Lesbian Mother’s Day

Having two mom’s makes the whole Mother’s Day situation interesting. First off, is daycare or preschool or school going to let my kid make two Mother’s Day crafts? Luckily we have twins so they each make one and it works out. I know lesbian couples who’ve had to fight with the school system to allow their child to make two Mother’s Day cards.

Then there’s also just the logistics of Mother’s Day with twins. There’s no Dad to sort of coordinate the “Mom” having a special day. It’s special for both of us. And the boys are two. So really what am I expecting? A hot yoga class and take-out that my parents are buying for us.

Not a bad way to spend the day, but surrounded and covered by two year old snotty nosed eye crusted boys is how we spend every day! The lesbian’s I know actually say Mother’s Day is not a big deal in their families. Likely because they’ve hit the same snags we have, and over time it’s just not developed into much of a holiday.

For many in the LGBT community, such as my wife, it is also a painful reminder that we don’t have her Mom in our lives because of her Mom’s religious beliefs. The boys are missing an entire side of the family and my wife has been an orphan since the age of twenty. This year, it’s also a reminder that my Nana died in November. Bittersweet is a way I like to describe Mother’s Day around here, and in many LGBT households.

For me, I’m a mom every day. I worked really hard to be a Mom, and I don’t regret a second of it. My kids are not at an age where they have a clue about Mother’s Day. Except that they want the cards they made us, likely to destroy, and I keep saying no they are Mama’s and Mommy’s and I keep being told, “No dat’s decie’s and Chackie’s” (Declan and Jackson).

We do the Mom thing 24/7 around here. Kissing boo boo’s, putting drops in green eyes for pink eye, holding them when they are sad or feverish or just looking for some loving. We give baths, pick up the 35 lb two year old like it’s nothing, read Goodnight Pirate at bedtime, and a million other things in the day to day.

We love being Mom’s, but at this point Mother’s Day will be just another day. But perhaps with some tears over the Mom’s we have lost by choice or not.

I’ve been asked in the past when or how I made my “lifestyle choice” by religious assholes. Obviously it offended me. But the older I get, the more discrimination I witness, hear about, and experience, the more I think this is a choice.

It was a choice for me to marry my wife. Thank-you Supreme Court. It was a choice for my mother-in-law to never be in our lives. It was my wife’s choice to live authentically as herself at age twenty knowing she would be leaving behind everything and everyone she ever knew. It was my choice to sleep with her. To fall in love with her. To continue to share my life with her on a daily basis. And it sure as hell was a choice for me to choose to be a Mama with her as my partner Mommy. It’s a choice to raise our sons in a two mom household surrounded by love.

Mother’s Day means different things to different people. Don’t create assumptions within the LGBT community about what it means to us as individuals. We have all experienced pain and unfortunately it has often been at the hands of those who are supposed to love us most.

For my wife and I, like I said, take-out and hot yoga. And two year old twins. And my Mom and Dad. For that we are lucky and thankful.

Post-Partum Hormonal Crazy

I see a lot of women for post-partum stuff. I say stuff because it’s almost never just straight depression. Often it’s anxiety, high high levels of anxiety. It’s anxiety that something’s going to happen to the baby, anxiety that something will happen to their partner, anxiety they are going to be bad parents, finances, work, etc. They often can’t sleep and they often feel very irritable. They love their kids and they feel horrible that they are so anxious and irritable. Then they feel even worse when they ask how long it’s going to last and I tell them maybe a year. Because honestly I’ve seen it last that long. Medication can take the edge off, and help with sleep, but the mood stuff can literally last a year. I don’t sugar coat it.

When I was post-partum I was breastfeeding premature twins and recovering from a C-section. So yeah. I was a little nuts. I was anxious I was tearful and I was literally overcome with this new emotion of love for these little beings who were completely dependent on me. Literally. They were allergic to formula. Breast milk was the only option.

I’ve thought a lot about that time period and I see Mom’s through it, and then they have toddlers and that brings a whole new level of crazy. Toddlers still wake up at night when they have to pee or when they peed through their diaper or if they get scared or if they are sick. So literally we still don’t sleep through the night ever and now we have these bigger beings who are still dependent on us but who are trying to be independent at the most inconvenient moments.

So these mom’s come in when they have toddlers and are like “I’m still crazy.” They are less crazy then before. They are sleeping better, maybe having sex with their partners, and less anxious but still emotional. Still crying at Peter Pan if they have boys and worried about their girl becoming too girly or too feminist. The more I’ve thought about it and the more I’ve experienced it the more I think it’s not just about being post-partum.

I remember talking to a friend when the boys were a month old and saying that I couldn’t even internalize the immense amount of emotion I experienced in the last month because it would break me. I went from having a partner who I loved to having not just one but two little people who were stealing my heart piece by piece from the time they were implanted in the womb. I think over the past two and a half years at random times pieces of that intense love hits me and is slowly internalized.

Over time I am processing the love of a mother for her son. Times two. But it’s not that it ever becomes manageable. I just become more accustomed to having it around. Because I’m always afraid. Afraid something will happen at daycare, they will fall off the big slide at the playground, they will choke when they eat an apple, and I don’t know, a million other things. The fear and anxiety can be overwhelming if I really pause and think about it. The fear for their futures and for their relationship with each other and with us.

New Mom’s I think see other mom’s and maybe their own Mom’s and see them being totally calm and collected and not obsessed and anxious over everything having to do with their child. Because with time it becomes less present, less intense, perhaps more manageable. But even at my age I know if I’m upset and I tell my mom she will be upset too. So it’s not like getting through the first year makes everything all better. It just maybe makes the intense emotions less intense, perhaps better able to be compartmentalized. But then the damn kids start moving and all these new anxieties start.

In general as humans we aren’t good at vocalizing how we feel and emotion can be seen as weakness. But I know Mom’s are having them, because I am, and because they are in my office crying every day.

Instead of pretending life is great and going by the facebook family of four smiling with no problems, maybe start talking to other Mom’s about real life. Real feelings. Because you will likely find validation and that the addition of a life to a family let alone two at a time is hard, intense, and literally can make you feel crazy. And that’s okay.

Lost Boys

Before I became I mom I could watch Peter Pan and Newsies with no issue. I even found them enjoyable. But since I had the boys, I find that I can’t get past the lost boys. In Peter Pan there are these little dudes dressed in animal costumes and they all are yearning for a Mother. Newsies…children working so they don’t starve. Most are homeless and orphans.

Those movies literally break me a little bit inside. I can’t stop looking at my sons and touching them and hugging them and kissing their heads, telling them I love them. Then sometimes my eyes well up, and Declan looks at me like I’m nuts. Jackson likes to ignore anything going on around him. Then I have to walk away.

If you aren’t familiar with Newsies it’s about boys who sell newspapers who go on strike. There are great songs, and in one they chant “Strike, Strike, Strike,” so now my two year olds run around pumping their fists saying “Stike stike stiiiiiikkkke”. It’s funny because I grew up watching Newsies and was totally obsessed with it also. But it’s not funny because then I just picture my sons alone and starving and fighting to survive.

I know it still happens today because I see it in my work. I talk with kids who have been beaten and who maybe still will be going home to face being beaten. I talk with kids who make a choice between being homeless, going into the system, or going home to be abused. I talk to adults who have survived a childhood of abuse and/or homelessness and neglect. These are our neighbors and our friends who maintain a careful facade to avoid interaction with authorities. Then when I do call authorities they often either refuse to investigate or investigate and do nothing preaching family unity and maintenance.

Some people survive being lost and eventually find themselves and becomes these amazingly resilient individuals who do amazing things with their lives. Or even just ordinary things. These are people you see at Christmas parties or perhaps are your kid’s teacher or coach. We are all surrounded by survivors. I know because I have the privilege of hearing their stories. So often I find myself saying, “Look at how far you’ve come. You are epic.”

But there are those who are lost who remain lost, who perhaps get into drugs and live and die on the street.

The family of two lesbian mom’s and their adopted children who drove off a cliff. Their history is that of failures by the system to come to the rescue of their children. Could you not see the fear and anguish in that viral photo of their son clutching a police officer? So close to help, but so far.

For now, my sons will continue to watch Newsies but I’m taking a break from Peter Pan. The skunk costume gets me. I hug them every chance I get, and I pray they will never be lost.

Mornings with two 2 year old’s.

Every week day morning I am home with the boys. Just as every evening my wife is home with them. I like to complain that mornings are worse because we are on a time crunch to get out the door. But really any time with twin two year olds is a total shit show.

So just snippets from this morning. From the hours of 7 AM when they wake up through 9 AM when we walk out the door.

Me- holding 4 shirts- Jackson needs options. Declan is already dressed standing next to me. Jackson is about five feet away having a meltdown because I took off his pajama shirt and he doesn’t want to put on a new shirt. Me- “This one?” holding up each shirt individually, Jackson with tears, “No!” “No!” Declan- grabs a shirt “Jacky dis one, Jacky dis one,” Proceeds to run after Jackson with a shirt in his hand. Jackson cries and screams and runs away from Declan. I’m still holding up the other three shirts telling Declan to stop chasing Jackson. “Declan, baby, thank-you, Mama’s got this,” I might as well be talking to air, because they are still screaming running in circles with Declan holding up the damn shirt. Then they stop running and screaming both end up in my lap. Then Jackson is pulling at Declan’s shirt, and Declan babbles at him, and they somehow communicate to me that Jackson needs Declan’s shirt and Declan needs the shirt in his hand. I don’t know how honestly, because they don’t speak in sentences. It’s like some weird twin language that I understand sometimes. So I unbutton and take off Declan’s shirt. Put it on Jackson. Put the other shirt on Declan.

This is all after we have established that “Mommy work” (I’m Mama) “Mommy work.” Instead of “Hi Mama,” Every morning it’s “Good morning babies,” “Mommy work?” “Yes Mommy’s at work.” Then one of them might cry or we might be okay and move onto getting dressed.

At the table for breakfast- “Wa wa Mama” “You want water?” “yes.” “please?” “pwees”. I get their two little cups, fill them up, give them each a cup, the look at the cups (they are exactly the same), then they have this whole conversation between each other, sounds like “Jacky,” “Decy, wa wa,” “Jacky, wa wa, No, Mama, pwees.” Then they hand each other their cups to switch them. Then they sit back and sip them. Apparently I gave them the wrong cups. But like seriously. Exactly the same.

Still at the table- “Ca” “Ca” “Rara Rara No!” “Ca Ca”. “Damnit, Rajha get down, guys the black one is Maddy the white one is Raja, not Cat and Rajha.” They scream “Ca” at Maddy, and “Rara” at Rajha every time one of the cats jumps on the table where they aren’t supposed to be. Every morning. Damn cats.

While we eat breakfast I always turn on some music. I have a playlist mixed of my music and kids music. Finally a Mama song comes on. “Mama no, Moana, Moana,” “Yeah but guys this is Pink, Pink is like one of the best artists…” “Mama Moana, Moana, pwees.” Me muttering under my breath that I can’t even listen to one damn Pink song with my coffee as I fast forward to a Moana song.

Inevitably at some point…Jackson screams, “PEE PEE” “PEE PEE” “PEE PEE” and wherever he is has a total shit fit and runs into the family room and lays on the ground to change his diaper. Yes. He knows when he pees, he holds his pee, and no he won’t get on the damn toilet. We are trying. So he goes and lays down, and he waits for me to come change him. And I gotta be honest. Sometimes I forget. So I’m cleaning up the kitchen, packing their diaper bag, brushing my teeth (I literally have toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorant in the bathrooms upstairs and downstairs and the kitchen), then I realize I haven’t seen the blonde one for awhile…”Jack-man?” “Mama pee pee.” Fuck. Right. Then I’m like how long has he been laying there? And feeling like the worst mother ever run over to change him and I find him patiently laying on the floor playing with some toy or something with a full diaper.

Getting out the door.

Herding cats. Well herding the boys and yelling at the cats as they try and sneak out the door. Then the boys start yelling at the cats and we have the same discussion. The black cat is Maddy not Cat.

Yesterday I was putting Declan’s coat on, we had already done his shoes and socks, and Jackson who always runs away, actually got within grabbing distance of me. So I grabbed him, pinned him under my legs, finished zipping up Declan’s coat with a writhing screaming Jackson trying to escape. Then I had to lay on him to get his socks and shoes on, while I’m laying on him Declan’s bring Jackson’s coat over and laying it on Jackson’s face saying “Coooooat Jack-y, coooooooat Jack-y”. I get the shoes on. I grab the coat off the even more pissed Jackson, thank Declan, and then while wrestling Jackson into his coat the car alarm goes off. I look up and Declan’s holding my keys looking guilty, clearly having pushed the panic alarm. I pin Jackson down again, Declan comes and gives me the keys, and when I finally get the coat on the car alarm off and stand up, those two cups of coffee hit me, and I’m like if I pee I lose all momentum and we never get out the door, if I don’t pee….well it may come out anyway thank you twin pregnancy.

I rush them out the door, into the garage, one in each car seat. Each with their own car toys. God forbid it’s the wrong car toy. Each with a snack. And then I thank God for remote control car starters as I open the garage, start the car, lock it, run back inside and pee before we head out for the day.

So yeah. To all my co-workers. This is why I’m freaking beat before work even starts.

Yes I love them and thank God they are cute and they give me amazing hugs. And tonight Jackson banged heads with me accidentally, and he rubbed my head with his little hand and said “I sorry Mama, boo boo,” and he kissed my head. It’s those moments that make me forget just this morning I had him pinned between my legs to get his socks on…to bed now only to wake for another adventure…

Fat to Skinny to Fat to Curvey and How Society Treated Me at Every Size.

This is a disclaimer that what follows is my own individual experience and I don’t think should be made as a gross generalization to society at large. I do not hate men, and I do not think all men are horrible. Quite the opposite. But I will write to my own experience and you can take it for what it’s worth.

I was overweight in college intermittently. Especially in my Junior year I was at my biggest. Then I got very sick, and actually that kick-started a major weight loss period for me. I started running, and I dropped from a size 16 to a size 10 over time. I felt great. I had a lot of muscle, and I was more confident than I had ever been. My blood pressure was ridiculously low and overall I was the picture of health. I honestly don’t know what my actual weight was because I’m not into numbers. I know I dropped inches around my waist and thighs and shoulders. I know I fit into clothes and felt comfortable in clothing I would not have worn had I been overweight.

Flashback to being a size 16. I’d be out at bars with my friends in college, because that’s what we did. My friends at the time were very thin and attractive. So I was kind of the fat friend. I never got hit on, and I remember a couple times actually walking by guys and one of them just looking at me and saying “Fat ____” insert whatever horrible word you can think of. I don’t know why people would do that, specifically men. But they did. I never really let it bother me, because they were usually drunk or whatever, and I just didn’t care that much. But there are girls and women who do care and who are hurt by these interactions and it just fucking blows that our society judges women by the size and shape that we are. Especially our young and vulnerable women.

Flash forward, I lose all the weight, look great, and suddenly I’m receiving male attention. And every time a guy asks me out or buys me a drink I just can’t help but think, “Would you have even noticed me a year ago? Or would you have called me fat to my face and walked away?” I had this horrible mind block because where were these guys when I was four pant sizes up? I’m still the same person size 16 or size 10. But apparently not to young men. I remember this guy wanted to go to the beach, and at first I was horrified because I’d have to wear a swimsuit. Then I was like oh yeah, I got this. But would I have ever been asked out for a date to the beach when I was overweight?

Also remember this was eleven years ago when I was 22. I do think since then society in general has made strides toward being more accepting of people at every size. I read Seventeen magazine- don’t ask- it gets sent to our house specifically to my butch lesbian wife every month I don’t know why, we don’t have a subscription, but it shows up and I’m like why not? Anyway, there are always articles about self esteem and young women of color and ads with overweight women doing yoga poses for Nike and stuff. So I do feel we are making strides.

Flash forward eight years though. I get pregnant with twins. C-section. Breastfeeding. Two years of feeling and being fat again. I had so many flashbacks to my teens and early twenties before I lost the weight. I tried so hard not to hate myself because this body had brought two beautiful lives into the world. And my wife loves me no matter what size I am. So do my sons. And my cats. Honestly it was easier to be accepting of my body size at that time because I felt I had a valid excuse. Then the more I thought about it the more I’m like why do I need an excuse to be okay with how my body looks?

Flash forward. I started working out. I use the elliptical, do weight circuits, and Denise Austin exercise videos. Yes she is beyond cheerful and annoying, the polar opposite of me, but her video’s work. Most recently in the past two months I’ve been doing hot yoga twice a week. This week I did it three times! Progress. Hot yoga is an intense yoga class in 95 degree heat with 45% humidity. With 12 bodies in there it can get up to 99 degrees. I literally want to die. But I also have sweat off a lot of body fat. I’m dropping weight like crazy and I feel amazing. My clothes are fitting again, and those muscles I used to have are coming back to life. Enter the last two weeks a few men have hit on me while at work and just out and about. Honestly I didn’t even realize male attention was missing for the last two years until I dropped weight and started getting hit on again. I was like wow. What the fuck?!

Literally my own journey of fat to not fat to fat to not fat has pointed out to me how warped our society is. How men in our society value thin women. I have only been shown male attention when I am thin. And like I said in the beginning, I’m not wanting to make gross generalizations about all men. Because that’s really not fair as my sample size is very low compared with the number of men in our world. There are also probably many overweight women who still get hit on. This is just my own personal experience.

Now could it be that I am just happier because I feel so much better and attract people to me because I am happier? If I was a bubbly person I’d say yes. But I’m not. My baseline somewhat cantankerous personality has not changed at all with my weight and my wife can attest to that.

Then I’m thinking how can we raise our sons to not EVER be this way? I mean physical attraction is absolutely a part of every relationship and there has to be chemistry and attraction. But why and how are we grooming our children to think that attraction can only be to skinny?

I’m also not a proponent of people being unhealthy. Morbid obesity and obesity in general leads to heart disease, diabetes, etc. but I wasn’t morbidly obese, I was out of shape and recovering my body from carrying twins. And some one can be a size 14 or 16 and still be healthy depending on their lifestyle.

I don’t know what the answer is. But I know this is a problem. I’ve experienced it first hand.

By the way I’m also married to a woman so when men hit on me I’m like dude. Go away.

I work in psychiatry so I by nature am always analyzing human behavior. I just find it puzzling that when I drop pant sizes I all the sudden become more interesting. Our society is very attraction based and it’s so pervasive and sometimes overt but sometimes so subtle that we are not even aware of it. I wouldn’t be had I not gone through this yo-yo with my body weight over the last decade plus.

At the end of the day what I do for my body I do for myself, for my health, for me to feel good about me. I could give two shits what others think about me. But I see clients on the regular who do not have that resilience and who are overcome with intrusive thoughts about what others are thinking about them. I think part of the solution is kindness, compassion, and empathy, and looking beyond body size and shape to the person. No matter what size I am some people just don’t like me. I’m okay with that. No matter what size some people are though, they are still amazing people that we as a society are destroying one fat joke at a time. Remember when Oprah’s weight would yo-yo and it would be all over the news?

They focused on her weight instead of her being this ground-breaking amazingly intelligent Woman of Color kicking ass and taking names. After any celebrity gives birth it’s how long did it take them to lose the baby weight? Not- she is beautiful and just went through this trauma to her body, and has a beautiful baby. Roseanne- I hate that she likes #45 however I am obsessed with her show. Two main characters who were overweight and it didn’t matter. Ground-breaking. We need more Roseanne’s and Oprah’s and Maya Angelou’s, and women who are intelligent and beautiful and who are loved and admired at any size. We also need our society to be more open to this concept for the future of all our young girls.

Violence Against Nurses

So I’ve been MIA for a little bit. I’ve been dealing with a lot personally and professionally. Professionally it’s brought up a lot of memories from when I worked in the emergency department as a staff nurse. Warning- this blog post has nothing to do with me being a lesbian mom- it’s a memory and commentary on violence toward women and the state of our health care system. Seeing our current administration downplay and ignore the #Metoo movement pisses me off. Feeling scared and vulnerable also pisses me off. So I’m going to tell a story as to why we need to have discussions around violence.

I had been working at the ED for over six years, almost seven. It was a crazy night, I was in triage. We had a lot of psychiatric patients in the ED, which is NOT the place for them, but there is no place for them, so there you go.

We had a lot of medical emergencies, and then they panic alarm went off. We use that to alert security and staff that we need bodies with the psychiatric patients because some one is escalating. There always has to be a nurse in triage. So my partner went to the back to check it out, security guards ran by, the rest of the nurses were in a medical emergency. I was in the middle of a triage assessment when I heard screaming. Not patient’s, but staff. Lots of screaming.

I followed the screams and rounded the corner and saw a pretty gruesome scene. Two nurses had been physically and violently assaulted by a patient. There was blood, clumps of hair, and what would turn out to be permanent injuries. There were about six security guards holding the patient who was still fighting. There was blood running down the faces of at least three of guards. The nurses who were attacked were screaming and crying, and in shock and I dragged them into a closet because all the patients in the ED could see them. It’s all very open. There was a doctor with them who also went into the closet. It was a big closet. I remember I grabbed gauze and held it over the blood on the guard’s faces because it was pouring into their eyes.

This was as bad as it sounds. No charges were pressed against the patient even though both nurses tried, because of a variety of reasons the police would not do it. It was quite possibly the worst part about the whole experience. They had permanent injuries and they would never obtain justice. It’s also sad because who wants to press charges against a psychiatric patient? No one. But in that moment, when I had known all of those staff members for over six years, and we were friends and we had each other’s back, to see them hurt was fucking awful. It was painful, and made us all feel pissed and vulnerable and scared.

I had to go back to work the next day. I don’t know how I did it, but I did. And when I got to the doors two nurses were standing there. They had been there the night before too. They couldn’t go in. None of us wanted to. We all wanted to walk away, erase that memory. Erase the fear. We all didn’t even say anything, at some point though one of us badged open the doors and we all silently filed in for our shift. We didn’t need to speak.

The part about going back after seeing something horrific is that today it could be us.

The week of my wedding, a couple years earlier, I got kicked in the ribs by a patient. I was bending over to pick up something on the floor and they just kicked me. I had a bruise on my ribs about 4 inches in diameter while my family tied me into my corseted dress.

I was no stranger to the violence of working in the ED, and it’s something that when you are there you have to kind of put out of your head otherwise it would just break you.

I don’t know what the solution to this problem is. But I know it’s a problem. I also know hospitals don’t like to talk about it, and they don’t like to take responsibility for it, and management likes to minimize it and it falls to the RNs on the front lines walking in every day not knowing if they are going to leave with a black eye or worse.

If you know a nurse thank them. Because you cannot possibly imagine the shit they see and face on a daily basis.

If you are a nurse. Keep fighting. We need rights, we need protection, and we will get none of it if we let these things keep happening with no recourse.

Thank-you to the state of CT who passed legislation making it a felony to assault a healthcare worker in the line of duty. Don’t be scared to utilize it.

When My Son Sleeps With Our Wedding Picture…

Last week my son grabbed a wedding picture of my wife and I that has been sitting in a 4×6 black metal frame in our bathroom since we moved in last June. Our bathroom is obnoxiously large so yes there’s room for pictures. He was sitting on the counter while I put on make-up and he leaned back, swiped it, and has literally been walking around with it ever since. He brings it in the car to daycare. I put it in the diaper bag for the day when we get inside. He brings it home, sets it up next to him while he eats dinner at the table. He also sleeps with it every night. As we shut the door and say a quiet good night we can hear him whispering in baby talk to this picture taken on December 17th, 2011 on a bitter cold night in Connecticut during one of the best nights of my life. We both look younger, happy, and full of hope.

My wife wore a feminine black suit with a white silk shirt. I wore my dream come true princess wedding gown.

I’ve written before about kids of lesbian mom’s. There are studies showing there is no long term damage to kids of gay parents, I have friends who are kids of gay parents and gay parents of kids who have all turned out fine. But there is always a doubt in the back of my head because of our hetero-based society and homophobic administration that I am doing my son’s wrong.

But as he babbles peacefully while completely enthralled with an old photo of his two parents, Mama and Mommy, those doubts go out the window. Because instead of his soft doggies and his big blankies he chooses to fall asleep and wake up every morning cradling the images of his lesbian Mom’s. I try and put myself in his head and realize that he doesn’t think of us as “lesbian” Mama or Lesbian Mommy. We are just Mama and Mommy. He doesn’t know he’s missing anything, because he’s not. He is so loved and cherished, and that’s all he knows as he drifts off to sleep hugging a cold metal frame carrying the image of his two smiling Mommy’s.

I proudly identify as a lesbian Mama loudly, because I live in a place where I can and there are so many who live in places that can’t. But to my son, I won’t be his lesbian Mom, I’m just his Mama.

He doesn’t know that even having a wedding in 2011 was groundbreaking and new. He doesn’t know our wedding was not just a wedding but also a political statement as all gay weddings were when it first passed. He doesn’t know the location where we had the wedding had never had a gay wedding, but was completely open to it and had a couple gay waiters request to work that night, unbeknownst to us until they came and shook our hands during the reception. He doesn’t know that night was a night of hope and love and unity and acceptance. He just knows he loves his Mama.

 

 

p.s. Yes I wore a tiara. It was my damn wedding and I was a Disney Princess for one day. Through some twist of fate my Prince Charming came with the wrong parts and no horse. Love you babe.

When I made my therapist cry…bullying and my Cat.

When I was in nursing school I went to therapy for the first time. I had recently broken up with a long term boyfriend and was feeling very isolated and depressed. The therapist was at my school, he was clearly very experienced and had been doing individual therapy with college students for decades. I felt very comfortable with him and felt nothing I could say would ruffle him. About three sessions in he asked when in my life I felt true grief.

I didn’t really understand the question, and he rephrased and said “When have you cried? I mean true gut-wrenching cry?” We had been working on the wall that I kept around my emotions, as I was and still am to a degree, able to compartmentalize my emotions. I remember thinking about it and then I said only twice that I could remember. Once when my Grandfather died, and once when my cat died. Then I started to move forward with the conversation thinking this was a dead end. I remember he sorta waved his arms, and was like “Wait, one of the two times you’ve ever cried down to your soul was when you cat died? Tell me more about that.”

So I did. My cat came into our home when my mom was pregnant with me. He slept in my bed every night after I was born until I was seventeen. We put him to sleep on December 23rd, 2002. He was 21.

Through fifth grade when I was bullied for an entire school year by a group of girls he was literally my only friend. He would sit next to me on my bed while I cried every day after school. He was a big cat, bigger than some small dogs, and very intuitive. He would follow me around the neighborhood if I was out playing with other kids. He would wait at the road if I went into a neighbor’s home. He waited at the fence for me to get off the bus every day. He saw me through middle school hell and was there for me when I started dating and growing up in high school. He was a constant in my life for seventeen years. He at times was my only reason for being.

It seems so silly looking back on it. It seems ridiculous that though I was surrounded by a family and eventually some good friends, all it took was chronic bullying in fifth grade to devolve me into a soul who felt totally alone. Kids take this crazy unspoken oath of silence. I couldn’t tell anyone about the bullying. My teacher knew, but didn’t intervene. I never told my parents. I suffered silently and Cookie was the only one I let in. He was also the only one who comforted me. He truly showed me unconditional love. His entire existence seemed devoted to my existence, and it was incredibly powerful. He was there for my first broken heart, he was there for so many happy and also painful times in my life.

When I talk to kids now in my practice who are bullied my heart just aches for them. I know the pain that builds over time as day after day you have to face the same people with the same insults. I know the isolation, the fear, and the feeling that you can’t tell anyone because adults only make things worse.

I explored all those memories with my therapist and I remember the day we had to put Cookie to sleep. He was in pain, he had tumors, and he came and laid on my lap on the couch as I cried because I knew it would be the last time he would lay his big furry head on my knee. He looked so peaceful. I remember he closed his eyes and purred and it was like he was telling me it was going to be okay, that his job was done because I had made it through high school and I had this big future ahead of me already having been accepted to my top choice university.

I held him as our veterinarian gave him the injections. He let out a small meow, and then was gone. He looked peaceful in death and I was glad his suffering was over. I remember telling my therapist about his last meow and I was sobbing at that point, and I looked up and he had tears streaming down his face. I remember I stopped crying because I didn’t think therapists were allowed to cry.

He looked at me and said, “It’s just so profound that your one friend, your one true friend, was a cat. He sounds remarkable.”

And he was. Cookie dying marked the end of my childhood. I graduated high school that Spring, and moved on to college never looking back. I think back and I hate that he died, but I think it was for the best because it would have been incredibly hard for me to go to college knowing he was at home.

When clients tell me about pets I take them very seriously and I never put down anyone’s reason for being whether it be a cat, a snake, a friend they’ve ¬†only talked to online, etc. Everyone in middle school needs a lifeline. I was lucky to have Cookie as mine.

Some years later I was in a shelter in upstate New York looking for a cat. They sat me in a meet and greet room and brought in a few nice looking cats. I wasn’t feeling a connection with any of them. Then the girl brought in this ratty little thing (I learned after three baths she’s white, I thought she was brown) with double eye infections, a ratty tail, and she set her down on the floor. The cat walked over to me and crawled right into my lap and laid her little head on my knee and purred. I told the girl I would take her.

She follows me everywhere, sleeps with me every night, drives me batshit crazy, takes showers with me, and is trying to crawl onto my lap over the laptop as I type this, and I just can’t help but think it’s my Cookie back to life in the form of Rajha. Rajha has seen me date men and then has been here from the start of my relationship with my wife. She was with me through the horrible fertility journey and pregnancy. Now she knows my sons, sort of hates them, but knows them. My sons yell “Rawa Rawa” as they chase her through the house. Pets at their core provide unconditional love. Cookie and Rajha never gave two shits about my sexual orientation. They existed to solely bring love into my life. That is a gift to be treasured and mourned when it is lost.

To those people who have lost a pet, I know your pain. It’s profound, and it’s okay to mourn the loss. To those people who identify your pet as your reason for going on, been there. To those kids out there facing the daily grind of bullies. Hang in there.

Why People Shouldn’t Ask if a Woman Will Get Pregnant Again.

There are many layers to this blog post as I write it. I write it not only as a woman who has struggled with fertility but as a lesbian mom. I also write it as my two darling boys are screaming outside because they don’t want to come inside from playing in the snow. They would honestly let their fingers freeze and fall off. The screaming ambiance makes it easier to write this.

For those of you who haven’t read my previous posts you can look here and here for posts regarding my struggles with fertility, pregnancy, and birthing of twin boys. Suffice it to say it was a long hard journey initially more challenging because we are lesbians made more challenging by underlying endometriosis. Once I got pregnant I puked every day for 36 weeks and two days. That’s right. There was not one day I didn’t puke. I puked at work, I puked at 2 A.M., I’d literally open my eyes in the middle of the night puking already. I puked on almost every single doctor in my OB-GYN practice. I also had horrible insomnia and didn’t sleep for more than 2 hours at a time for the second and third trimester. Pregnancy sucked. I never felt good until three days after they came out. I had pre-eclampsia the day I delivered and spent the first 24 hours on a magnesium drip, still puking with a fresh incision. In the midst of my puke laden pre-eclampsia nightmare I lost vision in my eyes (which I got back), and I had people sticking two newborns on my boobs. So there was that.

It was ultimately successful and worth it in so many ways but when I tell you I was traumatized by my pregnancy I am not lying. The thought of being pregnant again could bring me to tears if I thought about it.

I remember returning to work after an 18 week maternity leave. At that point I had not been at work for four months since having the boys and not at work without being pregnant or undergoing fertility treatments for over a year. I felt like I was returning as a different, calmer, more sleep deprived, happier individual. I was still breastfeeding and had to adjust to pumping multiple times a day and picking up and dropping off at daycare. I remember the first week back one of my co-workers asked me when I’d have “the next one.” My sleep addled brain could not quite comprehend what she was asking. When I politely responded, “Funny,” and tried to move the conversation onto another topic she didn’t let it go. I had to get somewhat defensive and say, “I’m not having another one.” Then I was told how wrong I was and that in a year or two I’d change my mind and have more. As if I couldn’t possibly make judgements about my body and my future in that moment.

It felt very wrong to me for many reasons. First off, I am very private, and I did not feel that was any one’s business. Second, that particular person knew the horrible journey through infertility and pregnancy I endured. To casually suggest I go through that all over again made me want to vomit. Third, once I said a very overt No, I should not have been pushed or pressured or shamed to feel that was the incorrect response.

Since that day multiple people have asked me if I will have another child. Friends, family, strangers, clients, and co-workers have all asked me. When I have emphatically said No I have been told on multiple occasions that I am wrong and will change my mind. I’ve been told by straight women who do not know I’m married to a woman, “That’s what I said after the first, and whoops!” I haven’t quite had the heart to say “Actually I’m a lesbian so I’d need a lot of whoops’ including a man shooting sperm that somehow accidentally lands in my vagina. Then that sperm would need to make it through my endometriosis filled tubes to my potential eggs which by the way required IVF previously to bypass the tubes. That would be one of hell of a whoops.” But I think it. Every time.

If I was married to a man and all it required was a “whoops” then who knows maybe I would get pregnant again? Most likely not intentionally as twins did a number on my body and I hated having a C-section and would not care to repeat the entire experience. But I’m married to a woman. So being pigeonholed by heterosexual women into a female who can’t possibly feel fulfilled with one pregnancy (which by the way yielded two kids) kind of pisses me off.

It makes me feel mad because perhaps I would have more perhaps I wouldn’t but don’t presume to know my past and my future just because you had multiple pregnancies. Underneath my initial defensive response is pain and uncertainty. I feel like I’m being scraped a little raw during these exchanges.

I also feel for every other woman who struggled to have one pregnancy because I’ve been there. To poke and prod at those wounds by telling them they should have a second pregnancy, when perhaps they do want more than anything to have that, but they can’t, I find that just plain mean.

There are women who have emergency hysterectomies during their first delivery due to complications with bleeding and so while they may want more than anything to have a second pregnancy they physically can’t. They could be lesbians. Finding sperm can be challenging and expensive and then simple at home inseminations don’t always work, turning into expensive fertility treatments.

Then there are people who are completely fulfilled with one pregnancy, one child (or two), and simply don’t want more kids. Yes we exist. Stop telling me we don’t. It’s annoying.

I’ve never had much of a filter. But I was raised to be polite. I would never ask a woman if she’s wanting anymore children unless it’s professionally related as a health care provider and need to know if she’s planning a pregnancy because that would change the medication choice I make if prescribing for her. I would never pass judgement on someone for wanting or not wanting another pregnancy. It may seem like a casual friendly inquiry, but for many women it’s anything but casual and can bring up many painful emotions.

My advice is to operate on a need to know basis. Do you really need to know if this woman is planning a second pregnancy? If the answer is No, then don’t ask. If the answer is Yes then ask but then stop talking. Let them answer, respect their answer, and move on. And straight people…not everyone is straight. Some women sleep with other women. They can’t get pregnant by accident.

No One Says “I want a two year old.” Now I know why.

Everybody loves babies. Babies are cute, they smell nice, and they don’t move too much. My babies were snuggly and although they didn’t sleep well/ever they were so cuddly and beautiful that it was okay to be completely sleep deprived.

Then they started to grow. Now we have these two monstrous two year olds.

I’ve literally never met someone who has said “I want a two year old.” It’s always, “I want a baby”. But when you get a baby you eventually get a two year old, or in my case, two of them.

Now the wonderful part of having two year olds is they still mostly smell good. In my case they are still cuddle bugs. They say the cutest things like, “Got Mama,” as they squeeze my cheeks together and nuzzle my nose with theirs. They yell “Babe” when they can’t find my wife because they know it will make me laugh when they call her the name I call her. And they say it more like “Bayy” and try to mimic my voice. They are starting to sing songs and they point out the moon and the stars and the sun as if seeing them for the first time making me appreciate the things I take for granted. They also look at me like I am their entire world and I treasure those moments because I know in just a fleeting few years they will push me away when I try to kiss them. They will prefer their friends over me, and I know there will be a time when we cuddle up for the last time and that literally brings me to tears.

But the flip side of the heaven of two year olds is the Hell. The wanting to scream as I say things like “Don’t…bite, hit, lick, pull, follow, yell at, run into, run over, glue, color on, paint….your brother,” “Don’t slam the door,” “Don’t open the door,” “Throw that away,” “Pick that up off the floor,” “If you….do anything ever again….you will go to timeout,” “Don’t dance in front of the fireplace,” “Don’t push him in front of the fireplace,” “Why did we buy a house with a damn fireplace?” “Don’t put your foot in that…” shit.

Then you try and get them to say something and they won’t, then you swear in front of them when you drop a piece of firewood on your toe and of course they say “Shit.” Like perfectly enunciated. And yes I had a broken toe. Then the boys talked about “Mama’s boo boo” for the entire six weeks it took to heal.

Getting them out the door is a total shitshow. My wife says “It’s like herding cats.” And it really is. I’m always talking to them, always asking them to do stuff, and always trying to allow them to grow in their independence but seriously you can’t get your shoe on without my help and we are running late so give me the damn shoe.

They test my patience and my ability to not swear on a minute by minute basis. I go to work in psychiatry and my job is literally easier than my two year old twin boys. They are both so smart and they both totally try and play me. And sometimes it works.

I started to really pay attention to the new mom’s who come see me in my practice. Not just the fresh postpartum mom’s but the toddler Mom’s. For anyone who is a butch lesbian, when you see another butch lesbian there’s usually this head nod of acknowledgement. It always kind of irritates me because my wife gets the head nod and I never do, and I’m like hi over here, I’m also married to a woman but because I have long hair and cleavage I don’t get the recognition…anyway. When I have a client who is a toddler mom, not even twins but maybe a 3 year old and a 1 year old or something like that, and then I tell her I have twin two year olds….we have that moment. That, “Gotchya girl.” Like we are in the battlefield together and we know what it is really like down there in the trenches.

I’ve had Mom’s break down in front of me hysterical because they feel like failures because they yelled at their kids and they get so mad at them sometimes they want to hit them (they don’t hit them) and they look so ashamed and so sad and full of self loathing when they tell me these confessions through tears. That’s usually when I disclose I have two year olds. That I too know the pain of toddlers. That our society lives on Facebook and pretty images that mom’s should be these superheroes who never lose our shit, when in reality it would be weird if toddlers didn’t bring you to the brink of insanity at least once a day.

I reassure my clients (of course after a thorough assessment that they actually are not a danger to others) that actually what they are experiencing is normal. That it certainly doesn’t feel good, and they may need a medication trial, or at the least therapy, but that toddlers push us in ways we couldn’t possibly have imagined. That toddlers can literally make us feel bipolar because we are so in love with them one second and the next we are hauling them off to time-out about to watch an epic tantrum.

No one wants two year olds. Because two year olds start to make shit real. They start to be little people who make us feel in ways we never imagined we would or could.

I’m not a perfect Mom. I lose my shit. I swear. I listen to Eminem in the car when I just can’t take one more round of Let it Go. But even if I never said I wanted a two year old I’m so glad I have them. I am completely head over heels for my boys. They are making me a better person. They make me more aware of my anger and cues for when I am getting worked up. They make me practice patience. So much patience I could choke on it. They make me stop and look at the moon. They make me say “I’m sorry” and give big hugs when I freak out and I know I’m wrong because it was my fault for running late not theirs. They’ve made me better at time management. They’ve made me figure out how to communicate differently because going head on was not working and just hurting us all. They make me learn how to set age appropriate boundaries and consequences and follow through on them.

I thought having newborns made me love in a new way, little did I know what toddlerhood had in store for me. They exploit all my vulnerabilities without intention. They see books and movies with Dad’s and being married to a woman I wonder what they are thinking about. Are they already starting to wonder about not having a Dad? Does it even enter their heads?

No one asks for toddlers, and I certainly wouldn’t wish two of them on anyone. But on the flip side they are making me a better woman and honestly a better psychiatric provider. I am so much more empathetic to mom’s of toddlers. I get it. I give them space to feel like a bad mom and reinforce to them that they actually are not bad mom’s. They are just human trying to navigate this incredible journey of parenthood.

I’ll end with this. Our kids are always watching us, learning from us, becoming us. I will never be sorry or regret hugging them too much or cuddling too much. I will never regret the time I spend with them now and the bonds we are forging together. Toddlers have the ability to make you face and embrace love, anger, frustration, patience, and every other good and bad part of yourself. Enjoy the journey because it is all too short.