Alterna-Baby

We’ve been spending a lot of time looking at media, blogs and products that eschew the heteronormative pregnancy experience. Nothing irks me more than gender-specific binaries enforced from before birth:

The stupid woman in the baby store: “How can I know what to buy for the shower if I don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl?!”

The gender-enforcing parent/relative who throws a princess party for baby girl or a sports themed party for baby boy (infamous in my office for causing a flurry of discussion about this c0-workers’ experience with a themed event).

The baby doesn’t care what gender it is. You do. They (family, friends, relatives, nosey strangers) do. It has a sex and a gender. But the stereotypes are learned. Lay it on. Or, lay off.

I teach a short story in my class: “X: A Famous Child’s Story” about a child raised without explicit gendering, mirrored by baby Silver, a real-life social experiment. The kids love it and really, it puts into perspective that so much of what we load onto children, that messes them up, are the unquestioned assumptions about what defines them and the pressures to conform that are learned from the adults around them.

Be yourself. But be like this.

I sorta love this line of maternity clothing that Allia found: Butch Baby & Co.

The ButchBaby & Co. Team
The ButchBaby & Co. Team

http://butchbaby.co/

They focus on gender fluid clothing for expectant baby-carriers. While I’m looking forward to flowy tops and feminine apparel, because it’s what I like, I can definitely get behind any product or concept that encourages people to be themself, authentically.

Also check out the article on Autostraddle:

http://www.autostraddle.com/butchbaby-co-brings-maternity-wear-out-of-the-womens-section-270176/

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Twelve Weeks Today

Time is thrown off once you start counting in weeks.

I have semesters

days of the week

hours

rehearsals

periods (the timetable kind and the other kind)

and the constant awareness of how many weeks old our little one might be

at this very moment.

A 12-weeks old card:

It’s almost time to share our news more.

Mom and Dad are in Turks and Caicos and are so excited to be able to tell their friends, who travel with them, that they are going to be grandparents.

Friends with babies are sending me photos constantly. I have a lunch date planned for my birthday with Kate and Maeve, the invite included Maeve with a sweet little fox, her cute face the perfect balance of cheeks and big eyes.

198 Days to go.

Only In Dreams

We had our second information-intake appointment with the midwife. Lots of medical history, nutrition, screening information and questions to be asked and answered.

Our midwifery team seems really lovely. The questions were lead by their student-midwife. She had such a great vibe and really enjoyed Allia’s ‘we weren’t trying’ to get pregnant joke.

We had an impromptu chiropractic visit, phone repair and pizza craving, so our night turned into a date-night of carbohydrates and braving the ridiculous cold.

We were so tired by the time we got home that we fell asleep while fake squabbling. Or so I thought.

I had dreams of us having the baby and successfully breast-feeding.

Allia had dreams that I was mean to her and woke up angry at me.

Needless to say, she is sensitive. We laugh about it. Then she reads me pamphlets that explain she is sensitive. This pamphlet is as redundant/obvious as the one about ‘safe food handling’ that advises me not to give my pregnant wife cross-contaminated foods with low internal temperature that might harbour salmonella. Unlike regular times, when I deliberately invite salmonella and listeria to dinner.

I hope tonight she dreams of fluffy baby animals,

and not things I don’t remember saying.

Eleven Weeks

I love the Baby Center App’s updates:

Today, I’m told: ” Your baby’s hands will soon open and close into fists, tiny tooth buds are beginning to appear under the gums, and some of his bones are beginning to harden.”

He or she is THIS big.
He or she is THIS big.

At this point, baby is the size of a fig. Also, excitingly, Allia may “start feeling more energetic and [her] nausea may fade.” This means she may be able to participate in house work. Maybe not. I’m going to go with not. Good thing I enjoy a deep clean. Plus, her little tummy is looking VERY cute.

Blind Date with the Midwife

If you’ve looked at all, you know there are waiting lists for midwives. We were lucky enough to find out RIGHT AWAY that we were expecting and to get onto a list. Apparently this is the start of many lists (daycare, Montessori, kindergarten, etc.), and that’s just in the early years.

Our first visit was basically a meet and greet.

Our midwifery clinic's intake papers.
Our midwifery clinic’s intake papers.

Our midwife, one in a team of two who will share our care during the pregnancy, birth and post-delivery time, was very nice; she seemed a little tired. Exhausted, as Allia put it. Which makes sense when she started explaining how our relationship is going to work.

We had nerves, a little distance, as we sat down for our first date. She was maybe somewhat older than I expected. Knowledgeable, but very serious. It was only when we started talking about the time in the hospital that her ‘lady giving birth’ voice came out and we saw a glimmer of the humour that we knew would be crucial to getting Allia through ANY amount of pain. She’s all for the epidural. There was the polite second date banter, the feeling out whether we’d be going out again sometime soon.

She told us we could have some time to think about it, but definitely to let her know within 24 hours if we changed our minds so they could offer the spot to someone else. Imagine trying to schedule, and not over-book, yourself for something as wacky as delivery dates, that can delay or come early, varying so drastically.

With a momentary eye-contact conversation, we agreed and confirmed: Midwife it is.

A hint of Frau seriousness. Very efficient, slightly intimidating.

When we left, we both agreed that she was a little Frau Farbissina on first impression, but that as we warmed up, there seemed a distinct, warmer truth: you could only do a job that tiring and that demanding if you really loved it.

As efficient as the hospitals might be, when you compare the cold, sterile (although that IS important) stirrup tables to the midwives bed with colourful shams and photos of babies everywhere, it really does seem like a friendlier place to have a person enter the world.

Your Average Valentine’s Day: Celebrating Breasts and Breast Milk

It’s just your average Valentine’s Day: The movie is on pause, selected from the “Gay and Lesbian” stream on Netflix, Allia is in the kitchen making ‘healthy’ zucchini brownies. I was chopping up produce and dark chocolate, but I’m now giving her space, because she seemed especially attached to the task of mixing the batter herself. I’m learning not to ask questions.

So, after sorting our sock-laundry (yes, the socks get done separately – because we have cats and their fur ends up transferring from our socks to EVERYTHING else – and the socks have to be sorted because she has a number of socks that “can’t go in the dryer”. I’m not joking.) I’ve escaped the kitchen.

1423252095_doutzen-kroes-family-vogue-zoom
Doutzen Kroes featured in Vogue Netherlands

I’m upstairs writing about the second breast-feeding-related issue that has crossed my mind in 24 hours. And we are only at 11 weeks. Social media was signing the praises of Vogue for featuring Doutzen Kroes in a Dutch issue of the magazine, with her family, breastfeeding. She is stunning, her family is diverse and beautiful, but I’ll be somewhat more impressed when instead of

Victoria’s Secret Model Doutzen Kroes Breastfeeds In Gorgeous Vogue Photo Shoot

it’s “Average, tired parent takes a moment to nourish their infant, while no one stares or gives a crap.”

vs-bf-620x349
Models feeding their children. Like normal people.
Funny enough, the latest old episode of Friends that we happened to watch on Netflix (because our tv-tastes differ widely and we need an agreed-upon ‘light’ alternative to my Walking-Dead-Vampire-Serial-Killer stuff) was about Ross freaking out over Monica and Joey trying Carol’s breast milk. The kicker shows Ross, psyched up and facing off with a plate of Oreos and a bottle… ready to face the milk. 
There was also the documentary Breastmilk, recommended by a good friend, that explores the complicated relationship our society has to this natural, healthy process and the pressures, judgement and struggles around the act itself. 
It occurred to me that it wouldn’t bother me at all to taste my wife’s breast milk. Or my own. I’m not talking about using it as coffee cream, or baking with it (although that might be a whole other area of baking to explore), but why is there such a fear and stigma around nursing breasts. I think I’ve always felt this way. Nothing about my spouse grosses me out. Not her finger gushing blood, not her breath in the morning, not when she is sick and needs to be taken care of, and not the many other times our bodies are bodies. Period. 
Maybe it’s because I’m a lesbian and, as a woman,

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Dutch beauty makes breast-feeding look fashionable, which is great, unless you are an average mom at a food court or need to pump at your office.

I don’t just see the female body sexually (for myself or my partner), while many (but not all) men’s relationships with that particular part of a woman’s body is as distinctly measured as the arbitrary (arguably) B.C. and A.D. divide. Breast-feeding Child/Attracted Drooler. Alright, that was the least offensive way of imagining the progression from source of nourishment to source of fetishistic fascination.

Boobs have never been a big deal to me. Neither have other people-as-parts issues. I don’t think I’m immune to the influence of our culture’s fixation on objectified bodies, but perhaps being queer has helped me be more critical. But maybe, like many of the awesome men in my life, I’m just not a total dick. Boobs aren’t, in and of themselves, interesting (unless you’re looking at their function, symbolism and social discourse around them) unless they’re attached to someone whose mind is of interest to me. 
I do wonder, how I will feel when our child is born and we have to make all sorts of decisions – knowing we will have preferences, but that sometimes our child’s needs will outweigh the significance of our best-laid plans. 
For now I’ll pour a glass of almond milk and enjoy a hot zucchini brownie, straight from the oven.
 

Ultra Sounds

photo 1
No-fuss examining table

Al went to her first two ultra-sounds on her own. Once to make sure that all our excited pee-stick tests were right (at 5 weeks), when she was told that nothing was really visible at this point, then again at 6 or so weeks, when – for the first time – she got to see and hear from the technician that, yes, there was a baby forming in there.

Our third ultrasound was during my exam break, so I was able to attend the appointment and watch the glamour, of stripping down in a neutrally-painted room and hopping up onto a table with stirrups, unfold.

Emotions. Totally unanticipated. There was silence at first,

as the tech did her thing

reassuring me she’d get all the info she needed

first

then she’d walk me through what I was seeing.

I was pretty sure of what I was seeing

and felt this insane welling-up

as I inferred that the tiny snowman, one sphere

slightly bigger than the other, with a pearl attached to the end,

was a little person,

a head

a body

the egg.

I couldn’t believe how misty I got

looking at something made visible that has been in my mind so constantly.

It was a lip-biting moment, making eye contact with Allia and knowing that she could see it on my face.

This is way more exciting than the ‘Your baby is the size of a grape’ updates

from our baby app.

Our baby has leg and arm buds.

And a fuzzy patch of static for a heartbeat.

photo 2
Our baby at ultrasound 3