Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Last night was our breastfeeding course. 3 hours! Our baby care course was only 2.5 hours and that covered more than one topic! But it was a really good course. I've read about how to hold the baby and the feeding cues, but I couldn't understand them. Now I've held a baby doll to my breast (it was a little weird but everyone else did it too), so I get the positions. And I've seen videos of the feeding cues, so I get those now too. Let's just see if we can remember them when it matters.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I had a major nesting impulse on Saturday. We had an appointment to get our car serviced at 8am, so we woke up at 7am. I jumped out of bed and started doing laundry before even eating breakfast. I didn't stop working that day until 10:30 that night. K baked some banana bread and I sat down to eat it and all of the sudden I was SO tired, like I could fall asleep right there with my bread. But before I sat down, I wasn't tired all day. I had tons of energy and I was on a mission and I pushed K on my mission. We accomplished a lot:
  • all baby laundry is washed, folded, and put away - newborn and 0-3 month clothes, boppies, blankets, burp cloths, bibs, sheets, toys, play mat, sling, towels, wash cloths, cloth baby wipes, Halloween costumes, etc.
  • we took our computer to best buy for repair
  • we went to the thrift store
  • car service appointment
  • reorganized our filing cabinet, filed papers, shredded papers
  • spring cleaned living and dining room
  • hung frame in living room
  • went to hardware store to get wall mounting for a plate
  • hung plate in dining room
  • set up play pen
  • moved co-sleeper into baby room
  • our personal laundry is washed but not yet folded
  • maybe more that I can't remember

I even cooked lunch and dinner for us.

Then on Sunday I woke up at 9am exhausted. I could barely wake up, I made it through church, out to lunch, bathing suit shopping for K. She kept asking me how I was doing and I'd say "okay" and she'd say "really?" and I'd say "tired". Then as we were leaving Sears, she asked how I was doing - we were headed to Target - and I said "tired" and she said "are you crying?" I was so tired I started to cry. I had told her that we could do whatever she wanted since she put up with me on Saturday and I really didn't want us to go home but I was exhausted. Saturday wore me out. So K said we were going home, and I protested, but I really was tired. I came home and crashed.

That nesting impulse is really crazy, a total surge of energy. If I hadn't sat down, who knows how late into the night I would have gone. I was a crazy woman! But at least we got a lot done.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I'm feeling tied down

Sometimes K gets the 'Now that we're having a baby, there are many things we can't do' blues. I don't get these. There are things we can't do, but also many things we can do now that we've never cared about before - they are just more fun with children. Like the Cherry Blossom Festival going on for the next few weeks in DC. We've never gone before. But I think I want to take our children. And K wants to do a corn maze, which we've never done before, not even when we lived in corn country in IA, but she wants to take the kids. So a whole new world is opening up to us.

But the thing that's been getting me down lately is that I want to travel. We've been really lucky to be able to travel a lot since college. I wouldn't even call it lucky - we worked hard and saved our money very strictly so that we could afford to travel a lot. We've been to 4 countries, we've been all over the US, we have a yearly college friends reunion somewhere in the country. We're always planning to go somewhere. But now we're not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. It's not that we don't think you can travel with children - you totally can. My parents took a family vacation every year and that's how I saw much of the US growing up. I'm excited to travel with our children. It's the money.

We were thinking we might go on an Alaskan cruise before the baby turns 2, since the baby would be essentially free. But now we're thinking an Alaskan cruise costs about as much as it might cost us to get pregnant again - or maybe getting pregnant will cost even more since I'll be older this time. We had also talked about going back to our honeymoon location, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for our fifth wedding anniversary in March next year. Without knowing how much it will cost to get pregnant, we can't really justify spending money on a big vacation. Even if we vacation in our typical cheap fashion, it's still thousands of dollars that we really shouldn't spend.

There just won't be as much money to save as there was - with child care and added insurance costs and whatever expenses that we don't even know about yet along with reduced paychecks during the 5-6 months of maternity leave between us.

We'd really like to go down to FL to introduce the baby to our grandparents that don't travel, but that's not exactly a vacation so I don't count it. Visiting family is a duty, an obligation, and sometimes work, it's not a vacation. We'll hopefully get together with our college friends for Labor Day, but it would be nice for one of them to plan it since we'll be busy with the baby, but that's unlikely. And strangely, getting our friends to commit in advance is next to impossible even though they all say they want to go, so planning it really is a lot of work.

I've latched onto our anniversary next year, almost a year away. We didn't do anything for our anniversary this year, trying to save money, and we always go away for our annivesary. I've said many times that we must get away next year, even if only for one night. So the thing getting me through is that I know in a year we will get to go somewhere for just one night. That's not a lot to hold onto.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Maternity leave figured out (finally)

We met this couple a while ago who was adopting a child from India. We ended up having dinner with them because at the time we were considering adopting a child from India. But after talking to them, we decided it's too hard. They had to lie about being a couple because India doesn't allow same-sex parents to adopt - technically only one woman was adopting the child while the other was hoping for a second parent adoption once they got back to the US. Also, they were stuck in paperwork. The baby they were assigned to at 3 months old was now 20 months old and still in an orphanage in India. This just seemed to devastating to us.

But we did get something from that dinner. We asked how long they were planning to stay home with the baby. They said they each planned to take 3 months off, consecutively so that the baby had someone home with her for 6 months total before having to be placed in day care. We thought that idea was awesome and said 'we are totally doing that!' The child stays out of day care for longer and both moms get to bond with the newborn. So we've always been planning to do this.

Then the economy went to shit. K's job started doing layoffs. She's survived the layoffs and they say no more layoffs, so it looks like she's okay for now. Then they put a freeze on hiring contractors, which means if she leaves her work for 3 months, they cannot hire a contractor to fill in for her. Then the director of her department left and they have a hiring freeze, so he will not be replaced. This means her small department went from 3 people to 2 people, and each of them are now working much harder without a director. So if she takes three months off, her department shrinks to 1 person, and that person cannot hire a contractor to help. We started thinking we were fucked.

We've been planning for me to take my full three months off allowed by law. I'm birthing a baby here so there's no question of what's allowed for me. Also my work is just different - there are 70 people with the same job as me that can fill in for me while I'm gone. Basically, I told my bosses 6 months in advance that I will be unavailable for three months over the summer and they started shifting my work to other people. No problem at all. It makes me feel kind of unimportant but at least it's easy.

Then K started doing her research. She went to HR and asked 'what's available for me?' very innocently, but ready to fight if needed. And she started at the top - a meeting with the HR director and not one of the underlings. Thankfully, the HR director was very supportive, and K didn't have to fight at all. She said that K offered her a challenge as she had never worked with leave for a same-sex partner adopting her partner's biological child. She said that K was eligible for FMLA - the full three months of unpaid leave. And also K was eligible for the paid adoption leave offered by the company - one month of her FMLA paid. Awesome.

Now that she new her rights and decided she was going to go for the full time allotted to her, she needed to break it to her boss. K wrote an 'adoption leave plan' that spelled out how much time she was taking off and approximately when and submitted it to her boss on Tuesday. Today she had a talk with her boss about the plan and all went well! The boss is supportive. We were doubtful because the boss is a superhard worker - works weekends and evenings and while she is on vacation. But she surprised us and was super-supportive. She even said that she felt that it was important for K to have that time at home to bond with the baby.

So we're excited. We get what we wanted. Life is good.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Book reviews

Here's what I've been reading lately:

Great Expectations by Sandy Jones and Marcie Jones

We were given this book from friends. It is our go-to guide for pregnancy. We have others, and definitely consult What to Expect when we have questions, but Great Expectation really seems to have everything we need in a very straight-forward manner. It also has a very nice section on childbirth that explains what is happening in your body, the stages of labor, and the various medical interventions that are typically done, why the interventions are done, and the pros and cons of each intervention. Then there is a very nice and concise section on new born care, and a section on breastfeeding. It's a great book that I would definitely recommend to anyone.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

This book was recommended by our Birth Works instructor and was read by many people we know. I think it was a useful book, all about natural childbirth. It's not big on details as much as convincing you that you really can do it. The first half is various birth accounts that of births mostly performed by Ina May on the commune that Ina May lives on (The Farm). Sometimes you feel like you are reading a long advertisement for The Farm, reading about how women were repeatedly mistreated until they found The Farm. You start to think, well that's great, but I'm not giving birth in TN, so... But the general themes seem to be the power of positive thinking, the importance of being somewhere that makes you feel comfortable, and the importance of being surrounded by people who support you and that you trust. All in all, I think it was a good book to read, but not the most amazing book ever like some people seem to think.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League

This book was recommended by La Leche League (no surprise there). It's got some really useful and practical information about breastfeeding, so I've learned a lot from it. But sometimes I feel like I'm reading a book from the 1950's. It's continually stressing the importance of the birth mother/child bond, barely mentioning the partner at all. In the chapter on housekeeping there is a paragraph about getting dad to help out. There is a lot of talk about going back to work if you have to, but basically it would be better if you could stay home because the baby needs you, and there is no mention at all of the partner staying home. Also, it's continually stressing that fresh milk from your breast is much better than pumped milk, so it seems to be saying 'don't pump unless you have to'. The way the book is written seems like it would add to a lot of mother's guilt to some women when they do choose to go back to work. I've learned a lot about breastfeeding from it but I don't think I would recommend this book to anyone else. I'm sure you could get this information elsewhere.

K is reading The Birth Partner by Peggy Simkin, recommended by our Birth Works instructor and friends of ours. She's also reading about the basics of child care - Caring for Your Baby and Young Child Birth to Age 5 by the American Academy of Pediatrics (a hand-me-down from my sister) and The Baby Book by Dr. William Sears (a gift from her co-worker).

Up next on my list are Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor and Kathleen Huggins (recommended by The Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington and by friends), Vegetarian Baby by Sharon Yntema and The Vegetarian Mother and Baby Book by Rose Elliot (both hand-me-downs from a friend).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Midwife 32 weeks

Today we had our 32 week midwife appointment. 32 weeks = 8 months! Wow, that's far along. Everything is going well. Baby is active, I've gained 15 pounds total, my uterus measures 31 cm. All looks good.

We got a nice surprise today. My insurance covers our birthing class. So we'll get that $250 back. Definitely a nice surprise.

Now, here are the pictures of our nursery.

On the wall to the left - some of K's collection of unopened Star Wars figurines.

To the left - the mobile from my crib 30 years ago. On the wall to the left - a frame signed by everyone who attended our family baby showers. To the right - a picture from our recent trip to Australia of us cuddling a koala.

The two shelves are filled with things from our childhood. To the right is a framed Star Wars poster. To the right of that is a painting K did for me in college of They Might Be Giants playing instruments under a tree. To the left on the window sill - a painting K did inspired by the song Here Comes the Sun. On the futon - a blanket knitted by my aunt.

On the closet door - a cross-stitched quilt made by my mom. Framed on the wall - the first edition of the Star Wars comic book made in 1977. On the stand - a ceramic lamp painted by my mom when I was a kid.

On the glider, a fabric wall hanging from K's childhood bedroom that says "Kindness Goes a Long Way". On the shelves, more trinkets from our childhood.

To the left - a drawing of Yoda from a HS friend of K's mom, a pug pop art peice from A & C, a cross-stitched carousel horse from my grandma.

Monday, March 23, 2009


On Wednesday night I had some brown discharge and some big cramps/contractions. The midwife said I should rest and relax throughout the weekend - no exercise, no shopping, no housework, no sex. This meant that I sat around and watched K do these things (well, except the sex part - she didn't do that either). She went to Ikea, she walked the dog, she spring-cleaned our bedroom, she did laundry, she even made dinner. I sat and rested. It was nice in some ways, and hard in some ways. K was constantly saying "Don't do that! I'll do it." I think I'm fine now. I had a back ache on Friday, but since then I have felt completely normal.

We were able to get our nursery completely set up. It still needs to be cleaned and everything needs to be washed, but the decorations are now on the walls. It looks really great. We love it. And with everything finally put away, the room feels really large. It was starting to look really small and cramped with all of that stuff, but now it looks large again, which is very nice. I'll post pictures soon. Our camera died when we were trying to take pictures of the finished product, so we had to recharge.

The coordinator for the classes at the hospital called to apologize for the horrible treatment we received from the security guard. Our class was refunded and she gave me her personal cell phone number in case we had any questions about caring for our baby, before or after birth. She was very kind and very apologetic.

Besides this we dined at our favorite Burmese restaurant, had lunch with friends at a new Vietnamese restaurant, had dinner with friends at a Mexican joint, watched the TMBG Here Come the 123s DVD we received as a shower gift with our friends and their kids, watched Girls Rock! on DVD, and in general had a fun, relaxing, and productive weekend.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Baby Care Basics

We had a great class last night. We learned a lot about caring for this baby - bathing, feeding, sleeping, etc. I feel more prepared, but I also feel like there is a lot to remember. We've divided up the work - I am learning about childbirth and breastfeeding and K is learning about caring for a newborn. So I haven't been reading anything about newborn care - this class may be my only exposure - but for K a lot of the material was stuff that she had already learned.

The class didn't start out so well though, and it puts us in a grumpy mood for the beginning of the course, even though the teacher was great and very nice. The class was offered at the Shady Grove Hospital Support Center, which is rented space in a larger office building. Since the class was at night, the door was locked and a security guard was signing people in. The guard was an older man. Class was at 7pm and we arrived about 5 minutes early. There was a couple that entered before us and a couple that was arriving just behind us. The guard let the couple in front of us in with no problems. When we got to the door and knocked, the security guard gave us a strange look, walked over the door cautiously, cracked the door, and asked why were were there. I said "We're here for the class for Shady Grove Hospital." He looked confused, said things like "What? Huh? A class?" The door remained only cracked and we were being treated like dangerous people that shouldn't be let in. Then his face changes and he says "Oh, you're here for the baby thing?" We agreed and he let us in. Another couple was there behind us at that point and he let them in without question. While we were signing in, I asked "So all of these couples are here for the baby class. Why were you so confused and acting like you'd never heard of the class before and not letting us in?" He said, "Oh, I was confused because I was expecting couples." I said, "But we are a couple - wife and wife." He looked really upset, turned away with shock/disgust, and talked to the couple that arrived behind us. I said "So where is the class located?" He mumbled his answer while looking in a completely different direction and refused to look at us again. Then we got to class and saw two single women and a handful of male/female couples. Did the single women get the same rough treatment we got? We really felt like he was afraid of us, like we were trying to break into the building, when he wouldn't even crack the door for us. And we definitely felt like once we told him we were a couple he was disgusted and shocked. We saw the treatment he gave the couple behind us and in front of us and he definitely treated them with respect. You can believe whatever you want about people but you have to treat everyone with respect. And I just don't get the confusion. There is no mistaking the fact that I am pregnant, and if you know that there is a baby class and you see a pregnant woman at the door, no matter who she is with, you should assume she's part of the class.

This really put us in a sour mood and we walked into class ready to be annoyed, but the teacher was wonderful. She almost always said 'Moms and coaches' or 'Moms and partners' instead of 'Moms and Dads'. She treated us just like the other couples in the room. It took us a while to warm up to her, but there was no reason for that because she was wonderful. It's sad that one person can ruin your whole experience like that, when all we want to do is learn about our baby just like everyone else.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Are you a Bert or an Ernie?


A local blogger shares our love of Bert and Ernie. K and I have through the years discussed which of us is Bert and which is Ernie. In college we both agreed that I was definitely Ernie and K was Bert- constant chatter, barging into K's room while she's napping "Hey Bert!", constantly saying let's have fun while K was more serious and said 'Let's study' in her best 'Ernie!' voice. Recently though, we've decided that I'm Bert and K is Ernie. She has constant questions about the world - how does this work, why does this happen - and I'm always there to answer them. We often lay in bed and she says 'I'm not tired, how about you?' I guess neither of us are a Bert or an Ernie, but we sure do love those fellows. And we both love the rubber duckies we have for our kids bath time.

We've registered for the Sesame Street Old School DVDs. We'll defitinitely be watching those when our kids turn 2. Sesame Street was so much better when we were kids, before Elmo.

Our big weekend

1. Friday night. We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. But first K stopped off at one of our pregnancy's support group 'graduates' to pick up her old maternity clothes and meet the baby. She's a single mom and feeling very overwhelmed right now with her 5 week old. She had an anxiety attack when she left her baby for 15 minutes. I'm grateful to have a partner. The maternity clothes are awesome and really expand my wardrobe which is starting to shrink as I slowly outgrow the maternity clothes I have. Can I really get bigger than this?

Our anniversary celebration was fabulous. We went to Mrs. K's Tollhouse in Silver Spring, the restaurant we were married in. The food was fabulous - I had a pear salad, pumpkin-apple ravioli, and strawberry cheesecake. I splurged on my strict diet because I felt I deserved it at least for one night. Cheesecake is definitely not low fat! But it was so good. I love the annual tradition of dressing up, eating really decadent food, and spending a beautiful evening with my wife. I'm sure I'll treasure this even more next year.

2. Saturday morning. Infant Safety & CPR class. It was a very useful class. Everything was hands on and we practiced everything again and again, so now I feel like if I'm in a panic situation, everything will just come to me naturally. Makes me feel more secure about staying home alone with the baby.

After the class we stopped by to pick up a free changing table posted on our Silver Spring moms listserv. We weren't going to get a changing table but this one was free, so... Now I am so thankful! It adds so much storage to our nursery. We've been piling all diapers and supplies into the shelf on the bottom. It doesn't match the furniture in our room, but it's free so who care. I love that we haven't bought any furniture for our nursery (the glider was a gift from my parents) but we are completely set and ready to go. People have been so generous with their hand-me-downs.

3. Saturday night. Our baby shower with our local friends. It was a Star Wars themed shower based on the Star Wars memorabilia K has put into our nursery. It was a great turnout - a party style shower, no games, just hanging out with our friends. Totally what we want. It was so much fun! Our friends are fabulous. There was a big group gift of a black play pen and bum genius cloth diapers, both things we really wanted but thought were too expensive to expect as a gift. They surprised us! The black play pen is awesome because it will match our living room. Our home is small and if we fill it with a bunch of random pastel colored baby items, it will look even smaller.

Another cool gift was an original Star Wars comic book, the first issue ever printed, from 1977. It was K's friend J's original copy bought in 1977. We framed this and hung it in the nursery and it looks great.

All of the kids at the party (I think there were 8) got together and decorate onesies and a canvas tote bag with sayings like "I love my mommies, I'm J's favorite, K's favorite child, Will work for cookies". I don't know where or when this was done - it was presented to us as a surprise. There are some pretty cool ones that we can't wait to use.

C gave me some nursing clothes - two shirts and a swim suit. It took me a while to understand how to use them, but once I did, I was impressed. They look just like normal clothes and then you lift something up and there's your boob. I also got a very nice nursing cover from K's friend T. It's black and white floral, very hip and modern looking. All of our friends here in the liberal north are big breastfeeding advocates and like to say "I should be able to feed my child whenever I want." They never cover their breasts. I'm from conservative FL. Showing my nipples to the world makes me uncomfortable. I plan to be discreet.

A couple A & E gave us their hand-me-down Graco Snugride Infant Carseat and Snap N Go stroller. This is a really great hand-me-down. They only have one kid and she only used these pieces for less than 9 months. This saves us about $130.

K and I also exchanged gifts. I gave K an designer diaper bag by LeSportSac. Purses are very important to her, and she just couldn't handle the thought of carrying a cutesy diaper bag. We were given a pastel sesame street bag from my grandma and it really disturbed K. So the diaper bag makes here very happy. She gave me a delivery gown called 'Pretty Pushers'. It's a purple dress that I can wear instead of a hospital gown with a matching headband. My ass won't show in the back and I can be comfortable while pushing this one out. It's very cute and I love it.

We were so excited about all of this that we went home and sorted through it and put it all away that night. Usually something like this would take us days. We loved all of our gifts, which is wonderful. We're finally starting to feel really prepared for this baby, though there are still a few things needed on our 'essentials' list. Luckily there is one more baby shower on the horizon - K's work is throwing one in April.

4. Sunday morning. We spoke to the K-8 kids in our church about 'different types of families'. We read 'And Tango Makes Three' then discussed what it means to be a Welcoming Congregation and talked about different kinds of families people knew about. Then K and I talked about our family. K explained that a very nice man that we don't know gave us a special gift of sperm so that we could have a family together, and we are very thankful for that man and his gift. The kids asked questions like what will the baby call you (Amma and Mommy), what will the baby be named (we said we weren't sure if it was a boy so they gave us some suggestions. It was cute.

Then we broke off into groups and we talked to the grades 5-8 youth. First we talked about the power of language and specifically the "That's so gay" phrase. Then we talked about what marriage really means. They said 'love, commitment'. We said yes, but it has a bigger meaning legally regarding how the government views your family. We talked about hospital visitation, insurance, death, social security, inheritance tax. We talked about how our church goes each year to talk to our legislators in MD about same-sex marriage and why this issue is so important to our church. It seemed okay, but kids that age are so quiet. All were quiet except for the one 'punk' kid who said things like "If my friends and I see someone being a racist, we commit a hate crime on them." I don't even know what he means be that. He said lots of other things that made us uncomfortable and the other kids were mostly quiet. We read a poem from the COLAGE website about growing up with two moms and then asked what the kids thoughts of the poem. One kid commented that the poem was well-written and had good parallel structure, and then when the others said they didn't know what that meant, he raised his hand and asked if he could expand on parallel structure. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. But all in all I would say it went well.

5. Sunday afternoon. Spring cleaning. We're busy so we doing this in bits and pieces, starting yesterday. We organized our entry way closets, making room for strollers, and scrubbed the walls and floors. It's the smallest room in the house but it looks great, and it's a start. We were supposed to have our pregnancy support group but it was cancelled and I'm thankful. We had a big enough weekend already.

Tonight is our Baby Care Basics class, then it's a thankfully quiet week from there.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Baby modeling

Our current baby is modeling the clothes we have for our baby on the way. We can't wait for our baby shower this weekend to get more clothes to put on her. She's a good sport. Note: we stole this idea from IinVermillion - as much as we love it, we can't take credit for it ourselves.

4 years ago today

Today is our fourth wedding anniversary. We celebrated by going to an early morning midwife appointment. My how our lives have changed. We try to get away every year to celebrate, usually just one night somewhere in the woods. But we didn't make it this year. Mostly because we're trying to save money. But also we're super busy with classes and showers and support group meetings and midwife appointments. And home projects and cleaning the home. It's just too much. In fact, this weekend, our anniversary weekend, we are going to an infant CPR course, our baby shower, and our pregnancy support group (which we are hosting in our own home).

We do have time for a proper celebration, though. We are going out tomorrow night for dinner at the restaurant we got married in, a yearly tradition we would never miss. It's a beautiful, historic restaurant in walking distance from our home that makes me smile every time I go by. K cleaned the house last night so we will have no distractions. So tomorrow night we celebrate our anniversary before the weekend becomes baby weekend.

The 30-week midwife appointment went well. I've gained 13 pounds and I'm measuring 30 cm. There was a big lump in my belly and the midwife said it was a knee. The baby is active and healthy and all is well.

We really liked the midwife we had today. She's the only one we hadn't seen yet for an appointment and we'd like to have her for every appointment. We met her at our midwife orientation session before we even had our first appointment, and we liked her a lot. She was the reason we signed up for the practice. Now we've realized why she does the orientations - she's definitely got the best people skills of the three women. I've realized that when I imagine my birth, she's the one attending, which is strange considering she hasn't been involved much in my pregnancy. I try not to think about it as tied to one person because I don't want to be disappointed, but that's the image in my head.

I've noticed this week that I've started walking very slowly. Now, I've always been a slow walker. People have complained about it my whole life. But now, it's like I'm barely moving. I'm certainly waddling - a few people have commented on that. I guess that might be part of the slowing down. Today I was walking down the hall at work and a coworker saw me walking very slowly and asked "Is it heavy?" No, it's not heavy at all. I don't even notice my belly until I run it into something (like the scale today at the midwife's office). But, yes, I'm walking very slowly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why marriage matters (middle school version)

On Sunday our church's religious education program is focusing on gay marriage as a social justice issue for our church. All K-8 students will start together, reading and discussing And Tango Makes Three, and then splitting into age groups to discuss marriage further. K and I have been asked to talk to the middle schoolers about our relationship and why marriage matters to us. Hmm, in a way that middle schoolers can understand. So we started thinking about the basics and what marriage might mean to a 12 year old, and some specifics that a 12 year old might be able to grasp. Here's what I've come up with so far, though I think some of this material might be stretching it in terms of what they can grasp. Your thoughts?

1. Having a baby. It's not a given that K will be the legal parent of this child. We have to petition the court for this right, and they could deny it, and do for many couples, and in many states they don't allow it at all. Then K would not be able to take this baby to the doctor, to take the child to the hospital if there is an emergency, to pick up the child from school without my permission, to decide which school the child goes to. Also, if I were to die, our children would be legally given to my parents and taken away from K as she would not be considered their legal parent. We are currently in the process of creating our petition to the court and we have to gather letters from our friends and family saying K is a good person and will be a good parent, letters from our doctors saying we are healthy, financial statements saying that we can afford to raise this baby, and lots of other documents. Hopefully the petition will be approved before the baby is three months old and K will be the legal parent of this child.

2. Going to the hospital. If one of us gets hit by a car and has to go to the hospital in an emergency, it is not guaranteed that the other will be able to visit. In a time when you want your family the most, your life partner may be denied access to visit you. Hospitals only allow immediate family in emergency situations, and immediate family is defined as parents, siblings, spouses, and children. Since we are not married, we are not spouses and so we are not defined as immediate family. We have legal paperwork that says that in MD/DC/VA we can be considered immediate family, but outside of MD/DC/VA, these papers do not hold. So if we go on vacation just a few hours away to WV or PA, and get into a car accident, we won't be able to see each other in the hospital.

3. Death. For married couples, if one person dies, the other person automatically assumes ownership of the others property. Since we are not married, this is not automatic. We can create wills that say that the partner inherits all property after death. However, because we are not married, we will have to pay taxes on the property we inherit. So, say we own a house together that costs $400,000. We own the house together and have both paid equally for the house. If one of us dies, that person's half of the house ($200,000) will be inherited by the other. The person still living will have to pay 10% inheritance taxes on the worth of that house, which is $20,000. So, because one partner died, the other partner will have to pay $20,000 for a house they already own. This will be very hard financially because that is a lot of money.

4. Social Security. When a person dies, the government pays social security benefits monthly to the spouse for the rest of their life to help cover the cost of the lost income from the person dying. This is a monthly paycheck to replace the paycheck of the person who died. The idea is that a family's expenses don't go down just because some one died - you still have to pay for your house, groceries for yourself and your children, college for your children, and all of the other expenses of life, but not only on one income. So the government helps with social security. However, since we are not married, this doesn't cover us. So if one of us dies, we will not receive this government help, and will have to cover all of our bills with just one income, which may be very hard.

5. Health Insurance. Many people receive health insurance through their work. Some people don't get insurance through work (like real estate agents), or they don't work (like if a mom or dad stays home to take care of children). Those people typically get insurance through their spouse's work. If you are unmarried, you cannot get insurance through your partner's work. Without health insurance, you have to pay full price for any medical procedure. Say you break your arm or get into a car accident - this will cost thousands of dollars, but with insurance it may cost nothing at all or less than $100. Think about something worse, like cancer, which may be a very long and expensive treatment. Without insurance, this would be impossible to pay for.

6. Family medical leave. By federal law, a person is allowed to take three months off of work to care for a family member who is ill. Family members are defined as spouses, parents, and children. Since we are not spouses, this federal law doesn't apply to us. Therefore, say one of us gets hit by a car. The other would not have the right to take time off of work to take care of the other. If we chose to do so, we may get fired from our jobs. Without our jobs, we may be not able to pay for our home, our car, our groceries. Luckily for us, MD has created a state law that extends this federal law, but people in other states are not as lucky.

7. Maternity/Paternity leave. Many companies offer their employees time off to care for their child when it is born. Typically maternity leave is offered for women who give birth and paternity leave is offered for the fathers. For unmarried couples like us, paternity leave does not apply. Therefore, K would not be able to take time off to care for her new born child because we are not married, and I would be stuck at home by myself going crazy. Luckily for us, her company is allowing this but many do not.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Child birth class

We did our childbirth class this weekend. 2 sessions, the shortened version instead of the 8 week session normally offered. I think the 2 shortened sessions are enough for us. We practiced some positions to get through contractions and a couple of pushing positions. We listened to the sound of someone giving birth so that we would be prepared and not shocked by the sound. We got some very useful tips and advice. A good class.

I am in the process of reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin and K is going to read The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, both recommended by our instructor. And then we will give birth, hopefully sometime after we finish these books.

After the last class, K was excited and wanted to shop (one of her favorite activities). Since we have a baby shower next weekend, we didn't want to buy much. So we went the the big thrift store and checked out the baby stuff. We got a few useful things (children's hangers, outlet covers, birth announcements, some baby books) and one really cool thing - a KISS t-shirt for 0-6 months. We aren't KISS fans but in college we were KISS for Halloween with two other friends, so this was a pretty awesome find.

March is a pretty packed month for baby stuff. Next weekend we have our Infant CPR course, our baby shower, and our pregnancy support group. Also this month - a breastfeeding course, a baby care course, and two midwife appointments. Lots to squeeze in before we run out of time.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Final letter

We've received our last reference letter - this one from my sister. We've also gotten letters from our doctors saying we are healthy. Now we just need to collect all of the other documentation (tax info, family pictures, W2s, etc) and we are set for our second parent adoption.

To whom it may concern:

This letter is in regards to the adoption of the child J K will soon be giving birth to by her life partner and wife K K. I met K in 1998 while attending Stetson University where she and my sister J became close friends. K and my sister developed a loving relationship and later decided to become engaged. They formalized their commitment to each other through a religious ceremony in February of 2005.

K has since become a part of our family. K has been a wonderful aunt to my own two children and will certainly be a caring and loving mother to her own. My sister and K have always sought out ways to make my children feel special and loved even though they live in a different state. They also make a point to put family first in their lives.

Even in the early stages of their relationship J and K dreamed of becoming a family and having children. This child has been planned for and prepared for over the course of several years. Many of their decisions, such as where to live and which home to buy, have been based on the dream of someday having children.

I fully support the adoption of baby K by K K. Please make this dream a reality and grant K’s petition for second parent adoption so that she will have the legal status to support her as she becomes a parent.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A very nice character reference

Our friends J & S are writing a character reference for our second parent adoption. They sent this really nice letter. They are also throwing us a baby shower next weekend. They are good to us.

Dear Sir or Madam:

We are writing to express our strong support for K S K in her application for second parent adoption of the baby that her partner, J K, will give birth to this May.

We have attended church with K and J since 2004, first becoming aware of them during the service in which they gave a touching and joyful announcement to the congregation of their plan to hold a religious marriage ceremony. We became friends during the course of many church functions, and since the moment we moved into their neighborhood in early 2007, K and J have assumed a truly prominent and valued role in the life of our family. We see each other frequently and communicate at least several times per week, and we count ourselves lucky to have such good, close friends to rely on and to share our lives.

As we have gotten to know them, K and J have shared the story of their relationship with us. Best friends since age 18, they became a couple late in college and, in the same year, announced their intention of spending their lives together. In 2001 they went through the legal processes to assume the status and protections of marriage to the extent available to a same-sex couple, and in 2005, then both in their mid-twenties, they elected to hold a religious ceremony to celebrate their marriage. They adopted the same last name, and soon after bought a home together. Since then, we’ve watched them plan financially and organize their lives with great intention and anticipation around the goal of raising a baby together. The day that J called and shared the news of her pregnancy was one of the highlights of our year 2008.

During the course of our friendship, and particularly as they prepare for the new addition to their family, we have come to understand with certainty that J and K will be outstanding parents. We have two children, B, who is eight years old, and E, who is six. Although it is not a given that a childless couple will seek out a great deal of interaction with their friends’ children, K and J have taken an active, loving interest in B and E and have been integral parts of their lives over the past few years. J and K have been as good to our children as they have been to us, celebrating holidays and birthdays, inviting them to movies, sleepovers, and other activities. Our children love and respond to both of them as extended family. When asked who they’d like to have watch them when we are away, the answer we get from our children is inevitably, “K and J!”

While the care they have taken to nurture their relationship with our children is a strong indicator of the engaged and caring parents they will both be, we also have indications of the quality and style of parenting J and K will provide their child. Through numerous conversations on the topic, we have come to understand the deliberate thoughtfulness with which they approach parenthood, and they have on several occasions given us excellent suggestions in how to deal with issues we have faced with our children. They observe the parenting styles of everyone around them, and they have articulated well-formed opinions about the manner in which parents’ expectations of their children, their values, and their behavior should be defined and encouraged. Because their observations and conclusions align very closely with our own, we naturally believe that their parenting will be outstanding! More important to note, however, is the characteristic intentionality and thoughtfulness of their approach. The careful deliberation and thought that they have invested in every major decision of their relationship, from legal and financial decisions to the decision to have a child, will carry over to support their success as parents.

We could not be more enthusiastic about recommending both K and J as parents. They are a committed, loving couple who have a tremendous amount to offer their child. Please grant K’s petition for second parent adoption so that she will have the legal status to support her as she becomes a parent to this very lucky child.

M J K and S A W


Last weekend I had my first Braxton Hicks contractions. I was in bed early in the morning, still sleeping but half awake. I felt a dull cramp in my uterus, and in my sleepy mind, forgetting that I was pregnant, I thought "Oh, I'm getting my period. I had better get up soon and put on a pad." Later when I remembered this, when I was fully awake, I thought it was pretty humorous because I haven't had my period since August. But after 20 years of period cramps, that was the first thing that popped into my sleepy head.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Birthing class

We take our weekend intensive birthing class this weekend - two days instead of 8 weeks. We are doing Birthworks, which I think covers a series of techniques instead of just one method like others might. Many people told us to take this course, and we typically rely on others for advice, so we went with it.

Each of us had to complete a questionnaire. Here's my version.

Age: 30

If currently pregnant, due date: May 16, 2009

Was this a planned pregnancy? Yes

If you are employed, what do you do? Statistician

Do you intend to be employed after the baby is born? Yes

What is your marital/relationship status?
Domestic Partnership

How Long?
9 years

What are your hopes for this birth?
Uncomplicated, surrounded by people I can trust to help me make the right decisions, stay positive, don’t get lost in fear

What are your concerns or fears about this birth?
My midwife said I have a small pelvis – I hope this doesn’t cause any trouble. I hope that I can stay positive and not give into fear.

Any physical problems during this pregnancy?

Are you generally healthy or have you often had illnesses or injuries?
Generally healthy, though overweight

Do you plan to breastfeed? Yes

Did your mother or anyone in your family breastfeed? Mother no, but my sister did for both of her children.

At this point, who is your midwife and/or doctor, and where do you plan to give birth?
Midwifery Care Associates giving birth at Shady Grove

Do you exercise? If yes, please describe.
Some. A pregnancy fitness DVD and a pregnancy yoga DVD, though neither often enough.

How do you feel about your eating habits and nutritional status?
Fairly healthy. Recently switched to a very low fat diet to account for gallstones.

What reading have you done about pregnancy and birth?
What to Expect, Vegetarian Pregnancy, Great Expectations, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (in progress)

Have you taken or heard about any other childbirth preparation courses? What was your reaction?
Not taken any others, but heard about them. I’ve heard Lamaze and Hypnotherapy are too specific – work great for some people, but if they don’t work for you, you have nothing to fall back on. Bradley seems unwelcoming of same-sex couples or maybe just unaware (husband-coached) and I’ve heard they produce very large babies.

Why did you choose Birth Works?
Lots of people recommended.

What do you want from this course?
Tips for getting us through childbirth – ways to cope with pain, positions to use during labor and good birthing positions.

How has this pregnancy or previous children affected your relationship with your partner?
She takes care of me now. Before we took care of each other, but now she takes care of me. She’s very supportive but I am aware of the shift in dynamics and try not to take advantage.

Home improvement day

On Saturday some handy friends came over to for 'Home Improvement Day'. We had a long list of projects to complete to 'make room for baby' and those wonderful people helped us to get them all done. We've got great friends. We installed shelves in our bedroom, installed a jewelry amoire over the bedroom door, built a bookshelf in the kitchen, put together our crib, put together the glider, hung shelves in the nursery, and rearranged the furniture in the nursery. And while they were there, they did some additional things unrelated to baby but very nice - installed a magazine rack in the bathroom, installed a chain lock on the front door, installed a light in the closet. It's an amazing amount of work these people did for us! It certainly would have taken us months to finish what we completed in a day.

Since then we have been rearranging things to the new shelves, moving things out of the nursery closet and into other parts of our home. Yesterday K reworked the linen closet, which now closes! Last night we pulled everything out of the nursery, repacked things into containers, put things in drawers and on shelves, and it's amazing. A room that couldn't be walked in because of all of this random baby crap we've accumulated now has empty closet shelves and drawers.

We still have a list of small home improvement projects to do. We are still decorating the nursery. And we want to do spring cleaning before the baby is born since who knows the next time any cleaning will be done. But we've made major progress thanks to our friends.