I told myself this pregnancy, I would document my experience more thoroughly than my last pregnancy. I haven’t, though. I haven’t documented anything thus far, and I’m in the last two months. When Iris was living in my body, I typed notes every few days from the pos pregnancy test up until 13 weeks. Here’s what I remember.
The upside to this was that it only ran us a thousand dollars a month on a credit card. Woo. The downside was that for a year I doubted my body’s evolutionary success. The doubt roots deeply, and this doubt was one I experienced when we were trying to get pregnant in 2012, too. Of course, this downside would have happened in a hospital, too, with a higher price tag. Sooooo upside is that we’re pregnant.
May 3, 2014.
Having our tiny baby at home was empowering. I went to the zoo. I pulled weeds. We took a walk. I ate a bagel and a banana and a pear and red raspberry leaf tea ice chips and I felt like a fucking princess, like I could yell and kick a hole in the wall if I wanted and still my feet would be rubbed and my leg cramps would be rubbed and I’d still get my really really really hot mini pool in my living room. I didn’t kick a hole in the wall, or yell at anyone, but I could have is all I’m saying. Christina looked like an angel and she let me scream in her face and I think about her face sometimes, the look in her eyes between my contractions and the way they shined in the candlelight at four in the morning.
My mom was there, taking pictures and telling me to growl like an animal. I was amazed how my body would feel nothing between contractions, I started out eating and joking between them but sometime during the third day of labor I slept between them. I stared at myself above the mirror in the sink and told myself my body would get our ET out. As I sat in the hot hot bath I told myself my body would never get my ET out, they would go on living inside of me. I told myself I wasn’t ready to be a mom. I told myself I was. I told myself someone would need to take my ET out because I couldn’t.
I looked pretty. I remember I looked at myself and I thought I had the eyes of a goddess. I remember I started crying at some point and I said, “I’m crying, but it’s totally unrelated to the pain and I’m not sure I can even tell you why I’m crying. I could be laughing, too. I might actually be laughing. I’m not even crying. Even though I’m sobbing.”
After I started pushing there was no more pain, just pressure. So much pressure. It was my favorite part. I remember thinking I could probably have an orgasm the next time around. They said, “We can see hair,” and I said, “Hair? That’s not my baby.” She was so warm when she spilled out of my body and I felt alive for a brief moment before the blood went somewhere. Out of me? I don’t know. It was gone and I wanted my mozzarella cheese I never got to eat. I didn’t see Iris until Christina held her. I felt high for days and days and days. I came down about three weeks later.
I cried because the world looked beautiful. I cried because the dressing bottle at Dions was perfect. The mountains were pink. I could stand on my feet again.
I took back my lunchable from Iris. She collected all my goodies in the amazing placenta and I had it dried and I ate it and it tasted like blood and I craved more. I smelled like blood all the time but only I could smell it and I want it again.
I’d have another baby at home. And another. My midwife looked into my face and said, “Tabatha, stop yelling.” And I did. I loved her in that moment.
November 10, 2015
We've had the kid (who is now a kid!) for a year-and-a-half, and I often think about how positive our first birth experience was. My wife recalls the story with more anxiety, and it's not too difficult to see why. There were things going on that I would have been more scared by had I not been totally flooded with whatever magical high you get when you are in labor. For example, our labor was several days long. Baby had her cord around her neck. At 9cm dilated my waters still hadn't broken. There was some post-bleeding that required a shot of pitocin. This is what Christina remembers as being the most scary. I remember suddenly needing to put my head down, but my little baby was in my arms and I felt the most calm I could never have imagined. I needed a stitch or two.
In hindsight, I wouldn't have done anything differently. With foresight, I know to make a bunch of raspberry tea ice cubes, they were amazing and the right amount of savory and cold to suck on the whole labor. I know to have lavender and rosemary compresses if we have a different midwife, my baby and my body smelled like it for days. I know where to get the best sitz bath mixture from. I ended up having Iris lying down in bed, which was unexpected and didn't make sense, at all. I remember saying, "No, don't make me fucking lie down I fucking hate lying down." It was the only time I swore during labor, and it's true. I fucking hate lying down! It hurt! The pressure! My back! My hips! But my midwife knew I'd been up for days, my labor was in its third day and it slowed down in the birthing pool. I needed to get less comfortable to get my baby out.
Our midwife will be in Albuquerque for another year. While Christina and I are still adjusting, we'll probably always be adjusting, and the thought of having another baby with our midwife makes me elated. Another baby! If we do decide to have another baby, I'll, oh gosh, hopefully have a more pleasant time with the getting pregnant part, that's what took us years and heartbreak last time.
To be continued.
Lots of people want to know exactly how we planned our baby. This step-by-step guide is very basic, and it is lacking all of my emotional meltdowns to Rod Steward songs, but it might be useful, or informative or mildly interesting to some of you. Go forth and have a lesbian baby!
So You Want to Have a Baby Human
If you find yourself gazing into the eyes of your pet rat and wish more than anything that Jodi was actually your child instead of your rodent, you just might be ready. You have to be willing to give up things you love, like salsa and sleeping sprawled-out, face-down across your bed. You might need to stop eating food with your partner for a few months. You might learn that she won’t actually be there to hold your hair back while you’re puking. It’s okay, though. You’re a strong woman, and on those long, quiet, emotional nights, you’ll be so thankful you have Jodi to share cheese with as you obsessively browse through pregnant lady blogs and forums.
How to get you pregnant:
1. TALK WITH YOUR PARTNER. It’s important to understand that this baby cannot genetically be both yours and your partner’s. Consider what this means. Do you both want to be parents? Do you both want to be listed as parents on the birth certificate? Learn how far along your state is in the fight for equality and how your partner will be affected if they aren’t listed on the birth certificate or if they don’t adopt. What if you break up? Talk it out, and if you break up in the process of talking it out, be glad things ended before this baby got started. Most importantly, be sure you both agree who will carry the fetus.
2. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Find a good prenatal vitamin to take. Right now. By the time I was ten weeks pregnant, I couldn’t even look at my prenatal, much less swallow it. Our midwife reminded me that it’s the six months leading up to the pregnancy that are the most important for taking care of our bodies. I recommend getting a huge vitamin supply, the 150 capsules instead of the 60. It’ll save you money and they’ll eventually all get eaten. Start exercising regularly. Taking a walk around your neighborhood counts! You’ll cherish that alone time once you’ve got a clingy little human touching you always. Ask your partner if she wants in on this healthy thing, it is much easier to take better care of yourself if your partner wants to make an effort, too.
3. BUY SOME PEESTICKS, YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO. Whether you see a doctor or a midwife, they’ll both tell you to start off by tracking your cycle. Don’t waste your time at their office by getting that golden advice. Do some prep work and already know how long your cycle is and on what day you get a surge. Don’t start off splurging thirty bucks on fancy peesticks that smile at you. Get some dipsticks or test strips or whatever they’re called at the moment, they’re half as much money, just as accurate, and you get a bigger supply of them. If you have no idea how your cycle works, start counting days beginning at your next period. Day 1 of your cycle is Day 1 of your period. Start peeing on sticks around Day 7 of your cycle on the second pee of the day. The first pee is so concentrated your pee stick won’t detect the luteinizing hormone (LH). You get a hormonal surge 12-24 hours before a tiny gamete bursts forth from your fallopian tube. This generally happens within the week after your period ends, sometimes as late as the third week if you’re like me and you have a 40-day cycle. As soon as you get a positive, you don’t need to keep testing. Just record it, stop peeing on sticks, and start tracking again on the first day of your next period. Knowing and trusting your own body is the most important part of empowerment.
4. GO SEE A DOCTOR. Make an appointment with your OB/GYN. Talk about your overall health and ask if they have any recommendations for you, from vaccines to dietary changes. Get a Pap. Make sure nothing weird is going on. You do not have to say yes to any of their recommendations. You’re just there to chat and have them swab your insides! Also, ask for a referral to a fertility clinic and make an appointment.
5. GO SEE A CERTIFIED MIDWIFE. Preferably, a midwife outside of a hospital, a midwife who works from a free standing birthing center or has her own practice, a woman who is not subject to endless unnecessary hospital protocols. These women are extremely smart, are medically trained, and have decided to spend their lives helping out other women. They’re intuitive, creative, nurturing, and the toughest ladies you’ll ever meet. If something is strange with your cycle or your health, she can offer you guidance outside the realm of prescription drugs. We were referred to our first midwife by a doctor friend of ours. She became the person who helped us feel in control over our own baby, and she helped me understand that our bodies are amazing and capable. Make that appointment, sit down and chat, and ask if she knows where you can have an insemination done outside of a hospital. Midwives are a pretty tightly knit group of kickass women. Chances are, she can refer you to someone certified to do inseminations if she can’t. Check out midwife.org to search for midwives who work from a birthing center or are present for home births.
6. TALK AGAIN. You’ll hopefully be showered with oodles of information about baby-making by now. It’s time to decide whether you want to take advice from from the doc or midwife. Have you thought about from where or whom you will procure your sperm? Decide whether you’d like to go to that appointment at the fertility clinic, whether you’d like to stay outside of the hospital, or whether you’d feel best seeing both conventional and holistic practitioners. Schedule for any required bloodwork. It’s your body! Don’t let anyone try and control it except you. Remember, you can change practitioners at any time. One doctor looked at me and told me I’d likely need a cesarean because I am small-framed. Fuck off, man, you have no clue. My body expelled my baby all on its own.
7. SERIOUSLY, TALK ABOUT THE SPERM. Do you have a friend who has offered their fresh baked goods? If so, talk to them about it again. Who would the donor be to the kid? Are they willing to see an attorney? What rules would you like for them to follow? STD testing, avoiding unprotected sex, cutting off drugs and alcohol, and getting off only every other day are pretty common requests. Or would you prefer to order spermies online through a cryobank and have them mailed via a sexy, cryogenic tank to their physician/nurse practitioner? Known donor or unknown donor? Browse through those online donor profiles if a cryobank is where you’re headed!
8. AND ABOUT THE SPERM, IUI OR ICI? Your doctor/midwife likely recommended a procedure, either an intrauterine insemination or an intracervical insemination. Either the goodies go into your hooha(ICI), or beyond your hooha into your uterus(IUI). There’s a slightly higher chance of getting pregnant with an IUI. Ask what procedure they’d recommend, and how many times they’d like to inseminate during a cycle. Ask for a breakdown of charges. Is there anything that seems confusing to you? Ask away! The more questions you ask, the more in charge you’ll feel, mama.
9. WHAT ABOUT FRESH SPERM? If you’ve got a donor who will jerk off for the sake of your growing family, excellent! There are a variety of recommendations for how to store and use the sperm. Head back to that midwife, she can give you advice for your at-home insemination, which can (and should) totally involve an orgasm. You’ve got about a half hour from the time the goods are collected until you can use them. Early on in our journey, we planned for a fresh donation from my brother-in-law as well as from one of our good friends. Using fresh sperm really is the easiest possible way to get pregnant if you’ve got a willing donor. There’s a reason people so often get accidentally knocked up. Those little gametes are insistent upon staying alive in your reproductive tract for a week or longer, unlike the frozen ones who are dead within 72 hours.
10. PEE ON THOSE STICKS. Keep track of when you’re getting positives on your pee stick. I remember I could tell I was going to get a surge by my insane desire to have sex the day before. If you’re having an IUI or ICI, make sure you call the cryobank or your midwife right away. We started out at a cryobank that was closed on the weekend. You’ve only got a 12-24 hour window of opportunity once you get that smiley on your peestick, get in there ASAP! If you are using fresh sperm, it stays alive for about a week. If your friend would like to seriously help out, ask if they could provide a few more rounds of goods, I’m sure it won’t be too hard for them. I’d do an at-home insemination every other day starting as soon as your period ends through your smileyface peestick. Also, have I mentioned you should wear a pantyliner during all of this insemination stuff? It’s kind of drippy.
11. ADD UP PRICES. How much is this baby going to cost? Compare prices across clinic and the independent nurse practitioner/midwife I hope you found! The midwife we found charged $15 after insurance. Just the copay. The clinic charged $300 just for the IUI, plus a $100 handling fee, plus the copay. Expect to budget about $1000 per attempt for the sperm alone. This is why all that peeing on sticks and charting ovulation makes you crazy. We spent almost $10,000 over two years because of miscarriages. We’ll be paying off our baby for the next few years.
12. SPLURGE ON SMILEY FACE PEE STICKS. SMILE MEANS GO! You’ve been waiting for it. Follow whatever plan has been made with your doctor, midwife, or between you guys and your known donor. Get that smiley face and try to hook up some gametes!
13. RELAX. GET A FOOT RUB. Ask for everything you’ve ever wanted from your partner. You’ll spend the next two weeks wondering if every possible bodily function could be a sign of your pregnancy. Don’t start testing until you’re a week late, though. The most terrible thing could be for you to get a positive pregnancy test while your body is in the middle of miscarrying. It’s hard enough spending those two weeks wondering if you’re pregnant and then getting your period. Just let your body relax. Enjoy a bloody mary. Indulge. Go to sleep at night. Or have sex. Whatever you desire.
14. REPEAT PEEING ON STICKS AND ACQUIRING SPERM UNTIL PREGNANT. You have a 25% chance getting pregnant on that first try! Realistically, your second or third would be excellent. Once you’ve gone a few rounds of this, you start deteriorating and you start wondering if you’re broken. You’re not. I started wondering if I was actually a man, if I had a Y chromosome stuck in my DNA and that was the real reason I couldn’t get pregnant. I’m not actually a man. I just have a man’s hairline.
15. GET THAT FIRST ULTRASOUND. Christina and I didn’t get the very first ultrasound, that sweet little bean ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. For us, it was hearing the heartbeat through a Doppler ultrasound at 10 weeks. It feels so, so good. Seeing that little speck floating around, hearing them pulse inside of your belly, knowing they exist, there’s nothing that can compare. Now, continue to become the better person you promised yourself you’d be. You don’t have a choice.
Congratulations! You have finished reading the checklist! Now go grab your partner, read this checklist again together, and start writing down your momliest fantasies. Cuddle up on the couch and watch “The Business of Being Born.” Hold each other real tight when all the babies start flying out towards the end. Go visit zoo babies. Buy some pee sticks, track that cycle, sweetly ask your relatives and your gay best friends for sperm, cry when everything feels like it’s falling apart, and keep trying. Most importantly, remember this is your body and your baby. The more you know, the more in control you’ll feel, and you’ll radiate that fierce lady energy out into the femisphere. By the time you find yourself crying in a puddle of delicious baby bliss, you might have learned enough about yourself that you can forgive someone else who was once just as new at this as you: Your mom!