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Jan 30 2014

The Calm Before the Same-Sex Parenting Storm

By at 11:52 am

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My wife and I are planning to start trying to conceive in March, and suddenly, two months or less out, I find myself trying to freeze time. I don’t mean feeling immobilized or freaking out and not wanting that time to come. I mean that I am living in and enjoying every moment until then.

I’ve spent the past couple years agonizing over when we could have a baby. Not every second, of course. We were occupied with house-hunting, moving in and settling in, my conversion to Judaism. A lot of wonderful things have been happening, and we’ve had a great first couple of years of marriage. But I’ve also been acutely aware throughout of our financial struggles and goals as well as the complicated and expensive process of family-building for us as a same-sex couple, and that’s kept conception always just past the horizon. Now we have a realistic time frame and it’s right around the corner!

A first consultation and then following up on some initial fertility issues kept us busy and distracted throughout late fall and early winter. Now we’re just kind of…waiting. Waiting to get a little more money for this very expensive process so we don’t have to dip into savings or charge it or go on a payment plan. Waiting for our upcoming mandatory counseling session so we can be approved to order sperm.

And in the meantime, I am reveling in the smallest, sweetest details of domestic marital bliss.

Last weekend we spent most of Saturday with our only friends that are a same-sex parenting couple, our mentors of a sort. We had made a Tot Shabbat date for that morning and did a really sweet Tu Bishvat workshop with them and their two boys. We had a great time and they were so eager to talk to us about where we are on our path to pregnancy that they suggested we have lunch together afterwards at an Indian restaurant a few villages away. We spent HOURS there in a booth overlooking the lake, chatting with them and interacting with their young sons, ages two and four.

They gave us a lot of helpful advice, but also asked a lot of questions we don’t yet have answers to. “Do you know which vaccinations you want to give your child and which you might want to decline?” “Are you going to save the baby’s cord blood?” “How ‘natural’ or not are you going to go with labor and delivery?” And more!

I felt embarrassed for a while that our answers were mostly, “Um…we started talking about that a little but haven’t gone into depth. We’re kind of focusing on the intense getting-pregnant process right now and then we can talk through that stuff more once we’re pregnant.” It made me feel unprepared. But now I realize that people have been (and still are!) getting pregnant without planning it for THOUSANDS OF YEARS, and they manage to start planning this kind of thing during pregnancy. I know this goes against everything our baby-obsessed, mommy-centered “BUY [INTO] THIS NOW if you want to be the perfect mother with the healthiest, most well-adjusted child!!!” culture, but we just aren’t thinking about all that yet. And I think it’s okay to start having a lot of those conversations when the time comes to actually figure it out. Not only do we not need to know how we feel about every single thing before it’s an issue, but actually living it may lead to constant re-evaluation anyway.

We have been on the same page with pretty much everything we HAVE discussed. I’m not worried about how we’ll iron all that out. If we disagreed on something now, would we just forego having a child because we can’t agree? Of course not. We’d figure it out just like we do everything else in life, by hearing each other out, doing our research, and coming to a consensus, so that’s what we’ll do as parents-to-be and as parents. With all our pregnancy preparations, we just don’t have the brain space available right now to determine every move we’ll make in our child’s life!

We’ve kept our baby preparations in general to a minimum out of an unspoken consensus that we want our marriage to be about more than baby excitement. As wonderful as that is, it’s going to consume the next 20 or more years of our life. This time before is precious and things will never be the same! I know all too well how I sentimentalize memories of past stages of my life. I know that for the rest of my life I will look back on that first few years of marriage before baby with much wistfulness, and with a wish to be back in that moment and feel it again just for a day. I’m like that with childhood, with college, with being in my own first apartment, everything. I am queen of appreciation of the moment and what’s around me while at the same time missing everything that’s behind me. I get very attached to people, places, and stages of life and it’s always difficult to let go even when I’m happy where I am. I don’t want to wish away these last few months out of eagerness for baby when I know EVERYTHING IS ABOUT TO CHANGE FOREVER.

I can practically see the clock ticking down to pregnancy. It’s so exciting that my insides are jumping and I can’t wait to get started!!! But I’m also so very aware that this is (hopefully) our last few months of calm. As soon as I see that plus sign on a pregnancy test, it’s lights, camera, ACTION. How we spend our weekends and what we shop for will change. The books I read during my commute to work will change. The content of our conversations will be vastly different. There will be a countdown on how many weekends we have to just relax in bed together, go to any event at temple that we want to without a second thought, travel anywhere with five minutes’ notice and not spend a half hour preparing a bag and a baby.

I’m basking in the joy and contentment of the simplest moments right now – every meal together, every cuddle, every peaceful Shabbat afternoon, every intimate just-the-two-of-us glance, conversation, flirty joke.

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