Tag Archives: queer parents

Second Parent Adoption

tl;dr We have a home interview scheduled for next Monday (in a week) and I have no idea what to expect. Any advice?

Way back when Lady Jr was born, we had no trouble getting both of our names on the birth certificate. Then we actually got the certificate and saw that they’d listed Dr Lady as the father. I didn’t think much of it, but then the election happened and really fucked up judges started being appointed to various circuits and Dr Lady spoke to several attorney/legal friends and, well. We decided we’d just feel a whole lot safer if Dr Lady formally adopted Lady Jr.

I’ve chaffed against the very idea the entire time because wtf, straight people don’t have to adopt their own children, but of course I don’t really have to worry about my own legal status as the biological mother, so. And said legal friends did assure us that doing so now would save a lot of potential future headache for Dr Lady if something happened to me. So, rage against the hetero-normative legal system aside, we found a lawyer, filed paperwork, and started the process.

The fun (/sarcasm) thing about adoption, even second-parent (which is what’s used for step-parents), is that they still have to over-analyze your life. So we filled out a questionnaire when we filed and now a social worker will be stopping by our home and… asking questions?

Honestly, I have no idea. I’ve tried Ye Olde Googles, but the results are heavily weighted toward straight up adoption and I don’t know if second parent is any different. Since they’ll be in the house, I’m assuming that basic safety things should be in place (and already are). Like, outlet covers and no knives on the floor. But I don’t know what might be expected beyond that. All the chemicals are out of reach, but the door to the basement remains open. I mean, we close it if she’s zipping around the house and we’re not keeping up, but there’s no gate or anything.

Mostly I just don’t know what to expect from the questions. I’m sure it’ll be fine, I can’t imagine anyone looking at my wife interacting with Lady Jr and not thinking they’re perfect, but also I don’t want to give any homophobic buttwipe an excuse to be, well, homophobic.

Anyway. Any advice/help/pointing in the right Googly direction would be appreciated.

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17 Months and Tucson

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I’m doing that thing again where I don’t post because it’s been so long since I last posted that I have like 100 things to say, so I’m only going to focus on two just now.

17 Months!

Lady Jr is definitely a toddler now and every week is doing more and more child-like things and dropping some of her baby habits. Toddlerhood is a strange transition. On the one hand, she’s very much still a baby. On the other, she understands so much.

As the baby book that we use as a doorstop says “baby says little but she understands all.”

Not wrong.

I got used to her being about as smart as the cats, but she is well beyond that and I’m not keeping up. She remembers where she left things, remembers where she usually leaves things, remembers where I’ve put things, remembers routines and other things. She brings us her hat when it’s time to go out. She points to her shoes happily and then lifts up her feet.

I put a diaper down and pointed at it and said “diaper change time!” and she stopped what she was doing and plopped down next to it.

She has said “nuk,” “cat,” “kitty,” “book,” “all done,” “yeah,” and “yes.” There are definitely more words in there I haven’t deciphered. I could’ve sworn I heard “no” yesterday, and I know once that starts it doesn’t stop.

Her walking is almost out of the stumbling-drunk stage. She walks confidently many places, but is still wary of the outside. It’s going to be 50 this weekend, so we’ll work on that.

She rarely crawls anymore.

She sleeps all the way until 6am. Which has been amazing. I think we’re done with the morning bottle. We still have one at night before bed. I’m not sure when to give that one up.

She loves water. Her favorite foods are still sweet potato, chicken, eggs, and cheese.

I can’t believe she’ll be 1.5 years in just a month.

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Tucson

Ever since we left Arizona, we knew we’d be back to visit. I’d specifically planned on coming for the Tucson Festival of Books weekend. And so we did. We flew 4-5 hours and spent a week in the desert with our friends and cacti and introduced Lady Jr to all of it and it was great.

This was her fourth plane trip: Atlanta, Germany, Minnesota, and now Tucson. I never intended to travel so much with her, but also we have purposefully not been traveling as much as we used to, so really – we just travel a lot. When our family and friends are as spread out as they are, it’s hard not to.

Honestly, these days I daydream about living in the same town/area as family. It’s probably not going to happen any time soon, but every time I meet another person here in Lansing who is from here and has lived here all their lives – I get a little jealous.

Anyway. Tucson.

Lady Jr met her first cactus and her first mourning dove and her first quail. She played with sand and she walked around the Festival of Books. She met all of my coworkers, and some of my old county coworkers. She tasted ice cream and prickly pear sauce and churros and sweet potato fries. She met a cockatoo face-to-face and… well, got a bit scared honestly.

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She did really well in the pack n play and on the plane and with all the travel and meeting everyone. She continues to be the hammiest ham, making friends wherever she goes. I’m always afraid of running into someone who absolutely hates babies, but if I have, their hate has been lost in all the love she receives from everyone else.

Occasionally I reflect on how they only love her now because she’s tiny and cute and as soon as she starts to be a Real Human Being, they won’t want to love and protect her – but that way lies anger and madness, so.

Anyway, Tucson was great. I’d gone hoping for a little closure and instead realized after seeing all my friends that I really am lonely in Michigan. And not for want of trying – boy, have I fucking reached out here – but that’s for another post.

God, the mountains, the cacti, the food, the coffee, the people, the books, the library, the endless horizon –

When we landed back in Michigan, it was 30 and snowing.

Gotta just keep telling myself that come May, it gets gross there and lovely here. And now that Lady Jr is getting better at the car again, we can actually see some of the coast and the upper peninsula this summer.

In the meantime…

heavy nostalgic sigh

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15 Months

Who even is this goose?

Someone started pulling up in November and now she’s cruising on everything. Just this Saturday she let go of the coffee table for the first time and took one, two steps before falling to her butt and giggling. Then she tried again.

She’s a nut, and in more ways than one. Truly she’s becoming a toddler at hyper speed and we don’t have long before those long arms reach the doorknobs. One recent weekend, we installed locks on the cabinets in the kitchen. The next weekend, we finished baby-proofing the noffice (nursery/office). Now we need to toddler-proof it.

The mood swings are getting pretty intense and my patience is already being sorely tested. She’s recently started pointing at things, opening her hand, and saying “da!” Which is adorable – until she doesn’t get what she wants / we don’t figure out what she wants in time. Then it’s back arching and tears and screams.

Meal times are quickly becoming a battlefield, although I suspect part of this is because she’s teething again. Half the time she’ll hit everything out of our hands before we can even put it on her plate, the other half she’ll only accept food if it’s on its way to our mouths first. And ho boy, if you use the microwave and don’t immediately give her food, you’re in for it.

And then there are the times that we play tickle monster and she just giggles and giggles and giggles. Or when we flop on mama-Sarah and she’s full of high-pitched squeals. Or when we go down the slide and she reaches the bottom and throws herself forward. Or when we open her door in the morning and she just grins around her nuk and goes “heeeeh.”

She is a handful and she is a delight. She makes me want to scream and then she puts her head on my shoulder and everything is perfect. I tell her how hard her life is and try not to be sarcastic because it’s true. I know what it’s like to not be understood, to be overwhelmed by your emotions, to not be in control. It is hard. Hard for her, hard for us, and we have to navigate this together.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m also not super glad she’s back at daycare today. Mama needs a break sometime.

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13 Months

I feel like ever since she started really crawling and picking things up and making eye contact, I’ve been less… not enthusiastic, maybe more less surprised?… by each new milestone. They kinda smooth one right into another now. One day she’ll be knocking over the towers of blocks, the next she picks them off one by one, the next she’s putting them together one by one.

She crawls on all fours more often than army-crawling now, and she also pushes around a box on her knees more than she crawls. She occasionally does a downward dog maneuver, inching her hands in as if that might help her stand. She doesn’t pull up to stand, but she does crawl up us until she’s got one hand on a knee and is otherwise balancing on her own.

Sometimes she sleeps until 5am before crying, sometimes she wakes up at 11 and 1 and 3. More often these days she’s not ready to get up until 7am, thank the gods. I’ve reclaimed my early morning writing time and it has made me a better human being.

She hates socks. She loves being tickled. She plays peekaboo by herself in her crib. She appears to enjoy daycare. If I roll a ball to her, she’ll half-throw, half-roll it back. She likes to stand on my lap and hold my shoulders. She likes to put her blocks in her box and then cruise around the house tossing them out. We call her Baby Clause.

She likes eggs, but everything else is on a day-to-day basis. Some days she’ll eat chicken and rice and mushrooms. Some days she won’t. We just keep rotating and offering and reminding ourselves that some days, we don’t want to eat chicken and rice and mushrooms either.

She has opinions. She’s started throwing in a few “mamama”s with her “dadada”s. She holds up her hands and opens and closes her fists when she wants something. I’ve joked that figuring out what she wants is a lot like playing hot-and-cold: her whining increases the further you get from what she wants and the excited babbling increases the closer you get.

I can see why people would want more than one now. We’re starting to think about a second. Well, Dr Lady wants a second and I’m getting there.

I wish I could go back to this time last year and show past me how much better it gets, because omgoodness yes. I know we still have many backslides ahead of us in terms of emotional development, but this is the adventure I wanted.

 

Speaking of adventure, we’re going to Germany next week. Oh god.

 

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One Year Old

We have a one-year-old.

It has been an amazing year. Some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life. Yesterday, on her actual birthday, I was thankful for all she has brought us.

Unfettered joy. Bright wonder. Sheer life. Hope.

I looked back on the older pictures of her and realized she’d been herself from the very start. Even in her newborn photos you can trace the shapes that will become her square jaw and expressive eyebrows and cupid’s bow lips. Once she noticed the camera, you can see her inquisitiveness and unabashed delight.

She is stubborn and she is persistent. She is observant and she is hesitant. She is engaging and she is curious. She is attentive and she is (just a little) mischievous. She is compassionate and she is gentle. She is strong.

She loves beets and egg yolks and bread. She’ll squawk indignantly if you don’t share what you’re eating. She loves the kitties and she loves her stacking cups. She’ll drag her elephant lovey across the room as she army-crawls. She’ll pull out all the books on the shelf and then sit and turn the pages of her favorites. She’ll spend an hour taking blocks out of a box and putting them back and then she’ll suddenly crawl over to mama and demand to be held, then just as suddenly demand to go back to playing.

She smiles with her whole body and she cries just as fully.

She likes the book on quarks. She likes to play on her xylophone. She figured out how to stack her rings and she can pull up to her knees.

Her laugh melts my heart and her smile brightens my day and her cry makes me wish I could move the heavens to make everything better.

I’m so excited to see how she’ll grow, how she’ll expand into a toddler, a child, a human being. How she’ll change. And how she’ll stay the same.

Happy birthday, Lady Jr.

 

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One Year Postpartum: When it Got Better

This time last year I thought I’d be pregnant for another week at least. Little did I know…

I’m finding as we close in on one year, I’m feeling less inclined to rehash the beginnings. I’ve talked before about how hard it was and how little I want to do it again. I firmly believe labor and birth and the fourth trimester are one of the hardest things anyone can go through, at least in the modern world, where we have plumbing and sanitation and individual houses on individual streets in individual cities far from our closest connections.

But I want to touch on the isolation and sleep deprivation and anxiety one more time because I feel like past me could’ve used some sense of how much better it would get.

People will tell you about the long nights and the lack of sleep and the inability to function and the severe spikes in anxiety and the intrusive thoughts, but it’s one thing to be told and another to experience. I thought I was ready, but you just can’t be ready for it – and that’s okay. Unfortunately, I beat myself up a lot instead of just accepting and celebrating that we had all made it another day. I saw pictures of other women online who seemed to be about at the same point PP, but they were smiling and happy and put-together and out doing things in the world, whereas I saw more of netflix than I did my wife.

In the first few months, a typical night was spent on the couch bouncing a baby to sleep for 30, 40min, then caaaarefully putting her in the bouncer and trying to sleep myself or – more typically – giving up on sleep and watching netflix instead. Around 2am even I started to get tired, but by then the baby would be waking up soon so I would wait and watch. Then another hour of nursing and bouncing and finally finally she’s asleep and I feel like I can just close my eyes – except the cats have decided it’s time to whine for food or jump on me or scratch the carpet and the baby stirs and it’s 5am and I’m not sure I can make it until 7am, when I can trade with Dr Lady – but I force myself too out of some twisted sense of martyrdom and I watch each minute inch by until it’s 6.30am and the baby wakes and I feed her and bounce her and by now I’m weak and dizzy with exhaustion and I crawl into bed crying and asking Dr Lady to take over and then I lie in bed for another 30min staring at the ceiling and wondering if what I’m hearing is the baby crying or just my ears ringing and –

It got better the first time at 2 weeks. That’s when Lady Jr started to have a sense of day versus night.

It got better again at 4 weeks. Lady Jr started sleeping in longer, more predictable chunks.

It got better again around 10 weeks. That’s when we moved Lady Jr into our bedroom and even though her sleep didn’t improve, simply not having the cats around all the time actually meant I would sometimes sleep.

It got better again at 11 weeks, when I cut dairy out of my diet and the near-constant crying finally stopped.

It got better again at 12 weeks, when we discovered Lady Jr would stop fighting sleep if we just put her down and let her roll it out.

It got better again at 12 weeks, when Lady Jr became more than just a lump and would smile and babble and grab at things and actually play on the floor so we didn’t have to hold her all the time.

It got better again when she started daycare, when Lady Jr stopped fighting going to bed at night all together. The constant wake-ups were still another thing, but over the following weeks it became a little easier for her to go back to sleep.

There was a bit (see: a big) regression with sleep between 3-6 months what with the 4 month regression and a near constant string of colds and ear infections.

But it got better again at 6 months, when we moved her out of our room and into her own. Almost overnight she went from waking up 4-6 times a night to only three.

It got better again when her 3 naps consolidated down to 2 and suddenly I felt like I wasn’t fighting her during the day anymore.

It got better again when she started crawling, because she could get to her toys and play more by herself.

It got better again at 8 months, when the three wake-ups went down to two went down to one.

It got better again at 9 months, when she started waking up at 3 or 4 or even 5am and I started sleeping 3, 4, 5 hours in a row.

It got better and better and better after that, as Lady Jr’s personality began to show through, and she would laugh and clap and dance. She watches everything that we do and displays skills suddenly, without seeming to have practiced at all.

It got better when I realized I finally loved her. Some moms say they bonded and loved their kid immediately, but for me it took months. I loved the idea of her more than the infant in my arms, but she grew and grew and now I miss being away from her and look at the pictures I’ve taken while I’m at work like I used to sneak glances of a crush. I feel a surge of joy when Dr Lady brings her home in the evening and when I go into her room to get her after a nap or a night.

Lady Jr is amazing and I love her. Yes, those first sixish months might have been the hardest, both physically and mentally, of my life, but I would go through them again and again for this baby and her wide smile and delightful laugh.

So: new moms, it gets better. It gets so much better. For some it’s earlier, for some much later, but it does get better. ❤

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One Year Post-Partum: What I Wish I’d Known

Our Lady Jr will be turning one next week(!!). So of course I’m thinking a lot about the last year. I have a lot to say and I’ll try to spread it out over several coherent posts.

This time last year I was 100% done being pregnant and convinced I’d be pregnant forever. I knew I’d be a week late, but thankfully I’d been prepared for labor to start since about 36 weeks. So when I actually went into labor on my due date, I was prepared.

…well, ish. Can anyone really be prepared for labor? For kids? That’s at least one thing I did right in those final weeks: to have no expectations. But even attempting to avoid expectations, you have expectations.

I realize now that I’d expected to have a long, late labor, that I’d have a difficult baby (in one way or another), that I’d be exhausted all the time, that I’d go for short walks, that I’d just sit around most of the time in the first few weeks, that I’d also be able to do things like go grocery shopping right away, that I’d have PPD, that I’d be back to my regular lifting/running by six weeks, that I’d be able to keep life-ing like usual, just minus the dayjob.

Oof. Yeah, not so much. So let’s just go with what I wish I’d known:

1) There’s a reason why a lot of ladies fear fast labors, and it’s not just because of the distance to the hospital. While I appreciated the shortened window of pain, the speed of it terrified me and gave me no time to absorb the fact that I was legit having a baby before the baby was had. I’m still grappling with some what-ifs from that time, TBH.

2) Putting any pressure on your bits post labor, including (especially) sitting, is painful AF. Leaning forward, getting up from sitting, basically any sort of movement was a lesson in pain and physics for about 2 weeks. I should’ve started using witch hazel and frozen pads sooner, but for some reason I just didn’t think about it.

3) PP recovery is no joke & just because I had a short labor, I wasn’t magically spared. I went to the grocery store 4 days post labor and nearly fainted. When they say take it easy, they legit mean stay in bed as long as possible. Do not do the dishes. Do not do the laundry. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

4) Colic =/ difficult baby. I wish I had known this sooner so that I would’ve sought more solutions instead of just accepting It Is What It Is. Beause…

5) Dairy intolerance does not necessarily mean lactose intolerance. It can mean casein, which means that even yogurt and hard cheese can be problematic. I didn’t realize this, so I avoided lactose, but still ate hard cheeses etc. It wasn’t until I cut out dairy 100% that Lady Jr stopped screaming and started sleeping longer, quite literally over the span of 24 hours.

6) Bouncers/rock n plays are lifesavers for colicky babies.

7) Sleep begets sleep and that’s true for mommy, too. I had a very hard time sleeping those first few months, even when given the time to sleep.

8) I’m running and lifting again now, but it took a good six, seven months before I was able to do anything like I used to. This is normal.

9) Honestly, I should’ve just expected to chill and try to sleep whenever I could for the first six months. After that, life began to get a bit easier.

10) It gets better. Don’t listen to those blog posts from moms with teens who’re telling new moms it doesn’t get easier. They’re assholes. You will sleep again. You won’t always cry from exhaustion when your baby smiles at you. They either had charming little sleeping newborns or they don’t remember what it’s like to have a 102 degree fever and be dragging yourself from room to room so you can pump for your 3 month old in daycare who was up all last night (and will be up all that night) only to have to stop and puke for the third time because you can’t keep liquids down and then have to spend all weekend caring for that 3 month old who is not happy because they can sense you’re not happy and you haven’t eaten or slept in 3 days… yeah.

11) Sleep is so incredibly important. I wish I’d been kinder to myself when I was so sleep-deprived.

12) The lows are really fucking low but the HIGHS are incredibly high.

13) It is 100% worth it.

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