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

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What’s in a (gender neutral) name?

 

Choosing a name for your kid is a kind of a big deal. We are both the oldest siblings of our families. Maybe that’s why we get along.

W is the oldest of three. His younger sisters both have names that are gender-neutral-friendly. His youngest sister’s name could be masculine or feminine, depending on how you spell it. His other sister’s name is easily shortened to a gender neutral version. Both W’s sisters are cisgender women and fairly gender-normative in their gender expression. Of course, W is the only one who has a very feminine name. He has one of those names that is just not gender-neutral at all, like Rose or Sarah or Penelope. There is no male name that sounds similar, even. So he has a chosen name that works for him, but mainly goes by his last name, which, as you may have guessed, begins with a “W.” W still uses both his given name and chosen name in different situations, but we both think it’s kind of funny that he is the only one out of three siblings that has a really girly name. Coincidentally, K also has a name that could be gender-neutral or easily modified to be a more masculine name.

Sometimes it’s a problem for W that his name is so feminine, but not for the reason you’d think. Anyone who looks like W, regardless of their gender identity, and has a name like W’s legal name, is going to have some awkward moments. At work, W goes by his legal name, by choice and for convenience. W hasn’t changed his first name or gender legally. He doesn’t feel like that’s something he wants to do right now…possibly ever. W could be out as trans* at work, but it hasn’t been necessary so far and it really doesn’t bother him, because he feels his gender is masculine, but somewhat fluid. He binds and wears men’s clothes at work. He presents as himself full-time, which is a little bit his legal name/identity and a lot of his chosen name/identity and living in that fluid space is comfortable for him.

Now, we should say, that for many trans* people, it is very important and very necessary to change their name and/or gender legally. Many trans* people are very uncomfortable and deeply hurt by being called their given/legal name. That is totally valid. For W, specifically, it just isn’t a big deal. His coworkers usually assume he’s a super butch lesbian and, well, at some point he did identify that way, so he doesn’t really mind.

However, getting a job with a name that doesn’t match your gender expression is another thing. When you show up for a job interview looking like W does, like a preppy 6’1″ dude, things can get awkward…and hurtful…fast. At one interview for a security job at Sears, W showed up for his interview a little early. The hiring person greeted him by his given name, looked at him for just slightly too long, and disappeared for almost an hour. He was left waiting in a hallway. Eventually, the hiring person came back out and told him the position had been miraculously filled and they were no longer hiring. OK… Any gender non-conforming person, whether cis or trans*, can tell you many stories of being treated like a freak. Or being misgendered…one way or another.

So for us, picking a name for our future human that is gender-neutral is pretty important. We don’t have a problem with gendered names and could really care less what people name their kids. But for us, our kid, we want them to have a name that is gender-neutral and unique. As we’ve started talking about names, we have found that even when talking about gender-neutral names, we have different feelings about what would make sense for a kid who is male assigned at birth (a “boy”) or a kid who is female assigned at birth (a “girl”). We like Spencer for a girl (female assigned at birth), but not as much for a boy (male assigned at birth). Those gender things just can’t stay out of our head, though ironically we tend to like names that are more masculine-associated for a girl and vice versa. One name that we just recently decided on, over dinner, that works for any gender, is Remi/Remy (spelling yet-to-be-determined).

We don’t plan to raise our future kid gender-neutral. It’s a nice idea, but it’s just not possible for us. We live in the real world. We want our future kid to live in the real world. They are going to see gender all around them, absorb gender norms whether we like it or not, but we do want them to have options.

We want them to be able to play with green plastic army men, like W did as a kid, or with pound puppies, as K did as a kid. Or, more specifically, we want them to be able to play with both, or whatever interests them. K’s heart will probably break into a million pieces if their future kids wants to be a “pink princess,” regardless of what gender they are assigned at birth, but we want it to truly be their choice.

We want them to be able to make up their mind about their gender expression or their gender identity, or change their mind. If our kid turns out to be gender non-conforming, we want them to have a name that works for their gender expression, whatever that is. Of course, if they want to change their name to match their preferred name and identity, that’s cool with us, but we want to at least try to give them a name that is not hyper-masculine or feminine. So, future kid, as of March 2014, we are calling you “Remi/Remy.” You get to decide what that means for you.

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! 🙂

I really don’t want to be a mommy blogger. Even a queer one.

This post is by K.

I always thought if I started a blog, it’d be about sexual justice. Or rape culture. Or sex-positive sexuality. Or feminist rants. When I’ve dabbled in guest blogging, it’s been on those issues. I never ever, ever though it would be about parenting. In fact, the thought still kind of makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Not because I’m not excited about being a parent, but because I have worked SO HARD to be seen as more than the stereotypes of my gender.

Children assigned female at birth are generally socially conditioned to care about things like weddings and babies and home-making. And pink. All things pink. Even those of us that don’t follow the social script know that we are supposed to. My parents never pushed that girly stuff on me, but I got the message anyway through TV, peers, and subtle social cues.

I remember my older cousin asking me once, when I was a pre-teen, what I imagined my wedding would be like. I had never really thought about it before. So I made up a scenario that sounded fun. My supposed “dream wedding” included a waterfall, silk bohemian skirts, black tank tops, and flip-flops. It sounded more like a trip to a fancy hotel pool than a wedding. Looking back, there was some truth in my made-up story. I did end up having a very casual, affordable, and unique wedding that involved flip-flops and non-traditional apparel. Sadly, there were no water features.

Fancy wedding stuff never appealed to me. Being someone’s wife never appealed to me. Being someone’s mom never appealed to me. When I was little, I couldn’t articulate why I wasn’t into these things. I just wasn’t.

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What is a queer family?

The first blog post is always the…awkwardest. So let’s start with this really basic question: What makes a family queer? What is a queer family?

When we think of LGBT families, we usually think of two moms or two dads. More specifically, we think of two cisgender lesbian moms or two cisgender gay dads. When the acronym “LGBT” is used, the “B” and “T” are often silent. The “Q” isn’t even there. LGBT is often used as a catchall acronym for our communities–it’s pretty common. But LGBT organizations, service agencies, and media outlets often focus primarily on cisgender gay men and lesbian women. That’s also pretty common. There’s nothing wrong with two cis moms or dads and those families could certainly be queer, but these representations are not inclusive of all queer families.

It carries over, we found, into the parenting realm. Parenting resources are already overwhelmingly heteronormative and gender-normative. The specifically LGBT resources that are out there are mainly geared towards gay men and lesbian women. By resources, I mean books, websites, social networks, “mommy” sites. So we decided to join the blogosphere, where there are some awesome LGBTQ* parents out there (see our blogroll) doing awesome stuff. There’s still a lot of room to grow. To my knowledge, there are few resources for parenting as an openly bisexual person. Few resources for parenting as a transgender or gender non-conforming person. For QTPOC (queer trans people of color), for poor queer folks that want to have kids, for anyone that wants to buck the norm of the traditional heteronormative family, there just isn’t much support or advice out there.

But I know queer families are out there. I know more than one seemingly-hetero couple where one or both parents are bisexual. I know single queer parents that are raising awesome kids. I know families where one or both parents are trans*. Some of those trans* parents are stealth. Others are not. I know lots of queer people who want to have kids in the future (and plenty who don’t).
In fact, such a large number that it’s inevitable that more people will eventually start writing and talking about queer parenting.

So what’s makes a queer family? The answer is, I don’t know. Or, rather, I can’t define it for you. People who identify as queer tend to want to be…queer. We don’t want to disappear or blend in. We want to change the systems, not conform to them. We want to check ourselves, check the systematic advantages we have and own our privilege. We want to be inclusive of diverse experiences across race, class, sex, gender. We want to be included in convos we’ve traditionally been left out of. We want to thoughtfully participate in “traditional family” or queer “traditional family” or throw “traditional family” out the window.

A queer family could certainly be a family with or without kids. Queer families can have two moms or two dads. They can have one mom and one dad. They have have one parent. They can have more than two parents. They can also include one or more people who identify as trans* or genderqueer. They can include bisexual, omnisexual, pansexual, polysexual, asexual, or queer people. Queer families have kids by marriage, kids from previous relationships and/or pregnancies. They can add kids through foster care, adoption, surrogacy, sperm donors (both on and off the books), and good old-fashioned P-I-V intercourse. They can include beloved furbabies (our pet children). They can include supportive queer family relationships that came about out of kinship or necessity in place of or in addition to our legal/bio families.

This blog is about our queer family–a queer power femme, pansexual, Korean-American adoptee, vegan, feminist, cisgender woman and a label-wary, fashion-forward, queer, trans* boi. With lots and lots of furkids. Looking to add 1 human kid to the family. We will blog about our baby plans, our furkids, our personal views and lives, social and activist issues pertaining to queer parenting. We will try to raise larger issues about queer parenting and welcome the perspective and feedback of others. We are excited. A little scared. Let’s do this.

– K & W