Thursday, July 28, 2005

I Love Food and Food Loves Me!

I should be inspired by Amy's six-point-six pounds-- well done-- and I should go out for a walk. Or weed the freaking scary garden. Instead, I am only thinking about lunch.

I started out the day well-- "Partner," I said early this morning, "how about a poached egg?"

"Sure!" she replied. So we ate the most delicious farm eggs, poached, on English muffins in the bright summer sun. I felt healthy-- the yolks from these eggs are almost orange and I love them. They make cakes look beautiful. They made the day start right.

I'm on the right track, I thought. I need to lose weight before this baby starts. Eating right starts with a healthy breakfast! I have almost two months. I could lose a lot of weight (don't worry-- healthily) before we doing the implant. Right? Right? I lost weight for our ceremony-- Surely I should be able to do it for a baby? I mean, if I can't control my cravings for the potential health of my potential unborn child, what kind of a mother will I be?

Apparently, a fat one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

How to Torture Your Partner

Sunday it was H-O-T, hot. Since I don't like the a/c, we sweated about the house all morning. I reminded Partner about a meeting I wanted to attend with her later in the day-- a meeting through the local lesbian mom group. About three minutes into the car ride, I said to Partner, "Oh, yeah, I just brought along directions to the 'trying-to-conceive' meeting I've been talking about it. They leave right near the church." Here's where the windows went up in the car, and the a/c switched to on-- but somehow, it seemed like it was getting even hotter in the car. Partner turned instantly crabby. What the hell? I mean, I'd been talking about this meeting for a month, and how I want to go connect with other baby-seeking lesbians in Ann Arbor. (Here is where I get really crunchy and lesbian like-- "Oh! A meeting to process and share! I wanna be there!")

Partner said to me, "I'm going to need some time to pay some bills at our house. And I need to go to Aunt's house soon too. She's been expecting me." I could sense resistance, and tried to keep to our plan of being gentle with each other and the world in our highly stressed and unnatural hormonal state. I stayed calm. Spoke in reassuring tones. Told myself that not everything needs to be a fight. Then she added, "Plus, groups aren't really my thing. I hate groups. I hate talking to people about private stuff. I have all the support I need between your family and mine." I nodded, explained my position, tried not to seethe, thought to myself the whole time, this is not about you! I want this! Finally, as we pulled into the church lot, she said, "No one there needs to know about my fibroids." Fine. No problem. Totally her business and I have always respected that. (We had a long discussion about writing about it on here before I started posting.)

Here's a self-disclosure thing about me-- I can work around emotions. As highly emotional as I am, it's a necessary skill. If I am really upset, I can put it aside for awhile, get on with the task at hand, and then go back to being angry. Partner has a harder time, so the entire time we were in church, I could sense her energy. I tried to be gentle, but I could just feel her disengaging more and more. It was bugging me. It was making it harder for me to put the emotion on hold. She kept poking me with her spiny and sharp energy.

What do I do in this instance? Be calm? Continue to sing? Or flee the sanctuary and go cry in the bathroom? Did you choose the last option? Then you'd be correct. I had a little pity party for myself until I heard the bathroom door open, whereupon I went back to church and gave my partner a lot of teary glances. (Me! Me! Me!) I barely made it out of church and into the car, whereupon we both let loose. Argument galore. It kept going right into the parking lot of the bookstore where we sat with windows down and stonewalled each other. The emotions, the real heat of the day-- it was all like a convection oven, until finally, in the middle of my ridiculous tears, Partner started to cry too. Hard. In between spurts, she admitted to me her fear. One she's had since I brought up this meeting up. And what a total fuck I am for not even thinking of it.

She said to me, "Don't you think that it might be difficult for me to sit in a room of women who are talking about having babies? That it might not open some horrible emptiness in me? That the fact that I cannot do this and want to will hurt?"

Jesus. Yes. And it hurt me hearing her say that. I felt a gash, a rush of emotion so strong it had to be some sort of endorphin response. You know the feeling, like your extremities go numb? I just thought my poor poor darling oh my god yes of course of course oh shit oh shit oh shit. Of course it would fucking be awful. Horrible. I nearly catapulted out of the driver's seat to grab her and hold her as we both cried hysterically together. My selfishness made me blind to something that has got to still be a grave struggle. What a shit. (Can I tell you, I am crying here again about this.)

We ended up at the meeting, slightly worse for the wear after our serious tears (and a few Bloody Marys, coz doncha know booze heals). But we went together. We went with a new understanding of what we both need in this process. I have felt in the past few weeks some little wedge between the two of us, just a small one. I was ready to blame our cat who's been enjoying a daily pee on our marital bed, but clearly that wasn't it. Since Sunday, I feel closer than ever to Partner. I feel like we are someplace really new and honest.

But I hope I never torture her that way again. God help me. It's the worst feeling I have ever had.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

You Can Call Me Al

On Monday we had a meeting with the electrician about his billing, which we thought was a little high. I have never met this man before, so I introduced myself when it became apparent that Partner was not going to do it. After all, if I am cutting this man checks, it seems like we should know each other. He said to me, "OH, are you the secretary?" Um. No. Partner then jumped it when she saw my reaction. "Oh," she said, "Katie is doing the books now."

"So you're the bookkeeper. " I made a face. He promptly added, "Or something like that." I let it go. I am actually buying into the company so I am actually a part owner, but whatever. I didn't say that. I can let that go; so, yes, you can call me the bookkeeper.

In fact, many times a day or week, I feel like I am called or named to be something I am really not. I don't argue with these definitions from outside because frankly, for the most part I don't mind them. Sometimes these representations of me are not far the from the truth, so if they skim my actual real picture of who I think I am, I guess that's good enough. Most of the time.

But about a month ago I snapped at a very good friend when she called me a "surrogate." Now go look up surrogate in the dictionary. Or look for the synonyms of such a word. Let's take the dictionary to start with. It says "To put in the place of another, especially as a successor; replace." Number one: I am not replacing or successing my partner. I suppose in some ways I am being put in her place, since we did think she was going to be the first birth mother. And I would hazard by carrying her eggs, I am surrogate in that sense. So, technically I am the gestational surrogate. Insurance forms might even decide this is who I am. But look at the thesaurus-- when you look up surrogate it says things like alternate, make-shift, pinch hitter, temporary, servant, proxy, stopgap...

I am not planning on being any of those things. Just to clarify: I am planning on being a mother. One of two, but that's it. A fully-fledged parent. Why is that I feel being labeled a surrogate is to be less-than something else. Because when you think about it, a woman who volunteers to be a surrogate is really giving this incredible gift, a totally generous beautiful thing. So why chaff against this term? And then if you go back and look at that list again, perhaps a parent is all those things at different times in a child's life. So what's the problem?

Both of us have expressed anxiety about people who will want to cut out one of us as the mother. Sometimes this might come from strangers, occasionally it might be friends, or sometimes it might be from family members. This anxiousness-- I wonder if it's indicative of gay and lesbian families in particular. Do fathers in hetero families ever worry about being construed of a "less than" parent? When I was a young kid, my mother worked to support us while my dad was in school. She still talks about the judgment she got from the stay-at-home moms and how she thinks they construed of her as being a less-than mom. (She wasn't!) She hated this at the time, and although she's never said she was anxious about feeling like a less-than parent, I can't help but think she must have been. Anger and fear: aren't they inextricably linked? I think that my hesitance, and well let's face it, anger, about the term surrogate is based in this fear of the "less-than" definition.

I'm the mother, damnit, and that's what I insist on being defined as. I'm not letting this definition skirt the outsides of reality.

Actually, I'm nothing right now other than a (birth-control) pill-popping lesbian who is hoping to be a mother.

Damn it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Le Sang Est Arrivé!

About six and half years ago, I called my friend, Irish. “Irish,” I said to her, “I’m late.”

“Oh, shit,” she said, more because she knew who I was sleeping with at the time and less because I was late. I was driving in my car down Woodward Avenue after rugby practice. She talked me through buying a pregnancy test at Walgreens. “Don’t go home and take it. Your mom will find it.” (Yes, I was living at home at the time.) “You can’t come here,” she said to me, “My parents are visiting.”

“Where do I go, Irish?” I wailed into the phone.

“To McDonalds. Take the test in the bathroom at McDonalds.”

And that I did. I clipped into McDonalds, sweaty and dirty still wearing my rugby boots, hovered over the toilet and peed on a little stick. No sooner than I had put the EPT down to rest on the edge of the sink, a knock came at the door. “Just a minute!” I called. I looked down at the stick. “Or two!” After those two minutes and an extra thirty seconds just to be safe, it was clear the test was negative. I buried the box and stick under brown paper towels and went to the bar, as all good rugby players do.

Fourteen years ago, I was ending my freshman year of college. (Fourteen years?!?) I was eighteen years old and finishing a year of complete partying and little schooling. I was tired and depressed. It’s really true that all play and no work makes Jill a very dull girl. I was also two weeks late for a period with a “boyfriend” that I broke up three weeks previous. We ran into each other at a party. He asked how I was doing and I started a drunken bawl. He quickly ushered me out of the crush (and, truth be told, away from his current girlfriend.) The next day, I puked into the toilet, sure I was pregnant, and that my vomiting had nothing to do with a raging hangover. Later that same morning, this ex-boyfriend drove me in silence to a clinic where I could get a free pregnancy test.

When we pulled into the lot, we sat still for a few moments.

“Do you want me to come in?” he asked. I fiddled with the medal of Our Lady I wore around my neck at that time. “No,” I murmured. I pulled at the door latch to release myself from his small, stifled car, and as I stood up, the holy medal of the Virgin Mary fell from my neck. I caught it before it hit my lap and wordlessly handed it to my ex. Inside the clinic, which was also an abortion clinic, women sat with boyfriends or husbands, shuffling their feet on the linoleum floor. I looked at them with sympathy—they all looked poor and tired to me, grey faces and streaky hair. They looked back at me, I thought at the time with sorrow, but I realize now they probably felt sorry for me too. I was the only woman in there without a partner. When I returned the waiting room to await my test results, a woman came through the door flanked by two prison guards, her hands cuffed to her waist. She smiled at me and looked down. When the nurse told me my test was negative, I started to cry. I associated negative with pregnant. On the drive back to my dorm room, this ex-boyfriend, only after hearing I wasn’t pregnant, told me how if I had been up the pole, he wouldn’t have run off. He would have married me. He said he talked about it with his fraternity brothers who thought he was crazy, but he’d would have done whatever I wanted. I whispered, “I just wanna go home.” He wanted me to congratulate him. I wouldn’t.

Since Friday night, I have been going to the bathroom inspecting the toilet paper. Sunday was the day I was to start birth control pills with Partner in order to coordinate our cycles. Our nurse at Dr. BusyBusyBusy’s office told me it was alright if I didn’t start my period until Monday or early Tuesday—We’d still be okay. But if it was later than that, our schedule was off. Only by a week, but when you’ve been waiting for a year, that extra week seems like a dog’s age.

All those years inspecting toilet paper, willing blood to come so it meant I wasn’t pregnant… And now this past week, inspecting with all the same trepidation, but with a totally different mind set. Before if my period was late, I thought it was surely because I was pregnant. This past week in my mind, my period was late because my cyst had grown exponentially and blocked something, or because I had a sudden growth of fibroids, or, or, or…

And then today—finally. I have never been so happy to bleed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Five Things, with a promise to be more substantial soon

  1. Today at work, I got an iPod. It was a prize for all the hard work I have been doing. I could very easily continue to do work like this for prizes like that. No one gives me presents for finishing a stack of grading poorly written essays with faulty logic throughout. Working through the Quickbooks account is slightly more rewarding and easier than grading certain batches of papers. Of course, it's like trying to unravel the Gordian knot, but I'll keep picking away at the little fibers for prizes. I am soooooo easy.
  2. This summer has been glorious in its heat. I couldn't be more happy. I have been annoying people all over town with my pronouncements about the use of A/C. Worried about your gas mileage? Turn off your damn A/C! It's supposed to be hot-- it's summer! I soak it up.
  3. I have finally figured out how to limit my time spent in the office-- Only come in three days a week. If I come into the office, I will stay here for ungodly hours. If I do not stay here I will write more and actually get to emulate that lizard more often.
  4. My friend Lynne comments on a few things: a.) I need to post a more substantial post on my blog, and I am quite sure she is correct. I am working on it. b.) She wants to know if I am famous yet. (And I'd like to thank her for her help in trying to make me so.) And finally c.) Lynne has just given me a present too, just because (I am starting to feel slightly spoiled)-- a jar full of lavender from Williams Sonoma, and just in time I got this recipe for Honey Lavender ice cream from Martha Stewart. I'm putting the ice cream maker in the freezer tonight. My next task will be to figure out how to make the recipe kosher. If I put non-kosher chocolate, milk, or cream into the ice cream maker at one point, does that make the whole thing non-kosher? Help.
  5. My period has still not arrived. I'd think I was pregnant if I didn't know better.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


My period is missing in in-action.

Today was the day Partner and I were both supposed to start to take the pill. Now, my period was due yesterday. I have been fertility charting for at least a year, and for the past six months I have been using a fantastic chart. I have been spot on 27 or 28 days. Until now. And I am officially at 29 days today and if I don't get my period by Tuesday, our whole schedule is off. Only by a week, but still! Another week of waiting. Waiting. I am not, as my friends will (and can) testify, a patient person.

Is this just the beginning of IVF madness?

Why do we keep getting betrayed by our bodies?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

And Suddenly

I am absolutely shaking right now. I think I am crying.

How could I just be drinking coffee, reading the paper, watering plants-- and then I turn on the XM and hear this.

I am absolutely shaking.

Last year we were in London to visit Baby Brother, who was attending the LSE and working for government agency. His boss, a former big-wig MP told him that attacks in the Tube were probably coming. His boss told him where to ride in the train so he could get out more easily in case of a bomb.

Have you been in the London tube? It's freaking deep. This is so scary.

Oh. Lord.

I can probably be more coherent about this later, but not now. Not freaking now.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hope Springs Eternal at the YMCA

Recently my baby brother moved back to Michigan from Louisiana. Now that all my rogue brothers have returned from the south, my family feels full again. Even more so since both brothers came home with cute petite Louisiana girls in tow. At first Partner and I lamented a little-- it was actually nice to have my parents all to ourselves. Nights out to dinner with my mom and dad were treats for us. We've found that it's still nice, but just more loud. Maybe not quite as pleasant: before we were only four personalities to contend with-- Me, Partner, Mom, Dad. Now we have eight. And it's not a normal eight-- it's eight fairly large and opinionated personalities.

We happened to have some furniture to hand down to Baby Brother and his girlfriend from one of our build houses. The furniture has now been in three houses, and even if we are going to furnish a new construction house sometime soon, we really need to get new furniture. One chair and ottoman went to Partner's sister, along with a coffee table and a very cute round bistro-ish table and chairs that I was planning on using in my screened-in porch. Partner's business associates took some furniture. So, to Baby Brother we bequeathed a love seat, couch, end table, kitchen table, and four kitchen table chairs. Initially the plan was that they'd offer us some nominal amount of money for this, but since the furniture started being given away willy-nilly, we decided it was fair for them to have to pay. ("Them"-- read: actually my mother.)

There was a reluctant acceptance of this from Baby Bro this weekend when we were moving him. I knew he was tabling the issue until my mother came home, and home she came yesterday afternoon. By early evening she was already phoning me, insisting on paying us for the furniture. None of my arguments trying to convince her otherwise worked. I happened to be out with my friend Lynne both last night and this morning as these conversations were reaching fever pitch. She didn't quite understand the insistence on payment here, and frankly neither do I. All I can is that this has worked in my favor in the past: As a teenager with two dramatically younger brothers, I was a built-in babysitter. The glorious thing about this was that mother insisted on paying me. Her rational was that she's pay someone else anyway, and if I wasn't babysitting at home, I'd be out probably babysitting for someone else, so why not keep the whole deal "in-house" as it were. Who could complain? Or have a mother more fair? I just think my mom tries to keep an egalitarian eye on things, and believes wholeheartedly in paying her way.

Pretty much she wasn't going to let the whole thing drop, so this morning I suggested we trade. We give the furniture to Baby Brother and she could pay for my membership to the YMCA. The new Y is very close to our house, and I have been strongly feeling the need to get in more shape. This sounded great to my mom. She wanted to call and arrange the whole thing right away-- I had to hold her off. I still had to extol the virtues of the Y to her. So many great programs-- and yoga-- and prenatal yoga-- and,

"Plus, Mom," I said to her, "There's open lanes for swimming most of the day, so when I am pregnant I can go there and swim."

Silence on phone.

"And I checked-- you can start swim lessons at six months!" (This is very important to me-- to get the babies in the pool early and have them swimming. After all, they'll be beach babies, so they better know how to hold their own!) (No, I am not pregnant-- It will be September before we even try for the first time.) Back to story:

Finally my mother spoke: "I will pay for your membership to the Y if you stop talking like that."

What? ! Did I inadvertently swear? But then again, even if I had, we're not a family who doesn't swear in front of each other. So, what?!?

"I think," she said, "you are putting the cart before the horse."

"Well...Probably. But you know, you have to hope."

"Yes." Silence. "But still. I don't think it's that good to be that excited about something that might not happen."

Excuse me? This from the woman who proports the value of considering yourself lucky? I have to tell you, I wanted to cry. I had the wind sucked out of me as I was hurtling down the highway at seventy miles an hour. I wanted all the furniture back. I wanted to be mad at her, but at the same time, I was mad at myself since she's right in a way. I've fallen back into assumption state of mind. If there was anything the past six months have taught me, isn't it to assume nothing?

Nonetheless, I still can't get the picture of my little water-baby out of my head.

Oh my God. Do I set myself up, or what??