Currently

Hey all,

Thought I would copy this idea from my friend over at freckles in the fog.

Just a little window into our day today:

loving: the trains and how close we live to them. Today the little one and I took the purple train, the red train, the green train, AND the orange train. The best part is that I think I got more excited than she did. It was such a fun adventure and included a trip to a playground along the charles river that we had never been to before and has super fun exactly-the-right-sized play structures.

reading: postpartum doula reading continues. Right now, its LLL’s Mother Multiples as I prepare for my first ppd gig for two of my best friends (in case you can’t tell from the book title, they will be having twins). It is really a wonderful book as it realistically discusses the challenges of multiples, but also discusses ways to be intervention free during birth as well as some of the cool ways in which twins help each other out as they learn how to breastfeed. My favorite examples is how one twin might be a stronger breastfeeder than the other, and that twin will help with milk production while the other one figures it out. Pretty cool.

watching: most of my tv watching is online, so tomorrow I look forward to another episode of project runway. Not quiet as good as cooking reality shows, but so many bitchy queers, its hard not to love it. Of course always with a critical eye :). Also re-watching Ugly Betty, because hello?!? it is the best. Can we discuss Justin’s development at some point?

thinking about: turning to hit the mark. We always go to the Boston Workmen’s Circle for the high holidays. It is so lovely and reflective and reminds us to think about whats important for the new year. We don’t so much recite a list of sins as thinking about how we can better “hit the mark” during the next year, specifically around how we treat each other and how we work towards social justice.

stressing about: the little one’s hitting. Will post more about this one at some point. It means being with our friends can be stressful at times. I’m trying to let her and her friends figure out how to communicate best, but sometimes it means being on top of her, a lot, to make sure she doesn’t hurt other kids. SO stressful.

looking forward to: two new babies in our lives (see reading above), as well as an old and good friends wedding out in the catskills. The timing of said babies will determine whether or not we go to said wedding. Either way both are wonderful!

making me happy: long and unplanned days with the little one. Her giggle, her super toothy grin, and her kisses.

till next time,

Rachel

Consensual Parenting

Hello friends. Sorry it has been so long. Lots of cooking and things to talk about. For now, a parenting topic.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what consent means in the context of parenting. We live in a community that talks about consent a lot, and about how consent is not the absence of “no” it is the presence of “yes.”

Now that our daughter is over a year, they say that their “needs” and “wants” are no longer the same thing. But what does that look like? And aren’t her wants still important?

This has come up as we have begun the process of night weaning. The great thing about attachment parenting is that it is all about what is best for the family. It was getting to the point where having our daughter in our room, and nursing her to bed, and then nursing her whenever she woke up, and then having her in our bed for most of the night… well, you can see where this is going. It wasn’t working for us.

And thinking about consent, what does that mean about my body and doing extended breastfeeding with my daughter? I was starting to resent the night nursing and feeling like I wanted my body back, at least during the night.  So saying no to my daughter at times, about my body, at night, feels a little like getting some autonomy back. It also means finding other ways of comforting her during the night. Whether that means my wife going in, or me snuggling with her in the rocking chair, we are forming a new relationship.

Trying to put her down has been hard for all of us. We started without me in the room, and now both of us are trying to put her down and I’m trying to put her down without nursing at naptime. I always nurse her before sleep, but the idea is that she doesn’t fall asleep nursing and that we say “night night” to nursing and she knows she can nurse again in the morning. It doesn’t work to wrestle with her, and get her to lay down, it just helps to reiterate over and over that she can nurse in the morning and rock her and wait for her to ask to get in her crib.

This is what brought up this idea of consensual parenting. The nights when she goes to bed without screaming are nights when we do what she wants (other than nursing), be that giving her water, holding her, whatever it is, and then letting her decide when she is reading to lay down and rest. We can’t force her to sleep, but we can calm her down, set the environmental, and wait for that “yes.”

This is not the same as not setting boundaries. In fact, the biggest boundary we are setting right now is around my body and saying goodnight to breastfeeding. And we model boundaries all the time. But I think the idea of consent, of truly child-led parenting, and trusting that she knows what she needs, is a great way of thinking about it. This new attitude has allowed me to listen to her more and will hopefully lead to more peaceful nights.

Telling Our Reproductive Stories

I’ve been thinking lately about the importance of sharing our reproductive stories. By reproductive stories I mean how we decided to have children, how we did or did not get pregnant, how our babies came into the world, and how all of that impacts the kind of parents we are.

As queer parents we had to do a lot of planning. I often say to my wife that if everyone had the choice to plan their children as much as we did, the world would be a much better place.  We are lucky enough to have a known donor and were able to do everything at home (more on the joys of having a known donor in a later post). Ari is a true Turkey Baster baby (well…plastic medicine syringe). We then labored and birthed at home with two midwives and a close friend (who also married us) as our doula. We were so lucky to be able to make the choices we made and have them supported.

Now, enter the rest of the world. What do people know about how queer people, specifically two women, have babies? A movie or two? The L Word? There are not a lot of stories out there like ours, or with people like us at all. So what does this lead to? Two major assumptions:

One (most common): Where did we adopt her?

Two (less common): What medical facility did we use to inseminate?

I do not judge people who do either of those things, adopt, use the medical system to get pregnant, etc. However, I have a problem with the assumption that either of those things are our experience.  I realized lately that straight couples can sometimes have a similar experience. Folks assume that they a) gave birth to their babies, and b) that it was an easy process. I recently had an experience where a woman with twins asked me how my wife and I “got” Ari. I started off being pretty defensive and (I’ll admit) braggy about our process. A little while later she said that she had asked because her twins were adopted. I realized that by not talking about our reproductive stories, we isolate ourselves. She was asking not to be aggressive or making assumptions about me, but because she was hoping to find someone with a common experience. And because I assumed that she was being insensitive, I lost the opportunity to find commonality in the fact that we both share “alternative” reproductive stories.

So my new goal is to tell my story truthfully and often and trusting peoples best intentions.

What is your reproductive story?

Dream Feeding-My Favorite Feedings

Sorry it has been a million years. Between the holidays and the baby crawling and cruising, blogging has taken a WAY backseat. But here we go.

So my friend, over at frecklesinthefog turned me on to the idea of Dream Feeding way back in September. This is the idea that if the baby goes to bed at 8, she will be up at 12 to eat. And if I don’t go to bed till 10-10:30, this can be difficult. So why not feed her in her sleep when I go to bed at 10pm? The theory is that she will then sleep till maybe 1 or 2am. I haven’t done that this often, since she often wakes up once before we go to bed to eat. But lately she has been sleeping solidly when she goes down around 8. So I’ve begun Dream Feeding her. I’m not sure it works in terms of sleeping longer, but it has become one of my favorite feedings of the day. Here is why. I rarely get to watch her sleep now since she is sensitive to light as she is first falling asleep (either at night or for naps). So with the Dream Feeding, we have a little light on and I can watch her sleeping. She is so peaceful and beautiful, it is truly magically. Secondly, not only do I get to watch her sleeping, I get to watch her nursing. The way she puts her little hand on my breast and snuggles up to me is just precious. I also relish this time as my wife often falls asleep next to us and so I get to look at both of my loves so sweet and peaceful. I am starting to look forward to these feedings, both for the extended sleep, and the ability to see and appreciate my bonding with the baby.

I nurse our daughter down to sleep. For naps, for bedtime, that is the way it is. I have stopped worrying about this and have accepted that it is what is normal for us and that is totally fine. It can be inconvenient if I need to be away, but babies are not meant to be convenient. I recently came across this quote in the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

“You may hear the advice that letting you baby fall asleep at the breast creates a ‘bad habit’ because it sets up ‘undesirable sleep associations’ that require you to be there for every nap and bedtime. That’s just not true. The natural design is that babies, nurse, and often they fall asleep at the breast. You don’t ‘teach’ them this, and it’s not a bad habit. It’s just normal” (page 231).

So, that being said, much of our nursing ends up being in the dark as I am trying to get her to go to sleep. Recently I have been offering the breast more during the day (with the fantasy that she will sleep more at night) and to sooth any fussing. This means we have also been doing more “conversational nursing.” This is my other favorite kind of feeding. This is when we talk and play and bond and nurse all at the same time. This can involve her playing with my necklace or my mouth. It often involves me smiling at her playfulness and her stopping nursing for a second to smile up at me. She will often make happy moaning eating noises. These are often short, but wonderful little moments of reconnecting throughout her very busy and social day.

I wanted to share these nursing experiences because I believe these are the kinds of behaviors that mothers often don’t discuss with each other, especially as our babies get older and society believes they should be sleeping through the night and eating mainly solid food. These two nursing experiences are good reminders of the way in which breastfeeding is more than nutrition, it is an important way of connecting.

Masculine and Feminine in a two mom house

I want to talk about gender expression, clothing, and raising a girl in a two mom household. This will be a topic I revisit often and have been thinking about a lot lately.

I am constantly reminded that the way we do or do not identify our own gender is often different from how we are perceived. My wife and I are often read as Butch/Femme when we are out in the world. However, neither of us identify with either of those terms (though I did just come across the expression low-femme (as opposed to high-femme) and I think I might start using it to describe myself).

So, despite how we identify, we are seen as masculine and feminine out in the world, based on how we dress. And our daughter might see us that way. It brings up questions for me about how we present those different gender presentations to her, how we make room for her own gender exploration, and how we value both masculine and feminine, without falling into two traps.

One trap: she is a girl and many feminine/girly/pink/princess things will be pushed on her. She will learn lessons out in the world about what it means to be a girl, many of which are very limiting. However, I want to make sure that we don’t devalue feminine things. Pretty dresses are nice sometimes and tutus are so much fun. So I want to make sure she can explore and play with those things without feeling like she has to.

The other trap is the dichotomy of gender. I don’t want her to think you have to be one or another, and I sometimes worry that even though she has two moms, she will somehow see us as fitting into these two roles, masculine and feminine. Which is enforced even more by the fact that her more feminine looking mom is a stay at home mom who likes to bake. I want her to know she can be anything, and that gender presentation is something to test out, play with, and have fun with.

Future posts:

Hair, gender presentation, and gender play

Butch/Femme: the good, the bad, and the ugly

-Rachel

For more thoughts on butch/femme and amazing queer beautifulness, watch this Ivan Coyote video. It makes me cry.

Is that a boy or a girl?

I have recently had some encounters that made me think more about gender, babies, and pronouns.

I was sitting on the bus a few days ago and the person next to me was interacting with the baby. She used he/him/his for awhile and then asked me if the baby was a boy or a girl. I said that she was a girl and this person proceeded to tell me that at first she thought that the baby looked like a boy but now she could clearly see that the baby looked like a girl. I was shocked. When I was telling someone about it later I came up with the best response: “How can you tell she looks like a girl? Is her vagina showing?”

Because to me, at this age, really when someone asks, they are asking about genitalia. Because seriously, the gender socialization has only begun, there aren’t different hormones like during puberty, so what difference does it make? And she isn’t old enough yet to make any of her own decisions about her gender identity and presentation.

But I am also seeing that people ask because it dictates how they will respond to the baby. Many times it is the first question people ask and then follow up with, “oh she is so cute,” or “what a beautiful baby.” These things are all true, of course, but what would there response be if I said she was a boy? How handsome? How strong? What else?

This came up with my “moms who lunch the other day” as we constantly, I think without thinking about it, comment on how cute our babies are. One of the moms was commenting on how cute my baby was and then corrected herself by pointing out that she is also smart and clever. True, she is already smart, clever, brilliant, and perfect. I think the earlier we get in the habit of using language that reinforces positive personality characteristics, as opposed to looks, the better. See this awesome article for more on that.

I think having a baby truly embodies the way in which people use gender and gender norms to relate to one another. It is as if folks don’t know how to relate to her, or me, until they figure her out. It is also very interesting when folks call her a boy and then I use she/her/hers and they are so apologetic. As if getting it wrong is the worst thing in the world and I will be horribly offended. Why is that?

This is the world I constantly walk around in with my baby. It gets exhausting and frustrating, not to mention depressing when I think about her future. So it was a breath of fresh air to go to my volunteer meeting with her the other night. At the beginning of each meeting we say our names and what pronouns we use. I introduced myself and my pronouns. And at the end my friend said the baby’s name and that “the baby would let us know when the baby decides on their pronouns.”

That is the world I want her to live in.

-Rachel

Queerspawn

Queerspawn: children of queers… that simple, right? Probably not…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this term and what it means to others, what it means to us, and what it may mean to our daughter someday.

I think I first heard the term in college, but immediately associated it with a good friend from high school. He was raised by many parents and has turned into one of the greatest men I know. I think he embodies queerspawn in a way that I hope our daughter will someday. I remember one of the first times we hung out, he put on red high heals and danced around the room to a Tina Turner song. In retrospect, I don’t think this had anything to do with his own sexual identity or even gender identity, but embodied a sort of freedom and non-normative rolemodeling around gender/sexuality.

The reality of the world is that disenfranchised and oppressed groups create their own culture in order to survive and thrive. Queers have done the same. I think what I have learned from my friend is that he will always be a member of queer culture, regardless of who he dates or ends up with, because that is the culture within which he was raised.

This onsie is from our queerspawn friend...

As I think about our daughter’s future, I hope that she will always find a home in our queer family, our queer community, and the queer culture at large. I think that is what makes queerspawn.

I hope that this identity and connection to culture will help her deal with some of the harassment she will get for having two moms. I hope it will help her deal with her own gender and sexual development. I hope it gives her a lens through which to view the world that both acknowledges the realities of oppression and empowers her to create change.

See my friend’s amazing post about being thankful for turkey basters here.