23 Weeks to Birth: The Countdown to Baby T. Rex Saga (and a final update from K&W)

Hi

old friends and new!

Since we stopped actively updating QFM, a lot has happened. We continue to get hundreds of hits per month from all over the U.S. and world, so we’ll keep the site up until it stops being relevant or helpful. Since we started on this path, we’ve met more and more queer families making parenting decisions and the procedures themselves are becoming more accessible to folks with limited income. We’ve still got a lot to fight for to make the decision to parent or not to parent accessible to all!

Another thing that happened since we’ve last updated the blog is that KaeLyn blogged through her pregnancy for Autostraddle, where she’s a staff writer. We’ve included the links to that whole series here! Enjoy! We are so grateful for the people we connected with through this blog and the path it sent us on as parents. ❤ K&W

(Countdown to Baby T. Rex Links below the jump)

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Baby T. Rex is Due August 20th!

Hey folks,

We know we’ve been on hiatus for a while now. But we did need to tell you, if you haven’t caught the news on Autostraddle or Instagram yet, that we’re pregnant! More specifically, Kae is pregnant and we’re both excited!

KaeLyn is going to blogging about it for Autostraddle in a miniseries called “Countdown to Baby T. Rex.” Follow her thoughts, feelings, and snark there! If you want to find our why the name is “Baby T. Rex,” head over to Autostraddle for the first installment: “Crying Over Masterchef Junior and Halfway There (23 Weeks.”

Some other queer baby stuff you may have missed:

Gayby Maybe? The Epic Queer Parenting Roundtable! – foster adoption, adoption adoption, IUI, feelings, heartbreaks, and more from queer parents and parents-to-be

Caitlin’s Pregnancy Stories for Autostraddle – Caitlin’s thoughts on loss, miscarriage, birth, joy, and pregnancy

Queer Mama Video Blog for Autostraddle and the birth of Juniper Jude – Haley and Simone’s journey from pre-conception to parents!

Thanks for reading and following our blog, as always, and wish us luck!

❤ KaeLyn & Waffle

Getting Real, Real Fast

Oh, my. It’s been some time since we’ve published anything new. We actually have had some potential submissions and some ideas for content, but what really happened is that life got in the way. KaeLyn started writing for Autostraddle, where she gets to write about queer family stuff and also music and fashion and politics and art and life. KaeLyn also went back to grad school because her credits from earlier graduate work were about to expire and she didn’t want to start all over again. Plus she is still working her full-time job and another side job. Waffle is still working nights six days a week.

We both (but especially Waffle) got fixated on a fan blog for Sleep No More that we created about a year ago. And we went on a child-free bender, of sorts, becoming absolutely obsessed with an immersive theatre production in NYC and the international community of fans surrounding it. We have seen the show 35 times now over two years, mostly in the last year (which is actually not that much compared to some fans).

Just some adult kids in love with a building and giving no-fuks.

Just some adult kids in love with a building and giving no-fuks.

It cost an amount of fun-money that we are kind of embarrassed to fess up to. We like to think we were practicing for having kids a.k.a. throwing all our disposable income into a vast pit and burning it. (Current average cost of raising a child in the U.S. is $245,000!) But really we’ve just been having a great time being childfree adults who can jump into the car and drive to NYC on a whim. It’s been grand!

But we’ve finally decided to buckle down. We knew it would take us about two years to get it all together and it has. Financially, we have some money set aside and we’re realistic about what it might cost altogether and we’re prepared to deal with it. Emotionally, it took us a while to feel “ready” after we made the decision. We didn’t want to jump into it. We (especially KaeLyn) wanted to do the very queer work of over-processing, thinking about all the angles, discussing and debating what was important to us. This blog was an important part of that process. We met people online and IRL who had gone through these processes and many people who wanted to someday. We found the resources we were looking for. We wrote the words we felt we needed to write just to get them out. And we’re damn ready.

In fact, we had our first appointment at the fertility clinic exactly a week ago from today. Since then, KaeLyn has been back two times and will be going again tomorrow for tests. We’re getting ready for our first round of IUI in September. If we get knocked up, we plan to keep it hush-hush until we know for sure that it’s going to stick, but we are officially trying!

Our first appointments were efficient and helpful. The staff is phenomenal. They are trying to preauthorize her for coverage because KaeLyn actually has great infertility coverage through her health insurance. However, she has Cigna and we are fairly certain they won’t accept the preauthorization unless she is “medically infertile.” But we were prepared for that and we feel lucky to be able to afford this, even if it may involves racking up some more credit card debt once we run through our stash of savings.

We have (over)thought a lot about what we want, so we were fairly sure of ourselves going into the clinic. The info was helpful and thorough, but most of it wasn’t new to us. We had a very warm mandatory session with a fertility counselor and came out feeling reassured. We’d considered a lot of the questions already and we felt even more ready to do this damn thing. That said, the only thing we know for sure is that we know nothing. We won’t know how anything will be or feel until we get there and we both reserve the option to change our minds about the things we think we know, at any time.

All the paper we have accrued over the past week. It's getting real!

All the paper we have accrued over the past week. It’s getting real!

We plan to post a bit more now that we are coming back to earth from our year of irresponsible-but-really-really-fun-immersive-theatre-fandom life decisions. We have a couple more trips to the show planned, but it is slowing down. KaeLyn is about to go off of one of the boards she is on and will wrap up grad school after this semester (December 2015). She is quitting one of her three jobs this fall, too—one of her side gigs (but will still be writing for Autostraddle and keeping her full-time employment). Waffle is working his butt off, going in for overtime twice a week, when possible. We are holding off on any major purchases or home renovation projects. The time has come! We’ll make sure we keep ya’ll posted.

In the meantime, check out this post on baby-making questions KaeLyn wrote for Autostraddle. The post is similar to what you’ve already read here, but the comment section is really interesting and full of great stories and questions! She is hosting an AMA on queer parenting (with queer parents and parents-to-be) on Autostraddle very soon. We’ll let you know when that is happening, too!

Your New Fun Hobby: Fertility Tracking & Charting

This post is by K.

So since we’ve decided to move up the date on our baby-making plans, I’ve started practicing tracking my fertility. Oh wow. Props to the folks who have been tracking for months and years. Props to anyone who practices natural family planning–the fertility awareness method. This is a whole new level of commitment, dude.

So, because it is 2014 and there’s an app for that, I decided I didn’t have the time or patience for a paper tracking method. I went searching for the best FREE fertility app I could find. Apparently, there are quite a few. If you are looking for the app for you, there are some good reviews here and here.

kindarascreenshotAfter much hemming and hawing, I went with Kindara, mainly because it seemed to be the most comprehensive app I could download and use for free. I’m a little less than one month into fertility tracking and it is kind of a fun game. Except when I forgot to take my temperature when I wake up. You don’t get any do-overs on that. Also, I am sorry to report that pretty much all the apps are super “womanly.” You know, pink and purple, flowing lines that resemble a “woman’s body,” pretty little sparkly things. So if that’s not your jam or it feels offensive to you to be putting your cervical mucous and body temperature into a “lady app,” maybe stick to the paper tracking. Or make an excel sheet.

mcalc

If you haven’t ever tracked your fertility, it could certainly be a fun new hobby for you to obsess over. There are four main ways. And I’m gonna’ present them here in a totally gender-neutral way:

EDIT: A couple good friends have suggested Mcalc, the gender neutral menstruation calendar, made by the folks at Sexmind.com. I checked it out and it seems really nice, gender neutral color scheme. Unfortunately, it doesn’t track other fertility indicators (like 1-3 below), but there is a place for you to enter notes. I couldn’t actually download it because the beta version is only available on Android. Sexmind was raising funds to release the beta version on IOS. It doesn’t look like it has been released for IOS yet.

1) Basal Body Temperature – Nope, not like the tasty herb that pairs well with Italian or Thai food. Your basal body temperature measures the slight changes in your body temperature that occur after ovulation and remain elevated until your next period. You can get a fancy basal body temperature thermometer for about $10 at a drug store. Why the special thermometer? Because your body temperature can change by as little as .04-1 degree when you ovulate. You’ve gotta take your temp right when you wake up, after your body has been at rest for some time, before you become active and your body temperature starts changing. This is actually kind of fun, as long as you remember to take your temperature. It’s a little silly when traveling, which I’m doing for work right now, because you have to pack your basal body thermometer and put it next to your bed. I’m glad I’m not sharing a room with anyone because it would be a hard to be discreet about my beepy little pink thermometer. (Pink because fertility is for LADIES! My only option was pink.)

2) Cervical Mucous – Yeah, yummy, good stuff. Nothing is more fun than tracking your cervical mucous. Or saying “cervical mucous.” Maybe we can rename it something less gross-sounding, because it isn’t as gross as it sounds. Like, “happy body fun stuff” or something. So basically, you use your fingers to check what kind of “happy body fun stuff” is coming from your vaginal opening. That part is easy. Then, you track the wetness (how much “happy body fun stuff”) and the consistency (what kind of “happy body fun stuff”) and the feel of it (is your “stuff” slipper, stretchy, dry, wet, etc). You are looking for the day when you have the most clear, slippery, and stretchy “stuff.” That’s your ovulation day. It’s a good way to get in touch with your body…literally. It is also something that you may need to practice. I’m pretty in touch with my body and I still have a hard time deciding whether I’m “sticky” or “creamy” or both or neither. It will take some practice for me to figure out exactly what I’m looking for.

3) Cervical Position – Your cervix is rocking and rolling during your cycle. Well, maybe not that dramatically, but the cervix does respond to hormonal changes. During the infertile phase, the position of the cervical will be low and feel closed  and hard. As fertility increases, the cervix rises higher in the vaginal canal and becomes softer and more open. That means it is ovulation time! After ovulation occurs, the cervix goes back to the low and hard position. Tracking cervical position over several months can help you estimate when you are ovulating. Of course, many people have never touched their cervix because…well, I don’t know…it just never came up. So this can take some getting used to, as well as some time to figure out what your cervix feels like at different times during the month.

4) Menstrual Cycle Tracking – This is the most basic way of tracking your fertility, but one of the most important. Track your period on the calendar for a several months. If you are fairly regular, it should give you an idea of how long your menstrual cycle is. Day 1 of each cycle is the day you start menstruating. After you’ve done this for a while–8 to 12 months–look at your cycles and pick your shortest cycle and your longest cycle. This will help you determine your fertility window. Subtract 18 days from the last day of your shortest cycle. This is the beginning of the fertility window. Subtract 11 days from the last day of your longest cycle. This is the end of your fertility window. You will ovulate at some point during that time frame. Obviously, this method alone is not very specific. If you have the goods at the ready and they are free to you and you can do multiple tries/daily tries each month, by all means use this method alone. However, if you’re like us and will be paying cold hard cash each time you try, I suggest using the menstrual cycle tracking method combined with one or all of the other methods.

I am doing basal body, cervical mucous, and menstrual cycle tracking because I’m an overachiever. Also, frugal. Once I master those, I’m adding in the cervical position method, too. I want to be working with a 2-3 day fertility window, not a 2 week window. So far, I’m loving my app choice because it allows me to track all four–basal body temp, cervical mucous, cervical position, and menstrual cycle. It also charts them for me so I don’t have to struggle through that nonsense. You can add additional things to the chart if you want to track them and see how they effect your fertility. For example, if you wanted to add exercise or diet choices and see if that makes a difference, you could make fields for those in your Kindara chart.

Oh, you can also pee on a stick these days, but that can get expensive if you have truly no idea when you are ovulating, so I plan to incorporate the stick-pee method once I have a pretty good idea of what my body is up to and I’m planning to get fertilized.

So, you know, if you are over your feminist knitting circle or your queer cookie swap, you could take up fertility tracking. If you are a DIY person, you can download an ovulation calendar & chart to proudly display your work.

Here’s to things I never thought I’d be doing! 🙂

Try Not to Be Weird

This post is by K.

Sitting in the driveway in my car, early autumn, W in the passenger seat, engine off:

Me: “I think [having kids] is going to be a super interesting project. Like, probably the most interesting project I ever take on.”

W: “Uh, K…you can’t call kids a ‘project.’ It’s weird.”

Me: “But it is going to be a cool project. I mean, really. Because, you know…I’m not necessarily excited about having a kid. I mean, about actually HAVING a kid. That part sounds kind of horrible. I’m interested in, like, how we would raise a kid together and being openly queer parents and how to raise a kid through a feminist lens without being ridiculous and supporting you in being a primary parent as a dad in a mommy-centric world. So it will be an interesting project–a really interesting project.”

W: “OK. I get that, but if you say it that way to other people, you’d better be prepared.  They’re  going to look at you funny if you talk about kids like a ‘project’.”

Me: “Yeah, I know. People are going to want me to say, ‘OMG, I can’t wait to be pregnant!’ or, ‘I’ve always dreamed of having a baby!’ or,  ‘I’ve always wanted to be a mommy!’ But none of that is true for me. I’m not going to lie.”

W: “Well, you don’t have to lie. Just…try not to be weird.”

When we first made this decision, W wasn’t sure how to react. He tiptoed around me for a couple weeks until I finally asked him why he was being strange. He said he was waiting for me to back out; that he couldn’t believe I would ever, ever be OK with this; that it was more than he imagined was possible; and that he didn’t want to get hurt when I changed my mind back.

As W says frequently, he “knew what [he] was getting into” when we started almost a decade ago, as did I. We were great friends, but poorly fitted in terms of long-term relationship potential. Continue reading

Privilege Check: The Right to Parent and Queer Communities

This post is by K.

W and I are both 100% in support of reproductive rights and health. I worked at Planned Parenthood for half  a decade. During my time there, I got into reproductive justice. I got in deep. I learned a lot from others in the movements. I also spent a lot of time helping others, especially those deeply rooted in pro-choice activism, to “get” what repro justice is. Pro-choice and repro justice aren’t synonyms. Here’s a definition of reproductive justice from SisterSong:

The reproductive justice framework – the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments — is based on the human right to make personal decisions about one’s life, and the obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one’s decisions is important for women of color.

It represents a shift for women advocating for control of their bodies, from a narrower focus on legal access and individual choice (the focus of mainstream organizations) to a broader analysis of racial, economic, cultural, and structural constraints on our power.

Reproductive Justice addresses the social reality of inequality, specifically, the inequality of opportunities that we have to control our reproductive destiny. Our options for making choices have to be safe, affordable and accessible, three minimal cornerstones of government support for all individual life decisions.

Repro justice takes the conversation beyond birth control, abortion, and sex ed and makes us ask questions like:

  • How do class and race play a role in reproductive rights work?
  • How are trans* and gender non-conforming people accessing sexual and reproductive health care?
  • How do the issues of education, literacy, and language access play into sexual and reproductive health outcomes?
  • What are the points of connection between taking care of the environment and taking care of our bodies?
  • How can we repair tensions between the disability rights communities and the pro-choice/repro justice communities?

I could write a whole post about any of those topics. There are lots of questions to raise. The question I want to address is this one: Who has the right to parent?

We can go on for days about the right now to be a parent, the right to make a personal abortion decision. We don’t talk as much about the flip side. What about the right to be a parent? Is there such a thing? Many would emphatically say, “Yes. Of course. Everyone should have that right.” But let’s get real. We don’t all have access to that right. And if you add some other factors in, you may start to feel more unsure. Continue reading