MVI_0413 a video by marymactavish on Flickr.

Owen is seven months old today.

One month ago, at his six-month checkup, we reported that he could sit flat on his butt if we put him there, but couldn't get there himself, and he wasn't entirely stable. When he turned suddenly to look or reach behind him, he'd topple. Now, he can sit steadily on his butt and move fluidly from there to his belly, and he can crawl like a champ (though he's not fond of our wood flooring, it's hard on his bare knees but slippery under pants, I'm thinking suede knee patches), and more startling for us, he can pull himself up onto anything and has begun cruising.

I am terrified.

Yesterday he was happily moving his hands between a chair, and the box full of books 180 degrees behind him, turning to face each thing, back and forth. When I met his eyes, I swear, he gloated.

We are doomed.

He isn't fond of avocado, cauliflower, mashed potatoes, winter squash, or carrots, so far. He likes blueberries, strawberries, bananas, mango, hummus on bread, rice cereal, apples, "mixed mexican food", baby cereal, broccoli, and, well, everything else. I have lost track.

He loves dogs, like he squeals with joy when we meet dogs out in public. Our dogs have trained him well.

He assumes everyone means him well, in fact. When we go to our beloved pharmacy, the staff greets him and comes out to chat with or even hold him. Target is the place where old people come to smile at him, just him. The world is here for Owen, and he greets it as if everyone on it is one of his loyal subjects and he is a benevolent ruler. He is a very easy child to fall head-over-heels in love with.

He used to go down for a nap easily, and he used to be freakishly not-fussy. These are fading with age, and he's becoming a normal child with normal nap resistance and normal fussiness. But these don't make him less loveable.

I'm looking so forward to the holidays with him. We're getting together in bits of family here and there, chosen and born, but also, a Big Family and extended family event, here at our home. Owen will be nine months old then, just right for loving the tissue paper and lights without being greedy about the getting. When I was little, Mom used to hang up her own socks for us as stockings. For Owen's first-thing-in-the-morning home stocking, I'm looking forward to doing that. (We'll allow the Santa-thing without trying to artificially enforce or extend it, I think, which is also what worked for me as a child.)

This kind of post is what happens when a baby's awake from 4-6 am then 7-9 am, mind you. Here, I'm sleepy. Have a post. :)

We walk around the block, in our new neighborhood, at least once a day. It's so nice here, with lots of trees, people who actually use the front yards (people have seating out front! gliders and benches and chairs! they wave!), it feels very safe. Owen, who is the King of Charisma and a social butterfly, likes to smile at people and dogs.

As we meandered around the block a few days ago, I noticed that one of the houses had a nicely* redone front planting area much like I'd wanted to do our own, with deep reddish brown chrysanthemums (which I adore), and uncarved pumpkins out. I complimented the woman in the yard on the new look, she was pleased, and came down to say hi. She's new to the neighborhood and has a baby just a tad older than Owen. We talked a long while about a few things, but mostly, as new moms do, the babies. We decided to start going on walks together. Random elements of the conversation turned into me telling her about our family structure. (I don't wave a flag about it, but if someone asks whether the baby's eye color comes from my family, I tell them about how Owen has two mommies and a daddy, and though I'm his stay-at-home mommy I'm not his biological mommy, and leave details to the question process that almost inevitably follows.)

She was puzzled, briefly interested, glad for Owen that however it is we do things, he's obviously a loved and happy baby, and then on we went with other topics,

This is my favorite response ever. And it made me feel really happy about being around this woman as another mom, and having Owen spend time side by side with her kid as they grow, it means I don't have to feel like we're hiding.

I made the decision, years and years ago, not to lie and not to hide about things about me that other people might not be pleased about. It's meant I've lost touch with some people in my past who would not be okay with who I am now, and it's meant not getting close to some people in my present, but it's exhausting and spirit-killing for me to live a lie, to live hiding from people's opinions.

IMG_0174 by marymactavish
IMG_0174, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

I think we're decent people, good parents, and Owen's clearly a happy baby. We're privileged and know we're lucky to have family members, specifically all of Owen's grandparents, whom we can trust not to cause trouble about it (and some "alternative" families have had real difficulties with that), and we trust each other. In fact, Owen's grandparents really seem to like our family, if not love it, and they certainly love him.

I feel for those of you who do, for one reason or another, have to stay relatively closeted as poly (or other alternative) families. I hope that changes for you soon. What effect does being closeted have on your life now, and what would have to change for it to get better?

*by my standards, which means there was some digging and some sticking flowers and seeds in and some raking over, nothing fancy

Picture posted on the basis of omgcute, not relevance

owenIMG_0259 by marymactavish
owenIMG_0259, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

Owen was born six months ago today, by calendar month, and of course, that's now a bit more than 24 weeks.

Except for size, he's mostly right on schedule, and given his genetic background (Casey's big-boned and somehow, at the same time, lanky; Audrey's not petite) Owen's size is unsurprising. Currently he's in the 90-95th percentile for height and creeping up fast on weight and weight-to-height. His head size is off the chart but healthy, “It could just be a growth spurt," says the doctor. At any rate, he's in anywhere from 9month to 2T clothing depending on whether the shirt has neck buttons, crotch snaps, or is in a brand that tends to run small. I'm loving 2T, he is a wiggler these days, so those are easy for me to put him in.

Owen babbles like a babbling fiend, and can say “Obama" now and then, but of course, he fits “da" and “geh" and “bagabah" and blowing raspberries all in exactly the same context – but then, so do I.

His smiles still light up a room, and do so often. We say he has a little jar with which he collects souls, and when someone notices him in public and he beams at them, and you can see them melt a little, the jar goes “ka-ching" and he collects a soul. Yesterday, he collected the souls of two rather burly firefighters at the supermarket, and I caught them making goochie noises from the next lane over.

He's also more easily frustrated than ever before. He seems to set goals high for himself, and though he can flip over and get most places fast on his belly, he wants to move, to crawl, to walk, right now. Like many babies his age, he likes to have his hands held for support as he slowly walks around the room. Mostly we let him do things along the lines of Magda Gerber's theories, just in that we think it's fine for him to be frustrated and figure things out or be patient while we're nearby so he's safe and feels supported, and sometimes he even does and is, but we also just have fun with him trying out the walking around. I don't think any single development theory has all the answers.

He's clearly happy and thriving and we're not worried.

We've moved to a new home (that post is coming in a couple of days) and he's got his own room now, and has just started sleeping all night there, or nearly all night, waking up now and then for a feed or a diaper.

He adores DJ, and he is her puppy. She's mostly patient with him, and we're teaching him to pet gently, but of course, at his fine motor stage, sometimes a fur-grab is all he can do, and she'll just get up and move away – her teaching method is probably at least as good as ours. Sadly, we're almost down to one dog – Sadie died last month, and Zoe's cancer will take her very soon, but for Owen, DJ has been the go-to dog anyhow. I hope that she lives long enough for him to remember her, as they've really got something going already.

Our new place is a block from a wonderful park with wonderful playgrounds, and it's got baby bucket swings that he loves. I sit on the ground in front of him and push gently, and he squeals … until he sees something, anything, more interesting, children playing, geese squabbling, it doesn't matter. Everything is interesting. He's not done swinging, he just wants to stop to focus. He also enjoys just lying or sitting (he can sit upright for very long periods but can't get to sitting himself just yet) and watching the kids in the playground. He seems to be studying them.

He is eating some solids now: a little cereal, also blueberries, strawberries, bananas, mango, grapes, watermelon, canteloupe. We feed him squished stuff off our fingers, or sometimes a spoon, but mostly through mesh feeders. He starts kicking when he sees the mesh feeder arriving, he is a huge fan of food.

All in all, he's so much fun, and also exhausting, frustrating, and fun. I love his naps, and I love seeing his smile when he awakens.

I so very love being part of this family, the people who love Owen together, the people who get along. We take care of each other, our extended families take care of us too. I feel rich.

Owen is a protogamer

With the dogs being sick and dying, and the big move to this new place, and my RA flaring up big time, I've been a bit overwhelmed for even thinking about blogging, but I've got a few posts queued in my brain. Mostly, I want to write about moving to our new place, having it become a basic suburban house-with-baby, fitting into the new (lovely, friendly, but somewhat old-school familywise) neighborhood, and feeling like family; and I want to write about how I've had to modify my attachment parenting expectations (which were already modified for realism on my part) to suit both a multiple-parent household and my chronic pain escalation. As usual, sometimes your questions or interests help guide how I write, so if you're wondering anything specific about either of those, or anything else, please ask: I'll answer what and how I can.


Aug. 2nd, 2011 11:54 pm
IMAG0596 by marymactavish
IMAG0596, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

Apparently, Owen is the boy who has tiny little daytime naps, and sleeps pretty well all night.

He’s had three naps over the course of today, each less than half an hour, the last one out of desperation, in the car, on my way to pick his dad up at BART. He was talking to himself, then zonk, he was asleep.

Then tonight, I put him down to snuggle asleep with me on the bed, which was in the middle of a sheet-changing process, and now he’s been asleep for two and a half hours. When he awakens, I’ll bring him into Audrey for a nursing, but in the meantime, hey boy, I really want to finish changing my sheets.

I’m glad he mostly sleeps all night, waking every maybe two to five hours for a diaper and a belly-filling, but today I had things to do. We’re packing to move, I had laundry to finish, errands to run, and the more sleep debt the boy accumulated, the more shall-we-say extraverted he got, needing more of my focus and engagement.

So I managed. I got a couple of errands run, a load of dishes processed into and out of the dishwasher, half a load of clean clothing folded, and the sheets on my bed are fresh. And this is what it’s like for many stay-at-home moms: There’s the balance to be found between household needs and the baby’s needs. I was spoiled, during Casey’s paternity leave, and Audrey’s long maternity leave. We had all three of us to bobble the tot while someone else cooked, or nurse him to sleep while someone else ran the dishwasher. Now, though we certainly all three do chores in off hours, during the work day, I am maintaining a household on my own. I have spent a fair bit of my life wanting to raise a child for a living, and now I am. And it’s really hard work.

I did find myself wandering out of Target today having bought only a new purse (my first in years and years, I needed something bigger to tuck the occasional bib or bottle into) and a jingly baby toy. I felt so middle-american mom. At least I was wearing my faded sleeveless t-shirt that I bought at the Redwood Records Greek Theater concert in 1983. That’s got some degree of queer cred, no?

I have been so busy enjoying being Owen's mom and being in this family that I haven't done any sort of updating or blogging about him lately, so let's see:

The Boy of Joy, as I call him when speaking about him in the third person, as often as not, just passed the four month mark. He is huge, only 50th percentile in weight but nearly 95th in height. He could happily eat 24/7, and has tasted (though not gotten substantial calories from) bananas, blueberries, kik alicha, pesto, avocado, and rice cereal. He thought the avocado was rather uninteresting and not-food, but the rest was all omg-get-in-my-belly. His favorite food and primary food source is still breast milk and will be for awhile.

He can roll over now and then, sometimes from back to front, quite easily from front to back. He really enjoys lying around on his chest, holding his head high, looking around at the world. When he tires he'll flip over and enjoy life that way. He continues to be very easy to please, and he is interested in so many things that we don't spend a lot of time looking for ways to entertain him.

As a family, we've outgrown our home, so we're moving into a new rental a couple of towns away, giving up (sadly, for me) our chickens, and our little farmlet. But we have no time to care for the property anymore, and I can't work a big garden and care for an infant, so this is what will work best for us. The new house is very close to just perfect for us, and near a huge park with a lake and wonderful playgrounds.

And as a family, we are still very much a family, blending quite nicely, and all of us are still immensely happy. Owen might be the happiest, though. He is very much the Boy of Joy.

I'm sort of stuck on what to blog about here, and who the audience is. Is there anything in particular you want to know or hear about?
owenpataudreyIMG_0279 by marymactavish
owenpataudreyIMG_0279, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

I’m feeling very family-rich lately. Well, I usually do, but today it’s just more so.

We visited Casey’s mother yesterday. She adores Owen, and also adores Audrey. She hasn’t always understood how we live (we’ve been out as polyamorous to her for most of our 16-year relationship, and she’s always known who Audrey is in Casey’s life), but she loves us and wants us to be happy, and is clear that we’re sort of Doing This Right with regard to Owen, so she’s extraordinarily accepting. (She is just that kind of person, but also, there’s a reason her family is so close, and a lot of it is because it’s really about love, not baggage, and that she has a broad definition of “family.”)

Today Audrey took Owen to visit her parents, and though our family plans were more of a surprise and discomfiture for her parents, they also came to see very rapidly that a happy family is a glory anyhow, and they’ve been very welcoming and kind to me and Casey. And because Casey and I couldn’t be there for a barbecue this afternoon, Audrey’s mom sent home dinner for us. It was just *sweet*, kind, thoughtful. I feel cared for and appreciated as Owen’s mom.

In the picture: Casey's mom loves on her grandson, with Audrey watching - July 2, 2011

owenIMAG0667 by marymactavish
owenIMAG0667, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

Today, Owen turns three months old, or fourteen weeks. He was conceived almost exactly a year ago, coincidentally on solstice, coincidentally on the weekend of his other parents’ commitment ceremony. So tonight, while those parents are off on a celebratory anniversary date, I will sit down and write a note about how things are going for Owen, and for us.
(I fully intended to write this on June 21, but was attacked by a nap, succumbed, and didn’t wake up until almost midnight.)

I know I should be recording Owen’s milestones, but “shoulds” aren’t doing very well by me, and I haven’t much been. But let’s see: He can say a hard G now! He learned, just today, to grab the ring on his beloved hangy-things toy, and shake it to (almost) make the bell jingle. He has a mirror, and can talk to mirror baby for an hour at a time. We visit the library now and then, he looks around and I browse. He's got books at home but hasn't yet been fascinated by them. I picked out an oversized board book today and we looked all the way through it twice. I wished for a camera in someone else's hands, it would have been lovely to document.

Right now, he’s lying near me asleep, giggling. He is so happy. He giggles and smiles easily and often. It’s like we’re trained monkeys around here and his smiles are peanuts. We will do whatever is necessary to keep those peanuts coming.

He is strong! His neck is mostly stable now, considering his age. He is playing a new game with me where I’ll sit him on my belly, while I’m on my back, and he leans back against my thighs, then he’ll pull his upper body toward me like he’s trying to do a crunch. I help him shift his balance very gently with my legs and stabilize him with my hands, and as he sits up, he beams. He can do this over and over until he’s exhausted, somewhere between five and ten times in a row. I’m not sure I can do ten crunches right now.

He is GigantoBaby, long and lean, in size 6-12 month clothing depending on whether the item snaps at the crotch and how the neck opening is built, at three months old. He sucks on his fists a lot, finds his thumb now and then, and we've started to wonder if he's in the earliest stages of teething already.

I’m starting to notice something I don’t like in myself, and I think it’s just about years of conditioning, in that though Casey and Audrey both clearly identify me as one of Owen’s parents and though I often see myself that way superficially and act as Mom, my subconscious leaps out now and then. I will say something like, “Let’s get you home to your mama so you can have lunch” or most telling, recently, when a woman at the hardware store asked us, “Is he yours or hers?” about Owen. I answered, “Hers,” without a moment’s hesitation, then corrected it quietly, “Um, ours.” In the correction, I don’t think I was trying to appear not-gay so much as that I didn’t want to invite questions. But the initial “hers” was straight from my deepest insides.

But really, nothing else has been an issue. Everyone who needs to see us as a family does. We spent Father’s Day -- all of us did -- with Audrey’s parents, celebrating her own father, and Owen’s father, and it was good. We are good. We’re a family in ways I never dreamed even up until Owen’s birth, and I love it. I’m happier than I’ve ever been before.

familyvalues: owen at one week old (oneweek)

VIDEO0015 a video by marymactavish on Flickr.

I keep starting this post, then get stuck:
What comes first, that you smile now? That you can’t stand to have a wet or poopy diaper, so go through piles every day, because every tiny dribble must be removed post haste? Do I say that you’ve begun actually snuggling when you lie against our chests, or that your initial peaceful baby demeanor has become somewhat more typical of infants, with occasional painful gas that keeps us all up at night? I have no idea.

The first month was a blur of naps (ours and yours) and learning to live life one-handed with a baby in the other arm, of throwing away ideas (we’re not co-sleeping, right? and we won’t let him get in the habit of using car rides to sleep, right? those are gone now) and picking up new habits and comfort with having an infant for a roommate.

DJ loves you so much. She cuddles near you and you don't mind her kisses.

Your great-grandmother, who signs her books to you “love, Grandmia” -- Mia is her grandma-name -- is just squealing over the thought that she will get to hold you soon and look into your blue eyes.

You were welcomed, a month ago, into such a family of love, biological and beyond. Your cousins and aunts and uncles are everywhere and eager to watch you grow and learn, as are we. Every day I see something a little new -- you’re less fussy about putting on shirts with long sleeves, you are tracking faces as the people you’re used to move around the room, you can lie for 20 minutes and watch clouds move across the sky. I am never bored with you. I’m sure that one day, I will be bored in the short term -- and I’ll insist we go to the library or dog park for entertainment -- but I can’t imagine being bored in the long term. You are too interesting.

As a three-parent household, we are really learning to function. I tend to do laundry, Audrey of course does the baby-feeding and pumping and storing of milk for later, and a lot of cleaning. Your dad is back to bringing home funds for the roof over our heads, and the health insurance, and he changes at least half of your diapers when he's home, and he’s the one who takes you from one of us -- Audrey, usually, as I tend to do the going-to-bed stuff -- at sunrise, and loves you while Audrey and I grab another hour of sleep.

We’re still figuring out the Mom-name thing, and I’m not quite sure we need to, yet. I only find it hard at times like this one, when I’m explaining how Audrey tends to be the one who’s with you in the pre-dawn hours while I’m with you at bedtime and into the small-wee hours, and how do I explain that? We say, “I’m going to bring you to Mommy now,” and it could be either of us, and you know -- but how do I word that for others? “Mama-Audrey” and “Mama-Mary,” or whatever, just sounds wrong to me. I guess I’m Mary and Mom, and Mama, and Mommy, and Audrey’s those things but not Mary, she’s Audrey. I think it will work itself out.

Having you here, and living together, and being all-three parents for you is leading to a lot of new discussions about The Future, and I’m not exactly sure, still, what form our current hopes will take, what plans will develop, but they’re all exciting, not scary. I love the idea of building a family with and around you that is nothing like I ever expected for my life.

So: You are just a bit more than a month old -- four weeks last Monday, a month on the 21st, and five weeks tomorrow. You smile and have a little half laugh that is sometimes a chuckle in your sleep. Your dreams are fascinating, with pouty-faces and smiles and open eyes that roll back to show the whites. You love staring at your dad’s face. You don’t mind when DJ kisses you. You eat too much and throw too much of it up unless you’re fed small amounts relatively often, but oh you do NOT like to be taken off the breast when you’re still hungry. You don’t like to lie down and sleep by yourself. You can be *put* down, and the moment you first half-waken, you’re done -- cribs are for losers. You fall asleep easily in the car. You hate being wet or poopy but you really hate diaper changes, so frequently throughout the day, we have to make you really angry and change your diaper.

That is you. And as tired as I am, I don’t resent you for a moment. You are a huge change in my life, and a shining light, and I hope our continued life together is as delightful as the beginning.

And it was really nothing, just little things like emptying out a hamper to fold clothing and realizing dirty and clean clothing got mixed and I didn't know which was which, and Owen crying, not even hard or persistently, and I didn't really want to deal. So, though I could have managed, I remembered I have other parents here and asked Casey and Audrey to take him tonight, which feels a bit weird because I did go out to a movie with a friend last night, but Casey's been playing a fair bit of video games lately because his back went out and he's been stoned on endorphins and trying to recover from that, and Audrey mostly takes him at night for feeding, and I've got him the rest of the night, so anyway. Tonight, I cleared the laundry off my bed that was still on it when I went to bed last night because Owen said he didn't want to wait for me to fold it before snuggling/suckling/sleeping, and I folded it and put it away, and soon I'll see if I can't sleep a bit. Audrey and Casey have Owen and know that (because he and I sleep well together) they can let me know when they'd like me to take him back. It sounds like he's asleep now.

So it's going well. I really, really like that baby. Audrey's family has really warmed to the whole thing and are now decidedly Family, and come up to see him a lot. Owen's grandfather adores him. The dogs love him. We love him. He's actually an awesome baby, starting to stare at us a LOT and get a little more interactive, grab our fingers, etc. We're still waiting on the social smile.

He's seriously a pooper.

We lost our favorite chicken last week because our favorite dog is a predator :/

What else?

I used to feel almost chronically like I was a burden and not pulling my weight around here. That's totally gone away, I now feel like I provide a solid service ;)

I'm trying to think, "I have a life that is not about Owen," but right now that doesn't matter. And I'm not sure how much I do. Seriously, I spend a huge amount of my life caring for a tiny boy, and it's a lot of work, and it's frustrating, and right now, it feels like it's exactly where I should be.

I think my next post is going to be about figuring about balance with three parents, but we haven't figured it out, it's just happened. But when I get another minute, not to write at all, but to write coherently, I'll write about that.

sleepy snugglebunny by marymactavish
sleepy snugglebunny, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

We're sleeping sort of in shifts, because Owen tends to be awake at night more than in the daytime and is a little fussier then. Audrey feeds him every 2-3 hours (on demand) and sleeps the rest of the time, aside from a couple of hours around the middle of the night when she and/or Casey tend to him. I'm with him a lot of the other non-eating time at night, but eating takes a lot of time, so Audrey's got him a lot. We're working it out, at any rate. Daytimes we hang out, sleep, whatever, I took Owen out to Target and Jamba Juice today while Casey spaced out and Audrey slept.

He loves the car, and loves the sling, both just keep him copacetic or asleep.

Except at night, he's mostly copacetic when he's awake, and he chats to himself.

He hates being wet or poopy, but hates diaper changes worse. Those are the main times he is not copacetic, and of course, he's a bit of a tube worm so he is wet or poopy, even just a little, a lot. Good thing we're cloth diapering, we'd have used up his college fund on disposables by now. The very moment his dry diaper is on and closed, he goes quiet and looks around, unless he's also hungry.

He is a lamprey at the breast, and latches hard, and suckles hard, and if he gets too hungry, he's a squirmy lamprey who has a harder time latching. But mostly he goes nuts then falls into a milk coma, then wakes up in an hour, looks around happily for half an hour, then a few minutes later, does it all again.

So that's life these days.

I took this at about 1 this morning. See those wide-awake little eyes? Yeah, he likes the wee hours.

All the pics:

Eventually, I will have time and energy for doing anything else, including analyzing this at all. Eventually, I will finish one of those posts that are sitting in half-finished notepad files on my desktop, right?
IMG_0793 by Kimberly Jennery
IMG_0793 a photo by Kimberly Jennery on Flickr.

A couple of people have asked why I haven't updated this blog since the Big Change, and I'm sorry, but I'm just so tired.

It's amazing how tired I am, considering there are three of us and I didn't do the hardest work.

The sweetest baby on the planet was born yesterday at 5:35 in the afternoon.

He is calm and sleepy, but when he's awake he's bright-eyed and curious. He eats like a pro and poops like a pro, and we love him like crazy.

Audrey, who had no experience at all with babies, suddenly Became A Mom, and is intuitive and natural with him. I just adore watching them together. Well, we all love watching Owen, I also love watching Owen-and-Casey and Owen-and-Audrey, and Owen-and-Audrey-and-Casey.

There's so much more I want to include, like who, at the hospital, we explained our family structure to and why; and how and why I was careful not to put my foot down about expected roles for me and Audrey with regard to the baby early on; and the value of community in this endeavor, or ... well, a lot of things. But I'm so tired and having trouble organizing coherent thoughts. That said, if you've got questions, ask away, I'm happy to answer anything, though there might be some hedging where the privacy boundaries for individuals in our family are getting bumped against. (Remember, you can use OpenID if you don't have a dreamwidth account.)

familyvalues: picture of cake from our wedding shower - three parent fish, one baby fish (fish)
A Pinch of Patience by jbelluch
A Pinch of Patience a photo by jbelluch on Flickr.

This preparing for baby thing has gotten me so much better at just plugging through work than I used to be. I'm tired now from the dog park and working in my room today, sorting/tidying, but I'm just plugging on through. Still stuff to do but none of it crucial *before* he comes, just making things a little easier/better. I'm somewhat naturally a slob, but having Audrey's mom come help us get things mostly clean and organized is making it easier for me to keep it that way, and helps me see how much easier life is when I am so.

I still need to work out a get-things-done/get-enough-rest balance, but I'm definitely already better at staying on task.

In the tidying I found my camera cable, so now it's charging so I can take baby pics in the hospital (oh yeah, kidlet seems to have inherited his father's tendency to tardiness, and is not here yet, today's his due date -- but he's a firstie, so statistically he isn't late at all).

We are all coping, just sort of ... waiting. Audrey's baking a lot, Casey finished repairing the drywall in the bathroom and has been wallowing in video games. I've finished some little tasks like setting up the diaper changing zone, and making sure the dogs have plenty of exercise and love.

I just realized I should probably make sure I have a couple of days worth of *my* stuff -- my meds, clean underpants, charging cables, whatever -- in a daypack, at least in the car, so I don't have to come rushing back home for stuff in the middle of this process. The hospital our obstetrician works at is 15 miles away. So that's on the to-do list. But otherwise, we're set -- diaper changing stuff set up, Audrey's bag packed. The car seat is in the car. We need to bring the swing in from the garage and put it in the living room but if we don't get that done until we're home with the baby, we'll survive.

I'm not going to announce the moment she's in labor, except to the folks, mostly family, who already know I'll be calling/texting them. I will post the birth announcement here, in facebook and flickr (will probably just link that here), and on twitter, and at that point -- whenever that ends up being -- feel free to spread the word (preferably by linking to the post here on dreamwidth, but whatever). It won't be a secret.

My friend Lesley reminded me that, like many modern families, there is important information that we'll have to decide how to share with our child -- timing, content. It's not too soon to think about it.

IMG_0194.jpg by ljellis
IMG_0194.jpg a photo by ljellis on Flickr.
Now, when things "should" be getting more stressed ... well, they actually are, but they aren't getting worse for us, not upsetting, just sort of basic stress. And we're handling it well as a team.

Casey and I have built up a strong relationship for nearly 15 years. Polyamory wasn't instantly easy, nor was communication and emotional intimacy but I think we both saw early on that we had the start of something that could be amazing, and we were willing to do a lot, both in terms of emotional risk and vigilant work to keep our relationship growing and strengthening.

I can't speak for Audrey and Casey (and though they both have the password here and can write/respond if they want, they aren't very bloggy types) but I know they've really liked each other, and I watched the love grow from a little less than five years ago now, and knew when Casey was falling in love. And something about how Audrey and Casey are for each other, how much they like and love each other not in spite of who they really are, or for each other's potential, but for who they are right now, speaks to me, as it is how Casey and I are for each other as well.

So here we are today, with this baby bidin' his sweet time but who will definitely be out one way or another within a couple of weeks, and this is the time when I feel like if we're going to start wigging out, it'll be now, and we're not. Instead, I tidied some bits that still needed tidying (and every single wash load of my own I've done in the past four weeks has ended up with a bib or a tiny sock or pair of leggings in it ... this will never end, will it?) and Casey helped Audrey make brilliantly good pizza from scratch and did some other things, and this is just how our days are going. There are stressors, like Casey's deadlines at work before family leave, and that I'm having sudden waves of "I'm sore and disabled and why do Casey and Audrey, or anyone for that matter, think I can be a good mother?" and I'm tired already, but we're all taking care of each other, almost (it seems) effortlessly.

Last night, Casey wrapped his arms around me and told me all the reasons he loves to be with me and why he thinks I'll be a good mother, and I absorbed it and let him tell me, and asked him to elaborate and explain, which isn't my usual way ... and it was nice.

Yup. I think we're ready.

Originally uploaded by ljellis
This is all of us, and there are more pictures.

Last week, our friend Lisa invited us into her home, with its beautiful afternoon light, for a portrait session.

I love how happy we look. We are so happy, and so anticipatory. This baby can't come soon enough, and yet at the same time, we are so not ready. The reality of raising a child won't sink in for awhile yet, I think -- perhaps not until after he's passed through each stage. This is a good thing, it keeps people procreating.

We had an obstetrics appointment today. As usual, the doctor was happy to see all of us, and when she's done asking Audrey if she's fine, she moves on to both Casey and me: "Do either of you have any concerns or questions?" I am very happy, so far, with our medical care.

And so far, all signs point to a relatively easy birth within the next two weeks, as he's mostly dropped - but closer to the end of that time than the beginning. Probably.

Right now, Audrey's baking bread, Casey's at work, I'm about to run errands and do some grocery shopping. It feels so right and domestic, and I'm quite sure that the three of us will coparent relatively well -- perhaps surprisingly, for people who assume polyamorous parenting is a drama waiting to happen.

So much love is pouring in for us from all sides, including homemade gifts from people we have never met. (And I don't mean "not met face to face," I have long-time friends online I've never met face to face. These are from people we don't really know at all, friends of friends who wish us well.)

So. Much. Love. I can't even express it really.

I bought a scrapbook, and will make him a book so that later, he can know how loved he was before he was even born. (If you'd like to leave him notes in comments here, in fact, I'll print them for the book.)

I'm already tired, but the house is mostly decluttered, laundry is washed, sorted into his dresser. Car seat needs to be installed still. We're not making it a permanent fixture because we have dogs and things to haul, too, but we still want to get it installed and know we know how to do it, before we have to.

We're taking care of fussy little things we'll be too distracted for later.

I had intended to make meals for us to store, but our freezer isn't massive, and I'm just not that much of an urban homesteader, I guess. Fortunately, with three of us we can take turns cooking and cleaning, and I have no doubt Kimberly will cook us up some no-tomato meatless lasagna. ;)

I've got a long, philosophical post started in notepad, and will probably post it tomorrow, unless he shows up in the meantime!

familyvalues: picture of cake from our wedding shower - three parent fish, one baby fish (fish)

With all my heart
Originally uploaded by carf
This, just THIS:

Darling daughter Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen was born on February 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California to proud parents Lorca Cohen, Rufus Wainwright and Deputy Dad Jorn Weisbrodt. The little angel is evidently healthy, presumably happy and certainly very very beautiful.

Daddy #1 would like to offer everyone a digital cigar and welcome the little lady in with a French phrase from his favorite folk song, A La Claire Fontaine : "Il y a longtemps que je t'aime, jamais je ne t'oublierai."

CORRECTION: In many of the articles announcing the birth of Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen, Lorca Cohen is characterized as "the surrogate." Of course, she is no such thing. She did not carry the child for someone else. Lorca Cohen is the mother of the baby and Rufus Wainwright is the father.

Our kid isn't out yet (though he is almost ripe!), he has not been unleashed upon the world, but this. Just like this.

(Wainwright is gay according to, which usually gets it right. I love that he acknowledges all the parents. His family is different from ours in the gender/sex of one of the parents.)

Originally uploaded by marymactavish
Yesterday we had a baby shower, or a pair of them, because with sisters, nephews, nieces, grandniblings, mothers, and some of our large chosen family, to fit into one space we needed not one but two overlapping showers. Our very dear friends (chosen family) Lisa, Kimberly, and Sue kindly hosted, and kept things very low key, and still, we were exhausted at the end of the day.

Indeed, Casey and Audrey vanished to Kimberly's guest room for awhile, for quiet time and a nap. I just spaced out at random, and kind passers-by wiped drool off my face. I'm sure this will be a common kindness (and the drool won't always be mine) for the next few years.

My favorite line from the whole day was hearing Audrey's mom say to Casey's mom, as folks were saying goodbye, "We are going to have such fun with this kid." They just met each other for the first time yesterday, and the getting-to-know-each-other was delightful for me to watch. As one might guess, the next generation up in our family has had some getting used to things to manage for themselves, and I feel so fully supported now. Audrey's uncle even mailed from out of state a little folding step-stool that he built himself, which I hope will become an heirloom, and Audrey's mom gave the baby Audrey's handmade infant clothing and blanket, and favorite books.

My niece Rachael made a cake -- her cakes are really lovely -- and because her daughter Sierra, who's 11, draws cute little animals so well, she asked Sierra to design it. So Sierra drew three cute little parent fishies looking down at a cuter little baby fishie, and it is omg-squee cute. Or rather, was, because it was also very tasty.

We were truly surrounded by love, and as overwhelming as it was for me, it was also a very warm and glowy time. I continue to have no doubt that this will be the luckiest baby ever.

More pictures are here:

We’re getting the house ready enough for Audrey’s mom to come help us organize on Sunday. She’s never been to our place, and we aren’t tidy people. I’m not someone with boundless physical energy, so I’m taking a deep breath and prioritizing, and getting over my bad self to ask for help. Audrey’s mom, however, is a good organizer, and offered. So I need at least to make it so that it can be organized at all.


In IM today:

Casey: 35 weeks** ;)
Me: yes :D
Me: Think of it this way: 4-6 weeks to go
Casey: Yarr. :)

We are not ready, we will never be ready. I can imagine being up in the night with a crying infant but I know I'll be overwhelmed when it happens. I’m looking at the spot the 40-pound dog of my heart spends her nights in, tucked up against my chest or belly between me and the edge of the bed, and knowing we need to work something out so that she’s not between me and the baby when he’s in his bassinet next to the bed. (Though honestly, that might not be an issue, Audrey will be living here for long enough that he might be out of a bassinet and in his crib by the time he’s spending nights in my room, in which case I’ll only need to work out a way not to get wholly hemmed in by the total of 150 lbs of dog that sleeps in my bed every night.)

Which brings me to: Audrey is moving in soon. We will all three (then four, when the baby comes, unless you add the dogs, which will make seven, with the chickens remaining outside) be living in this small house for a small-few weeks prior to the baby’s arrival, and a few months afterward, while Audrey breastfeeds and we all bond.

Some people are a bit surprised that we aren’t all living together already, or don’t plan to for a long time afterward, but we all like privacy and space, Casey and Audrey especially, so though we harbor dreams of sharing some sort of larger, more separable physical space one day, we aren’t making those plans for Soon. In the meantime, I’m quite sure we’ll continue to get along fine, especially once the house is a little tidier.

I’m also starting to feel the bumps as Coming Out As A Poly Family to people who will know, or need to know, but seriously won’t get it. For instance: We have gone to the same pharmacy for years, with pharmacists and assistants who have known us well. It’s one reason we like it. This pharmacy sold us Clomid when I tried to get pregnant, they know we’ve tried, and couldn’t, or didn’t. And in a couple of months, I’ll wander in there to pick up my medications and I’ll have an infant in a sling, and he will be on our insurance, he will be Ours.

It feels disingenuous to say, "Oh, we adopted him." I mean, I will -- but he’s Casey’s biological son, and all-of-our son, it’s not quite the same as adoption. It feels fake not to say, "Our family is complicated, and …." People want to know, this is new and interesting to them. Folks at the dog park know danged well I haven’t been pregnant, and I’ll be wandering in there with a baby. They come from all sorts of backgrounds, and it’s a social place, we converse. I’m not afraid of their judgement, it’s just that socially, there will need to be some sort of explanations, and I’m not sure what to say.

What do you do? What do you say? How do you respond?
If you have no idea, but could share this post with other people who have been through remotely similar situations, I’d love to get a variety of ideas.

- Mary

*The title came with the photo. I think it's appropriate because, well, baby, and I do mention dogs in this post. ;)
I love these shoes, and if you click through and look at the
profile there, you'll see that the maker sells the pattern. I am hoping to make baby shoes with her patterns. If you have scrap cloth that would be cute and would like to make us (or other kids) shoes like that, we'd be fine with it, as we want to support her cute shoe business.
**Yes, he has an alarm on his phone

We saw our obstetrician today, and are switching from every two weeks to every week in a visit or two.

The baby is growing well, has a sold heartbeat that sounds more like a heart and less like a wooshwoosh every day. So far, everything looks good for a safe and easy delivery.

I'm delighted with the way the obstetrician treats us like a family, meets each of our eyes when asking if we have any questions, and is going to talk to the folks at the hospital and put a note in our charts to make sure they know how to treat us, too. We've already spoken to one of the charge nurses in labor and delivery and was pleased with her response as well.

In general, our community is hugely supportive, and not just the local polyamorous people. Our monogamous friends are awesome, our families have been tolerant and/or welcoming, mostly the latter. Our shower is coming up soon, and it was so nice to look at how many loving nearest-and-dearest people we have and how we can't invite everyone, and having to decide was hard because what with our families (and with three parents, that's extended) and closest loved ones, it nearly fills any potential guest list.

My rheumatologist asked about it at my last visit, when I said that we had a baby coming soon. "So, tell me more about that," he said with a bemused expression. I explained, told him that our family physician (whom he respects a lot) was approving of and very happy for us. When I began the second iteration of "and we're very happy," I realized that I didn't need to say anything more, I was beaming, and that it was redundant. He was smiling back at me, and I saw that he was happy for us, too.

We have so much to do! Our house is still untidy, my to-do list isn't getting shorter, really. I need to get back in touch with our attorney about adoption. I'm pondering a Costco membership. We're wondering about life insurance. There are little things: I need to vacuum hay and dog hair out of the car and fit the car seat. After the shower, I'm going to do a semi-final (for now) sort on the clothing and wash everything sized for up to six months. One advantage we have is that I don't have to do this all while gestating and working full time.

And there again, I give thanks to our community, who has been and will continue to be helpful in so many ways.

I realized recently that I'm delighted that this baby will be born in March. All of his parents are late-winter or early-spring babies, which around here, means spring. There's so much to love about this time of year. It means we get fresh and local strawberries and asparagus and artichokes in our birthday meals, and that the weather will probably be nice at least one weekend near our birthdays. And it means that there will be California poppies in profusion everywhere we go.

In which Peo plans her life.

I like this:
At some point I think it stops being fully my responsibility to teach my daughter that men are capable of caring for babies, and maybe more responsibility should fall on the parents of boys to better encourage them to want to do so without stigma.

I'm reminded of the time, years ago, when I was teaching, when a young (19) neighbor of mine, who was having her second baby, asked how she could prepare her toddler son for the impending sibling. I said, "Getting him a doll would be a good start." She said he already had dolls. I asked if they were the size where they fit in his arms like an infant would fit in a parent's arms, because that helps. She told me that no, they were Power Rangers action figures, which were all his (half-absent, there and back again) father would allow, as he didn't want his son to grow up to be less than a man.

This was a situation in which there honestly wasn't a whole lot I could say, as this woman was very caught up in the glamor of having a man to love her and help her make a family, and it was what she wanted and seemed to expect from her life. I was stuck, and reiterated that Power Rangers wouldn't help the kid prepare, but perhaps once the baby arrived, helping the toddler gently care for the baby and not ignoring the older kid's needs too often, might make a difference. (Later that year, when Halloween rolled around, the woman took both kids trick-or-treating so she could eat the baby's candy.)

I'm really glad that our baby, who is probably a boy, will have not only two caring moms, but a father who is both completely undereducated in the art of caring for babies and very eager to learn how to do it well. (I am, in fact, the only one of us with real experience with young children.)

Casey is an amazing man, he really is. One of the upcoming experiences I'm most excited about, for our son, is that he gets to grow up with Casey as a primary male influence. No baby could ask for better.

May 2015

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