Blast from the Past: Why You’re Hearing about this Pregnancy so “Early.”

I wrote this post one year ago, shortly after finding out I was pregnant, for my old blog.

Last week, I “came out as pregnant” on Facebook (when you’re queer, every big tell feels like “coming out” after awhile). Since then, the most common question I’ve received is “how far along are you?” It’s a question that makes sense! Some people have seemed surprised at how early I’m sharing information abou my pregnancy, and a few even seem concerned. I can only assume that those who are concerned are assuming I hadn’t thought through my decision to share at this time, and are wondering if I’ll regret it.

In case you aren’t aware, there is a bit of a tradition of waiting until around the end of the first trimester to “go public” with a pregnancy. The main reason cited for this is miscarriage – the odds of miscarriage are higher in the first trimester than they are later on, and many people feel that they wouldn’t want to announce a pregnancy to later have to “unannounce” it, or else they think if they do miscarry, they’d rather greive privately with only their partner(/s) or immediate family for support.

While I definitely support other parents’ decisions, my wife and I found that we felt differently. One of the best things about planned pregnancies (and the majority of queer pregnancies are planned) is that you have ample time to talk about, read about, and think about, various issues BEFORE you need to make a decision. My wife and I started talking about the “when do we tell” issue long before we were even trying to get pregnant, so our decision to share early definitely was not a spontaneous one. Here are a few of the reasons you are learning about this now, rather than later.

1. I can’t keep a secret, and I don’t want to.

I’m a sharer, sometimes even an over-sharer. For some people, keeping certain matters private makes them feel more secure. For me, I feel safest when I am being open and honest about as much as possible. It’s just the way I’m wired. I want to talk about my experiences, feelings, thoughts, etcetera, in order to fully process what is happening in my life. Pregnancy is a huge thing to happen to me, keepin it under wraps for THREE MONTHS felt contrary to my nature in basically every way.

2. Avoiding the guessing game.

Because my wife and I lead fairly open lives, a larger than average (I think, I don’t actually know what average is) number of people knew we were trying to get pregnant. That number was probably even higher because being a couple comprised of two women meant there was literally more to talk about – and more opportunities to divulge.

Because no one in our relationship has sperm, we had to decide how to get it, and what we wanted our of a sperm donor, and how and where we wanted to inseminate. For a long time, these conversations and decisions WERE the big thing going on in our lives, and it was helpful to talk to friends, family, and community members about it.

Because so many folks I. Our immediate community knew about our plans, hiding the pregnancy felt sort of silly. I knew that at least some people would be watching me for signs of early pregnancy and asking questions like “how are you doing?” with a little more earnestness than usual… So rather than be the object of speculation, we just decided to be open.

3. The very reason so many families decide to wait to share.

A shocking amount of pregnancies (one in three or one in four, depending on whose numbers you go with) end in miscarriage. It’s even more if you consider all of the women who miscarry before they miss their period and confirm that they are pregnant. The vast majority of women with children have had at least one miscarriage in their life. Most miscarriages are unavoidable and unpreventable.

And yet, many people report feeling isolated, ashamed, and even guilty, after a miscarriage. Why? I think a least part of the reason is that we are suffering in silence when we could be sharing the load, and receiving information and reassurance from others.

For myself, I knew that I would want community support if that happened to me. And it would be harder to reach out and get the support I needed if nobody knew I was pregnant.

4. Actually, I already had one miscarriage, and I don’t want to go through that without community support AGAIN.

After our first insemination, I experienced many early pregnancy symptoms, and after awhile I knew that I was certainly pregnant. That pregnancy ended before it was able to be confirmed by a test.

I’m still processing how to talk about what happened to me… I’ve written about it but I’m not sure how to share, because it was so early, and since the pregnancy had not been confirmed, even when I chose to talk with friends about it, it was difficult to know quite what to tell them.

It was lonesome. The experience just confirmed what I already felt: that when I did have a confirmed pregnancy, I wanted to share – and therefore reach out for support – immediately.

5. This is about my comfort level, not yours.

Many people worry that talking about a miscarriage will make others uncomfortable or be difficult for them to handle. Some people feel that it is more respectful of their friends/family to not “get their hopes up before the pregnancy looks like a sure thing.

I don’t agree. I think people can handle it. And if they do have trouble handling it, I don’t think it is my responsibility, as a pregnant woman, to protect them from their own feelings on the issue. We don’t ask people going through cancer, or grief due to the loss of a loved one, OR SO MANY OTHER THINGS, to keep quiet about it, even though those those things may sometimes be difficult to hear about. Ultimately, my family had to make the decision that made the most sense for US.

6. Early pregnancy is HARD.

I’m less that five weeks pregnant. Already I am exhausted, I’m nauseous a lot of the time, and I’m having frequent/constant heartburn. I literally do not understand how I could expect myself to pretend that everything is normal while my body is going through the largest upheaval I have ever experienced. Plus, I may sometimes need help doing things that I previously took pride in doing myself. It is so much easier to navigate all of that while being honest.

7. We’re excited. We’re so excited. We’re not going to try or pretend to be less excited. Why should we?

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Which Anniversary?

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. My in-laws come over to mind the bae, and my lovely handsome wife and I went out for a sushi dinner that we could not actually afford and then saw Straight Outta Compton in a nearly empty theater. It was approximately the best night ever.

I haven’t written much here about my feelings about marriage, gay marriage, and “marriage equality,” but I find myself reflecting on all of that right now.

Two years ago I married Chelsea. We made a decision to get married, even though at the time there was no legal recognition of benefit to us for doing so. Simply put, we felt that we weren’t marrying the state, we were marrying each other, so we didn’t give a fuck if the state didn’t want to be involved.

And that is exactly how we viewed it. It wasn’t that we weren’t “allowed” to get married. No cops showed up at the church to stop us. Hell, no cops showed up at our reception, and that was at an anarchist collective that’s been illegally searched more than once. But the state wasn’t involved. We didn’t sign any legally binding contracts. What we did do is make some promises to each other in front of nearly 200 of our closest family and friends, have our hands ceremoniously tied together, and then dance the night away. It was one of the most magical days of my life.

***

Marriage, as an institution both cultural and legal, is historically intensely problematic. There are many different forms of marriage throughout the world, but the one that has been handed down to us from western Europe is, well, pretty icky. Women have historically been treated as pieces of property, to be transferred from one man to another, and whether or not a marriage made the two married people happy was often an afterthought. In the modern, industrialized world, people are expected to marry for love and marriages have become more egalitarian. But echoes of the old form remain. I have attended weddings of liberal-minded, secular people, where the bride was dramatically given away by her father, and the couple was then announced as “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.” And in the subsequent marriages that happen after these weddings, so-called “traditional” gender roles, though they may be gradually shifting, are far from dead. I notice this the most in parenting, though that is certainly not the only area of life these gendered assumptions crop up in. Phrases like:
“Kids just prefer their moms, it’s the way it is.”
“They’re dad is babysitting them tonight so I can go out with my girlfriends!”
“Is being a stay at home father emasculating?”
all point to a basic level of inequality, a built in set of roles that are hard to escape from, even when people want to.

But even in the most egalitarian of marriages, the hypothetical perfect marriage where no one is pushed into a shitty role, legal marriage is still problematic in that it is about privileging some kinds of relationships over others. We give a special set of rights and privileges (I like to picture it as a gift basket!) in the case of relationships that are romantic, lifelong, apparently monogamous, limited to two people, and until very recently, heterosexual. Given all of that, it isn’t surprising that there are plenty of people who are in relationships that would otherwise fit the bill and qualify for the gift basket, who choose not to pursue legal marriage.

My wife and I could have been two more of those people. But as it turns out, we are not. We had a second wedding, a wedding that started out as merely a formality for legal purposes but turned into a beautiful reminder of our continuing commitment to each other, in July. There are many advantages to signing the paperwork and getting the gift basket, but there was one reason for us that really tipped the scales.

That reason is currently refusing to nap.

Ultimately, securing his legal right to have two legal parents was more important to us than everything else. And we are not there yet. Getting legally married only makes it possible, we still have to go through the potentially lengthy adoption process. Still though, it was the first step. When he is older, he will not remember a time when his Ma didn’t have the same legal rights as I do, and he will have pictures of two weddings (one of which he was part of!) to look at when he daydreams about the past he does not remember.

***

“Now you get to have two anniversaries!”

***

I loved our second wedding. I was more relaxed than I was at the first one, having already made the lifelong commitment. It was at a beautiful buddhist temple. We didn’t know everyone there, but everyone seemed happy to be part of a special day. Our kid spent part of the ceremony in my arms and part of the ceremony napping on a meditation cushion. We all (me, Chelsea, the bae) wore newsboy hats. I teared up a little. It was more special than I could have imagined.

But it was not the day that changed my life forever.

***

Right now, there are plenty of conservatives who are angry that people like me “can get married” now, even though they could never have stopped us. Meanwhile, liberals celebrate the triumph of “equality” and sometimes they want to use my recent legal marriage to celebrate that. But my marriage certificate is not a triumph of equality. Marriage remains a complicated, fraught, and deeply problematic, thing. Unmarried people remain at a disadvantage in a myriad of ways. Polyamorous, polyfidelitous, and polygamous, families remain left out. In most states, married name changes remain easy and standard only for women who are marrying men who wish to take their husbands’ last names. You cannot create true equality by simply widening a narrowly privileged group a fraction of an inch.

I am happy to have the legal paperwork. I’m looking forward to doing our taxes together (because I’m weird). I’m looking forward to having the adoption process out of the way. And yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the second wedding. It was so lovely.

Clover-1701

But it was not the day that our marriage began. That day was two years ago yesterday, and that is the day we will continue to celebrate for the rest of our shared time together.

Possibly with movies about gangster rap. (Oh my gosh you guys I have so many feels about that movie but NOW IS NOT THE TIME.)

OTHER STUFF

  1. Post Nuclear Era is on the twitter! @postnuc_mama. JOIN ME.
  2. Post Nuclear Era is on the facebooks! JOIN ME ALSO THERE.
  3. I’m currently working on a post (or maybe a serious of posts) based on reader questions. Have a question about this blog? About the name? About queer families? About my queer family? Leave it in the comments or send it through one of the social media tubes.
  4. Amazing photo by Rob Ritzenhein at robritz.com.