It's fire season in Utah. It's been fire season for a while and we've got a while yet to go. But August always seems to be the worst. After the summer when the sun heats the valley like a kiln and the grasses and trees bake into tinder, the big lightning storms that come in August and September are a source of fear and delight. Big, fat raindrops. Spectacular displays in the sky. Wild fires from each strike.
Yesterday I watched three fires burn. The first was in a canyon just behind Downtown. I saw the first wisps of smoke rise and then orange swirl into the sky. From the safety of my marble lobby I watched the fire spread within 20 minutes to encompass the entire ridge of grassy mountain. I watched it hit a firebreak and I watched it jump the fire break. I watched flashing red lights rush through the smoke. Then I turned away, logged out of my computer, and left for home.
Later, Julia and I drove out to my parent's house for my little brother's birthday party. Two more fires in the mountains around their house. That's seven in their area this summer. I wound my way slowly up the canyon, cars were pulling off the road to watch flames lick the clouds that didn't offer enough water to quench them. I passed the new man-made lagoon at the entrance of "The Cove at Herriman Springs." In the middle of the desert, a man-made lagoon. A bit of liquid folly. The helicopter was taking off with its hanging bucket of lagoon water. Folly turned fruitful. That lagoon has helped put out three fires this summer. I wonder if the developers thought of that. I doubt it. They were probably just thinking about saving money on landscape. Grass is more expensive than a lake.
Our whole family sat on my parents' deck and watched the helicopter fly back and forth with the buckets of water. We watched the two small planes spread the fire retardant. The fires weren't large yet. They didn't threaten my parents' house. But the aircraft worked feverishly. The President was flying in and the "no fly" order included fire fighting.
We just do our best despite the powers that be.
I cried as I drove home through clouds of char. A natural process, wild fires. Still: unaccountable, grievous, destructive. Something you do what you can to prevent and still sometimes it sweeps in and alters everything. Leaving behind: bitter ash, blackened memories, numbness, death.
The thundering, the bolts, the flames, the frenzy all seemed appropriate to yesterday. So too, my grief and heartache at the distant damage.
I ride the commuter light-rail train into downtown. During the summer I always got a seat. It was nice. Now there're all these college students sitting on their butts taking um MY seats. Can't they DRIVE to school like ordinary, no-thought-on-the-future teenagers? I mean, sheesh!
Ok, I'm kidding. But I do find myself getting absurdly resentful of the college students on my train. I never claimed to be a good person.
But I got a seat this morning. It was miracle, I tell you. See, I got on and hung on to one of the straps and noticed that my ass was right in this woman's face. So I turned around and then her face was right in my crotch. No, normally having a woman's face in my crotch would not bother me, but, well, hmm, not this one. Just... no. Not that one. Anyway, because I like to take an awkward moment and make it excruciating, I started talking to her. I started talking to her about my toddler's sleep problems. Or, rather, I started talking to her about my problems with my toddler's sleep habits. I told her all about the sleeping in a chair for the first 5 months, and the reflux, and the boppie, and the losing of the boppie, and the swing, and the having to sleep in the guest bed, and the crying fits when placed in the crib (even in a solid sleep) and about how just last friday we tried the crib again and again and again and again and the baby just would not have it and how depressed I got thinking that I would never again be able to sleep without a little foot in my kidneys and a little fist curled in my hair (and PULLING! my god, the pulling!) but how last night she actually let us put her in her crib and she slept there for 7.5 hours. And it was at this point that the woman (who had been making umhum, and uhhuh noises while staring just slightly lower than where my belt buckle would have been) got up and left (I was just making that staring at my crotch part up, by the way). And I got her seat! How cool is that? I never thought of boring people away so I could sit down. I mean, sure, it might have been her stop and all, but I'm pretty sure I saw her get back on the train the next car down. And here I thought she was interested.
But that's not the important part of this story. The important part of this story is that
Julia slept in her crib all night. ALL NIGHT. IN HER CRIB.
And it was my night on duty, too!
At one point I woke up and realized that it was 5 AM and she hadn't started to cry yet, and I feared that she had died of SIDS in the night (run over the contents of her crib in my head: no pillow, but there was a blanket. No stuffed animals, but there was a stuffed book. I THINK the crib is safe) I thought about running to her to make sure she was still breathing. But then I decided that if she was dead, she was dead, and I might as well catch some sleep while I can and deal with it in the morning.
Ok, I didn't really think that. I realized that she was most likely alive and that if I rushed in there to check on her I would most likely wake her up and ruin all the good that had just occurred. So I made myself go back to sleep.
The weird thing is that we JUST TRIED THIS on Friday. I tried putting her in her crib 6 times on Friday evening. The moment her little butt would hit the crib mattress she started screaming like I pulling her fingernails out. Not that I have ever pulled her fingernails out, but you know what I mean. Even my tearful begging could not get her to be happy in her crib. But then Monday was Julia's 12 month check up. And the doctor told Kristin (and Julia, since she was right there) that for Julia's sake we needed to get her out of the swing. (well, duh!) And that we were no longer to give her formula bottles at night. And the doctor sympathized with our not wanting Julia in our bed anymore because she can't get her own toddler out of her bed, either.
So then Monday night Julia allowed herself to be put in the crib for the first part of the night. But she'd had shots that day, so she wasn't feeling well and she ended up in bed with us around 1 am. Still, the fact that she slept in her crib for part of the night at all was impressive! And then last night.
Do you think she understood the doctor and that's why she's allowing the change? Cause it's just SO coincidental!
Wait, where are you going? This can't possibly be your stop. NO ONE gets off at 9th south! HEY!!! Don't leave on my account! I'll stop talking so you can admire my crotch in peace...
I think that's a great title. So I'm using it now because I won't get a chance to use it later:
For the benefit of your continuing care we suggest that you contact a
center who does give complete treatment to lesbian couples. In the past the
University of Utah has provided this care.
That stiff little note is what I received in answer to my inquiry about whether the fine gentlemen at Fertilitydr.com would help lesbians conceive.
Ok, so there's still Dr. Hot Shot at the U, or maybe one of his colleagues. And we met some women who used a clinic 2 counties away, I'm going to call them and get the name of their clinic/doctor.
But those will just be "just in case" actions. What I'm really putting my money on is wishing. Because the clomid will work this month.
Now everybody click your ovaries (or testes if you have them) together and say it with me now: The clomid will work this month. The clomid will work this month. The clomid will work this month. The clomid will work...
The other day Art-sweet was discussing how one manages to write a blog when one has so many different audiences. An Accident didn't start out as a trying-to-get-pregnant blog; I don't know exactly what kind of blog it started out as. But I do know that I have a very diverse audience of which a large portion might not be interested in the workings of my reproductive system. To you, I apologize for this post.
4 would be my serum progesterone level. 4. Some of you may not know what this means. This means that I didn't ovulate. Well, duh. I guess I knew that already since my cycle was only 23 days long. But still. 4. That's low. Especially for being on 100 mg of clomid. 4. Only 4.
So now I have a prescription for 150 mg of clomid, no refills. And a strong suggestion. My doctor is firing me. See, she's not a reproductive endocrinologist. If clomid could help me, then she was happy to give me clomid and monitor me on it. But she doesn't believe that the clomid is going to help me and she doesn't work with the harder stuff. She doesn't work with femara. She doesn't do injectibles. She's not comfortable with a trigger shot. So why am I at this doctor in the first place? Because I live in Utah. And, well...
See, Kristin and "I" met the one reproductive endocrinologist in Utah that is rumored to be comfortable working with lesbians. The "I" is in scare quotes, because even though I was there at Kristin's appointment, the doctor never "met" me. He never really looked at me, or acknowledged me as a future parent. He didn't address any of his comments my way. He looked at Kristin when answering my questions. After all, Kristin was going to be a "single mother." That's how he referred to her. As a single mother. Right in front of me. Even though we had explained our relationship to him. Maybe we're too sensitive. But we were so relieved when Kristin got pregnant that month without that doctor's help. It meant we didn't have to deal with him again. And he is the "tolerant" one. The one that's willing to work with lesbians. The other doctors won't work with man-hating, daddy-destroying, carpet munchers at all.
So that's why we didn't rush right to him. We tried to use our very friendly gyn office. But today she told me that I need to see someone else. She told me to go see Dr. Blauer. Ok, I know for some reason most people pseudonymize their doctors. But this guy has a website and I want to see if other people get the same feelings about him that I do.
This is a relatively new infertility clinic. But the doctors there are very experienced. Good news, right? Well, I can't imagine that my doctor would refer me to a doctor who is homophobic, but I can't help being very, very apprehensive about these doctors. Read their bios. They talk about their LDS missions. Why is this relevant to their skills as infertility specialists? This, my friends, is code. It's letting everyone know that these doctors are good, devout Mormons. The one is even active in the boy scouts. The boy scouts. Bastions of homophobia and, at least here in Utah, firmly in the LDS church's control. The LDS church that believes gay people are ok, just as long as they remain celibate and single and live out their lonely, pathetic lives in prayer that God will help them change. Will a devout LDS doctor help a radical, married dyke concieve out of Church Presidency and State-sanctioned Matrimony? I doubt it. I'm wondering if I should go in and lie (but what are the chances they'll help a "single woman"?) or should I go in with my labrys shining and sharpened?
So. I guess what I'm going to do is make an appointment with the doctor that Kristin and "I" saw 2 years ago. He's booked about 2-3 months out for new patients. And I'll make an appointment with the RMRE (Pronounced "rimree": Returned Missionary Reproductive Endoctrinologist) because their website says they can get people in for consultations quickly. And I'll pray. I'll pray that 150 mg of Clomid pushes my body into ovulation so that I don't have to let a RMRE look at my hoohaa.
Now. There comes a time in every woman's life when she must shake off the shackles of her oppressors and take a day off from work so that she can get a killer taco salad and eat it while lying on her stomach on her bed reading a really good book (after she's done the mountain of ironing while watching Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl again, of course). And so that's what I'm going to do today. Have a good day, y'all!
I used to play once a week. Then it dropped down to once a month. Now it's been a couple of years...
Sad. I was actually looking at all my books and supplies yesterday and thinking that maybe I should just finally get rid of them all. But I can't. Not yet. I still have hope that I might play again.
Anyway, thanks to Hope, now you can all see
I Am A: Neutral Good Elf Ranger Druid
Neutral Good characters believe in the power of good above all else. They will work to make the world a better place, and will do whatever is necessary to bring that about, whether it goes for or against whatever is considered 'normal'.
Elves are the eldest of all races, although they are generally a bit smaller than humans. They are generally well-cultured, artistic, easy-going, and because of their long lives, unconcerned with day-to-day activities that other races frequently concern themselves with. Elves are, effectively, immortal, although they can be killed. After a thousand years or so, they simply pass on to the next plane of existence.
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.
Druids are a special variety of Cleric who serves the Earth, and can call upon the power in the earth to accomplish their goals. They tend to be somewhat fanatical about defending natural settings.
Mielikki is the Neutral Good goddess of the forest and autumn. She is also known as the Lady of the Forest, and is the Patron of Rangers. Her followers are devoted to nature, and believe in the positive and outreaching elements of it. They use light armor, and a variety of weapons suitable for hunting, which they are quite skilled at. Mielikki's symbol is a unicorn head.
Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)
You know what will happen.
The way a house knows the spread of its foundations,
the balance of its roof, and the moment
when things start to slide away:
tiny patters of asphalt from softening shingles,
clicks and whispers from gray and feathery boards,
the occasional high crack of a window
in a warping frame.
Alone or in startled crowds
you've made those noises too
in bewilderment or dejection, or sharp fierce joy
in the breaking open of sores on your body
and the slackening of so many ties.
You're tumbling down in splintery increments.
Soon you'll be lying heaped on a patch of ground
silent, with ivy curling around your ears,
beetles eating and sleeping in your wounds,
and people following the smell to witness your decay.
They'll take pictures: flashbulbs exploding like blows to the head
your body revealed by the dying light as strewn with rubies -- no
something darker and damper -- streaks and droplets of jasper
like muddy rain fallen on muddy streams
and green spreading out like grass on a delta
and bluish purple like clots of wild flowers
sweetly drawing flies.
You know this will happen.
In the hour of your fermentation
the moment of your rising,
will come tourists with guidebooks and comments;
to tear away your vegetation,
pocket your loosening pieces,
break up your yeasty bubbles
and move on to something more spectacular.
No matter. Their footprints
will leave spaces for you to fill at your leisure
and bits of you will cling to their shoes and clothing.
As they walk they will scatter your pieces like seeds
to burst and grow.
for The Scheherazade Project
Guess whose period started yesterday making this last cycle a mere 23 days long?
Yesterday I went for my serum progesterone test. This is an exciting new development since the test was ordered in MAY and this is the first month my cycle has been long enough to allow me to go get the test. Normally I start bleeding BEFORE it's time to go get the test. Well, there was last month. But I was certain that I hadn't ovulated, and then the lab was closed on the day that I should have gone to get the test...
Anyway, so I went to get the test yesterday. And I HATE having blood drawn. I get sick just walking into the lab. My skin -- which is pretty red in tone to start with -- actually turns GREEN during the procedure, and that's a lot of green to counteract all my natural red pigment. I've told people in my family that they're damn lucky we all have a very common blood type because if they ever had to rely on me for a blood donation they'd be up shit creek without a paddle. Except for Kristin and Julia, of course, but neither of them have my blood type, so I guess I'm safe. (Am I a horrible person for thinking this? Yes, yes I believe I am.
So yesterday I drank extra water to try to make the procedure easier. And I show up and roll up my sleeves and inform the vampire that my left arm is easier. And then I close my eyes because if I even SEE the implement used I will be violently sick all over the floor (and I was already feeling nauseated all yesterday but I forbid you to read anything into that, it was just nerves you hear?). So, she preps me and then sticks me and I gasp and focus on breathing... in, out, in... ("breathe!" the woman ordered) out. It seems to be taking a long time.
"Are you done yet?" I asked the woman.
"You're not bleeding" she replied. "Can you relax a little?"
"I am relaxed." I reply.
She pulled the apparatus out. I snuck a quick peek at my hands. They were grey and shaking and clammy.
She ended up using my hand. I have NEVER had to have my hand used before. But you know what? The hand wasn't NEARLY as bad as the arm. Piece of cake! I might start insisting on the hand every time.
Now what do you want to bet I get a cryptic message about my results at 4:55 this afternoon?
When I was in my late teens/early twenties, my favorite street to drive down was 9th East. If I was in the area, even if it was not the quickest way, I would drive down this long, tree-lined street. I loved the bungalows, I loved the yards. I loved the mixture of houses and small businesses. If I could buy a house anywhere in Utah, I would want to live on 9th East. In particular the section of 9th East that stretches from 33rd South to 9th South -- the part that forms the western boundary of the Salt Lake neighborhood known as Sugar House.
Sugar House is one of the funkiest neighborhoods in Salt Lake. It's full of college students, old hipsters, artists, queers, university professors, lefty radicals, and dog lovers. It's a large neighborhood with several parks and a wide economic demographic. There are three main commercial areas -- 9th&9th, 15th&15th and Granite Block on Highland Dr. and 21st south. The further north and east in Sugar House you go, the more expensive the properties, so the 9th&9th and 15th&15th areas have been transformed in recent years to yuppie, dinkie versions of their former indie glory. They're still interesting, but they've lost their edge. Now Granite Block, on the other hand, Granite Block is the heart of what had been Sugar House's central commercial district. It's full of quaint buildings mixed with slightly-neglected mid-twentieth century storefronts that house some of the most independent stores in the state. I've taken many pictures of Granite Block trying to capture it's essence, the feeling of transcendence you get from the area. If you didn't know better, you would think that you'd been wisked off to San Francisco. The shops are so funky, the people so original, and it's the ONLY place in Salt Lake that is vibrant with pedestrians.
Kristin and I were thrilled when we were able to buy a house within walking distance of Old Sugar House and Granite Block. And we bought just off 9th East fulfilling that old wish of mine. We consider ourselves to be in the perfect location. And we bought our house cheap. It's in the far south west corner of Sugar House, almost in the neighborhood known as Brickyard. In fact, we can walk to the Brickyard commercial disctrict as easily as we can walk to Sugar House's -- except Brickyard isn't pedestrian-friendly, so we don't. Anyway, because of our location, we bought a Sugar House property for a Brickyard price (Brickyard isn't NEARLY as popular and expensive as Sugar House). But that has changed in the last year or so. The value of our house has nearly doubled from what we paid. And though on the one hand I am excited about the fact that our primary investment is gaining value, I am also worried about what the rising property values would mean to our community, particularly the commercial disctrict just to the north and east of us.
So, I was both upset and not surprised to read an article last night titled Goodbye, Sugar House.
Crap! And just after we decided to stick around, too. I think I'm going to have to get involved in this.
Because I don't have a camera, Photo Fridays have been a bit tricky. But this one, I am pleased to say, I can do quite well.
This is a picture of my brother's high school garage band. During one of the times when they were between drummers. They were so serious about their band... I gave him a portrait sitting with pictures so he could have a photo for his album's cover. This is one of the proofs. There's more. They're just buried in my mom's huge box o' pictures.
My brother is the one with the electric guitar. The fellow next to him is his best friend, Crash. No, that's not his real name. But honestly, I can't remember his real name because everyone calls him Crash. He was a good Mormon boy until we moved in next door...
Final Notes on Breastfeeding
1) While I completely agree with the push to make breastfeeding in public socially acceptable and to remove the stigma and discrimination from women who breastfeed their children in public, I think that there needs to be more of an emphasis on alleviating American Prudishness rather than on trying to get everyone to believe that there is nothing sexual/sensual at all about breastfeeding. I think that goes the wrong way -- justifying the prudishness in the first place; (A prudishness which, I would like to point out, is also a factor in discrimination against queers)not challenging people's assumptions that sexual/sensual things in public automatically make everyone uncomfortable and are inappropriate. I mean, look around! Sex is everywhere writ large. Half naked women are larger than life on our billboards, are on flyers in our public transit system, are represented as mannequins in our store fronts, are beguiling us from our TV screens and even on the previews before children's movies. Sex and sensuality and nudity IS ok in public -- but only if it's used to sell something. THAT's the assumption I think should be challenged by lactivists and their supporters. Not that some aren't. But from my position over here, it sure seems like the favored position is the one that screams "breastfeeding has absolutely nothing to do with sex because really, all breasts are are lumps of fat and mammary glands, and its only your social conditioning and your wrong-headedness and your gutter mind and that stick up your ass that causes you to see breastfeeding as sexual/sensual at all so get over yourself." I'd much rather see one that said, "yes breastfeeding is related to sex in a way, and yes, it's a sensual act; but it's a natural act, and a necessary one, and a beautiful one, and if you think it's better/more noble/less offensive for that airbrushed, collegen-injected, fat-sucked 50 foot tall woman's breast to be hanging out in the air selling over-priced merchandise most likely made by under-paid third world workers than a mother's real, soft breast hanging out in the air (or, most likely, tucked discreetly under a blanket) feeding a child, then you should get a therapist right quick because you've got a problem, not me!"
2) You know what I'd like? I'd like a dominant cultural ideal of motherhood to tell me not that I'm a good mother in spite of the fact that I'm a good lover, or that I'm a good mother because I'm not a passionately sexual person. But something that says that I'm a good mother because I'm a passionate and sensitive and responsive lover. OR that the things that make me a good mother AND a good lover are the same things – sensitivity, responsiveness, sensuality, creativity, love, and passion – and that that's why being a mother and a lover feel so similarly and can happen so simultaneously. THAT'S what I'd like to see. That's the way I'd like our society to change.
3) Maybe that's the reason babies come from sex. Maybe because the qualities that make a good lover, and make one sexy (see list above), also make one a good mother. I mean, scientists have been saying for years that our beauty standards come from some antique indicators of fertility and health. Maybe sexuality works the same way? People who would (by these standards) make good parents are considered to be exceptional lovers and thus given more chances to procreate? Ok, I know there are holes in this theory, particularly since I know a number of people who are great in bed but would make lousy parents, but then clear skin and bright eyes and shiny hair do not necessarily mean a person is healthy and fertile, either.
4) And yet we're (And by "we" I mean "American culture, for the most part") stuck in the religion-based paradigm of Madonna/Whore. We're trapped between the two shallow Marys. The Mary that we only see as an asexual mother and the Mary that we only see as the scarlet whore. Even though I'm not Christian, it pervades me. I mean, in Wicca the goddess gives birth to her son, grows up with him, takes him as her lover, becomes pregnant by him, ages with him, watches him die, mourns him, and then gives birth to him (and rebirths herself) again in the spring. Nowhere is she sexless and chaste. Nowhere is she mother OR lover. She is always the two together and so much more. And yet here I am struggling with a Christian dichotomy…
Ok, I think I'm finally done. Feel free to add. I'm pretty sure that I bored and/or alienated every single one of my readers with this little obsession of mine.
Well the drama has resolved itself much more quickly than I expected.
Here's the backstory that I didn't post earlier:
Kristin applied to the only Master's of Social Work program in the state. They rejected her, even though her credentials are IMPRESSIVE. So, back in April she marched right into the program's head honcho's office and demanded to know why they had rejected her -- especially since they had admitted several people that Kristin had TRAINED and were much less qualified than she is.
Well, the guy admitted that Kristin's application hadn't even been scored. No one had even considered it! He looked through it right then and agreed that it was a very impressive application, and he couldn't see anything that could have been done better, and no, he couldn't say why she hadn't been admitted or why the application hadn't been scored. So does he correct all this by admitting her right then? No. He places her on the waiting list. And not even in the #1 slot. No. He ERASES someone else from the #10 spot and sticks Kristin there. And then tells her that she'll probably get in and he might be able to tell her in July.
Well, in order to advance in her career, Kristin needs this degree. And this is the only program in the state. So Kristin went into this guy's office every other week all summer long to let him see her face, and to stress to this person that she would REALLY like in the program. All summer long it's been evasion, put-offs, and conflicting information. Finally the Director told her to just show up on the first day of school and someone was bound to have a nervous breakdown and she could take that spot. Lovely plan, don't you think?
So yesterday was the first day of school. Orientation. And Kristin decided to be bold and take the man up on his suggestion. This is where the drama comes in. IF they decided to take her then we would be staying put, but if -- after EVERYTHING -- they still didn't let her in she was going to be applying to schools out of the state and we were going to get the hell out of dodge.
They accepted her. She started classes today. She even got a scholarship out of the deal.
So we're staying here.
The other variable in our drama and moving decision was our co-guardianship application. Our hearing was this morning. Now, we were nervous. Every lesbian couple with kids (who didn't outright adopt from another state) we know has paid a certain lawyer a great deal of money to take care of their co-guardianship petitions. This particular lawyer is very good, and very well respected in our community. I'm not saying she's a bad woman. But I have a very strong suspicion of the motives of most of the lawyers in our community -- particularly the lawyers who make a damn fine living off the LGBT population's lack of protected status in Utah. Also, she wouldn't do guardianship for us unless we let her re-do all our wills, Powers of Attorney, parenting agreements, and so on. All for a fee, of course. We didn't want to pay several thousand dollars to re-do our documents just to get her help with our co-guardianship application. Finally, in talking with our friends, it seems that this lawyer is very fear-based. She is VERY leery about known donors and some friends of ours who used a known donor let her convince them to push him out of their lives. That decision has backfired in a very troubling way and now they're regretting the decision to abandon him. We don't like to live that way. We certainly refuse to treat our donor like that. So we decided to go this route alone. It felt a bit like whistling in the dark.
Our hearing was this morning. My parents and our good friend, Jen, came with us. When our turn came Kristin and Julia and I approached the bench. I was prepared to answer questions about why I would want guardianship. Kristin was prepared to answer questions about why she wanted to share guardianship. We had copies of our donor contract in case the natural father came up. My parents and Jen were there to vouch for my character, our intentions, and/or the stability of our family if need be.
Nothing like that was necessary. The judge looked at us, asked Kristin if she consented, and then granted our petition. He didn't even bang a gavel! It was all just a bit anti-climactic. He moved on to the next case and we all filed out of the courtroom, took pictures in front of the big doors (I'll post the pic later), and headed off for breakfast. Kristin and I will go back to the courthouse later this afternoon and pick up our guardianship letters and it'll be a done deal. I even cried a bit, but not till I was back in the car. Two little drops was I was waiting on a red light.
Needless to say, if the guardianship hadn't been granted then we might have re-thought our decision to remain here while Kristin finishes her degree and supervised hours.
So, I am now a legal quasi-parent! Hip hip Hooray!!! I can put Julia on my health insurance and create a flex spending account for her childcare!
AND we may have found a way to adopt our children WITHOUT moving out of state. That would be the best thing. I hate the thought of leaving my family. But more on that later (or not, depending on how shady it is).
Next steps in our plan to Have it All -- get pregnant, get into a distance MLIS program, get more of my writing published, investigate semi-shady legal loophole, get Kristin through school, continue to save to start our co-housing community (not necessarily in that order).
The next 48 hours will determine whether or not Kristin and I will be packing up next spring and leaving this state never to return
or if it'll be another two years before we make our big break.
I don't know which I prefer. After all the hard work we've done on our house, it would be nice to be able to enjoy it for a while... on the other hand it would also be nice to be able to adopt our children.
It doesn't matter which I prefer. At this point it's out of our hands. We just need to let things play out over the next two days...
Imagine that you and your sweetie are just settling into a romantic dinner for two at The Melting Pot. It's Sunday night and you picked that night because it was more likely to be quiet and intimate. You're gazing deeply into each other's eyes, debating the relative merits of the Wisconsin Cheddar Fondue as opposed to the Traditional Swiss, when a woman is led to the table next to you. You pay no attention to her, at first, until she starts emitting a high-pitched shrieking. Startled, worried that the poor woman is having some sort of attack, you turn to her and realize that it's not she who is shrieking, but her baby.
Yes. She brought a baby to The Melting Pot. And not just any kind of baby, but a toddler kind of baby. A toddler kind of baby that is objecting vociferously to being put in a high chair. Then another woman, talking loudly on a cell phone -- trying to get off, but nonetheless still being extremely rude -- arrives at the table and sits down. She hangs up the phone and pulls the toddler-type baby into her lap. You return your attention to your beloved and resume your perusal of the menu.
It's when the server is swirling your cheddar and beer together that loud banging sounds start coming from the table next to you. The server winces. You peek around her to see that the toddler-type is banging some sort of plastic sippy-cup on the table top. When one of the women takes the sippy-cup away the infant starts that shrill screaming noise again. When the woman gives the sippy-cup back, the banging recommences and the tiny devil laughs. The other woman starts trying to distract the baby with crackers. You are dismayed to see that they haven't even started their cheese course yet.
Still, you return to your own meal. You and your beloved start feeding each other little bits of bread dipped in the hot cheese. You can hear and sense a great deal of ruckus at the table next to you, but you determinedly ignore it. The ruckus gets louder, you continue to ignore it. You manage to ignore the situation quite well until a bit of bread and cheese comes flying through the air and a maniac cackle erupts from the table next to you. Luckily, you were not hit with any flying cheese, so you give the women at the table a dirty look and return to your meal. That'll show them. Maybe they'll keep that baby in line better for the rest of the evening. Your beloved is starting to talk about how much she hates children, and how she never wants to have any of her own. You are beginning to agree with her.
Time passes. The ruckus has not lessened, but no wayward pieces of food have been flung your way in several minutes. You're looking into your pot of coq au vin seasoned bouillion when you hear your beloved gasp. She has a look of horror on her face. "Someone gave it a weapon," she whispers in a strangled voice. You turn to see the toddler waving a large fondue fork maniacally around, nearly taking out the eye of the woman holding the child. You see the baby expertly spear a piece of raw meat and fling it before the woman manages to get the fork out of the baby's hand. The other woman just starts scooping the raw meat and veggies into the pot haphazardly. You hear her explain that if they can just get all the damn food cooked they can get out of here. Inwardly, you cheer. Then you hear the other woman complain, "We came to the Melting Pot and AREN'T getting any chocolate fondue?" You cringe, just wanting them gone, and then you hear that same woman cry, "never mind, never mind, can we turn the heat up on that pot somehow?" just as the child starts screaming again.
You and your beloved look at each other. You whisper about the merits of changing tables, but the women are making every move to leave the restaurant, so you decide to stick it out.
Finally, finally, the women get up and leave, their sticky, squirmy, sticky, screaming baby with them. Their table is a mess, there's food stuck to the walls, bread crumbs and cheese shreds scattered on the floor in a wide circle. The server looks pale and drained. You hope they at least left a massive tip.
Then you and your beloved return to your dark chocolate fondue and swear never to have children. Or at least, never to bring them to The Melting Pot.
Just because a restaurant has high chairs doesn't mean it's appropriate for children.
note: we did leave a massive tip. And in our defense, Julia has NEVER been that bad when we've eaten out, and we've taken her to some pretty fancy places. Hopefully she was just tired and this isn't a sign of new times to come.
No Diners Were Harmed in the Making of this Blog Post.
"But when you see her in person? You're overcome with this...what is it? It's almost a sense of deception. A sort of, hey! You're way hotter than you pretend to be! Or something..."
Now don't you all want to come visit me?
It's over. The party is over. The guests have all gone home. Our house is nearly clean. It's so wonderful. It was worth it, though. Julia had a GREAT time.
Pictures are up at The Speckled Frog if you want to see them.
You know, it's strange. A couple of years ago, throwing large parties didn't phase me. We threw as many as we could and I always had a great time. I was able to mingle easily, enjoy myself. But the last couple of years I have gotten increasingly unable to deal with large parties. I find myself getting more and more anxious as the party gets closer to starting, I usually have a great deal of anxiety all during the party, and that anxiety will inevitably peak into some sort of full-blown anxiety attack sometime during the event. Sometimes it will get so bad that I'll have to go to one of the non-public rooms and sit in the dark until I can get calm enough to join the party. This party proved to be no exception -- except I wasn't able to go anywhere to calm down.
I know what part of the problem is -- I'll see people and I'll start worrying that they're not having a good time, that they want to leave but think it would be rude, that I'm not paying enough attention to them to make them feel welcome and appreciated. Ridiculous, I know. But still. At Julia's party there was a great deal of that going on, but also just sheer overwhelm at all the presents she received. We had told people that their presence was enough of a gift, but gifts they brought all the same. Many people brought more than one gift, too. The pile was HUGE! And everyone wanted to see their gift being opened, so I got started opening presents.
It was during the gift opening that I had my full blown anxiety attack. Heart pounding, hands shaking, wanting to cry. Our friend Amanda picked up a bag and started helping me keep the mess clean as I was going, whispering encouraging words the whole time. I kept smiling. I felt so greedy. Like we'd invited so many people just so we could get a haul of presents. It felt like such conspicuous consumption. I know all these people LOVE Julia, and they all wanted to get her things. I think my biggest problem is that I felt like I couldn't thank the people sincerely enough for their gifts. I mean, Julia wasn't even paying attention to most of them (of course she wasn't, she's only one and a lot of the presents were clothes) and I felt like I needed to keep opening presents so that people could leave if they wanted. I guess I just wish that I could have taken each family or guest aside and opened their present with them right there so that I could thank them in a more intimate setting, and we could talk about the gift... Oh well. About half way through the present opening my attack started feeling debilitating and I just looked helplessly over at N and Amanda and whispered to them that I couldn't do it anymore, and they just whispered back that it was ok, no one thought we were ungrateful, and that I was doing fine. That's when I asked Kristin to stop taking pictures and come over and help me. I don't know how many of our guests could tell how much distress I was in -- a lot of people were carrying on conversations while this was going on. I plan on calling them all to say thank you again and I might mention it to some of them...
Everytime I think I'm getting my anxiety under control I slip up again.
Big party tomorrow. But she's already received her first present (besides the necklace from us) a gigantic box of balls from A and her son. Julia saw those balls when I dropped her off this morning and her eyes got wide and she started struggling to get down RIGHT NOW! so she could play with all the many, many balls. It was a perfect gift!
Most of my eloquence today was already spent over at The Speckled Frog. You can read it if you like...
You're Ovulating, You're Ovulating Not, You're Ovulating...
I finally got a hold of my doctor yesterday. It's her opinion that I will ovulate this cycle, just later than she had estimated. She thinks Ill ovulate Saturday or Sunday, so I'm to continue peeing on sticks and we'll see. I'll get a serum progesterone test next Thursday if I don't get an LH surge between now and then, and if I do get a surge then I'll get the test 7 days after the surge.
Tamsin (look! she has a blog now!) wondered if I could get another ultrasound in a few days to see if the follicles are growing. I think the main difference between seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) and seeing a regular Gynocologist who happens to specialize in fertility issues is that REs seem to hand out ultrasounds like candy, whereas Gyns (or at least the practice I'm at) uses them far more conservatively. So, no. No secondary ultrasound for me this cycle. It's all pee and mucus and sex drive from here on out.
Reasons 7694-6 We Love Our Donor
7694) Kristin, Julia, and I went to a party N was hosting. An acquaintance that we haven't seen since before Julia was born appeared. After greeting him, I told him he should meet Julia. I took him into the room where N was holding Julia. The acquaintance walked up to N and said, "So, wow! This is your daughter!" (notice that it's not a question, but a statement). N didn't lose a beat. "No. This is Trista and Kristin's daughter." (also a statement, and one which didn't allow any argument or explanation)
7695) We took N out to dinner last night. At dinner we filled him in with everything that had gone on at the morning's ultrasound. We told him that though we had thought to inseminate after dinner, given the news, we should probably wait. His answer? "I'm here anyway, I think we should go ahead if there's even the smallest chance it could work."
7696) After Kristin took N home she came in to where I was, on the bed, with my legs up in the air. "N is determined to get you pregnant as soon as possible." "Why?" I asked, "is he wanting to prove his potency?" "Not at all. He was telling me that he feels so bad that the clomid is so harsh on you and your moods, that we should do everything we can to get you pregnant as soon as possible so you can stop taking the clomid. He's willing to donate every day if it would help, and he thinks that maybe next month we should inseminate a couple times during the week after your period, and then as much as possible until we know for sure you've ovulated."
My Baby is Turning 1 Tomorrow
A year ago today we were sitting at home watching Kristin's bps rise and I was making enchiladas to freeze for the post-partum period. Today there's no sitting around, period. Oh and you can forget about having the time to make and freeze food ahead of time...
My God, Julia turns 1 TOMORROW!!
You know how I said that I was worried about talking about trying to get pregnant on this blog because I'm a contract worker and my contract is going to expire soon and I want them to re-hire me? And that I decided that such secrecy was moot? Well, I was planning on talking to my boss this week to tell him that unless I found out about the status of my employment soon I was going to need to start looking for another job. But yesterday he came to my desk and asked me if I wanted to stay. When I told him that I'd be happy to stay if they wanted me to stay, he told me that they do, and he would get the process in Washington started to make sure that I am either hired permanently, or granted a contract extension. So now there are no worries that I'll get pregnant and then have to look for a new job while pregnant. Plus, this is a pretty cushy job for a pregnant woman to have. A lot of sitting, very little stress, and a bathroom just steps away.
There's a Waterfall Inside
Rushing rushing water. Drenched heart, saturated lungs. The plunge into my gut, the pounding, the foam. Whitewater forcibly backwashing into my fingers toes, carving hollows in my joints, forcing itself back into my gut. Waterlogged, heavy, no surcease.
I really want that new live Counting Crows CD.
The best way to get ones skin to clear up is to make an appointment with a dermatologist that one has to wait a month for. By the time you get in there, he'll have nothing to look at.
Mid-cycle scan this morning. It's CD14. My doctor said that I should expect to ovulate on day 15, we were hoping that there would be at least one large, ready-to-go follicle.
Three follicles on the left ovary all less than 1cm. Two or three follicles on the right ovary, again, all less than 1cm. Each ovary also had a large follicle that was shrinking. Waning. Surrounded by some loose fluid. In other words, I had two follicles that looked as if they had already ovulated some time in the past. The technician was unable to tell me how long ago. They could even have been from last month. They could have burst last night. There could be eggs floating around me now or the egg could have died -- unloved, unacknowledged -- long ago.
But I never got a positive opk, I never got fertile mucus, I didn't experience mittelschmerze or however you spell that, and though my cervix did open some over the weekend, it never softened. I had some tentative ovulation signs, but nothing definite. Apparently my body and I are not on speaking terms.
We nearly inseminated last night, but decided (since I had been told that I most likely wouldn't ovulate until Thursday) to wait to see if there were even any viable follicles. Because for me it's too hard to inseminate and then find out that there was no chance at a pregnancy anyway. So now I'm wavering from kicking myself for not going ahead with the insemination last night and wondering how long an egg can live unfertilized trying to decide if it's worth it to attack our donor with a plastic cup as soon as he gets off work this afternoon. Regardless of which course of action we take, it looks as though this month is another bust. But I'm still waiting for a call from my doctor to get her opinion on the subject.
In other pelvic news, my uterus us retroverted, my ovaries are more on top of the uterus than out to the sides, my lining looks nice and plush, and the technician spent a great deal of time looking at something that resembled the milky way inside the cavity of my uterus. I like to think it's because there's a universe of possibility in there -- it being the cradle of life and all -- since the technician didn't tell me what those things could be. At least she didn't gasp in horror, look at me with wide eyes, and then oh-so-casually ask me if all my affairs were in order.
I'm not sure what to do here. I'm hoping my doctor can shed some light on the subject. At this point I'm wondering if I need to kidnap our donor and force him to romance a cup every night for the first two weeks of my cycle. Of course, there's always the more direct approach. But I'm pretty sure that my barking, "On your back, Sperm Boy!" before ravishing him will only work once, maybe twice before he gets resentful. And no telling what his girlfriend will think of that turn of events. Plus, well, um, yeah. I'm not such a fan of the penis.
All I can say is that I'm glad we're using fresh, and that it's copious and free. And that our donor is such an easy-going guy.
Hey, y'all. I've been boring for quite a while now. I know it. And I've been wondering why I just have no spark. No flair. No funny stories.
It could be that I'm very depressed. No, not all the time depressed. But I have been having these mood swings... well, calling them swings makes them sound funner than they are. More like mood slides. I'll be sitting there and suddenly I'll feel my mood slide into the ground. I slump. I lose all energy and will to do anything. I want just to lie on the ground and sleep and sleep and sleep. While at the same time I want someone else (elves, perhaps?) to come in and fix everything -- clean the yard for Julia's birthday party, make and jar the salsa, tile the step that needs tiling, get rid of the ants in the dogfood (my god, LINES OF ANTS invading our house!), clean out the guestroom, clear off the air-hockey table (where we put everything from the old kitchen and still haven't found new homes for), move the couch from the sun room down to the tv room in the basement, CLEAN the sun room for god's sake, water the indoor plants, organize the garage, paint the banister, seal the garage roof, paint the exterior of the house, lay sod in the back yard, write a fiction bestseller, send off my poems and prose to publishers, start a freelancing career, and somehow squeeze another $500 out of our monthly budget to start paying off our credit cards quicker. Oh yeah, and create and send in my applications for grad school. Can't forget that. Anybody know where I can get me some elves? What about a herd of small, pliable and nimble children? Oh, that reminds me. I dreamt last night that a gigantic, hairless, african elephant was wading toward me through the ocean (dodging the gigantic Great White Sharks that were trying to eat me) and came right up to me and started trying to stomp on me! I can still see the gigantic, flat, gray foot coming down toward me, and then I dodge at the last second, and then a wave from the displaced ocean water swamps me and takes my breath away and then I get my breath back just in time to dodge another squashing -- and meanwhile the sharks are still circling lunging at me with their mouths open so wide I can see daylight through their poop holes..., but wait, I was talking about trying to find myself some elves, wasn't I?
Elves don't exist. I guess I better get to work. I've got a lot of shit to do. And I'll get to it, I swear! Right after this nap...
One thing I can do is cut down on my blogging.
Did you know that I am maintaining FOUR blogs? This habit, it just SUCKS YOU IN! First it was all "I'll only do this blogging thing a couple of times a week. No big deal. I can stop anytime I want to." then you start blogging every day. And soon, one blog just isn't enough for you. You have to start more, and more, and more! So here I am at 4 blogs. This one. The Speckled Frog (wherein I expound upon the wonder that is Julia), The Scheherazade Project. And... my secret blog.
Yes. I have a secret blog. Some of you know, and some of you don't. On that blog I talk all about my attempts to conceive a child. A sibling for Julia. I was trying to keep it on the down low because I'm a contract worker and my contract ends in November. I worry that if they know that I'm pregnant or trying to get pregnant they'll refuse to renew my contract. And I wouldn't have a leg to stand on legally because they don't HAVE to renew my contract. They don't even have to give me a reason why not. Hence the secrecy.
But I'm just not cut out for this kind of secrecy. It's KILLING MY SOUL. And I think it's killing this blog to have a prohibition against writing about something that's consuming so much of my hopes and energies. I find myself sitting here full of things to say but too afraid to say it. So I have to think of something else to write, and most of the time what I've come up with to talk about has been less compelling than it could be... Anyway, Kristin pointed out that if my HR people googled me and discovered this blog (not hard to do at all) they would be more likely to not renew my contract based on the time stamps of these posts rather than the news that I was pregnant or trying to become so. Hence the unveiling.
So, to catch you all up to speed (those of you not in on the secret), we inseminated the first time back in April. That was a month ahead of schedule, but the timing felt so perfect we just had to do it. I spent 2 weeks absolutely convinced that I was pregnant mostly because I was so damn tired. And when I found out that I wasn't pregnant I was upset, but mostly because I then didn't have a good reason to be so tired. I had a doctor's appointment at the beginning of May to discuss our options. At the doctor's appointment I was told that my charts show that I'm not ovulating, and I was given a prescription for Clomid. Then followed 1 cancelled cycle because of bad timing around our vacation, and 1 cancelled cycle because the clomid didn't work. Then a lot of bleeding, a stint on provera that didn't really help me stop bleeding, an increase in my clomid dose, and then another insemination. And yet again I didn't ovulate. So, here I am now. I took clomid again and this month I have a mid-cycle ultrasound (tomorrow!) to see what's going on in there. We're hoping to inseminate twice this week. If you want all the gritty details and whining click here and read through the entries. There really aren't that many of them considering that I've been writing there for 5 months.
Phew! That's a load off my chest. And now that means I'll only have three blogs. And if I could only find someone who wanted to help with the S Project I could cut that down to 2.5 blogs... not that that'll help any of the other things get done, but it might perk things up around here.
This is my entry for the Scheherazade Project. I think it's cheating a little, since I wrote this some time ago. I was going to write a story about a kid with butterfly wings... but...
So here's this. I have tried and tried to figure out a way to get the formatting on this thing right. No go. So I've tweaked it for web viewing -- this is not how it really looks. It looks much cooler laid out correctly.
On the good news front, I dreamt of a poem Saturday night. I saw myself writing it, I was whispering it aloud as I wrote, as I often do, and I had shivers it was so good. Can I remember the poem now? Of course not. But this is a good sign. It means that something's on its way through.
How do you know when the muse is approaching?
from No Normal Love (A Sci-Fi Lesbian Pirate Bodice-Ripper)
Part the Twelfth
In Which Our Heroine Discovers She Isn't Exactly Ordinary
Katine wakes in a shaft of light, looks
for The Pirate, locates her by
the gleam of her three gold teeth.
The Pirate is smiling at Katine, smiling
at the crescents of her body.
This from The Pirate:
This from Katine: You keep saying you knew him. Now I've paid you. Tell Me.
He's a spider Monkey.
You mean he was good at climbing?
No, I mean he's a monkey -- first genetic cross between Homo and Ateles.
That explains why I am so very fond of apples...
He and my mother'er very close. When I was small, I caught them --
I always wondered why I had a tail.
Katine's tail moves to pull the coverlet
up her body. The Pirate catches
its tip in her fist, squeezes and pulls
Let me show you what this is good for
(her words spark gold)
When Kristin and I were thinking of a pediatrician for Julia, we looked first in our Little Lavender Book. There was only one family practice doctor listed in the book and no pediatricians. So I called the clinic that was listed for the doctor and asked if they had any female pediatricians there. Kristin and I felt very strongly that Julia have a female pediatrician. The clinic didn't have any female pediatricians. In fact they had no pediatricians at all. They were all family practice doctors. But I had a long conversation with the nurse of the doctor who was listed in the Lavender book and asked her if she knew of any gay-friendly female pediatricians in the valley. She, in turn, got the doctors at that clinic involved and they all put their heads together and couldn't come up with any female pediatricians that they knew were gay friendly. So, I thanked them for their help and Kristin and I decided that we would keep looking for a pediatrician for Julia.
When Julia was born, the pediatrician who had been there at her birth was very friendly and open and helpful. She told us she would love to have Julia as a patient. So we were happy. We had ended up with a female pediatrician who was gay friendly just by the luck of the draw. BUT, this pediatrician was actually only a resident in a very busy clinic attached to a teaching hospital. It was a pain to drive there, a pain to park, the waiting room was small and crowded and full of sick children. And the clientele of the clinic that we met were... crass. Rude and pushy. When we took Julia in for her 2 week check-up, Kristin was still recovering from her c-section and there were two women with 6 kids between them taking up the very large area in front of the registration windows. Kristin sat down on a chair in the first row behind them, and one of those women got out of line to yell at her and call her a bitch for stealing her seat. We weren't comfortable there, and we never saw our doctor. She was always gone even though we made appointments specifically with her. We had at least 2 appointments with a man who was VERY uncomfortable with our family. All in all this was not the kind of doctor's experience we wanted. We wanted to be able to get to know a doctor, to have that doctor know Julia. This... this felt so impersonal, we never knew who we were going to see, we had to fill the doctors in on her medical history each time, explain our family over and over again. We could never get same-day appointments when Julia was sick. When we brought Julia in for her reflux we felt like we had wasted the doctor's time...
At one point we felt like we needed a second opinion on Julia's reflux. But we didn't know where to take her. Then we remembered the clinic in the Lavender Book. Let's call it Clinic O. Even though clinic O hadn't had the female doctor we wanted, they were very friendly and accessible over the phone and we had been left with a positive impression. And they aren't far from our house. So we called to see if one of the doctors there could see Julia. They got her in that day. And even though the doctor agreed that Julia's reflux was not bad enough to need medication we didn't feel stupid for bringing her in. The doctor didn't make us feel like we had willfully wasted his time. We left the doctor's appointment feeling listened to, and, having had all our concerns taken seriously first, we felt comfortable with the doctor's diagnosis. But still, we wanted a female doctor, so we continued to use the hospital clinic.
The final straw with the hospital clinic came when Julia got very sick last winter and we were worried that it was RSV. Even though we told the clinic that we thought she had RSV, the clinic couldn't get her an appointment for over a week! So Kristin drove herself and Julia over the the O clinic and even though she didn't have an appointment, they fit Julia in and checked Kristin out, too (she wasn't feeling well herself). We decided then and there that quality of care and an atmosphere of ease and comfort and respect was better than having a female pediatrician at a leading clinic. Not only did we switch Julia over to the O clinic, but Kristin and I started using the clinic as well.
We're known there. We're liked there. Even when we bring Julia in and it turns out she's only teething we are always told that we did the right thing by bringing her in, that they're always happy to see her. The clinic's building hails from the 1960's and hasn't been remodeled since, so it doesn't have that bland, antiseptic look so many doctor's clinics have. And it has its own lab, x-ray, and surgery. Everyone is so friendly and practical and warm. AND we got the pleasure of seeing one of our doctors half-naked in a feather boa and mardi gras beads at the Pride Festival!
And now they've finally hired a female doctor! We saw her for the first time a few weeks ago when I took Julia in for an ear infection. She apologized that she was running late! And she actually meant her apology! It wasn't just one of those automatic apologies! I liked her, she was great with Julia. And then, when Kristin took Julia in on Tuesday afternoon for her diarrhea she saw the same doctor. The doctor recognized Julia right away, but was a little confused by Kristin, so Kristin introduced herself and explained our family. Kristin loved her, too.
And then, last night, the phone rang. I saw that it was the O clinic, and answered the phone thinking it was a call about billing or appointments or something. No. It was the doctor! She said she'd just gotten off her shift and was thinking about Julia and wanted to call and see how she was doing, was she keeping food down, were the blisters continuing to heal, how was her mood, etc...
I. Was. In. Shock.
Wow. I've never had that happen before. Well, I've had two dentists call me -- once when I had my wisdom teeth out, and once after a crown replacement. But never a doctor calling to check up on the progress of a stomach virus and an antibiotic reaction!
I love our clinic.
PS - Julia is doing much better and is back at daycare today, cheerful as usual.
I rarely get sick. Kristin gets sick and I stay stalwart. Over and over during the years she has gotten deathly ill and even though virulently contagious I don't even get a sniffle. I don't even bother not kissing her because I figure that by the time she shows symptoms I've already been exposed and if I'm going to get it, then it's already too late. But I rarely ever get sick. Aside from the occasional killer migraine.
Thank god, because we're knee deep in diarrhea over here.
Kristin got a stomach bug Monday. And Julia came down with it on Tuesday and it's still going strong in her today. The doctor told us to take her off dairy till this clears up, but she refuses to drink the soy formula. She's been existing on oatmeal, toast, saltines, fresh fruit (but not bananas) and a lot of water and rehydrating powder. The poor thing. At least I don't have to worry about getting this thing, though.
Not that I haven't been washing my hands like Lady Macbeth.
Oh yeah, and we found out that Julia is allergic to illins. You know: penicillin, amoxicillin, keflex. I guess that's not an illin. But it's too close. Kristin's allergic to the illins, too, and last month she went in for antibiotics and the doctor gave her keflex. She broke out in pus-filled blisters all over. Now my poor baby has those same pus-filled blisters. She just finished a course of amoxicillin for an ear infection.
Funny, though, our day care provider kept telling us that there was no way that her blisters were an allergic reaction. "Allergies don't behave that way. They don't get pussy." Oh yeah? Well, I know different. I'm just glad that we caught this now. I'm just glad that we didn't find this out after a serious illness and I.V. illins.
Her blisters are nearly gone now. Hopefully we'll never see them again.
Faith tagged me last week while I was in the midst of my obsession. Sorry it took so long to get to this, Faith.
What songs would you have on your personal "meaningful mix" CD? Here are the questions (along with my answers).
1) A favorite political track: 15 Miles to Baghdad by Lizzie West and the White Buffalo or Tony by Patti Griffin
2) One of those tracks that make you dance on the dancefloor no matter what: Closer by Nine Inch Nails
3) The song you’d use to tell someone you love them: Carmen by Paula Cole or After All by Dar Williams, depending on the circumstances -- If I wanted to tell a friend that I loved her and I could no longer maintain a platonic friendship (an all-too-common occurance in my early twenties, alas), I'd send the first song. But, if I had sent a song to Kristin to declare my love, I would have sent After All.
4) A song that has made you sit down and analyze its lyrics: Space Dog by Tori Amos (though, to tell the truth, most of Tori's songs take me a while to puzzle out -- if I ever get them at all!)
5) A song that you like, that a two year old would like as well: Send Me on My Way by Rusted Root. This song is so bouncy I can't imagine that a two year old wouldn't just bounce around the room with it.
6) A song that gives you an energy boost: Rock Me Right by Susan Tedeschi. Best. road trip. song. EVER.
7) A song that you and your grandparents (would probably) like: Elvis Presley Blues by Gillian Welch. My grandfather really likes the really old country/bluegrass stuff so I think he'd like Gillian.
8) A song that you really liked when you were 14-16, and still really like now: Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) by Janis Joplin. During my High School's Spirit Week when I was a Junior, one of the dress-up days was 50's-60's day (of course) almost every girl dressed in poodle skirts and sweaters and keds. They all looked like extras in Grease. I went in my dad's old fringed leather jacket with torn jeans, a painted face, my hair in braids and feathers, a headband, a "Make Love Not War" sign, and a tape player blasting Janis. I made quite a scene...
9) A sad song that would be in the soundtrack of the movie about your life: If I Wrote You by Dar Williams or Peter Pan by Patti Griffin
10) A peppy song that would start the opening credits of the movie about your life: Fishing in the Morning by Dar Williams (I should just admit it, if there were a movie about my life the soundtrack would be almost exclusively by Dar)
11) A good song from a genre of music that no one would guess that you liked: Swamp Thing (Southern Comfort Mix) by The Grid (techno/dance) from whence my love of the banjo was born...
12) A song that you think should have been playing when you were born. You Rise and Meet the Day by Dar Williams. Heck, if this had been playing maybe I would have absorbed some of its message and I might have turned out to be a bit more emotionally resiliant.
13) A favorite artist duo collaboration: I've Been Thinking by Handsome Boy Modeling School with Cat Power Thanks to Johnnydee for this one. Kristin and I can't get enough of it! (I was going to put another Dar song: I Know What Kind of Love This Is with Lucy Kaplansky, but I thought my list was getting too Dar heavy)
14) A favorite song that you completely disagree with (politically, morally, commonsenically,religiously etc.): Weave My Way by Brenda Weiler. I love this song, I love to sing it while dancing around the house pretending to be a folk singer giving a sold-out show to all the people I ever felt inadequate in front of (now the song-list for THAT imaginary concert is an impressive collection of songs!), but the lyrics sound way too co-dependent to me, like you're depending on someone else to ease your inner pain. But maybe I just misunderstand the song's meaning. (and yes, I realize that objecting to the co-dependency in this song even while I include it in my fantasy "Ha! Don't You Wish You Had Realized I Was So Cool and Talented So You Could Be My Friend Now" revenge concert is very ironic in a non-deliberately-ironic-to-make-a-point kind of way. I am nothing if not inconsistent)
15) The song that you like despite the fact your IQ level drops several points every time you listen to it: I Want You (the chicka cherry cola song. Thanks J!)
16) Your smooth song, for relaxing: Lush Life by Queen Latifah. Mmmmmmm, Queeeeeeen Latifahhhhhhh....
17) A song you would send to someone you hate or are mad at: Hmmm, I don't really send songs to people I hate or am mad at. How about a good break-up song instead? Hour Follows Hour by Ani Difranco or Nobody's Crying by Patti Griffin. They both have the perfect combination of pathos, bitter-sweet hard-earned wisdom, hope, and well-wishes that I always like to evoke when dumping someone. (That makes it sound like I've dumped a lot of people. Quite the opposite. Usually I'm the one dumped. Still, these are the songs I like to play when I have been. Except, Nobody's Crying came out after I got with Kristin. Still, I wish it had been out in my early 20's, I really could have used it...)
18) A favorite track from an outfit considered a “super-group”: Love Will Come to You by the Indigo Girls (I don't know if the Indigo Girls are considered a "super group" but they're pretty famous and such, so I'm saying they count)
19) A song that makes you reminsce about good times with a family member: Orange Sky by Alexi Murdoch
20) Your favorite song at this moment in time: I don't have a favorite. But the two I find myself singing under my breath right now are Painting by Chagall by the Weepies and Fireflies by Lori McKenna
Damn! This is a good Cd. I should make it and send it out to the cd club!
Ok, this is the part where I tag people. I tag...
and about 5 other people (don't make me point fingers!)
When we were on the Big Lesbian Camp-Out 2006, the three of us were in the tent getting ready for the day. Julia had needed her diaper changed twice during the night and Kristin asked me if I could hand her the dirty diapers so she could throw them away. I reached for the diaper nearest me and handed it to Kristin. Then I turned to get the other diaper only to find Julia already handing it to Kristin. She had understood Kristin's request to me!
We'd been making small requests of Julia for some time. Things like "can you get your ball?" "can you throw it to me?" "can you pick up the block?" but nothing really complicated. This request that Kristin made to me and Julia acted out, blew our minds. Because even though it was phrased very similarly to the way we ask her to do things, it wasn't addressed to her and we didn't expect her to understand it. Now we know better.
As Julia's language skills have improved, we've been making a conscious effort to ask her more questions, request more things of her, involve her in group conversations. Her language skills have exploded. She's turned into a parrot -- repeating everything we say. We didn't expect to have a parrot on our hands for at least another six months. True, not everyone can understand all of her words. She still lacks the physical skills to make certain phonemes, but we can understand what she's trying to say. She even picks words to repeat out of songs playing on the stereo. If she hears a word she can say she'll start singing along, using that one word over and over. Or just crooning, copying the notes with her voice. She's a chatterbox.
Two of her most frequently-used words are no ('na') and yes ('ya'). She normally drags that ya out in a sassy, smart-alec-y way. Example: Adult is in the bathroom or kitchen or bedroom, out of direct sight of Julia but very close by. Suddenly the adult asks, "Julia? are you playing in the dog's bowls?" a pause, then, "yeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhh" and then splashing recommences at furious pace so she can complete her mayhem-making before the adult comes to scoop her up. We think it's funny, but we try not to laugh.
So, obviously she understands quite a bit.
Sunday night we were sitting at a restaurant waiting for our order to be taken. I had given Julia a spoon to entertain herself with. She was busily banging it as hard as she could on the glass table top, making QUITE the racket. Kristin looked over at her and asked, "Is that really necessary?" Julia stopped banging, looked thoughtful for a moment, gave us a grin and a sly look, and then said her saucy little yes as she began banging on the table again. Kristin and I couldn't help it, we started laughing. And then she started laughing and I took the spoon away.
Could she really have understood that oblique sentence? Or was it something else in the way Kristin asked what she askd that let Julia know what she meant? But then, if she only understood that Kristin wanted her to stop banging, why didn't she say no? Why the yes as if she really understood?
She must really have understood.
Raising her is, I think, going to be quite exciting.
We did something very, very important over the weekend. The very important thing culminated this morning.
We filed papers to give me co-guardianship over Julia.
This is the closest thing to an adoption that we can do here in Utah. It's a slight bend of the law. It's completely up to the judge to grant and isn't guaranteed. We could have done it any time after Julia was born, but we waited. We waited because of the ambiguous legal standing co-guardianship has in Utah right now.
But mostly we waited out of fear.
See, co-guardianship is something that you can request without the help of a lawyer. And the lawyers here who specialize in queer legal issues are EXPENSIVE. And we just don't have that kind of money. So we had decided to do it ourselves and then got hung up in insecurity over doing it wrong. We were afraid that we would do it wrong and have wasted our time and money. But I was also afraid for another reason. I was afraid that if I stood in that courtroom and asked for guardianship of my daughter, and the judge looked and me and denied my request, that I would be devastated.
It's been a really long, hard year and a half of loss for me (Julia's arrival excepted!) and I've felt so fragile at times. There were times when I would look at our stack of guardianship papers and thought that I would shiver into dust if it wasn't granted. Even though having the guardianship denied wouldn't result in any material or practical change to the status quo. It's not like the judge would order me out of the house. Or that my picture would be published in all the papers under the headline, "Mama poseur." No. None of that. Just the emotional blow.
So we held off. We dithered. The papers grew dusty. No longer.
After a false start with a lawyer that we thought could help us for substantially less than the $5000 going rate, we dusted off our papers, filled them out, and had a friend notarize them last night. This morning Kristin stopped at the courthouse to file them.
And that's where we came across our Angel. Kristin told me that she got the dykiest court clerk around. And that dyke-clerk looked at our papers and told her that we had done them wrong. And then she sat there, with white-out and pen, surrounded by signs that read, "Court Clerks Cannot Give Legal Advice" and fixed our papers for us. Then she assigned us to Judge R. who, she said, is extremely liberal and does these guardianship requests all the time. Our court date is August 23rd in the A.M.
Goodby fear. Hello semi-legal semi-parental status!
But I digress. That's not what I've been thinking about.
I was talking on the phone to a lovely blogger lady. And we were talking about how jealous we were of the NYC bloggers and how they get to meet each other and hang out and bump into each other at Trader Joe's and stuff and nonsense. We hate them. We hate them and their large city that all the cool people live in.
No. I'm lying. We love them. We just wish that we could do the same thing. Meet all our favorite bloggers and sit around and hang out and eat and drink and dish. We mused that someone should win the lottery and pay for a big blogger bash.
But what I was thinking was this: why do we have to wait so long? Why can't we organize something now?
Ok, so I'm not thinking that next weekend we should all fly to Key Largo. But what about planning something for this next year? Say, January? The tricky thing about timing would be who wants to attend and if they're pregnant and when their due date is. So I'm way open with timing here. But it needs to be far enough out that I can save up my pennies.
What I'm thinking is this: those of us who want to all fly someplace on one weekend. I was thinking Vegas because flights to Vegas are usually cheap. But it would depend on who wanted to come. If someone wanted to open their house for everyone to crash that would also be a good idea. Ideally, you would all come to MY house! I have a lot of room and a big shower. I have 3 spare beds plus a couch and loveseat and a hammock. I would lovingly reheat frozen foods for everyone and we would sit around and drink and talk and squeal. If people came in the winter then people who liked to ski and/or snowboard could go do so. I'm pretty close to several ski slopes. Those of us who don't ski could sit around and drink hot chocolate and roast marshmellows over my 1950's gas log with the carcinogenic sparkles. It would be great!
Or we could have this thing somewhere else. Anyone want to volunteer their house? Anybody like the idea of Vegas? Are there any other cities that have regular cheap flights?
Anyone interested in creating our own little mini blogher? Email me or comment...
I have a confession to make:
Julia still sleeps in her swing. All night. Almost every night.
Oh, sure, most nights we start out by trying to put her in her crib.
But that doesn't work so well. The screaming. The screaming, my friends. The screaming doesn't work so well for us. We are incapable of letting her CIO. And she knows it.
Most nights when she gets tired we can put her in her swing and within minutes she's out. And, as long as the swing keeps going all night, she will wake up only once. Or sometimes (and these are the glorious times) she sleeps all through the night!
But, seeing as how she IS growing. She IS gaining weight. She IS nearly 20 lbs, we are reaching the time in every baby's life when the swing is just not going to work any more. We need a plan.
So, what I was thinking is that we should completely and obsessively baby proof her nursery. Anchor EVERYTHING to the walls. Loop her curtains up so she can't reach them. And then take the crib out and just put the crib mattress on the floor. That way we can lie there with her as she falls asleep, and we can leave her there once she has done so. Then we put a baby gate up in front of her doorway so the door can be cracked but she can't sneak into the rest of the house. With the mattress on the floor if she rolls off it's only a 6 inch drop so she won't be damaged. It might hurt a bit, but she'll be ok.
See, she sleeps great in our bed with us. But have you seen our bed? We can't put her there and leave her if we're not ready yet to sleep. And we can't attach a co-sleeper thing to the side. So, if we're not ready for bed it's the swing or the crib or our arms. I'm trying to create a new option.
What do you think? Is this a terrible idea? Will it ruin the crib mattress to be on the floor? Will it ruin it to have it on the floor and then having us adults lie on it with her as she falls asleep?
I was not successfull in lying about making samosas (you are so right there Lauri, I am a terrible liar!) mostly because I didn't get to the restaurant and thus had to bake frozen samosas right in front of Plimco as I cooked the rest of the dinner. So, she saw me take them out of the package and place them on the cookie sheet. I thought briefly about claiming that I had made them in advance... and then just happened to place them in a commercial samosa bag in an effort to recycle... but the words stuck in my craw and wouldn't come out. So she knows that I am the kind of person who would offer to cook indian food and then serve my guest frozen samosas. I am deeply ashamed of myself.
The saag paneer turned out well, though. So I guess I'm partially redeemed.
So, any of you other bloggers out there... if you make it to my corner of the world, I will let you sleep in my basement, shower in my gigantic shower, and serve you frozen-but-reheated foods of your choice. And I'll even let you hold my baby. But only if you smell good.
Stinky people do not get to hold my baby. It's a rule.
To go with your leaf, I got you this bed, too. Not that I expect you'll be using this bed to sleep in. No, I expect that you will use this bed as your little newt bungalow. Because that's the only thing a bed is good for (at your age...)
You love my present the best, don't you? Go on, you can admit it. I won't tell anyone else...
Today around 5 PM the fabulous and mysterious Ms. Celia Plimco will be rolling into town and pulling up at MY HOUSE.
I cannot tell you how nervous I am. I mean, what if she thinks I'm boring? What if she thinks I'm not as sexy in person as I am over email? What if she has second thoughts about having my love child? That'll be incredibly disappointing. I've got a name picked out and everything. Roderigo. Roderigo the Love Child.
Plimco is only the third blogger that I will have met in person. Obviously I'm not counting my friends whom I convinced to start blogs themselves. Or friends whose blogs I discovered by accident. They do not count. They already know that I'm not sexy and they've already refused to have my love children. And they don't like the name Roderigo, either. They are all, to a one, lovely, lovely people, just cursed with an unfortunate dislike of exquisitely perfect names.
So, I'm sitting here. Excited. Only my third blogger. Really, you people are not so much flocking to me as trickling. Kind of like the way blood trickles from a stone when you squeeze it. So, yeah. I'm excited. So excited, in fact, that I'm wiggling my left leg. I cannot keep still. I'm so excited that I don't even mind anymore that only 2 people commented on the Triumpant Conclusion to my Epic Breastfeeding Query (finished, I might add, on first day of World Breastfeeding Month). I've got bigger things to think about. I've got an actress coming to stay in my house. With her enormous, gigantic, fluffy bucket of a dog. I'm almost as excited as I was when Lauri came back to visit after an absence of almost a year. I'm leaving work early to get my kia from the shop (long story, that) and go to the Indian Market to pick up some paneer so I can make her saag paneer and vegetable korma. I'm thinking I will stop at the restaurant around the corner and pick up samosas and pretend that I made them myself. (I CAN make samosas -- I just don't have enough time today -- so it's not REALLY a lie). I have to clean the kitchen, and make her bed, and scrub the shower that can hold 4 adults at a time. I can't skimp on the shower. Because the shower is the only reason she has made this epic journey from the East Coast. I mean, she made a little side jaunt to some piddly little family reunion or some such nonsense. And other bloggers have been jumping in her way and then claiming that she journeyed to see THEM. But mainly she's on this trip to see the gigantic shower that I built. I can't disappoint her.
PS - does anyone know how to tell what model of sound card one has in their computer without looking at the motherboard? This is complicated by the fact that the computer is 4 years old and I can't locate any of the disks that came with it (it's a computer borrowed from the defunct non-profit that used to work out of my basement.) When I was cleaning old files and programs from the hard drive apparantly I accidentally uninstalled the driver for the sound card and that particular sound card has a BILLION different drivers depending on which model it is. And now when I load up iTunes all the music sounds like it's being sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks. Definitely not the kind of mood I want to set for the creation of my love child...
Clear back in the way beyond when I first envisioned my Sharing the Blogger Love series, I thought it would be so wonderful to highlight some of my favorite blogs that I feel are underread. And then I extended it a bit to tributes of people that I know are read but maybe not read by everyone who reads me.
But now I'm stuck. Because it seems that the people I want most to talk about right now are the people that everyone is already reading... so what's the point of directing people their way? But then I recieved some inspiration in the form of Calliope -- tributes! People who get tributes are already known as wonderful by many people. Giving them a tribute is like putting a luscious cherry on the top of their marvelousness sundaes. And, if they're having a bad day (or week) to start with, then all the better to send them some love.
So, here we go. More blog hugs to my peeps. (If I don't hug you in this post, and I haven't gotten around to hugging you yet, that doesn't mean that you're not my peep...)
And I want to start with Calliope. Calliope is one of the kindest, most thoughtful, most genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of cyber-meeting. I don't think the woman has a vicious or petty bone in her body. I think I might be in love with her and she thinks I'm hot, so even though she's straight, I just might have a chance there! (not that I'd take it, being completely and totally in love with Kristin, donchaknow) Anyone who doesn't think Calliope is the cats pajamas has something seriously wrong in the gray matter. Calliope's been having some rough times, so if you haven't already, please go over and give her hugs. She deserves every good thing in this world and some of those things have been slow to show up.
Well, shoot. I'm out of the habit of praising other people. I think my blogging juices have all been squeezed out. I'm a husk. Only a husk I tell you. Dry me out and make of me a doll. But go read Calliope, first. I'll work on getting up the juice to praise more people soon.
Like I said, as I was exploring guilt, I came across that post by Navalgazing Midwife. And at first I was angry. I felt like it was yet another post justifying all bad things happening to women who don’t breastfeed. But by this point I was realizing that my thinking on this matter was not clear, so I read her post again. Slower. Less prejudiced to what I was expecting to hear. And this time I saw the complexities of her post, the questions about declining numbers of women who can breastfeed, the questions about how to encourage breastfeeding without adding to the anguish of the women who can’t. I saw her generosity while asserting advocacy. And, most importantly, I saw her sentence about how she’s had women who were sexually abused refuse to breastfeed at all.
That sentence hit me like a smart bomb. Maybe I was ready for it, finally. Maybe it was the phrasing. I don’t know. All I know is that I had never before noticed anyone talking about a connection between a failure to breastfeed and sexual abuse. But it felt right. The knowledge settled like a missing piece inside me. But still, the picture was incomplete. I had a link, but I didn’t have a greater understanding. So, I started searching again.
Now that I knew about the whole sexual abuse survivor = difficulty breastfeeding link I could see that information everywhere. Over and over again the high breastfeeding failure rates for sexual abuse survivors were quoted or mentioned, but very few reasons why this would be. Several articles I read had merely a paragraph on the matter, stating that it was so, rattling off a few reasons, and then moving on. The few articles that dealt specifically with maternity and sexual abuse were highly unsatisfactory to me. They didn’t resonate. The reasons they offered for breastfeeding failure (feeling out of control, resentment of the baby, inability to bond, feeling invaded by the baby, feeling like the baby is abusing you) seemed as if they were missing something. Like a point. Or a finer understanding of all the angles to the psychology of the issue. Perhaps that was why some sexually abused women don’t breastfeed or have difficulties breastfeeding, but that wasn’t my reason. I hadn’t pinned down my reason yet. Of what I read, the following paragraph came the closest to explaining what my aversion was stemming from:
There are times when mothers who have suffered from sexual abuse just don't know what is natural and what is not when it comes to the experiences of breastfeeding their infant. "Some women become frightened because they have a pleasurable sensation while breastfeeding, thinking this is not normal," says Markell. "This is absolutely normal for women.I began to realize that my problem wasn't that I couldn't seperate my baby from my experience of my abuser, but that I couldn't separate MYSELF from my memories of my abuser. My abuse was playing out again, with myself in the role of seducer. Then I found this article and there were validations of my experience (other women who had felt as I did) but still there wasn't enough information as to how these feelings were playing out and what they meant. I was looking for someone to tell me why I wasn't abusing my child even though it felt like I was. And I needed more than "because you're just not." I have never been one to accept some else's word without accompanying proof.
My experience with breastfeeding information had been restricted to reading and listening to diatribes against women who don’t breastfeed, accounts of painful and awkward nursing sessions, thoughtful critiques of the social barriers to breastfeeding, articles on the benefits of breastfeeding, “Nursing Mother’s Companion” and “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”, and indignation about people who object to seeing nursing mothers in public. The only information about pleasure and sexuality I had absorbed from these sources was that breastfeeding, allowing the possibilty that it could feel good, was still asexual, completely not sexual, don’t even start to think those good feelings are sexual. At the LLL site, I discovered this article which speaks on the fact that oxytocin which is present and released during sex is also present and released during breastfeeding, but it didn’t mention anything about feeling sexual WHILE breastfeeding. It talked about feeling relaxed or feeling cuddly or feeling loving. Not feeling turned on. In that very motherly moment. By the actions of your baby. So I started googling breastfeeding and sexuality. And I started coming across articles which stated that healthy women can separate sexual feelings from pleasurable nursing feelings.
It is wrong to say that breastfeeding is a sexual act just because the "cuddle hormone" oxytocin is present both during nursing and sexual intercourse. We should instead say that both nursing and sexual intercourse are connected to LOVE, INTIMACY, CLOSENESS - one towards your child, the other towards your spouse.
Ask breastfeeding women; the vast majority do NOT feel anything sexual while nursing their babies. When some do, it is because they connect breasts with sex, and their own thinking causes them feel aroused. This mental connection can be pretty automated, based on the way their brain has been conditioned to function. But it is a result of societal influence on one's thinking, not an inherent condition.
...Allow yourself to visualize the possibility of enjoying your breasts sexually when making love with your husband and, quite separately, imagine the comfort and maternal pleasure you experience when feeding your daughter. These are separate, though physiologically related activities. After all, your child was conceived through the sexual act itself. Perhaps your body is designed to enjoy both!Ok, so, while reading these things I am feeling even more freakish. Even more damaged. I'm giving them a lot of weight because they allow me to condem myself and my first instinct is always to condem myself. My old issues about feeling dangerous were surfacing. And then I came across these articles:
There is a natural sensuality inherent in both breastfeeding and sex, but expressed in very different ways. You can use your tongue to talk and communicate with many people and you can use it to passionately kiss your husband. It really is up to you. Do not push yourself beyond your own limits of comfort, but gently explore the issue to see if any guilt about sex (after becoming a mother) might be keeping you from enjoying your own sexual expression as a woman.
"Natural Breastfeeding: Lovemaking Between Mother and Her Baby"
“Maternal Sexuality and Breastfeeding”
They’re good, though the first one is a bit out there, still, somehow, to me, the information in it makes sense. (Except the bit on how breastfeeding asserts heterosexuality – first off, um, I’m gay and I was breastfed. Second off, I’m thinking that if breastfeeding has something to do with the establishment of sexual patterns on the infant’s psyche, I think it’s far more likely that the infant takes in everything about the experience – not just appropriately gendered aspects like the sight of the mother for boys or the feeling of penetration for girls – and then we force boys and girls to reject those aspects that don’t fit into our gendered little world, but that’s just me) But the second article was my favorite. Partly because it’s very queer inclusive. Go ahead, go read it. I’ll wait…
This article normalizes what I felt when breastfeeding Julia. Instead of asking me to ignore, suppress, theorize my way out of, or separate an integral part of my sexuality (the high sensitivity of my breasts) from my role as a mother, this article claims that the way through the dilemma is to reconcile them. To feel both sexual and maternal at the same time. Now I see it. Duh. My problem all along has been an internalization of the old Madonna/Whore dichotomy. An internalization not only by me, but by society at large. Sex, as it has been shaped by our current culture, is far too exploitative to be comfortably merged with “selfless” motherhood. Sex is seen as something you must be able to protect yourself from. Think about it. Been fucked? Screwed anyone over lately? So, here you have an innocent baby – unable to protect itself – and to be seen as putting that baby in the proximity of anything sexual is to risk being seen as putting that baby in danger. Or perhaps being a danger to that baby yourself. Just look at the women those articles (and others) report as having their children removed from them because someone decided that their breastfeeding relationship was a sexually exploitative one. As a society we lack a framework for understanding sex/sexuality outside of a committed, monogamous relationship as non-exploitative. ‘sex always hovers between pleasure and disgust and succumbs to the latter if there is no cultivation, no form of refinement, rite, or language to ratify and organize it’ (Sichtermann, 1986, p. 65).
So, now I know. Now I know what was bothering me. Because of my history of abuse, I am hypersensitive to exploitation (perceived or otherwise) in sexual situations. Because I am so used to assuming responsibility and guilt, I will always assume that I am the one doing the exploiting. Because I was told (and read) so many times that I was at a high risk for abusing my own children, I am quick to assume that I am being abusive. Now I can understand why I was so distressed while nursing Julia, why I have been so sensitive to the subject of breastfeeding in general.
Here’s the thing, though. I’m not writing this all out here to demonstrate to the blogosphere how damaged and broken I am. I’m writing this because of the high numbers of children who are sexually abused. Because in all those numbers, I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Who worries about this. How many other women have followed this twisty path to knowledge? How many more get stuck somewhere along the way – able only to verbalize an amorphous “ick” to the silent convergence of sexuality, maternity, social control, guilt, abuse, and exploitation?
And I wonder, too, if the cultural insistence that breastfeeding and nursing not be seen in any way as sexual is contributing to the declining rate of breastfeeding success. If it’s true that oxytocin aids in milk ‘let down’, and oxytocin is an integral part of sexual pleasure – could it be that our struggling to separate sexuality from lactation is inhibiting the release of oxytocin and interfering with the ability to eject milk? I wonder. I’m not saying here that if you don’t feel sexual then you’re not breastfeeding successfully, because every woman is different, but that, perhaps, this might be a factor for more women than admit or realize.
So, 5 parts, 7 days, 14 pages, and over 6 thousand words later… I’ve come to some sort of stopping point. I’ve worked so hard to heal myself, but that healing has had casualties. I’ve been unable to sustain a relationship with any woman who helped me heal sexually. Perhaps it’s because I picked women who needed healing from me as well, and once we had accomplished our purpose we no longer had need of each other, or perhaps once someone touches your damage so intimately that to remain in contact is to remain unacceptably vulnerable. I don’t know and I’m not about to subject you to a 5 post exploration of the subject. What I do know is that now, having read that my reactions and my physical sensations are normal and not depraved, I am going to start out breastfeeding. However, I will not sacrifice my relationship with my baby, or my baby’s emotional health, for the sake of “healing”. If at any point I find myself unable to nurse my baby free of emotional angst over the sensuality of the activity, I will stop. And when someone I do not know intimately asks me why I’m not breastfeeding, I’m going to say that I don’t breastfeed because it’s icky.
Thanks to Hope (and Megan) for helping me out by getting me a copy of an article on maternity and the sexual abuse survivor. Though I didn't quote the article, it helped inform what I wrote here.