Monthly Archives: September 2015

On home birth

As Gus’ birthday is fast approaching I am preparing for a few things I want to do: finding cupcake recipes, cleaning the house as grandma (Lesley’s mom) and Auntie K (Our good friend from Canada) are coming to celebrate, picking out outfits for pictures, and sending flowers to our midwife.

I won’t send the flowers until next week (thank you payday) but I have been drafting the card in my head. I don’t know how to put what I feel into one card. [NOTE: I really hesitate to blog/talk about my home birth yet I feel it was a defining moment in my life. I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to discredit anyone’s experience, especially those whose births did not go as planned. If you don’t want to read further, I understand.]

I want to say something like this in one little card:

“You changed my life. Not only for being there to welcome our son in the world but for having total faith in me. I was someone who always believed I was weak. Who always believed I was not good enough. When I decided to have a home birth I was determined to do so yet didn’t think I could. You showed me I could. You taught me to trust my body. You taught me to trust my instincts.

Because of you I had the birth I dreamed of. I am in awe of women, of the birthing process. I am in awe of my body. With so much negativity surrounding birth and motherhood you made me feel unstoppable. In the days that followed you taught me how to feed my baby. At 11pm on the phone you taught Lesley how to calm him. In the weeks that follow you taught us how to take care of him. You taught me how to help my body heal.

Having a child has changed me but bringing in a child into the world on my own terms, from my own body, changed me more. I doubt myself less, I hold my head higher. I have more respect for other women, more respect for myself. I love my body in a way I didn’t know was possible. You gave me this gift of myself in addition to handing me my child.”

Maybe a little wordy? In labor pictures here for you! I’m going to write up a list of stuff to know birth to one for Gus’ birthday. Expect to see “Everyone takes a shower when you are in labor” on it.

colleen Our lovely midwife.

laboring

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The good stuff.

Sometimes when I read comments a day or two after writing a post I realize that my posts tend towards the negative. There are a few reasons for this but one main one is that my blog is my vent place. It’s where I talk through things a bit more than anything – things I’ve often over processed in true lesbian fashion with other people. It builds up and builds up and then something happens that tips it over and I come here to write about it.

The other reason is that I really try to keep things real. I try to be honest about the struggles of motherhood – of balancing a career and family, of living far from family, of little support. All those things. I worry that I am negative but then days like today happen. I got an email from a reader saying, “Hey, we totally relate.” I then got a call from a new mom friend. One of our good friends far away whose wife had a baby about a week ago. Her wife is struggling with early breastfeeding, dealing with the body stuff that comes with giving birth, wondering what to expect. It was a 45 minute conversation that involved me repeating, “That’s totally normal”. It was a lovely conversation – it made me realize how much of those early days I remembered perfectly even though they seem far away. I was so glad to be able to talk to them, to assure them, to make them know they are not alone. That’s why I am honest.

But I realize that sometimes I leave out the good stuff. Because in the moment I am totally wrapped up in the good stuff. Gus makes me smile bigger and more frequently than I ever knew was possible. He’s up early and while I am grumpy about that at 5:30 the mornings are my favorite time with him and his little excited face. I love our weekends together and to see the new things he is up to. This weekend his new stuff is:

When he points to things he wants he then smiles and points to himself. Like point to banana, then Gus. Gus gets banana? He did this in the candy aisle at the grocery store. He did not get candy but he will get whatever he wants this way. Of course normally his pointing isn’t too accurate so we have no idea what he is after (always food).

He will walk backwards a little bit. When he wants to sit on something (mainly the dog bed) he turns around, backs up, and sits down. This is ADORABLE and he will also do it to me if I am sitting on the floor and he wants to sit on my lap. Heart melting adorable.

He gives kisses. You have to ask about 75 times and pucker your lips but then he will put his mouth on yours. Normally it is his wet slobbery open mouth and it ends with him biting you but still adorable.

So that’s what I got this weekend. Smiles and points, a lap sat in, and bite kisses. This parenting gig ain’t all bad.

PS-12 days until I have a one year old. How did that happen?

The great divide.

We are part of a facebook group for local LGBTQ parents that has a meetup once a month. The activity/venue changes and based on whether or not it seems age appropriate we try to go to as many as we can. Yesterday was September’s meetup – a clothing swap at a park, and we went.

It was kind of an awkward day. We knew most of the people there but felt really out of place. I’ve realized that interesting divides takes place in our little community. The first is based on age. That’s par for the course – a lot of the events are really catered towards older kids and I think that parents tend to stick with the age group their kids are in. There is one woman who I see at most events and I have seen at other gatherings that I have never really talked to because she has older kids. This idea of grouping by age is both something that I didn’t expect about parenting groups and something that makes total sense.

The other big divide I have noticed is between adoptive families and non adoptive families. Our group is split about half and half but I think the events tend to have more adoptive families. I don’t think that this divide is there on purpose, just something that happens naturally. I think it is something mainly done by adoptive families (but I am on the other side so of course I think that) but it makes sense. While we all have parenting in common adoptive families have additional joys and challenges that I don’t get. Again, it is something that I didn’t expect but something that makes total sense.

It’s interesting to think about these things that divide us. I talk a lot about my friend B (a non lesbian) about how I prefer the company of lesbians. It was a strange thing to her at first but she gets it as we talk about it now. I think of what she would say to me in this situation: “Well you understand. You like people that share you life experiences.” And I do. But it makes me wonder where our parenting home – our tribe – is. I don’t feel like it’s with straight families and yet in the LGBTQ group I don’t feel totally welcome. We’ll still go to events (although after yesterday I might miss more than I make) and still look for a home within this community it’s just an interesting dynamic.

Tell me about your tribes. Do you have a parenting tribe of families that you love? Do those families look like yours? Do you notice these same divides in your communities?

What it means to love.

I, like everyone else, go through patches where things seems increasingly stressful. A thing that normally triggers this for me is a change in routine.

With Lesley’s new job change I am now in charge of day care drop off and pick up while she takes the bus to and from work. We used to do these things together and now, for many reasons, this does not make sense for us. While it is not a huge thing it means I need to get out of the house in the morning with a diaper bag, a food bag, my lunch, my pump bag, and a toddler. As an added bonus you have to lift the handle on our door to get it to latch meaning I need two hands to shut the door. This is a struggle.

Lesley leaves before me which means that I need to get Gus and I ready. Lesley makes breakfast and I take a shower but after breakfast she’s out and I am packing up and getting us dressed. I suck at these things. Bottles are ready 50% of the time and the diaper bag is packed 50% of the time. If both of those things are missed I am scrambling to get everything done while Gus touches every single thing he can find. I try to have stuff ready the night before but we have now entered hockey season and Lesley is gone three nights a week so sometimes it gets done, sometimes it does not.

As things (ahem, laundry) pile up, and toys get spread around the floor and I awkwardly hold my child as I try to balance all my stuff to get out the door I am feeling unappreciated. I feel like I am trying hard with no help and can’t get everything done. It’s dramatic of me – Lesley is helpful and some things don’t matter – but it is there.

So I have been thinking about the days where you don’t feel love. Where you know you love someone and are happy with them but it’s a day and you are running your errands and going to work and you’re annoyed and unhappy. It’s not a lifetime of this, it’s not a sign of disaster, it’s just a day where you are not surrounded by love.

When I was young I thought being in love meant that you feel this all encompassing thing all of the time. But that’s not real. To love someone is these small moments of sparks. It’s thinking of them at their new job and wishing you could be there, a fly on the wall, to be sure people are being nice to them. It’s buying them a new sweater when you ruined theirs in the laundry (again) and you feel bad. It’s pulling meat out of the freezer for dinner because you know they get hungry before you do. It’s these little things and some days are filled with them and some days they are a bit harder to find. And some days you need to dig them out because you are tired and overworked and need to come back to some sort of center.

I think having Gus has been a good reminder that love lives in these little moments – the smile on his face reminding me that it’s the little moments for him, too. That when he is playing or running around he’s not feeling all encompassing love but when I go get him at the end of the day his heart is warm with love for me. When I drop him off and he clings to my pants – even if an hour before he didn’t seem to care that I existed. These moments with him. These moments with Lesley. These moments all together. They keep me moving.

Semantics

I’m in a lot of facebook mom groups. Hippie moms of the hippie town, hiking group, babywearing group, ect. A friend recently added me to one that I am unsure about and I encountered an issue there that I have encountered in other groups but never taken the time to dissect.

The practice of calling a deadbeat dad a sperm donor.

The post normally is looking for advice on something and goes something like this: “Hey mamas, I need your help. My son’s bio dad, or sperm donor as I like to call him, showed up and wants contact with my son…” It’s meant to be harmless and I see where the mom’s posting are coming from. It’s not ill intentioned but whoa does it irritate me. Today I thought about (and googled about) why.

A deadbeat dad is not a sperm donor. A deadbeat dad is someone who had a child with someone and decided not to raise that child. Even the term deadbeat dad is harsh at times I think but for the sake of clarity I’m using it here. When people use the term sperm donor to refer to a man that did not fulfill his obligations it is an incorrect use of the term. In reality, a sperm donor is a man you had an agreement with and that man was to provide a service to you.

My son has a sperm donor. That sperm donor is someone who was paid for a service he provided. We are all following the terms of our agreement. To use the term sperm donor in the capacity these people use it in gives it a negative connotation that makes me uncomfortable. A sperm donor is not a bad thing, he is a biological fact for some families.

So I commented as much. I told her I was sorry for what she was going through and wish I could help but I wanted to point out that using sperm donors in that way is hurtful to families who choose sperm donors. That by giving it a negative connotation you are doing a disservice to my child and his peers. Your son was not conceived via sperm donor. Your son was conceived by someone who turned out to not want to be a dad. The poster apologized for offending me – I told her I wasn’t offended just asked that she think about her words.

A few others in the group thanked me and told me they hadn’t thought about that before. I really believe this is what it is – not thinking about the words you use. Not thinking about how it could be hurting other families. I’ve heard these comments for years and it has always bugged me. My goal is to not build our sperm donor up to be something he’s not. We will not tell Gus that he is an incredible man who gave us a gift. We’ll tell him that he is a man, a set of three numbers and a letter to us, and that because of him we were able to have Gus, our biggest treasure. We are forever grateful to him and hope that he is happy and healthy. But in that I do not wish to demonize him either. He did not desert his son. Gus is not his son. Gus is our son, mine and Lesley’s, and this man did not let anyone down.

And so, I commit to standing up to this verbiage when I see it. It’s seems so small, yes, but by giving these words negative connotations people are placing value judgements on my family. And that’s not small at all.