Our city has pride in July instead of June. This past Saturday was our Pride parade and festival and also the day I hit 35 weeks, exactly. I’ve been going to Rochester Pride since I moved here in 2006 and I’m usually participating in the Pride parade in some way, by walking with a group or organizing a walking unit or even volunteering on the judge’s panel.
This year, I wasn’t asked to judge and I didn’t plan on doing any walking. Knowing I’d be well into my third trimester during Pride week, I just didn’t know if my body would be up for it. I missed the parade for the first time ever since I’ve lived in Rochester. As it turns out, I’m surprisingly still very active and I probably would have been fine. Then again, I’m almost full-term and I didn’t want to risk going into early labor in the middle of the street. I do feel I missed the opportunity to paint my bump with rainbow paint and glitter and go full exhibitionist in a crop top and miniskirt. That woulda’ been a great picture for T. Rex’s baby book.
I spent all day at the Pride festival, instead. I staffed a table for my day job organization, the New York Civil Liberties Union (the New York affiliate of the ACLU) with my coworker, our intern, and Waffle (my patient and constant spousal volunteer). And I did get to wear a crop top. My bump was making my work t-shirt fit weird, so I took a page from the Team Autostraddle fashion playbook and cut it up into a tiny crop tank that worked perfectly with my high-waisted rainbow-splashed stretchy skirt and comfy-practical-but-not-cute-enough-to-show-off nursing bra.
Most folks in my real-life queer circle know I’m pregnant now because of the fact that I’m writing about it for the whole internet and also because I announced it on social media during my second trimester. Also, I finally look pregnant to the naked eye. I had about a million conversations about being knocked up, about queer child-raising, about queer baby-making, and about how cute I looked at Pride this year. And I loved it.
Most of the time, I don’t draw too much attention to my pregnancy. I don’t particularly enjoy questions from straight folks about how we got knocked up, unsolicited advice from straight cis women about birthing and parenting, or even compliments on my pregnant body/glow/belly and affirmations of what great parents Waffle and I will be. Most of these types of interactions come from a place of caring, some from naive curiosity, most all with good intentions. Still, it makes me uncomfortable (unless it’s coming from someone who is truly a good friend or close family member, which is a very different and welcome thing).
I feel like I have to put on an act or constantly make space for other people in these situations. My good friend who really gets me recently sent me this For Harriet article about Nigerian feminist author, Chimamanda Adichie, about how Adichie “went into hiding” during her pregnancy.
I have some friends who probably don’t know I was pregnant or that I had a baby. I just feel like we live in an age when women are supposed to perform pregnancy.
It resonated deep. That’s the language I was looking for: performing pregnancy.
This is a real thing, people. I think all pregnant women feel this pressure, to be the right kind of pregnant woman, to make other people feel comfortable by answering invasive personal questions, to allow others to focus on our pregnant bodies instead of our brains/capabilities/whole selves, and finding the right balance of humble and maternal to satisfy what other people expect a mom-to-be…to be.
This becomes even more performative for anyone who is additionally othered by being a person of color, disabled, queer, transgender, gender non-binary, gender non-conforming, and so on. Now you’re not only a pregnant person who gets to answer lots of questions and receive lots of advice. You’re also a novelty, a curiosity, or even worse, inspiration porn for liberal straight cis heterosexual folks.
At Pride, for once, I didn’t feel like I was performing. I was talking to and with my own people. I was sharing knowledge with queer and trans folks who wanted to start planning a family. I was getting advice from queer and trans parents who had been there, with whom we share a common experience.
A young-ish couple stopped by the table with their beautiful four-month-old son and shared their advice with Waffle and me about coping in the first weeks after birth, which their kid punctuated by spitting up on his mom’s shirt. They also talked about their plans to switch up gestational carriers with their next child, something particular to families where more than one parent has a uterus.
We ran into several acquaintances who have slightly older kids, through fertility treatment, previous relationships, adoption, or blended families. We answered their questions about our pregnancy plans and asked questions about their families. We gushed over their adorable kids and laughed at stories of parenting fails and got lots of advice about being first-time parents.
We talked to folks who are our age or older who want to have kids in the future and traded info about friendly fertility centers, sperm banks, costs and insurance.
We talked to other queer trans parents and prospective parents about Waffle becoming a “daddy” and non-gestational perspectives on pregnancy.
A labor and delivery nurse came up to me and recognized me from this very column. She just so happens to work at the maternity center we’re planning to deliver at. She came out to us and we jokingly lamented over how heteronormative the entire birthing industry can be. She assured us the maternity center is LGBTQ-friendly. “I’m there all the time,” she said, “Ask for me!”
It felt like we were building community. I imagine this is what a mom’s group is for some other women—a place to talk frankly about pregnancy stuff, with people with similar life experiences. I just don’t see myself reflected in the “mom spaces” typically available. I often feel like an outsider.
The day after Pride, we did a tour of the maternity center with a bunch of other couples and we were, as far as we could tell, once again the only visibly queer couple in the group. There were a couple other people of color, but the people who spoke up the most and took up the most space were the white moms. Queer family spaces just don’t exist outside of the internet, at least not in my medium-size, upstate New York city. That’s why this column has been so cathartic for me to share with ya’ll. And so surprising to people who know me in real life and know how much I avoid centering my pregnancy in my day-to-day interactions.
This was our last Pride as a free-wheeling, child-free couple. As more and more LGBTQ people are able to and choose to have children, it seems Pride in our city is becoming more and more family-friendly. As we saw and talked to all these queer and trans parents, we couldn’t help but imagine how different it will be when we’ll have a Baby T. Rex to bring to our next Pride.
One year from now we’ll be in a very different place as a couple and a family. We probably won’t be able to sit outside for 12 hours in the sun with a little T. Rex in tow. We’ll be carrying diaper bags instead of singles to tip drag queens. We can’t wait to share Pride with Remi, to share rainbow flags and glitter body paint and drag shows, to teach them our intersectional LGBTQI history, to introduce them to their big bold queer family.
9 Random Baby-Making Feelings I’m Currently Over-Processing
1. Go, Go Gadget Hospital Bag
As a shower gift, my friend packed a whole bunch of awesome feminist and queer and social justice-y kids books into this super-cute bag from the Rebel Wilson line at Torrid. It’s the perfect size to be my hard femme hospital “go bag.”
I think I have just about all that I need for the hospital: toiletries, snacks, huge underwear (for huge postpartum maxi pads), a nursing dress, comfy nursing bra, flip flops, hair clips, a mini-makeup kit, maternity yoga pants and a long black top for going home, breast pads and nipple cream, a newborn and a 1-3 month outfit for Baby T. Rex, baby socks and cap and mittens, and some newborn diaper stuff. We need to finish our birth plan to throw in there and also pack a bag for Waffle, who plans to room with me at the hospital postpartum.
2. Finding QPOC Solidarity in a Sea of White Lesbian Moms
There was a big kerfuffle this past week in one corner of the Facebook universe. Members of a closed queer mom group I’m in got into a huge #AllLivesMatter v. #BlackLivesMatter debate, starting with a white mom asking that the group be “less political.” Despite the (white) moderators’ clear statement that the group supported BLM, individual members of the group started spouting off stupidity, like that the group should be for discussions of diapers and playgroups, not politics and race. As if parenting can be separated from race and politics for QPOC… It resulted in a separate group forming specifically for and closed to queer parents of color, which I joined immediately.
This is just one example of the ways in which white supremacy dominates the conversation even in small queer circles. Before this went down in the Facebook group, I had noticed the disconnect between the queer moms group and the rest of my queer family. While many of us were mourning the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, white folks in the queer moms group were posting happy selfies with their kids and, while I understand not everyone posts political stuff on Facebook, it just felt wrong and not at all like the community I expect under the word “queer.”
It happened a few weeks earlier, too, when the Pulse shooting happened and many white folks in the queer moms group were posting #WeAreOrlando pics with their families, full of good intentions, but not acknowledging or centering the ways in which Pulse disproportionately impacted Latinx members of our community. At least they were posting something, though. The lack of posting around BLM and the audacity to call for “less politics” showed that for some white queer moms, “politics” and trauma only matter when it affects them personally.
The group moderators took it upon themselves to make very clear what the position of the group is. They’re now approving each individual post and blocking #AllLivesMatter posts. QWOC members of the group have used this time to educate white allies by posting links to articles and some white allies are stepping up and posting messages of solidarity. It’s a start.
This weekend, at Pride, I saw and talked to several parents of color and moms of color. I saw how QPOC families uplift and hold each other, even in mostly-white spaces. I also saw an otherwise very innocuous lesbian t-shirt company proudly selling cringe-worthy rainbow-emblazoned #AllLivesMatter t-shirts. I wanted to rip it down from their tent. I decided to walk away.
3. Deep Dino Etsy Strikes Again
Waffle continues to procure dino things to cover every square inch of the nursery. This past week, this dino coat rack arrived for the closet door, along with a wooden dino growth chart by the same Etsy seller/artist. He can’t stop, won’t stop buying every dino thing he can find. But look at this happy face. How can I deny him?
4. Things I’ve Googled in the Past Week:
- probiotics safe pregnancy
- aversion to cruciferous vegetables pregnancy
- blood sugar bedtime snack
- how to relieve pregnancy pelvic pain naturally
- peppermint itch relief safe pregnant
- orgasm third trimester
- breast pump insurance
- will walking make baby drop
- kneeling mat for bath time
5. (Anxiety About) My Humps, My Humps, My Lovely Lady Lumps
I have to ‘fess up about something. I am totally and probably irrationally nervous about breastfeeding.
I’m not going to be super upset if I, for some reason, can’t breastfeed, like if Baby T. Rex is severely tongue-tied or it just doesn’t work for me. I do want to try. I’m more anxious about just, like, the act of breastfeeding. It’s something I think is going to be so absolutely weird and unnatural to me.
I have done as much reading and preparing as I think I can to educate myself. I’ll have a doula at the hospital and there are also on-site lactation experts. I feel like I’ll be supported. I just feel like it’s going to be a super weird thing and I’m going to have no idea if I’m doing it right even as I’m doing it and I just have to be OK with that.
I also just have anxiety about my boobs, in general, not being breastfeeding friendly. I have a fairly large chest (42 D before pregnancy) and my nipples are not petite. They also aren’t perky like they were 10 years ago and I’ve been researching breastfeeding advice for people with large breasts. I had nipple piercings on both sides, pierced on two separate occasions (my first set rejected), with significant scar tissue in multiple directions. I took out my piercings a little over a year ago, to allow my nipples to heal before getting pregnant. From what I have read, nipple piercings usually result in more milk flow, which is theoretically good, but can also be too much for your kiddo when they’re newborns.
IT’LL BE FINE. I’M FINE.
6. Rub-A-Dub-Dub We’re Set For the Tub
We haven’t purchased any baby washcloths and we somehow have 37 of them thanks to lots of generous gifts from friends and family. We’ve also been gifted a plethora of bath toys, hooded towels for every day of the week plus some, and a variety of bath accessories.
Remi will be very clean and very loved.
7. Gestational Diabetes Breakfasts That Don’t Suck
Eating breakfast every day is the biggest life change I’ve had to make diet-wise. I’ve never been a big breakfast-eater. My mom used to make me a toaster pastry or something portable and quick when I was in school and I’d scarf it unceremoniously while doing my hair or makeup. I’ve skipped breakfast for most of my adult life.
With gestational diabetes, breakfast is a must and I shouldn’t go more than 8-10 hours without eating. And, I only get two carb choices for breakfast, what amounts to roughly 30 carbohydrates. Fruit is completely off-limits. So typical fast breakfast choices like cereal and milk, fruit and yogurt, or a granola bar are not gonna work for me.
I’ve found a couple staple meals that keep my blood sugar stable, satisfy my personal need to eat quickly and get out the door, and that are generally not offensive to my taste buds. Here’s what I’ve been putting in my mouth, in order of quickest-to-longest to make and munch:
- Plain Greek Yogurt with Stevia, Cinnamon, and 1/4 Cup Granola
- Whole Wheat English Muffin with Loads of Peanut Butter (my least favorite)
- Whole Wheat Toast with Peanut Butter (also not my favorite)
- Frozen Whole Wheat Waffles with Peanut Butter and Sugar-Free Syrup
- Eggs and Toast with Butter and Avocado Slices
- Whole Wheat English Muffin Sandwich with Turkey Bacon, Fried Egg, and Muenster Cheese
For the record, I really don’t like peanut butter. Never have.
8. Dino Couture Fashion Show
I asked Daddy Dino (a.k.a. Waffle) to curate his favorites from our very expansive collection of dino-themed baby clothes. I didn’t have to ask twice. Who knew dinos were so en vogue.
9. Baby T. Rex, I’m Ready to Go
As we head into our last month of gestation, I’m pretty much ready to be done. At the same time, the idea that a baby is going to like…exist outside of me…is so wild that I’m also hoping it doesn’t happen too early. I vacillate between hoping to go into labor at 38 weeks and hoping it doesn’t come until the due date or later.
For pragmatic reasons, it would be ideal if Remi decided to come out at 39 weeks when Waffle’s scheduled paid time off (vacation time) begins. If Remi comes more than a week late, Waffle won’t get any paid time off to stay home with us, which will suck, but we’ll manage.
By the end of this week, Remi will be full-term and most practitioners won’t stop labor if it begins naturally, so it really could be any time! I guess we need to get on finalizing our birth plan and wrapping up the many half-finished cleaning projects we have going on around the house. #nesting