Innie’s Day

For the longest time, I was in a lesbian relationship where both parties had boobs and vaginas and I thought that a fantastic way to queer the relationship when kids came along would be to have the femme called “Mom” and myself called “Dad.” I loved the idea of being Dad. “Come to daddy,” rolls off the tongue as easily as images of chubby cherubs in my arms roll off of my brain. It would make teachers’ jobs easier and gayer for Father’s Day craft projects and would instantly make every hetero-normative picture book queerer than the collection of three dollar bills that I refuse to spend, even when the cab driver gets a ten dollar tip instead.


I never felt like a “Mom.” Even when I was nannying at public parks, far from any partner who would have nudged me at least into “Mama vs Mommy” territory, I carried snot rags in my pockets, encouraged risky jungle gym behavior and carried tots on my shoulders – stereotypical “Dad” behaviors. (Not that we need to embrace those, either, mind you.) But now that I find myself in much healthier, awesomer relationship that includes one penis and one vagina on two otherwise boyish bodies, the parenting titles were less obvious to my queer-as-shit brain.


Partner was very flexible in this manner, and while he had always assumed that his title would be “Dad” he just sat back and let me make a series of pronouncements:


“Can I please be the one to be called ‘Dad?’”

“I’m certainly not a ‘Mom.’”

“Do YOU want to be called ‘Mom?’”

“It would really solve the holiday card issues if you would be ‘Mom.’”

“You don’t want to be ‘Mom?’ Well, maybe I could wrap my mind around calling myself ‘Papa.’”

“You could be ‘Dad’ and I could be ‘Papa.’”

“Let’s check other languages’ versions of ‘Father.’”

“My hormones are REALLY telling me that I need to be ‘Dad.’ _sob _ “


One day, after copious eyeball waterworks and a relatively silly theory breakdown on my part, Partner came to the rescue and spoke to the Alien in my belly, “Hello! It’s me again – your Outtie!”


And there it was. The baby was inside of me and outside of him. Partner had a “outtie” for genitals and I had an “innie.” It worked on a bazillions levels and didn’t invoke gender for either of us.


After the baby was born, everyone confirmed what I suspected would be true of our titles – they are difficult for anybody but us to latch onto. For nurses in the maternity ward, parental titles are obvious and would be insulting not to use. For almost everybody else, “Innie” and “Outtie” sound like overly cutesie in-the-house-only nicknames that we might just be using for each other. But even after prompting our loving and doting parents to call not call us “Mommy” and “Daddy,” they continue to do so, having no idea that they are calling us by titles that feel exclusive of our internal notions of who we are to each other.


I am not transitioning to be male, so everyone, sometimes including myself, take my boyishness far less than seriously. And I certainly don’t want to get into the territory of girlish and mommish things being insults to me or to anyone. So I am going to have to wear “Mom” the same way that I check the “female” box on doctor’s forms. It’s an umbrella that hangs over the other parts of my personality.


I would prefer if I didn’t have to fully transition to have my button-downs and every other aspect of my gender presentation swept under the rug with one utterance of “Mommy.” It would be nice if a single prompting to call me “Innie” worked on everybody who knows me well enough to assume that I don’t do much of anything standard issue. Or it would be great if everybody who knows how ridiculously queer asked me the same question relative to the baby as I ask them, “What do you want your title to be? Grandma? Grandpa? Auntie? Uncle? Captain?” It would be amazing if twenty-five direct requests would be enough to encourage anyone to indulge Partner and I in our ridiculous-but-preferred names for ourselves.


Alas, I will continue to consider myself a relaxed, boyish Innie while the world sees a trashy, obnoxious Mom. And I am happy to get the cards on Mothers’ Day. Moms’ work is never done. Ever. Never ever is there not a mess to be cleaned up, a hug to be given, a bill to be paid or a novel to be written on the side. Mothers are badass and deserve every single bouquet of flowers that Hallmark encourages us to give.


You better notice that I never sleep, never eat and never shower because I am too busy weeding the garden, folding the laundry and changing the diapers. If you happen to notice that I also call myself “Chill, boyish Innie,” bonus points and gold stars for you. If you accept the awkward prompting to call me “Innie” out loud, I will hug you every time you say it. And if you address all of my holiday cards with “Innie” or at least “I love my two dads” stickers, I will worship you as the best set of queer ears on the planet. I will take “Mom” as a compliment but “Innie” will get you a carved bust of yourself chiseled out of marble by my own hand. Free unicorn glitter to the first person to have it printed on a onesie.

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Delivery Section

My mom and grandmom had quick and slightly early deliveries with all of their offspring. I was really hoping that was one thing that I had inherited. Nope. Didn’t start contracting until we were two weeks overdue. I guess I really can’t emulate my female relatives in any way other than vague facial features and attempting to be as badass as they are.


Labor was work – pleasant and requiring tons of focus, will power and grit. I was enjoying myself, and rightly so – this was the biggest wrestling match I’d ever signed up for. But after a whole night of restless sleep and a whole day of regular contractions, I got the chills. Partner and I had already agreed that we liked our OB well enough to give birth in a hospital with her, so the hot tub at the birthing center sounded like an ideal solution to my uncomfortable shivers.


We loaded ourselves into the car with the bag that was packed so long ago that it had a light cover of dust on top of it. I couldn’t wait to get into that jetted jacuzzi. Per the very charming nurse’s request, I was ready to don a mooning hospital gown and sail on through their admission requirements with ease so that I could go on with my pacing, breathing and getting into that goddam heaven-on-earth hot tub.


“Very good breathing,” she said and monitored my Little Alien for fifteen minutes before I could get the go ahead to marinate myself in the soothing waters.


“Hmm. Every time you have a contraction, your baby’s heartbeat decelerates.”


Decells? But I had a stress test literally the day before and Alien had passed with flying colors. It must be common and the sweet nurse is probably just worrying too much about me. She doesn’t know what hearty mutant stock I come from way up north. We’ll all be fine. I’d be pissed off if somebody was squeezing me that hard, too.


“Please let me soak in the tub,” I batted my eyes at her.


Oh, the tub was heaven. I could have stayed in there for hours. But the decelerations meant I had to get monitored every so often. It was late into the second night of contractions by this point, and Partner could use some sleep. The nurse appealed to my reasonable side.


“Your contractions are regular, but you’re not going to give birth tonight. You should rest while you can. Do you think you can rest without morphine?”


I could not. The hazy narcotic naps that I treated myself to between contractions were lovely. I can’t imagine I would have slept without that wonderful drug that I now understand the terrible appeal of. I might buy it on the street now that I know how nice it is. But by morning, the drugs weren’t touching the contractions anymore. I wasn’t breathing through them, I was swearing. Which is a valid pain coping technique – those who bottle it all up rate themselves higher on pain scales. And I wasn’t cursing AT anyone. I was just whispering and trying to ride the wave like a sailor would. Partner was a saint and heaved to on exactly the right spot on my back. No partner should ever hesitate to press with all of their might on that spot. I swear to the gods it saved my sanity.


I enjoyed labor, and I couldn’t wait to push the baby out, but my personal goal was to make it twenty-four hours before saying yes to an epidural and I made it to the mother-fucking thirty-six hour mark. I couldn’t walk around anymore anyway, so I said took the shot to the back like a champion and almost immediately relaxed into the impending excitement of the baby. Shit, I even managed a solid nap.


I was dilating like a superhero and the anesthesiologist (a crunchy yet genius guy that I would like to be) assured me that I would feel plenty to push. I kept feeling the tiny trickles of lube that nurses used to check my cervix and getting all excited.


“Is that my water breaking?”

“Is that my water breaking?”

“Is that my water breaking?”


I didn’t even know that small amounts of lube could still thrill me anymore. Partner and I smirked at each other when my water did break, gushing crystal clear and reassuringly all over the bed. Finally, a sensation we’re used to.


But my Little Alien’s slow heartbeat still complained every time my uterus tried to urge him out into the world. I stopped dilating. No amount of visualization or pure joy or ohming would get me past eight centimeters, and my cervix started to get puffy and inflamed. Even a completely untrained ear could hear the drastic decells in my Alien’s pulse – babies’ hearts should beat a lot more than forty times per minute.


The amazing, wonderful, expert, caring, hippy nurses absolutely did not offer me any interventions that I did not want. They did not interfere with my birth plan. They did not guilt or force me into anything. They offered me information, support and assistance. When they realized that I was laid back and interested in the gory details, they conversed with me in exactly the style I enjoyed. They downright cheered at the size of my hips and pelvis and laughed with me when I joked that they were finally good for something other than making my man pants fit badly.


So when this lovely (and I believe typical) team of medical professionals very gently told me that I might be headed for a c-section, I tried very hard to take it in the spirit that they had offered it – as a helpful solution to an increasingly scary problem.


Pitocin is a dirty word in natural birthing circles, but a frank and almost obnoxious discussion with my team revealed that they “no longer” abuse this drug or give too much of it. They give it in very metered doses and with appropriate warning of how it will feel. I found myself begging for this ill-spoken-of labor inducer, because it was my last shot at pushing this baby into the world like the burly lumberjack that I am.


Again, the birthing team was amazing and let me have a dose of the Pitocin to try it out. And when it was obvious to everyone in the room that my baby hated it and was in true and real danger, they broke it to me very calmly, very matter of factly and made sure that I was completely on board with my imminent trip to the OR. I may be half hippy, but I could also hear that my baby’s heartbeat should be much stronger than it was. I became determined to be the rational, flexible queer that I should be and go with the flow. So did Partner.


Partner was sad that he wouldn’t be able to enter the caesarean section sterile field to cut the cord, but he was thrilled that he wouldn’t need the camera’s flash to take pictures under the bright lights on the bloody side of the curtain, where they encouraged him to snap shots. The icing on his cake and the fly in my frosting, was that he would get to hold Alien first, and walk him directly over to me.


Nobody said anything scary. The team dressed partner in goofy head-to-toe scrubs and ushered him into the operating room, where I was already prepped, fascinated by the operation process and excited out of my mind to meet the Alien whom I had carried for soooooo many long weeks. I asked if I could see the placenta before they tossed it, I listened to them counting and naming the utensils they would use to pry me open and I was transferred onto the cutting table in an effortless physical thrill ride that I hadn’t experienced since outgrowing the tossing and swinging abilities of my childhood older cousins. I was so busy chatting excitedly with the anesthesiologist that I didn’t notice when he pinched a hunk of my flesh to test if I was completely numb enough for slicing. I didn’t feel a thing.


Partner stood right by my head, holding my hand, and I can only assume, just as happily terrified to meet our progeny as I was. The rest was ear-based for me. Some mild suctioning and the voice of the obstetrician.


“You ask a lot of questions.”

“Yes, fat is yellow and muscle is maroon.”

“It’s going to feel like I am kneeling on your chest now.”


That wasn’t so bad.


The beep of my heart monitor.

The first squall of my child.




The patient counting of the loops of cord that the surgeon removed from the neck of my now completely quiet child.


“One, two three. And one around the arm for a total of four!”


The OB gave him a tiny eyeball over, showed me no fear and returned to a casual tone of voice.


“Where did his red hair come from?”


There was a nervous pause while the team considered that we may not be the biological parents and I panted with joy, because my baby screamed like he was supposed to and my dedicated physician was already noticing non-life-threatening tidbits about him.


He has red hair! Where is he?


I was overflowing with anticipation and craning my neck to see the cleaning station where the nurses were working on my baby. They were rubbing him with towels and announcing his vital signs. They were not pleased, but not calling a doctor over to him. They stuck a deep suctioning tube down his throat and there are wet sucking noises. I heard the nurse counting to five – only once – but my ears noticed the chest compressions that Partner was seeing and he began to talk to the baby just as he had done when he was in my belly.


“Hey Little Dude,” and then, before I could panic, the baby’s Hep B vaccination helped him perfect his new breathing skills and he was wrapped in a hospital blanket and cap.


The anesthesiologist and I had become good friends by this point and he saved my straining neck by reminding the nurses and Partner that I was desperate to see my baby.


My baby’s fuzzy little head was held next to mine and I breathed him in deep. I sucked as much of his scent into my nose as was humanly possible. I sniffed him and sniffed him and sniffed him. The nurse taking our picture tells me to smile and I think, “I MUST be smiling, because this is bliss. Surely, I am already smiling. Is it possible to smile bigger than I already am?”


Before we know it, my baby, Charlie, is handed to me, swaddled askew in my arms in the way that only a nervous new parent can make it awkward to do something so natural. I loudly shouted my thank yous to the OR team as they wheeled me out, like I had just performed rowdy karaoke.


“Thank you! Thank you everybody! Thank you so much!”


But I meant every word. Their competent hands gave me my child. The life that I created, they delivered to me. In the midst of a process that would have claimed my life and the life of my Sweet Charlie a century ago, I never once felt like I was in the middle of an event so traumatic that weeks later it would give me a panic attack and I would insist that no one speak of the birth until my hormones could recover enough to keep me from bawling. The caesarean section team was so competent, so compassionate and so correct in every action that they made, that I was able to be completely unafraid and focus solely on the bundle of joy that they handed me.


Charlie latched like a ravenous dream – first onto his own and Partner’s fingers, and then onto my nipple as soon as it was offered. Partner gave him his first bath. He melted into a cozy puddle under a mild heat lamp and showed us all his perfect bilirubin numbers, showing no negative effects from the ridiculous trial we had just endured. Had he had any minor newborn issues, I am confident that the capable team looking out for us would have handled them as smoothly as they did our surgery.


I would have preferred to pop my Little Being out into warm water without any drugs, in under twenty-four hours, but the c-section wasn’t half bad. I took my pain meds without becoming addicted, I healed in a reasonable amount of time and I like to announce that scars are just tattoos with better stories.


Western Medicine came through with flying colors, proving to me and my newly enlarged family that a hospital staff is completely capable of facilitating a natural process and then saving our freaky, alternative lives when we were about to turn into a statistic. And I enjoyed the whole damned thing.

Posted in Birth and Delivery, Hospital Birth, Labor | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Labor Is Work

A contraction is not vaguely similar to a menstrual cramp. A contraction is exactly like an outrageous, wildy intense, above and beyond period cramp. Like period cramps weren’t passingly annoying to have in the first place. Same location. Hurts through the back the same way. Brings on the same sense of who-knows-how-long-this-fist-will-clench-my-lower-guts. Except you know what this is. This cramp is the beginning of labor, a potentially long and grueling process that will end with a sleep-ending, cone-headed, pink and purple, dependent and delicious human infant. That alien inside will be exiting your body in ways that are never really conceivable.

But it’s not Baby Time yet. The first contractions are irregular and birth is not yet imminent. Maybe these contractions are just weeks-ahead-of-time warning signals. It’s just your prone-to-exageration uterus getting in shape and amping up for some future day. Certainly these intermittent monster cramps will not lead to a baby before midnight. You can still wince through the laundry, the dishes and do your last-mintue nesting. Every so often you can pace to the hospital bag or un-inflated birthing pool and ponder how far away you are from enacting those plans.

You felt a tiny trickle. Is that your water breaking? A tiny drop of blood. Is that the mucous plug? Pressure on my tailbone. Is that the baby leaping forth form my loins?

You don’t want to end up at the hospital or birthing center too early. You’d have to pace halls that are not your own and get prodded by well-meaning nurses who check everybody’s pulse every fifteen min. You don’t want to tell your midwife to hurry over twenty times before active labor so that she is so tired by the time it’s real that she’s slapping herself awake instead of the fresh alien.

Before Baby Time, there will be more contractions. For the love of everything try to get one more night of sleep. Attempt to get one last full night, even if it is occasionally interupted by the mild cramps that hint at becoming stronger, regular and faster. When you are well-rested, distract or calm yourself anyway you can. Walks to the grocery store, hot showers, sips of water, favorite movies. Download several contraction timer apps for your phone. Unless you are one of the lucky few who progresses to active labor relatively quickly, these contractions are going to creep up on you. And it’s not all that bad.

Despite being a boy, contractions turned me into a want-to-be priestess of Avalon. Labor is badass. Really badass. It’s not all pain and discomfort. It is excitement, freakish strength and zen master mind focus. Because the endless generations of women who have endured this are so well beyond badass, I had no problem begging the universe to let me commune with them. Their magical, tough-as-shit ranks were really helpful to picture whenever a wave of cramping hit like a truck. It feels pretty cool to ride a racing, thundering truck over the edge of a bridge, into a raging river and over the top of a racing waterfall and to still come out on top. There is no shame in bracing yourself, relaxing into a huge cramp and making some manly, audible whooshing breaths through and o-shaped mouth that really does help disipate the pain.

There is also no shame in going for a walk around the neighborhood and stopping every few minutes to hunker over and moan a little. Everybody will understand that, hey, there is one tough mo-fo working it out. If they don’t understand and they get close enough, you can punch them.

There is no shame in wailing to let Partner know that now is the time to push on your lower back with every ounce of strength possible. No shame in finding strange positions. Only congratulations to be had when even a short conversation must stop as the next wave approaches.

It is unbelievably radical to insist that no interventions be given to you until you are ready for them, and then good for you if you say yes to pain meds to get through the craziness that only you are in charge of. You’re the boss and you’ll get through in the rough and tumble manner that you always have, with a bundle of joy waiting to greet you.

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Embracing the End

Even better than the justified hording of nesting, is the end of pregnancy. Despite all of the enthusiastic roundhouses, writhing and high kicks, nothing about the baby is quite real yet. Just like every other overdue person in the history of the planet, I am positive that I will be the first to be permanently pregnant. This will last forever. The baby is never coming out. I will always waddle and have to make a lucky lasso toss to get my socks over my toes.

I can’t wait to meet the little bugger; I just don’t think it is ever going to happen. It hasn’t given me any signs that ze is interested in coming out of his private dojo. Like the semi-celebrity in the popular video game commercials, I know Alien only by its dance moves. How could ze be real when I have no idea what ze looks like?

It is a fabulous game to imagine how eerily strange ze could look, with the guaranteed cone head and skin blotches and absurd proportions, and how we will pay no interest to the monstrous side of the baby. We will be amused by the funniest of the faces and be so in love that ze will be perfect. The world’s most gorgeous child. And even if we were capable of being objective, how could we possibly decide which of the two pale, large foreheads or bad eyesight ze had inherited? We will adore all of it’s hideous malfunctions – backed-up bowels, projectile excretions and inabilities to operate the simplest of limbs.

Despite the Alien’s lack of skills in real-life scenarios, it has struck a wonderful deal with me. If it can perpetually kick and punch me, it will at least ride lower in my pelvis. When the baby shifts down lower, it’s called “lightening.” Indeed! Now that ze has found a perfect niche to fall into without applying as much pressure to any of my vital organs, I care less about the discomforts and annoyances and can focus more on the Santa Clause of meeting the hidden creature. I know ze’s not real, couldn’t be real, nothing so absurd could be real or coming down my chimney. But buying diapers for the pretend unicorn sure is fun. Just imagine if someday there really was a tiny butt in those diapers! Impossible!

It’ll never happen. This golden age of lightened pregnancy will last forever, almost as good as the second trimester of energy and creative juices. No matter how disphoric this strange and bloated body is, the simplicity of it will not end. There will be no labor, and no sleep-deprived first three months. The name options that we have picked out will remain sparkly notions and the cozy idea of grandmothers and aunties presenting knitted outfits will not crumble under the stress of endless house guests on the back of perineal stitches.

As I grow more excited to meet the Alien, the more certain I am that it can stall longer than Partner touching up his eye make-up before leaving the house. I mean, really, if any of us had a warm, dark, quiet, free-of-charge place all to ourselves, who would give it up? Ze is never coming out. Ze and I will just stay in this state of ease and automation forever. The cramps will never begin.

Posted in Pregnancy is OK. | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Go Ahead — Buy Me Shit

As a good radical Queer, I should be opposed to commercialism, and, to a large extent, I am – I love thrifting and supporting local artisans – but as a cultural American, who misses my natal ways as much as the next, I tend to buy Valentines for my friends, wear underwear I purchased at Target and the majority my dildos certainly aren’t handcrafted by entrepreneurial grandmothers who benefit from fair trade.

I don’t want a traditional baby shower, just like I didn’t want a traditional wedding. But I would love an excuse to feed all of my besties cupcakes and absurd snacks while playing twisted versions of the traditional games. Unfortunately, almost all of my loved ones – biological and chosen family – live far from me. We are spread out all over tarnation, and even if I was nearer to a solid handful of them … most of them are crazy fools who have no idea how to throw a shower, even a looney one.

Plus, most of my beloved are broke-ass artists just like I am. Not that this inconvenient fact has ever stopped me from thrifting for kids’ books and clothes to mail to my distant fellow breeders, emblazoned with the phrase “Uncle Inky Rules” but I wouldn’t actually expect anybody but me to feel included by purchasing objects. One of the best gifts I have gotten so far is a recipe for homemade wipes, which I will use until they prove themselves inferior to the kind that come out of an evil plastic box and sit in the landfill for eons or until I fall asleep while trying to mix the solution and the wee Ankle Biter screams to have its bottom cleaned at the same time.

I could probably survive in the woods with an infant and naught but some towels and a guide on edible fruits and roots. I know that most of humanity thrives in far fewer square feet than I have at my disposal and without any of the unnecessary frills and bougie gear crap that I see galavanting through the shmancier neighborhoods in my town. But do you know what makes walking to the local, organic grocery six times easier when you are up all night and toting around a Small Creature? A stroller. I don’t want to buy a stroller. I don’t want to buy myself anything but gory Halloween onesies that I think are hilarious. I find myself wanting other people to buy me stuff. I want to cash in on some of the straight privilege that my family of origin has always been so desperate for me to earn. Here it is – I have a baby getting ready to pop out! What they always wanted. So I want all of my relatives who actually have some cash and believe in overly dandled children to buy me some stuff that make sleep-deprived and desperate life easier. I want to take advantage of their desire to normalize me.

Aside from sending out an invitation for free food and dorky games, how does one notify the believers that a gift registry is ready to be picked over? So far, I have somewhat sheepishly sent out an email and social networking post to all of the cousins and aunties who communicate in those ways. The best part? Some have the good sense to just send me tips and used equipment. The worst part? Some of them love it! Many of them aren’t even going to make me feel guilty for imagining that I need ANYthing on that long registry list.

But I still want to push them a little bit, to buy me crunchy or nudity-related items. How does one highlight that the expensive breast pump would be more appreciated than appropriately-colored pairs of booties? I don’t want their appropriate junk. I only want to love and obsess over and send awesome thank yous for the booties knit by crazy freaks. From the Normals, we could really use expensive nipple cream or a crib.

I have zero problem letting Alien sleep beside the bed in a laundry basket for three months, but at some point it will outgrow that and I’ll have to go searching for a more solid cage to contain the Sweet Beastie at night. Can’t one just show up on my porch with an attached greeting card from somebody who always wanted me to be pregnant, so that I can focus on writing for another thirty precious seconds? Those thirty seconds are about to be worth more than the combined karma of eating locally, buying used garments and casting off extraneous, worldly, corporate goods.

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Second Wave Drowning

I have just come to the horrible realization that the second wave of feminism would not have happened if it had been dependent on me for existence. This vagina owner just cleaned the entire house (as much as physically possible), despite being laden with an extra thirty pounds of fetus accessories and with a left sciatic nerve that has been screaming in pain for the last three days. I have been limping from the couch to the bathroom, but I am still the one who swept, mopped, vacuumed, folded, loaded, unloaded, scrubbed, organized and dusted. I let the penis-porter off the hook and stepped into the age-old female stereotype – willingly, despite my resentment and annoyance.

I have always known that domestic labor is difficult and worthy of appreciation, and I’ve had it reinforced many times over. Being born with a vagina meant that my personal enjoyment of babies was encouraged from an early age, eventually evolving into a career as a nanny, keeping up everybody else’s home, including cleaning and childcare. I know how to do house work. I can hear when the crumbs are so thick that they stick to the bottoms of every footstep, I can see when there’s a full load of laundry to be done, and I can tell when there’s enough clutter that anyone stepping into the space will wonder if there is anywhere safe to sit. Anybody who has seen my house knows I’m not a neat freak, but for the love of everything unholy, having clean towels and hand soap available is not a super high standard to meet.

Many partners of many genders consider figuratively strangling their house partner for being slobs, and being pregnant has made this my current reality. I’m not very employable with this huge belly, so I am the current domestic. Add to this that I don’t want to spend money at cafes or on other activities, that I am often exhausted and that I am currently having wrenching back pain, and I end up spending a lot of time in the house. While Partner is off at his challenging and praiseworthy job, and when he gets home with different priorities than I have – a love of doing taxes instead of rinsing dishes and a messy obsession with electrical, drywall and power tool work – I am forced to confront that I cannot currently participate in the physically challenging or money-gathering tasks, no matter how much cooler they seem than folding the laundry. If I want to contribute as a partner in a peer relationship, all I can really do right now is take care of our house in as many ways as I can.

It doesn’t sound unpleasant to sit back and let the baby dictate laid back days where I work on my own projects on my laptop and only do the chores that don’t hurt my loosening ligaments. I could let go of some of the chores and relax my household cleanliness standards to better take care of myself. But it just got cold enough outside for a mouse to realize how much warmer our house is than the backyard. The mouse hasn’t done anything truly heinous yet, but when I found a teeny tiny mouse poop on the couch where I was about to sit after visibly hobbling in pain, Partner peered at it and went back to his laptop. I got out the fabric cleaner and scrubbed the poop spot and then vacuumed out the half nest that had developed in the living room storage. He is concerned when I drink half a beer or stumble on a low step, but actual rodent feces on the surface where I am stuck in pain doesn’t bother him? Simply relaxing to his standards is not an option.

I could approach the topic of housework with him again, but we’ve already discussed the footprints across the floors, the food hardened onto the pots he uses, the moving boxes full of clothes that turn our bedroom into his closet and the mess on the dining room table that has become his office. If I ask about these things repeatedly, do you know what that makes me? Annoying. Petty. A nag. Somebody who doesn’t choose my battles very wisely. Somebody who doesn’t just take care of things when they bother me. Somebody obsessed with house appearances. Somebody who isn’t contributing to this family monetarily so I better find some way to keep myself busy. Who needs to write a novel or rest sore body parts when I could be reworking the same chores I did yesterday despite the same ache?

How much of a hero can anybody expect their partner to be? It’s not really fathomable for a real human being to deal with co-workers all day long, to take care of his own priorities at home and then to also completely cater to the household trivialities of a pregnant partner. It truly would not be very considerate of me to downplay how much pressure he is under. It would be disgusting to not deal with the mouse who wants to be our roommate. It would demoralize both of us to nag constantly about unglamorous chores that constantly need to happen. So I will carry this alien, I will pick out and order the implements that it needs and I will shake the rugs even when my back is killing me. Until it happens to be time for my career to get back on one of the freshly scrubbed burners. I’m pretty sure that my turn will come around again.

Thank goodness that women’s suffrage and the feminist movements weren’t depending on me for action, because I am sadly admitting that as a domestic uterus user, it’s my job to suck it up right now instead of demanding anything more than he has to offer.

Posted in Feminist Struggles | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Nest is Ready for a Party

Nesting is an amazing thing. My floors have never been shinier. All I have to do – aside from letting my own obsessive foot texture issues walk around barefoot to freak me out about crumbs – is picture a small person crawling across the tiles. I let my foot texture issues project themselves onto the imaginary creature’s fingers and I need to compulsively sweep and mop before the alien becomes real and gets stale bagel stuck to its fingers along with the toxic fiberglass dust drifting out of the attic from the most recent home improvement project.

I am not the only one with hormones that drive me to build, tidy and expand the nest. Mr. Bioguy Partner feels them, too. He’s not alternately sobbing and laughing hysterically into the pickle jar next to the pint of ice cream, but he’s so protective that a slight sigh on my part brings him running to check on me and refill my water glass. And I have heard the same from expectant partners of all stripes – no matter how tough the pregnant parent-to-be, the other half grows fangs against all threats, real and imagined. Partner shoots hairy eyeballs at the overly drunk guys blocking the sidewalk, even though I easily elbowed them out of my way. He will take on gravity and put it in its place the next time it causes me stumble on the bottom stair of a low climb. I’m not in any above average danger, but some chemical cocktail flowing through his veins is ferociously on guard.

When we moved into our new house, we, of course, had very expert inspectors and contractors come snooping around to make sure the entire place was up to snuff. They had some quibbles with the basement water-proofing and the ability of the sewer lines to purge themselves without backing up, but they didn’t do more than mumble at the electrical system. They stuck their heads into the all-but-inaccessible attic, poked around the basement and declared the wiring good enough. Not that upgrades and fancy systems don’t get my home-owner juices revving, but Partner has half a thought about a single set of wires arcing and loses his mind. He is driven to ruin work pants after work pants by covering himself in the fallout from updating the entire electrical system. He is content to sleep in a house where the lights and outlets are all disconnected in the name of reducing the already slight chances that his spawn will live in a house even remotely prone to fires.

I don’t mind house camping as long as I can use a flashlight to stare at all of the little outfits that are tucked away in a small drawer in the corner. Despite the fact that I know that I don’t need ANYthing besides a few blankets or towels to keep the bambino warm, I cannot stop myself from buying clearance items that strike my fancy – even a few full-price items that I had to buy after I drooled on them. Tiny warm things. Layers. Onesies. Fleece pants. Hats. Six thermal blankets. I could live with far less than I already have, but nesting is making me accrue even more. I’m not very successful at resisting.

I have mandated to myself that I will not set up baby furniture (that I KNOW I don’t need; a wash basket would have done instead of a crib) until within four weeks of the actual due date, and it is almost impossible. I have to focus like a Jedi on not washing and folding and refolding and refolding and refolding the thrifted items until we’re closer to squeezing the larvae out into the world. But diapers are on sale right now and so are wipes. Wouldn’t it be handy to ensure that I have them ready for when the little guy arrives? It seems so reasonable to just prepare a little bit – with sweaters for it to wear next winter and to college during its freshman year. And a stroller that will still fit him when he’s that old. I can’t resist tempting the gods with my plans for the future when the future involves booties, baby shampoo and stuffed bunnies that I can fondle. Followed by repeating the process for the grandchildren I plan on applying pressure for.

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Pregnancy Sucks Worse Than Your Mom

There is a difference between hating being pregnant and hating the offspring. I am already in love with the little creature who is bruising my ribs with its feet. I have no doubts that I will defend it to the death. No question. I am obsessed with the baby. But the process of pregnancy sucks. I can’t believe that people pine for this. More than once!

I guess I am glad that I tried pregnancy, but ughn, can the doctor tie my tubes while I am delivering? How quickly can they stick an IUD in there? How many forms of birth control are too many?

Pregnancy begins with nipples of fire and then progresses into three months of having the flu, complete with nausea, congestion and exhaustion. Slowly, one grows out of all of one’s favorite clothes. Beloved t-shirts and comforting garments must be put away in boxes with only the hope of ever fitting back into them again. You have to spend a mint on new bras, shirts and pants. You imagine that underwear will at least remain familiar, because it can ride under the belly, but nope – only loose socks retain their original place in the drawer.

If you are a boy, you must struggle every day to either embrace a forced version of drag or to find the wild unicorns that are gender-neutral-ish maternity clothes.

Unwelcome comments follow all pregnant chicks everywhere, and almost everyone is well-meaning, so you can’t snap at the neighbor for asking if it’s twins, at your mother in-law for asking if the doctor is concerned about your gargantuan size or at the bank teller, grocer, mail clerk, stranger or best friend who marvels over how long you have left until you deliver. They mean well, so you better relax and grow some tougher skin.

You cannot have beer to help you relax. Even if you were never a heavy drinker, you can no longer have more than a fraction of your weekly indulgence in a tasty alcoholic beverage – not when it sounds refreshing, not when you want to mope, not when everyone else has one. Sipping small amounts slowly is not a bad pastime, but you can’t really let loose.

Hormones do genuinely go crazy. The issues that are upsetting will be valid, but the emotional reaction to any stimulus will be be proportionately absurd, making puberty seem reasonable and calm.

Babies and the physical tissues that they require are heavy. Milk ducts get heavy, blood volume gets heavy, the placenta is heavy – and the majority of them pull on your round ligaments and squash your bladder. The alien that is sucking your blood also demands a certain layer of insulating fat that pinches in the elastic band or collar of every outfit.

Nesting is an interesting process, because, for once, you have a freakishly clean house, but the energy it takes to do all of this cleaning can leave a pregnant guy too exhausted to keep from nagging their loving partner to please stop walking through the entire frakking house with dirty shoes on!

After all of the yeast infections, gas, vitamin taking, being unattractive to at least half the world’s population, losing the physical inability to move even medium-sized objects solo and after feeling like a louse for complaining about the miracle of life, there is birth. At the time of birth – not only is there a struggle to be balanced in the midst of intense contractions and pain, a high probability that one will either physically or emotionally disturb or injure one’s partner and lots and lots of gore, but – there is also a baby. This bundle of joy will ensure that your youth will be over and none of your relationships will ever be the same ever again. The baby will be the cutest most chemically addicting little miracle ever. Like all addictions, this one will be a swirling pit of lost money, sleep and sanity.

It’s a good thing that infants come equipped with huge eyes, soft cheeks and miniature fingers to swoon over, because pregnancy is a magical, natural, wondrous, hellish and disgusting process which can demoralize even the staunchest advocates of children, women and the freedom of all crazy people to sign up for this abhorrent process should they be interested in doing so.

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The Hallowed Birth Plan

I’m not opposed to a home birth. Some parts of it sound downright wonderful: admitting that birth is largely a natural and uncomplicated phenomenon, being completely in charge of how I ride the wild pony of transition, and avoiding people, whom, as a group, I largely dislike and don’t do a very job of being polite to. But our house is sooooo small. Where the hell would I put a birthing tub? How would I find a midwife who wasn’t so touchy-feely that I would snap at her repeatedly? Are there enough hours of the day to convince Partner that a hospital isn’t needed? No, the answer to that is no. He loves science and Western medicine even more than I do. He is also far more worried about me than I am – in life, in general. I guess maybe I do keep my nose a little too far into books and daydreams when I should be looking both ways before crossing the street. A fair concern.

I don’t hate hospitals. Doctors and Western medicine are capable of some waaaay cool shit. They have their place. And germs. And people, whom, again, I don’t always get along with. So I will agree to go to the hospital to comfort Partner, to have insurance cover all of it and to avoid sloshing placenta water onto my brand new birch wood floors and good sheets. But I hear that to have this whole hospital OB/GYN thing work out, one should show up armed with a Birth Plan. My organizational skills are superb, but my version of a plan usually involves me just having a general outline in my head and then I am in charge and boss everybody around to my satisfaction. Perhaps I should be more specific ahead of time, for the sake of those who have to tolerate me during labor.

I’m not opposed to an epidural. I know the contractions are going to hurt more than ten paper cuts on the webbing between your toes. They are going to suck. Hardcore. Big time. I’m gonna walk around and roll around and moan as much as I please. I am going to soak in a bathtub and clench things between my bony knuckles. I’m going to make the nurses uncomfortable with my swearing and defensive humor. I’m going to make Partner feel awkward when I want him in the tub with me or naked underneath me bcs there’s nothing more comforting than sniffing his neck. I’ll sneak along my Hitachi Magic Wand and, if it strikes my fancy, plug it in as a bodily distraction – maybe on my back, maybe on the fancier areas. But if all of those coping techniques have passed me by and I am beside myself and drained of all resolve, I will gladly say “Uncle! For the love of everything, did I wait too long? Can I still have the drugs? I love drugs!”

But I don’t want Pitocin or other inducers. To get me to say “Uncle, I agree with your silly assessment that labor should be faster than this,” is going to take a lot more than pain relief. I mean a lot of hours. If after a whole day of slow suffering and little progress, I am exhausted and twenty miles past the epidural, and if Partner has to grab me by the shoulders and tell me to “let the doctors do their job,” then ok. Fine. After twenty-four hours of misery, if my almost equally exhausted Partner begs me to let go of my crunchy, slightly natural ideals, I guess I’ll accept more intervention.

Let’s assume that’s not necessary, though. Let’s assume the Larvae’s head size is just average and the labor length is only ten hours. I’m still not going to agree to sit lay on my back. Not only am I going to pace like a polar bear in the zoo, I am going to openly scoff at the fetal heart monitors and openly refuse to get up in the bed unless I damned well please. Yoga/birth balls sound nice for leaning over and clinging to while demanding a steady rotation of ice water, golden fish crackers and back massages. If I can, I will sneak away and squeeze the little bugger out in the bathtub. Largely unassisted sounds pretty appealing to the independent, know-it-all two-thirds of me.

I guess the birthing class that we should register for someday will help fill in some of these details and suggest ways to avoid screaming “Uuuuuuunnnncle” whilst I climb the curtains and hiss between insults hurled at the defenseless staff and family. But You Tube seems to have it covered so far. Some of those births look pretty cool despite the pain. I can groan with the best of them and kneeling on the floor and letting my massive muscles drop the New Creature onto a soft blanket directly beneath me seems ideal. Do you think that the doctor who is on call when mine goes on vacation will be able to deal with being down on knees? Do you think I will care? Just how polite do I have to be to take advantage of the medical establishment before they dope me and suck the Wee One out with a plunger? The next time I get ten or more paper cuts between my toes I will practice being gentle and thoughtful in the midst of mind-numbing physical trauma. If I bite a nurse, at least they will have lots of vaccinations and salves at their disposal. I may get sued during birth.

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Adoption Dysphoria

I can’t stop looking at adoption websites. As somebody with historically little to no sperm in my life (read: vagina), I always assumed and celebrated that having kids would involve adoption. Child rearing as a queer can involve sperm and pregnancy, they just weren’t my first choices. Fertility clinics and seed banks and friendly donors all seemed so messy and expensive. At least adoption is only expensive, but doesn’t come with the guilt of creating another human when there are already so many mouths out there that could use feeding, snuggling and tucking in.

I’ve never had any kind of notion that genetic relatedness is an important factor in child-loving, and I certainly never wanted to be pregnant. My cognitive understanding that breastfeeding can be cozy and nutritious was always outweighed by the fact that I didn’t really want to have huge boobs or a semi-autonomous region karate chopping me from within. I think pregnant chicks are hot and they inspire me to have very dirty thoughts, but I never wanted to be one and only saw very unlikely free-of-charge or accidental means of it happening to me.

I whole-heartedly, chest puffed, obnoxiously get in the face of anybody who says anything like, “But I just want it to be *mine *.” Uhm. Sit down before I push you. ANY child that you love and raise becomes yours. Adoption does not make a child any less yours, and I regularly threaten to cut folks who fail to see that holding and looking out for a small person creates bonds not ever broken by slightly different facial features or naysayers who aren’t smart enough to find love through changing diapers.

Not that the kids anyone adopts need to be pre-potty training. I regularly fantasize about taking advantage of the fact that adopting out of foster care is almost as free as getting knocked up. As soon as the age gap between me and a teenage foster kid is respectable enough, I can’t wait to have a beloved child screaming at me that I will never understand them and reminding me how uncool I am by slamming the door and huffing around like a charming, surly monster. Most behaviors and mild to moderate disabilities don’t scare me. They require extra effort, sure, but all of my favorite people on the planet are nuts and I’ve got tons of experience loving and working with special needs humans. I’d argue that – in addition to my professional background and my own childhood with a special education teacher mother – we’ve all got some special needs that we’d better start dealing with and all teenagers lose their marbles. Adopting out of foster care almost guarantees special needs, but birthing a munchkin isn’t even close to a guarantee that parents won’t have to deal with any developmental delays, emotional hurdles or physical trauma.

And then there’s baby stealing. Partner seems to think that just because we’ve got a baby in progress, I should be able to refrain from thieving other peoples’ children out of their grocery carts and stroller seats. But that one, that one I think is so precious and smiling at me and if I could just create a diversion, ….. Of course I won’t really and truly kidnap anybody’s baby, but the little alien throttling me from inside of my guts can’t stop me from noticing how absolutely delightful the chubby cheeks and waving fat sausage fingers of that one are. That specific one. That’s already in front of me. Existing. So cute. I can see me pushing it in a swing and kissing it’s eyelids goodnight. If only I could adopt that one. I just don’t think that anything I cook form scratch will inherently be any better than the kids who already exist. Except that the ones I raise will clearly be my favorites.

I will love whatever insanely adorable, utterly perfect and completely flawed being squeezes out of my nether regions, and despite my dysphoria that it is coming out of me, it does have some perks. The timeframe with pregnancy is pretty clear. Give or take a few weeks, we know when about it is going to get here. I can just fondle the hoarded, used onesies that I have thrifted for until the due date approaches, reasonably certain of when I should have them ready, washed and folded. As certain as anyone can be, which is not very certain at all.

It is definitely reassuring start with a blank slate. It is always a thing of beauty to protect any creature from harm and abuse, so to know that the creature in my charge from the get-go will not be neglected or battered right off the bat is inherently comforting. Though, I also have to take all of the blame for whatever goes wrong, be it crooked teeth, the potty mouth of a sailor or muscular dystrophy and cancer. It is painful to know that I am putting off the care and feeding of a good handful of foster care pumpkins that I would like to be mine, but at least the chemicals in my system and my inability to not fall in love with any little bean in front of me guarantee that I am about to have a little tot dandle and fawn over. Any which way it arrives.

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