Bionic Mamas

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


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In which the Bean stands up for himself

Hello. Sugar here. Things are lovely chez Bionique these days. Jackalope spends stretches of time sleeping at night! Bionic is not demonstrably depressed! I am home cooking food! I thought I would satisfy you all with some pictures of our recent doings before moving on to the story I really want to tell you.

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As you might imagine, the Bean is a bit bored, what with everyone being sick and the snow just dumping down day after day. I was finally feeling well enough to take him somewhere on Tuesday, and he chose the Botanic Garden. The two of us trekked up there through the snow only to discover that it was closed due to “ice conditions.” So, The Bean suddenly decided that we might as well stop in at the Brooklyn Museum. This we did.

When we were finished looking at the floor with all the historic houses and house models we came out to the elevator area and found a guard who addressed the Bean loudly. As in, “hello little guy!” at the top of his voice. He was one of those old white farts who pretends that he wants to have a conversation with a child, but actually just want to hear himself talk. He went off on a random monologue about the age of various houses on the floor, which went over the Bean’s head, segued into discussing his own house and how old it was, and wound all this up with “…just like your mommy and daddy.”

The whole time the man was talking the Bean was surreptitiously pulling on my hand, as in, oh god, can’t we just get on the elevator? But when the mommy and daddy statement happened he stopped. He looked at the floor, like he was reasoning something out, and then he looked up at the guard, gave him a hard stare, and said quite loudly, “actually, I have a mommy and a mama.” His tone said, duh, what rock have you been living under?

Mr. Guard said nothing, so I repeated what the Bean had said, verbatim, in case he hadn’t caught the Bean’s enunciation. Mr. Guard gave me a troubled smile but still said nothing. So we got on the elevator and left. Once the doors had shut I told Bean that he had done a terrific job, that not everybody knows about all the different kinds of families and that it is a fine idea to educate them.

In my heart, however, I feel conflicted about this incident. Part of me was very pleased, both to be validated by my kid and to hear him stand up for himself. But part of me feels sad and probably guilty that my “life choices” have put my son in the position of needing to stand up for himself and his family. It was stressful watching the Bean navigate this awkwardness at the age of not quite three. Of course it probably helped that he clearly thought the man was an idiot. I’m glad that it wasn’t a teacher or a friend or someone he had developed any respect for. But still.

So, two and a half cheers and an “enh” for reaching this milestone, I guess. Have a picture of the Bean painting his new firehouse, otherwise known as a cardboard box:

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(Bionic says this picture should be titled “objects in photo less darling than they appear”)


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video interlude

Hi everyone, Sugar here. Bionic told me yesterday that she very much appreciates everyone’s supportive comments on her last post and is still working on processing everything. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy some video of the Bean:

Saying goodbye to me in the morning:

And loving the Google Doodle from yesterday.

And I would also like to personally thank Google for inspiring the Bean to allow me to practice the piano. I told him I could play Clair de Lune if he would let me at the keys without freaking out, and he did! Progress!


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I held a tiny sleeping bundle and now I’m sappy

Sugar here. I’m writing this post even though we haven’t gotten past the nuchal yet (the appointment is Monday). I feel a bit superstitious about writing anything at all about Bionic’s pregnancy until after we hear those results, but here I am doing it anyway.

Yesterday evening Bionic and I took dinner to our neighbors across the hall who just had a new baby. Our friend answered the door and talked to us for some time with the new little guy sleeping against her chest. Eventually I mentioned that I hadn’t seen him in the flesh before, and she just up and handed him to me. And there he was in my arms contentedly sleeping away, and there I was feeling all mushy. I do not think of myself as a baby person, but holding that tiny baby suddenly made our decision to try to have another one seem so great.

Before last night I was not feeling not-great, but I was feeling apprehensive about sleep deprivation, our lack of space, the inevitable question of money, etc., etc., and nothing about the new possible baby felt real yet. Now it feels real. I am so grateful to our neighbor for jolting me past that hurdle BEFORE the new baby arrives this time.

In other news, I spent last night in a very narrow bed with a toddler and six (six!) very pointy toy trucks. I am hoping one thing this new baby may do is sleep better than the bean, egads.


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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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Barely Legal

The deed is finally done!  We had our second-parent adoption court date yesterday, and BAM, we are now a legal family in all fifty states and the good ol’ D of C.  Feels mighty good, I tell you what.
Between Sugar having to run home from the subway station to fetch her ID, my brilliant decision to take a different train downtown (forgetting how infrequently it comes and not knowing the elevators were broken at the downtown station), said train’s passing us without stopping after we waited for one hundred years, torrential rain, and all the joys of going through security with a stroller, a toddler, and all the accoutrements both collect, we thought we would be so late that they’d tell us we were out of luck, but somehow we weren’t quite that late after all.  The elevators were confusing, but the nice man at the desk where we had to leave our camera gave us directions and congratulated us; when we got upstairs, there were toys in the waiting room and the court clerk went down and retrieved our camera.  Thanks to her, we have this winning picture of me with half-popped collar — I am tough, but sensitive — and blinking with our lawyer:

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The Bean is chewing on a wooden block from the adoption office, a block likely encrusted in the spit of hundreds of fellow Brooklyn babies. Ah, tradition.

The Bean was an amazing sport about the whole thing, especially considering it was very much nap time. A lot of cookies were involved. Special thanks to the guys working security, who stood next to huge signs prohibiting food or drink in the court house, x-rayed our huge bag of Bean food, and only asked if the steel water bottles had hot liquid.

Afterwards, the Bean napped in his stroller while we walked to and through this phenomenal new park; when he woke up, we visited a playground and had a magnificent feast at Superfine, thanks to a sweet friend (and stupendous non-bio mom) who is a chef there.  After a postprandial return to the waterfront, we climbed back into Brooklyn Heights (that name is no joke, y’all) and rode the subway home, exhausted and happy.

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Invisibility and Visibility

Sugar here again.  Something sad and something happy:

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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.

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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!

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