Sunday, May 28, 2006

My new Calvins

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my body has undergone a few changes since I started this adventure. I am beginning to think of my abdomen as collateral damage. In fact, my stomach looks like a Hummer ran over it and left tire tracks.

With summer fast approaching, I realized I needed to jump into the abyss, or TJ Max, and go buy new clothes. I wasn’t going to be fitting into my old ones any time soon.
The only problem is I am still a skinny person in my head. It’s never pretty when our delusions are stripped from us, and it’s particularly ugly when it happens in the dressing room of a discount retailer. I had originally picked up some cute size 12 shorts, thinking to myself, well, I know I am not a 6 anymore. A couple hours of later, and I realized, I fit into nothing in the women’s section. I had been banished to the Plus Size section where everything was a subtle shade of lime green or floral. I didn’t understand how this could be. I live in America, we are all fat here, shouldn’t plus sizes be the norm, and normal sizes be petite?

Just when I was about to leave the store empty handed, resigned to a few more months of maternity clothes, I discovered something, the men’s section. I may be a big woman, but I am only a medium sized man. And there clothes are cheaper and better made.

Friends tell me to hold on. It takes a year to get the weight off, and is nearly impossible to do while you are still breastfeeding. It’s never easy when your body changes, but in the meantime, I have some really great new shirts by Calvin Klein.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I have been having dreams where I see my father holding my son. He lifts him up into the air, and beams proudly at him. These dreams are disturbing. If my father were dead, I would be tempted to believe it was his spirit coming to visit his grandson. But my father is not dead, he is alive, but he has no idea he is a grandfather

My father is very religious, and I am afraid to tell him. This is painful because my dad continually asks when I am going to make him a grandfather. Out of necessity, he knows very little about my life. He doesn’t know that I am gay, doesn’t know that I got married, doesn’t know that I don’t go to church, and most distressingly, doesn’t know about his grandson.

I have been tempted to tell him, but the absolute truth is out of the question. I certainly cannot tell him that he came from donor #3672 and that my wife caught our son as I pushed him out of my womb. He would disown me, and that is the opposite of what I want. So I would have to make something up, like a one night stand or a relationship that went bad. The lies would follow lies. It hurts my head.

I keep quiet about my life, our conversations are strained, as for now, my father holds my son only in my dreams.

Friday, May 26, 2006

What I organize, they will trash

My wife took my son for a few hours yesterday, so I had the house to myself. I did what I had wanted to do for weeks, clean the floors. It took several hours because the house was so messy, and I was exhausted when I was done, but things look pretty good. It has not been not more than 24 hours, and its chaos here once again. What I had organized is now scattered.

I was kind of thinking about it, and maybe that is the whole point of relationships, to knock your world around a bit. This happened to me emotionally when I met my wife. I had gotten out of a very difficult 3 year relationship with an active alcoholic, and was looking forward to just being alone. I felt like it was going to be ok if I was single for the rest of my life. And then I met the love of my life, and my whole world was sent spinning. Everything had to be negotiated from where to spend Christmas to how we communicated.

After a few years, I felt pretty good about where we were at. For the first time in my life, I was beginning to feel sane. My life had a nice flow to it, without much disruption. If problems did arise, I felt capable of handling them.

And then we decided to have children, and everything was crazy once again. I was thin before I got pregnant, doing yoga several times a week, now my body will never be the same. I am so sleep deprived, I find myself unable to think straight or clearly. I feel confused, disoriented, mercurial and more in love with my wife and son than I dreamed imaginable.

So this got me to thinking, maybe we are not here to be organized, thin or even in control of our emotions. Maybe we are here to be changed, to have life change us, undo us, destroy us and then reassemble us back again.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Heart Virus

I was at a birthday party last night, showing off my son, when the hostess told me her mother wanted to meet the baby. I had never met this woman, but she had knitted cute little booties for my son, so I was thrilled. It turns out, this woman had just gotten out of the hospital that day. I asked what was wrong and they said she had a virus in her heart. I didn’t think much of it until she sat down, and she looked really unwell with swollen eyes and a flushed face. It suddenly occurred to me that a heart virus sounded really sinister, and communicable.

I nearly jumped out of the seat and ran out of the house practically screaming my good-byes. The hostess was in the middle of cutting the birthday cake, and I could see she was annoyed with me. I use to really care about what others thought of me, but now, not so much. At that moment, I really just cared about getting my son into a sterile environment.

I’ve always been a bit neurotic. Whenever I watch stories about cancer survivors, they always say, “I’ve never thought it would happen to me.” Well, I always think everything is going to happen to me from AIDS to SARS (except for bird flu, I really don’t interact with birds much.) Now that I am a parent, this neurosis has been turned up a notch.

When he was first born, I would deliberate with friends over his future high school drug us. I decided I would give him a lecture for using pot, be mildly concerned with acid, and drop him off immediately in rehab for cocaine use. One of his godmothers looked at me and said, “I think you are a bit of a worrier.” Indeed.

I knew I had changed forever in his first month of life. I would be dead asleep, and all of a sudden, I would wake up screaming, “Where is he? Where is he?” My suddenly awake wife would say, “Go back to sleep, he is right here.” And I would look, and there he was. The axis of my being had changed, it was no longer inside of me. My heart was beside me, softly asleep.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My Two Cents

The best advice given to me was to take breaks during the crying. How much you are able to do this will be a reflection of the resources you have at your disposal. Best case scenario, you can do tag team parenting and switch off during the episodes. You may also be able to garner help from friends and family. This will allow you to actually leave the house which is optimal.

However, I have met a lot of people with really unhelpful partners and they are pretty much on their own as far as dealing with the crying. Or you maybe like me with a great partner, but one that works a lot.

I can’t stress enough the importance of not pushing yourself to the edge with this. In Weissbluth’s book I learned that babies with colic are statistically more likely to become victims of shaken baby syndrome than their calmer counterparts. You are a hero just for being a parent, don’t be a martyr as well. Its not good for you or your child.

My sister in law had two babies with colic, and she also had what I will call a tremendously unhelpful husband. She swears by the Baby Einstein videos. It was the only time her children wouldn’t cry.

Also, if you have to, put the baby down in a safe place and go call someone who isn’t upset. I know this is really simple advice, but can difficult to remember when you are in the middle of an all night crying spree. Also, having a baby with colic can feel like being in crisis situation, a 3 month 911 call, and it is easy just to keep going. I found that it was difficult to check my mental status during that time. Days of crying would go by and I kept thinking, “I am doing ok. I can handle this.” It wasn’t until the kitten would knock something over and I would want to kill her that I realized that I was losing it.
Talking to someone for a few minutes can really help you get your perspective back so you can go back to your child with a calmer mindset.

I also prayed – a lot.

In the end, I realized though I couldn’t always calm my baby, that by holding him and rocking him and walking him outside, I was giving him the message that though I couldn’t always fix what was wrong, I would always be there for him.

I have one last story about this. When my baby was at his most delirious cranky self, it was a week that my wife was working nights at the hospital. Those weeks were always hard on me because my wife slept through the day and worked at night, so I never got a break. After several days of this, my foot hold in reality started to slip. I just had to get away from his incessant crying and I was feeling really resentful at my wife for not being there.

I was walking in the Forest Hills Cemetery, for the hundredth time with the baby in the Baby Bjorn when I started to plan my escape. I was going to run away to the Hilton. There would be tv, food and I could sleep. I would bring the breast pump and Fedex the milk home. I’d come back when I was a little bit more appreciated.

Some minutes past, and I realized, this was a pretty crazy plan. So when my wife woke up, I calmly handed her the baby, and told her I needed a break. I went and got my nails done instead. The best part was, turns out the manicurist was a lesbian and her son had colic when he was a baby. Here name is Gloria and she works at Center Cuts in Rosie Square. She gives a mean French manicure, and I recommend her.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Resources for Parents of Colicky Babies

After writing yesterday’s post, it occurred to me that someone may stumble across this blog because they put the word Colic in google. I wanted to share some of the things that helped me when we were going through the worst of it.

The most helpful book to me was Dr. Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. He doesn’t offer any simple solutions to the problem, but he goes into great length discussing action plans according to the different resources that parents have. I really appreciated that since it makes a big difference as to how you are going to respond. Also, he reassured us that we hadn’t done anything to cause our child’s colic, which was important to me after a couple people had implied that our son was fussy because we had spoiled him. That being said, the book is pretty boring and in desperate need of a good editor. It is very repetitive and sometimes contradictory, but if you can parse through the information, its really helpful.

Another great resource was the DVD The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. I recommend the DVD instead of the book because you can actually see how to swaddle and do the giggling motion he speaks so much of. There is also a womb like noise in the special features section. It’s a horrible sound, kind of like being in an airport and an industrial construction site at the same time, but my son loved it.

I have a pretty conflicted relationship with attachment parenting right now, but many of the practices such as child wearing and co-sleeping were really useful when our baby was at his worst, so I recommend the Dr. Sears’ The Fussy Baby Book. My understanding is that everything in this book is also in his Baby Book so you may just want to check that out instead.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


My wife woke me up last night. I had fallen asleep at 7:00 when I put our son down. In fact, I think I fell asleep before he did. I am feeling kind of googie about being woken up since it took me three hours to fall back asleep. Googie is our word for fussy, cranky and tired. I will tell you the origins of it.

My wife named our son googie-baba in the middle of his colic. It’s an all purpose word, sort of like Aloha Googie-baba always refers to our son. To be googie is to be crabby, but it is sometimes an exclamation, like “Googie!” or “Holy Shit.”

Like I mentioned before, our son had colic for the first few months of his life. He was a textbook case. It started a couple of weeks after he came home from the hospital, and lasted until 6 weeks after his due date. He was born 3 weeks early, so that was 9 weeks. It was worse in the evening. He often would scream for hours at a time.

We fed him, rocked him, walked him around the house, but his wailing continued. He would be quiet for breastfeeding, so I fed him until my breasts were sore. I never expected a screaming baby, and just the persistent noise of it made me want to jump out a window, or run away from home. I was completely blindsided. I had been told to never let a baby cry, and I was stunned to have a baby who cried for no apparent reason. I was desperate to console him. I told friends that I felt like I was being destroyed.

The few things we found that work were breastfeeding and co-sleeping at night, swaddling and a pacifier. He would scream when these things weren’t happening. We found that he liked to be in a wrap, and walked outside with a pacifier in his mouth. In fact, that was the only way that he would nap during the day in the first few months, so that is what I did. I walked up and down the street at all hours of the day and night in order to calm him. My neighbors made fun of me. He was born in January, so I was doing this in the cold. It was like a drug, he could be screaming in the house, down the stairs and then out the door, but he would fall right to sleep once we were on the sidewalk. As soon as we came home, his eyes shot open. I was a complete wreck due to lack of sleep and the necessity of walking constantly until about 10:00 or 11:00 at night.

Some suggestions that we were given did not work were gripe water, eliminating dairy from my diet, the family bed in the daytime and letting him cry it out before 3 months of age (I will talk about this more later. We do let him cry now in order to get to sleep, but it’s a whole different ball game. 5 minutes of fussing now precedes an hour of sleep).

I had coffee with a friend whose son just got over his colic. She told me as the afternoon progressed, and it would become close to the evening (when most babies get colicky) she would start to cry. She would just think over and over, “I’ve ruined my life, I’ve ruined my life for no good reason.”
I completely sympathized. Right next to us, in identical car seats, were two sweet boys both smiling. You never would of guess the havoc the had wrecked.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Confessions of a biological mother

For mother’s day, I bought my wife a copy of Confessions of the Other Mother, nonbiological lesbian moms tell all. It seemed like a no brainer. I haven’t had time to read much of it, but I was interested in Harlyn Aizley’s introduction as the editor. She is the biological mother of her daughter, and she confesses in the intro that she wanted to be the only mommy to her daughter despite the fact that the birth was planned with her partner.

This interest me because I had a completely different experience. Like I said in previous posts, I was completely overwhelmed by motherhood. I felt like a fraud. My wife however, is a pediatric nurse, and boy, did she know what she was doing. She was able to quiet the colic (at times), she makes a mean swaddle and is great at taking a rectal temp. Though I am the biological mother and I am breastfeeding, I often felt like the babysitter waiting for the real mother to come home. During the worst of my son’s colic, I remember watching the clock, and responding to his wails with, “Just hold on, the mom who knows what she is doing will be home any minute.”

In the last few weeks, there has been a shift in this dynamic. His colic has passed, and he has turned into a spirited, but basically calm baby. My wife works quite a bit, and I am home with our son all the time. We are basically together 24/7 and we’ve gotten to know each other. I have become really adapt at knowing his changing moods. Yesterday, he was cooing sweetly, and I looked at him and said, “He is about to get fussy,” and wouldn’t you know it, he started to cry. My wife was impressed.

I think she may feel a little left out that we have grown so close. He smiles when I walk into the room, and his smile breaks my heart. However, I am really confident that my wife and our son will overcome the time constraints of their relationship. With her sense of fun and generosity of spirit and his sweet nature, I have no doubt they will find their way.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

It’s a big day around here, it being our first mother’s day and all. It seemed like a good time to take stalk of what the experience has been like so far, and I have to admit, it’s a lot harder than I imagined. When I use to hear parents talk about how hard it was, I thought they were just whiners. I use to be a web developer, and this is much more difficult. I haven’t figured out how to debug my kid. I have never felt so incompetent in my life. When I was a programmer, I use to really like difficult problems. I was very resourceful. If I didn’t know the answer I would either talk to other programmers, google and find the answer or consult books.

I thought this tactic would work as a parent, but I have been continually presented with problems that there are no answers to. My little guy had colic for the first three months of his life. Despite Herculean efforts from his mom and me, when couldn’t get him to calm down. He really did just need to grow out if it.

In what I know realize was complete arrogance on my part, I just thought, my mom did it, how hard can it be. Apparently, my mom had skill sets that I hadn’t recognized. She died nearly 9 years ago from colon cancer, so mother’s day is bittersweet for me. She was a homemaker and had five children, and a tremendously unhelpful husband. I associated her life with drudgery, boredom and endless menial tasks. All I wanted to be when I was growing up was not like her. I had a career. I had a wife. I wasn’t her.

But now that I am a mom, I now see that my mother’s work was not menial. When she did laundry, cleaned the bathroom, and baked, she was making a home. There was dignity in her work that I hadn’t respected. I can only hope to be half as good as a homemaker as she was.

I was with a group of friends who were bemoaning the fact that they were turning into their mothers, and I was so surprised to find myself say that I was consciously trying to be more like her. I was trying to learn the crafts that she knew, like knitting and sewing, and I was trying to cook as well as she did. Her world was one of neighbors and children, and so is mine. I miss her dearly, and wish I could solicit her advice. I don’t think she could have cured my baby’s colic, but I am certain she would have been helpful. She is my hero.

So happy mother’s day to all of the mothers out there. Happy mothers day to all of the fathers too.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

On second thought....

First off, I wanted to thank the posters for their thoughtful comments. I was interested in what dwg had to say about interaction with people with different views. Thinking back over my experiences, I have seen people question their assumptions and change, and dwg is probably right, it has more to do with relationships then anything else. My guess is it depends upon the individual’s willingness to be open to new ideas.

I also felt a little reprimanded by Buddistmom for the aggressiveness of my post. I want to justify it, but the truth is, I am a bit of an aggressive person, which is probably a character defect. Alas, I am not a Buddist, but an Episcopalian where aggressiveness is well integrated into the religion. Foreign domination is their most effective evangelical tool. We conquer your country, and then if you want to eat, sign up.

I have a funny side note to this. I was talking to my wife this morning about our son’s personality. He seems reserved and thoughtful to me. And I mentioned that I thought he was like me, you know, reserved and low key. She laughed at me, and then gave me a look like, who are you kidding. All she said was, “that’s not how I experience you.” We can’t always see ourselves clearly.

I also want to mention that my wife is a much better person than I am. I mean it. Her whole life is dedicated to helping others, and she rarely gets angry. In fact, the times I have seen her angry, I was being a completely unreasonable ass. I don’t know why she married me. There is mercy in the universe.

One last thing, I was tempted to post pictures of my baby on the site, but he is sooo cute that I am afraid someone out there in cyberspace would be tempted to come steal him. I think he maybe the best looking kid ever…

Friday, May 12, 2006

This is just to say

you people suck. You know who you are. The ones who have come to this blog just because you saw the word gay and parenting in the same sentence. Why you people can’t keep your opinions to yourself is beyond me. It may be because you are probably Christian and Jesus gave you the Great Commission. But I suspect it is really just poor upbringing.

A friend of mine has been after me to start a blog about gay parenting for a while. I hesitated because I am so busy with my 4 ½ month old son, that I wasn’t sure that I had the time. I live in Massachusetts where gay issues are pretty consistently in the news. When I read the paper, I have come to compartmentalize the day into good gay days and bad gay days. A good gay day is when you read about a legislature changing his mind about gay marriage, or gay parents being treated with respect at a Catholic school. And then there are the bad gay days, like when the headline reads that yet another marriage ban has passed in yet another state.

I am having a bad gay day. The headline this morning informed me that our lovely governor, Romney is suspending a committee that deals with gay youth issues (he wants to be president) and a friend of mine was harassed last night, in a liberal city – at an event for gay mothers. Lovely.

So this is my shout out to the world. I want to tell you that gays are not pedophiles, that lesbians and gay men are not categorically abusive to their children. In fact, we are mega parents, we carry our children in swings 24/7, we breastfeed the kids for years, and then we don’t buy store processed baby food, we make it from organic vegetables. We don’t let our kids watch tv and we teach them sign language before they can talk. (At least most lesbians are like this. I however, have taken a different track, but more on that later.)

I would tell you all of this, but I suspect that bigots are not convinced by reason or evidence. My guess is, bigots just die, and then a more enlightened group of kids come along, and the world is better. The reason why I believe this is anecdotal, but here is the story. My partner’s grandfather served in World War II. He was anti-Semitic. During the war, his life had been saved by a Jewish guy. The guy risked his life and saved his. This did not change his mind. He died anti-Semitic. But his grandkids are better than that. Life just goes on.