I Have A Dream Too

We have arrived at February 10th, Jaxson’s due date, and he is all snuggled up in his crib with his mommies going about their business, settling into the new normal of our lives. After little more than a week, Jax’s health has improved and we are so very glad. Although many newborns get jaundice, it is always terrifying when it is happening to YOUR child. I hadn’t touched on this part of his arrival yet, so now is good a time as ever.

Jax was born quickly and hit the pelvic bone on the way out, causing severe bruising to his face and back of his head. He broke a blood vessel in both of his eyes and due to all of the bruising, he came down with severe jaundice as of his 2nd day of life. We had to stay in the hospital an extra day so he could be on the bili blanket and light therapy, and his numbers kept creeping up from a safe level over the next week despite his light therapy, reaching a 12.5 by the time we were discharged from the hospital. We visited our pediatrician the Monday after he was born and his levels had spiked up to a 16.5. We had to struggle with the medical supply company to get his home bili blanket delivered, a full 24 hours after it needed to be here, and were worried he was going to have to go back into the hospital. Finally it arrived and it was hard to have him on the lights all day and barely hold him. It was a sad repeat of the hospital stay and we worried over our little boy and prayed that he would start getting better soon. Finally, we had bloodwork done last Wednesday and his levels were down to 14.5 and then again on Friday we had bloodwork and Jax was finally in safe range with an 8. We were so relieved, and while looking back it wasn’t that big of a deal because so many babies get jaundice and he didn’t have to go into the hospital, it was still scary to have him so lethargic and losing weight. We are so grateful to have him improving and getting back into good health so that we can enjoy our little man.

J had so much trouble breastfeeding at the hospital. Jax wants the boob, he just can’t latch to save his life. This was very frustrating for both him and J and many tears were shed before they finally brought in a pump so J could start trying to get breastmilk to him that way. We had to supplement formula in the hospital and are still doing so to help rid his little body of the jaundice, and unfortunately more often than not we are running into such negativity about exclusively pumping, that it is never good enough and it won’t work long-term. Her supply is finally coming in now thanks to taking Fenugreek, and while the pump is no substitute for babe-to-boob feeding, it is going to have to do for now. We actually found out that Jax is severely tongue-tied, which was interfering with his latch and why he can’t get good suction even when feeding from a bottle. Luckily we have an appointment tomorrow to have his tongue clipped and hopefully this will remedy the frustration and tears and aid in finally being able to breastfeed. More to come on this subject after tomorrow, and we go back to the pediatrician Tuesday to see if Jax is finally putting on weight again. It is normal for newborns to lose weight in the first week or two of life, but he lost nearly a full pound too quickly, but at least now he is finally eating more (and therefore pooping more!) which is all pointing to good signs.

J and I have had our share of tears over the last week. It has been hard adjusting to life with a new addition to the family, but it is worth it in every way. J always says, “I never knew I could love a man this much!” and it is so true. The love that overwhelms both of us when just looking at his sleeping face is almost too much to handle. He is definitely loved beyond measure and I can only hope that he knows it. 🙂

Becoming a parent comes with a whole new set of worries and unfortunately in our case, worries that shouldn’t even apply. I am home with J and Jax 24/7 both last week and this week, taking them to the doctor visits and for blood work, waking up in the middle of the night to feed and change him, rocking him back to sleep and getting spit up on. I have been here every day of her pregnancy and through every hour of her labor and delivery. I am every ounce a parent to this boy, but it is not recognized. We had talked about waiting to do a second-parent adoption while J was still pregnant, and now, I can’t get it done fast enough. We were sitting at the hospital waiting to get his blood work pulled and we had to register him for it, and only J can sign for him. She’s the only one on the birth certificate, because Florida doesn’t recognize gay marriages. We have to file our taxes separately because our Federal government doesn’t even recognize our marriage, even though we got married in our nation’s capital. I can change my last name to J’s, but I have to lie and say that I’m J’s sister when the WIC people ask, a lie that brought us both nearly to tears.

It is extremely sad that this country, a land of freedom and opportunity, doesn’t even grant the most basic rights to all of its citizens. Although we picked Todd together, because he looks like my family, and we both paid for the sperm to get J pregnant, and even though we were married before Jax was even conceived, none of that matters. I am just another person living in this household, a roommate, a stranger in the eyes of the law. I have no legal rights to Jax if anything were to happen to J, and in order to have those rights I have to adopt him as if I were a stranger, someone he had never met before. We don’t even get the luxury of a step-parent type adoption, where you just file court papers and the judge says I’m the other parent, congratulations. No, we have to go about it as if I were adopting a child I’d never met before, complete with home-study to make sure that I’m a fit parent. It infuriates me, and I didn’t think that it would be that big of a deal before he was here, but now that he is in my arms, I want to do everything I can to keep him there. I know that this country is a long way off from complete equality for all, but I can only hope that the day comes sooner than later where our family, and families like ours, can be considered whole in the eyes of the law, without extra hoops to jump through and legal red-tape to cut.

I didn’t intend for this post to become heavy-hearted. After all, our new arrival is a cause for great joy and celebration! And we do celebrate him. But these fears and worries are a very real part of our daily existence, and as the “other mother” I am caught in an in-between place that even I don’t really understand. I hope that others in my situation can find solace in the fact that I am in the same boat as you, and it is rocking and rolling in the waves with no refuge in sight, and it sucks! I am neither a mother, or a father, but a hybrid of both. I feel the fatherly urge to protect and care for my family, win the bread, and save the day. I am also a mother, a nurturer that wants to love and hold my child’s hand when they are afraid of the dark. Just because I didn’t give birth to Jaxson, doesn’t mean that I’m any less his mother, or his parent. I know many people would say that it doesn’t really matter if I’m on the birth certificate because he will grow up knowing I’m his mom, and that I love him, and that I’ll always take care of him. But until you are in this situation, until you have to realize that someone could take your own child away from you if your spouse dies, you won’t really understand. I can’t articulate the severity of the situation we are in, but I am going to do everything I can to lessen that and protect my family, my son. I’m not being over-dramatic, I’m being realistic, and this is a cruel world in which we live. I pray that one day when Jax is older he lives in a world where this isn’t an issue anymore, and maybe he will grow up to become someone who will help that happen. I have never understood Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech more than I do now – because I have a dream too. A dream that includes a future where people are not judged or treated lesser because of who they love, and that children born of that love can have two moms or two dads. I don’t think that I am asking for too much. I know it will happen one day, I just hope that day is soon.

Jaxson’s Arrival

I finally have a few minutes to sit down and take a breather, so I wanted to write about the events leading up to our little man Jaxson ending up in our arms 2 weeks early. 🙂

It was Thursday, January 31, 2013, at 4:45 a.m., and I was sleeping. J had gotten up to go to the bathroom and all of a sudden, I hear her say (not yell, not scream, just quietly say) “Baby, something happened.” I awoke and jumped out of bed, nearly tripped over Bubba since he was laying on the floor at the end of my side of the bed, stumbled to the bathroom, and see the look of horror/shock on J’s face. I don’t know why, but I automatically think worst case scenario. She explains to me that she peed, and then when she went to get up, there was a POP and a gush of fluid. She thought she had peed and couldn’t control herself! I had her put on a pad and when she got up, there was a lot of blood, so we knew we had to get to the hospital soon. After nearly passing out and having to sit down with my head between my legs (talk about an adrenaline rush!) we quickly packed her bag for the hospital, grabbed all of Jax’s stuff we had already packed, and loaded up the car. We stopped by our neighborhood Starbucks, which was pretty funny, because they know us there and the guy goes, “You guys are up early today.” I replied, “Well, we’re having a baby!” His eyes go wide and his mouth drops open as he says, “Right now?! And you came to Starbucks!” Our manager friend came to the window to wish us luck and with drinks in hand we stopped by McDonald’s for an egg mcmuffin and headed to the hospital. J was having minor contractions the whole time, but nothing too major or painful yet.

At 5:45 a.m., we were finally at the hospital. It took nearly another hour until we made it to our labor & delivery room and our parents showed up shortly thereafter. Everyone was super excited and anxious and nervous, especially J and I. After all, Jax was coming 2 weeks early and while we were ready for him to be here, were we really ready?!

J was only 1 cm and barely effaced when we got to the hospital. By 10 a.m. she was 3-4 cm and 30% effaced, and frustrated that she wasn’t getting anywhere quickly. She’s not a very patient person sometimes! 😉 Dr. Johnson came by and started her on pitocin to get the contractions going more steadily and you could tell by her face that she was definitely starting to hurt. She couldn’t speak through a contraction and they were coming very closely together, so she finally decided to get an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in about 20 minutes later and got her prepped for the epidural and I luckily got to stay in the room with her to hold her hand, because she was super nervous about it. She kept having serious contractions throughout the epidural, he had to use 4 shots of numbing agent, and the epidural kept going to the left side when he was inserting it. She was in excruciating pain and trying to hold in her tears until he was done. Finally, it was in place and everyone stayed out of the room for a while so she could regain her composure. When it finally started kicking in, she was not feeling any pain or contractions, so it was worth it, but it was hell to get it in there.

Around lunch time, J’s mom and cousin Betti ran to Target to do some shopping and her mom picked up the breast pump we had been wanting and waiting to buy. We were so surprised and grateful! They also got us the equipment to store the breastmilk in the freezer and also this yummy honey apple body wash for Jax that we had fallen in love with. During our wait for Jax, J’s mom said the cutest thing as she started crying, “I never thought my gay baby would be having a baby!” How times have surely changed! 🙂

Dr. Johnson came in again and checked on J and then came back around 5 p.m. to let us know that Dr. Connors would be taking over from there. Yes, Dr. Connors made it back in time for Jax to be born! You know we had been waiting for her! 🙂 We were so excited and happy, although Dr. Johnson had been wonderful to us during her time with us and we would have been fine having her deliver Jaxson too. J was finally dilated to 9 cm and 100% effaced. Jaxson was on his way!

At about 6:30 p.m. J was finally dilated to 10 cm and fully effaced. The nurse kicked everyone out except for my mom, me, and J’s mom to do some practice pushes to get ready for the big-time pushing. Our nurse, Angie, was awesome. She was funny and really nice and gave good coaching to J. My mom made me go stand by J’s leg and I got to help hold her leg while she was pushing and be her support. Her mom was at her other side hooting and hollering and going nuts yelling and counting to 10 during the pushes and my mom was wiping J’s face down and telling her to keep her chin down, to which J kept saying NO! and my mom just told her to do it anyway.

We had some funny moments (well, not J!) and laughed at her mom’s porn movie hollerings (Give it to me! Harder! Come on do it!) and finally, after much exhaustion, a little bit of oxygen through a mask, and a lot of pushing, Angie told J to STOP PUSHING! She called for Dr. Connors and J had to push a few more times, until at 8:14 p.m., he popped out and took all of our breaths away. The grandmas were crying, J was crying, and I was crying. We were all just so overwhelmed that it was finally over and he was here! They cleaned him up while J was being sewn up (she had a small tear) and he got weighed and measured. Our perfect little man weighed 7 lb 13 oz and was 20.5 inches long. He had a lot of bruising on his face and back of his head, even his little shoulder, from hitting J’s pelvic bone of his way out. She later said that she could still feel some despite the epidural and that it felt like he kept getting stuck. Because she’d had the epidural, she couldn’t help or move to give him room, so she was really frustrated and upset about that and felt like she had hurt him when he came out all bruised. I assured her that she didn’t do anything wrong and that despite the bruising he was perfect in every little way, from his cute little nose down to his tiny toes. He has J’s chubby cheeks and her fingers, but he’s got my weird-shaped elf ear and my nose. We did good baby-making! 🙂

We spent the night with our little guy, just holding him and marveling at the fact that we are finally moms. We finally went to bed around 1 a.m. Friday morning, which just happened to be our 5th anniversary of being together (yes, we are dorks and still count from that first “Will you be my girlfriend?” moment). I told J how proud I was of her, kissed her goodnight, and said Happy Anniversary to my wife. It was a day I will never forget, and one of the happiest of our lives.