Saturday, December 12, 2015

The second time around (long)

Far and wide, our friends all across the globe know our family is expecting a new addition. We've never been shy about our intentions to both carry at least one pregnancy - if anything, we have shouted it from the rooftops and always been open to talking with people about our family's differences.

Now that I really am pregnant with Little Brother, it's been an eye-opening experience in a myriad of ways. It's been touching for so many of our loved ones to excitedly ask me/us about how it is this time around with our role-reversal. Truly, it means a lot to have people ask and check in and I'm sure that sometimes our ability to swap pregnancies is fascinating. I'm glad people want to know how it's been different and how it's been the same, and that they're comfortable enough with me and my family to know it's okay to ask.

Before this pregnancy, I spent some time considering what those similarities and differences might be. I even started framing responses in my mind, mostly about how all pregnancies are different, even for one woman experiencing several subsequent pregnancies. In thinking about my answers and framing them before I knew what they were, I found another deep pocket of my own arrogance. Don't worry, they're plentiful, so even if I deplete this one, there are undoubtedly always more.

I am 30 weeks pregnant. 75% done. A little over two months to go. In the last 26 weeks (you know, the ones where I have been actually aware that I'm pregnant), I have learned some things. And here is where I admit some painful truths to you all: This pregnancy has been both harder and easier at times than I anticipated. It's been more rewarding and less rewarding than I'd hoped for. It's strained some relationships I didn't think would even be affected. It has been a mental, emotional, and physical challenge. And last... being the currently-pregnant partner to a previously-pregnant partner isn't always what I dreamed it would be.

Some of the more negative aspects I mention are the difficult truths for me, because as some of you know, I've been the most excited person around to get to experience pregnancy for nearly as long as I've been an adult. I've waited and waited my turn, ever since T and I were married in 2008 and I was stoked about having kids since well before that. Obviously, the two things (pregnancy and having kids) are not mutually exclusive, but it was always our plan so in this circumstance, they're connected. I have felt humbled and honored and happy and heartbroken, sometimes all in the same day, during this pregnancy. When I contemplated this glorious pregnant time in my life (before I was actually doing any gestating), I thought I'd be that exhaustingly happy, glowing pregnant woman who loved every moment. Observing myself as I've progressed through each trimester has been a disappointment at times. I have been hard on myself to buck up, not complain, and be grateful, because I found that the difficult parts of pregnancy aren't always something I can power through with sheer will.

It sometimes meant days on end of vomiting and feeling generally shitty while my wonderfully creative 3 year old begged me to play with her and having to tell her no. For awhile, it meant that my wife carried a much heavier load and even while knowing she was at the end of her rope, still telling her that her thoughtful idea of home-fried chicken nuggets was making me feel incredibly sick and to please stop. It's been months of inactivity on the online certification program I'm working even harder now to complete. It's been letting go of any idyllic time or energy to direct towards art projects, holiday-themed crafting with my kid, decorating my house, or even keeping up with housework.

But it's also been unfathomably magical. There is a whole new human growing within me. His genetics are shaped by a combination of my own and the man who also shaped half of E's genetics. This new person will share features and traits with my biological family, specifically my mother, who knows so little and has so few people who share any biological ties to her. I've gotten to feel this person's very first movements, be the very first voice he ever heard, and give him the first taste of what love is. These things have no equal. There is no trade in the universe that would cause me to do things differently if I could.

Perhaps thinking that I'm also giving him a thorough insight into human nature will make me feel less guilty about the challenges. After all, I'm showing him that although my love for him is perfect, I am not and never will be.

Now, think about all the things I've just told you, and try to cram them within an "alternative" framework of a family where both parents can and have experienced a pregnancy. Often, I find the assumption (even within myself and T) is that my pregnancy can only be easier/better due to having a partner who knows what I'm going through. I understand that is only logical.

In truth, even partners with shared events still cannot know the exact minutiae of the other's experience. How silly and naive it feels in hindsight, to have anticipated that T would know exactly what I am going through. After all, shared experiences are not exact duplicates of one another, they merely have certain pieces or parts that overlap. Also, T and I have very different body chemistries, different hormone reactions, different thought processes, and very different emotional responses to stimuli.

Yet again, we have found another area where communication of expectations is key. Mostly we discovered it after weeks of little offenses, disappointments, and internalized resentment. Ahh, the triad of all good marriages, right?

When T was pregnant, I couldn't get enough of her belly. The rest of her was cute as always, but the belly was new and exciting. I studied it day after day. I likely annoyed the crap out of her by touching her all the time, asking what the Cupcake was doing, what she felt like, and touching her some more. I was fixated on the pregnancy; on our baby that I was at significant risk of feeling left out of helping grow. Of course I wanted T to feel supported, but I also selfishly needed to be intimately involved and "in the know". I see now that these are issues of my own insecurities. But when I became pregnant, I suddenly expected T to behave exactly as I had behaved during her pregnancy. When she didn't, I mistook it as lack of interest. I kept thinking, "I thought we both wanted another baby, I thought you would be into my pregnancy and being involved, but you're not. Maybe you're drawing away from us; do you not want this child? Do you care at all?" This was incredibly insensitive and self-centered of me to ever think of T. I just had no perspective, no ability to get away and see that she was behaving as she needed to behave for herself and doing the best she could to support not only me, but our daughter through a rough patch. T doesn't have the same insecurities I do. She was never the one attached to The Idea of pregnancy and birth like I was - she carried E and birthed her because that's how we decided to grow our family, and she did an amazing job. But I'd always loved and fantasized about The Idea of pregnancy and birth. It's important to me in a different way. She feels connected enough to this baby through me and through E; she isn't threatened by the fact that she isn't carrying this child within her. So although T does love on my belly and enjoys feeling our son swim around, she doesn't NEED those things deep in her soul to love Little Brother. And that's a different kind of magic.

I've yet again come to the conclusion that we're not so different from other couples, or other families. Just two different people coming together to provide complementary traits for one another. Two people combining their lives in love. Two people not above arguments and miscommunication. Two personalities, two sets of needs. Two people trying their best to support one another through this crazy, often unexpected thing we call Life.

"So A, is it easier/better going through a pregnancy with a wife who's been pregnant herself?"
I really don't know. I've never been through a pregnancy with a husband, and I've never been through a pregnancy with a wife who hasn't been through a pregnancy, so I honestly cannot say. I think the only safe thing to say is that everyone is different and there is no way for one person to experience both. And even if there was, the fact still remains that not all pregnancies are the same within the same woman.

I'm thankful for the knowledge of and experience with pregnancy that T brings to the table. Sometimes I wish she knew less or were slightly more sympathetic, but it's exactly because of those reasons paired with her innate knowledge of me that cause her to push me to be my best self. She knows when I could do better and she knows when I'm really at the end of my rope. This is her responsibility in our relationship - to know me, to love me, to ground me in truth and logic and real life. I need those things.

She still helps me daily to be my own best self, or at least the best version I can muster at that point in time. In knowing and accepting these truths, I know that this experience is meant for me. Just like she's meant for me.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Follow-up Anatomy Scan

At the initial anatomy scan for this pregnancy, the tech had some difficulties getting Baby to hold still long enough for all the measurements she needed to take. She asked us if we'd come back in 4 weeks, and we said "OF COURSE!". Last week we went, and although the tech was able to finally get all the measurements, she also couldn't avoid it when Baby wanted to give us the Full Moon view of his bottom half.

Despite wanting to be surprised at the birth, we now know that the McGill family will be welcoming a son in February! 

I'll admit, I feel a little bit disappointed to have found out early. I was truly looking forward to finding out at the moment of birth, to letting T see and announce it to the room. I also loved the thought that we'd head into the birth with a short list of names for both boys and girls, and decide once we met Baby officially. Although we know we're having a boy now, we still plan to wait and name him after meeting him. I can't help but feel a little bit like something was taken from us. I'm not heartbroken by any means, but I was looking forward to the experience.

That all being said, I have very strongly suspected since I was 12 weeks along that this babe would be a boy, even sure enough to only refer to him in masculine terms. It was strange; I never expected to be THAT mother who had a strong intuition about it, I figured I'd be clueless and anything I thought would be simply a guess. But at 12 weeks, the midwife struggled to find Baby's heartbeat with the doppler, so she did a quick ultrasound to make sure everything was okay. The moment I saw that little seedling, there was a voice in my head that said, "Ah, there he is." It didn't feel as if that came from myself, so I trusted that I was being told something by someone who knew more than I.

This is the best image from my 24 week ultrasound. You can see Baby's profile, with his hand up close to his nose. 

The other thing we'd kind of hoped to avoid by waiting to find out is all the commentary about his gender. Now we get comments about how "it'll be so great to have one of each!" and "Ahh, you're done now since you have a girl AND a boy, right?". We just really dislike commentary on our family being based on gender. If I were pregnant with a girl, she would be no less perfect for our family and we would be no less happy. We may not be done, either, just because we have a girl AND a boy. No, he isn't already a troublemaker/heartbreaker/or any other label people slap onto little boys without knowing them. We may frustrate everyone with our desire to not plaster our kid in "Lil Slugger" or "A Treat for the Ladies" onesies - so be it. In fact, this baby will wear a good number of his sister's hand-me-downs. Heaven forbid!

I don't know who this little person will grow into. But it will be his choice, and I will not allow him to be labeled as anything other than himself. He is a person first, and a boy second. And we cherish all the people in our family.

Yes, we are thrilled. But we're no more or less thrilled about him because we know he's a BOY.

Although it is a bit easier now that we can tell E she definitely is getting a brother. <3

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thoughts on pregnancy loss

Mid October is already upon us. I love fall, even though we don't really get an autumnal season here, so this month is an enjoyable time for me. E and I have been spending every weekend morning out in our front yard among our harvest/fall decorations, enjoying the cool breeze and being outside without risking a sunburn. This is the first year of E's life where I feel she GETS it better, all the birthdays and holidays and celebrations, so I just know it's going to be a glorious holiday season. She's decided she wants to be a fox for Halloween and she's probably the most excited about trick-or-treating and eating the spoils of her efforts.

This year's autumn is different than any other, for a couple reasons. Obviously, I'm pregnant, which is drastically different than any other year. But on a deeper level, it's a time of grieving and reflection for me because the baby I miscarried early this year was supposed to be born mid-October. Appropriately, October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance month. Since I lost that baby, my emotions have run the gamut. It's such a personal and private thing, to feel and know that my body lost a baby we'd waited and wished for so long. And yet, millions of women across the world are navigating pregnancy loss or infant loss, and the worst part is they're doing it alone. It's hard not to feel shame, to blame myself for what happened. I believe strongly that talking about it with our loved ones is important, if only so that the next woman it happens to doesn't feel shamed and lonely. 

Processing my grief has been a long road. I'm still working on it. When we learned that I was pregnant again, I had to process further. I guess I expected myself to get past the loss faster, particularly once my body was carrying another child. Why should I still long for the first baby when I now have this one who is growing so magnificently? Because they're not the same, I learned. I had dreams and hopes about the first child I was growing - that baby was already a person to me. And when I lost him, I lost all the things I'd been thinking of and wishing for that person. It's only natural that losing the first baby would affect my feelings about the next one, so when this pregnancy came along, I worried. I worried all the time, in every spare moment I had in which I wasn't sick or asleep. I tried really hard to be calm and trusting and accepting that my body could grow a healthy pregnancy, but I constantly would relive the profound sorrow of saying goodbye. In time, I passed the point I lost the first pregnancy and began to worry slightly less. Then I passed the end of the first trimester and started to really believe that a new family member would be born. Now we've passed our anatomy scan ultrasound and I've seen our little seal pup swimming inside me and it hits me like a ton of bricks that I love everything about this child. 

It bothers me that it took so long for me to see it. I feel guilt that this babe might have somehow felt that I wasn't all the way on board at the beginning. But I'm ready for you now, little selkie child. 

The time during and after the miscarriage, I thought fiercely to myself that if I ever (no, not if, WHEN, WHEN) became pregnant again, I would force myself to be grateful every day. I would cherish the time I got to carry another person within myself, to be responsible for growing another being. Funny, how when this pregnancy came along it shattered all the expectations of how I'd feel - because I felt like shit. That certainly wasn't in the plans. Some days, it was hard to remember that I felt so terrible BECAUSE I was growing another being. I didn't have any room for logic and reason. I didn't feel grateful, I felt angry because clearly, I'd paid my dues already by losing a pregnancy, shouldn't this one treat me nicely?! Turns out, it doesn't work that way. 

Now, we're already more than halfway through. Today, I'm so much closer to my own self again and I really am grateful about that. I no longer hate and resent all food - I can even cook food for myself! I can tolerate the smell of cooking food! I can boil water without it making my stomach heave! It's miraculous. The baby happily obliges me by fluttering and kicking and squirming around much of the day. My belly has begun to swell and really look like a round pregnant belly, despite how all my clothes make it look different than I perceive it. E enjoys talking about our baby and the things she will teach the baby (like how to crawl on sand into the ocean and do Crazy Eye). She's very good about being gentle with my abdomen and can hardly wait to feel the baby kicking. E also has started telling us that she's growing a baby in HER uterus, and her breasts will get milk, too. We've covered Biology 101 with her, but that hasn't deterred her enthusiasm for having a baby of her own. 

Today I feel all the things I wished I'd gotten to feel with that first child. I feel all the happy emotions I told myself I would feel when I got to carry another pregnancy. It may have taken me longer than I'd like, but I'm glad I made it. I can't promise how tomorrow will go, but for today, that's enough. 

Friday, August 21, 2015


Summertime is always a very full time of year for the McGills. Birthdays galore, a couple of wedding anniversaries, a couple of death anniversaries. This year, for me, it's a time of contemplation.

T's and my birthdays both are during the summer months. Born in the same year, we're the same age except for those days between our birthdays in July and September. Both T's parents and a handful of friends all have birthdays during this hottest time of year. And lest we forget, our E and many of her friends have birthdays in the summer as well. It's a solid four months of splash pads and zoo trips, of sunscreen and melting frosting. The slap of little feet in flip flops across the wet concrete and echoing shouts of laughter. There's much singing of Happy Birthday to be had, and plenty of treats to go with all these lovely birthday wishes.

Then there's the wedding anniversaries. Ours is tomorrow; August 22nd. This year marks seven years married for us. The Copper Anniversary - which we love, as we are southwestern women at heart. My parents' anniversary is only a few days behind ours.

Admittedly, T and I haven't been very good at the whole anniversary thing since our first anniversary. Since then, life has gotten in the way and we haven't felt called to have parties or even do much by way of celebrating. I like to think that we celebrate each other daily, even if that's not always true. Seven years hitched and ten years together feels like a good long time. My wife is a foregone conclusion - in the very best way possible. She's my rock, my sounding board, my tether to logic and reason. Ever the sensible and responsible one, my darling lady. This year was a pretty special one though, in that our state recognized our marriage early in the year and then the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is legal nationally - this is our first anniversary that our home state "counts" us as a married couple. Able to file jointly on both state and federal taxes for the first time. Able to both have legal rights to our children. Able to own our home together, instead of her half and my half. We considered doing a vow renewal for our anniversary this year, to celebrate with those who we missed celebrating with seven years ago. Unfortunately we weren't able to make that happen this summer. It simply was too costly. Then I ended up pregnant and now I'm selfishly thankful that I'm not about to be photographed in my current "chubbily pregnant" state. Regardless of gifts and cards though, I've never been more grateful for my wife than this year. The pregnancy hasn't been easy on me, and I've relied upon her moreso than I would have wished. I know it's been difficult for her, and she has truly impressed me beyond measure with her ability to stay cool under the pressure of running our lives. Just to embarrass her for a moment, I want to tell you all that she's done 100% of the toddler wake-ups and drop-offs and probably 99% of her bedtimes. She's singlehandedly balanced our budget, gotten all our bills paid on time, undertaken all the meal-planning, shopping, and cooking. Oh, and did I mention, she also got a promotion at work during all this? And she's taken time away from work to attend our prenatal appointments. I know she knows I'm thankful, but it can't hurt to reiterate.

Thank you my love, for being a supportive and endlessly understanding partner during our whole relationship - but particularly the last two months.

In September, we also take time to remember the family matriarchs whom we've lost. T and I both mourn the deaths of our maternal grandmothers in September. Both strong women, forces to be reckoned with in each of their respective clans. Both grandmothers struggled with our relationship, and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that I regret they departed this life without knowing the depth of joy and love we've found, and without having known their great-grandchildren. In many ways, this feels like a too-abrupt ending; a cliffhanger without a sequel; a novel whose writer never finished. I cannot believe that either one would have wished to miss out on our babies. I hope that in their own ways, perhaps these absent grandmothers get to witness our family growing and to know our children, even if from a great distance. You are both missed.

All these things cause me to reflect. I'm 14 weeks pregnant now, with likely the only pregnancy I'll carry. I know that come March, I'll be alone in this body once more and forever. I know and have said often to myself that I need to try and relish this time, to celebrate the life growing within me. But I frequently find myself firmly mired in each moment, thinking only of my discomfort and wishing I felt better. Then I feel guilty for not cherishing every second, even the ones spent vomiting or with a cramping stomach.

I've spent the better portion of these last two months either being sick, uncomfortable, or asleep. I've thought only of what I must force myself to do that minute, or the next. There's been little time to daydream about this baby. As you might imagine, this isn't exactly how I envisioned pregnancy going for me. Thinking about the last two months makes me feel very sad and full of regret, and yet I cannot see how to have done it differently. I've had this conversation (if you will) with a few people, and some seem to find it distressing that I'm not the happy, glowing pregnant woman they want me to be. I think this is probably just the first of many times that I'll disappoint my adoring fans with what they feel must be inappropriate feelings or reactions, but I've come to a conclusion. It's just too much pressure to try and feel joyful all the time. Sometimes, the fact is, it sucks to feel sick and that must be acceptable.

Now, all that being said - I seem to be feeling better and less volatile this week. I'm glad. So very glad. Bring on some new kind of pregnancy torture - this "morning" sickness is for the birds. I'm looking forward to our Centering classes starting in September, and I'm also excited for E's and my birthdays. We're extra fortunate this year to be able to take E to visit my great aunt and uncle for the first time in Iowa, and I am so happy. I'm waiting patiently (NOT) to feel the babe begin to move, and I am so excited for T and E to feel it, too. Our anatomy scan is scheduled in October, just after a good friend is getting married. Truly, I feel like we're on the brink of some grand adventures and I'm glad to put the first trimester behind us. I hope to find a little bit more of myself in the second.

To sum up: Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! Happy memories! Happy life!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Big Announcement

Yesterday was our deadline.  By yesterday, we were supposed to come up with some clever photographic announcement.  Yesterday came and went and still inspiration was lacking.  Instead here you go---

We are going to have another baby!!!!!

A is almost 12 weeks pregnant and due mid-February.  We are very excited and rather exhausted.  It's interesting to have swapped roles and go through her first pregnancy while chasing an almost-three-year-old.

Yesterday was our second appointment at the Birth Center. We arrived and were brought back to an exam room pretty quickly.  We were going to meet one of the few midwives we didn't know from my pregnancy. For the first time, we had to wait. And wait.  It was the first time we actually had to wait to be seen, so we were a little impatient.  Eventually she came and asked us the usual questions.  Then the part we were waiting for- the heartbeat. Since we know the date of conception, we skip the dating ultrasound and have to wait to hear a heartbeat on the Doppler.  Once we heard the heartbeat we would feel comfortable announcing to everyone and making it "Facebook official," so to speak. 

So the midwife dug around A's abdomen with the Doppler again and again. After a few minutes, I started getting nervous. Its not uncommon to have a hard time finding the baby this early, but it still was hard to not fear the worst.  She asked if we wanted to wait until the next appointment and try again or do a quick ultrasound.  We opted for the ultrasound. 

It only took a bit of searching to find our little one squirming around, heart happily beating away. And then it was over. And we didn't have the cute little print out to post in lieu of the clever announcement photo we were still lacking. Oh well.

So in case you're wondering how we got here, I've been blogging all along, and saving them to post when we made our announcement.  If you start at this blog, and read "Newer Posts" from there, you can read about the journey we've had over the last 6 months!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage equality

Yesterday, June 26th 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that all bans on gay marriage across the nation are unconstitutional. What an incredible day!

Years ago, when we first began talking about having a family, we made a number of choices that would positively affect our rights as a family, particularly the perception of our rights by strangers - staff at a school, nurses in a hospital, etc. We made these choices because we knew that our rights as a family would come one day, but we truly didn't expect our home state to recognize our marriage for many, many years to come, and we wanted to protect our children when they were young.

Now here we sit, our oldest child not even 3 years old and our next baby on its way, and the Supreme Court has fixed this particular issue for us. To say I am in disbelief would be an understatement.

When I think about it, I feel overcome by emotion. This new life I'm growing was conceived before national marriage equality existed - and before he or she is born, it has been granted. This child will never know a world where their parents weren't married and legally recognized by our government. What an immense and weighty thing to have lifted from T's and my shoulders.

Now we are waiting to see how the state handles birth certificates, and hoping that both our names can be present on this new baby's birth certificate. For each of us to have 100% equal legal rights as parents from the very beginning is not something we will take for granted. We also hope the state might reissue E's birth certificate with both our names, as we were legally married at the time of her birth.

This is changing the face of LGBT rights, that's for certain. We still have a long road ahead of us - but what an amazing time to live in.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


I had intended on writing more about the trying-to-conceive process, but I was feeling pretty disheartened and was busy at work, so it fell by the wayside.  Here's a quick re-cap:

Cycle #2
We went forward with trying the month after the miscarriage.  It helped lighten our hearts, but I don't think either of us were very optimistic.  For moment at the end of the wait, we had hope, but we still stared at a blank test.

Cycle #3
We took one month off before we tried again.  Everything about this cycle was weird, we almost shipped the dewar back, but at the last minute we decided to try. Everything continued to be weird which made it hard to decide if they were "symptoms" or just a weird cycle... Especially when A's cycle was late and we still had a negative test.  At that point we started being worried about another miscarriage. I guess it almost softened the blow of not being pregnant.

Cycle #4
This cycle was perfect.  We made a concentrated effort to be positive and excited instead of nervous about all of the "what-ifs" that had filled our heads and hearts since February.  Timing was great. As it got closer to the day we decided to test, we both were very excited.  We were so excited that I was almost nervous that we would be disappointed. Luckily we weren't!  The second line showed up immediately!

We told our parents this week and everyone is very excited.  We're gradually telling the rest of our family and close friends.

I think we both still have a seed of doubt. We've been trying to figure out if the different twinges and pains are normal for early pregnancy or if we should be concerned.  We also aren't sure if we want an early ultrasound or not.  We have an appointment with the midwife in 2 weeks and I guess we'll talk to her about it. In the mean time, we'll try to stay positive and start dreaming of our family of 4!

So, let the adventure begin!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dear grieving mother

Dear grieving mother,

You don't know me. You would pass me in the hallway and never know who I am, but I might know you by your tearstained face, your hollow eyes, your not-quite-shrunken postpartum belly and your empty arms.

Your baby died. I'm so sorry.

I don't know anything else about you or your family or your situation, but I know your name because it was on your baby's toe tag, body bag and death certificate.

You see, after your precious little one passed away or was born still, he came through my morgue. The funeral home you carefully chose to use to try and say goodbye to him came to the hospital to collect his body, and I was in charge of releasing him.

It's the discharge nobody wants. It's the body none of us wish to have to release.

Your daughter looked so perfect, wrapped up in her blanket inside a body bag. She could have been sleeping. The way she had her hand curled up close to her face and her delicate little eyelids reminded me so much of my own daughter when she was born. I closed my eyes for a moment and let the pain grip my heart, knowing that what you're going through is a million times worse, and hoping that for maybe an instant your grief let up just a touch while I carried it for you.

I want you to know that I softly traced his cold cheek with my fingertips and gently ensured that the tag encircling his wee ankle matched the name on the outside of the body bag before tucking him back in. I smoothed his hair back and sent out thoughts of peace for his soul.

I want you to know that although you don't know me, and I don't know you - our lives touched for a moment. Your daughter was cared for gently and respectfully, and for the few minutes that she was my charge, I loved her. I loved her deeply, and in the same way, I loved you as well.

I can't do anything to bring back your precious child, but I thought maybe it might bring a few seconds' respite to the unending pain you're living through now to know that someone else, a stranger, was also touched by your baby and your grief.

I'm so sorry.

your local hospital's pathology tech

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Perfect Mother Magazine

We are coming to the end of my busy season at work and it could not come fast enough.  As I was finishing up a long day yesterday, missing my family and wondering if I would ever have a social life, a joke popped into my head.  It was one of those online lists: "How to balance kids, work, and marriage while still having a social life! Just follow these 73 easy steps!" Once I thought it, it was stuck. The other ridiculous standards we are held to kept popping into my head. All of the different miracle methods and divisive issues that define the Mommy Wars soon joined.  It kept me up all night (with some help from E). So here you have the product of insomnia, cynicism, and a day off.

By the end of this project, I was feeling a little guilty.  I have a great group of mom friends and we vary pretty wide on our parenting choice/styles. We are able to have conversations and accept each others' differences. We try to support each other when things get tough, and we have a safe place to say those hard truths that our culture pretends don't exist.  I didn't want anyone to feel like my satire was directed towards them. They lift me up and inspire me to be a better parent, but to also forgive myself. This cover is for them. I only wish we had a picture with all of us!

Monday, February 23, 2015

20 Names for a Stagehand's Baby

A and I have had a list of names going since 2010.  Its in a journal and we revisit it every 6 months or so (I'm sure it will be more when we are actually pregnant). If a name stays on the list through multiple versions, it must mean we like it. I am more picky about names than she is, but a few I've vetoed for weird reasons.  Like Marley/Marlee/Marleigh. Dance floor is called Marley and NO ONE like setting it up (which is called "laying marley," and that doesn't help). It made me think that there have to other names with similar stage-related counterparts. Like Marley, most are actually brand names. So here you have it, 20 Names for a Stagehand's Baby (or 20 Names a Stagehand Would Never Name Their Baby)


Think of any I missed?

Saturday, February 21, 2015


It worked!  And then it didn't...

Exactly one week into our wait, A started experiencing spotting, which at that point indicates implantation bleeding. We were elated. We did some research and on how long after implantation a home pregnancy test can get a positive result.  5 days later, we took the test-- negative.  It was still early enough that we didn't lose all hope. We asked around and other people had late positives that were successful pregnancies. 2 days later we finally got the positive test we were hoping for. It was surreal, had it really worked on the first try!?

We started telling some of our family and close friends.  When we decided to try, I came up with the idea of telling people with Valentines since we would be finding out just before Valentine's Day. We met up with A's parents on Friday night and told them. We had a Valentine's party with all of E's friends (well, we're friends with the parents, the kids seem to get along...) and told all of those families.  On Sunday we were going to meet my parents and give them their cards but A started having spotting. It quickly became obvious that she was having an early miscarriage.

We were pretty crushed.  I was stuck at work pretending everything was alright, A was stuck at home with the constant reminder that it wasn't.

Many people wait to tell anyone until later in the pregnancy just in case this happens, but I'm glad we didn't wait. It was hardest for me to tell my mom because I had to tell her that we were a) trying again, b) had been pregnant, and c) it was a chemical pregnancy.   A loss at any point is hard, but our friends and family really were there to support us.  There were many kind words, hugs, and even some food.

The timing wasn't great (there is no good time...).  This time of year is always hard on our marriage. I generally work long hours and we only get brief times together when we are awake. Adding our very different processes of grief really didn't help.

In the middle of all of this, A got a message from the friend who got her into her field in the first place.  She heard A was going to school and that made her eligible to work with her at the hospital across the street from our house as a tech instead of an assistant.  They just had someone leave and are looking for a replacement. AND its on the early shift, so we wouldn't have to do all day day-care. This was all great news, except we would again be looking at a 3 month wait so A would qualify for FML.

We've finally had some time to heal and re-connect. A few nights ago, we ended up in a very similar, last minute conversation about if we should try or not. After weighing the pros and cons, we decided that we weren't willing to wait as long as we needed to if A got the new job.  We're just going to wing it and hope for the best. We decided that since FML wasn't paid leave, it just guaranteed your job, it wasn't worth waiting for. She's already on my insurance, so we don't have wait for coverage to change over. And really, we just need something to look forward to. It makes the loss sting a little less.

Today we traded in our little MazdaSpeed3 for a Ford Escape.  There was no way we could have 2 car seats in the Mazda if we wanted to do rear-facing past 1 year. Things are moving forward, it feels good. I would ask you to send us positive thoughts, but since you won't read this for a while, I'll ask you to send them to someone else who needs them. Or even better, a random act of kindness.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Schrodinger's Uterus

One problem about creating a family as lesbians is that it's very hard to be spontaneous about it. I mean, being able to skip all of the discussions on the online mom groups about birth control and breastfeeding was AWESOME, but I'm always a bit jealous of the couples who can just start trying on a whim. We have always said we wanted to have kids 2-3 years apart. Well, E is 2 yrs and 5 mths, so that ship has sailed... but we can still see it on the horizon.  I guess I have to go back a few months to explain how we got here. And by "here" I mean back in the so-called "Two-Week-Wait" before we find out if we are going to have a baby. I like to call this time Schrodinger's Uterus.  Since pregnancy math starts on the first day of your last menstrual cycle, once you introduce sperm, you are simultaneously pregnant and not pregnant until you take the test.

Anyways, back to how we got here. Since E was a few months old, A has been working in a lab part time.  This was great because it meant that she was done before I went to work and we didn't have to pay for day care.  Things were going well and we were going to start trying for our next baby in the summer. Unfortunately, in the sping, A found out they were combining the 2 part time positions into one full time position for her supervisor. Although she has a good amount of experience in the field, she is lacking a certification and wasn't able to fine a job in the same position. After a few months she was hired in a lab but at a lower position. We had planned on waiting 3 months so she would qualify for FML, but since she wasn't making as much as we anticipated, we just couldn't see how to make the finances work. We were feeling pretty stuck.  Then one of A's coworkers asked her to start a program that would make her eligible for the certification exam with her. All of the programs A had looked into required far more prerequisites than this one and its seemed like it would take forever taking one class at a time. This one was has much more basic prereqs, is completely online, and only takes 10 months. It was the break we needed. We decided to wait until she was about half way through the course and then start trying. We would be a bit behind our family planning schedule, but it was close enough.

Okay, now we are caught up to last week. Books were being bought and online profiles were being created. We were discussing what her job would become after she got the certification. One of her co-workers who had been really encouraging her was talking to her about trying to get them to create a completely different position for her. The catch is that her coworker is planning on retiring in just over a year and the changes would all be set in motion by his retirement. We realized that would mean our current plans put her on maternity leave right at that time, and that wasn't ideal. Then we had the brilliant idea that she should take the certification exam while on maternity leave and come back to a new position. Which meant we needed to start trying RIGHT NOW. If we contacted the cryobank the next morning, there was just enough time to probably try this month. So we did it. Its as close to being spontaneous as we can really get. Funnily enough, I was reading old blog posts and its very similar to the cycle we conceived E on- we had decided to stop trying for a while and at the last minute called the bank and tried anyways.

If feels a little surreal. Honestly, it felt more than a little irresponsible. Beyond the fact that being able to afford to be a family of 4 hinges on a job she doesn't have yet that requires a certifications she can't even try to get for 10 month, we hadn't been "tracking" as seriously as we should.  With how much money is on the line each month, its a good idea to be very confident of the timing (down to about 12 hours). Luckily, I think we did good.

So there you have it. In 2 weeks, we either be bursting at the seams or remembering WHY trying to conceive is so damn hard.

To reward you for sticking with me through this slightly disjointed, vague post, I will answer some FAQs that I have just made up--

Who is going to carry this time? Most likely you know this from previous blogs or real life, but it's A's turn!  We always planned on us each carrying one child. More than that we are open to, and will probably foster-to-adopt unless one of us feels very strongly about being pregnant again.

Are you sad you it's not you? Every once and a while, but mostly I'm excited to be actively trying again.  I'm also really excited to not go through pregnancy while doing my hectic, strenuous, sometimes dangerous job.  And I get parental leave anyways, so that will be awesome! Also, I'm excited for A, since she has wanted this as long as I've known her. I occasionally felt guilty that I got to go first.

Did you use the same donor? Yes!  As soon as we heard E's heartbeat and were confident the pregnancy would "stick" we ordered more vials of the same donor and have been paying to store them ever since. Obviously our supply is limited (and the donor is sold out), but I'm more worried about picking a donor than about our children not sharing a donor. If you are curious about that process here is a blog about it.

Who are you telling? NO ONE!  Don't take it personally, but last time we told a lot of people we were trying, we were on online groups, and there was a whole cheerleading section who knew exactly when we would find out.  The support was great, but it got really hard to tell everyone every month that it didn't work. We also want to be able to tell everyone when it is good news in our own way. If it starts taking a while, we will probably tell some people, but not specifics again. Actually, although I'm writing this blog in January, it won't be posted until we announce a pregnancy.

Do you want a girl or boy? We've always said we wanted a boy and a girl, but as soon as we found out E was a girl, we realized we don't care all that much.  Mostly, we felt relief that we didn't have to come up with a boy name since we were having a hard time. We actually don't plan on finding out our next baby's sex until birth.

Have other questions? Post a comment!