Raising a Blended Family

Heading off to our first birthing class…

on June 26, 2012

So I’m sitting here on our couch waiting for Shorty to get home so we can whisk off to our first birthing class.  Is it silly to say that I’m feeling a little anxious?

Excited, oh yes, to learn all these techniques and that baby will be here soon(ish) and blah blah blah… but anxious too.

I’m worried about inclusivity.  I’m worried about Shorty feeling left out, about the instructor using only male pronouns and speaking only to the husbands and the boyfriends and the pregnant ladies in the room, and excluding my wife in the process.  As the pregnant one, I am automatically included in everything baby-related.  I am The Walking Womb and The Patient and The “Mommy” and so when doctors and nurses and anyone else for that matter walk into the room, they automatically look to me and talk to me and ask about me.  But it doesn’t always happen with Shorty, and I worry about that.

Over the weekend, we had an Incident in which we were moving baby furniture out of the soon-to-be-nursery in order to paint it, and as Shorty and I were carrying the (very light, not heavy, I’ve already been lectured about this) dresser out of the room, my bare big toe met the side of the dresser with force, resulting in the partial separation of my big toe nail from my nail bed- in other words, my toenail was partially ripped off.  Yeah, ouch. It hurt.  Because it was only partially ripped off, we had to go to the doctor’s to get it fully removed, and naturally Shorty drove me, sat with me, and came back into the room with me when we were called.  You know- she was showing normal spousal support and concern.  When the nurse breezed into the room, however, she all but blatantly ignored Shorty’s presence and focused entirely on me. Now, I understand I was the one with the gaping wound on my big toe and that this fact automatically means I will be commanding a lot of the attention, but it went beyond that even.  For instance, Shorty was making wise cracks along the lines of how much the needle was going to hurt when they gave me the shot to numb it (for the record, I have NEVER felt a needle hurt that badly, EVER) and I jokingly told her to shut up and be supportive. The nurse, without ever cracking a smile or looking in Shorty’s direction, quite seriously asked me if I needed her to escort Shorty out to the waiting room.  What? NO!  Obviously, if she’s back here, she’s important and I need her.  And furthermore, if I had for whatever reason not wanted her in there, I could have damn well kicked her out myself!  It was like the nurse was refusing to even acknowledge Shorty’s presence.  When the time came to get the ouchyouchyOHMYGODTHATHURTS shots in my toe, I reached for Shorty’s hand and the nurse said “uh uh uh that’s my job”.  I ended up sitting there holding both of their hands like I was in a freakin prayer circle… and then the nurse had the nerve to comment that I was squeezing Shorty’s hand more than hers during the shots!

I walked out of that appointment feeling like complete crap, not because of my toe but because of the way my wife had just been treated.  Shorty even commented on it later on, in a small, hurt tone of voice that broke my heart.  I know she’s felt excluded a lot during this pregnancy, mainly while we were going to the shitty OB’s office and not so much while going to the midwife (I hope, though I know that the first appointment was tough, where the midwife took all of mine and what little we know of the DONOR’S history but had nothing to ask Shorty.).

I guess I’m just hoping that this birth class that is supposed to help us be a team for labor doesn’t end up adding to Shorty’s feelings of exclusion.  Shorty has been noticeably reluctant to go to these classes and last night she finally told me that fesr of exclusion is a big factor why she’s been dragging her heels. I can’t blame her, but I’m also still trying to figure out how to support her.  I 110% believe that she is just as much of a mom-to-be as I am, and that she deserves equal treatment in all things baby-related… in all things period. I’ve thought about just checking in with the teacher before hand, to kind of meet and greet and make sure she knows we are a same sex couple.  I might even be as blunt as to up-front ask that she make sure to use inclusive language when she speaks to the class.  I just don’t want my wife to feel left out again.

I am the one who is pregnant, but we are both expecting parents.  I just wish people would remember that.

Shorty is home… so here it goes.


7 responses to “Heading off to our first birthing class…

  1. jessie says:

    I hope it goes well. I get nervous about that stuff too. That nurse sounded crazy!

  2. Allison says:

    Our prenatal class was very inclusive, but had it not been, we probably would have stayed late after the first one and asked that the instructor make an effort in that regard. I think for so many people, they are just not used to using inclusive language, and though they don’t mean to leave us (the partners) out, they do. I found that a lot when people were congratulating us (read: Jen) on her pregnancy with The Bean and now that I am the one pregnant, am seeing the reverse happen.

    • lezbemoms says:

      Yeah, I agree that it can be a passive exclusion rather than an active one. I feel like that’s just as bad though, or maybe worse? It shows just how little people are used to same sex parents, or inclusion of any sort of family structure besides the “nuclear model”.

      By the way, I hope you know I read your blog all the time! Your blog, however, hates me and never lets me comment ever. But I am so happy for you guys and your second pregnancy!

  3. C Storm says:

    I would, actually, talk to the teacher, for your own comfort level. You are not going to feel comfortable and retain info well if your spouse isn’t included and so you need for her to frame her language carefully. It’s a perfectly reasonable request on your part.

    I wouldn’t make the request ‘for’ my wife – though I did think about it in a similar situation – because I’m scared it’d be patronizing but I so appreciate the instinct.

    All best, this is tough stuff.

  4. I have always introduced medical professionals to my partner as soon as they walk in, shake my hand and ask what the problem is. “Nice to meet you Dr/Nurse Joe, this is my partner Tammy. I happen to have ripped off a toe nail” That usually indicates that they are not just a friend there for support and professionals usually are more inclusive after that.

    I’m sure that once the baby is here, there will be a lot less exclusion. When people see you both parenting, I think they’ll get that this did take two (moms) and you’re in it together. 🙂

  5. We were the only same-sex couple in our childbirth class, but no one blinked an eye about it. And our instructor referred to all of the non-gestational parents as “partners”, so it was fine. She did tend to say “moms” and “partners”, but in this particular situation I understood it to be a division between “the one with the uterus in active use” and the “one supporting the one with one with the uterus in active use”, and since “moms and partners” is a lot faster to say, I wasn’t bothered by it. (Less fine was the breastfeeding/baby care class instructor that insisted on saying “Moms and Dads and partners”. Yes, I am totally PB’s partner, but I’m also Critter’s *parent*, not just his mom’s partner, so let’s acknowledge that, shall we? That class sucked for a number of reasons, though. And I digress.) If your instructor isn’t being inclusive, I would definitely try to have a word with her about it.

    I definitely had a little bit of struggle early on with feeling invisible as an expectant parent, but having a wonderfully supportive wife helped a lot. (It sounds like Shorty is fine on this front, by the way.) It also helped a little for me to take a slightly more active role in talking with people. If friends were asking about something pregnancy/baby-related, and it was directed to PB but wasn’t actually something like “how’s the nausea?”, then I might step in and answer (“Our next appointment is blah blah blah” or whatever). Mostly they weren’t trying to exclude me, they just… forgot a little. I have to say that I suspect that this is the case for a lot of fathers as well as non-gestational mothers.

    For the most part, though, I feel like I was treated pretty well during PB’s pregnancy with Critter, and I want to do my best to make sure she gets the same treatment during this pregnancy. (Although I think that it’s a little different this time, because she’s already a mom. I wonder if that affects things for Shorty. Having been through her previous pregnancy as the one at the center of the show, I wonder if she’s a little more aware of the exclusion this time around? I think I might, in the same situation.) It’s funny, though; when we were in to see our OB this week, she was sympathizing that it’s always hard to have a rougher early pregnancy, especially when your previous one was so smooth. I like that she clearly views both of these pregnancies as shared experiences for us, despite occurring in separate wombs.

    Anyway, good luck, and I hope the class goes well!

  6. I hope everything went well! Being the non-bio mom in a two mom household has it’s rough moments – I know that first hand. Looking forward to reading how it went!

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