Well, ok, it’s not “parenting” just yet, as the recipient of such parenting has yet to make his or her appearance, DEAR GOD, please stay in there three more months, if only because the lesbian parents in question aren’t even close to ready for you.
No, it’s really lesbian gestating and preparing, what we are doing right now (well, only I am gestating, and J is preparing, as best she can, for what is coming). I think, in the beginning, that I thought that my pregnancy and the pregnancies of the straight women I encounter would, for the most part, be very similar, and in truth, they have been, in terms of what actually happens during week 14, say. I mean, we’re all women, right? There is nothing special or different about my female body just because I happen to sleep with women.
This does not stop OTHER PEOPLE from thinking that my body does operate in a different way than if I were straight, as evidenced by the millions of questions I got (from all sorts of people, gay and straight) about HOW, EXACTLY, did I manage to get pregnant. I mean, a man wasn’t even THERE. It’s like some sort of technological MIRACLE! I wrote about this earlier, this incredulity that I didn’t conceive using IVF (here), so instead of rehashing that one, go read over there.
Back to the topic at hand, which is that I thought my pregnancy would be just like the ones of all the other pregnant women I am currently in contact with, all of whom are straight. And while the physical part of the pregnancy is, indeed, just like everyone else’s, there are some family dynamics I was not expecting, not even slightly.
Everyone’s favorite joke about two women living together is about how horrible it must be to be at our house when we’re both menstruating. How crabby and hideous we must be. To these people, I just have to say: HOLD THE PHONE. Look, the time when a woman is most likely to be cranky and annoyed in relation to her period is right BEFORE. It’s called PMS, as in PRE-Menstrual Syndrome, not RNWIABS (Right Now While I Am Bleeding Syndrome). I don’t assume to speak for ALL WOMEN, but if the syndrome has the word “pre-” right there in it, you can be fairly certain that it is generally the time BEFORE the period that leads to crankiness and moodiness, and that the bleeding is actually a relief from feeling like a rancid bitch. Indeed, the bleeding part itself is not exactly a fairy tale ride on a unicorn, but by this age, most women have figured out how to deal with it, and so joking about how awful women are in general during their periods is not only totally NOT FUNNY, it’s factually inaccurate (if there’s one thing I like about my jokes, it’s that they be factually accurate). AND FURTHER, most of us have also figured out how to manage our PMS, so you can take your not funny joke elsewhere.
I have lived with women I was both sleeping with and not sleeping with, and the “sleeping with” part of that was not an indicator of whether or not we ended up cycling together. Sometimes we did, and sometimes we didn’t, and sometimes we would for a little while, and then someone would go on vacation, or start taking the Pill, or stop taking it, and then we wouldn’t be, and honestly no one really cared too much one way or the other. In the four years I’ve been with J (and more precisely, the three we’ve been living together) we have never cycled together. In all honesty, it might be easier if we DID, just so we could get it all out of the way at the same time (see above: not a fairy tale unicorn ride), but that was never the case. So I (and I assume J as well) never thought about the impact my pregnancy might have on cycles (specifically hers, because… well shit. If I have to explain to you why only hers, then perhaps you shouldn’t be reading this blog).
We didn’t notice anything at first, until we got back from our trip to Mexico in December, and J waited all of January without the appearance of her special visitor. Now, the only reason this is interesting in any way is that, previous to this, J was a paragon of regularity. You could set a clock by her cycle, while mine tended to drift all over the place, sometimes 27 days, sometimes 32. And now, all of a sudden, she up and skipped an entire cycle. And then a period, and now, just three weeks later, another.
So, y’all- it’s my fault. My pregnant self is pumping so much hormonal mayhem into the very air we share that I messed up her cycle. It’s a fascinating and unintended consequence of lesbian pregnancy neither one of us even considered when we thought about being parents.
The other surprising thing might just be easily explained by the pregnancy brain, but every time I make this mistake I am shocked by it all over again. An illustrative example works best here:
J and I were talking about colic the other day- we’d heard about it, obviously, but didn’t really know what it was, or what caused it. Dr. Google to the rescue, which was both reassuring and depressing- in that they don’t know what causes colic (so, that’s reassuring, in that there’s nothing we’re doing to CAUSE IT), and you just have to put up with it until it passes (which is depressing). The part I found most interesting was that the primary indicator for colic is whether either parent was colicky as a baby.
So I, in all seriousness, turned to J and asked her if she’d been colicky as a baby.
Let that sink in for a minute. Maybe two. I know, it took me something like five minutes to figure out where exactly I’d gone wrong.
I probably wouldn’t have figured it out at all, except J was looking at me like I’d grown a second head.
Fine. I didn’t figure it out. J looked at me, eyebrows cocked, and said, “Uhhhh, it probably doesn’t matter if I was colicky as a baby or not.” And here’s where I blame the pregnancy brain, because I STILL DIDN’T GET IT. She should have just flicked me in the forehead, but instead she gently reminded me that she’s not genetically related to our child, so whether or not she was colicky was of absolutely no importance whatsoever. Ooooops.
Although I can’t come up with a second example (from now on out, I am blaming every stupid thing I do on pregnancy brain. We’ll see how that pans out after I give birth), I know it’s not the first time I’ve made a similar error. I consider myself a generally intelligent person, but I have repeatedly “forgotten” that J is not a genetic donor to this fetus (aside: I believe the technology exists to fuse two eggs together, so maybe two genetically paired lesbian moms is not that far off the mark). Parenting is some weird shit.
I am sure that as we get farther along, more differences in parenting between straight couples and lesbian couples will be come apparent, but those two… well, that I wasn’t expecting. I’m sure it won’t be the last thing.