I haven’t spent a Christmas with my family in Colorado for 6 years, since La and I got serious and I started travelling with her to Indiana for the holiday. We went to Indy for every Christmas because we lived in the same state as my family and spent time with them regularly (and we could very easily have a Christmas celebration prior to the actual holiday) and didn’t often have the opportunity to see all of L’s family. My mom was not happy about this, but mostly kept her mouth shut about it until I got pregnant, and then was especially vocal after Ansel was born, to the point of accosting me in April, at just 3 weeks postpartum, about where we’d be for a holiday more than 6 months away. Every time she brought it up, we reminded her that when we moved (and it was always when, not if), we’d start alternating Christmases between CO and IN. And so, now that we live in Washington, it was time to make good on that promise.
So, last Friday we flew out to Colorado to spend the weekend with my family and, hopefully, see at least a few of our friends. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I’d gotten used to L’s family and the Christmas gatherings and traditions in Indiana. L asked me what my family did for Christmas eve and Christmas day and I could only tell her what we did 7 years ago. I was excited though. Because while I loved being with L and was used to how things happened in Indy, I had also missed being with my family over those years and was looking forward to being ‘home.’
Yesterday on our way back to Seattle I said to L, “I wish we’d gone to Indiana.”And, “at least we are off the hook for two years now.” So, it maybe didn’t go as well as planned.
- We stayed with my brother and sister-in-law and Ansel played constantly with his cousin and it was sweet and (mostly) wonderful. They are about 20 months apart, so actually a great age to be learning from each other. It was really lovely to watch A follow L around and learn new words, new sounds, and new ways to play.
- We spent a long, lovely day with a couple of our besties, who we miss terribly. We met up with them on Monday, at lunch at one of my very favorite places (The Denver Biscuit Company, where they make the most amazing cinnamon rolls and biscuit sandwiches and I sometimes need to take a moment of silence in honor of how delicious the food is.) Then we hung out at their house all day – A jumping around, dancing, loving on them. It felt so wonderful to be seen in that particular way.
- We had a nice dinner with some other friends on Monday evening, and got our cups filled a little with love and community, which is one thing we don’t have in the same way (yet) in Seattle.
- We got to go to the Christmas Eve Eve family service at my church, which felt so amazing. I also have not yet found a good church in Seattle, so I was hungry for that community. Bonus: Ansel stole the impromptu Christmas pagaent with his adorable antics.
THE LESS GOOD
- While staying with my brother and SIL meant having an entire level (of their tri-level house) to ourselves which was awesome, they don’t have a crib or other toddler friendly sleeping space for A. We borrowed my parents pack’n’play, which is either a miniature version or our kid is officially too big to sleep in a PnP. After night #1 of him constantly running his face into the wall and clearly being very uncomfortable, we built him a pseudo-toddler bed out of a sectional couch, which gave him a bigger sleeping space with some enclosure. This was only slightly better, in terms of helping him sleep well. Night #2 (Xmas eve) he woke up at 3am (and stayed up until an unexpected nap at 10am) which meant we all woke up at 3am; night #3 he slept better, but still woke 3 times and needed nursing and rocking to fall back asleep (something he doesn’t get at home, but was basically necessary given the constraints of the space) and night #4 he woke up at 11pm and didn’t fall back to sleep until 2:30am, after I resigned myself to sleeping half sitting up in the couch area with him. Basically, none of us slept well at all for virtually the entire trip. On Monday night I was sobbing thinking I might never sleep again.
- On Christmas day (when we all woke up at 3am, remember) We opened Santa gifts at my brother’s house in the morning, then went over to my parent’s house. I knew it was going to be exhausting/frustrating because my mom goes waaaaay overboard with gifts (despite being asked over and over again not to . . .see here for more context) and when we stopped by their house on day #1, I spotted a card addressed to Ansel Mylastname (not his name, Ansel Mylastname-La’slastname) and knew that we needed to address it. So, I did. I said, “Oh, I didn’t know if this was for him because that’s not his name.” And she acted like she was confused, and when I told her, well – his name is Mylastname-La’slastname and when you don’t put La’s last name there it invalidate’s her as a parent and makes us feel like you don’t really see her as his mother in the same way and also we have asked you not to do this, like, so many times and to also please not refer to his donor as his dad. And she cried and told us of course I see you both as moms and I didn’t mean to and by the grace of God I was able to keep my cool and just say: “Then do better. Your words are harmful. If you don’t mean it, do better. Try harder.” Then I tried to move on because I don’t want to give her room or excuse to be a martyr about this kind of thing. I said what needed to be said and now we can move along. She did better with the gifts, although we still had to have a giant box of stuff shipped because it wouldn’t fit in our bags (which we brought half empty to accomodate . . .)
- After my parent’s house, we went back to my brother and SILs. A had taken an poorly timed nap (thanks to the 3am wake-up) which we’d had to wake him up from to both participate in the gift opening at Nana and Papa’s, and to try and get a second nap to happen (that we could also partake in.) When we arrived at B&SILs, they were all upstairs trying to nap (my brother got drunk the night before while we were playing games and my SIL was with our nephew), so we decided to let A play quietly downstairs for a bit until he was tired again. An hour later, our nephew came down the stairs and announced “Mommy said I could come play!” So, A and L were both downstairs playing. I assumed that my SIL would come down (I knew my brother wouldn’t, that’s for another post!) pretty soon after but . . .she never did. Two hours later, when we all needed to start getting ready to go to the final celebration of the day, they finally roused themselves from their naps. We never had the opportunity to try and get A down for another nap because we were forced to watch our nephew as well. I was so exhausted I had to sit up in a kitchen chair because anything more comfortable and I would have passed out. Neither of them thanked us or asked us to watch him, though my SIL did apologize for falling back asleep.
- On our final night, my Brother, SIL and nephew came back to the house after having been out all day (we spent the day with friends, they went downtown to a movie and dinner) and my brother was blustery and angry. When I asked him what happened, he pointed to my (3 year old) nephew and said, “That kid happened.” And then proceeded to tell me all about what a pain in the ass my nephew had been while they were waiting for an HOUR to eat at some fancy chain downtown. It was awful to watch. L is a sweet, very well behaved, quite calm 3 year old who probably had a totally fucking reasonable and developmentally appropriate response to a shitty situation. And my brother stood in front of him and told us how awful he was. It was terrible. My SIL is great and very loving and understanding with L, and let’s him have his feelings and be the sweet, sensitive kiddo he is. But she also let’s my brother be the douchecanoe that he is. Mostly, I felt sad for L and really, really glad to be going home. My mom has been after my brother and SIL to have another baby, which they quite adamently don’t want (my SIL would like to but only if my bro is on board, and he really REALLY isn’t) – this made it clear why it’s probably really important that they don’t have another. My brother doesn’t have the patience or investment in the one kid he does have and my SIL has to manage my brother’s shitty emotional management already. I think people should parent as many children as they want and think they can parent well. It’s pretty clear where my brother lands on that.
And finally . . .L went in for her first beta yesterday (Weds) and it came back at . . . 492.9 MIU/m! She goes back tomorrow to see if it’s rising, but things are definitely looking good for Tiny! After the second beta, we’ll have an US with the clinic at 7-8 weeks, and then graduate to a regular OB/midwife. Unlike me, L is still unsure who she wants to handle her care or really much about her pregnancy and birth . . .other than in a hospital and with an epidural.
We are both incredibly shocked that it worked on the first try. And, even more so, the first try that also got kind of screwed up. There’s some irony in the fact that here, where we hit the proverbial fertility/queer conception lottery, we have the insurance benefits to pay for more invasive and expensive options. The last try, when we really thought we’d just get lucky with a turkey baster, we had to escalate to IVF. A friend asked if I was “mad” that L had conceived so easily. . . and someone else mentioned they’d wondered as well. Of course I’m NOT because 1) it’s not a competition and 2) this baby is my baby too which means this fertility/conception process is also mine (just as my trying to get pregnant was L’s experience) And I wouldn’t wish my process on anyone, least of all my beloved. I think, perhaps, if L had gone first and had an easy time of it and then, afterwards, I struggled – maybe I would have some sense of resentment or jealousy or pain. But I did it, I had my experience and we got through it and we have the cutest child imaginable, so it feels very much like water under the bridge. And, if/when I do want to have another, there are 4 tested embryos to choose from (plus that fertility coverage that will now have nary a dent in it and be able to pay for a FET!)
I do feel rushed. I expected to have more time – even if it was just a month or so more – to contemplate this whole huge thing. So, I feel a little taken aback. I’m not scared or regretful, just slightly overwhelmed. Every part of this process has gone quicker than we expected or anticipated – from getting started on the testing and process on the day of our consult to ending up pregnant with a converted IUI. So the feelings I thought I’d have months to sort out are here now, needing to be addressed.
I’m excited to see what things are like on this side of the experience, being the NGP. I don’t think I feel loss, really, but it is harder to feel connected to it all right now. I know L has been having a lot of anxiety prior to the beta and because she’s having cramping. Of course, I did my best to reassure her that cramping is normal while also not being unrealistic about things. I realized how much easier it is to be calm and confident on this side of things. She also asked me last night, “what’s your experience of a pregnant wife?” and I realized I hadn’t thought about it, really – not in the depth that she had, and not with the intensity I though about pregnancy when I was a week deep in my own. It’s not that I don’t think about the fact that we are going to have another kid – I do, lots! – it’s just a different kind of connection to the whole thing. It isn’t rooted in my body, and so the experience has been more cerebral this time around. So far, anyway.
I’ll keep y’all updated with numbers and the deets. Also, we are totally weirded out by the idea that we don’t know the sex of this embryo because when you do IVF you get accustomed to weird shit like knowing the sex of your potential child before you’re even sure you’re pregnant.