The Big Reveal

We knew that the way we shared our big news would have a touch of humour and reflect our shared love of film, queer culture and not taking ourselves too seriously.

“We finally felt ready to share the news publicly. Stay tuned for some ridiculous behind the scenes shots.

So excited for this film. Thanks @alliamcleod for making it with me and @almapuraxo for the photography! #baby #pregnant #genreunspecified #lesbianbaby #babyjourney #cleodcar #stylesavie

Thanks for all the well-wishes”

Funny that I have felt comfortable sharing here for months … thank you for that!

With gratitude,

A

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Weight Gain and Stretch Marks In Pregnancy

Another post inspired by questions and discussion threads in mommy-blog land.

Tiger Stripes. Zebra Stripes.

What about those stretch marks? Can I prevent them? Are they horrible and inevitable? Do you have them?  It seems that many women who are expecting are concerned that their growing bump will leave a lasting impact on their skin.

My answer: 

I haven’t noticed any new ones, yet, but I have them from before pregnancy. I will probably get more. I’m moisturizing and trying to eat well, often and with lots of balance. I’m really just trying to prepare for all the realities.

Just to share a bit… I was a model as a teen and had some pretty rough body image issues.  Try being 16, happy with your body, and having some 45 year-old woman with frizzy orange hair tell you that if you want to seriously improve your chances of getting work, there are hip operations where they’ll shave down your actual bones to achieve a narrower physique…and that all those sports and ballet were making you too muscular.

Now, as an adult, I am prouder and more confident about my body, even though I’m 40 lb heavier than when my body was ‘perfect’ according to that ridiculous industry standard. Honestly, few people at my height reach 5’10 without any growth spurts and the telltale marks to prove it. Few of the people in the magazines or glossy images we see have the ‘perfect’ bodies that the industry they are working in deem ‘appropriate’. Photoshop is the industry norm. Now everyone from celebrities to tweens has access to Facetune, so even our ‘real’ images… aren’t.

I had to stop listening to that racket and listen to how I feel. The way I’ve approached pregnancy (hard though it can be) is that the most important thing now is baby; never again (if I can help it) will I listen to a voice in my own head that tells me the natural, incredible body I have is not ‘perfect’. I know my baby and my partner will see the body that brings this kid into the world as a miracle. I have to look at myself through that lens.

I want to be resilient and strong, so that my child, boy or girl will grow up seeing a mom who loves her body and all that it is capable of. It will be hard to keep that voice consistent and clear, but I’m sure going to try.

What fears and struggles around body and self-image do you experience? I find hearing other people’s stories really inspiring. Please share!

Four Years

I can hardly believe that four years have passed since the day I married my wife. It feels like yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago. So much has happened.

Wedding
This accidental magic captures how I feel with you. Photo: Sweetheart Empire (Kate O’Connor)

For our fourth Anniversary, aside from the silk/satin motif (silk screened pregnancy announcement tees, and silk pajamas), Allia made us a wedding video. Watching it takes me back to exactly how I felt in those moments. It perfectly encapsulates the magic of our day.

Why do I care about that? Partly because it feels momentous and nostalgic to look back at happiness that still feels tangible and vivid, partly because there are people who told me this would never happen.

Allia and Alison’s Wedding (for the video follow this link)

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When I first came out, it was six years before gay marriage was legalized in Canada (2005). I was a teenager, but I remember one of my mom’s friends saying, sympathetically, ‘It’s so sad that Alison won’t have a wedding and you’ll never have grandkids.’ Politely, my mom replied, ‘Fuck that.’

Not quite in those words, but with the same rebellious denial of that assumption. I am my mother’s daughter (and my father’s) and neither raised me to believe that anything I truly wanted was out of reach. They are the biggest advocates, even before I came out, they raised me to see every possibility and to feel entitled to happiness, love and acceptance. Maybe this is why I work so fiercely, at work and at play, to try to make others believe that we all deserve love, dignity and acceptance.

When people asked questions like, “will you ever get married?” “which one of you will wear a suit?” “so, you don’t want to ever have kids?” or made statements like “that must have been so hard for your parents” – I responded to it as a challenge.

We had exactly the wedding I envisioned, a reflection of our relationship, two people – full of laughter, dancing, old traditions and quirky, personal touches. I come from a theatre background and although I wasn’t a Disney princess sort of little girl, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t have a dreamy wedding fit for a fairytale. We themed it like a performance, a show, a circus, with several acts and lots of spectacle. It was a romance and a comedy. And I have never felt more at ease, so relaxed and so happy, in front of my loved ones, looking into the eyes of the woman I love.

I hope we can raise a little one who feels that swell of love and support, and will see that look in our eyes, four years, ten, twenty… fifty years from now.

Happy anniversary, my love. Cheers to many, many more.

Ice Storms Are Good For Somethin’

We got so much done today.

Cooking: Allia made incredible coconut curry with jasmine rice. Second, she made egg white muffin tin frittatas for us to have this week.

I whipped up a batch of delish high-protein coconut angel food cake mini muffins. And for my round two I made a maple chia seed pudding. Now our fridge is full of food, including lots of papaya and fresh muscat grapes. It feels warm and happy inside even if it’s blustery out there.

On the heels of yesterday’s basement spring cleaning bonanza, we capitalized on our momentum and got all the junk that has piled up in the to-be nursery sorted out. My mom came this summer for a day and we set up the room – all except for the crib. Incidentally, it became a room with a closed door, perfect for stashing stuff out of sight. Aka a junk room.

Now it looks adorable. Allia finally agreed, after some ‘let’s not jinx it’ putting it off, to put together the crib.

I sat in the finished room, just basking. Holding a creepy old Cabbage Patch doll and feeling so proud of us. Stay tuned for some photos when it’s not so bleak outside!

I have been binge watching Lost in Space and doing so so much laundry.

13 Feels Lucky

 

We are still going strong. I’m thirteen weeks pregnant. Bring on the weird dreams, continual progesterone (the worst part of this, honestly), the food aversion and the maternity pants. I look back at amazing times we have had together, see above?

I keep trying to imagine what life will look like for us as we go forward, adding a new member to our family. I’ve been cleaning the basement, reorganizing, trying to make everything perfect, to assuage the anxiety that hits me around 7 pm each night – which is about the time I start to get really tired. 8:30 bed times. It’s really happening. Pre-natal yoga. Adjusting to having so much less than my usual energy.

Nesting. I know it’s a coping strategy; if I can just perfect my surroundings, all the things out of my control will feel more manageable. If I just keep moving, sharklike, I won’t let my fears catch up to me. Just a breath ahead of them.

There is an ice storm (of historic proportions, apparently) happening outside. I am busying myself, preparing for disaster… a house made chaotic by little hands and lots of spit up. I sometimes can’t believe that the me who relies on order and comfort at home, which gets me through the total insanity of my day-to-day work life and all the unpredictable things that come with working in place full of 2400 teenagers, is actively pursuing a massive, seismic change in our lives. The most beautiful chaos I can imagine.

Little baby, for you, I would turn my whole world upside down. I think I’m starting to let myself fall in love.

Things I Will Never Consider

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I feel (again) like I should stop following the comment section on BabyCentre and just read What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Today I read a post from a mom desperately seeking advice:

“I am having another boy… and I’m so disappointed that I’m considering an abortion.”

One person responded that this seems like a bad April Fool’s joke. The reply to that was ‘be sensitive and support this mom, this is supposed to be a safe space.’

Trying to be balanced, while also staying real, I replied:

“I agree that this should be a safe, supportive place.

And it should also be safe for those who have had losses or struggled to get pregnant. It can be very difficult to hear that someone is considering aborting a pregnancy due to the gender/sex of their child (which is illegal in Canada I believe). I have no judgement for this mom and her struggle, nor for the other mother who is pointing out that this post could be triggering for some; having hopes and fears related to the life you see for yourself and your future child is normal, but I think it’s possible to see multiple sides of this issue with sensitivity and compassion. People’s advice to get support from a doctor and seek some relief from the depression she is experiencing is the most helpful and likely to help the initial poster to feel she is able to make a decision.”

What I didn’t say was: I have some questions – Do you consider how you will feel if you do keep this child and know that you publicly professed that you considered terminating the pregnancy? I would never advocate bottling up your feelings and not exploring your true emotions, but I also can’t help but project myself into the future and think ‘what will I do when I look at my child and consider these thoughts?’  When I say, I have no judgment, I mean: I don’t think you are a bad person. I will not tell another person what to do with their own body. But I do think there are some underlying questions and assumptions that need to be asked. It’s also really hard to post something so polarizing and expect only supportive, affirming replies.

There is a part of me that wants to ask: should you be having more kids, if the reason you want them depends on something so tied to fate and chance? When you get pregnant you KNOW it’s a fifty-fifty shot you will get one gender or the other (not considering intersex children). And you DON’T want another boy enough that you’d end a pregnancy to avoid that outcome? I can’t say that I understand that. It seems to imply that you believe there is something so inherent about what is between a child’s legs that their whole life and experience will be shaped by the assumptions around what gender means. All boys and all girls are different. Vastly. You could get any kind of ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ and your child, raised according to whatever gender you believe fits them, could transition as they grow up. Will your love hinge on their ability to fulfill a gender role you have built for them? Does your conception of having a ‘girl’ have such rigid expectations that you feel a boy-child could not fill the space you’ve built in your mind for them? What is it about having a girl that you think will be absent in your current situation? Other than a body part? Is your plan for her so wildly different that you will not experience joy in parenting the other? I would assume (I know the danger here) that you plan to raise a child who is loved, building their confidence, laughing and crying through the joy and struggles of their discovering and as they stumble. None of what I envision is prescribed by what colour or sports society thinks they should enjoy. I know enough people to KNOW that there are as many types of men and women as there are stars in the sky. I don’t know what I will get, but I hope that, starlike, they are bright and that they will fill me with wonder.

I do have preferences.  Obviously. I am attracted to women. I married a woman. And I hope for a little girl, and a boy, too, maybe one day. But if I found out I was having a healthy baby that would trump any fear or trepidation that I have about raising a child. I think my desire to have a girl is more about my own comfort. I know I can raise a strong, independent, feminist daughter. I am less sure that I will be able to impart the wisdom I have to share to a male child… but I will sure try. I think it’s harder to raise a good man, in many ways, than it is to raise a woman; it is hard to be a woman. But the bar for ‘goodness’ in men is embarrassingly low right now and my standards are high. My comfort and confidence are tied to my own preconceptions about gender and what it will mean for my offspring.

First and foremost, I don’t want it to be the most important thing about them. I want a child who is thoughtful, kind, critical, brave, empathetic and who trusts their intuition. My love will not be gender-dependent. I have to at least offer myself the same compassion that I will afford my child, as they learn and grown, knowing that we will not be perfect. I will also not be doing this alone.

I am so interested in your thoughts about your (future) child’s sex and your future hopes. Please share and also, please know that my passion may seem judgement-laden, heavy and convinced, but it’s more about the doubts I have experienced (that I will be good enough at this) that bristle when I see and hear other people who don’t seem to consider, as they question of ‘if they should have child X’ that maybe there are other questions they could ask: like why do I want to have this child? And what do I really believe about gender that makes me think one experience will be so different that I would forgo it altogether, rather than embrace a healthy child, irrespective of the chromosomes they happen to bear?
I have deliberately left out details of this mom’s story, to maintain privacy. Thank you for respecting that.

 

Should I wait to buy things for baby?

This is such a complex question, especially when you consider your own history with trying to conceive and previous losses, but it is ALL OVER pregnancy message boards.

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Everyone has their ideas, and here are mine:

Our reality is that my wife had three miscarriages and I’m now pregnant. I’m terrified, if I really let myself think about it, but I want to be full of joy and optimism. That’s how I approach most of my life – because usually the things I want and hope for are, at least to some degree, within my control and achievable through hard work. Not so for pregnancy. You can do everything ‘right’ and still get a raw deal. Having so little control over such an important thing can really mess with your mind. I had to accept that my actions (like wanting to set up a nursery) would have literally no medical impact on my baby’s future development. But it could have a considerable impact on my own wellness and the stories I told myself (consciously and otherwise). The way we talk to ourselves can be debilitating, as anyone who has struggled with body-image, anxiety and many other obstacles can tell you.

As hard as it has been, I feel that making a decision to avoid buying things was like telling the universe I didn’t believe this pregnancy would last.

I bought a crib. I decorated a nursery. I recognized that I needed to nest, almost as an acknowledgement that we WILL be parents, as part of my own grief and as part of celebrating and allowing my hope to build.

I don’t want to steal the joy of this pregnancy by dwelling on past losses. I’m not naive to the fact that we could have a bad outcome, but I also don’t want to spend the next 3-4 months anticipating the same results as last time(s).

On some of the message boards, people have advice about waiting until you know the gender. Seeing as how we are not going in for ‘princessy’ or heavily gendered decor, clothes or other baby stuff, regardless of what we find on that date, we don’t care about waiting until we find out the baby’s sex.

All I hope for right now is a healthy child. If buying things helps you put out the positivity you need right now and brings you joy, I say ‘go for it!’ On that note, my very dear friend, who tried for years to have a child via adoption, now has a beautiful daughter through surrogacy. He gifted me a sweet stuffed rabbit and advised me to look at it every day, knowing that one day I’d snuggle that bunny with my own baby in my arms. I want to embrace that kind of hopefulness. That is enough for me in this moment.