that word was ‘mother’ but, well, ‘you know what I mean.’  I felt like I had actually disappeared.  Poof!

I also make myself disappear on a regular basis.  I do this because I feel like I need to acknowledge that Bionic did something difficult and worthy.  I can easily be mistaken for the Bean’s biological mother, and this in turn makes Bionic seem to disappear.  I end up saying things like ‘well my partner bore the baby’ so that people know what’s going on.  Since the world seems to only have a place for one mom per family and I’m clearly not a dad, it feels like we have to choose which one of us is erased for whatever social moment we are in.

We did have a funny interaction last week.  Funny partly because the people were strangers so I didn’t really care how they felt.  We were in the back patio of a bar drinking a happy-hour beer before the Bean turned all cranky for the evening.  I was wearing the Bean in a carrier.  Two other people were there having their own conversation.  Another woman arrived, looked at us and said ‘oh, you have a baby, I won’t smoke.’  She was standing in the smoking area which was pretty far away from us so Bionic said ‘no, go ahead, it’s OK.’  The couple having their own conversation stopped to listen.  The woman who wanted to smoke looked at Bionic, pointed to me, and said, ‘how does the baby mama feel about that?’  Bionic took umbrage and said, ‘I AM the baby mama.’  Then the woman then looked at me and said, ‘she must just be a really nice person.’  Then I took umbrage and said ‘I’m her WIFE.’  Apparently that’s what you get for trying to be nice about smoking around the baby of lesbians.  Amazed observing couple continued to be amazed.

happy

An online friend of Bionic’s asked how I feel about it when people tell her that the baby looks like her.  Here is the honest truth about this:  I feel happy.

I think, on the surface, this must seem strange.  I remember feeling sad in our pre-sperm-purchase phase that we couldn’t have a baby that would be related to us both, that would look like us both. It’s true that that would be nice.  However, there are two big issues that have contrived to make me feel happy when I hear that the Bean looks like Bionic.

First, we were so worried about the donor and what he looked like that I became somehow convinced that the baby would mainly look like the donor.  I feel really pleased when I see the ways that he looks like Bionic.  He has her skin, her mouth, her ability to raise a single eyebrow.  I love my wife.  I love that my baby looks like my wife.

Second, society at large is invested in keeping us from feeling like a family.  Just to pick some things at random, there is DOMA, for instance, and my parents’ tearful fear (when I was seventeen) that being gay ‘is a lonely life.’  There are restrictions against gay adoption.  There is the fact that my employer will reimburse for any adoptions except for second-parent adoptions.  So a visible reminder that my baby looks like my wife is wonderful.  It’s like a big fuck you to those august institutions telling me I can’t have a family.   I have a family, we even LOOK like a family.

I guess I could see this the opposite way.  I could ask, since I don’t look like those other two people am I a part of this family? But somehow I don’t.  It just makes me happy to see Bionic when I look at his little face.  It’s like, look at that!  We did it right!

sophie 1


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On being the non-bio mom or a great big bundle of worry

Sugar here.  Bionic and I have been thinking that I should write a post or two about how it feels to be ‘the other mom.’  I will attempt to do this, although as I sit down to start writing I feel a massive wave of confusion threatening to overwhelm me.  So bear with me.

First, I have a confession to make.  Last year, and every year preceding last year, I was not that interested in having a kid.  Not just not interested in having one gestate inside my body, but not interested in being a parent.  I thought that it would be a lot of work, would take me away from things I really wanted to be doing, and would not have a lot of pay off.  I thought people thought I was unnatural for feeling this way, but since I had already delivered society the big fuck you of saying, hey, I’m a lesbian, the unnaturalness of being non-maternal paled in comparison.

I’d always known that Bionic liked kids and wanted some someday.  Early on in our relationship (say 10 or 12 years ago) I hoped she might grow out this unfathomable desire.  She didn’t.  I think she hoped I would change my mind too, and to a certain extent I did.  I went from I-hate-children-they-are-loud-and-annoying-and-turn-your-mind-into-a-pile-of-dribble to that-might-not-be-so-bad-if-I-manage-to-fulfill-my-career-goals-first.

Unfortunately, I went on not fulfilling my career goals for quite some time.   I could see that Bionic had a point when she said we were going to cross into the time in our lives where conceiving a child would be difficult just because we waited too long.  (This was before we knew about Bionic’s infertility issues.) I felt that I had a choice between insisting on a negation that would make Bionic feel empty and sad, possibly for the rest of her life, and jumping into THE GREAT UNKNOWN.

As the non-bio mom, I had another layer of fears about my fears.  I thought that none of what I was experiencing was supposed to be happening.  If I were a better person — more successful, more maternal, more normal in some way — I just wouldn’t be feeling any conflict and we would be dancing to the happy flower-filled wonderland of parenthood without a care. Or at the very least I would be having the conflict everyone seemed to expect me to have — i.e. conflict over being the one not having the baby.  In this way approaching the decision to be a non-biological mom is different from approaching the decision to be a father.  Obviously no one wonders why fathers aren’t the ones gestating the baby. But also, men are expected and allowed to feel and say the things I felt — ‘Really, kids?  Do I have to like them?  What about money, do we have enough?  Will I still have time for my career?’ They don’t have to be afraid that if people find out what they are thinking they will shout MONSTER!

As is obvious from all the other posts on this blog, we decided on the great unknown rather than the great negation. As we began to try to get Bionic pregnant, I still felt ambivalent, but since we had chosen a path a lot of people began to ask us a lot of questions. I felt that I needed to project the idea that I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I’M DOING AND EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE FINE (why do you ask?) My parents were not very pleased with the pregnancy concept, and I spent a lot of emotional energy deflecting their worries. My best friend also was not helpful. She is of the personality type that likes to evaluate and judge and plan every little thing in life with the goal of eliminating all ambivalence before going forward. When I told her we were trying to get Bionic pregnant, she said, “but how do you feel about that?” as though I hadn’t given my own desires any thought. I couldn’t say to her, “I don’t know.” So I said, “Wonderful! I feel great!”

I felt very alone.

As you all know, it took some doing to get Bionic pregnant. After what seemed an eternity of seeing Bionic feeling sad or ill, it did happen. I remember standing there looking at the single blinking pixel on the ultrasound screen thinking, well, this is it. For real. My God.

Then I started to have another whole category of fears. What if that tiny blinking bit of life doesn’t like me? I wondered. After all, I’m not actually related to it. What if, worse, I don’t like it? What if our life becomes a living hell? What if I lose my job and we have to move into Bionic’s parents’ basement? Etc. I sat with most of these questions for most of Bionic’s pregnancy, in a kind of you-made-your-bed-now-lie-in-it sort of way.

We rearranged the apartment, put together a crib, stored boxes of donated diapers and clothes. Bionic changed shape. None of this felt very much like it was leading anywhere I could imagine. I don’t think it started to seem totally real until the second day of Bionic’s torrential bleeding, the day before the bean was born. I was so upset about Bionic’s health that when I opened the freezer to get (what? I don’t remember) and a frozen burrito fell out on my foot I picked it up and hurled it across the room in a fit of pique. Then I thought, wow, I need to stop throwing frozen food. My wife is having a baby. Now.

As Bionic went into active labor I was totally freaked out by the amount of pain that she was in, (that might deserve its own post some time) but I did manage to stop hurling objects and help her get to the hospital. Once she was ensconced in the labor room, had gotten the epidural, and was calmer, I started to feel excited. It was happening! Now! Someone was going to hand me an infant! Soon! There was also so much numbness from having gotten not that much sleep and not that much food and having survived the cab ride that I stopped worrying for a while and was just happy that Bionic seemed comfortable.

Then there were hours of pushing, which for me felt like a sort of weird college exam all-nighter I was pulling. (I may write about this later too, but for now it’s too much.) Then finally, after Bionic’s doctor was a total horror and eleventy-billion people yelled at Bionic for not having contractions/not pushing/being in pain (again, a post on this later), the bean arrived.

And now this part is going to sound completely fake and sappy, and while it may in fact be sappy, I swear to you that it is not fake. All of my fears dissolved. I knew I loved this creature. I looked at the him and thought, I have to connect myself to you. “I want to give him my dad’s name. He has to have my dad’s name,” I called over to Bionic, who was getting stitched back up. She looked exhausted. “Ok,” she said, smiling, “but can we talk about it in the morning?”

kissing graham

To be continued in a series on non-bio-mom stuff. I hope I’m not boring the pants off of you.

Also, the above watercolor is from my other, arty, blog:  jess-a-sketch