Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a crucial step in practicing belief that the lump in my belly will one day be a Real Live Baby TM: we’ve told lots and lots of people. We’ve told the friends we hang out with but don’t make the “we’d want you to know about a miscarriage anyway” list (GULP). We’ve told my boss I can’t teach in the spring (financial GULP). We’ve even told Facebook (high-school-frenemy GULP).
By and large, this has been great. Most people have said something nice, and no one’s been rude — one of the great things about being loudly gay is that the suckier-type people don’t want to be friends with you anyway. Excitement has come from unexpected quarters: Sugar was suddenly hugged by a moderately nerdy male colleague running for the train yesterday, and the father of our favorite toddler, who was luke-warm at best on the topic of reproduction prior to the arrival of his daughter, checks in on my health nearly as solicitously as my mother does.
Nearly everyone we tell in person immediately asks, “Do you know what you’re having?” which sounds like something a diner waitress would say.
I have an impulse to answer, “BLT, fries, and a coke, please; no mayo on the BLT,” but that would be unhelpful. Instead, I tell them, “I’m hoping for a puppy, but it’s looking more and more like a baby.”*
Partly Mostly, I answer that way because I’m a congenital smart-ass, and I’d hate for my friends to think pregnancy has changed me (though apparently they expect it to — a shockingly large number of them have not laughed, but rather stared at me as if I’ve lost my mind). Partly, though, it troubles me that even now, at whatever fruit-metaphor size it is this week, the bean is already supposed to be defined primarily by its sex.
Now I know, I know. I know it’s just small talk, that no one is saying our baby can’t wear a tutu while operating a steam shovel or be the butchest kid on the synchronized swimming team. I get it. It’s meant to be nice, a way of thinking of the baby as a real person. But though I’m pretty darn gender-conforming in lots of ways, I’m still not nuts about the whole business of tying personhood to sex.
Our anatomy scan is a week from today, and we haven't decided yet whether to find out the sex. Sweet Sonographer has promised she will not let me find out if I don't want to know, even through I'm on deck for lots of extra scans to look out for IUGR. So that means the decision really is up to us.
On the one hand, knowing would make it a little easier to buy/beg for clothes. It is remarkable how much is either pink or blue. I don't hold with the whole pink/blue thing -- both of those colors are a little blah -- but it sure is a lot of what's out there. And even though I grew up in the South, where pink is a normal color for men's shirts and even though I know that pink was the baby boy color in the nineteenth century (apparently because of its association with powerful red) and even though my dad does look very smart in a pink oxford, I'm not so sure I want people to think we're those lesbians, if you know what I mean.
And yet.... I have a strong feeling that once we know one way or the other, the follow-up to those diner-esque questions will be non-stop advice based on stereotypes or anecdotes of babies of whatever sex. Which sounds annoying. (Yes, we can use "Pregnant Women Are Smug"**-style evasion, but I don't think I could really keep that up. Sugar could.) Whether to circumcise isn't going to be a tough decision for us, and nothing else seems like something we really need to decide right away. We like the green IKEA crib. We can pick two names, as our parents did for us.
Yesterday (when I started writing this, for what it's worth), was National Coming Out Day. I don't remember to think about it every year, but it is a day I hold fond. In college, it was the day of my favorite party, after which everyone would stream out all over campus armed with sidewalk chalk. In the morning (and, with lucky lack of rain, well through fall break, when prospective students and parents often tour, heh), every sidewalk and pathway would be covered in explosions of support and affection, everything from "I love my gay roommate" and "I love my parents (even though they're straight)" to triumphant labia and, when Sugar was around at least, the sweetest love poems. It was late on the night of that party, my first year, that I first (tentatively, awkwardly) came out to a friend. These days, when it is so easy to forget how hard that was, it's a good reminder that there are plenty of people, especially teens, who need us to be loudly, gladly out, who need the reassurance that full, happy lives are not only possible but actually easier when we tell the truth about ourselves.
But even though being out is important and often a pleasure (see note about lack of sucky friends, for instance, plus the fact that, in my case, it means being able to marry Sugar), coming out is mostly scary. It's scary because it requires you to tell everyone in your life that you are not, in fact, the sum of the expectations and assumptions of your sex; you are yourself. It's amazing how difficult it can be to remind people of something that shouldn't be so hard to remember.
As you may have gathered from my earlier post, the bean has gotten big and strong enough that we can feel it now. And I mean "we." This has been so far an unusually physically non-mutual pregnancy -- not only didn't all those years of, erm, "trying on our own" work, not only didn't we do this at home with the baster, but Sugar wasn't even allowed in the room for the transfer. It's therefore even more magical that the first time I felt something I couldn't explain away as anything other than its beanship, Sugar was holding her hand on my belly and she felt it, too. The strongest movements don't feel to me like "flutters" or whatever else the book says. They feel like throbbing, like very strong blood. Like another heart, held in my belly.
For now, I like just feeling the bean move on its own, reminding me that it is its own person, even inside me. I'm not sure I'm ready to cover it up with all my expectations and fears about boys or girls. When*** it's out in the world, I will no doubt learn soon enough that it isn't every boy or every girl or even primarily a boy or a girl, just itself. While it's inside, not knowing seems to help.
*On balance, I’m glad it’s not a pony. Those hooves intimidate the hoohas rather a bit.
***Knock wood, knock wood.