RSS

Category Archives: Gays

My Baby Story (Chapter 23-Give me $500 and we’ll inseminate)

graphics-baby-toys-897970

It would take another 3 months before my thyroid levels were OK to finally do the insemination. I was so thrilled when the nurse called to tell me. It was summertime and Judah and I were at the pool when she called. Now all I had to do was to wait for my next ovulation surge which I knew would be in two weeks. That was the joy in having a regular cycle. I always surged on the 15th day. Knowing that, the first thing I did was check out the calendar to see what day that would be. I was happy to see my 15th day was in the middle of the week. That was a relief. I was NOT going to take any chances that this one was going to be over the weekend. Because my experience was so bad the first time I liked the idea of going to the infertility clinic while other people were there (during business hours). Plus, it meant there was no chance my doctor would not be doing the insemination. I have to tell you, though, their facility was not like it was when I went five years earlier. This go around their facility was newer. Instead of doing the inseminations in a different location than their main office, they now did them in the same place. No dark wood paneling or old carpet. Instead everything was shiny and clean smelling. It was definitely nicer and more professional. I never understood why when I had mine it had to be in two different facilities and how they allowed the insemination to be done in what seemed to be a storage facility (and I don’t mean for just sperm). But, it was what it was and I was thankful this time the facility was different. Well in appearance that was. The intelligence level I still questioned.

OK, so I started doing the ovulation pee test on my 13th day of my cycle. Even though I knew I surged on the 15th day, I wanted to be sure. And like clockwork on my 15th day, I surged. As I was directed to do I called the nurse to tell her. She instructed me to go to their office by 8:00 the next morning for my insemination. Listen, having gone through all of this already, I was well familiar with the routine. I was excited that morning but a bit more apprehensive than I was with Judah. I don’t know why I wasn’t as confident. Maybe because I knew a lot more than I did the first time? Maybe. But, I think there was something else that made me more unsure. The thing was I was older. I was 37 which did place me in a category that would be harder to get pregnant. Listen, I wasn’t being a dooms dayer like our doctor. OK, maybe I was but there was something in my gut not so sure about this go round. Listen, at least I could be certain this go round that the damn insemination nazi doctor would NOT be doing this one.

Carol told me to stop being negative and to think positively. She reminded me how easily we had gotten pregnant the first time and told me there was no reason for that to not happen again. Oh sure, that was easy for her to say. I’m Jewish for G-d sake! It was in my blood to worry! The day we headed to the clinic for our insemination we first took Judah to preschool. He could tell something was happening. He didn’t like it when we were worried. Neither of us could eat breakfast because of our nerves. I found out later Carol was nervous because she had discovered the infertility clinic didn’t want to file our insurance which she kept pushing them to do. She was worried we’d show up and they would demand payment in full for our very first visit (which insurance would pay if they had filed).

When we arrived that morning the receptionist was prepared for us. Oh, no doubt we were quite know by this point. Meanwhile, I did find it interesting that they supposedly took other lesbian couples but not once did we see one. I’m not accusing here but just saying. Anyway, the receptionist had our file already in front of her. As we were signing in she said, ” You have a balance on your bill and until that is paid you can’t do your procedure today.” It was amazing how she told us that in a calm voice and with a smile on her face. I could just see her looking at herself in the mirror rehearsing it. Now here was the other thing. She had not once contacted us to tell us. Never a letter in the mail, a phone call…NOTHING. Instead she waited until the day of our procedure where if we can’t do it we’d have to wait another month. FOLKS IT WAS CRUEL and so unnecessary. Holy shit people! Can’t anything go smoothly at this damn place? Carol was furious. I could see the steam coming out of her ears. Carol told me to go sit down and she’d take care of it. She knew I was already nervous and she didn’t want that situation to make me worry even more especially before my insemination. Now Carol was certain we were back to our first visit again and having to get them to file it with our insurance. And so Carol asked the receptionist what we owed and why. From where I was sitting I heard the receptionist say, “You have a $500 balance on your storage fee and until that’s paid you can’t do the procedure.” I jumped out of my chair and went to the receptionist’s window. Carol held up her hand to tell me to stop, she had it under control. However, she knew I wouldn’t be able to sit especially with the crap we were dealing with at this facility. Both Carol and I started to argue with the receptionist telling her we had already paid it. Meanwhile, it wasn’t $500. It was only $200 but we weren’t going into all of that with her. It was incredible how this facility made every aspect of our infertility journey stressful. Nothing was easy which was SO frustrating. Folks, Carol did leave the receipt at home which she was going to run home to get BUT the receptionist told her it wouldn’t help. Receipt or not, it was the computer she had to go by. This is NO joke folks. That was what she told us. The receptionist told us she was sorry but the computer said we owed $500. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the British Show, “Little Britain” there is a scene where a man (who’s pretending to be a woman) is sitting at the computer. A customer comes in and wants something. No matter what the customer asks for the man (pretending to be a woman) behind the computer types stuff in and then replies (in a very monotone voice), “Computer says no.” Well, that was what it was like at that moment.

After the woman told us that was what the computer said, she just sat there looking at us as if it were our problem. She gave us no other options. I don’t give two shits what the computer said. Someone inputted the wrong information. After a few minutes of going round and round Carol asked her how we could have it resolved so that we could have the procedure that day. Our concern was we’d run out of time before getting this resolved. And let me explain, I had to be inseminated before noon or I would no longer be surging. AND on top of that they had to have at least an hour to prepare the sperm for the procedure. I was freaking out. And I was FUCKING MAD!

OK, now I’m sure some of you would feel we did this to ourselves for returning to this facility. And you’d be correct to say that. HOWEVER, ten years ago we had no other options. We had to use what was available to us and more importantly what we could afford. And for myself I was willing to do what was necessary (no matter how maddening it was) to have a child. Now, I’m sure you’re asking why didn’t we adopt. Well, very good question. I actually wanted to do that and I still do. But, the problem is there are very few agencies who will allow same sex adoptions. And the ones who do it is well beyond what we could afford. It kills me to say that because I wanted nothing more than to give a child who needed on a loving home. Also, the small town we lived added to the complications. And so, this was our only option.

As I stood in front of the receptionist I was blown away by her lack of compassion. And more so I was shocked by her lack of concern to resolve the entire thing. I suppose for her there was only one way to get it resolved- hand them over a check for $500 (which like hell were we doing). You would have thought the receptionist got commission with as hard as she pushed getting payment. It was crazy! Finally after a lot of rounds of arguments, the receptionist told us we’d need to go next door to settle it with their storage facility. Um, folks remember where I said the the storage place was? It was in their same building but there was no way to get to it without going outside and walking to the back of the building. Meanwhile, why couldn’t she have called them herself? Why did we have to do all of this shit right before my procedure? Why was it necessary to have gone around and around for so long waisting time and making us worry? Surely, if she would have taken a moment of her precious time from arguing with us and simply called them to have gotten it all cleared up. It seemed very clear to us she only wanted us to pay up. OK so as we start to leave to walk over to the storage place, the receptionist tells us they won’t be open for another 15 minutes (9:00am). Folks, I kid you not! And so we waited.

When it was 9:00 Carol told me to stay in the waiting room at the infertility clinic and she’d walk next door to take care of things. Surprisingly, I agreed. Luckily by this point people were filling the waiting room. I hated the thought to be alone with that damn receptionist. By the time Carol returned it was 9:30 and the waiting room was filled. We had already been there for an hour in a half. Carol had a copy of the proof of payment from the storage facility and showed it to the receptionist. The receptionist put on her happy face and joyfully told us she was happy to get this resolved. YOU WERE HAPPY TO GET IT RESOLVED!??? Bullshit, lady! WE GOT IT RESOLVED not thanks to you!

Anyway, once that was resolved the receptionist asked for payment for the insemination which was $500 and some change. Carol gladly gave her a check. After Carol had taken care of those things she came over to me to sit. She was very stressed out but she wasn’t going to share that with me at that moment. However, Carol did say the lady at the storage place reprimanded her for not carrying her receipt with her to the clinic. OY VEY! Really lady?

After that excitement was over, we waited and waited and waited. It was a killer. After waiting 3 hours I started to get worried. I knew I had to be inseminated before a certain time or my surge would be over (declining). See, at the time a woman surges that is the time of her highest chance to get pregnant. Knowing that we had only one vial from the same donor as Judah I wanted the highest possible chances to get pregnant. Finally at 11:30 they called us to the back. By then we were the last ones in the waiting room. The doctor told us he knew we were down to the wire but as soon as I got undressed we could get started. I didn’t have a good feeling about it. Before the doctor left the room we challenged him to make sure we weren’t too late to have the procedure. He assured us we were not.

Once I was undressed and on the table the doctor and another gentleman came into the room. My doctor asked me if it would be OK if the other gentleman did the insemination. He was a student who had already done that procedure a number of times. My doctor assured me he’d make sure he was doing it properly. Well, you know at that point I was so panicky with the time, I just wanted it done. I didn’t care at that point who did it. I trusted my doctor. Funny, what the brain does to you when you are feeling desperate. So, the gentleman showed us the shot that contained the sperm and asked us if it was the correct number (the number given from the sperm bank). And sure enough it was.I signed the sheet stated it was. He told us the sperm count and activity was very high. In fact it was much higher than the time of our first insemination which made us very relieved. Attached to the shot was a long tube. It was that tube that was inserted into my vagina and went into my cervix. My doctor reminded the gentleman to go slowly which he did. Once that part was over they told me to stay lying down for the next 15 minutes. They turned out the light in the room and walked out. Carol and I looked at each other and took a deep breath. That morning had been a world wind up to that point. Carol rubbed my tummy and said, “Come on donor XXXX. Make us another beautiful baby.” And then Carol stood there next to me as I lied there silently until our 15 minutes were up. When the doctor returned he told me to get dressed, wished us luck and told us to contact him in two weeks if we were pregnant.

And so it began all over again. THE TWO WEEK WAITING PERIOD.

Advertisements
 

My Baby Story (Chapter 22- Guess what I want?)

graphics-baby-toys-897970

OK, so I realized after all we had been through to get Judah I would have been TOTALLY NUTS to even suggest having another child. So call me totally nuts because yes, I wanted another child. I suppose I was glutton for (more) punishment. However, I loved Judah and I enjoyed being a mom. I wanted another baby! Here was the thing. I wasn’t sure how to talk to Carol about it. After all I had promised her I only wanted one. But, I lied. Honestly, I wanted several more but I knew that would definitely have been pushing it.

I still remember the look on Carol’s face when I told her I wanted another baby. At first she ignored me but the next time I brought it up she just replied, “Oh, yeah? And I want a million dollars.” As you could see the thought of another kid didn’t go over too well with her. For one she was concerned she was too old. She being 9 years older than me and already seen as the grandmother to Judah she was not totally convinced having another one was a good idea. For me though I could feel my fertility clock ticking. I was already 37 years old. If we were going to make a decision we needed to do it very soon. I kept bringing it up to Carol. I just needed to let her soak in the idea. I knew she’d come around. After a few rounds of bringing it up Carol then started returning my comments with questions. Questions like: And where would we go for the insemination (not wanting to return to where we were before) and could we afford it?

On the flip side Carol didn’t want to take away my dream to have another child. I suppose there was some guilt in that she herself couldn’t provide that part to me. So, even though she had many reservations she agreed to try for another baby. I was thrilled and very nervous at the same time. The entire process was going to start all over again. Once again we had some decisions to make. Where would we go to do the insemination? Would it be possible to get the same donor that we used for Judah? And if we couldn’t would be able to find as good of a donor? I have to admit all of the questions made me so frustrated. Dammit! I just wanted to get pregnant. I didn’t want to have to think about all of the details. The one thing Carol and I agreed on was I was not going this round alone. Carol was going to be apart of it.

During this time when we were trying to figure out what infertility clinic to go to, a friend of ours happened to mention she knew the infertility doctor that we had used to get pregnant with Judah. The good one. Not the woman. I used the opportunity to tell her about our first experience and how we were told they would not inseminate a lesbian couple. Our friend felt things had changed and she went straight to her friend (the doctor) to ask him. He told her he had no problem inseminating same sex couples. Well, I’m not sure if their facility changed or it was the fact we just had an inside contact that helped. Now before deciding whether we’d return to the same facility I had to know if that female, nazi inseminator doctor was still there. AND if she was, I wanted to make it clear she was NEVER touching me again.

Just as I had done the first time, I decided to start with speaking to our OB/GYN. And so I made an appointment. This time though Carol came with me. When we met with our OB, she was thrilled to hear we were wanting to try again. We spoke to her about some of our concerns with the infertility clinic we had used and wanted to know her opinion about some things. She spoke to us candidly about her own experience with the infertility clinic and she gave us some valuable information. While talking to her Carol and I still hadn’t decided what facility to use. Our OB/GYN felt it would be easier and more convenient to use the same one we had used with Judah. She made some very valid points which we considered in deciding where to go. I knew this go round would be different because this time I was NOT going to go through it alone. I was not going to have any interaction with the woman doctor who had been so horrible to me. The other thing was I was NOT going to hide my identity. This time Carol was going to be with me every step of the way. And honestly, I suppose that was what made this attempt to get pregnant so special. Now Carol and I could share it.

Since it had been almost five years since we had gotten pregnant with Judah we had high hopes the facility we had used had changed. Listen, we weren’t totally thrilled at all with going back to them but our choices were limited. We had to take the chance. HOWEVER, Carol made me agree that we weren’t taking any crap. If anything came close to the behavior of what happened before, that was it. We were going to complain! And so I called the infertility clinic and got an appointment with in the week. I suppose knowing a friend of the doctor helped.

Gosh, I’ll never forget the day Carol and I had the appointment. They were in a totally new building and when we walked into the lobby the waiting room was packed. I’ve got to tell you we were the ONLY same sex couple there. However, maybe we’d see others during our next visits. We went to check in by signing my name on the paper at the front window. After sitting for a few minutes the receptionist called me back to the window. She asked how we were going to pay for our visit that day: cash, check or credit card. Wow! How quick to assume it would be coming out of our pocket. It was funny because even though that was an infertility clinic there were may women who after they were pregnant kept seeing the doctor. So, I’m sure they were used to filing insurance. Anyway, when I told her I had insurance she started the whole rigmarole as to how insurance doesn’t usually cover infertility. Carol could hear her talking (as she was still sitting in the waiting area) and came up to the window to help me. Carol told her that our insurance did cover all preliminary infertility tests. I could tell the receptionist was not believing Carol and only through our pushing did she finally make a copy of our insurance card. I was pissed. Here we go again with same kind of crap. Nothing like having a room full of people waiting and the receptionist is arguing with us about payment. The receptionist handed us back the insurance card and told us to take a seat in the waiting room.

After a 30 minute wait we were able to see the doctor. During our appointment the first thing the doctor did was to go through all of the statistics of my chances to get pregnant. But this time because I was older so my chances lowered considerably. Carol reminded him that I had gotten pregnant with Judah on our first try. He was surprised I had and fumbled through my medical files to confirm that. He told us that was VERY unusual and to not expect it again since I was older. OY! THESE PEOPLE ARE A BALL OF NEGATIVITY, AREN’T THEY? Just what I needed to hear. After the doctor reviewed all of the basic information he then began to explain the next steps we’d have to take. First he’d have to do a full examination of me. WHAT? WHY? I had an OB/GYN and I had just had my yearly exam with her. Carol asked him what kind of examination did I need. After he went through his schpiel, Carol said, “You mean the same kind of examination she gets at her OB/GYN every year?” He stuttered a little bit and then agreed it was. And so without giving him an opportunity to argue, we told him we’d have our OB/GYN send over a copy of my last exam which was just a couple of weeks prior to our visit. That way there’d be no reason to do it again. The doctor seemed taken back by our forwardness. We could tell he wasn’t used to having patients like us (and I don’t mean just of the lesbian kind either).

The doctor agreed to look at my records from my OB/GYN and if everything looked good he would for go doing an exam. Now here was the absolute best part. Are you ready for this? The doctor then tells us that he will need to exam Carol. OK, STOP FOR ONE MINUTE HERE! You need to exam Carol? Why in the hell would he need to exam her? It wasn’t as if he needed to see if her sperm count was sufficient! For goodness sake she was my partner who had no ability what so ever to get me pregnant which was why I was in this doctor’s office in the first place. The look on Carol’s face when he told her that was priceless. Carol looked at the doctor and with a smirky grin asked,” Why in tarnation would you need to exam me?” Want to know what his answer was folks? He said, “Well, just like in a male and female couple I exam both of them.” Carol laughed (out loud). She looked at the doctor while leaning towards him and said, “Why would you need to examine me when I have nothing to do with getting her pregnant?” Again, he seemed shocked with our forwardness. We could tell he was not quite sure how to answer Carol’s question. But, he finally said it was because we were a couple so he needed to make sure Carol was healthy as well. I knew there was NO WAY in HELL Carol was going to be examined by that doctor. And so, knowing Carol had also been to our OB/GYN with in the last few weeks, I suggested our doctor also send over Carol’s file. The doctor clearly was not happy with us. He tried to say there were tests he does that our doctor would not have done therefor he needed to do the tests. And so, Carol asked, “Like what?” Folks, I’ve got to tell you. Carol has never been a person to so overtly challenge a doctor nor to go against their suggested medical opinions. HOWEVER, this guy was an idiot and there was no way Carol could refrain herself. The doctor answered, “Well but I’m certain your GYN wouldn’t have tested you for AIDS.” Without missing a beat Carol said, “OK, that’s different but it doesn’t require for me to have a full GYN exam. Isn’t that just a blood test? Can I have that done here?” The doctor finally agreed to have our OB/GYN to send over both of our records from our last exam and for Carol to do an AIDS test in his office.

Once we had gotten it resolved that our OB/GYN would send over our records, the next thing the doctor discussed with us was the course of action he wanted to take for an infertile woman of my age. OK, once again. I was only infertile because I didn’t have the sperm. I SO HADN’T MISSED THEIR NEGATIVITY! First, he suggested me going through several ovulation cycles to make sure I was ovulating. Then, he wanted me to have a vaginal sonogram to make sure the follicles were a good size. And then, he wanted for me to have a procedure where they would extract my eggs and then look at them to make sure they were healthy. All of that would put our insemination if all went well in about 8 to 9 months. AND aside from the time, not all of those procedures would have been paid for by our insurance so we would have had to accrue those costs. Basically, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? As concerned as I was with wasting that much time I once again got angry at all of the testing they wanted to do. How much money so many of these women put out is insane! I understand wanting the best chances to get the woman pregnant but the doctor is not looking at the individual patient. Well, Mister Dr.- my situation didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out or so I thought. But no talking to the doctor nor his staff would get them to understand. As the doctor was talking about doing all of the tests I stopped him. I told him we were not willing to invest that much time or money into it. I told him I was healthy and if it was meant to be for us to get pregnant then we would. I made it clear that I wanted to go ahead and have the insemination as soon as we could without all of the extraneous tests. The doctor was speechless after I told him. Listen, whether I got pregnant or not, Carol and I were NOT willing to go into debt over it. Well, not having anything to make a counter argument I was happy the doctor agreed to our wishes. He told me since I had thyroid issues he did want to look at those numbers and make sure they are at a certain level before being inseminated. OK, now that made sense to us. He told us once my levels were at a good point we could do the insemination. He then told us we’d need to go to the part of his office which houses the sperm to open an account. That way when we ordered our sperm they could store it for us until the insemination.

As we were walking out of the doctor’s office to head to the place where the sperm was stored, the receptionist called (yelled out for) us. Would you believe she wanted us to pay for the visit? Now that would have made sense if we had not had insurance. She continued to tell us as we were standing at the door and she was in her reception box area that we owed her $200 and something dollars? It was funny because Carol was so taken aback that she looked at her and loudly said, “WHAT? Why?” I pushed Carol closer to the receptionist because I hated this was going on while there was a full waiting room for all to hear. The receptionist started explaining as if we were two total idiots that we had to pay for our visits and should have done so before we had seen the doctor. OK, was this woman an idiot herself? We had given her our insurance card to copy. We had contacted our insurance company before coming that day to make sure what they covered and we gave the receptionist all of that information before seeing the doctor. But, apparently the receptionist didn’t understand and so Carol repeated it to her again. I couldn’t believe it when the receptionist demanded that we pay her. Carol rubbed her eyes (which was her sign that she was beginning to get agitated) from under her glasses and said, “Ma’am, did we not just discuss this? Our insurance will cover this visit.” The receptionist proceeded to tell us that we’d have to get in touch with our insurance company and they’d have to reimburse us. She told us that was between the insurance company and us. Now wait a minute. We were going to an infertility clinic which was an umbrella under the Medical College of Georgia. And when we contacted them before even making an appointment we were assured they took our insurance. SO, what the bloody hell was going on here? That wasn’t how insurance companies work. No way in hell was our insurance company going to reimburse us. PLUS, (we discovered later) what she wanted us to pay was much more than what the insurance company negotiated with them. So, the insurance company wouldn’t just simply reimburse us. That was crazy!

Carol asked the receptionist, “Are you telling me you don’t file with our insurance? And if so, how can’t you when you are a state run facility?” The receptionist argued with Carol and honestly it made no since what the receptionist was telling us. It seemed so crooked. Carol asked for the office manager to speak with. Well guess what? We were speaking with the office manager. Of course we were. Why would anything in that place go smoothly? OY VEY! After going around and around the receptionist/manager told us that she’d file it will the insurance but when our insurance company refuses to pay we’d have to pay at the very next visit. Carol and I had our doubts on whether she’d even file with them and then tell we’d have to pay at our next visit. After literally 30 minutes of putting out that fire, we headed over to their storage facility. The crazy part was the storage facility’s office was in the back of the doctor’s office but to get to it you had to go outside and walk to the back of the building. Why should we be surprised? That was one fucked up place.

Carol and I were surprised to see the receptionist in the sperm storage place to be the same woman who was there when we first got pregnant. Meanwhile, I’m not sure why because she was quite a character too. It must have been a prerequisite to work there because there wasn’t a one of them that seemed sane. The receptionist recognized us when we walked into the office. In fact when she saw us she said, “You know you still have sperm in storage here from five years ago? Oh and by the way you owe us for five years of storage fees.” HOLY FUCKING HELL! I COULDN’T BE LIVING IN REALITY. THIS PLACE WAS FUCKING RIDICULOUS!

Here was the thing. When I had gotten pregnant with Judah we still had another vial. So, they asked us what we wanted to do with it. Because we knew we wouldn’t have been able to pay them for the storage costs and we didn’t think at the time we’d want to have another kid, we told them to destroy it. In fact it was the very women who we were talking to who we told. The receptionist remembered typed in our name into the computer and looked up our file. When we told her that we had told them to destroy the vial, she asked us if we had signed anything asking them to destroy it. We told her no that no one had told us we needed to sign anything. We were only told to call to tell them what we wanted to do with the extra vial (which was what we did). The receptionist got very annoyed with us. BUT what was new. We seemed to do that to the people at this facility. She then said, “Oh, you can’t just call us to tell us to do that. We have to have it in writing.” We told her we had only done what we were told at the time to do. Finally, she had had enough and she told us we could NOT have sperm sent there (or have an insemination) until our account was cleared out. The receptionist started pressing buttons on her calculator next to her computer. While she was doing that I turned around and whispered to Carol, “I feel like I’m at a garage sale with her damn calculator.” Carol laughed. I suppose my point was I felt the place to be so low end. It was all about the money and me as the patient seemed to have gotten lost. Finally, when the damn receptionist was done with her calculations she said, “You owe us $535.00 but we can call it an even $500.” She added, “Once you pay that in full we can go forward with your insemination.” Well folks, I could feel my blood starting to boil. I was pissed. Listen, don’t get me wrong. I was thrilled to find out our other vial was still there. HOWEVER, I was infuriated that we had told them to destroy it (and NEVER had we EVER received a notice about it). Meanwhile, Carol didn’t see any other alternative and was willing to pay it. The problem though was our insemination was going to cost $500 and if Carol payed for the storage costs of the sperm, we wouldn’t have had the money for the procedure (which the insurance did not pay). I knew Carol was willing to pay it just to be done with the crap. But, I told her no and I told the receptionist we’d get back with her. Of course she made sure to remind us that if we didn’t take care of that balance we wouldn’t be able to use their facility. Yes, bitch! I got that, ok? I was so steamed! Carol couldn’t figure out what I had up my sleeve. As soon as I got home I contacted our friend who knew our doctor. She gave me the doctor’s e-mail address and she told me to tell him what had happened. She also said she’d talk to him. I explained to our friend that we weren’t wanting to screw them out of any money but that we really felt as if we weren’t being treated fairly. Listen, Carol and I didn’t mind paying something for our sperm that had been stored. But, we felt paying $500 was way too steep.

A couple of days later I received a call from our infertility doctor’s nurse. The first thing she needed to tell me was that my thyroid levels were too high. They were going to have to increase my medicine. I’d then have to wait three weeks before being tested again. Meanwhile, I was accustom to dealing with my whacked thyroid levels so I had expected it. But, I hated the wait. The other course of business the nurse wanted to talk to me about the situation with our sperm at their storage facility. I explained to her what happened and how I felt we were not being treated fairly. The nurse was very nice and remained neutral about her opinion on the matter. I told her we would be willing to pay $200 for it. She told me she was going to check and she’d get back with us. And since I had to wait for my thyroid levels to go down anyway, we had time to wait to hear back. Listen, of course we wanted that vial. It was the same donor who conceived our first child. But the reality was there was no way in hell we could have afforded the $500. That was just the reality of our situation. A couple of days later the nurse called me back. She asked if we could pay $250 for the vial of sperm. Folks, were we at a car dealership? Here I was having to negotiate for sperm? Are you kidding me? I pointed out to her that either they would take the $200 from us (which would pay for some of their storage costs) or they’d get nothing (which wouldn’t pay for any of their storage for all of those years). I refused to negotiate. At the same time I new I was playing a risky game. They could tell me no and our chances to have had the same donor would have gone down the drain. I did explain to the nurse that we just could not afford anymore than the $200. I thanked her for her time and appreciated her being the “middle man” to attempt to negotiate.

Well, another couple of days went by before I heard back from the nurse. AND to my surprise she told me they would accept the payment of $200 for the sperm. I was shocked and happily so. The nurse also told me that we’d have to go to their storage facility to pay it (in full) with in the next two days. Yep, can’t forget… they wanted their money. Can’t pass go with out it.

Carol and I didn’t want any chance they’d change their minds so we went down there the very next morning. No surprise that our lovely receptionist was there. She clearly was not happy that we weren’t paying her the full $500. But, you know what. I didn’t give a shit. In some ways I wanted to say to her, “Nana nana boo boo!” But, don’t worry, I didn’t. In fact I was over the top very nice to her. After Carol gave her a check for the $200 I couldn’t believe the woman was put off when Carol asked for a receipt. At first she tried to tell Carol that her check was her receipt. BUT, that wasn’t what Carol wanted. She wanted to show that we had zero balance on our account. We knew this facility all too well and we certainly didn’t want to show up for our insemination to discover they hadn’t wiped out our balance.

When we left that day after paying for “our sperm” Carol laughed and said, “You know MaLea, nothing we do can just go smoothly. Everything we do just has to be memorable, doesn’t it?” And for the next few minutes we got a good laugh over all that had happened. Listen, we had to laugh because crying was not an option.

 

My Baby Story (Chapter 20- protecting the family)

graphics-baby-toys-897970

When Judah was around 2 years old I began to get concerned that Carol had no legal rights to our son. I was the biological mom which gave me all of the rights. That meant if something happened to me, our son could be taken away from Carol. We had heard many horror stories. It wasn’t unusual where a family member of the deceased parent took the child and/or a judge who opposed same sex parenting had the child removed. How could we protect ourselves? Well, the only thing that could protect our family entirely is being able to marry but that wasn’t an option for us.

Now, our first step was to have our Wills and Powers of Attorneys drawn up. The delima was we needed a lawyer who was familiar with doing those kinds of documents for gay and lesbian couples. We learned it was very important to find counsel who was familiar with how the laws didn’t protect gays and lesbian couples so that they would make sure to include specific terminologies to make it harder to question. The other thing we needed to all have the exact same last name. If you remember Judah and I had hyphenated names with Carol’s as a part of it. That way it would keep others from knowing who was the biological mother since many feel that would be the one with the legal rights (to the child). The other part to having exactly the same last names- if something were to have happened to me, it would show a judge that it was my wish for us to be a unified family. Folks, those were options to help Carol with having legal rights to our son but they weren’t solid if challenged. Our best and most protected option would be to have Carol adopt Judah. Here was the problem though. Only two counties in GA had precedence in doing same sex adoption and they were both in a city three hours away.

Damn this country! Damn my state! I just wanted to live my life with my partner and child. And here I had to think about how to protect them. We all have to do that but for us it was a lot more complicated as you could see. Not having a lot of money to do it all we had to prioritize. We felt the first step would be for us to have a Will and Power of Attorney. Since our local attorney’s had not handled Wills and Powers of Attorneys for same sex couples we were concerned we wouldn’t have the needed terminology to protect us. Even so, we needed to have something so we hired a local attorney who was incredibly kind and good to us. And so, even though we knew our “i’s” weren’t totally dotted and our “t’s” weren’t totally crossed having those documents did give us a little comfort. It was a start.

I knew we needed to set our sights on Carol adopting Judah. I always had that in the back of my mind trying to figure out how we could do it. Meanwhile, Carol wouldn’t even entertain the idea of adoption. Listen, not because she didn’t want to by any means but because she knew it would be expensive and it frustrated her that we didn’t have the money to do it. HOWEVER, I felt we couldn’t let our lack of money get in the way. I know that sounded crazy but surely there had to be a way. We’d have to be a little creative that was all. The two counties who did same sex adoption were 3 hours from where we lived. How could we live there? We didn’t have the money to rent an apartment. Carol had a terrific job that she couldn’t just quit. There had to be a way to do it. Just had to be. Each time I brought up the idea to Carol she’d get angry with me. To her it seemed insurmountable but I couldn’t accept it. Here was the thing. Carol was a realist. She systematically lays it all out and reviews it to see if it is possible. Because money was an issue then in her mind it could be done. AND then there was me. I have never known the word, “Can’t” especially in important situations like this one. Of course having the funds to do the adoption certainly would have made things easier but I really felt that meant we couldn’t do it. I had always been a person who found untraditional ways to reach the goals I wanted. This was no different. We had to make it happen. I had to make it happen. My first step was to get Carol at the least to meet with an attorney in that city (where they did same sex adoptions) to get all of the details. You know to find out how long we’d have to live in that county before filing and other pertinent information we would need to make plans.

I need to back up just a moment here. We did know a discrimination lawyer where we lived who had once offered to help us. My father was a lawyer and this gentleman had been a friend of his. He was gung-ho about it. He told me he’d look into a few things and get back with me. After a few months when I hadn’t heard from him I contacted him. When he wouldn’t return my calls or e-mail’s I knew he had changed his mind. It bothered me and made me mad. Now, I understood there had been no precedence in my city for gay couples adopting but Carol and I wanted to take that chance.

Now, since the lawyer (who offered to help us) lived in our neighborhood I figured I’d run into him at some point. I often took long walks in the neighborhood with my dogs, so I knew I’d see him (as he also walked). Well, sure enough during one of our evening walks we ran into him. It was at that time he said, “You know MaLea, there just isn’t anyway we could win.” He seemed highly focused on the winning which really upset me. Frankly, I knew we had a greater chance of losing because of where we lived but I was willing to take that gamble. I had always been a fighter and I was willing to take my chances. However, the lawyer didn’t like loosing which seemed to be his argument. His only advice for us was for Carol and I to “just go to Atlanta to do it”. JUST GO TO ATLANTA? Sounds so easy to him but not so easy for us. I was very disappointed because I really wanted to open that can of worms here. It was about time but no lawyer wanted to fight that hard for something that more than likely would could loose over. Ironically, they were willing to fight with Martha Burke who wanted women to be able to join the Augusta National. That was over 10 years ago and they lost. But it planted a seed where today the Augusta National has finally allowed women to join. I had hopes of planting that seed for gay adoption and to bring that discussion to our community but I couldn’t do it alone. And I had to think about my family and the importance of making the adoption happen. And so, looking at going to the other city three hours away became our only option.

After our walk that day and running into the lawyer Carol felt it was a sign we needed to drop the idea of adoption entirely. In her mind we had our WIll and Power of Attorney. Why did we need to break our backs trying to do something that was basically impossible? After all we had always said that if something was “Bashert” which means if it was meant to be then it would happen.

During this time when Carol was fighting me to drop the notion of her adopting Judah I saw on the MEGA Family Project website an attorney who handled same sex adoption. She was in Atlanta which was where we’d have to do the adoption. I don’t know why I felt it was so important for Carol to adopt Judah but I had this drive to make it happen hell or high water.

One afternoon I decided I’d call the lawyer I saw on the MEGA website. I figured what the heck. At least I could talk to her and get the information. Up to that point we didn’t have any information and were only surmising what we needed to do. Maybe Carol was right. Maybe it was going to be a bigger process than I thought. But, I had to look into it and see.

I spoke to the lawyer in Atlanta for 45 minutes and when I hung up with her I felt good. I had this feeling we could make it happen. It was true that we’d have to live in Atlanta. That meant we’d need to find a place in the county we were going to do the adoption. The attorney told us about the two counties that did same sex adoption and she gave us her recommendation as to which one would be better. I gathered all of the information the attorney gave me and I went back to Carol to speak to her about it. Carol rolled her eyes at me when I once again brought up the subject of her adopting Judah. Honestly, she was down right pissed at me for bringing it up again. But, I just couldn’t let it go. I asked her to please trust me and to not say no yet. I asked her to listen to the information I had gathered from the lawyer. She agreed- not happy about it but agreed. Somehow during the course of this conversation I was able to convince Carol to agree. I’m sure she did it to get me off of her back. I also think she felt it was going to be impossible and soon I would have dropped the issue. However, I was on a mission and I was going to make it work.

I had everything laid out as to what we had to do. I got Carol to agree with me as to the county we wanted to do the adoption and off I went on my mission.

The county we chose didn’t require a home study. That was where a social worker would come to your home to asses the child with the parent who wanted to adopt. Now, it wasn’t that we minded having a home study. Not at all. What concerned us was the cost. A home study would have been an extra $500. And so we chose the county that didn’t require one. Meanwhile, Carol was still not convinced we could do it. Where were we going to live? She’d have to commute to her job over 4 hours away from the city we’d have to adopt. What about our animals at home? She had more questions than I had answers. She was very nervous about it because of the expense. Her questions and financial concerns were all valid. BUT, I knew I could figure it out. I knew I could make it happen. Listen, I have NO idea from where my confidence came but where ever it did, it kept me going. Meanwhile as Carol posed each of her concerns to me, I saw them as wonderful challenges to overcome. I have to be honest here. I had NO IDEA IN HELL how I was going to do it but that by no means worried me. I just had to take one step at a time to find each of the solutions.

My first step was to contact every gay and lesbian organization I could find in the Atlanta area to see if any of them could help us find a place to live. Maybe a family had a garage apartment or a basement apartment we could rent. And what I meant by rent was maybe in exchange for us living there I could possibly baby sit for them or if they were elderly I could help them shop or clean. I felt strongly there had to be unconventional options out there for us. After a solid two weeks of contacting an assortment of organizations in Atlanta (ones I belonged to and many I didn’t) I had no answers. I began to worry but I couldn’t give up. For one I had to prove to Carol it could be done and the other I really felt our live’s depended on it.

One afternoon while I was sitting at the dining room table I was starring at the many papers in front of me. They had all of my notes and contacts. I was trying to figure out what to do and hoping something new would jump out at me. And that was when I got a call on my cell phone. It was from a woman I had left a message for at one of the gay organizations. When I answered the woman introduced herself. She told me she was the executive director for a Jewish non profit organization called, “The Rainbow Center” (who helped GLBT folks and their families). Gosh, the timing of her call was amazing. I was at the end of my rope for ideas and I didn’t know where else to turn. The director took a long time to speak to me to find out what we needed. Much of what I needed wasn’t something her organization provided however, instead of telling me she couldn’t help, she stayed on the line with me. Not only was she kind and encouraging but she was compassionate and understanding. This woman didn’t know me from a hill of beans and yet I felt as if I had known her for years when we spoke. Bottom line was she gave me hope and restored my faith in knowing there were people out there who wanted to help. She had options and ideas I had not thought of and for those things I am certain we couldn’t have done it without her. Not just her help but her friendship was priceless. She helped me take one bite at a time by simply solving one problem at a time. If she didn’t have an answer for me, she gave me hope without making promises and then she got back with me with options. And when there wasn’t anything she could do for us at certain times she at the very least made herself available to give support. She was with us every step of the way which we were very grateful.

It was August of 2007. Judah was 4. With our new friend’s help (the director from “The Rainbow Center”) we found a very small apartment in the county we needed. The owners were also two moms who had triplets so they had already moved into a larger home. They were trying to sell the small apartment but since it wasn’t selling, they were willing to let us rent it. Not having had any other options by that point we took it. We had to pay the women for the rental but it wasn’t the way out cost of what it would have been if we had actually rented an apartment. We were relieved when our first hurdle was gone. Once we finally found an apartment it was time to meet with our lawyer in Atlanta.

As we met with our lawyer she explained how the adoption process worked in the county we chose to do it (and live). The attorney told us it would take up to six weeks to complete the adoption process. At that point we’d have a hearing with the judge when it would be approved or not approved. In the meanwhile the attorney told us we needed to change our driver’s licenses to our apartment in Atlanta and have our bills sent there as well. This would establish our residence in the county. Carol asked our attorney how her having a job in another city would hinder our chances of the adoption passing. The attorney told us that many people have multiple residences but it is the main one that is considered in adopting. So, we just needed to take care of those couple of things and we’d be set. OK, now here was the deal folks. Carol and I were using the apartment in Atlanta as our main address but our jobs were in Augusta. Carol had to keep working where she was. Meanwhile, we had friends who felt we were being deceitful and felt it was wrong. They couldn’t see the importance of what we were doing and why we had to do it in the way we did. It really upset me when some of our closest friends began voicing their disapproval. I wanted to yell off the roof tops, “What the fucking hell, people! We are trying to do what we can to protect our family. The fucking government of ours was forcing us to walk the gray areas because we had no protection under the law! And we were going to do what we needed to get that protect.” How about those folks walk in our footsteps before judging us. I’d love to see what they’d do to protect their loved ones. Meanwhile, we weren’t doing anything wrong. We did exactly what we had to do and we abided by the law the entire way.

Anyway, everything seemed to be going as planned. We kept in touch with our lawyer and our hearing date was on time. It was mid September and we were so excited for the date. Well, I was excited. Carol had a bad feeling about it. She had not had much luck with the legal system. It had screwed her in the past. But, I was optimistic. Those 6 weeks to our court date seemed to have lasted forever. The morning of our hearing date we woke up very early. We had rented a car because we knew ours would not have made it that far. We had been having problems with it, so we didn’t want to take a chance on that important day. After the court hearing we had plans to celebrate with friends who were meeting us there. It was an exciting morning for me. About an hour into our drive to Atlanta we received a call from our attorney. Carol had answered the phone. After a few minutes she yelled, “WHAT? YOU DON’T THINK THIS IS GOING TO GO THROUGH?” My heart stopped. After Carol hung up the phone she told me all that our lawyer had said. Apparently, the judge (we were going to have) had recently been sued by another lesbian couple who had done an adoption two years prior. When the two women split the biological mom wanted sole custody of the child. So, she sued the judge who granted the adoption (allowing her partner to adopt) to try to get the adoption nullified. Her reasoning? Well, she was suing the judge for not asking for proof that the couple had been living in Atlanta because in fact they were living in another state.  AND so, the judge felt we hadn’t provided enough proof that we had been living in her county. Carol was furious and so upset. During the remainder of our ride to Atlanta Carol just kept telling me, “See, I told you I had a bad feeling. I knew it!” 

When we arrived at the courthouse, we met with our lawyer. She told us the judge was going to meet with us and the judges attorney was going to be there too. Our attorney warned us that the adoption was not going to be approved. I was so mad at that lesbian couple who because of their selfishness would be punishing so many like us. Meanwhile, it was worth a shot to meet with the judge. Maybe we could change her mind. If anything it was worth a shot.

Our friends waited in the waiting area with Judah while me, Carol and our attorney met with the judge and her attorney. The judge was cold and distant. She certainly didn’t care about our plight. First thing she did was to challenge Carol for working so far away. We tried every which way to convince her to make the adoption happen but she refused. As the judge spoke to us we found her so incredibly insensitive. She clearly had no understanding as to why lesbians like us would have to do what we did to allow our partners to adopt. She made it sound as if we were conniving women who for no reason would want to screw her. Now, we understood she was being sued by an idiot women who happened to be a lesbian but frankly I wanted to yell at her for her lack of sensitivity to us. Finally, Carol had had enough. She started crying and told everyone she had to leave. The judge and her lawyer left. I and our lawyer tried to console Carol. She felt defeated and she felt her character was being judged. It was a sad day but even after all of that I wasn’t going to give up. Carol was ready to throw in the towel and walk away. She was heartbroken and I’m sure pissed at me for pushing the entire thing.

Our attorney told us we could switch our case to the other county. We still had another option. Gosh though, that would mean we’d have to find a place to live there. In essence we’d have to start all over again. One of our friends who was at the courthouse with us that day lived in Atlanta and asked us to go to her house to think things through. She felt we could discuss things and see if we could figure it out. And so, Carol, Judah and I went to her house. As we were driving there I started thinking of anyone and everyone I knew who might live in Atlanta in that other country. I figured when we got back to our friend’s home, I would just start calling people. Carol thought I was nuts. She couldn’t believe I wasn’t throwing up my arms and quitting. But, I honestly did not see that as an option. The callousness and indifference of the judge that day propelled me into making the adoption happen. Like hell was that old bitty judge who knew nothing about making it through adversity like we did was going to hurt my partner. Like hell was I going to allow Carol’s character as a mom to feel challenged. Carol was going to become Judah’s mom officially and dammit I was going to make it happen. “I am women, hear me roar!”

 

My Baby Story (Chapter 19- Judah makes a difference one person at a time)

graphics-baby-toys-897970

Do y’all remember how I said Carol and I had made a commitment to live our lives honestly and openly? Well, once we had Judah and once he could talk, there was definitely no turning back. As many parents know you never know what is going to come out of the mouth of your kid and when in the case of same sex parenting it can make it very entertaining. Judah must have been three years old when he and I had gone to one of our smaller local super markets. You know the one where you can get a cup of coffee while walking around. The entire time we were shopping all Judah could think about was wanting to help put the things we bought on the counter at the check out. Once I told him he could all he did was rush me to get to the checkout. When we finally were checking out, Judah was more than ready to place each of the items on the counter. The cashier smiled at him and said, “Why you must be a big help to your mom.” Now, let me interrupt here. Judah called me Momma and called Carol Mom. So, when the cashier told Judah he must be a big help to his mom, Judah was confused. I could see it all over his face. Without hesitating Judah looked at the cashier and said, “My mom is at home. She doesn’t know what I’m doing. This is my Momma.” At that moment when Judah corrected the cashier the confused look moved her face.

At first I remember thinking I would just stay out of it and allow Judah to do the explaining. After all the kid was doing a good job on his own. But, also I felt conflicted. Now I know I promised to be out and proud but, it was at that moment I realized something. I did have compassion for the cashier. Her confusion was genuine and not mean. I didn’t want to embarrass her. And so I felt caught between supporting my son and keeping the cashier from feeling bad. But, when Judah looked at me for my support I had to support my child. So in a quiet tone I said to Judah, “Yep, Judah’s mom is at home and she would be proud to hear what you’ve done. And then I looked at the cashier in the same tone and told her that Judah had two moms.” I remember Judah standing up so proudly. OK, he probably did that because I told him mom would be so proud of him for helping. He was the kind of kid who loved being told we were proud of him.

Well, when I reiterated what Judah had said the cashier’s face started turning a bright shade of red. I felt so bad. She was a very nice lady. But the reality was my son and the lessons I was teaching him needed to come first. It was important I showed him that I supported him but I also wanted him to see how to handle situations like that. After all it was as good as time as any for him to learn not everyone understands our family.

When we left the store that day Judah found the cashier’s lack of understanding “dumb”. He asked, “Why was that lady so dumb?” I told him that wasn’t nice to say but asked why he asked. He told me, “Momma! (in his winey you should know tone) You, me and mom come here all of the time. That lady always sees us. So, she should know.” Here was the thing. This was Judah’s first experience with how others make assumptions that he has a mom and dad. And so I explained to Judah that because there aren’t a lot of family’s like ours where kids have two moms or two dads, people just assume what is the majority (which is to have a mom and a dad). Judah told me understood that but he couldn’t understand how the woman couldn’t have noticed when we shopped there. Well, as correct as Judah was, I had to tell him it wasn’t that so cut and dry. I told him not everyone even thinks there could be family’s like ours so sometimes they want to make one of us the mother and the other the grandmother (or aunt). What they observe could be seen in a different way. When I looked at Judah to see if he understood, I could see his confusion had returned which was OK. It really wasn’t for him to understand at that point. I just wanted Judah to understand that not everyone will get that we are a family (like anyone else) nor understand how Judah could have two moms. That is not something to figure out but to simply accept. Of course Judah was young so that concept would take time. Meanwhile, it was really important that he saw how I handled the situation and the care I took in talking to the cashier. Being kind was the point I wanted him to see.

About two weeks later Carol and Judah returned to the same store to get a few things for a picnic we were having. While there Judah saw the woman who had been our cashier. Meanwhile, I had not told Carol about what had happened, so she only recognized the woman from our previous trips there. Well, before they were done shopping that woman walked up to Carol and Judah. She had something in her hand. She squatted down to Judah’s level and she showed him three bags of jelly beans. I’ll never forget the colors because it was right before the Fourth of Judah (red, white and blue). Anyway as she handed Judah each bag of jelly beans she said, “This one is for your mom. This one is for your momma. And this one is for you.” Now folks, remember Carol was clueless as to what had happened just two weeks earlier. I’m not sure why I hadn’t told her. I suppose I forgot? Not sure. So, Carol had no idea why the cashier was not only giving him the candy but even more so saying “this is for mom, momma and you”. She was just thinking I had probably had a conversation with her and told her.

Now, I had been waiting in the car. When they got back to the car I saw Judah holding three bags of jelly beans. THREE BAGS!? I was going to chastise Carol for buying them for Judah but before I could get made, Carol told me in a “no big deal my kid probably got the candy because the lady thinks he’s so cute manner” that one of the employees gave it to him. Carol also told me what the lady had said when she handed Judah to candy. When I asked her which employee it was she told me it was the lady we always see. Carol was a bit annoyed that I kept asking her so many questions. Couldn’t I just accept what the lady in the store had done and move on. BUT no, I had to ask 100 questions. I had to know if it was the same lady that checked us out two weeks prior because as you can see it was significant. As Carol was getting annoyed with me asking so many questions Judah chimed in telling me it was the woman who checked us out a couple of weeks before. Listen, I’m not kidding. Our kid was creepy that way. He had a memory on him that was incredible. So, when Judah told me it was the lady from two weeks earlier, I knew he was right. And so one he confirmed who it was I was in shock. I just couldn’t believe what an amazing gesture that was for her to do that. Folks to say I was blown away would have been a total understatement. That “small” gesture of giving Judah the candy and acknowledging his two moms was huge! Of course Judah didn’t get it. He was just thrilled to get the candy. AND once I finally explained everything to Carol, she too thought that act of kindness from that woman was amazing.

From that day forward whenever we were at that grocery store that employee would ask Judah about his mom or momma (whoever wasn’t with him). We developed a nice rapport with her. After shopping there for 5 years one day we realized we hadn’t seen her in a while. We were worried about her so asked our cashier during one of our visits where she was. Well, folks get this. The cashier who did such a wonderful gesture by giving our son the jelly beans would you believe she had won the million dollar lottery? That was the absolute truth. Now usually I was jealous when I’d hear someone won but Carol and I could not have been more thrilled and happy for her. She deserved it. It was obvious to us that her gesture had not gone unnoticed.

Listen, it took a special person like that cashier to do what she did. At the same time I’m sure it helped when she could see Judah was just like any other kid. Also, she clearly was not accustomed to meeting family’s like ours nor was she used to families like ours being so blunt as to who we were. More importantly, that was the lesson we wanted to teach Judah. Not everyone’s “ignorance” means they hate us. It just meant (like in the case of this cashier) she didn’t know.

Because of the area we live in and the lack of out gay parents (which grabs my goat because they are only teaching their children to be ashamed), the select few who are out become the “poster children” for lack of better words. Sadly, being so visible does put our family in a position where we are noticed more than we realize. And so Judah will have to get used to it. I hate for him to live with that pressure. He didn’t ask for it. The reality though is none of us choose the cards we are dealt. In that regard Judah is no different. Just like all of us, he will have adversity in his life. Will it be because he has two moms? Will it be because he’s Jewish? Will it be something totally different? Who knows? Unfortunately, many of us have had to deal with those adversities in our lives and fortunately, through the help of our parents we got through it. And so, it’s up to Judah to handle any and all that comes his way with of course us by his side guiding him. Meanwhile, it certainly couldn’t hurt for him to feel a little pressure because he has two moms to conduct himself in a manner above some of his peers (like those kids on the cruise). Maybe it’ll keep him out of trouble? I hope! So, far though I am so proud of Judah. He has a special quality where he stands up for others quicker than he does for himself. I can only hope he surrounds himself with good people who will do the same for him.

It’s funny. Our kid has changed many minds including our own. Judah is part of a generation where he won’t have to read all kinds of studies to know he was raised in a loving and caring home. He also won’t be restricted by the bigotries of the generation before him. My mom once told me we were the product of our own generation’s teachings (good and bad). No matter how hard we might try to fight against what we felt was wrong, it was almost impossible to break away. In many cases society’s influences usually pushed us back. But by understanding that fact we could give our children the power to go beyond our limitations. I am incredibly proud to give Judah that gift (of power). I am also proud that he already understands to embrace families for loving their children instead of judging them for what others seem to think is lacking.

 

My Baby Story (Chapter 18- Out of the mouths of Babe)

graphics-baby-toys-897970

There was no doubt in my mind that some of our closest supporters doubted us as parents. After all here we were two moms raising a son. The model was always a mother and a father, so the concern was how Judah would become a man without that male influence in the home.  First of all, it wasn’t as if our son would be void of any male role models. He had a wonderful grandfather, uncles and male cousins along with friend’s of ours. Meanwhile, I know many children who had a mother and a father (me for one) and the father was hardly ever home. AND when he was he certainly didn’t spend any time with the children. But to some that was better than not having a father at all. Well do you know what I say to that? Bull Crap! Meanwhile we knew though the proof would have to be in the pudding. Judah would have to be the one to show them he was as normal as any other kid.

Listen, Carol and I were raised by heterosexual parents as most of us were. We both had a mother and father. However, our fathers were not involved in the raising of us. That wasn’t their job. I had a father but I really didn’t know him that well growing up. As kids the father was the parent to fear and the one to stay out of their hair when they were home. And so, technically we had dads. They lived with us. But emotionally my dad was not there. It’s difficult to hear people excuse how even an absent father was better than no father. Let me say this. I am not here to convince anyone to accept my family nor am I going to ever prove my existence. Let’s face it most who feel that way are usually backed by their religion so changing their minds has always been mute. HOWEVER, when one’s opinion crosses the line and tries to change or keep the laws from allowing me to be equal then that has always been a different story. That I will fight.

Listen, I get that having a mom and a dad have been what people have been familiar. That has been the model to immolate for many generations. So, when new models have emerged (throughout history), it has frightened people. Funny how change tends to do that to people. Change- such a simple word that causes not so simple reactions.

Here let me give some examples. First, if you just look at history you can see how when new concepts and ideas were introduced it made people scared. Hell, imagine the poor fellow who was the first one to have said the earth was round. Lets just say he wasn’t so popular and in fact people thought he should be put to death. Because of people’s religious convictions they thought the concept of the world being round was evil and so it justified why the man (who introduced the idea) should be killed. Here was the thing. The idea the world was round contradicted everything people believed and so it was easier to ridicule the person who introduced the new concept than to try to understand it (let alone to maybe accept it over time). The bottom line was fear (of change). And in the fear it stifled a group of people causing them to not only be resistant but hateful too.  It also caused many sensible people to conjure up crazy untruths to scare people in keeping things the same.  

Another example was during the 1800 when only white men could vote. Just the thought of a woman voting brought on a huge wave of anger, resistance and hatred. That hatred seems to come out of that fear every time. A woman allowed to vote back then was outrageous. Many felt if women were allowed to vote it would have been at the hand of the devil. In 2012 it seems laughable. Come on. How could a woman voting cause such fear? Where was the logic? But once again their religion was used to justify it. It was amazing how powerful their fear was. And when people were afraid they tended to spout and accept irrational ideas in order to keep change from happening.

Each time a new group has come forward and demanded their own equalities, the same fear surfaces and the same kinds of illogical ideas have been spatted to try to keep change from happening. AND even more so out comes the hatred. Dammit the same thing happened to the blacks during the Civil War and during segregation. The minorities are different each time through out history but the same irrational excuses spawned from fear (usually fueled by religion) was used to justify why another should be oppressed. Amazing how history repeats itself- different people but the same scenario.

Anyway, my point was the same fear used through out history is the same being used against the gay and lesbian community. The illogical fear that we want to somehow “take over” and “convert” people is absurd. No offense but our “condition” doesn’t spread and we have no need to prosthelytize. I promise you. We aren’t wanting to take over the world and to wipe out heterosexual parenting. On the contrary. Why would we? Some of my best friends are heterosexual parents. Hell, our parents were! The bottom line has always been we just want to be parents like anyone else.

When Judah was four years old I entered a writing contest with an organization in Atlanta called “MEGA family project”. It’s a wonderful organization that provides workshops on all kinds of informative issues like adoption, making sure we have legal documents to secure our estates to our partners and so much more. The other part of the organization was also to create relationships between same sex parents so we’d have a support system in raising our kids. The winner of the contest (and their family) would win a Rosie O’Donnell cruise to the Caribbean for 7 days. I had never won anything in my life but I loved to write, so I thought I’d at the least give it a try. Plus, I knew I had a story to tell. Hell, how many folks out there could say they were Jewish, a lesbian, living in a small Southern town and raising a son?

So, I wrote the essay and honestly, forgot about it. Several weeks later I was riding in the car with a family friend. Just as I was telling her about the essay I had written, my cell phone rang. Lo and behold it was the director of the MEGA family project.  I couldn’t believe it. She was calling to tell me I had won the trip. I laughed with Carol saying I probably won because I was the only one who entered. But, whatever the case may have been Carol and I were so excited. We couldn’t wait to tell Judah about the cruise and how many of the kids on the cruise would have same sex parents. OK, so we were a little excited about seeing Rosie O’Donnell but honestly, we had a more important reason. We were so excited for Judah to see all of the kids who had two moms or two dads. For weeks leading up to our trip we kept talking it up with Judah. We had expected him to be thrilled to be around other kids who also had same sex parents. But, he wasn’t impressed at all. Instead he was more interested in talking about riding on the big boat and going to the beach. That disappointed us but we thought he’d change his mind when we’d actually get on the ship.

When the date of the cruise arrived we were beside ourselves. We arrived a day earlier and spent the night with my aunt and uncle who took us to the ship the next day. As we were boarding the ship we immediately started to point out to Judah all of the same sex moms and dads. We were surprised when even then Judah didn’t care. He was only interested in the big ship and knowing when we’d be going swimming. Carol and I were baffled. How could he not be interested or at aw like we were? There were so many families like us and it was amazing. The feeling Carol and I had was just like when we were kids and we saw Disney World for the first time. It was exciting and thrilling to be around others who were like us. Through all of the hardships we had experienced it was an awesome thought that for 7 days we could be like any other family with out having to defend or explanation. No one was going to stare at us or ask us any crazy questions. OK, so Carol and I did get seasick for a couple of days which was yucky but aside from that it was a nice trip. We met many wonderful couples who we still correspond with today via Facebook.

We learned a lot from going on the cruise. One thing we learned was we are definitely NOT boat people. But that’s another story. More importantly though, there were some nice family activities and the most memorable activity was a panel discussion which was made up of first generation teenagers conceived and raised by same sex parents. The purpose was to allow same sex parents to ask them questions about what it was like to be raised by same sex parents. You know things like: What did their friends think? Were they bullied? Well, there was one question I had never thought about and I have never forgotten since that day. An audience member asked the kids on the panel, “Do you feel as if you have to be exemplary in everything you do because if you aren’t others would say it was because you have two moms or two dad?” WOW! What an amazing question and one that got me thinking. With a panel of 12 or so teenagers would you believe all of them answered, “YES!” BUT, even so they didn’t mind. They knew they needed to show the world they were OK and to do that they had to always be on their toes. It was just part of their life. They loved their lives and under no circumstances would they trade their parents. They loved their parents just like all kids do. They were so wise and they gave me a perspective I couldn’t know. I learned a lot that day.

When we returned from our cruise Judah couldn’t wait to get back to preschool to tell his friends and teachers about his trip. All Judah could talk about was how big the ship was and that was what he wanted to tell his friends. I was excited to pick Judah up from school on his first day back because I wanted to hear what he told everyone about his trip. And so as I had always done on our drive home I started asking him questions about his day. When I asked him what he told his class about the cruise he answered, “Momma, you were there (on the cruise) so why do I have to repeat everything?” I told him I’d stop and for most of the ride home we were quiet. Just as we were almost home Judah broke the silence and said, “Momma, can you believe that Megan (a girl in his class) has a mom and a dad?” And that was when it all hit me. LIGHT BULB (back to the GRU character on Despicable Me).

How dumb of me! The fact was Judah had two moms raising him and that was his normal. TO be on a ship with other kids who had same sex parents wasn’t different to our kid. It was what he knew, so why were Carol and I always pointing it out to him? I’m sure he was clueless as to why we kept pestering him about it. In reality it was both me and Carol who were at awe by seeing other families like ours because that was not how we were raised. Our kid could have cared less. So what? After all it wasn’t anything he hadn’t seen or known. It was his world.

AND so I looked in my rear view mirror at Judah after he told me about Megan’s parents. I smiled at him and said, “Why yes, Judah she does have a mom and dad. Why do you say?” Judah just smiled back at me and said, “No reason. I just thought it was different.”  Out of the mouths of babe!

It took my (at the time) 4 year old to open my own eyes so that I could see (and understand) his world. It is a work in progress though as I have a lot to learn. Meanwhile, I am proud to say my kid embodies all that is good in change and because of it, he will never know fear.

 

My Baby Story (Chapter 17- Don’t make the Momma’s mad)

graphics-baby-toys-897970

In the hospital it was customary for the “father” to ring a bell letting others know a baby had been born. So while I was being taken to a room, Carol and her daughter followed the nurse (who had Judah) to the nursery to ring the bell. While walking to the nursery the nurse asked Carol, “So, are you the proud grandmother?” Are you kidding me? Did the nurse not notice how Carol kissed me on the lips and how she intimately held me as Judah was being born? And the best thing she could come up with was Carol was the grandmother? Ooooh! Ich! Did she really think I had a weird relationship with my mother? I don’t know of any mother’s who would have been that intimate with their daughters. CRAZY! Well, needless to say that irritated Carol. Annoyed she corrected the nurse and told her she was the baby’s other mother. I never did ask Carol how the nurse responded to her correction because I was stuck on the fact she seemed to have no idea that we could possibly be a couple. And so was my point in my first chapter.

OK so, before I continue I need to back up a bit. During my pregnancy I discovered my father was forging my name and giving creditors my contact information. So convenient of him. It wasn’t hard for him to do as we shared the same last name which was NOT common (as NO ONE in my state even shared the name) and his initials were NM and mine were MN. I found out my dad was doing this when I started getting calls from debt companies claiming I owed them money. Knowing I had NOT ignored paying any of my bills I thought it was very strange. Well, folks, you won’t believe how I discovered what my dad was doing. One of the times a creditor called I asked her to tell me the amount of the bill and to whom I didn’t pay. I wanted to know specifics (which was my right meanwhile like hell was I just going to pay someone without knowing the details). Would you believe she wouldn’t tell me? What the hell? I got mad and told her I would never pay any bill of mine without knowing what the charges were and who they were for. Only then did she say, “Ma’am, it was for issues with your penis.” Yep, you heard me correctly. That was what she said.

Folks, I think you could have heard crickets on my end of the phone. Meanwhile because it sounded so crazy I was certain I hadn’t heard her correctly. Did she just call me ma’am and say,”my penis?” After the crickets left the building I about fell over with laughter. Was I being punked? Where was the Candid Camera group. This just couldn’t have been real. I pressed the woman on the phone even more and she finally told me my bill was for being impotent due to an accident I had and also because of my age. The crickets reentered the building! Really? Now, if she had gone on to tell me it was for a sex change I would have seen the entire situation less ridiculous. But this however was absurd! I clearly was the wrong person. Couldn’t she tell? I tried to tell her she was looking for my father. Folks, this woman refused to believe me. It was nuts! Now, here’s the best part. Yes, it gets better. At the time of this call I was six months pregnant. To me it seemed obvious I was not the person who owed on the delinquent bill but nothing I said was getting through to the collection agent. I even offered to send her a letter from my OB/GYN letting her know I clearly was not a man. Over and over again I tried to explain to the collection agent that it was my father but the collection agent would not listen. I even bluntly said, “No one in our home had a penis (well, not yet that was). I really thought telling her I was pregnant would have helped but it made no difference. She’d only say, “Ma’am that’s not my problem. All I know is what you owe. Now, do you want to pay by credit card?” I thought I was going to pull my hair out. Luckily, I had a ton of it because I certainly needed it for this situation. When she asked if I would like to pay by credit card I was done with our conversation. Gosh, silly me…I didn’t mean to drop the phone onto the receiver but the stupidity of the entire conversation made my arm go weak and it someone landed on the receiver accidentally hanging up on the collection agent. Oh my!

I couldn’t wait for Carol to get home from work to tell her what had happened. It was SO INCREDIBLY funny and yet SO INCREDIBLY sad at the same time. When Carol got home I told her about what had happened. Carol’s first response was “WHAT?” Yep, that was it. Just “WHAT?” And then she went on to say,”This is a really bad joke, however only you could this happen to. Only you!” And you know something? She was right. How was it that the craziest things could happen to me? But folks, I’d have to say this was at the top of the list. Meanwhile no matter how absurd, I had to do something about it. I had no choice but to contact a lawyer to find out what I needed to do. He suggested the best thing to do (especially to avoid any future creditors of my dads) would be to change my last name. And so while I started that process the lawyer also contacted the collection agency to clear up the “misunderstanding”. Nothing like having a lawyer clear up the “confusion”. Thank goodness!

Changing my name wasn’t a quick task nor was it easy. Oh, it was easy legally. That was nothing compared to the emotional. I had loved my last name. It was mine and it was what made me unique. I never wanted to change it. Now, even though what my dad had done was wrong it was a blessing in disguise. Since Carol and I were having a baby (and since we weren’t in an area where she could adopt him to be the other legal parent, I found it was better for all of us share the same name. That way it would make it more difficult to the “outside” world to know who was the biological mom and it would give the impression we were all related. However, I wasn’t prepared or ready to lose my identity which was how I felt. So, I decided to get rid of my middle name entirely (which was after my father’s first name) and take Carol’s last name hyphenated with my mom’s maiden last name. I know it seemed confusing but I needed to hold onto something of my families. And at least we all would at the very least have one part of our names the same. My name change came not long before Judah was born which was nice.

So, back to us being at the hospital after just having had our son. Carol had rung the bell (which was so cool) and I was taken to a room where I would be for about three days. It seemed to have taken Carol a long time before she came back to the room. However, she was waiting for them to get through with doing all of the usual tests to Judah and she wanted to come back to the room with him (as we had requested to have Judah with us) When Carol returned with Judah and of course a nurse, I’ll never forget the nurse going over the “rules” with us. One of the rules was we were NOT allowed to lie in the bed while holding Judah. Meanwhile as the nurse is telling us these things Carol and I really weren’t even listening. Instead we were staring at our new precious baby ready to hold him. When the nurse left we took a deep breath. FINALLY, we were alone. Carol took my hand and said, “Well, babe, you did it. You made it happen and we now have our beautiful baby boy.” It all still seemed surreal. It was so amazing.

While we were sitting and enjoying our new family, there was a knock on the door. It was a woman from the administration office of the hospital. When she introduced herself as the supervisor for birth records, Carol looked at me with a confused expression. Does the supervisor always go to patient’s rooms? We knew someone was going to come to our room for us to fill out the birth certificate forms but wasn’t it usually a regular administrator? Even more perplexing was this woman already seemed agitated with us when we had never met her before in our life. What the hell was going on?

After she introduced herself she said while pointing to Carol, “I want to make it clear you cannot be on the child’s birth certificate and the child cannot have your name.” I was lying in the bed and Carol was standing next to me. What the hell? We both looked at her and said, “Yes, we know.” The woman continued to be annoyed with us. She seemed to have not heard us. Why did she think we were going to put Carol’s name on the birth certificate? And why did she think we’d forge Judah’s last name? Meanwhile we were going to give the baby my last name which was part of Carol’s last name. That was fact. How ridiculous and INSULTING to send the supervisor down and to assume we were going to do something illegal! Where in the hell did she get that idea?

Carol asked the supervisor if it was common for her to go to all new mother’s rooms. Lets just say, she was NOT happy with that question. In fact she seemed so annoyed by it she wouldn’t even acknowledge what Carol had said. Instead, she just started telling us the amount of trouble we could get into for putting a false name on a birth certificate. At that point Carol said, “OK, hold on here. We don’t understand why you are accusing us of something we haven’t done nor have any intensions on doing. Where did you get that idea?” Carol added, “We are giving the baby her last name (as Carol pointed to me).” The supervisor looked at Carol and rudely asked, “Ma’am, isn’t that your name?” Carol told her that was irrelevant. The fact was the baby was getting the birth mother’s last name. Carol kept throwing her arms up in the air telling the supervisor she was very confused. The more Carol tried to explain the angrier the supervisor got. Finally, the supervisor said while pointing to me, “You as the birth mother CANNOT just take her (while pointing to Carol) name. That is not legal and that does not give you the right to then give your baby her name.” WHAT IN THE FUCKING HELL? What was going on here? Did this bitch go to heterosexual couple’s rooms and make sure the daddy’s were the biological fathers? Meanwhile how dare she just assume we we were going to do something illegal. No one had even spoken to us to get our story before the supervisor came. That supervisor came to us assuming we were going to do something wrong. We were furious and I finally said, “I didn’t just take on her name (point to Carol). That is my legal name!” The supervisor had had enough. She couldn’t understand why we weren’t understanding her. She started raising her voice (treating us like idiots- nothing against idiots but that wasn’t us) and started to explain how the process of legal name change has to be done. As she was telling us I looked over at Carol. By this point she was pacing back and forth saying to herself, “I don’t understand. I don’t understand.” Angrily both Carol and I said at the same time, “Yes, we know because that was what we did.” Carol offered to show her the legal (name change) papers to prove it but would you believe the woman wouldn’t listen? It seemed nothing we said was heard by the supervisor. She had her own agenda of what we were doing and dammit that was it. AND she wanted us to admit that was what we were going to do. BUT, it wasn’t and like hell were we going to be accused of something we weren’t doing. Listen, all of you who have had a baby understands what a special time that is. And so, it was for us. Couldn’t we just have that time in peace? But no, even that had to be interrupted by the stupidity of someone who we felt was targeting unjustly.

After going around and around with the supervisor we could clearly see she had her own mind made up about us and we weren’t going to change it even with the truth. Hell, not even with legal papers were going to change her mind. It was insane! A heterosexual couple is never questioned. Why were we?

With the supervisor in the room Carol told me to call our attorney who had handled our name change. For some reason she didn’t believe I was calling my attorney. Why should I be surprised? She didn’t believe anything else we had said. The fact that I had health insurance under Carol’s policy and the fact that both of our names were on the policy, did she think we lied to them about our names too? And if so, how was it her place to argue it? It was SO crazy and honestly, very dumb on the supervisor’s part. Needless to say, when I reached my attorney he was VERY annoyed when he heard what was happening. He told us to tell the supervisor to call him. He refused to talk to her in our room right after I had just had a baby. When I hung up the phone Carol handed the supervisor our lawyer’s contact information. As she took the paper from Carol and was leaving the room, she told us we wouldn’t be able to fill out any of the paper work (aka the birth certificate) until “this issue got resolved.” As soon as she closed the door Carol shot her a bird and said, “And fuck you too lady.” Carol was fuming with anger. She started pacing the floor calling the woman every name in the book. As for me by the time the woman had left the room I had dismissed it. I knew our attorney would handle it and that supervisor would be eating her words. I also knew she did it because we were a gay couple. AND I knew we would NEVER see an apology. However, what could I do? Meanwhile, I understood Carol’s anger and agreed. That supervisor coming to our room as she did in essence was telling Carol she was not our son’s other parent. The behavior of that woman was cruel. She may have been correct that our son didn’t have any of Carol’s genetic make up, HOWEVER our son was going to have everything else of Carol’s: her love, her attention and most of all her as his parent. But, I knew that and what that supervisor said wasn’t going to change that fact. But, it was in a lot of ways very hurtful to Carol. After all, it was easy for me to sit there and say Carol was the other parent. I was the biological mom and that supervisor wasn’t questioning me as the parent. So, I got Carol’s anger towards that woman and I totally understood why. Listen, if I was pissed off at that woman for anything it was for demeaning the woman I loved who I with no doubts saw as our son’s other parent. How dare that bitch do that! And for that this Momma was mad!

When the hideous woman left I didn’t want our special time to be ruined. I didn’t want to give that kind of power to that woman. I wanted Carol to be with me in the moment of celebrating the birth of our new son and not giving that awful woman anymore thought. Even though Carol was extremely pissed and hurt (to say the least) while she was around me, she didn’t show it. She knew I wanted that time to stay special and without interruption from such bigots. And so, Carol set her anger aside to appease me.

OK, so I would have loved to have said our stay at the hospital was just fine after our meeting with the supervisor. However, that was just the beginning. See, we discovered many of the nurses were VERY uncomfortable coming into our room. Here was the thing. Our floor was packed. There wasn’t one open room. We knew the nurses were understaffed and the ones there were working hard. And so, we couldn’t see where they had time to be so selective.Listen, we could accept them being uncomfortable. We got that and that was OK. Alright, it wasn’t OK but let’s just say we could have dealt with it. BUT, we couldn’t accept not getting the same care and respect as the other patients on the floor. That made these two Momma’s VERY mad. Honestly, that down right PISSED these two Momma’s off.

I bet you’re wondering how we knew the nurses were uncomfortable. Well, it wasn’t difficult. Would you believe they would talk (quite loudly) outside of our room about having to come into our room. And when they did come into our room they would never look at us, they wouldn’t touch me and if we asked a question, they would ignore us. It really seemed so unreal. And so that was when Carol came up with an idea which I loved. And this was when I coined the term, “Don’t make the Momma’s mad!”

While we were mad on the inside, we chose to play a little joke on those bad nurses to laugh on the outside. And so, here was what we did. Whenever we knew a nurse was coming into our room (as we’d hear them argue about coming into our room before they came in) Carol would jump into the bed with me. Hell, if they thought they were uncomfortable at first, we were going to be sure as hell to make them even more uncomfortable. Now listen, I’ve got to explain something here first (before you get any wrong ideas). At the time Judah was born I was a woman who was close to 300 pounds who had just had a watermelon pop out of a hole that was normally the size of a penny. And on top of that I had had an episiotomy. I was sleeping in a small single bed that seemed to barely fit just me let alone another person. SOOOO, needless to say, it wasn’t so easy for Carol to get into bed with me. And when she did she usually had to hold on (for dear life) to the railing to keep from falling out or keep one foot on the floor to balance. SO as you could imagine those nurses were REALLY DUMB if they thought we were “in bed together”. Oh and for the fact Carol was fully dressed. What in the hell could we have possibly have done? At any rate by doing that we achieved our goal and made the nurses even more nervous. You have to admit that was very good of us to find humor in a very frustrating situation. OK, I know some would call it passive aggressive behavior but dammit folks, could you blame us by that point?

We were sorely disappointed that our “in bed together” joke was short lived. After the first day we noticed the same nurse was coming into our room AND she would talk to us. She even would make funny jokes about us being in the bed together. She clearly knew what we were doing and enjoyed playing along. After the third time or fourth time she came into our room Carol asked, “Did you pick the short stick and have to be the one to come to our room?” She laughed and then told us she volunteered to do it. We told her we had heard the other nurses talking and knew they didn’t like coming into our room. Only then did she confirm we were right. And so from that point forward we had our own wonderful private nurse. How many of you could say that?

On the second day in the hospital our doctor came to see us. She sat with us for a good while asking how things had gone. We told her about the supervisor from birth records coming to our room and the nurse situation. Our doctor was not happy with how we were treated. She told us she’d complain but she encouraged us to write a letter too. As you can imagine writing a letter when I got home was not my priority. Having a newborn who didn’t sleep much was hard enough. As mad as we were about what had happened our new baby took precedence. It turned out Judah was jaundice so we had to have a bilirubin bed for him in our home. Because he had it quite badly (even the whites of his eyes were yellow) we had to go to the hospital every day to have blood taken from him to check his levels. It was so stressful to us as new moms. On top of that we had Carol’s daughter who was a teenager living with us. Our plates were full and the kids in many ways forced us to look forward. I did however write a letter to the hospital about 6 months later. In the letter I put the name of the supervisor who visited us and I mentioned and complimented the nurse who went above and beyond by being our “private” nurse during our stay. Unfortunately, I never received a response from the hospital. Even though I didn’t expect one I had hoped I would have been pleasantly surprised with at least an apology. But, just like with everything else Carol and I had been through, we had to let it go and move forward. All of those crazy things just weren’t important. I’d be lying if I said they weren’t upsetting or hurtful but what could we do? If we focused on all of the negative where would that have gotten us? All we could do was to surround ourselves with true friends and our loving families.

I must tell you on a good note that many years later when I returned to this same hospital for two surgeries our experiences were much different. In both cases Carol spent the night with me and NEVER did we feel that because we were a gay couple we were being treated differently. In fact from the person who cleaned our room to the nurses to the folks who brought my meals, they were nothing but kind and sincere. I could only hope that time did make positive changes.

 

My Baby Story (Chapter 16- I don’t know nothin about birthin no baby!)

graphics-baby-toys-897970

Three weeks before my due date I was having contractions.They were happening every few hours and would last a few minutes at a time. Now of course many of you would say, “Oh, those are just Braxton/Hicks.” I have to tell you folks, I don’t care what they were called, they were contractions to me. Call it what you want. I just knew we were so close to having our son. I was tired. I wasn’t sleeping well and I was SO uncomfortable. What was I thinking to have my baby in the heat of the summer? It was over 110 degrees outside and my insides where twice as hot. My ankles were HUGE and when I pressed my finger on them, it took a second for my imprint to go away. OK, so it didn’t help that I had gained 100 pounds during my pregnancy. Yep, that was what I said. But, I couldn’t help it. I swear. Only during my pregnancy could I enjoy all kinds of milk products without getting sick. And, so I, well, sort of took advantage of it. And especially towards the end when it got harder to move, I spent my past time on the couch eating ice cream.

Well, it was time for my monthly check in with my doctor. I was really hoping she could give me an exact time and date of when our baby was coming but I knew that would be impossible. My doctor was able to tell me that at 3 weeks away I was at three centimeters, so I was progressing nicely. Listen, folks, when you are 9 months pregnant, as big as a beached whale and hot as hell, “progressing nicely” is not exactly what you want to hear. I wanted to hear, “Ok, it’s time.” But, just like my entire pregnancy, we’d have to wait for my body and the baby to decide. 

By this point none of my maternity clothes were fitting but there was no way I was going to buy more. Carol would bring home from Walmart large men’s shirt’s for me to wear to “tied me over”. And then there were my feet. Folks, I could even bend over to put on my shoes. Thank G-d they were too swollen that all I could wear were flip flops. At least those were easy to slip on- well sort of. Often I had them on the floor right near me but my belly kept getting in the way, I couldn’t see them. I never realized how difficult the simplest of daily tasks could be when one has a large belly. On top of that I could NOT sleep. All I wanted to do was sleep! But, I was so uncomfortable. I was either way too hot or unable to get comfortable in the bed. I remember being so irritable. I hated feeling that way but I couldn’t seem to get control over it. However, my loving partner always provided me with what I needed and never complained (at least to me).

My due date was on Saturday, August 9th but on the Wednesday before my contractions were increasing. I knew they were too far apart but it being my first time I wasn’t sure. They would hit every 30 minutes and would wake me up at night. I was miserable, so Carol took me to our doctor. When the doctor saw me, she could tell I was ready for all of it to be over. She hooked me up to a monitor to see how far apart my contractions were. Of course while I was sitting there, I didn’t have even one. Our doctor met with us and told us she was going to be out of town over the weekend (when my due date was).  She took my hand and told me if the baby didn’t come by the weekend, I was to come to her office on Monday to be induced. Only when she said that was I able to relax. It was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.  Listen, it was the first time during my entire pregnancy I had a definite ending. Carol wasn’t going to start her vacation until the next Monday but seeing how I was she decided to go ahead and start it. She knew I needed her and as the weekend approached, I certainly did. I had been very good to not focus on the ending of my pregnancy but it finally arrived. I had no choice but to think about it and I was scared.

Carol took me home that day and tried to get me to take it easy. I couldn’t though. The anticipation was killing me and I physically was miserable. Even so, I hated being cooped up in the house. Carol was afraid for me to go anywhere just in case I went into labor. So, she would take me for a walk around the neighborhood…well, not even that far as I couldn’t walk very well and it was excruciatingly hot outside. Anyway, she had hoped the walks would help me settle and not feel so cooped up. On Friday my contractions were increasing. They were happening every 15 minutes and if they subsided it was for only a very short time. I was in pain and so uncomfortable. Carol couldn’t stand it any longer so she took me to the hospital to the triage of the birthing center. After hanging out there for an hour, we were told it still wasn’t time. UGH! Come on baby! I was at this point at 4 centimeters and just like my doctor told me, they said,”It’s getting close.” Meanwhile, I didn’t want close. I wanted NOW!

I didn’t get much sleep that Friday night as my contractions were pretty regular. I was exhausted by morning but was antsy to get out of the house that Saturday (yes, the day of my due date). That day our city was holding it’s first ever Farmer’s Market downtown. I begged Carol to take me but she refused to take me. She was really worried I was going to do into labor and she wanted me at home. She wanted me to relax and rest that day as if I would have been able to do that. I couldn’t. I wanted to go to the Farmer’s market. I think I fought Carol all day over it. Finally at around 5 in the evening she said she needed to go to the grocery store to get us dinner. At that point I put my foot down and told her I wanted to go with her and she let me. I suppose she had had enough of my begging all day long.

Well, I don’t know what it was about the grocery store but as soon as we got there my contractions really increased. And not only did they increase but they were a lot more intense. As we were walking down the isles trying to decide what to have for dinner I remember having to stop. I’d lean on the shelves and wait for the contraction to stop. And because I was embarrassed if a person saw me, I’d take a product and pretend I was reading the label while I was having the contraction. It wasn’t as if anyone could have guessed what was happening for the sheer fact Carol was holding my hand telling me to breath through it. Finally, Carol suggested we just get a sub from the deli and get home which was what we did. I had to admit, I was ready to leave and get home. We got home around 7:30. Carol told me to sit down on the couch as she laid out our dinner on the coffee table. She then turned on the TV to PBS where Elton John was performing. So we ate our dinner as we watched the show. Kaitlin, Carol’s daughter, was in her room puttering around.

While we were watching Elton John, Carol commented how she was disappointed to not know any of the songs he was singing. After he sang 3 songs that we didn’t know Carol announced she was going to change the channel if the next one wasn’t one we knew. As Carol kept talking (while Sir Elton was singing the song she didn’t know), I started to feel funny and it was as if she was the teacher talking in Charlie Brown. I couldn’t understand one word she was saying because I was so distracted by how I was feeling. I do remember hearing Carol get excited when Sir Elton started singing his familiar tunes. I even remembered her saying, “Oh good! Finally, a song we know.”  I looked over at Carol trying (through eye contact) to let her know something wasn’t right with me. But, Carol was so excited he was singing the tunes she knew she was occupied singing (along with Elton). For some reason I was unable to talk- to get her attention. It was the strangest feeling. And so, I gave up and just turned to look at the TV. At that very moment I felt a hard kick and then the feeling I was peeing. I yelled (apparently, VERY loudly) as I was sitting on the couch, “My water broke, my water broke!” Carol jumped up from the couch and while standing in front of me started yelling, “Get off the couch, MaLea! It’s our good couch! Get off it!” I remember being stunned by what she said because that was what her ex-husband had told her when she was pregnant with their daughter and she didn’t like it. And now she was yelling the same thing at me.

Carol continued to yell at me to get up off the couch but what she failed to remember was it wasn’t that easy to do. I couldn’t just stand up. And so, instead of helping me she continued to yell at me while running around like a mad woman trying to find a towel. Believe me folks, I kept trying to stand up. Between my huge belly, my swollen feet and the hard core contractions it was VERY difficult. If anything all I wanted to do was to stand up so Carol would to stop yelling at me about the damn couch. If I heard one more thing about the damn couch!

When I finally stood up, Carol’s daughter came running down the stairs to add to the madness. As she was running down the stairs her daughter was yelling (loud enough for the entire block to hear), “The baby is coming? The baby is coming?” Now finally standing up I could feel a hard contraction coming. I went to reach towards Carol but Carol had disappeared. She had gone over to Kaitlin and was telling her to calm down. HELLO! How about me over here? I was the one having the baby.

Every time the baby kicked another bit of fluid would drip down my leg. I kept yelling at Carol that I needed something to wipe myself. Carol got mad and told me she was trying to find a towel. When I pointed out to her that she had a towel in her hand, she told me that one was to clean the couch. What? Are you kidding me? I grabbed the towel from Carol and shoved it in-between my legs. By this point I was starting to have another contraction and it was even harder than the first one. Carol grabbed my arm and was trying to rush me to the front door. When we were almost to the front door the contraction was so bad, I almost couldn’t stand. I started to say, “I can’t.” But before I could even finish Carol interrupted me and went into this long shpiel about how it was too late to turn back. OH G-D ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I was having a fucking contraction! Finally as the contraction subsided and I was able to tell Carol I had been having a contraction. Carol dumbfounded said, “Oh, OK. Well, can you move now?” And she proceeded to escort me again towards the car.

As Carol was holding me, I told her daughter if she wanted to come with she had better get into the car now. Meanwhile, it wasn’t as if I was rushing to get into the car. I couldn’t have even if I had wanted. Just as Carol and I made it to our front door threshold, I stopped, grabbed the door frame and said, “I can’t do this.” Carol put her hands on my shoulders and said firmly, “Yes, you can, MaLea. This was what we’ve been wanting. ” She started to move my hands off of the door frame all while saying, “You can do this so, lets go!” I was so frustrated and mad by that point. With my teeth gripped together and my hands holding tightly on the door frame I said, “Carol, I mean I can’t go because I am having another bad contraction!” Once I said that Carol went from grabbing my arms to holding them patiently while waiting for my contraction to be over. 

We finally made it into the car and with in 5 minutes were at the hospital. Carol asked her daughter to help me to the birthing center while she parked the car. Once Carol’s daughter and I we were inside the hospital I slowly made my way to the elevator praying not to have another contraction. Already in the elevator was a husband and wife couple. The wife was no bigger than my pinky and was wearing designer jeans and a sparkly shirt. Her make up and hair were perfectly done. I thought they were there to visit someone because they were so happy acting. Meanwhile, there I was with a baby doll dress on, no underwear wearing flip flops too long for my feet all while bent over with a damn towel between my legs to keep the stuff from dripping down my leg. When the elevator doors opened on the floor where I was to get out the couple pushed their way in front of me and rushed to the nurse who was standing in the lobby area. Meanwhile, I wasn’t so fast. It took me a wee bit longer to waddle over to the nurse. And when I did reach the nurse she was occupied with the couple who were in the elevator with us. I was so pissed because I would have thought it was very obvious who was in labor. Meanwhile the couple who were in the elevator with us? Well, the woman claimed her water broke and she was in labor. Now, I was no expert but if someone was a nurse on the delivery floor, I would have thought they would have been able to tell I WAS THE ACTUAL ONE IN LABOR! HELLO! Like hell was the perky other woman in labor.

Well, the same nurse who helped the cute couple from the elevator came up to me and asked, “How can I help you?” I told her my water had broken and that my contractions were getting harder (as if she couldn’t tell by how freaking long it took me to walk to her from the elevator and the fact I was leaning over in pain during a contraction). The nurse directed me to another nurse who was coming out from behind a curtain.  While pointing to me she told the other nurse, “This women thinks her water has broken.” Um, did she just tell the other nurse that I THOUGHT my water had broken? Oh no she didn’t. I was not in the mood to be told “she thinks her water has broken.” And so just when she said that I replied in a bit of a forceful manner, “No, I know my water has broken! There is a reason I have a towel shoved in between my legs!” However, they seemed to ignore me.

The nurse escorted me and Carol’s daughter to an area behind a curtain. It was a small area where there was just enough room for a bed. As the nurse handed me a gown to change into she said, “So, you think your water has broken?” OY VEY people! No! I know my water has broken. I wanted to pull the damn towel out from between my legs to prove it to her. But, I didn’t say anything. The nurse told me to go change, lie down on the bed and someone would be back shortly (to see if indeed my water had broken). Carol’s daughter helped me change into the gown and get on the bed. While waiting on a professional to come and tell me what I already knew, I could feel another contraction coming. I couldn’t believe the intensity of the pain. I remember wanting to walk right out of my body to somehow get away from the pain. But there was nothing I could do. I was worried because already the pain of the contractions had gotten much worse. Not wanting to scare Carol’s daughter who was sitting there with me, I grabbed onto the bed. While I was waiting for the contraction to go away I heard the nurse talking to the doctor. I heard her discussing the other woman to the doctor and saying that she knew her water had broken. And then the nurse said my name and said, “And this woman thinks her water has broken.” Well, I had had enough so I yelled, “I don’t think my water has broken. I know my water has broken. Please, stop saying that.” Just as I said that Carol came from behind the curtain. Thank G-d! I told Carol I was having a contraction and I didn’t like it. To try to get my mind off of it she told me the doctor on duty was a man. See, early on in my pregnancy Carol and I had a running joke that it would be our luck that our doctor wouldn’t be there and we’d have a good looking man doctor who would deliver our baby. And sure enough that was what happened. When the doctor came from around the curtain, he was definitely a cutie.  And not only was he cute but he was also very attentive to me. He even said, “I hear your water has broken. Let’s take a peek at it to make sure it’s clear.” Finally, someone who believed me. It took just a second for him to check me. He told me I had meconium in my fluid, so he really wanted to deliver our baby with in 12 hours. Just as he told me that I had another contraction. It was the worst one yet and I asked for my epidural. The nurse (who told me I thought my water had broken) padded my leg and said, “Honey, if you get an epidural now it will slow down your labor. You are only at 6 centimeters.”Well, folks, that was NOT the time for the nurse to have said that to me. Or as we joke and say in our family, “Oh no you didn’t!”

I’ve got to tell you. The doctor was standing beside the nurse when she told me that. He was very respectful by allowing her to say her peace. But, when she was done, he looked at me and said, “Are you ready for an epidural? If so, I will place an order for it and have the anesthesiologist come to your room shortly. With in seconds I went from total panic to feeling relieved. But my relief was short lived as I wanted to get to my birthing room as quickly as possible so I could get my epidural before my next contraction. 

When we made it upstairs and Carol and I were alone in the room (with also her daughter), I cried. The realization it was all happening was overwhelming. Once I  settled in my bed a nurse came into the room to hook me up to an assortment of things. First she gave me an IV and then this she wrapped a velcro strip around my tummy which had a small monitor thing on it to read the baby’s heart beat and keep track of my contractions, Just as she finished with that the nurse looked at the contraction monitor and told me I was going to have a contraction. Well, not to be rude or anything but no shit! I could definitely feel it. Who needed the nurse to tell me? The nurse was great but I found her suggestion of breathing through the contraction ridiculous. Easy for her to say. She wasn’t the one in excruciating pain. When it was over she told me the contraction intensity was at a number seven. Number seven! What? You mean it gets worse? What was the highest number? When she told me ten was the worse I freaked. Where the hell was the anesthesiologist ? Now, he really needed to hurry up. The nurse tried to give me some crap that I had made it all the way to seven and that ten wasn’t that far away. Well, no offense to my really sweet nurse but I didn’t even want to know what eight felt like. When the nurse left the room I had another contraction that felt worse than the one I had moments before. I asked Carol to look at the monitor to tell me what it was. I was certain it had increased to at least a nine. When Carol told me it was still at a level seven that was it. I was done and I wanted my epidural right then. I told Carol that was it and I had had enough. I was done and the anesthesiologist needed to get there right now. So, in Carol fashion instead of continuously telling me they were coming, she stepped out into the hall to pretend she was speeding up the process. But instead she just stood out in the hall for a few minutes and then came back into the room. Carol said it took only about 20 minutes for the anesthesiologist to get there. However to me, it felt like an eternity. I was never so happy to see a doctor before in my life. AND especially one with a needle.

Carol helped me sit up and had me lean on her while the anesthesiologist was putting in the catheter. The entire procedure took no longer than ten or fifteen minutes and after that I was in pure unadulterated heaven. For the first time in months my entire body felt relaxed. It was awesome. By that time it was 10:00 in the evening. Carol’s daughter had gone to sleep on the one and only couch in the room while Carol sat in a hard rolling chair leaning over it to hold my hand. It wasn’t long before all of us were fast asleep. At one point I remember Carol saying to me that we were going to have a baby soon. But, I was so relaxed and it felt so good to sleep, I only thought, “Oh, can’t we wait? Let me just sleep for a while longer.” As we all were sleeping I realized the monitor wasn’t working anymore. I couldn’t hear the baby’s heart beat coming from the machine next to me. I woke up Carol in a panic. She could see on the screen the baby’s heartbeat but for some reason the sound on it wasn’t working. Also, the velcro band around me was supposed to tell the nurse when I was having a contraction but that too didn’t work. Now, I didn’t mind that because even though I had the epidural I was able (in a totally painless way) feel my contractions coming.

Around one in the morning the nurse came into our room with the doctor to check me. They determined it was time for me to push. Since the doctor had another mother who was also in labor he told me he was going to check on her while I was pushing. However, I fully expected that once I started pushing things would move pretty fast. But that wasn’t the case. I’d push for maybe 20 minutes and then we’d stop. The intense pushing made me nauseous. I told the nurse I felt sick hoping she could do something about it. Instead, she handed me one of those plastic tubs to throw up in if I needed. Not what I was expecting. I was thinking more on the lines of phenergan. I know it wouldn’t  have been good for the baby. I know. Meanwhile, Carol and I couldn’t figure out why the doctor and nurses kept leaving our room. Finally, we were told there was an emergency with the other mother in labor. I felt terrible for her and hoped all would be OK.

It must have been around 4:30 in the morning when a new nurse came into the room. Apparently, it had been a shift change. I was really worried when I saw my new nurse. She had bleached blonde hair and wore a ton of make up. She reminded me of the beauty queen type. Because of how she looked I wasn’t sure if I had a lot of confidence in her. But let me tell you. She was awesome. As soon as she walked into the room she turned on the over head light, sat me up a little and said, “OK, it’s time to get this baby out. Lets do it!” And from that point on I pushed my heart out. Carol stayed by my side the entire time. As the head started to crown Carol looked. We had bets if our kid would be bald or have hair. See, I had made a yarmulke for him but I didn’t know if I needed velcro (which would stick to his hair) or ribbon (to tie it to his bald head). And so, while I was pushing and when Carol saw the top of our son’s hair she kept saying to me, “Velcro, MaLea. Velcro.” I didn’t have a clue what she meant. “Velcro? She wants to name our kid, Velcro? That’s not what we had agreed. What in the hell was she talking about?” But before I could ask her just minutes before our son was born the doctor told me he didn’t want the baby to cry because of the concern he might have swallowed meconium. He told me to not worry. He assured me it was a precaution to make sure the baby’s airway was clear before he took a breath. I remember seeing a team of nurses waiting to work on him and I remember seeing Carol’s face get very serious. Only later did Carol tell me that everyone was a little nervous because the umbilical chord was also wrapped around our son’s neck and the further he came out the tighter it got. In fact Carol said the doctor had to squeeze his fingers in between the chord and our baby’s neck to keep it from choaking him. The wonderful doctor apologized to Carol for not being able to cut the chord but he had to do it before our son was totally out of the birth canal so their wouldn’t be any danger of him losing any oxygen. 

And so, once our son was fully born the room remained very quiet. There was no baby cry. Carol leaned over to me, gave me a kiss and whispered “Our son is here!”. While the nurses were working on our son the doctor was working on me. He had to cut me a little in order to get his finger’s around our son’s neck protecting him from the tightening chord. So as the nurses were clearing our son’s airway, the OB doctor was birthing my placenta and also sewing me up. Meanwhile all Carol and I could do was to keep our eyes on our son. Once they got his airway cleared he was allowed to cry. That was a great relief when we heard him and I think everyone in the room took a breath. The nurses cleaned him up. They were rubbing him with a small towel all over his body. When they did I suppose it stimulated his bowels and he pooped. We all laughed because our kid pooped about 4 times before they could finally get a diaper on him.

When they finally handed our son to us, I remember thinking he was SO tiny. He barely weighed 6 pounds and was 17 inches long. His face looked as if he had gone through a boxing fight. His cheeks, forehead, one eye and lips were red and swollen. He certainly was not cute in any way, shape or form. But, that didn’t matter. He had finally arrived and best of all he was ours. When I saw his hair I couldn’t believe it. He had a head full of black hair just like my mom had. While I held him, it all felt so surreal. I felt emotionless . I was in shock.  I couldn’t believe that day had come and I was actually holding OUR baby. The nurses asked us what we were naming him. We proudly said, “Judah Kol.” We gave him the middle name Kol which was the Hebrew word for voice. Remember how I mentioned my mom would talk to me and help guide me? Well, we gave Judah the name voice to represent how we hope my mother’s voice will guide him too.

AND SO on August 10th, 2003 at 6 am our beautiful and precious son, Judah Kol, was born to TWO VERY proud Mommas.