Bionic Mamas

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


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Normal

Greetings from the snowy midwest, where we are visiting Sugar’s family. The snow is not too deep and very pretty, but I am nonetheless grateful that my mother’s giant grey marshmallow of a down coat still closes around me. It’s touch-and-go after a meal, I tell you what. Luckily, we’ll be out of the cold weather and down to my parents soon, so it only has to hold on for a few more days. Related gripe: why doesn’t anyone make a maternity coat that is actually warm?

Perhaps because pregnant women are supposed to be warm all the time, but let me tell you, this one ain’t. Obviously everything is going as it should in terms of the important aspects of gestation, but I do find it funny how many of the “typical” symptoms have not visited me. I am cold all the time. My skin has never been drier — shea butter on the face every morning or the skin just peels away. And that business about your hair not falling out and then all coming loose after birth? I have very thick hair to begin with, but if it finds a way to fall out more than it is already, I will certainly be bald by the time The Bean sees me. (And yes, I will trade all that happily for the mildness of my morning sickness.)

I will also take it in happy trade for the nurse’s call yesterday saying my glucose test results were normal, which saves me a fight with the doctors, since I had made my mind up firmly to refuse the three-hour test. It was just over 24 hours before I was recovered from the one-hour, by the way, with an additional 24 to get rid of the migraine it brought on. And meanwhile, I’ve been poking around the journal literature and have become increasingly convinced that nearly all of the GD paranoia is based on g-d horse shit. I won’t bore you to death, but just for starters: in a study of outcomes for gestational diabetes patients and babies, wouldn’t you suppose it a good idea to exclude women who had poorly-controlled diabetes BEFORE pregnancy? Of course not: that would exclude almost all of the scary outcomes, and then how will you get published?

Sugar is champing at the bit to do laundry, so I’d better get out of these very soft but somewhat whiffy pajamas. (Yes, Melody, they are pajamas. Garnet Hill German cotton flannel. Get yourself some; I promise you will not be sorry. This is my fifth set.) I will leave you with a picture of my rapidly expanding mid-section, circa 28 weeks, and a promise that I will be back to report on anything exciting that happens on Christmas day at Sugar’s paternal grandmother’s house, where we’re not at all sure anyone has been told about the pregnancy. Last time I was there, one of Sugar’s cousins refused to do anything but gape at me while I was talking to her (about such controversial topics as “your daughter is very cute”). This should be even more fun without alcohol.

P1000598

P.S. Yes, I’m beyond pissed about the legal goings on of my home state. Guess it’s off the list of “states I will allow us to live in prior to being absolutely certain we’re done having/adopting children.” Nice feeling to have about a place my family has lived for 250 years.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Who Dat?

It’s Sunday, the best day of the week for music chez Bionique. On Sundays, our speakers play nothing but the Greatest Station In The Nation: WWOZ, the listener-supported, volunteer-programmed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station. Thank you, streaming internet broadcast! I no longer know what I would do without OZ. Every day on OZ is magic, but even though there’s no “Sittin’ At The Crossroads” (whose DJ signs off “May your blues be on the radio”), there’s Gospel and Cajun & Zydeco fais do do and the inimitable Hazel The Delta Rambler.

Today of all days, even Brother Jesse can’t help adding to his mix of “Nearer My God To Thee” and “Balm In Gilead” a more-earthly praise: “When The Saints Come Marching In” has made quite a few appearances.

WHO DAT?

Listen, I’m not a football fan. I was raised in the land of basketball, and that remains the only sport I truly understand and care about (besides anything in the Olympics, but that’s another post). However, I decided some time ago that when I need to declare an allegiance, I would choose the Saints, in part because I love New Orleans* and in part because I love how New Orleans loves them. I know people in other places love their teams, too — when I lived in Chicago, I really did see tables of men at Due’s murmuring sad “Da Bears” into mugs of beer — but New Orleans loves the Saints on a whole other level.

Chris Rose writes about it in 1 Dead In Attic (which you all should really read anyway). I just started tearing up all over again looking for a good quotation to share with you, but I think I’d better choose something before I fall to reading the whole book again. This is from a piece he wrote after the first post-K game, in the Superdome that so many of us outside NOLA associate only with shame and horror but that many New Orleanians think of also with love for its life-saving shelter, however imperfect (as Rose says elsewhere, “The toilets didn’t flush and there was no cold drinking water and not enough medicine, but toilets didn’t flush anywhere and there was no ice or medicine anywhere”). See, I can’t hold myself to one quotation, and don’t even get me started on the piece about the lady with the cats. Or the piano store. Where was I? Right:

The Saints are family around here and you’re stuck with them just like you’re stuck with, well…family?

The Saints are our crazy Uncle Frank, prone to off-color remarks and broken promises and he’s certainly not the guy you send to car pool to pick up your kids when you’re stuck at the doctor’s office, but you have to admit: holiday gatherings just aren’t as much fun without him.

[…]

It’s a long road home no matter what color glasses you’re wearing today, but there is something about waking up in a community that is thinking the same thing — if only for a moment — as if we had all just accomplished something together — when actually it was a bunch of millionaires whose names we hardly know.

I’m not trying to claim that I’m a supa-dupa Saint, but I wish I were, which is more than I can say for my feelings towards any other team.

Speaking of those millionaires, here’s another reason I’ll be wearing black and gold today (assuming I make it off the couch): Scott Fujita. I’ve heard quite enough about the Tebow Focus on The Family (Well Not YOUR Family) ad (though I encourage you to watch this response from Sean James and Al Joyner, who talk about honoring their mothers and daughters by believing in their ability to make medical decisions for themselves). I want to hear more about Scott Fujita, a Saints linebacker (and transracial adoption baby — he’s white; his family is part white, part Japanese: “I have no Japanese blood in my body. But I’m Japanese at heart.”) who has decided to use his time in the spotlight to champion gay rights. The whole interview is worth reading, but here’s part I though you all might find particularly interesting:

A year ago or two years ago, I remember reading about an initiative that was proposed in the state of Arkansas. It was some kind of measure that was aimed at preventing adoptions by single parents. Now, the way I read that and the way that I translated that language was that only heterosexual, married couples could adopt children. As an adopted child that really bothered me. I asked myself, what that is really saying is that the concern with one’s sexual orientation or one’s sexual preference outweighs what’s really important, and that’s finding safe homes for children, for our children. It’s also saying that we’d rather have kids bounce around from foster home to foster home throughout the course of their childhood, than end up in a permanent home, where the parent, whether that person’s single or not, gay or straight. Either way, it doesn’t matter. It’s a home that’s going to be provided for a kid who desperately needs a home. As an adopted child, that measure really bothered me. It just boggles my mind because good, loving homes for any child are the most important thing.

Oh, and he’s straight (and married) and — did I mention — a FOOTBALL PLAYER? (Yeah, they do call him a pinko commie in the locker room; he speaks up anyway.) Scott Fujita, you are my hero.

This post is near long enough, and I’ve got stamps to carve and roux to make. In conclusion:

*Shameless-but-proceeds-to-charity plug: You can read my love letter to the city in Submerged: Tales from the Basin. Buy the book, and I’ll tell you my seekrit identity, though I need for various reasons to keep my real name the hell away from this blog. I don’t get any money if you buy it — never did get any — but several organizations working on sadly-still-necessary post-K recovery will.


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What We’re Weeping Over, Sunday Edition

Have you already watched this? I’d seen it pop up on friends’ Facebook pages, but hadn’t taken the 4 minutes to watch it for myself until today. It’s from testimony in Maine concerning marriage equality.

“What do you think our boys fought for at Omaha Beach?”

For me? You fought for me? Oh, man, I’m tearing up all over again.

The old folks are all right.


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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.


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I don’t have a kid yet…

…so I can say FUCKITTY-FUCK FUCK!

No gay marriage for us in NY, because an embezzler, a domestic abuser, and a plain ol’ liar just had a coup of the state senate.

Don’t worry; they didn’t do it over any real issue. It’s just about money.

From the NYT:

But money also played a major role. Mr. Espada said he was angered that a top aide to Mr. Smith had threatened to hold up his legislative earmarks, known as member items.

Fuck you, New York. Guess Connecticut will get our money after all.


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Just What Do You Think You’re Doing, Young Lady?

Every time I begin to write a “who we are” post, I realize I’m being defensive about our right to have children, which is a little crazy, since I’m pretty sure no one is even reading this. (Yes, I am that girl who imagines arguments in advance, spending subway rides perfecting rejoinders for remarks made by strangers who, in the actual world, have not given me a second glance, let alone disparaged my clothing/reading material/hairstyle.) We are ready, or as ready as anyone is. I’ve known I wanted to have a baby for many years, and Sugar Mama’s sure now, too. Our relationship is solid: we’ve been together for 12 years, 3 states, and one death-of-a-pet. Good times, bad times — all that jazz. While we’re not legally married (more on that another time), we’ve been everything-but for many years. We have insurance and jobs, and though mine is not so very remunerative, it does have a flexible, baby-friendly schedule. Sugar Mama is no corporate lawyer, but she makes decent money (hence the name). Even our parents think we’re ready, or at least they do when they step out of De Nile and towel off.

An actual conversation, coming out of a “you should wait until you have more money” admonition:

Sugar: Well, there’s only so long we can wait.

Sugar’s Mom: We waited a realllly long time to have you.

Sugar: Yes, and you were a year younger than I am now.

Mom: I was 32!

Sugar: And I’m 33.

Mom: No, you’re not!

Sugar: Mom, really. I am. Really.

After a long conversation and some long-distance carding, Sugar’s Mom was forced to admit that she had radically revised the age of her only child. (There are some lingering issues there, but we are confident they will be no match for Sugar’s Mom’s intense love of babies.)

…and maybe we should wait until we have more money. We’re doing okay, but we live in a very expensive city, and Sugar’s job has a hiring freeze that is also a raise-freeze. We don’t own a house, which is normal where we live but not for where we grew up, so it feels weird. I never figured I’d be an unwed mother, though I’m not so proud on that count that I want to risk 1000-year-old eggs waiting for this cake-sniffer to leave office.

Also, in case you missed it, the world economy just belly-flopped and we’re all going to die of Bacon Fever.

Perverse as this sounds, I think the economic apocalypse is what pushed us from the “maybe someday” camp into “leggo my spermcicle” mode. It was a big reminder that no matter how much you try to build your house on the rock, there is no rock to build upon, only different kinds of sand. (I’m sure the adorable baby I’ve been hanging out with for the past year and the recent announcement of a very close friend’s pregnancy has Nothing To Do With It.)

Be sure to tune in next time, for the story of my bionic lady-parts. (With pictures!)