Monday, June 30, 2014


There's a small child in that last one. Today: I swam in the ocean, lb splashed and shrieked, good friends visited, ice cream store after dinner. Vacation.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kid Lit Review: This Day in June

It's a picture book about Pride: something I hadn't realized we needed, but now know that we do.  This Day in June is a winner, and I'm glad that I bought a copy (a hardcover, no less).  I am not going to complain about gay kid-lit, because I'm glad it exists, but I will say that this book is so lively and energetic and refreshing, and it's also SO GAY and even SO QUEER.

The narrative part of the book is a series of couplets, for example: "Clad in Leather/Perfect weather" and "Artists painting/Sisters sainting".  So, clearly, this is not "my family is like yours, but a tiny bit different, but really alike."  This book celebrates not just gay families, but gay culture.  And the illustrations are fabulous, and very detailed.  LB was drawn to the "pink page," and B and I spend a long time looking at all the drawings.

There is also a reading guide in the back that provides background and history for all the themes explored in the book.  Someone in an online group I'm part of recently asked, "what does wearing leather and showing your butt have to do with being gay?"  Well, this book can give you the beginner's explanation.  And then we can all hang out and read Gay New York together.  [There is also a separate guide for talking to children about LGBT issues.]

As the LGBTQ tent gets bigger, and as it become more possible to both be gay and remain in the "normal" club, our shared history becomes less clear.  Almost everything I've read this year from the sort of progressive queer folk, with whom I share some political perspectives, has been wistful-thankful for a world where many of us (more so the LG&Bs) are not so marginalized, but wistful for past of shared politics and culture in the face of a seemingly ever growing contingent that wants to JUST BE NORMAL.  As an adult reader, This Day in June is appealing in part because it's Pride as I would love Pride to be.  It all the fabulous and quirkiness, with a mix of radicalness and staidness, without the cigarettes, cheap vodka shooters, and corporate sponsorships that make me shake my head.

Dana at Mombian has a nice review of This Day in June that puts it in LGBT kid-lit historical perspective.  Dana compares This Day in June to Gloria Goes to Gay Pride, a kid's book published in 1991 by the author of Heather Has Two Mommies that, like me, you may not have heard of before now.  GGGP is no longer in print, a key problem for kids "diversity lit."  Many titles are published through small or non-profit publishers, and if they aren't picked up by a major publisher they are out of print (gone) within a few years.  This Day in June is published my Magination Press, a division of the APA Press which is the press of the American Psychological Association (how far we've come).  Magination publishes books like Full Mouse, Empty Mouse: A Tale of Food and Feelings and The Boy Who Didn't Want to Be Sad.

I read a lot of kids books, and a lot of out of print kids books.  I think This Day in June could be a classic in some ten or twenty years, I just hope it stays in print long enough to have a chance (so you should buy a copy or three).

Short version: thumbs up (and let it be noted that I bought this book with my own money, although if someone wanted to send me some copies to share I would gladly accept).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Live Through This

This list has been making the rounds on the internets, re: dangers faced by children of the 1970s.  Aside from the Jarts, yeah, this was pretty much my childhood.  Except that goat would have been inside a VW bus (true story).  And once my parents stuck me in the back of a VW bug with a burlap sack containing two full grown, and very angry, geese.  Thus, one of my earliest memories is standing of the bag seat of that bug, pressed up against the window, screaming, while the geese thrashed and hissed at me.  Also, my mom read an article in a ladies magazine about a family that died in a fiery car crash, all accept one small child who had not been belted in and was thrown free of the car landing safely in a field. Due to that article, we were strongly discouraged from wearing seatbelts.

My mom tells another story about a time when I was a baby and had a very bad cold.  The doctor prescribed a cough medicine with codeine, so my mom drove with me to the pharmacy, left me in the car, and went to fill the prescription.  But the pharmacist thought she looked like a drug-seeking hippie and refused to give her the medicine.  My mom was furious that her character was being attacked, and she was correct that even though she and my dad looked like hippies they were really total straight arrows.  So she spent so amount of time arguing and explaining that the medicine was for her SICK BABY WHO WAS WAITING IN THE CAR.  In my mother's telling, the point of this story is that some people are judgmental jerks, and the baby alone in the car is a non-issue.

I thought about that story the other day as I was getting ready to take LB to daycare.  I had her in the stroller on our front walk, strapped in and ready to go.  Then she realized she didn't have her special blanket and it needed to be gotten before we left.  I briefly considered leaving her there on the front walk.  We live on a very quiet street that meets up with a very busy street, but LB can't undo the big clip on the stroller harness, so she wouldn't be going anywhere.  And it would likely take me less than a minute to grab the blanket.  But I didn't leave her.  I unclipped her, and hoisted some close-to-30lbs, and brought her into the house, found the blanket, back out the door, and then she climbed slowly, slowly back into the stroller and slowly, slowly clipped herself in, and we left.

I didn't leave her partly because I live in a world of paranoia, where the 1 minute in which you leave your child outside one block from a busy street is the 1 minute in which she magically learns to unclip the sticky clip on the stroller harness, partly because years of urban living have taught me that ne're-do-wells probably won't harm your small child but they might steal your expensive stroller (which is not to say that city people steal more than rural or suburban people, but that city people are more aware that they may be stolen from), and largely because I didn't want to end up like this woman or this woman.

The 1970s, when I swam alone on empty beaches without life guards, I can't imagine that I will ever experience that again.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer List

Thanks to Little Monsters and Mommies for the inspiration.  It's summer for real after the long cold spring.  Summer in Providence feels so crisp.  Baltimore would be like a warm damp sleeping bag, but here it's all puffy clouds and cool breezes, and only occasionally a moist, salty breeze that makes me remember we are the Ocean State.

LB and I were on our way back from the park when we ran into a neighbor who asked me to water his garden for a week in exchange for an produce we can harvest.  I said yes.  I don't know his name and I don't think he knows mine.  That's New England.

The List

Strawberry Shortcake Cake
Maine again
plant window boxes
swim at least once a week  (in progress)
Go to Pride [fail]
grill (in progress)
eat dinner in the mud room (porch) (in progress)
have a picnic dinner
4th of July parade in Bristol?
go to the beach and swim
go to the beach on a bad weather day
have dinner on the beach
Portland Oregon trip
get passports so we can actually go to Montreal
go car camping
overnight in a hotel (LB not invited)
babysitter/regular date nights
set up sprinkler
go to PawSocks game
go to Mista Lemon
have ice cream for dinner
make ice cream
go the RISD museum
go to an historic house museum
see friends!
walk in local cemetery we've never visited
figure out something fun LB wants to do and do it!
whitewater rafting (B only)

Intended Summer Reading

Fear of Flying
Moby Dick
The Burglary
Radical Relations
The Color of Success

Currently I'm following the doctrinal/cultural conflict within the LDS Church.  This thread on FMH is very sad.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Modest Preschoolers (or, My Daughter Wears Jeggings)

It's almost summer, and the issue of what toddler/preschooler girls should wear in the summer has been popping up all over my social media.  I'm having one of those moments where I feel like I was raised by (inappropriately dressed) wolves, and I have no idea what these rules are that other people are talking about.  It's like when I found out that a significant segment of society feel that babies should never appear in public wearing only a onesie, because it's like an adult walking around in her underwear.

These are the rules I have heard:

-No tight clothes
-No short shorts
-No big arm holes
-No faux-sexy styling
-No bikinis

LB is breaking a few of these rules right now: tight stretch shorts, with a tucked-in tank-top with big arm holes (worn backwards to maximize exposure).  And I have some questions:

Do people really think it's wrong for a preschooler to wear bike shorts as shorts?  I had no idea.  I feel like there should be a compendium of these rules just so I can know when my daughter's sartorial choices are offending the world.

LB's outfit of choice: Elmo and jeggings and to make it even better, her pants always ride down

LB used to wear such cute clothes: cotton rompers, bonnets, handmade sweaters.  Hanna dresses from Grammy.  And then she learned how to undress herself.  Now any clothing considered too soft, to scratchy, too big, or just NO is immediately ripped off.

The last outfit I ever forced LB to wear-doesn't she look happy (and I'm still not sure how the school picture company came up with such a glamour shot)

What I want LB to wear:

I'm still holding out hope for next fall!

She will never wear this before she outgrows it

And LB's choice:

She styles this shirt (I'm pretty sure this is the exact big-arm-hold shirt that the other mom returned) with tight pink stretch shorts.  Shirt tucked into shorts. Shorts pulled up high.  Socks pulled up high, with sneakers.  I call this her "Fire Island called and wants 1985 back" Collection.

As I write this post, Motherlode has published the post, "Whose Dress Code Is It and Why?"  This column gets at some of what I'm feeling.  If people look at LB and judge me because she's not modest enough, I will judge them to be prudish jerks.  If they judge me for dressing my daughter in pants that slide down her butt whenever she engages in strenuous exercise, and wonder why people start training their children to participate in the horrors of the femininity industrial complex at such a young age-well, then I will just hang my head in shame because I agree.

But it's LB's body and it's the clothes that grandmas bought her.  I am a feminist mom.  I want to be a feminist mom, but I'm not sure that means I need to be an authoritarian feminist mom.

In the Motherlode piece, KJ Dell'Antonia reminds readers that dress codes aren't simply about sexuality, they are also about learning a variety of other social rules that may serve us well in life.  The word that she doesn't mention specifically is class.  And that's where I get even more uncomfortable with the rules and hierarchies of clothing.

My parents were passing into the middle class as I grew up in the 1970s-not so much by money, but by practice.  That meant that while other kids wore new clothes from KMart, I wore second-hand smocked dresses and fair isle sweaters. Classy.

I loved polyester and bright colors and plastic headbands and shiny shoes.  One day when I was eight my dad brought home a pair of Timberland boots for me (way before they became Tims) and I cried and hid them in the back of the closet.

As a teenager in the '80s, I was one of those girls putting together outfits in thrift shops and trying to make t-shirts into skirts like they showed in Sassy Magazine.

Now I wear a deliberately boring and hopefully clean, mix and match, business very casual.  I like people who wear outfits.  I want LB to have the joy of expressing herself through clothing.  I never want to see her in short shorts with writing on the butt, but I don't want her to judge girls in short shorts with writing on the butt to be cheap whores, and I certainly don't want her to think that clothes make her person-for better or worse.

Dear LB, It's the content of your character not the clothes on your back.  And if you want to be a peacock, if you want your pants to sag, if your skirts too short, I will love you for it.  And I will also replace songs on your ipod with lectures on feminist theory.

Monday, June 16, 2014

"In her kiss I taste the Revolution"

This is the only back-in-the-day photo I can find (weirdly cropped to protect the innocent).  The year was likely 1997, I remember buying this dress at the Salvation Army-at least I treated it as a dress.  It was like a tiny lampshade, and my friend put a tuck in the back for me so it would fit.  I was into wearing white fishnets, and if you could see my shoes they would be super chunky.

B and I recently watched the documentary The Punk Singer about Kathleen Hanna and Riot Grrrl.  I really enjoyed all the performance footage, which definitely makes it worth watching.  As usual, I'm annoyed that a film that spends some time reflecting on the problem of stars within social movements would choose to feature random quasi-celebrities who had nothing to do with Riot Grrrl reflecting on Riot Grrrl, rather than some of the rank-and-file.  I also don't like it when RG retrospectives present the '90s as a vast wasteland for young feminists.  RG was something new and exciting, but existed within and alongside a variety of other feminist politics (in my humble opinion).

B's critique of the film was that the filmmakers could have make a much more explicit connection between "trashing" and other negative forms of internal policing within feminist groups in the 1970s and disputes about stars and media coverage within RG. B wrote her senior thesis in college on RG, and she wrote this paper about the Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band, which you should read.  And then you should listen to the CWLRB singing "Papa Don't Lay that Shit on Me" here.

After we watched The Punk Singer, B and I were inspired to bust out some of our old records, and reminisce.  It was really fun.  I am eight years older than B, which is at least a generation in music time.  B grew up in the Pacific Northwest listening to gansta rap, while I grew up in the Northeast listening to punk.

B listened to Dr Dre, Ice Cube, and The Coup, and then branched out to Ani DiFranco and Elliott Smith.  The first album I ever bought was Roxanne by The Police and the first show I ever went to was  The Ramones (at the UNH student union).

At some point our music histories intersect.  I bought the Bikini Kill/Huggy Bear album, I think, while I was living in Seattle in 1993.  I loved that album, but I don't think I realized that it was a thing?  I don't know, my memory is so bad.  I think I probably found out about RG by reading an article in the New York Times-clearly I had my finger on the pulse.  B started listening to RG bands and going to shows while in college in the late 1990s, and then got really into Sleater-Kinney (and couldn't tell me precisely how many times she saw them-because I fact check these posts like crazy).

I realize I don't know exactly what was so appealing about this music for B.  For me, it was years putting up with jackasses at shows, being expected to hold the coats, and the casual and not-so-casual misogyny of the punk/hardcore/ska scenes.  And it was also never seeing women on stage for those shows.  It was so great to see and hear women making loud, aggressive music.

 Videos I've watched while writing this post:

Hole's "Pretty on the Inside" on college radio late in 1991 blew me away when I heard it on college radio in 1991.  I had never heard a woman make music that so represented the roiling and seething that I felt on the inside (which is not to say anything about the people who made that album).

Lone Justice, "Ways to Be Wicked," I've always like country music, but I was embarrassed to admit it in the 80s.

I had roommate who was super into SubPop, and I liked this song by a band I'd never heard of called Nirvana.  Nirvana, "Negative Creep."

My other roommates were super into Throwing Muses, and I haven't heard this song in twenty and some years.  It bringing back some memory that I can't quite retrieve.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

"This week we are celebrating Father's Day!! We will be discussing all types of fathers (ex: fathers, stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, or brothers).  We are asking if friends can bring in pictures of their father/ stepfather/ uncle/ grandfather/ or brother, who whoever they consider a father figure [so] that we can discuss them during circle time."

I can remember crying about Father's Day once, either before LB was born or right after, imagining her sitting at a little desk with no father to write for.  This year, we spent time with Granddad for Father's Day, and I think that made everyone happy.  Otherwise Father's Day has so far been a non-issue.  Maybe it will be as LB gets older.  I think we do the right stuff when the issue of dads comes up.  We're mater of fact, we don't try to shield LB from the world of fathers (it wouldn't be creepy to black out all the fathers in her books with sharpie, right?), but we don't make a big deal out of it.  But even if you say all the right things, some kids will feel being different more strongly than other kids, and there's nothing to do about that but wait.

Daycare is doing us some favors, because, while we may be the only two-mom family, there are plenty of other families that are not mom/dad.  LB's reality is that some families have two moms, and some have one mom, and others have a dad, or a grammy.  I declare this a Father's Day without tears.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Unaccompanied Minors

The recent news coverage of unaccompanied minors, mainly from Central America, traveling across the US border alone and then being detained in federal facilities is incredibly distressing.  I guess the upsurge in young migrants has been building for awhile, see this 2013 piece in Mother Jones and this 2012 piece from the New York Times-"Young and Alone, Facing Court and Deportation," but I have to admit I haven't really paid attention until the latest news coverage.

Photos from the Houston Chronicle showing conditions in detention here.  The NYTimes answering readers questions about immigration here.  The DailyMail on conditions for detained migrant minors here.  Mother Jones on unaccompanied minors in adult jails here.  And reporting from the LATimes here.  Here's a short audio piece from Tell Me More.

A conservative blog take here. And analysis on Laura Ingram's comments on child migrants here.

Liberal analysis stresses the push factors of extreme gang violence in Central American and the humanitarian aspects of these young migrants, while conservatives stress the role DACA may play in motivating migration and use imagery of the US boarder overrun.  Clearly, I'm on the humanitarian side in this one.  I can't imagine how bad things have to be to send one's child on a journey a thousand miles long, illegally crossing multiple borders, to an uncertain future.  I can't imagine how terrifying it would be for a young person to make that journey and then to land in a detention facility.  But, I also find it hard to believe that DACA, in addition to other pushes and pulls, isn't a motivating factor in this wave of migration, and if it is, I don't think that means that it is a failed policy.

Tired now.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"Oh can't you see I'm tired, I'm tired, I'm tired"

(I make no excuses for the slideshow that accompanies this song) When I was growing up, Joan Baez's Diamonds and Rust was in heavy rotation in our house.  B did not have that experience and strongly objects to such, so I'm taking this time while she's away to listen to a little Joan, and this song has been stuck in my head.

B's ETA is in the hours of late night or early morning.  She's been gone since 5:00am Tuesday.  For me and LB, morning start around 6:00ish.  I drink coffee in bed and she eats cereal in bed.  The usual stuff.  Out the door between 7:00 and 8:00, brisk mile walk to daycare, happy dropoff (thankful!) and another two miles to work.

LB gets to swim once a week with daycare, and when it's clear they play outside a lot.  LB has been deep a game about scary chasing kittycats before I even leave the yard.

Onward: work, work, work.  I'm coming off some crazy weeks at work (and a late event the Monday before B left) so this week I've making a conscious effort to work less that my usual 45 or so.  Instead it's been in by a bit before 9:00 and out around 4:30.  In general I've been trying to walk at least one way to work or home (3 miles), but this week I've given myself permission, also, to take the bus and save what energy I have.

Back to work.  LB with a wild mane of curls, shoes on the wrong feet, shirt tucked into her underwear which is pulled up nice and high.  Girl's got style.  Her new favorite toy is a stuffed dog who has had his eyes chewed off by our actual dog.  Into the stroller and a mile back home.

Tuesday we had a special outing to the bakery on the way home.  I don't think I'm much of a judger, but when I worked at a certain corporate coffee concern, I seriously wondered about parents who would come in a drop $5.00 on snacks for a single child (1990s prices).  And now, in 2014, I dropped $6.00 on a muffin and juice for LB and felt like it was money well spent.  On Wednesday we had a picnic dinner on the living room floor and watched Thomas, and this evening I remembered that we had popsicles, and so we did.

I've also let LB sleep in "the mama bed"-pure heaven for a child.

All and all not a bad three days, although LB has made an unfortunate philosophical turn, and even Harry at the Beach, provokes endless question.  Of seaweed covered Harry, "is Harry a dog? No mama, is Harry still a dog.  Why Harry want the same umbrella, why?" Cute. Tiresome.  Cute.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Because my daughter could have died alone

This post is the one I don't want to spend the weekend writing.  I thought of funnier topics and cuter topics, but this is the post I need to write.  This post is part of Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day sponsored by Mombian, but today I'm not talking to my usual audience of friends, lesbian moms, feminists, and fellow travelers.  Instead my imagined audience for this post is someone like Kendra, who blogs at Catholic All Year.  I hope she won't mind a shout out (and just a note that this post contains no cursing, no explicit content, and a minimum of typos).  I thought of Kendra when I began this post because she is an intelligent and thoughtful blogger who engages with political and social issues, and also finds gay marriage in my words: morally, culturally, and theologically abhorrent, and in her words "immoral" and "sinful."

This is our story:  I married B in a civil ceremony at the courthouse in D.C., attended by our parents, and occurring two days after we found out our first attempt at IUI was unsuccessful.  A month later I was pregnant.  A few months into my pregnancy (2nd clinic IUI, anonymous donor from a bank), we made the obligatory trip to a family lawyer.  In most urban areas you can find a small cadre of lawyers specializing in gay families and you find them by asking around or googling.  I believe we paid $2,500 for a 2nd parent adoption and an additional $1000 for estate planning. In Maryland, our part of the process included a doctor's note, some essay questions, letters of support from friends and family, and pictures including a required picture of our front door.

While we were happy with ourselves for being diligent and starting the process early, the legal reality was that no guardianship or adoption paperwork could be filed before a living baby was born.  I could make my belief that this baby belonged to both B and me and that we would parent the baby together known through unofficial channels, but we could not formalize B's relationship to our baby until after the baby was born.

At the time, that didn't seem like a big deal.  Life continued, lots of sleeping, trips to IKEA, inhaling chicken and bulgogi beef, picking up extra work to earn extra money, procuring my great grandmother's rocking chair.  Throughout I was nervous but healthy, as was B.

Then, an ultrasound showed that baby's previously normal growth had slowed: monitoring.  And long after my nausea had subsided, I had some episodes of violent puking (in the bushes outside my classroom and in a plastic bag in the car and on the sidewalks of my neighborhood where only junkies puke).  Not great, but I knew that puking could be a normal 3rd tri thing.  Then were some headaches so bad that they made me cry, but my screenings and blood work were okay, so I went about my business.

We hit week 27 and I was headed out of town for one final conference.  I went in for my regular checkup: blood pressure pretty high, concerning level of protein in my urine - for the first time, blood work ordered.  The next day I was prepping for class and one of the midwives called to request my presence at L&D - immediately.  The blood work had shown significantly raised liver enzymes.  "But I have a class to teach.  I don't have a bag packed." I negotiated for two hours, hustled over to my classroom to put a sign on the door, burst into staff meeting crying, and called B. to come get me.

At the hospital we went immediately to the MFM practice.  I had previously met the doctor there when he brought some med students in to observe my impressive fibroids.  Extended and anxious scanning, discussion of IUGR, a steroid shot, and the doctor: "You have severe preeclampsia.  We need to prepare for you to have this baby in the next 48 hours," he said pulling a sad face.

On L&D we sat on a bench in the hall.  They brought a woman through as she screamed that she was losing her baby. Our midwife waved from behind the nurses' station, but didn't come out to greet us (still bitter).  My blood pressure was 160/100.

The night in the hospital was long and loud.  The nurse's default was to turn up the baby's monitors as loud as possible so that it sounded like I was in my own womb, women screamed endlessly, my blood pressure monitor alarmed every 15 minutes because my pressure was too high and no one came to turn off the alarm.  But I had B there with me, sleeping fitfully, together.

A second night B went home to stay with our freaked out dogs.  A nurse told me she wouldn't be able to come back until visiting hours started again the next morning.  "We're married, we have a certificate, she's my next of kin."  The nurse said we could get it sorted in the morning.  B remembers that the visitors desk swapped her "visitor" wristband for a "family" wristband that gave her access to L&D 24 hours a day without any hassle.

Despite the frustrations of the hospital, I started to simply exist.  The days blurred quietly together with tests and scans and quiet.  I read steadily through the collected Sherlock Holmes stories.

B and I couldn't discuss the what-ifs, we lay in my little hospital bed and tried to imagine our baby's future.  I had a half-waking dream about a little boy and a little girl on a beach, and I felt a wave of peace.  We had already chosen LB's first and middle names after her great-grandmothers, but I told B that if they baby was a girl and she lived, we should give her a second middle name, Grace, after the Our Lady of Grace statue in the hospital lobby.

Time felt soft, I was floating and waiting.  Baby stayed strong.  And then her heart rate was alarming.  And she went off the monitors and couldn't be found.  The head resident efficiently and calmly, too calmly, pulled the portable ultrasound into the room.  She was so calm that I didn't know when she found the heartbeat, and asked several minutes later "is she there?" I called B and asked her to leave work and come sit with me.

B talked to our lawyer, who said she would drive up to Baltimore after the baby was born with our paperwork.  "What if something happens to me during the birth?" I asked a nurse.  "You'll be okay," she said.  It wasn't a question I asked with fear for my own mortality, it was a technical question.  "What if something happens to me?  They'll put our baby in foster care," I said to B.  "We have a lawyer, if there's a problem your parents will come down and sign over custody, it will be okay." B understood, but we didn't have much of plan, and I couldn't dwell on the future.  When I did, I was forced to consider a future in which our baby did not live.

For the first nine days in the hospital, I felt okay.  On the 10th day, I did not.  I saw floaters before my eyes, that I did not report.  I felt off.  My MFM popped back in with the verdict: rising liver enzymes, stubbornly high BP despite major meds, baby not growing, and now dropping platelets.  "It's time, you'll have this baby tomorrow morning."

B stayed with me that night and we cried and imagined our baby.  Surgery prep started early, but we were already awake.  A nurse came in to start the magnesium sulfate, which I describe here.  Mag acts as a muscle relaxant, and after I stopped sweating and puking bile, I felt very calm.  B put on her gown and held my hand as I was wheeled to the OR.

The anesthesiologist was waiting for us, he asked me to sit on the table and put both my arms around B's shoulders.  "It will feel like bee stings" he said.  I was too relaxed to talk, but I thought, "I've totally got this!" having been stung several times by a wasp in my office with no ill-effects.  I lay on the table, relaxed and unable to see without my glasses.

I'm sure B was trying to crack some jokes, but I don't remember much until there was a flurry of movement and someone said "You have a daughter."  "Is she alive?" I asked.  "Yes, Yes" and a tiny pink bundle was flashed somewhere near my face.  I thought I heard a tiny mew.  "She's breathing on her own."  B ran back and forth between me and LB(G) managing to snap the first baby-in-a-plastic-bag (to conserve body heat) photos.

As the NICU nurses prepped LB, my team got louder and more energetic.  "Blood, I need blood!" became "WHERE'S THE DAMN BLOOD!"  Muttering, orders, cursing.  "Okay, we need to put you under, okay?  B, you'll need to step outside after she goes under." I tried to nod, thinking "yes, I don't really want to be awake for this." I breathed as deeply as I could, trying to make it go as fast as possible.

The next five hours or so are not my story, but what has been told to me.  Medically, my low platelet and fibroids combo had complicated delivery, and led to extensive bleeding requiring extensive surgery.  Thankfully the replacement blood did arrive in time.  Meanwhile, B was sent back to my room to wait with a friend who had just happened to come visit us.  She prayed the rosary with a Quaker, and sweated through a Code Blue not knowing that it wasn't me.  A nurse came in and sent her up to the NICU to see LB.  Born at 29weeks, weighing 2lbs 3oz, LB was holding her own.  B kangarooed her (I would share the lovely pics, but B isn't wearing a shirt), and took more pictures.

LB's first hour in the NICU
I came to around noon, looking and feeling rough.  It was hard to remember what had happened, but I did remember "you have a daughter," and I felt waves of joy and love.  A nurse, one of the ones who was both kind and efficient brought me a gingerale with a straw and it was the best thing I ever drank. B came bouncing into the room flashing pictures and telling me all about the NICU and about how she held LB.

In 1995, Julie and Hillary Goodridge had a daughter:

"When their daughter was born, she breathed in fluid and was sent to neonatal intensive care. Julie had a difficult caesarian and was in recovery for several hours. Even with a health care proxy, Hillary had difficulty gaining access to Julie and their newborn daughter at the hospital."[full text here]

As Julie lay in the OR, Hillary sought to see their daughter in the NICU.  She was turned away because  she had no legal relationship with the baby.  She waited until shift change and lied to a new nurse, saying she was her baby's aunt, and was allowed access. Hillary and Julie became the lead plaintiffs in the case Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health, the case that brought gay marriage to Massachusetts.

If not for Hillary and Julie, what would have happened to our LB?  Would she have laid alone in an isolette while B fought to get to her?  Would she have been denied that time sleeping against her mother's skin?  If things had gone worse, would she have died never being held by someone who loved her?

"We're married" were magic words for us, words that opened doors and produced wristbands.  These are the stories of unfortunate couples who possessed only lowly civil unions: Brittney Leon and Terri-Ann Simonelli, Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, Kathryn Wilderotter and Linda Cole, and Bill Flanigan and Robert Daniel.  This latter case is particularly sad, because Robert died alone after Bill was denied access to his hospital bed.  In each of these cases the couples were in a legal domestic partnership.

The sad fact is that "we're in a domestic partnership" is not a magic phrase.  Say domestic partnership and very few people know exactly what rights you possess. Say marriage and everyone knows you should be at your spouse's bedside.  In 2010, the federal government offered additional guidance to hospitals receiving some types of federal funds, telling hospitals that they must allow patients to designate their own visitors.  That's a step forward, however, at least one of the cases above occurred after 2010.  The workers at the hospital front desk don't necessarily follow changes in federal guidance, but they do know what marriage means.  Marriage means you get the bracelet.

I am not equipped to speak to matters of theology.  I have freely chosen not to know what, if anything, exists after this life.  I am living this life with love: the intense love I feel for my wife and daughter, the joy I feel for my friends and coworkers, for clerks and bus drivers and randos, the perplexity and fascination I feel for those who claim to love me, but would deny my daughter a mother's love.

as a big girl

Thanks to Mombian for hosting the 9th Annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families!