Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hard day.

Just one of those days, I guess.  T and I are participants in an online message board of other lesbian parents, and today the discussion has been a bit on the intimidating side.

I knew that being the non-biological/non-gestational parent might be difficult in ways that are unexpected and not normal in heterosexual parenting relationships.  I knew that we'd be blazing our own trail, figuring things out as we go.  I just didn't know exactly what the obstacles might be.

Now, I have something of an idea, thanks to that message board.  Several women started out the discussion simply by being frustrated with their partners over parenting decisions.  More and more jumped into it, adding their own personal fears and struggles and triumphs to the mixture.  Overall, I was left feeling somewhat, well, panicked.  And frustrated, because there isn't anything to do about what's coming, since we have no idea what's around the corner.

I never realized that what is likely to hamper us most as new parents is that both of us have too similar a notion about parenting - namely, that we've both grown up envisioning being mothers.  Women get pregnant, give birth, and then there is this amazing newborn to care for.  To soothe and comfort and breastfeed and love.  That's how women become mothers, at least when we're talking about reproducing (rather than adopting).  But how does a person mother when somebody is already that baby's mother?

Over the years, it's been brought up to me that two women are unnatural together because they are not one another's opposite.  They are not the man to the woman, the male plug to the female outlet, the moon to the sun, the yin to the yang.  Where is the balance?  Regardless of this "unnatural female-female" dynamic argument, I've always thought to myself that it simply doesn't matter because we are who we are, and we've chosen each other so the point is moo.  (Yep, I meant moo.  Not moot.  Because it's like a cow's opinion - it doesn't matter.  It's moo.)  Well now I'm feeling desperately out of harmony with this parenting idea.  I have to be the balance to T's mothering our baby, but I don't identify as a father figure so where does that leave me?  Right now, I see two choices: 1.) alter the way I view mothering.  Begin to think of it as parenting instead, and be the complement to T instead of the replacement of her.  2.) continue to think of myself as mothering our child, and run into wall after wall of disappointment and disjointedness and redundancy, as our baby will have T to carry her and birth her and breastfeed her.

In addition, I'm feeling overly sensitive at this moment in time so today I've felt as if I'm barely holding myself together by threads at the edges of my life.  It seems overly dramatic, and perhaps it is, but sometimes I just have to feel around where the bottom of a day is with my toes before I can climb back up the well.  Everything I've hoped and dreamed and schemed for these past few years is becoming reality - but my reality is changing.  I want to be a mother, more than anything.  But this baby... he isn't going to be mine the way I dreamed he would be at first.  I just have to figure out how to be his mama without being his mother.

Realizing this to be true comes with some grief.  I hate the idea of mourning the loss of something that I haven't lost at all, but I feel a deep need to recognize in myself that there is some loss happening within me, however minute.  I don't want to resent our child because she didn't grow inside my body.  I fear holding myself or her at a distance, to prevent being hurt by rejection from a non-biological child who never did choose this life.  After all, it was our decision to bring a new person into this world.  And it's our responsibility to find a way to parent her as best we can.

I can't know what the future will bring us.  I won't know where our biggest challenges lie until we're upon them.  I cannot control what happens; I can only control myself and the way I behave.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gratuitous Belly Photo

I feel like I'm about a month ahead of schedule...

It is also at the end of the day when it tends to show a little more.

(gestationally somewhere between 8 weeks 3 days and 9 weeks 2 days, depending on what due date you go by...)

Childbirth Choices

Last night we attended a class given by the Tucson Birth Center about the choices pregnant couples have to make.  Mostly, it's information about the TBC's philosophy and policies, and how birthing at the Center differs from birthing at the hospital.

Basically, we're thrilled with the TBC.  The birth rooms there are just like bedrooms, with gorgeous hardwood floors, comfortable regular beds (not hospital-type beds) with quilts, individual private bathrooms (big ones!) with showers, and a huge birthing tub in every room.  They have a family waiting room with sofas and chairs, magazines, books, toys for children, and a TV.  There is also a small kitchenette with a fridge and microwave and table with chairs.

The TBC believes strongly that labor and birth are normal things in a woman's life, and she should never be treated as if something is wrong with her.  The midwives don't believe that medical interventions need a place in a normal labor that is progressing - even if it's slower than "normal".

Should anything go south during the birth, the midwives have privileges at the hospital so if you transfer to the hospital, the midwife goes with and she continues your care.  Unless you need a Cesarean, then obviously an OB would need to perform that.

At our prenatal appointments, the midwives are incredibly thorough and supportive.  I can't even count how many times they have asked if we had any questions.

The midwives also believe that babies should be with their parents, not in a plastic bassinet in the nursery.  TBC does not have a nursery.  They don't have any plastic bassinets.  The nurse giving the class last night said that they only give babies baths if the parents request it, and usually at some point they remember to weigh and measure the baby, ha.  You know, amongst all the baby snuggling, breastfeeding, and cooing over how adorable the new baby is.

I am so excited to watch T's belly continue to grow.  I am so excited to feel the baby moving and kicking.  I am so excited to be Mama, instead of feeling like a mom but being referred to by my name.  I am so excited to see T become Mom.  I am so excited to watch our families grow and change with this new little addition.  I am so excited to watch our friends develop a relationship with our child.

I do wish I could go back in time and find myself when I was struggling, when life was hard and uncertain.  I would lean in and give myself a big hug and say, "Just wait.  Things are going to get so good."

I'm incredibly thankful for my life!

Little funny things.

We were at a housewares-type store the other night, and T found a collapsible step-stool.  She pulled it off the rack and set it up on the ground before stepping onto it.  I wandered over to find her grinning at me gleefully from atop the stool. 
"See?!  I can use this to get into your truck when I get big and pregnant!" she exclaimed.
"What will you do with it once you're in the truck?" I asked.
"I'll attach a string to it, and pull it in after me!"

I don't know why that struck me as so funny, but I began laughing and laughing.  Just the image maybe, of the stool on a string, or perhaps it was thinking about where the stool would go once in the truck, but I just about doubled over laughing.  T glared at me, unappreciative.

"Stop laughing at me!" she spit out.
"I'm not laughing AT you, I'm just laughing NEAR you." I replied, still cackling. 
"You better be nice, or else you'll be in charge of putting the stool down for me and then picking it up for me after I've gotten in!"  T threatened. 


Yesterday evening, we had a class at the Birth Center (another entry... later, I swear.) and we stopped at Boston Market for dinner.  At Boston Market they had some brownies out at the register, and I was drooling over them.  T looked at me, excitement sparkling in her eyes, and said, "We should make brownies!" 
So we hit the grocery store for a boxed mix of gluten-free brownies.  And while we were there, T suddenly wanted a raspberry sauce to go with it.  And then also, chocolate ice cream.  And also, M&Ms to put in the brownies.  This, coming from the pregnant lady who hasn't wanted anything sweet in weeks! 

We were laughing at the sheer absurdity of it all, right there in the middle of Albertson's.  Her eyes were just about streaming with tears from laughing as she commented, "I just don't know what's wrong with me!"

To which I replied, "There's nothing wrong with you!  The cupcake wants a brownie.  Hmm.  That's a little morbid, almost like cannibalism..."  And then there was more laughing.

And you know what?  We DID have brownies and ice cream after we watched Castle last night. 

Life is grand.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I spent the evening with a good friend last night, and we got talking about relationships.  In the retelling of how I met and fell in love with T, I was filled with overwhelming emotion.  My intense joy and love for her welled up through my throat and into my mouth, flowing out in words of appreciation and thankfulness.  I felt my eyes swell with tears of happiness.

I simply cannot imagine my life without her in it.  I tell her I love her every day, but I think sometimes the depth of my feelings for her goes unplumbed.  Some days, it's really important to tell her that I love her more than anything, that I want to grow old with her, that I believe we can handle anything that comes our way together.

I am so unbelievably happy.  Often, I find myself wondering how I became so fortunate.  Every day I can't help but to smile and be jubilant.

And to think: this love of my life is growing a new life inside, one who will amaze us and hold our hearts in his or her tiny fist each moment of their existence.

I love you so much, T.  It's beyond my ability to express how glad I am to be with you and to hold your hand as we step together into this new time in our lives.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Birth Center 1

Thursday was our first prenatal appointment at the Birth Center.  T chose the midwife, an older woman named Fran who was just the kind of person you wanted to wrap your arms around and sit and have tea with.  She was so kind and informative and comfortable!  I couldn't have hoped for better.

That being said, I should mention that the center has 6 full time midwives and 1 part-timer.  The center encourages their pregnant couples to meet each midwife, since you have no way of knowing who will be on call when you go into labor.  Each subsequent appointment will be with another midwife.

We are also participating in something called Group Centering, which is a group of 8 couples who share due dates close to ours all going through the prenatal information and classes together.  The first few appointments are individual, but starting in April we'll be doing most of our appointments with these other 7 couples.  Excepting the ultrasound and any individual testing or bloodwork, of course.

The midwife running our Centering classes is one that T has had some personal experience with and one we've also heard some things about from others.  She is not as ideal a midwife as our friend Fran.  We are hoping that getting to know her will make our experience with her better, as she tends towards being uncertain and has a flaky air about her.  I'm actually looking forward to the Centering classes, and I think both T and I are glad to be cared for at the birth center rather than at a hospital with an OB.

Anyway.  Back to our first appointment, and Fran.  First we were taken into a room where a medical assistant and an extern asked T a bunch of questions and filled out things on the computer, the MA directing the extern the entire time.  They were great about the fact that I was not a man, nor the father.  We explained about the donor and that we had his information with us.

I greatly appreciated the effort that Fran put into including me and changing the terms she used during the appointment.  I felt welcome and valued.

Fran was very thorough with T, asking questions and providing several opportunities to bring up questions or concerns that we had.  We discussed everything we'd hoped to discuss and more.  One question we had was how were they going to determine T's estimated due date, as typical pregnancy calculations doesn't take into consideration that T's cycle is about four days longer than "the norm".

Since we knew the date T ovulated and when we inseminated, Fran was quite pleased with how accurate the dating was.  According to her little calculation cardboard wheel thingy, using the date of conception we gave her, she said our EDD would be between August 31st and September 1st.  Since the birth center only allows births at the center that are between 37 and 41 weeks, Fran padded our EDD and put us on September 1st.  We are incredibly thankful that Fran understood our concerns of having too early a due date.  On the flip side of that though, a later due date puts us backwards in our week count.  We still haven't decided how to count, since the way we've been counting puts us further along and is very desirable to me, but counting the new way means we'd have to do a repeat of the seventh week.  Frankly, that bums me out.  We'll see.

They drew blood from T and collected a urine sample, and we made an appointment for February 7th.  Hopefully at that time we'll get to hear the baby's heartbeat!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Donor siblings

"Donor sibling" is a widely-used phrase to describe any child who shares a biological connection to another child through genetic material donation - such as sperm donation, egg donation, or embryo donation.

Any child that either T or myself give birth to will have donor siblings who are genetically half-siblings.  We are planning on using the same donor that T is pregnant with for my own pregnancy in a few years, so our children will also be genetic half-siblings - but for all intensive purposes they're just going to be regular siblings in our book.

Using a sperm (or egg or embryo) donation means that you have a choice: whether you want to put yourself out there to meet these donor siblings, or not.  The choice was easy for us to make, because of course we want to be in contact with our kids' donor siblings and their families.  We have zero intention of raising our kids to think of their donor sibs as actual brothers or sisters, but we do want them to be aware of their existence.  It's a great idea to keep in touch with these other families too, in case of medical conditions as well as just to compare traits and resemblances.  We are very much looking forward to seeing other children conceived using the same donor as we used.  Also, down the line, we're hoping that if our kids are struggling with having a donor instead of a father, they can talk about their frustrations with other donor siblings who share a link to them.

The other side to the coin is that once that information is out there, there isn't any taking it back.  We can't control who else used this donor, and as we all know, sometimes people do crazy or weird or totally insane things.  I'm sincerely hoping that there aren't any other families of this donor who qualify as any of the above... and if they are, I can choose not to respond to them or be involved in their lives in any way.

There is a website called the Donor Sibling Registry, and it's international.  You have to pay a fee to peruse the boards and to create postings, but people who have used a donor from anywhere in the world all view this website and it can be a great resource to connect with donor sibs.  I'm chomping at the bit to register with the DSR, but it's $175 for a lifetime membership and we are still in the first trimester so I'm forcing myself to wait awhile longer.

Our sperm bank has its own sibling registry, just for people who've conceived using sperm from that bank, which of course we're registered with already.  It's free, and you can only view others who have reported pregnancies by the same donor as yourself.  Up until today, we were the only couple registered with our donor ("Average Joe") - but this morning, someone else showed up on the registry!  We knew that our donor had confirmed pregnancies, but several of them were in 2009 and we hadn't heard of any others until us.  The person who showed up on the registry today had her baby in June '11.  It's reassuring to see another name on the list, we're hoping to see a couple more.  But not too many more!  According to the bank, our donor still has a lot of vials, so either he was popular at one point and was selling a lot of vials but isn't anymore, or he's still actively donating.

Soon, we are planning on buying another group of vials to put in storage for our next baby in a few years.

Some days, I still am in disbelief that this has even happened.

We're going to have a baby!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lots of information.

According to our calculations, T's pregnancy is 7 weeks, 1 day along today.  For future reference, that's 7w1d.  Since we're still so early on in this growing a baby thing, I imagine counting each day matters a whole lot more than when she reaches, say, 30 weeks.

We tried for five months to conceive.  Four of those months produced nothing but stark white negative pregnancy tests.  Although we know very well the odds of achieving pregnancy is only about 20% per cycle - and that's for heterosexual couples using fresh sperm - still, we had hoped to get pregnant sooner.  After the fourth cycle, we intended to put off trying again until next summer.

During this time, our foster children were spending their weekends with their birthmother in preparation to go home permanently the weekend before Christmas.  Our time with them was drawing to a close, we weren't pregnant, and the holiday season was feeling very bleak.  I'll be the first to admit that we were feeling pretty sorry for ourselves.

T thought about it good and hard, and decided that getting pregnant next summer wasn't going to be ideal, either.  We previously decided to stop trying after the November cycle because having a baby after July 2012 would be too terribly inconvenient at her job.  When the time came that T was going to ovulate, we just couldn't bear the idea of not continuing to try.  With only hours to spare, I was able to contact our sperm bank and get some vials shipped to our home, hopefully in time for T's ovulation.  Thankfully, the tank did arrive in time and we were able to inseminate.  That next weekend, we said goodbye to our kiddos and set about getting things ready for our trip into the mountains with my family the weekend following that (Christmas).

Our kids left on a Saturday.  The very next Tuesday, T woke up early and had to go to the bathroom.  She took a pregnancy test, and left it sit on the counter while she crawled back into bed to wait.  Each month when she took a pregnancy test, we always waited nine minutes and then would look at the test.  After ten minutes, whatever results the test offers isn't necessarily accurate.  So this specific day, I looked at my watch and nudged T back out of bed to check the test before going back to sleep.  Usually she'd examine the test closely for about thirty seconds before sighing in exasperation and throwing it away.  That was fully what I expected to happen this time, simply because it was all I was familiar with.

I had almost fallen back asleep when I heard the most beautiful, amazing sound : T's uncertain, echoing, "Uhhm..."

I immediately flipped over to face her and exclaimed, "WHAT?!  Is it positive?!"  I hopped out of bed to see for myself.  T was looking at me, incredulous.  We hugged and jumped up and down there in the bathroom and kissed and looked at the test probably a million times.

It really was positive.  I couldn't believe it.

We reined ourselves in and waited until Wednesday night to tell T's parents, and tortured ourselves by waiting until Friday night to tell my parents and brother.  See, we were taking off Friday late afternoon to drive five hours into the northern mountains to spend several days over Christmas in a cabin with my family, and we wanted to be able to tell them in person.  We gave each set of grandparents a children's book called On The Day You Were Born, with a note attached on the front, saying, "To read to your next/first grandbaby, ETA August 2012!"

And now here we are, seven weeks and one day pregnant.  I can't lie, I'm still nervous about a miscarriage.  I know that one in four pregnancies ends up miscarrying.  I also know that once a pregnancy makes it out of the first trimester, the odds of miscarriage decrease significantly.  With bated breath, I'm willing these next six weeks to pass without incident.  The longer our "Cupcake" lives inside T and grows, the more attached we both grow, and the harder it would be to say goodbye.  Fingers crossed, right?

Looking forward to our first midwife appointment on Thursday morning!

That's enough for one night... Hope you're all well!


Hi!  It's so nice to see you here.  Well.  I can't actually *see* you, but I know you're there.

Welcome to our new blog!  I created a blog in 2009 (I believe...) to regale our friends and family with stories and photos of our foster children.  All our foster children have moved on now, and we'd like to open the readership up a bit for our blog.  The foster children blog was very private with only a few people invited to be readers - please don't be offended if you weren't one of those people!  We were concerned with the privacy and safety of our kiddos.  Now we want to share our lives with a wider array of our friends as well as family.  I discovered, too late, that I couldn't just make all the entries about the foster kids private and make additional entries public.  I grabbed hold of the opportunity to create a new blog over the ordeal, and voila!  Here we are.

So again, welcome to Two Mothers McGill - the trials, tribulations, successes, and failures of myself and my darling wife, T - as we embark upon permanent motherhood.