Bionic Mamas

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


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A Very Good Mother

Hello, internets. Apparently my iPad got peckish and ate the post that was almost done. I’d say it was a pity except it wasn’t much good, so perhaps it is in fact a blessing. Anyway, hello.

My hand is still bandaged but much less terrifying, lest you feared I’d met a gangrenous, Game-of-Thrones-ish end.

The Bean is splendid and only driving me slightly insane on these hot, mostly house-bound days; he more than makes up for it with his new love of the alphabet. I’m not claiming he knows what a letter is or anything, but he is quite smitten with the list itself and now babbles bits of it. He has this sly, preening look he gets when he knows he’s about to do something clever; the other day at breakfast, he looked at my side-long under a raised eyebrow and remarked significantly, as if making a witty observation,

H I J.

In short, he can play me like a violin.

Meanwhile, here is your Friday Feel Good, thanks to Mombian:

This month is the 40th anniversary of PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, which is the kind of organization I can’t even really read about without getting a bit teary. I’m just going to quote two of their six strategies goals, while I collect myself:

Create a world in which our young people may grow up and be educated with freedom from fear of violence, bullying and other forms of discrimination, regardless of their real or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation or that of their families.

And

Create a society in which all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons may enjoy, in every aspect of their lives, full civil and legal equality and may participate fully in all the rights, privileges and obligations of full citizenship in this country

Until today, when Mombian posted about it, I’d never thought about how PFLAG’s founding; it was just there, helping people like me and my family, and maybe still more blessed, helping parents who maybe aren’t quite sure what to think when their children come out to them, giving them a place to be afraid and unsure what to think and still love their kids.

It turns out the whole thing started with one hell of a rockstar-mom, Jeanne Manford, who stood up for her gay son after she saw him on the TV news, injured at a protest while the police did nothing to help. She wrote a letter to the newspaper, saying something both perfectly natural and, in 1972, not quite three years after Stonewall, revolutionary:

I have a homosexual son and I love him.

She marched in that year’s NYC pride parade, carrying a sign reading, “Parents of Gays: Unite in support of our children.” And they did.

Thank you, Jeanne Manford. Thank you, all you parents of us LGBT folk who just keep on loving us. We know it’s not always easy. I hope that in those moments when loving the Bean requires courage, I can live up to your example.

(reading about Jeanne Manford today keeps making me think of the brave — both in her life and in her willingness to show her vulnerability when writing about it — author of the blog Transparenthood. Check her out.)

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25 Comments

Big Phat Photo Post

Hello, dears.  There have been some requests for photos, and I am, big surprise, a sucker for requests like that.  So here are a whole lot of ’em.

Update since I started “writing” this post: we have survived our home study.  The social worker was really very nice — not at all like the horrid psychologist from the last parental-fitness screening — and was from North Carolina, which does help.  She wasn’t nosy about the house or anything like that, and she framed her personal questions as a way to build a document the Bean would one day read, which was much more welcome than thinking of it as proving ourselves to an authority.  (If any of you in Brooklyn decide to hire someone, I’d recommend her.)  Once she’s written her report and the lawyer has submitted it to the court (within the week), the only thing left is for us to get a court date.  Phew.

March 2012  — 12 months old

For his actual birthday, I made a pound cake in a tiny loaf pan, cut it into three layers, and frosted accordingly.  I cut a “G” (his first initial) and what was supposed to be a “1” out of parchment paper, put them on the frosting, dusted with powdered sugar, and peeled them up, like a delicious, delicious batik.

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The Bean helped.

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I had to work that night, so Sugar and I had his family celebration at lunch.

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For his birthday party, my dad managed to come for a day — he lives far away, but he had a meeting in Boston.  He gave the Bean some piano pointers.  (My dad plays very well, but even he doesn’t have a piano in his bedroom.)

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His party cake, a variation on on Swedish princess cake, as directed by the Dane.  Mine turned out very awkward looking and very fantastic tasting.  Or maybe everyone just thought so because of the French 75s.  Either way.

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He had a great time, especially when hanging out with the Danelette.

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April 2012 — 13 months old

Petting grape hyacinths at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  They’re so bouncy.

Petting The Grape Hyacinths

Flying!

Flying!

Poster for the action movie he’s planning with two friends.

The Boys -- Action Movie Poster

Spring Break!  Rode the train all the way to Charlottesville, to visit the magical starhillgirl.  Plenty of time to practice with chopsticks.  (NB, travelers: the sushi place in Penn Station is a hidden gem.  And the ladies there love it if you come in with a baby on your back, “just how we do it in Korea!”)

Chopstick Practice

He met his first chickens…

Fowl Contemplation

…was stalked by cats…

Being Stalked By Trip

…did some cat stalking himself…

Walk This Way

…sorted starhillgirl’s rocks and rubble…

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…and checked them for freshness.

Tasty

He enjoys his work.

Oh Hai

He damn near climbed his first tree — immediately after this was taken, he started pulling up, and it was all I could do not to lose him.

Holy Smokes!  I'm In A Tree!

He gave and got some quality snuggling.

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He petted cats!  In trees!

Petting Cats...In Trees!

The Bean refused to pose among the dogwoods, but Trip here knows how to be a good Southern baby.

Trip Knows How To Be A Southern Baby

It is a good friend who will share her danish while you wait for the train home.

It is a good friend who will share her danish while you wait for the train

Easter!  We hunted eggs at the playground…

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…and in the bathtub.

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Stacking blocks became the new thing.  He’s looking smug here because he has stacked them on an unstable surface.

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Had his first attempt at a big-kid swing.  I suspect he will like those more than the baby kind, but they are sadly hard to find in this town.

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May 2012 — 14 months

“Welcome to the Pajamatime Piano Bar, where it’s always time for pajamas.”

pianobarbrighter

Hanging out with the cats.  Orson (shown here) is getting less wary.

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Trying miso soup at our Mothers’ Day brunch at the japanese restaurant.

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…and it’s a hit.

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We went to reunion.

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The Bean and Sugar vogued around campus.

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Brace yourself for schmaltz: it’s a family portrait on the site of our first kiss.

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Back in the city, we have been exploring outdoor art…

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…and attending birthday parties.  The Bean tries really hard not to make a mess…

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…but sometimes it’s hard.  (I don’t usually get into pictures of my kid with food on his face.  Probably my mind is going.)

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Hanging out at the community garden.  Where did I get a blond child?

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6 Comments

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.


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Edibile Items

Hi, again.  Sorry for the outburst; things seem to have returned to normal, which means I’m back to being fairly sane as long as I don’t hear about any mythical “sleeping through the night” -type babies.  It’s like when Wile E. Coyote runs off a cliff or Peter walks on water: I’m okay as long as I don’t look down.

ANYWAY.  I thought it might be good (and service-y!) to write a post with some more detailed information about how we do food around here, since Bunny and others seem to have come away with the false notion that I have some idea what I’m doing.  The Bean knows we need to go buy Sugar an anniversary present, so naturally he’s napping like a doped cat — this is not typical, let me just point out — so rather than wait around for a good narrative and structure to come to mind, i’m going to make bullet points while the sun shines.  (…so it goes without saying that I’m continuing this hours later, right?  Right.  With no present purchased.)

Item: The Bean eats at the table three times a day; it was two until recently.  He eats a fair amount, and he definitely does not go down for naps without those meals.  He eats some combination of whatever we’re eating right then (he loves scrambled eggs with cheese and broccoli), whatever leftovers we have in the fridge, and usually something we’ve made just for him.  I try to make sure there’s some protein and some vegetable on offer.

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The Bean and I demonstrate the ice tea spoon technique.

I keep a supply of extra spoons on the table because he likes to take them, and the day I found myself snapping at a seven-month-old for dropping a spoon on the floor is not high on my list of Best Parenting Moments.

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I am going to drop this spoon, and I am going to look good doing it.

Some things the Bean likes to eat:

  • WAFFLES!  OMG, the waffle-love.  We (read: Sugar) make these yeast-risen ones once a week or so and freeze most of them.  A quarter waffle, toasted and cut into three narrow wedges, is a good distraction while we get other food ready.  (If you haven’t tried yeast-risen waffles, YOU HAVE NOT LIVED, waffle-wise.  Bittman drives me crazy for a whole host of reasons (COUGHpretentiousprivilege-blindgrill-obsessedsnobCOUGH), but I’ve got to hand it to him on the overnight waffle recipe.  Except use butter on the waffle iron.)
  • Banana pancakes, which also do pretty well frozen and toasted.  The way the kid puts those away makes me think he’s part locust; he’s one-tenth my weight, and he can eat more of them than I can.  I fear adolescence, I really do.
  • Mashed sweet potatoes.  Boiled, mashed, frozen in ice cube tray, microwaved and served with butter.  Yum.
  • Sweet potato fries.
  • BANANA.  At least one a day.  And here’s where Sugar is a genius: she figured out that instead of peeling the banana and putting it in a bowl, you can cut the banana in half crossways and USE THE PEEL AS A BOWL.  It fits right in your hand, and keeps the banana from drying out in between meals in the unlikely event the Bean doesn’t eat the whole half (?) in one sitting.  This is the kind of thing ninjas would do, if they spent less time jumping out of trees and more time thinking about ways to make housework efficient.

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  • Cheerios.  Cheerios and cheddar bunnies (read: hippie goldfish) are a fabulous stroller/subway bribe.  We also usually throw some on the table at mealtime to distract him from hollering in between bites of other food.  Spoons require transit time, kid.
  • Cheerios and banana combined into a thrilling little amuse-bouche, like so:

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FANCY.

  • Eggplant, particularly in pasta alla norma, but raw and fallen to the floor is also devoured.  Weird kid.
  • Apples.  He likes to scrape his teeth on a raw one, but mostly he eats ones I’ve cooked in water on the stove (or sometimes the oven).  Lately I’ve served them with ricotta cheese in an attempt to get more protein in him.
  • Bolognese sauce.  Big pieces of pasta are fun to pick up and try to eat; the fancy organic pastina with the baby farm laborers on the box is, like all grainy foods, abhorrent.
  • New Orleans-style red beans and rice (only not the rice so much, see above).  This fills my heart with gladness.  Also, anything else with beans.
  • Sardine pasta.  Yeah, I don’t know.
  • Pumpkin muffins.
  • Donuts.

Which brings us to:

Item: I have no problem giving him sugar.  None.  This could be a secret confession except that I really have no problem with it, so it doesn’t feel confess-y. In lieu of a real post, some sub-items on the topic:

  • He loves to drink water with and after food, so I’m not so worried about his teeth.  Neither Sugar nor I have problems with caries (one risk factor for his potentially having problems with cavities), and Sugar, who works on a pediatric dentistry project some of the time, is constantly looking at his teeth.  She brushes them, too.
  • I reject the societal freaking out about the “obesity epidemic.”  I just do.  Obesity exists, yes, but — and I could write a whole, whole lot about this — I don’t think being hyper-controlling is any help.  So help me God, if the Bean ever comes home with a report card that includes BMI, THERE WILL BE BLOOD.
  • I am vehemently, even rabidly, opposed to rules about food.  Habits, okay, but not rules.  In my world, rules about food have been tools for learning to stop listening to my body, which has been the path to lots of sadness and terribly unhealthy behavior.
  • I don’t really hold with the idea that exposure to sugar means you’ll helplessly crave it forever and eat nothing but bon-bons until you expand to fill all available space.  I’m hopelessly grounded in my own experience (as usual), but I grew up in a house with easy access to lots of sugar and yet I have less of a sweet tooth than most people I know.
  • I don’t think lack of exposure means you won’t crave sugar.  Human beings like sweet things.  That’s in our nature, and I don’t think exposure changes that much.  It’s kind of like original sin that way.

Whew!  For a really good time, ask me what I think of reduced fat products.

Item: Turia asked about adding water or breastmilk/formula to food.  Early on, we did that.  We would mill whatever we’d been eating and add enough water that it was easier for the Bean to swallow.  He’d let us know if there wasn’t enough.  These days, we don’t, nor have I used the mill in a few weeks.  We either break foods up a little with the spoon, as with red beans, or cut them up small, as with yesterday’s shrimp curry or this weekend’s pasta norma.

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Not the world’s greatest picture, but you get the idea.

Item: I’m not sure what I think of vitamins.  His doctor — whom we really do love — told us at four months to start giving him trivisol, so we duly brought some and let it sit on his shelf for months.  (THIS I do feel a little confess-y about.)  More recently (read: MUCH more recently), Sugar has been giving him some at bedtime.  I hate that, because he smells like blood when I nurse him and…gross.  Then I did a bunch of research into the history of vitamins, which left me feeling pretty cynical about the whole business of supplements for people who aren’t at real risk of beriberi or pellagra.  On the other hand, I also just read quite a bit of history about lead poisoning, and NO, THANK YOU.  (This matters because low iron can make it easier for your body to absorb lead.  Also because it scuttles my plans to make the Bean earn his keep in a paint factory.)  I think the Bean will get his lead levels checked soon-ish, and I’m glad that’s standard around here.  So expect either smugness or panic on the vitamin front some time after that, I guess.

Item: I just asked Sugar what else I should tell you, and besides reminding me about the Bean’s love/hate relationship with seltzer (drinking it = love; listening to the angry farting of the soda stream machine = hate) and how he has been eating the lemon wedges out of my water glass, she said, “I don’t know.  I don’t feel like we’re really DOING anything.”  And that’s just it: we aren’t.  Three times a day, we put the Bean in his chair and offer him three or four different foods, some of which he eats.  If he finishes them, we offer him more.  Between those meals, he nurses, eats cheerios, and scavenges among whatever waffles and sweet potato fries he’s dropped on the floor.  If I’m eating something and he’s interested, I share it; if I’m trying to put away groceries, I offer him bits of whatever leftovers are in the way.  It’s all pretty low-key.

Early on, I had a brief panic that we are now responsible for offering him a balanced diet, whatever that is.  Ack!  I’m going to break the baby, I just know it!  I’ll forget about taurine* or something and he will WITHER AND DIE.  …but then Sugar pointed out that in fact, we do eat a balanced diet.  Right.  So maybe, just maybe, he will survive.  Humans have been surviving, even without food pyramids and RDA percentages, for quite some time now.  Yes, I know none of that matters because foods are all frankenfoods now and we can’t eat well like our ancestors and all that, but frankly, it’s hard for me to imagine that any of my ancestors who lived prior to the 20th century ate as well as we do, in terms of sufficient calories, variety of fresh food, and access to nutrients.  They didn’t leave the old country because things were perfect over there, you know?  Nor were things so great over here, most of the time.  I keep thinking of this old cajun man in a Calvin Trillin piece about a crawfish-eating contest in Breaux Bridge.  I’m too lazy to find it, but the gist of the story is that this man, who had been the reigning champion for years, had been forced to retire because he’d been put on a limited diet by his doctor.  Trillin asks him if he is sad to sit out the contest, and he says no, that he’s had many years of eating well and that, “there been kings who didn’t eat as well as me.”

Sugar and I do a couple of basic things to ensure that we eat well: we cook almost all of our own food, we mostly buy organic or minimally processed ingredients (when available at a reasonable price, which is where the hippie coop comes in), and we vary what we eat.  It’s taken both of us many years to become confident in our bodies’ ability to balance themselves, but in general, I think we do pretty well.  I’m sure we’ll have periods of panic about what the future Bean is or isn’t eating at a particular moment**, but right up there on my list of top parenting wishes is that we can save him the years of struggle it took us to get here.

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*That’s a little cat-lady joke, for the lesbians in the house.  Where my cat ladies at?  Starhillgirl?

**Really, I’m just terrified that his teenage rebellion will take the form of tedious veganism.  (I did a (very) little of that in my day, but only to support an eating disorder, so it wasn’t the evangelical strain.)


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Blog Carnival: Donor Sperm

This post is part of the Love Makes A Family Blog Carnival.  Check out this week’s other  posts, including the next in line, from, um, Next In Line.  (I did not do that on purpose.  That was my brain, making a funny.)

As I write this, riding the train home after teaching a night class, breasts sore clear up to the collar bone (pumps work better when you bring all the parts), the Bean’s sperm donor feels like a very remote concept, hardly a person at all, and certainly not part of daily life in any real way.  When we started TTC, I thought about him a lot, and when we got the fertilization reports, I felt glad my eggs liked his sperm so much, but now that the Bean is here, well, I admit wondering when he got his first teeth and whether he was an early walker (because The Bean is clearly not taking after my own, politely restrained model of first steps at 18 months), but he doesn’t have much to do with our immediate realities.  Nothing in his profile tells me whether the Bean is crying out of hunger or tiredness or whether he’s just pining for the cats; his interview doesn’t cover what to do with my mixed feelings as my milk ceases to be enough to feed the Bean.  In a theoretical way, I recognize that the Bean wouldn’t be the Bean if we’d chosen Mr. NMEBSI, but that doesn’t make the donor we did choose seem to me like a father.  For me and for Sugar, the donor is only a set of characteristics loosely associated with a product we paid for and have found satisfactory.  If he materialized in our living room, he wouldn’t know our son the way Sugar and I do, no matter how many genes they might share.

I realize, though, that someday he may seem very important, indeed, because the odds are good that the Bean isn’t going to believe he is the product of parthenogenesis.  (My pesky father will probably tell him about Y chromosomes, for one thing.)  We will tell the Bean that his donor is his donor, but ultimately, we don’t know who he will decide his donor is to him.  The biggest reason we chose a willing-to-be-known donor is that we wanted to be able to say to the Bean that even before he was a bean, we were thinking of him as his own person, whose thoughts and desires might well be different from our own.  We can’t know whether his donor will want to meet him (or whether the Bean will be interested in contact), whether he’ll actually not be the thoughtful man he seemed in his interview, whether he’ll even be alive.  We just wanted to be able to say that we did the best we could.

This all sounded very good to me, very well-reasoned and mature and considerate, until I was actually pregnant, when donor concerns suddenly seemed a little more real.  And then the Bean was born.  “He has your nose,” Dr. Russian announced, while Sugar cradled him.  “Really?” I said, craning to see across the room.  Later, I looked up the donor’s baby picture.  The Bean looks a lot like me, but he does not have my nose.  Nor my ears.  I looked at the picture and I looked at the Bean: it’s not just my genes in there.

I feel that we did do the best we could — for a variety of reasons, a known donor was not a good choice for us — and it’s possible that some of my concern is a product of internalized homophobia, a lingering belief that my gayness makes me an unfit parent.  (I reject such ideas with my conscious mind, but you know how minds can be.)  And yet, I can’t help worrying that the Bean won’t feel the same.

Donor Unknown, a documentary about the experiences of a group of donor-concieved teenagers who find each other on the Donor Sibling Registry and subsequently meet their (originally anonymous, from before the days of willing-to-be-known donors) donor after he reads about them in the New York Times, both fanned and allayed my fears.  It’s a wonderful film, and I highly recommend it.

(Okay, I’m home now and it’s late, so this part has to be quick.)

The donor in the movie is a fascinating character.  He is what you call a free spirit.  I was pleased to see what a kindhearted man he was, not at all someone who was only into donating for the money.  He seemed to feel a real spiritual connection to the idea of sperm donation, which had a beauty to it.  On the other hand…he’s weird.  He lives in a camper in a parking lot by the ocean.  But he’s so nice!  He recognized himself in the Times article and voluntarily reached out to these kids!   My reactions to this aspect of the film were a classic Aww!/ACK! conflict.  He loves animals.  Aww….  He rescues pigeons!  Ack!

Then I realized something important: the kids aren’t weird at all.  They are, you might say, all right.  They seem smart, kind, and sane.  With the exception of the one whose parents lied to her about being donor conceived, they seem happy and well-adjusted.  (If you ever needed a reason not to lie, imagine finding out that your daughter had talked to a NYT reporter about her donor siblings only when your voicemail filled up with friends calling about the article.  Heh.  Guess she got her own back, surprise-wise.)  Many of them talked about traits they imagined they might have inherited from their donor, but none of them seemed, upon meeting him, to find that his eccentricities challenged their sense of themselves.

The most important idea I took away from the movie is that the donor belongs to the kids, not the parents.  One of the moms of a boy in the movie talks about how she wants to go with him, to see him meet his donor, who she’s been curious about since before he was born.  The boy ably deflects her; he goes on his own and meets up with other donor sibs (and the camera crew) for the meeting.  Watching from the outside, it was so obvious that was the right choice, but I think I would have the same desires his mother did.  Besides pure curiosity, it’s hard to imagine relinquishing control over that moment.

Yet at the same time, the thought of relinquishing some control over that relationship is a relief.  It’s nice to think that Sugar and I aren’t messing everything up by not already being on the DSR, seeking out donor sibs and planning playdates.  We may yet join, but having watched this movie, I feel easier with the idea of letting that be his decision, donor siblings his discovery.  As long as we are honest with our children, then as with many parenting decisions, I think there is more than one right way to do this.


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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


19 Comments

Something Lousy, Something Sweet

Hello, darlings. Part Five is coming along. This week, I hope.

I am thinking of you, all the same. In the interests of keeping you from thinking your RSS feeds have just up and died, here are two quick things for you:

1. Turns out that “exclusive breast-feeding keeps your period away” stuff is just one more thing on the list of things that aren’t really true, at least not for me. Four months, almost to the day: that’s what I got for sticking with it through the early crap and the later horrors. And lochia for six of those weeks, if we’re counting. (Yes, of course there are other benefits to breastfeeding, but frankly, that one was high on the list for me.) Sigh. It’s light, but I seem to have new ways to have cramps. Neat.

1a. This explains the lying-on-the-floor-weeping-about-being-fat that dominated last week.

1b. This also explains The Bean’s adding feedings for the last week. At this point, it seems like I scarcely have any milk at all. He nurses all the time, but doesn’t get anything after the first couple of minutes. Weeping ensues, and he’s not too happy, either. Add “unhappy baby + hormonal disaster mother” to “human female pelvis vs. human newborn skull circumference” in your dossier of anti-Intelligent Design arguments.

2. Happy talk! A friend pointed me in the direction of the consummately cute butches + babies. You should check it out and submit your pictures. I sent in this one of the 6-day-old Bean with BFF’s partner. It’s already hard to believe how little he was.

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