The biggest hurdle in deciding to become a parent, for me, was acknowledging and accepting that there is no way to extrapolate myself and my identity from “motherhood.” As a woman—and particularly as a woman who presents somewhere between hard femme and power femme—there is no chance I’m going to evade the Cult of Mommy-ness. My undercut can’t save me.
I love moms. I love my mom. Moms created the whole damn world and they run the thing, too. Motherhood is powerful as fuck. Yet, every time I think about being looked at as a mom, I can feel myself shrinking away from the idea. I can feel my other identities as a queer femme, a writer, an activist, a nonprofit director, a leader, a teacher, a badass bitch being forcibly subdued and overshadowed by the looming identity of “mommy.” I can visualize all those parts of me, of who I am and how I see myself, disintegrating into glitter dust, scattered to the wind like ashes.
It’s not being a mother that I’m afraid of. I know I’ll be a great parent. It’s how our culture sees moms, how it undervalues them, pushes moms into boxes, takes away their sexual agency, under-compensates their work while expecting perfect performance, stomps on moms with heteropatriarchal bullshit, and holds up the mom version of the virgin/whore dichotomy: “good moms” and “bad moms.” It’s too much.
Before we even got this thing started, I had to come to terms with the idea that the world was going to see me as a “mommy,” whether I liked it or not. The good news is, I know my partner wants an equal role in parenting. I mean, if anything, he’d like a slightly more prominent role. Like 60/40. The reality is that I get a good amount of paid time off from work and he doesn’t, so initially, at least, I’ll have slightly more time with Baby T. Rex. Plus we’re planning to breastfeed so that will be something I will have responsibility for until (or unless) we shift to bottle feeding.
Relationship roles are rarely 50/50. You play to each other’s strengths. I clean the bathroom. Waffle scoops the litter box. I deal with spiders and bugs. He lifts heavy shit. We alternate doing the dishes and the laundry. I’m okay with knowing I’ll be doing slightly more parenting in the beginning because I know I’m not expected to do all of it. When I go back to work, Waffle will be on daytime duty (I work days. He works nights.) and he’ll end up getting more meaningful time with the kiddo than I will.
As the non-gestational carrier, Waffle may even resent me for having more early bonding time with T. Rex. I know that’s been the experience of some of our queer parent friends. Already, I know he wishes he could feel T. Rex kick, which I feel all the damn time, but it isn’t strong enough yet for him to feel it from the outside. I don’t really love the sensation, personally, but I can’t wait to be able to share it with him. Being the non-gestational carrier can sometimes feel like being invisible. At our fertility appointments, the providers often talked directly to me and mostly ignored Waffle. He was okay with the situation because we went in with a pragmatism about the whole thing, but I imagine he wishes he could have had a more active role.
Unlike the heteronormative norm, in our relationship, the “baby crazy” person (Waffle) is the non-gestational carrier and the “baby ambivalent” person (me) is carrying. This is due to who has the capacity, due to body dysphoria and whatnot, more than anything else. A lesbian couple we know had a similar situation. The person who wanted to get pregnant first just couldn’t get it to work, so after some time, her partner ended up trying instead and got pregnant on the first try.
Queer baby-making just isn’t as cut-and-dry as it is for straight people, whether you have the parts or not—and some queer and lesbian couples have the parts naturally! Everything just feels very intentional in how our community tends to make these decisions. Being in a same-gender and/or queer feminist relationship means we’re already bucking the norm. Much like a lot of the marriage equality rhetoric never really worked for me, even as Waffle and I were getting legally married, a lot of the baby stuff makes me want to barf in my mouth. At the end of the day, though, we aren’t conforming to the institution of baby-making heteronormativity. We’re queering it, by the nature of how we’re making our family and how we are going to raise this future human person. That’s actually pretty badass.
It’s the rest of the world that frustrates me.
Since I’ve announced being pregnant, literally every person I run into wants to talk baby stuff with me. It’s fine. I guess. I mean, it’s fine except I know it doesn’t happen in the same way to men whose wives or girlfriends are expecting. It doesn’t even happen the same way to Waffle because he isn’t the pregnant one, so he doesn’t have to talk about it with strangers and acquaintances as much. Literally when I went to a new eye doctor recently, she started talking kids with me and proceeded to try to convince me that making your own baby food was the way and the light. Which, fine, that’s fine advice, but we’re doing an eye exam right now?
At this point, I’ve mostly come to terms with the fact that being a Pregnant Woman and eventually a Mommy is going to define who I am to other people. Having a supportive queer partner at home and a supportive community around me makes all the difference.
Also, I’m an activist and an opportunist and, well, I know the day will come when I’m at a press conference or in front of a camera talking about some bill or cause and making a statement that starts with, “Well, as a mother, I believe…” That’s okay, too.
Being a parent, being a mom or dad, is a huge deal and it’s going to become a huge part of my identity. I just don’t want to lose myself in the process. Being a part of the Autostraddle family and meeting other amazing lesbian and queer moms has been so affirming to me, that we can queer “mommy-ness,” that we can be all of the things we are and also embrace being moms. So here I am, embracing it!
That was a lot of feelings. Ready for some more?
10 Random Baby-Making Feelings I’m Currently Over-Processing
1. Cool for the Summer
I’ve been back-and-forth about whether we should get air conditioning for our house. We had a window unit, once upon a time, but then we put it in the pet room (we have a pet room) so our little furkids wouldn’t die in the summer. I wanted to get another AC at first, but then I looked into it more and realized that the growing demand for air conditioning is a huge contributor to global warming. It’s one of the biggest threats to the environment and it seemed wasteful to have two window units just so I could sleep comfortably.
So I sweat it out in the summer. I’m so cranky during the hot months. I’m miserable. I stuff my bra with ice packs, draw the blinds, and scowl in the dark on the worst days. When I realized I’d be due August 20th, which means I’ll be in my third trimester right during the hottest weeks of the summer, I quickly changed my tune about that AC thing. Long story short, we’re using our tax return to get central AC installed so that Baby T. Rex, Waffle, and I all make it through this summer pregnancy. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that my body is ready.
2. Mommy Things I’ve Googled This Week:
- “charlie horse pregnancy”
- “babywearing best carrier”
- “vulva fell asleep pregnant”
- “plus size when did you show 24 weeks”
- “weird dreams pregnant”
- “when did partner husband feel baby kick”
- “can baby hear my cat”
3. Both Hands
Glucose finger stick testing is taking its toll on my tough little fingers. I’ve got little bitty dots on the sides of all my fingertips where my tiny needle prick holes are healing and a couple fingers are developing light callouses. So that’s a fun thing that’s happening. I have to crank up the needle depth by half a turn to pierce through the tough parts now. It doesn’t help that I favor my left hand. For some reason, it bleeds better and hurts less than my right hand. Why? I don’t know! Tell me how human biology works!
4. Give Green a Chance!
We got the room painted the green color and we both like it a lot. It’s bright, but not shockingly bright and it definitely isn’t pastel. It’s exactly what we wanted. With the white trim and darker brown furniture, I think it’ll be the right kind of primary-colored jungle feel.
Which is good because Waffle has a serious case of…
5. Dino Fever
It’s getting intense. Here’s just a small sampling of dino stuff Waffle has bought in the past couple weeks, mainly from Etsy sellers.
These should be coming soon, too!
Say hello to the pièce de résistance to the dino nursery, this adorable mobile.
I pushed back on the little white felt person, because our kid is Korean and I don’t want them staring for hours at a person who doesn’t look like them. They’re going to have their whole life to internalize racism and be inundated with images that don’t look like them. Believe me. I know.
Long story short, Waffle messaged the seller and we’re getting a custom version of this mobile with an Asian-looking kid at the center, which is going to be hella cute!
6. Things Remi Either Really Likes or Really Doesn’t Like Based on Intensity of Squirminess:
- my cellphone ringtone
- chicken tikki
- warm water directly hitting my belly
- when I lie on my side
- when I lie on my back
- French vanilla ice cream
- when I drink ice cold water
- conference calls on speakerphone
7. Surprise! (Gender)
One of the midwives at our midwifery group put “surprise gender” as a note on our file so practitioners would stop asking. Bless her.
The number one question we get, by far, is, “What are you having?” Of course, the snarky answer is, “A baby!” or, “A human!” What people actually want to know is the assigned sex of our dino. The answer is, we don’t know, chose not to find out, and we don’t want to know. It’s not so much that we want to be surprised. We don’t plan on having pink and blue cigars at the ready in the waiting room. I don’t care if the doctor yells, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” and I also don’t care who looks between the legs of our newborn to assign a sex based on visible genitalia. We genuinely don’t feel the need to know. We aren’t taking bets on what it will be, though we also get asked a lot what we think it is going to be. Honestly, I have no idea and that’s fine.
It’s also not that we don’t believe in gender. Quite the opposite. (If you believe in gender, clap your hands!) It’s that gender is, in fact, very real and we don’t want to start putting gender feelings on Baby T. Rex before it even emerges. Even if we try our very best, we will start to imagine what T. Rex is like if we start thinking of them as a “boy” or “girl.” We want to meet them when they get here. It’s why we have one gender neutral name picked out, regardless of assigned sex. So we can imagine them in our life and our family without getting bogged down by imagining two different gendered futures.
Of course, we believe in gender, but not in holding hard and fast to gender norms. Whatever gender T. Rex ends up being, whenever T. Rex determines their gender, we’re going to be just fine with that. We’ll probably use pronouns congruent with the assigned sex after birth, for simplicity’s sake, but if T. Rex comes out as something else later in life, that’s fine with us.
Unfortunately, I don’t always feel like having this whole conversation with my acquaintances, much less perfect strangers who ask this question. So to save time and emotional energy, I just say that we want to be surprised if they push for details. It’s not honest, but it ends the awkward conversation faster.
8. Furbaby, Meet Baby
I’m pretty sure our xenophobic and emotionally-fragile cat will freak when we bring home a new human. He’s afraid of everything: loud noises, knocking on the door, things that sound similar to knocking on the door, human voices, new furniture, new smells, people food, dogs barking, children’s laughter, the vacuum cleaner, the broom, shoes.
I’ve considered getting one of those baby sounds for pets albums. A lot of people seem to get these for their dogs before they bring home a baby. Anyone tried it? Does it work for cats?
In college, I would traipse across campus in the dead of winter in 5″ heeled shoes like it was nothing, schlepping two tons of books in my shoulder bag to boot. Quite a femme bragging right, considering I went to one of the coldest and snowiest colleges in the U.S. But that was then and this is over a decade later. I’ve started to trade out my high heels for flats and platforms over the last few years, saving the stilettos for special occasions only. I gave away my last pair of 5″ heeled boots last year, after putting them on for a party and realizing I was physically incapable of walking in them. Your center of gravity changes as you get older and it changes a lot when you’re preggers.
This past week, I tried to wear a pair of sensible platform heels to work, 3″ Aerosole brand shoes with a whole lot of cushion. Aerosoles is an American brand that is literally designed for comfort. By the end of the day, I could barely walk. I almost fell to my death trying to descend three flights of stairs.
So flats it is, from here until the end of pregnancy and then, well, probably in general. I am a masochist at heart, but comfort is winning over fashion right now.
10. Baby’s First Party Photobooth
As much as some people have been asking for bump pictures, it’s just not something I do. Depending on the time of day and what I’m wearing, I don’t always even look that bump-y. Just yesterday some person told me I didn’t look pregnant at all, which I’m never sure what to say back to. Is it a compliment? Is it a commentary on my weight? Should I be flattered? Should I be offended? Either way, I just don’t take bump pics. I do spend a lot of time staring at myself in the bathroom mirror and frequently grill Waffle on whether my belly is changing. I just don’t think to take pics. Maybe I’ll feel inspired in the coming months.
We were in NYC for a party last weekend, though, and we took a photobooth picture. So here’s your bump picture, world! Remi’s First Photobooth! (Actually, not true, we took another photobooth picture when Remi was a mere embryo on New Year’s Eve.) Eat it up!