Bionic Mamas

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


15 Comments

What’ll It Be?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a crucial step in practicing belief that the lump in my belly will one day be a Real Live Baby TM: we’ve told lots and lots of people. We’ve told the friends we hang out with but don’t make the “we’d want you to know about a miscarriage anyway” list (GULP). We’ve told my boss I can’t teach in the spring (financial GULP). We’ve even told Facebook (high-school-frenemy GULP).

By and large, this has been great. Most people have said something nice, and no one’s been rude — one of the great things about being loudly gay is that the suckier-type people don’t want to be friends with you anyway. Excitement has come from unexpected quarters: Sugar was suddenly hugged by a moderately nerdy male colleague running for the train yesterday, and the father of our favorite toddler, who was luke-warm at best on the topic of reproduction prior to the arrival of his daughter, checks in on my health nearly as solicitously as my mother does.

Nearly everyone we tell in person immediately asks, “Do you know what you’re having?” which sounds like something a diner waitress would say.

I have an impulse to answer, “BLT, fries, and a coke, please; no mayo on the BLT,” but that would be unhelpful. Instead, I tell them, “I’m hoping for a puppy, but it’s looking more and more like a baby.”*

Partly Mostly, I answer that way because I’m a congenital smart-ass, and I’d hate for my friends to think pregnancy has changed me (though apparently they expect it to — a shockingly large number of them have not laughed, but rather stared at me as if I’ve lost my mind). Partly, though, it troubles me that even now, at whatever fruit-metaphor size it is this week, the bean is already supposed to be defined primarily by its sex.

Now I know, I know. I know it’s just small talk, that no one is saying our baby can’t wear a tutu while operating a steam shovel or be the butchest kid on the synchronized swimming team. I get it. It’s meant to be nice, a way of thinking of the baby as a real person. But though I’m pretty darn gender-conforming in lots of ways, I’m still not nuts about the whole business of tying personhood to sex.

||||||

Our anatomy scan is a week from today, and we haven’t decided yet whether to find out the sex. Sweet Sonographer has promised she will not let me find out if I don’t want to know, even through I’m on deck for lots of extra scans to look out for IUGR. So that means the decision really is up to us.

On the one hand, knowing would make it a little easier to buy/beg for clothes. It is remarkable how much is either pink or blue. I don’t hold with the whole pink/blue thing — both of those colors are a little blah — but it sure is a lot of what’s out there. And even though I grew up in the South, where pink is a normal color for men’s shirts and even though I know that pink was the baby boy color in the nineteenth century (apparently because of its association with powerful red) and even though my dad does look very smart in a pink oxford, I’m not so sure I want people to think we’re those lesbians, if you know what I mean.

And yet…. I have a strong feeling that once we know one way or the other, the follow-up to those diner-esque questions will be non-stop advice based on stereotypes or anecdotes of babies of whatever sex. Which sounds annoying. (Yes, we can use “Pregnant Women Are Smug”**-style evasion, but I don’t think I could really keep that up. Sugar could.) Whether to circumcise isn’t going to be a tough decision for us, and nothing else seems like something we really need to decide right away. We like the green IKEA crib. We can pick two names, as our parents did for us.

||||||

Yesterday (when I started writing this, for what it’s worth), was National Coming Out Day. I don’t remember to think about it every year, but it is a day I hold fond. In college, it was the day of my favorite party, after which everyone would stream out all over campus armed with sidewalk chalk. In the morning (and, with lucky lack of rain, well through fall break, when prospective students and parents often tour, heh), every sidewalk and pathway would be covered in explosions of support and affection, everything from “I love my gay roommate” and “I love my parents (even though they’re straight)” to triumphant labia and, when Sugar was around at least, the sweetest love poems. It was late on the night of that party, my first year, that I first (tentatively, awkwardly) came out to a friend. These days, when it is so easy to forget how hard that was, it’s a good reminder that there are plenty of people, especially teens, who need us to be loudly, gladly out, who need the reassurance that full, happy lives are not only possible but actually easier when we tell the truth about ourselves.

But even though being out is important and often a pleasure (see note about lack of sucky friends, for instance, plus the fact that, in my case, it means being able to marry Sugar), coming out is mostly scary. It’s scary because it requires you to tell everyone in your life that you are not, in fact, the sum of the expectations and assumptions of your sex; you are yourself. It’s amazing how difficult it can be to remind people of something that shouldn’t be so hard to remember.

||||||

As you may have gathered from my earlier post, the bean has gotten big and strong enough that we can feel it now. And I mean “we.” This has been so far an unusually physically non-mutual pregnancy — not only didn’t all those years of, erm, “trying on our own” work, not only didn’t we do this at home with the baster, but Sugar wasn’t even allowed in the room for the transfer. It’s therefore even more magical that the first time I felt something I couldn’t explain away as anything other than its beanship, Sugar was holding her hand on my belly and she felt it, too. The strongest movements don’t feel to me like “flutters” or whatever else the book says. They feel like throbbing, like very strong blood. Like another heart, held in my belly.

For now, I like just feeling the bean move on its own, reminding me that it is its own person, even inside me. I’m not sure I’m ready to cover it up with all my expectations and fears about boys or girls. When*** it’s out in the world, I will no doubt learn soon enough that it isn’t every boy or every girl or even primarily a boy or a girl, just itself. While it’s inside, not knowing seems to help.


*On balance, I’m glad it’s not a pony. Those hooves intimidate the hoohas rather a bit.

** You HAVE seen “Pregnant Women Are Smug,” right? On the off chance you haven’t, go watch it now. I command you.

***Knock wood, knock wood.


3 Comments

Breadwinner Woes

For the umpteenth time, I’m contemplating leaving my university job for the for-profit world, mainly because while my current job is interesting/helps people/provides occasional international travel, it barely pays a living wage. (This makes my handle on this blog a bit of a joke, although at least my wage is one we can live on, unlike Baby’s. She makes kind of a zombie, undead wage)

So right now I’m staring at a byzantine job application for a consultancy. You know the kind of application: please tell us why we’re wonderful, please tell us why you’re wonderful, please be different from everyone else out there, make us an online portfolio, write us a bunch of crazy essays, etc., etc. (Let me pause and say, WTF, I’m not applying to Vassar here folks).

I’m wondering, should I put the work into this? Sometimes I believe that I’ve been in the academic world for too long, and I’ll never be able to get an interview at a real firm. And if I do get hired, it will probably be in my contract that I’ll have to use ‘words’ like ‘impactful’ on a regular basis.

Here’s how far I’ve gotten:

Why I am wonderful:

Because I’m secretly a unicorn, a care bear, and a vampire combined. My superhero name is The Sparkle Menace.


A Super Duper Worker!


Why you are wonderful:

Because you have money.

Why I am different from everyone else out there
(see point one)

What inspires me:
Interesting art! Great novels! Not your dopey firm! Have you heard of
hubris? No? I know it’s an older word than ‘impactful’ but I think it’s still in the dictionary, and in modern usage . . .

Ok, possibly I’m not ready to do this application yet . . . .


4 Comments

That’s no ladle, that’s my knife

I have an old friend who is a real planner. She’s great at planning. She’s got at least a 2 year schedule for every possible job move, life decision, and each associated emotion. And that’s cool – it works for her.

I am also a planner, or I used to be, but since I’m also a morose depressive, attempts at long range planning often lead me down a dark road with the utter futility of life waiting at the end of it.

The other night my planning friend decided to take me to task over Baby’s lack of A PLAN (read lack of money) regarding possible parenthood. Although I started thinking in internet acronyms (OMG, WTF? That’s my wife you’re talking about! That’s just not done, IMHO!), I didn’t say anything much. Then after I hung up the phone I got progressively more and more steamed.

But I’m not going to call my friend back and try to explain that I’m angry because I don’t think she would understand. Instead, I am going to list here some reasons why Baby’s drive to follow her bliss, consequences be damned, makes me happy:

First off, Baby would not be my partner of twelve years if she hadn’t jumped on a train and moved across the country to be with me before we’d even had a first date. (Yes, we are really lesbians.) If that is not a positive result of a spontaneous action, I don’t know what is.

Baby loves dogs, I mean REALLY loves dogs. She will rush up to a stranger’s dog and talk directly to it, regardless of the owner in question. This has not only gotten me over my fear of dogs, but has made us some friends in the neighborhood.

Along the same lines, Baby is friendly to everybody and expects that they will be friendly back. And mostly they are. So I end up living in a friendlier place too.

Baby has patience to wait out unpleasant aspects of what she sees as a positive situation. For instance, she balances the irritating aspects of our food coop against the good food and occasional cool people. She balances my crying jags against the times I’m NOT being a nut job.

Basically Baby is just good at loving stuff. Which is very nice to be around.

There. Thanks for reading my sappy post. Now I don’t have to bite my friend’s head off.


2 Comments

so…which one of you is the man?

It’s not so PC to ask that question any more (if it ever was). Here’s what people say instead — Do you two plan on having children? Which one of you will have the baby? Then they usually look very pleased with themselves for having come up with such an open-minded topic.

Now when I say ‘people,’ I don’t mean my close friends. I mean colleagues, or people I’ve just met at parties, even the occasional stranger. This has been happening for years, since long before Baby Mama and I started talking about actually having an actual baby. As you might have guessed, it really pisses me off.

I have several answers to the baby question that I don’t say out loud. These are:
1) Do I know you?
2) It’s absolutely none of your goddamn business.
3) Will my answer help you decide which one of us is more gay?

I also have out-loud answers, which mainly try to head irritating conversations off at the pass:
1) Oh, we at least need to wait until ____ is done with ____.
or
2) Yeah, we’ve talked about it . . . Hey look, is that Elvis?


Quick! To the Batmobile!

Now though, _____ IS done with _____ . We are actually going to do it and we’ve decided that Baby Mama is going to carry the child. So sometimes I tell people that. When I do, they turn to me and say, “And how do YOU feel about that?” (dramatic pause….)

Wait a minute, you don’t look like my therapist.

The only way I can describe questions like these is as prurient. And what makes it especially annoying is the fact that the (straight) people asking get to satisfy their curiosity about how the other half lives while feeling magnanimous about recognizing my right to exist.

But the show must go on, so either I say that I’m fine with it (frosty smile) and maybe I’ll carry the next one, or the questioner suddenly solves the problem of lesbian fairness for herself by asking if we’ve ever thought about adoption. I prefer the adoption question because it lets me take the questioner directly to the land of straight guilt:

“Actually it can be really difficult to adopt if you’re gay. Some agencies won’t work with you. State law in some cases blah blah blah.”
“Oh,” she says, “that’s terrible . . . . Are you going to that concert tomorrow?”

But, since we are in Bloglandia here, how do I really feel about it? I don’t think I’ll really know until Baby Mama pops one out. Here are some things I think right now:

On wanting to be physically pregnant
I don’t. The fact that theoretically I could grow something inside me, change my body shape, then push it out and change back is kind of cool, but along the lines of how it’s cool to fly in dreams. I guess I don’t really believe it. Kind of like how sometimes I don’t believe in men. They’re just so unlikely.

On sperm
I hate that we have to use sperm. It’s like buying a stranger’s snot. I am, however, a realist.

On having a pregnant wife
I’m going to be less inclined to the whole ‘your body is a miracle’ kind of shtick. On the other hand, I know how having your period sucks. Things will balance out.

On wanting to be the biological mother
Here is where I get into territory where I feel worried. What if I don’t really feel like the baby’s parent? Or it doesn’t love me? Or I don’t know how to hold it? Or a thousand other things that might be solved by a biological bond? Normal new parent (or new dad) fears, I know, but still bothersome. And not something I’m going to dump into small talk with the office gossip.

I do think that it will end up being fine. Right now I feel some of the bizarre ennui that followed directly upon my coming out. I had heard all my life how gay people were abnormal, unnatural, lonely, sad, never had long relationships, and could only live in New York City (oh no!) because they would be ostracized anywhere else. So I worried about those things until I realized they did not apply to my life. I hope my baby worries will go the same way.