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.