Primal Pregnancy Fear

I both love granola and think that it is OK to be a smidgen afraid of pregnancy, labor and birth. While I adamantly believe that most of us who set out down the path to childbearing will not only survive, but thrive and find more joy than pain, I don’t think it’s completely fair to expect the entire route to be blessed and covered in flowers. I stand by the truth that pregnancy and childbirth are natural, awesome processes that a majority of animals come through with flying colors, but it is also clearly true that it can hurt like a mother-fucker, fail to progress and, once in a while, end in gut-wrenching tragedy. I don’t think it is fair to deny ourselves the opportunity to connect with eons of intense laborers just to pretend that nothing horrible ever happens.

Having done this whole baby process once, and embarking on it again – despite all common sense, just to fulfill lifelong fantasies of a tree house full of my own brood – I find myself a bit more measured this second time. The first time, my lefty, feminist OB had to practically wrestle me into peeing in a cup once a month so that she could check me for pre-eclampsia proteins that I was certain and correct were not present in my urine. I indulged in Western Medicine’s minor reassurances and cute ultrasounds, but still arrogantly scorned all major interventions and clung steadfastly to my copy of Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. I hated all of the gender implications of pregnancy, but allowed myself to feel wicked tough as I daydreamed about Viking women, pioneer women and generation after generation of every conceivable kind of human who had nailed the dismount of child production and care.

But now I find myself imagining the other parts of mothers’ lives. I have allowed myself to deeply read and think about their lives on the mountains, plains, ships and plantations. Many parts of the daily lives of women, which I have studied before and will always study again, were too intense, intimate, infuriating and terrifying to absorb during my first pregnancy. I desperately needed the solace of absolute, certain bliss and survival. I shut out all of my memories of women’s history that involved unbearable pain or death. I couldn’t let the element of (supposedly Western) fear pierce my righteous armor. All I could do was cling to the idea that if I believed that everything was fine, it would be. I just let fear nag at the back of my brain stem instead of addressing it openly.

This time, I can’t help but lean into what some non-standard pregnancies and births are really like. I have spent a long, long time as a domestic and childcare expert, so I can’t be scandalized or horrified by anatomy, bodily functions or natural processes that involve a little pain. I feel generally calm and self-assured that I can handle whatever comes next in life and parenting, but this second time, I have already experienced what can come next. In some ways, it is more comforting and genuinely relaxing to understand what squeezing out babies is really like, even when it sucks.

Sometimes women get pregnant with twins, have emergency c-sections to deliver their very premature spawn, and only one of them lives, with life-long impairments. Sometimes, a woman is pregnant for nine months and then one day the baby stops kicking, and she has to go through labor anyway, without a living baby at the end. A few, brave souls manage to finish a healthy pregnancy despite the fact that they will give their child to someone else to raise. Occasionally, hippie women who do yoga and eat organic produce tear all the way through their assholes after declining episiotomies as they have been empowered to do. The large majority of pregnancies and births go just fine: there is some pain, a large degree of fortitude and then a child that usually survives until adulthood, but this does not mean we should deny what our hearts are risking in this gambit. It would be dishonest and unfair not to listen to both sides of the human experience with childbirth – both the sublime and the shitty.

I am in the majority of lucky modern parents who made it through my first round of baby-making with a healthy-ish kid to show for it. When medical professionals diverted my birth plan (which they had first thoroughly explored and supported), it was for excellent reasons. If I had attempted a vaginal delivery of my first offspring without Western medicine, it is unlikely that either of us would have survived. If I had managed to squeeze my minion out, to save myself, despite the FOUR loops of umbilical cord tightened around him, he definitely wouldn’t have made it. Even with an emergency c-section I had to watch them perform CPR on my baby to resuscitate him. Hardcore, dangerous shit. And every single procedure that those professionals performed perfectly on us had been learned and practiced over the course of centuries, both by midwives and surgeons, because birth can be a life-threatening and serious endeavor that demands solutions. This connected me deeply and truly with the mind-blowingly simple truth that birth is risky.

It was not a tiny amount of pain and terror that I overlooked to win my child. I loved labor. Contractions are some of the most badass confidence-inducing spasms ever. I labored for thirty-six hours before I accepted the epidural. Woo! It was really rad. I paced. I practiced breathing. I sat in a hot tub. I leaned on my partner for support. I called on all past birthers to spiritually swear with me like sailors as each wave of kickass pain passed. Had my child not tied himself inside of me, I would have rocked the shit out of some zany-ass granola-loving birth poses. Alas, I had to be flexible about my conviction that birth should be utterly natural, because that’s just how things work out sometimes. For the best.

If we humans head into most processes feeling optimistic and competent, I really suspect we’ll all do much better at everything that we attempt. However, it doesn’t often hurt to be prepared for a few little slip-ups or, hey, even an occasional, unlikely apocalypse. It certainly doesn’t do any of us any good to ignore history and pretend that none of us have valid reasons to be wary of sugar-coated guarantees of divine success.

Midwives – smart, strong, capable, expert, loving, super-hero midwives – are a huge, huge part of pregnancy and birthing history. Hurray midwives! Many sparkling successes! High five. But if you should happen to not be able to afford or find a qualified midwife and/or feminist OB, welcome to the rest of humanity’s struggle with gestation. Many of us can find family members, friends or partners to stand by us and calm our fears. Many of us could survive a midnight walk into the countryside to push all by ourselves, and return with a warm, hungry infant. Some of us made it through the Trail of Tears, Oregon Trail or ships full of our fellows chained like chattel. At least one of us guided Lewis and Clarke to the Pacific, saving their damned supplies from an overturned canoe at the same time as keeping a squalling babe from drowning, developing hypothermia and malnutrition. No success guaranteed.

Don’t insist that I not to be afraid in the slightest. We shouldn’t over-indulge and become neurotic and paralyzed with doubts and anxiety, but certainty is the opposite of parenthood. Let’s just use natural fear appropriately: to respect anyone who has ever gone through with the process. Let’s take advantage of our history with birth to know that we will likely be fine and feel hella tough along the way, but that it is okay and valid to request appropriate help and accept needed plan-changes mid-stream. We can celebrate our natural abilities while also not shaming parents who choose an epidural to alleviate the pain that our great-grandmother’s had no choice in suffering.

Let’s take strength, flexibility and a healthy does of skepticism from the traumas our peers have faced. It is a privilege for any modern parent to be informed about natural birth and Western interventions. Let’s not denigrate the graces we are given by pretending that no one needs them. Let’s be as educated as possible and survive the best that we can, using our hopes and our fears as balanced guides.

Posted in Birth and Delivery, Feminist Struggles, Hospital Birth, Labor, Pregnancy Fear | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Asshole Love

I married an asshole.

And assholes have feelings too, so I don’t mean to be too harsh. Assholes really are people. They love deeply, aspire to greatness and feel badly when the rest of us direct our own moments of asshole-ittude at them. All of us are figurative assholes from time-to-time, and we certainly all have literal assholes, which can be quite awesome nerve centers, not just stinky craters that we name jerks after. I guess that’s why I prefer to call supreme tools “assholes” instead of “dicks” or “idiots,” because we all have assholes and they only hearken to our own back ends instead of previous names for the mentally ill. Also, “idiot” somehow implies an unawareness of the jerkiness being implied, and while assholiness can equal obliviousness, I am speaking more to the kind of character who often willfully hurts, demeans or ignores. And I married one.

There are up-sides.

Firstly, I am kind of a tool myself. I have plenty of charms and warmness (as, again, most assholes do) but I can be a loud, harsh, abrasive, controlling and inconsiderate – especially when hormonal and pregnant. As a major perk of having married an asshole, I don’t very often have to worry about remembering anniversaries, being even modestly sensitive or occasionally shouting “asshole” when I mean it. I can be almost as independent and aloof as I want without very often hurting Partner’s feelings. Of course, being from the Midwest and ever so slightly more sensitive than he is, I apologize readily and genuinely enjoy sentimental holidays more than he does. It’s part of what sets me apart from the more serious sides of his asshole-ittude.

But even serious assholes tend to be more entertaining and witty than touchy-feely saps. In retrospect, having a partner with a decent emotional IQ would be nice, but honestly, being boring or dull is one of the worst sins I can find in a person, so I’m almost always attracted to the sparkly-eyed douche over the timid cookie cutter every time. I really know how to connect with arrogant, slutty, smartypants. Now, if a quiet country mouse looks mischievous, I’m happy to dawdle with the introverted rodent in the corner, but there would still be slightly off-color jokes, perversions or something so profoundly silly as to be out of the norm. So, I am more than partly to blame for falling prey to the more serious downsides of my beloved asshole. And some of the downsides are very serious.

I have not just been offended just once or twice over minor squabbles and mis-understandings with Partner. Despite trying my best to be articulate about my flexible sexuality and standards, I have still been ditched, lied to, had an ass covered in sanitorum thrust in my face, my hair drunkenly pulled much harder than was friendly, safer-sex guidelines broken and my vetoes of potential tricks disregarded. Many of which while I was pregnant or otherwise engaged in other meaningful tasks, like graduating. On more than one occasion, Partner has snuggled and hit on prospective tricks in front of my conservative parents, not just violating our mutual wish to keep our families in the dark about our open relationship, but ignoring me at my own special events, like our very own wedding.

I’ve lost friends because Partner can be such and asshole. Not only does he not like to share his good booze or anything but his penis with good friends or new acquaintances, but he refuses to accept boundaries seriously requested of him by myself and my/our/his friends. He hits on and makes out with the exes of our besties. He macks all over the friends of his siblings. He got into the mouths and pants of a girl who was madly, unrequitedly in love with me, followed shortly by the craziest, most disturbed girl in my writing program. After each of us in turn has asked him not to. But if he’s got chemistry with someone, anyone, almost everyone, he can’t help himself. His crotch leads and his drunken and/or lusty brain follows and justifies his actions afterwards.

Somewhat most seriously, we’ve lost a place to stay at our favorite Pride event in San Francisco. We loved nesting for a week at the queer love nest of one of our mutual best friends. She’s wonderfully slutty, smart, funny, responsible and has an amazing flat. That we can never stay in again. Because Partner ditched her with too much stuff to carry all by herself while she was injured and limping at the Dyke March. After which, he continued to party, came home wasted in the middle of the night, having just made out with another one of our host’s ex-girlfriends, which he has been repeatedly asked not to do. And then, oh icing on the cake, he rang the buzzer from downstairs. Not just in short bursts to wake us from our exhausted slumber. No. In one, long, continuous, nerve-splicing, ear-exploding buzz from hell. It woke us, it woke the baby, it woke the neighbors and we couldn’t buzz him in while he was holding the damned button down.

I threw on pants and slippers and ran down three flights of stairs to let him in. While I gave him the benefit of the doubt and checked that the button was not stuck by itself, he ran past me, with his face red and smelly from his illicit ex-biting, up the stairs and locked me out. He locked me out. In the middle of the night. Away from my baby who was crying for me. My baby was crying for me. Because Partner had woken him. I could only clench my fists and teeth and every other part of me outside of the locked door and hope that Partner was not attempting to comfort my child while being fall-down drunk.

Our lovely host was wearing earplugs far from the door and could not hear me knocking. Had I pounded on the door until she heard me, irritating the neighbors to the point of calling the police, or had I called the police myself to report being locked out, they would have asked if I wanted to press charges. I have enough self respect to know that if I ever need be asked that question, I will say yes. What my asshole did to me would have qualified as a domestic dispute. He endangered my baby. He left me in the hallway while my baby cried for me.

But I didn’t yell or pound or call. I crossed my fingers that my baby was crying safely in his bed, behind the solid door to the walk-in closet where I had stashed his cozy little nest. I just wanted back in next to him. To rush back in to check on my beloved baby who holds virtually all of the strings to my heart, every single string but the very few held by my asshole. I waited. I sat quietly while asshole taunted me through the door while brushing and flossing his teeth. Tears ran silently down my face for half an hour, until he sneered and unlocked the door, so that I could rush in and lean gratefully against the closed door to my baby’s undisturbed room, listening to him fall back asleep while his other parent passed out, unapologetically on the air mattress.

That was months ago. We now have a temporary sobriety-at-all times rule in place, as well as a temporary monogamy rule and a very, very thoughtful queer therapist. But even in therapy, my smart, hilarious, super-hot Partner is an asshole. He’s trying his best to make sense of everything, but his skull is very thick, arrogant and self-centered. He sees no problem with his drinking, his tricking or his lack of ability to remain apologetic for more than thirty seconds. He resents that my response to chaos is control. He won’t read the book that our uber-intelligent and really gay therapist has recommended. He won’t even speak in I Statements.

So, what am I to do? Am I to leave my adorable little bungalow and take my child away from the asshole who loves him deeply during the two hours they have together each evening? Should I admit that I am half to blame for this whole mess, that there’s nothing left to try, and throw up my hands and move out and on? I’d have to do more than parenting full-time and nannying part-time. I’d have to get a serious, for-real job and not see my little lovey while paying for his roof, food and substitute childcare. I’d have to file for divorce before I would qualified for any assistance, even for food stamps. I certainly would not start over again in love. I would try not to be a miser or doom and gloom hermit a la Havisham. I’d have a shit ton of friends and tricks, more than who can stand to be around asshole now, but I’d never partner off again. I’d just admit that I don’t live well with those that I am attracted to.

But I’d have to be apart from my darling asshole. All practical considerations aside, I’d miss his smell, his prance from the shower to the dresser, his warmth in bed, his science fiction expertise, his wit and charm. I’d miss the free sperm and the joy it brings me to have found a Partner who is queer, goofy, brilliant and unendingly attractive. I would get my desired stability at the cost of losing a partner who likes beer as much as I do and a cock in his mouth far, far more.

It’s a tough choice that I don’t understand how to not linger over for a very, very long time. There are good days and bad days. Days when I don’t mind giving up on my friends and Partner being in the same room, days when I am so sad and angry that I am ready to grab my baby’s birth certificate and walk out the door. But they both just make me sigh. Depending on how much effort Partner is ultimately willing to put into change, I will either have to desperately miss my asshole or continue to suffer the consequences of loving him so dearly. Which is worse?

Posted in Feminist Struggles, Queer Abuse | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Breast Milk Ice Cream

Homemade Human Breast Milk Ice Cream Being Made


I earned a freezer full of breast milk. I earned it *hard.* I let my boobs stay far bigger than I was comfortable with, and wore low-cut, easy-access shirts so that I could provide my little larvae with with world’s most perfect, cheapest, easiest-in-the-middle-of-the-night food. It gave my baby immunity and nutrition and extra snuggles, but it also meant that I was constantly physically tethered to him, in charge of all night time duties and dehydrated past reason for almost a year.


In the midst of all that nursing, there were time where I would give him formula to catch a break, promote bonding with Partner, get myself tipsy, heal my hellish nipples or work an eight hour shift as a nanny with somebody else’s needier kid. I had to pump. The kid ate plenty of it the next day, right out of the fridge, but he didn’t have any kind of nipple or substance confusion, so I didn’t hesitate to freeze a bunch of the liquid gold and let him have the cheapest, most generic formula I could find. He had no problems with it. It worked seemlessly.


So, now that he’s a toddler with no interest in my mammaries or milk, I let him fuss for five min and then I cave in and give him watered-down, green, almost-healthy hippie juice that tastes and smells quite a bit better than the defrosted, sour-if-technically-fine titty cocktail. I’ve got a freezer chock full of breast milk that I can’t donate to a bank because my OB, pediatrician and I decided that my personal dose of an SSRI was safe enough for my baby and I, but nobody else wants it. I open the freezer door and just stare at the bags and bags and bags of energy, time and patience-sucking wholesome substance, just sitting there, getting crystals on top, mocking me with their awesomeness. It has all turned a year old, but I can’t just throw it away. I cannot just drop that kind of effort into a garbage bin. I would cry. It’s liquid gold. At least platinum.


I must, I *must* use it for something! but what???Obviously, breast milk ice cream!!!


From the tangy smell of defrosted breast milk, I suspected that the flavor would be slightly off. Maybe not if I had fresh boob juice instead of frozen, but that ship has sailed. And the texture of breast milk ice cream was likely to be a little off, because traditional udder ice cream is mostly cream, not whole milk, but I am far too busy chasing my ex-suckled toddler to bother skimming cream off of my old boob juice. So I had to pick a flavor that could match with tang and a little bit of icy texture — mint chip it would be.


Assuming that Humphry Slocombe would be appropriately, lovingly horrified by my project, I based my recipe upon several of theirs. And by “based,” I mean I studied their exceptional methods and then botched them to my own satisfaction. The batch that worked best was:


4 cups of defrosted breast milk

2 cups of sugar

5 egg yolks

a big slurp of vanilla

a pinch of salt

a bunch of finely chopped fresh mint

a bunch of finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate


* Separate five yolks from their eggs and mix them with two cups of sugar and the pinch of salt.

* Over medium heat on the stove, bring the 4 cups of milk up to a hot enough temperature that you can hardly stand to dip your finger into it, stirring almost constantly. When you don’t want to dip your finger into the hot milk anymore, remove the pot from heat.

* One splosh at a time, add the hot milk to the sugar and yolks, to help temper the eggs. When most of the milk is incorporated, put it all back in the pot and return it to medium heat. Stir constantly as you bring the custard up to a simmer (not a boil).

* In regular udder ice cream, the cream and the yolks will get nice and thick, like pudding, and that’s when you turn the heat off, but I found that with my breast milk (and maybe with whole cow’s milk), it never got super thick. It just got a little bit thicker and I called it a day.

* Let the custard sit, covered in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, perferably over night.

* The next day, pour your custard, with the mint and the chocolate, or whatever flavor you want, into an ice cream maker and follow the maker’s instructions (generally: ice packed around the spinning part with plenty of heavy salt dumped in). Let it spin until it’s nice and thick.

*Consume as much as you’d like immediately and rush the rest into an airtight container in your freezer.

* Do not drive five hours to Thanksgiving without a cooler in the trunk and expect the texture to remain correct. It doesn’t travel well.

I wasn’t completely prepared for who would love or hate the idea of the human iced milk. My Ankle Biter doesn’t love cold stuff, so I knew he wouldn’t be into it. Partner has never, ever been interested in sampling breast milk, which still baffles me, but I expect it. I knew that my crazy, queer, hippie partners in nursing crime would be over the moon for it. I suspected that the same non-parent friends who did shots of my breast milk when thy were drunk, would be equally into the dessert after a few glasses of wine. But I pegged my chef friend wrong.


Now, to be fair, my chef friend — who likes all kinds of strange flavors and foods and meats and is an ice cream expert and has made savory goat’s cheese ice creams — is also gay, so he is one of few people that I will even marginally excuse for “ew”ing anything female. I’ve had to work through my own “ew” issues with my body and with men’s bodies, and oh hell, all bodies in general, so I do begrudge gay men’s un-processed disgust when it sounds a lot like boring old misogyny, but I get it. It’s nice to sound as horrified as possible by body parts that most of society demands adoration of.


Unfortunately, breast milk and nursing is still quite stigmatized in our fine country, so I had a very hard time not defending my off-beat deliciousness and not going off on a long rant about it’s inherently weird that we consume cow milk without being grossed out. is an udder really any less awkward to picture as the source of your nummies? But I stopped myself, not only because he was hosting our messy extended family at his home for the holidays, but because the proposition of anyone’s bodily fluids near one’s mouth can be a very strange proposition. It IS strange that we slurp milk from cows and goats, so I guess it is at least equally strange to offer my own to humans that weren’t responsible for its existence.


Happily, many of my my acquaintances and loved ones are just as into strange and queer experiences as I am. And they will sheepishly, giddily, put this mint chip into their gaping maws.


But I am not going to lie to you. It is a little bit tangy, as I imagine iced goat milk would be, which I am now set on trying in a frozen, sugary form. And the next time I can get my hands/mouth on fresh human milk, … some yogurt ….. and cheese …. and frosting …….





Posted in Biology is Funny, Breast Feeding | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


My lesbian parenting group doesn’t have any male parents – not gay men, not transmen, nobody who looks at anybody else and thinks “boy” instead of “slightly butch.” The social network updates and emails are all addressed to “mamas,” which not only excludes fathers, but Innies and Outties. Why bother calling the group “rainbow” anything or “queer” this and that, when it’s so clearly just those who consider themselves mothers? A surface level attempt to be inclusive pretty much just leaves anyone but moms in the lurch when we arrive. Not that I can’t hang out with all lesbians, but the parenting group specifically for lesbians – where I overhead the term “has-bian” more than once, in reference to other queers who were not in attendance – feels more honest about who they feel comfortable interacting with.

Not that the “rainbow” and “queer” groups haven’t expended as much energy as they can spare to invite fathers and other types of parental figures to join them – energy budgets are extremely tight when almost every drop of get-up-and-go is focused on the kids in the house. In parenting circles, just like in most bars and drag shows, it is really, really difficult to get an evenly mixed crowd of …. ANY kind of diversity, ever: age, gender, race or otherwise. I have attended the fathers’ groups and they aren’t doing much better on the we’re-not-all-the-same front. I have begged the gay fathers’ group to join with the lesbian moms’ group to march in the Pride parade or to picnic in summer parks with or wee ones. But we can’t get it all together to share interest or time.

When it’s not that we don’t culturally appreciate the same activities – are potlucks not universal??? – it’s that our scheduling is different. Apparently, everybody guards their Mother and Father’s Day activities with steal poles, and they do not want to combine with a group that doesn’t have the same holiday calendar. Even within groups, time available dictates attendance. The lesbian parents who are available on weekends are not the same lesbians who meet up at the park every Tuesday, and within the day of the week challenge is the age-of-progeny challenge. If each parent sitting around the toy box can’t speak about roughly the same realm of developmental feats, that it’s unlikely that nap times and the ability to share, trade or not choke on each others toys fits very well either.

Finding other parents and kids to hang out with is just as hard as dating prospective mates. There are infinite factors that could clash – everything from taste and style to work schedule and neighborhood affiliation. And then is it mutual? I have found a parent friend who is just as dark, silly, thoughtful and artsy as I am, with an acceptably aged and tempered child, but we’re both going through hard family transitions, so finding time for dates is difficult. And what if I show too much interest? Or too little? Or give her child a head cold because I didn’t skip a play date that I should have?

I wish I could just stick with my existing friends, who personalities perfectly suit mine. I dream that they could just come over to my house and hang out while we have dinner and I put my kid to bed. Or we could meet on a carefully scheduled evening to indulge in our favorite hobbies together. But I have been released from their care.

They don’t have kids, so they are now, abruptly light years younger than I am. They can drink whenever they want to, go out whenever they want to, and live a far more footloose lifestyle than I can. They have time to brush their hair and teeth. They don’t want to talk about poop and teething. They have extra income to spare and are planning wine-tasting getaways with others just like themselves – carefree young adults who don’t have to bother getting a babysitter, discussing nap times or working things through with an equally cooped-up co-parent.

Though full of delicious offspring love, parenthood can be isolating and monotonous, and there might not be any modern way around it. Maybe I’ll go old school and go live with my mom, and then make my Alien’s brood do the same. Or join a commune, a nice friendly cult. To be with people just like me. Doh!

The only other tool against lonely homogeneity seems to be to travel constantly – see the world, eat amazing food, get malaria and ensure that my kids hate me for not settling down. I guess we better all just hike up our mom jeans and get on with our boring, stable routines. I will see the lesbian group once a month, the other vaguely-disguised lesbian group on Tuesdays, the other-other pretty-much-lesbians group some Saturdays and my straight parent friends when my schedule and temperament allows and my carefree childless friends never. Nobody can spend the last drops of a dead battery forcing themselves outside of their easiest-possible grouping – not even me.

Posted in Aging Queer, Forced Sobriety, Parental Titles, Queer Gender Inequality | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Stupidity Outlet

When I am out pushing my stroller in my bougie little neighborhood, and somebody whizzes past us on a skateboard I think, “What a chump. I bet that young punk doesn’t have the world’s cutest kid. Sucks to be them.” And then I think, “What if she falls off of her skateboard? She’s so young and tough, it probably wouldn’t even hurt. And she probably won’t fall, even though she is carrying a huge paper bag full of jangling liquor bottles. She is on their way to their friends’ house to drink all that. She can stay up as late as she wants, without getting a babysitter. And I bet her hang over won’t last longer than an hour. She can sleep in the next morning and won’t ache from crashing on her buddy’s dirty couch.”


Sometimes it looks pretty appealing to be young and stupid for a day or so. I really needed to get out there and be stupendously stupid for a night.


Our toddler is a pretty good sleeper at night by now, and when I am home with him (constantly), if he wakes up for a few min to chat with his friend, Blankie, I don’t go into his room to check on him. He is pretty much by himself all night – safe, dry, warm, well-fed and hydrated – from 7pm until 7am. So he would never even know that we were gone. So why can’t I just get him all set, lock the door and leave him to think that I am listening to his snoring from the living room? Because there are fires. If there were no fires or floods or randomly spiked fevers in the middle of the night, we could all go out and party once the babies went to bed. Alas, we must find a babysitter – someone whom we will instruct not to bother going into the nursery unless a tornado strikes.


I am not nervous about leaving my toddler with nearly qualified strangers, but they do double the cost of going out. An inexpensive babysitter in Portland, OR costs $10/hour, and on my quest to be really stupid for a night, just going out to dinner at the bistro down the street for a measly two hours wasn’t going to cut it. I needed longer to become truly idiotic. A queer dance party can last from the 9pm pre-game cocktail til the 3am hours it takes to hail a cab home. That’s five hours and fifty bucks on top of the cover, taxi and top-shelf booze that I have grown accustomed to. But it’s worth it when I can find a baby-lover who is available on a Saturday night and wants to hold my couch down and act as a human fire detector for a while.


When I was young and babysitting for my parents’ friends, they were just trying to get out of their house for a dinner party, or church function, or maybe a movie. Unless they were completely faking their wholesomeness – and based on my years of working with people who have kids, they were not faking – none of them were headed out to a sex club to prance about in their strap-on or go dancing to grind up on the hot little things with contemporary haircuts. They never came home drunk.


I have been lucky enough to find a unicorn! I have a queer and kink-friendly babysitter. She is rare, but I love her for her willingness to snuggle on my couch once in a while when I go participate in events she’d also like to be attending. She sees the hankies in my back pocket and is not phased by the color-coded suggestions of what I might get up to. She even helps Partner do his eye make-up when we are running behind, which is always. She is my unicorn. You cannot have her number. Go find your own magical, babysitting fairy.


But when we came home from our most recent adventure at a gay ol’ dance party – right on time – I doubt that she really appreciated me slurring apologies as I struggled to count the cash to pay her. I had been drinking – I planned on it and I followed through. It was a warm night, and the tequila tasted sooooo good. Despite the fact that I was sipping instead of doing shots, I bit two willing victims on the dance floor and pinched a hot stranger’s offered nipple out on the smoking porch, before settling on taking home our hot contractor friends.


The married two-some who fixed up our house when we bought it are smoking hot. Tattoos, potty mouths, good senses of humor and an open relationship. We’d been looking for an opportunity to jump them for two years, and had finally found a window.


I was way, way too drunk to play it cool. Nothing I said was making any sense. My jokes were way off, and pretty soon, so were our pants. It doesn’t take me long to go from kissing a pretty girl to getting her lacy panties off. And when Partner took over with the boyish queer wife of the duo, whom he had had his eyes on for eons, I was more than pleased to scootch over and ravenously make out with her buff, twinkly-eyed husband. I was so out of my league.


Unless a bio-guy wants to bend over in front of me, I don’t really know what to do, and Contractor Husband was the only non-queer in the room. But I was having a jolly good time, so we all just went right ahead and took our pants off. I was so enjoying myself, that I lost track of whatever Partner and Contractor Wife were up to. I didn’t notice much of anything but the delightful moustache in front of me, until the toddler piped up from his nearby room.


It’s not unusual for Toddler to wake up in the middle of the night, and, typically, I would just let him mutter to himself for a few minutes until he went back to sleep. But I am usually the only one awake at 3:30AM. Partner sleeps through Toddler’s midnight serenades and the contractors certainly didn’t know that our moaning is not what woke the little cherub. So, despite my standard policy of letting Toddler do his own thing until morning, I found myself noticing his vocals and paying attention to the reactions (or not) of the other three naked primates.


When one is wasted, distracted and a novice at the skills being employed, it is virtually impossible to remain effectively self-lubricating, and I was far, far too blotto-ed to have the good sense to walk tot he bedroom and get some synthetic lube. So Contractor Husband and I gave up on my dehydration factors at about the same time that Partner and Contractor Wife realized that the couch could desperately use some towels to soak up the puddles that were forming. We basked contentedly on the living room carpet until, true to my constant temperature, I realized how chilly I was. It was only a matter of time after the donning of my fleece suit, before the contractors let themselves out so I could gratefully pass into unconsciousness.


Oh, what a hangover. Oh, the stupidity. Oh, the exact dumbness I had been craving. When I woke up with my Munchkin at 8am, I was still tipsy … only, I hadn’t realized it yet. I thought I just barely had a hang over. “I still got it!” I ate a huge egg sandwich and giggled with my tot.


However, as soon as he went down for his first nap, I started to sober up. Ughn, gross. I worshiped the porcelain throne like an inexperienced teenager. It had been years since I curled up on my bathroom floor with a big mixing bowl in case I should barf away all of my precious tequila. This was exactly the level of stupid misery I had been seeking. Whyyyyyy? Why didn’t I stop after three stiff pours of tequila, neat? Why hadn’t I just sluttily attacked the contractors sober? Why hadn’t I walked to get lube so that I wouldn’t be so damned sore? Why hadn’t we kept the lights on so that I would at least know what hot Contractor Husband’s probably-awesome-but-I-didn’t-get-a-good-look cock was like?


Worse, there were some serious concerns. I was well too hammered to judge anyone else’s sobriety, so I had no idea if our driver had been ok to be behind the wheel. I wasn’t sure if I had amply paid our amazing, tolerant babysitter, who must certainly have been annoyed by our obnoxious slurring and tricking when she just wanted to take her money and go home. Most ridiculously, neither Partner nor I had followed though on our vows to The Church of Condoms. Very, very unlike us. I have an IUD, Contractor Wife had a hysterectomy for health and cool-scar reasons and Contractor Husband has been snip-snipped, leaving our only concern the stepping up of our regular STI screens, but geeeeez. What an idiot I was.


The tequila tasted delicious, the contractors were unbelievably hot, and I got exactly what I was looking for – the worst headache of my life and enough truly horrific, un-composed behavior to make me swear that I will never ever be so stupid ever again. I am too much of an old man for that. Until the next time a little punk goes past on her skateboard and I push her over, taker her beer and stow it beneath my sporty get-away jogging stroller.

Posted in Aging Queer, Forced Sobriety, Recovering After Birth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Which Kind of Circus Is This?

If anyone assumes that I am straight, I correct them, but I revel in many other addresses that I don’t notice that I resemble until somebody else says them aloud. I love being”mam”-ed or “sir”-ed before a restaurant host hears my high-pitched voice or sees me head to the men’s room. I adore being shown to a bathroom door with nervous trepidation on the part of my guide. I dance on the inside whenever I get called – most correctly – “dyke,” “fag,” “trans,” “queer,” or “homo.” I can handle being called “bi.” I will accept any gay-ish title, because I have reflected and identified with many queer titles at one time or another, and they’re all awesome. Are you calling me gay? I’m down.


Even when it makes my past as a pregnant person invisible, I can’t help but be delighted when my queer-as-shit appearance overshadows my identity as a parent. Even when I am holding my baby, I suspect I often just look like a dirty, lesbionic manny, nanny, uncle or auntie, which I have loved being many times in the past and will never turn down. I look so frigging gay, that the surest way for me to code as any kind of parent is to hold hands with a femme – because two lesbian parents makes much more visual sense to everyone than some disheveled man child having birthed a tot with a bio-guy life partner. Me turkey-baster-ing a femme is clearer than me marrying a dude with a bio-penis.


One day, when the baby, Partner, another faggy friend and I were out looking for some sausage (heh heh) for lunch, I ducked around the corner of a different food cart in the mall area. As I was out of sight of the sausage server, he rightfully, wonderfully assumed that Partner and Faggy Friend were gay parenting together. It was awesome. Sausage Server beamed and beamed at them and the baby all throughout the meal. Not only was it really nice to have queerness assumed of a family unit, but who doesn’t want to be smiled at for thirty minutes in a row while stuffing one’s face with bratwurst and mustard?


As soon as I realized that our combo of three adults and one baby put me in the role of lesbian friend meeting the gay dads for lunch, I embraced it and better understood the happiness of every grinning liberal on our sunny walk home. I also do not look like a parent if I am together with a gay male friend and a gay female friend – then they get questioning, maybe-they’re-straight looks, and I am still the lesbian friend. If I am with a straight couple, they look like the parents and, again, I am the lesbian friend. If there is a femme anywhere in the area, I am definitely not the first choice of strangers who are looking to make eye contact with the parent of the baby stealing their french fries.


When I am by myself in the pizza store picking up dinner and I wave at somebody else’s kid, and I want to re-assure them that I’m just friendly and not totally creepy, I still announce my nanny status rather than my parental status, because a lesbian nanny is still more believable than a barely twelve-year-old boy who has given birth.


The closest I come to looking like a parent while walking with my partner (instead of holding hands with a femme) is when we are all decked our in rainbows and one could suspect that he, the flaming faggot, turkey-baster-ed me, the dorky dyke. Or maybe if we had hats on and nobody could see our hair, and if I was wearing men’s jeans that were so dirty that they hugged my hips, and if I was too warm to wear my butch winter vest, and if I had put on too much cherry Chapstick that made my lips pink, and if Partner wasn’t wearing his rainbow messenger bag …. then maybe, just maybe, we could look like a nerdy male programmer and crunchy female mom who belong together carnally, genetically.


On the other hand, nobody seems remotely confused by the gender of our toddler. Because his body is so ambiguous under a bulky diaper, fashion is the only clue that guides people’s decisions about his gender, and they decide very, very quickly. A stranger can decide which gender my baby is within the three seconds it takes them to sing, “Well, helloooooo!” Reactions to my toddler’s clothing are helping me clarify gendered fashion rules that I could have guessed, but wasn’t completely sure of in terms of ratios of certainty. Folks absolutely commit to the gender of the baby they are greeting.


If you want your child to look like a boy, you can’t just dress it up in any old blue and assume you are coding for a child with a penis. If you are dead set on signaling “boy,” only some shades of blue, in some cuts of shirts, with certain patterns code as “boy.” If the blue is too teal = girl. If the blue shirt has any ruffles, ruching, bows or is snug-fitting = girl. If the pattern has flowers, hearts, anything sweet, or even just stars, which I could have sworn were gender neutral = girl. If you dress your child in knit cotton jersey that reflects Valentines Day, Easter, spring, or any animal that is not incorrectly known for biting people = girl.


If you dress your child in a navy blue hat, a navy blue tee-shirt with a football on it, and navy blue pants with a dinosaur on the butt = boy. The same outfit with a pair of pink flip flops or pink mitten clips = girl. The tiniest sliver of pink may lead everyone to believe that your child is a girl, which is just fine by me. Not only do I enjoy when people speak sweetly to my son because he is dressed head to toe in pink (which is often), but I relish the chance to announce, “He’s not insulted by girls,” when they apologize for using “she.” Until he makes his own mind known on the topic of his favorite colors and verbalizes them to strangers, I am just going to go ahead and dress him in anything adorable that goes with the weather and was on clearance when I walked through the Goodwill.


I am so uncomfortable when my neighbors, relatives or acquaintances who know that I am married to a man assume that I am straight, that when somebody assumes that I am a queer non-parent of a girl-child who wears purple sneakers with green pants and a yellow sweater, I am so damned relieved that I could pee. I don’t mind opening my mouth to talk about how I exist and identify in the world, or to help people relax about which outfit my offspring is wearing, but it is also pretty great to observe the wild range of reactions to the visual appearance of my family. As long as you look at me and do not, under any circumstances operate under the assumption that, “Huh, this person is going to love it when I say something closed-minded and douche-baggy,” we’re cool. As long as you assume that I am friendly and crazy, we’re fine.

Posted in Baby Gender, Coming Out Queer, Parental Titles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

SucSEXful Marriage

When it comes to sex after a new baby, adoptive parents have the upper hand. While they will later have slightly different identity issues to wrestle with than biological parents, at least when they are handed their child, they are not also bleeding and sore between the legs (probably, or for different reasons). Anyone who has been pregnant has to deal with multiplied body image or gender issues and the glamor of stagnant, soured blood dripping from their nether regions for a few weeks. Yeah, not just a couple of days. Not a light period. Not a little spotting. No, I mean the remains of a spare organ leftover from an alien invasion are oozing from a terribly distorted and uncomfortable area that has just wrenched a watermelon into the world.


There is a real and valid fear that sex will hurt after pregnancy. I didn’t even give vaginal, bonus hole birth, and I was still terrified of how it was going to feel to have anything tickling around the sensitive tissues that had been so recently pulped. And c-section scars aren’t exactly unrelated to boning. Try to have sex without using your abs. I dare you. Obsess for a few hours about whether or not it’s going to hurt, and then, in addition to all of your bodily fluids being re-directed to your tits, try not to be so nervous that you can’t self-lubricate.


But the fear of pain is better than the fear that sex won’t happen at all. I don’t know anyone whose sex life hasn’t changed during pregnancy. Even those who manage a more graceful shift to altered sex than Partner and I did have wildly different desires, concerns and body shapes for ten months. When those shapes are suddenly gone, there are just two adults who have completely new roles relative to each other. Will they still have desire for each other? Will they still fit together? Will we have any energy left for each other after the infant is cared for? YES.


Omg, take a deep breath. Yes, the answer is yes. Sex will happen again after pregnancy. Honestly, it did hurt a little, but not super a lot, considering how much unrelated pummeling had happened in the region. One afternoon, weeks after birth, the baby had passed out, Partner and I had both showered recently enough to be passable and we both mustered the courage to register – sheepishly, tentatively – interest in, ahem, adult activities. Woo! We were both interested. And nervous. But excited.


Dorkily, awkwardly, giddily – we undressed and gathered the bravery to stick it in. No fingers or mouths first, just a desperate dash to reclaim the assurance that peg A in slot B could still feel awesome for both of us. It hurt a little. Every single drop of water in a nursing body is sent directly to the mammaries. The sensitive tissues were relying solely on synthetic lube that we were too distracted and fitful to use as thoroughly a usual. But it went well. Getting off was had, and, I, for one, verbally over-emphasized how awesome it was, to make sure that it would happen again.


And it did happen again. Positive reinforcement works! Not every day. Not all the time. But occasionally, as a lucky treat, off and on we totally get laid – together! We parents have enough sex that we are not *constantly * despairing our loss of adult time. Every week, or every other week, orrrrr, occasionally, a little more or less frequently, we totally get it on. Not as often as we would like, because having a child and jobs and new levels of stress do interfere with going heels to Jesus. But, as often as we are capable of articulating longing and availability, we become a monster with two backs. Woo!


By far the best way to get laid for new parents, is to have a babysitter take the tot out of the house. When the tot is out of the house, you can use your own platforms, equiptment, toys and shower. Nap times are a nice runner up – less exhausting than bedtime or, heaven forbid attempting to wake up before a baby in the morning. And for the love of everything, turn the baby monitor off! Soooooo not sexy to hear plaintive squalling as you approach what could have been a happy ending.


We have not yet managed to become secure or un-occupied enough to go thirty or forty toes instead of just twenty, but we’re working on it, and I look forward to someday getting an adult-only hotel room, or attending a sex party where we can go at it without waking any kind of small creature or neighbor. In the meantime, it’s nice to know that we’ve still got it. “It” being interest in booty slapping and the will to carry it out every once in a while. Often enough to recycle the paperbacks about sexless marriages.

Posted in Pregnant Sex, Recovering After Birth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Balding With Beer Belly

It’s time for me to become a middle-aged man. Queer culture is so relatively new, that most of the movement and community’s members are young. I have old lesbian and old gay male friends, but I don’t have more than a slim smattering of older Queer role models. My aging and development is very akin to the growing up and maturing process that humanity has seen during the eons of our existence, but my social life, if I can be said to have one, is now split into two, or more. I don’t have a solid core of daily people with whom to have coffee, phone calls and early dinner conversation about both my wild, homo self and my cozy, homebody parenting activities.

I have a streak of local parent friends and neighbors with kids of similar ages to mine. I appreciate their waves from across the street, social media posting about diapers and the fact that we can all discuss poop and boogers in a serious tone of voice. We can share birth and adoption stories. We can trade equipment tips and used baby gear. We have the same concerns over baby food ingredients, the fit of tiny socks that constantly fall off and sleep pattern disturbances.

But none of my local parent friends have the same Queer roots and identity that I have. If I want to casually make a U-haul, strap-on or fisting hanky code joke about trannies and queens, I would have to explain every minute detail of the punchline. If we had a dinner party and then put our babies to bed, there would be no following raucous wine discussion of recent drag, marriage laws and open relationships. I have no idea what it is that straight people talk about, which makes me a little bit of a xenophobic jerk in addition to making me pine to get back with my fellow Queers.

I’ve got eyes, fingers and the Internet, so I can look up the Queer dance parties that happen in my city and attend one on a rare night off from my little one. But even my co-parenting partner – who sees me after a tough night of nursing and tending – has a hard time recognizing how hard it would be for me to function at a late-night, physically demanding party zone. How I would be torn between home and the bar. If my daily witness doesn’t really get it, imagine how hard it would be for me and the other party-goers to relate.

I haven’t had a decent haircut in months. No matter how cool the cut of my pants, they still ride over my damaged abs and midriff like mom jeans. I try to hydrate and nap during the day with my infant, but I am exhausted, hungry and cranky even before the alcohol hits my system. I have no idea what the best dance songs are right now. Do you know how much longer it takes to Google popular music than to just walk into the familiar tunes in the bar that you are able to frequent?

So, I will undoubtedly get a babysitter some evening, stay up late, pump and dump my boozy breast milk and have the worst hangover of my life in order to shake my booty and sparkle my eyeballs at my Queer peers, but parenting has changed me. I’m awkward at young, energized events that don’t really get thumping until well after my normal, necessary bedtime.

The abundant joys of parenting mostly make my lack of perfectly suited conversation partners worth it, but I mourn the half friendships that I have with both average parents and my crazy, low-responsibility Queers. At some point I am going to have to have the balls to stop shielding my identity from the Normals and also admit that a draining night of dancing and debauchery with the Queers no longer holds the same appeal. I will occasionally muster for a fun night out, but leering at twenty-five year-olds just isn’t what it used to be. And it shouldn’t be.

How gross would it be to never recognize that I am becoming the gray-haired and pudgy, calm one in the middle of an otherwise sweating and altered dance floor? Everyone reaches many points in their lives where they must decide to be a rare human specimen of balance and growth or remain forever a child trapped in the dramatic throws of pop and self-obsessed youth culture. I am jealous of my friends who still have the time and stamina to party into the night, but how long are they themselves going to enjoy it? If the answer for the childless is “Forever!” I don’t even want to know.

I’m going to have to forge my own way into middle age and find spaces where I can both enjoy myself and be myself. What will provide me with enough enjoyment that, when Partner still wants to go out and party on his night off, I won’t feel left out and resentful of his joy? What can possibly fill the void left gaping by social, emotional, physical and economic exuberance?

I think I will begin with sleeping. I can’t enjoy a meal, outfit or TV show without sleep. In the midst of waking every few hours to nurse, what I need more than anything is some undisturbed rapid eye movement. Every once in a while, when the baby is napping or I have time off duty while Partner is on, I choose food or a shower over dozing, but the biggest luxury I have in life is to close my eyes and let the world go blissfully dark for a while.

When, eventually, I am well-rested enough to function for more than a few hours in a row, my next priority will be my own damned career. Some glorious day, I will feel like writing instead of dreaming about it. I will carve out time for myself for more than simple physical recovery from exhaustion. And, then, even further down the road, after I have spent long hours grinding and hacking on my professional hobby, I will muster the energy and courage to pull on some un-barfed-upon jeans, a tight-fitting tee from a box in the basement and head out into the night to once again observe the spectacle of a sticky, stale beer floor with flashing lights and a DJ who doesn’t have to wake up until afternoon of the next day.

I’m going to get myself a Groupon for cheapest massage that can be found, and a fancy jogging stroller for when I manage to tie my shoes onto the right feet. I’m going to spend just enough time on myself so that when Partner goes out to shake his booty, I can enjoy the quiet house full of delicious baby cheeks. I’m going to strive to balance myself with others well enough that I can have the peaceful family life that I long for and the spine of a feminist that I am supposed to be. I want my beer and my baby’s diapers too.

I want to be so damned happy with my scenario that I don’t give a shit that Partner hasn’t noticed that his gray hairs and out-dated shoes may make picking up 20-somethings a bit embarrassing. I am gonna nap, write and take enough long stroller hikes that everybody in my neighborhood notices that big lesbian dad with the little boy dressed in pink. I am going to beg beg beg and plead with all of my Queer friends to just have kids already, because it’s not much fun being middle-aged without them.

Posted in Aging Queer, Coming Out Queer | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Speak Up, Boy!

Secrets in an open relationship are supposed to be a no-no. I don’t mean the acceptable secrets, like that I used up the last of peanut butter directly off of a fork sprinkled with chocolate chips. No, I mean that specifically withholding pertinent information as a way of managing one’s partner is typically verboten. Despite my past staunch belief that I am a person who tells it as it is and the peanut butter and chocolate chips can fall where they may, I find myself hording resentful tidbits instead of clearing the air. Or rather, I find myself being persnickety and passive aggressive instead of uproariously, blatantly, outspokenly pissed. When I am so exhausted by the contiguous months of childcare that I simply can’t feel my face anymore, I just make sharp comments and complain to third parties instead of truly pleading for the help I would like to have.

As the boob-wielder in this family, I’m on duty twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, minus a few naps where I thrust the monitor at Partner and let him lord over the sleeping baby. Somebody has to be tired to the bone in the name of parenting. If there is a baby, somebody has got to sacrifice sleep, food and personal hygiene to make sure the kid doesn’t develop wildly inappropriately and rock itself forever in the corner. When zero parents step up to the plate, it’s called neglect. We can’t both ignore soggy diapers and plaintive cries for food. We can’t both avoid the baby’s loving eye contact and slimy little fingers without turning him into a miniature sociopath.

Sadly for me, Partner’s day-job skills are more lucrative than mine, so he has a nice little office set up in the basement away from the giggles, screams, head bonks and poop smells. Even now that the economy has hit us in our collective crotch, and he’s on unemployment, he still has no trouble simply disappearing, removing himself from the needy situation. He can ditch the highchair tray with encrusted banana that I begged him to wipe down last night, and my choice becomes to do it myself or call social services on my making-a-gender-statement, I-refuse-to-do-this-alone ass. I guess there is a third choice.

I can march into the basement, ignore the heavy sigh of someone who just had their marathon wanking and porn session interrupted, hand him the baby over his barely hidden erection and shout,

“It’s not enough to love your baby a couple times a day in the cute pictures I post to social media! You need to do his laundry, tend to his diaper rash, ensure that he is gaining weight, help him learn his natal tongue, deal with the consequences when you wake him up with your trance dance party and mop the floor while I work on my goddamned novel and teaching career!!!”

But try feeling like a considerate human being after staging an invasion like that, even if you used “I” statements and a really calm, accepting tone of voice. And then try repeating it, complete with feeling shitty about yourself for asking for help, because these kinds of pleas don’t produce change the first or seventeenth time.

If you really like a challenge, try getting laid after confronting a basic inequality in your relationship. No matter how righteous you are, you will not be attractive after stomping your foot and flipping the bird at your co-parent. Though, count yourself lucky if you still have enough sex to be worried about losing any. When the baby was new and the thrill of having my own body was fresh, there were a couple of stollen nap times full of lube and naked frolicking. When we had a babysitter who could take the baby out of the house once a week, we even strapped it on a few times and enjoyed ourselves enough to worry about disturbing the neighbors. But when our babysitter luck ended, and we were left with only our mismatched bedtimes and energy levels, the sex disappeared too.

I’m back where I was a year ago, as the only one physically involved with the baby and stuck with an ineffectual co-parent instead of my partner form the days of old. Tactful attempts at foreplay are rejected and the hint is well received. Sex for Partner is now done alone and furtively, lest he get interrupted and shamed for unequal parenting.

If the adult relationship is already gone, if there is no hot banging in even the distant future, why on earth am I holding my tongue about anything at all? If I no longer want to attempt to rekindle our sex life or cozy love nest all by myself, if I am willing to admit that no amount of effort on my part is going to transport us to our carefree, drunken days of debauchery, then why the shit don’t I allow myself to be as critical as I deem required to get some help up in here?

There is no reason to turn from a fire-lipped, smart ass boy into a keep-it-to-myself-because-it’s-unattractive house Frau. I’m going to return to telling it how it is! If it isn’t possible to maintain a slinky sweaty open relationship in the face of co-parenting, let’s just shout to the rafters about how uncool it is that the bonus-hole in this duo is the one up all night and busy all day to keep the baby form crawling in filth. No one partner should be stuck trying to repair and soothe the adult or infant relationship alone, and I want to be done trying.

It is very easy for the non-boob-toter to fritter away hours in the office basement without asking if he is needed elsewhere. Asking for time off is not longer the way here. I’m just going to take it, too. I’m going to flap my lips freely and take myself on the cheapest writing retreat I can find. I am going to sleep through a few whole nights and get more done than can be accomplished during one short nap. With my fingers crossed that Partner doesn’t go days without giving the baby solid food, story time or hugs when he screams at two in the morning.

What’s the worst that can happen? My child will grow up to write his own novel about how I abandoned him with an incompetent Partner? Join the club, buddy, join the club. Big wheel keep on turning.


Posted in Feminist Struggles, Pregnant and Unemployed, Queer Gender Inequality | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Nursing a Grudge

Nursing turns out to be pretty easy. Not “easy” as in “I’m completely comfortable admitting that I have functional breasts” without cringing at the word breasts, but “easy” as in “It’s a lot easier to whip out one of these bad boys at two AM when the baby is screaming.” In case you are asking yourself how hard it could possibly be to mix a bottle of formula in the middle of the night, allow me to describe it to you.


You are already exhausted from labor (either birthing or just attempting to do the first load of dishes in the days-old mountain) when the baby begins to stir. Recognizing the signs of immanent hunger, you race to the kitchen in the dark, only stubbing your toes a few times. If you turn the light on to measure the formula powder, to visualize how many ounces of liquid you have just poured or to find a translucent silicone nipple, you will not only ruin your night vision but also confuse the baby who can barely comprehend the difference between day and night by the volume of noise and the dimness of lights. Having successfully mixed or warmed a bottle of formula, you race back to the baby – either badly measured or with no night vision – and attempt to remain awake while the baby chugs milk or decides that she isn’t hungry after all. You try not to drop the bottle when the feasting offspring signals its fullness. You drag yourself and the minion upright for a burp, still trying not to knock over the bottle with a huge, horrible clatter and tripping implications with later ruined night vision. With the wee babe blissfuly asleep you curse the angelic snoozer as a bald-faced liar who will wake you to repeat this process two hours from the last time she woke up, if you’re lucky. Not two hours from when she falls asleep – oh no, two hours maximum from the last time you tried to focus hard enough to decide how long ago you were last awake and whether or not the bottle that you dropped nearby has gone bad.


So, in this way, nursing parents really luck out. It’s exceptionally easy, in these relative terms, to keep the baby safely in or near the bed, without smothering the small cherub during exhausted unconsciousness, to stir when it snarffles, find it’s gaping maw and plug it with a boob that topples out of a loose nightshirt. A monumental feat, to be sure, but infinitely easier that the midnight processes of bottle-feeding parents, who should be sainted for their extra efforts.


Breast-feeding a baby only hurt for a few days. There were less than two hundred hours during which I stifled a gut-wrenching scream as my nipples adjusted to the sweet, wholesome clamp of my beloved lamprey. And, in addition to saving our family nightly effort, it saved us a shit-ton of money. Boobs are free, or would be in a world where one doesn’t invest in a breast pump, bottles and freezing supplies. Alas, most nursing mothers find those tools priceless in the face of those other times when milky breasts hurt – when they get too full, or when mastitis enflames and itches at the whole mammary area. Or when some nursing parents are lucky enough to return to careers that waited for them.


Every time that I cursed breast-feeding for highlighting my girlishness, for the scoop-neck shirts that nursing parents are supposed to wear, for necessitating that I be the one to wake every two hours to have my titties twisted, or for the constant and utter dehydration, I stopped to consider how relatively easy, cheap and painless it is. It just kept winning out over bottle-feeding.


Until I realized that my own baby, in addition to gazillions of other thriving tots, do exceptionally well with formula. Not only does formula save the lives of babies who can’t nurse (for whatever reason), but formula frees biological parents from physically enslaving themselves to their children for another year right on the heals of the placental life-suctioning. My baby didn’t mind formula in the slightest. Not a bit; didn’t even poop differently. So, while I was pleased and relieved to roll over and drop a boob in his mouth while saving money, I also became brave enough to shout “Hey, Partner, I’m just going to mix up some formula for the baby,” at public events. The scornful glaring of more doting, hippy parents than us be damned. I gave him my immune system for as long as I could grin and bear it. Now it’s time for the Costco tin of powdered faux-milk to help me out.


I still have a bunch of thrifted little boys’ t-shirts that are cut from collar to nipple height to facilitate the occasional nursing, and I still grudgingly admit that my wee one enjoys the extra cuddles that I remember to dole out when he is latched on like a little eel, but I applaud formula parents in addition to nursing parents. Shit man, you slept how little? Heroes, one and all.

Posted in Breast Feeding, Recovering After Birth | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment