Fall Festivals: All The Fall Things

It is time for all things fall like festivals. The D.C. area is full of great spots to get out of the city. In less than an hour, you can be on a farm in the middle of what feels like nowhere petting baby goats and sipping homemade cider.

Montpelier Farms – Upper Marlboro, MD

1508936378663Sometimes I do not want to drive to what feels like the far ends of Virginia even though in reality it’s only like 43 miles. Lucky for us there is a great spot less than 20 miles away in Upper Marlboro, MD. We found Montpelier Farms last year when our desire to visit a pumpkin patch was great but our fear of driving an hour with a screaming 1 1/2 year old was MUCH greater.

This fantastic little farm is filled with activities for the whole family. Kids can play games, pan for jewels, get lost in a corn maze, jump on a giant pumpkin air mat, make a scarecrow, go on a hayride and feed farm animals. The alpacas and the horse will nibble the food right from your hand. It tickles, it’s wet and slightly frightening – IT IS THE BEST. We spent a lot of time watching LADC climb up and slide down an old truck bed converted into three slides. After you’re finished with your afternoon of fun, you can pick your own pumpkin.

Admission: $12.00 (2 and under free) – Most events are included with the price but there are some ticketed games as well.

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2016 Montpelier Farms Visit – It was hot hot hot!!!

 

Winterbrook Farms – Thurmont, MD

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Our friends invited us along to this fantastic farm way out in Maryland. This was about an hour and half drive for us but it was well worth it. This beautiful farm has a huge barn with kids activities, animals to feed and shaded tables for eating. There are apple cannons, a cow train (highly recommended), zip lines, corn maze, hayrides to a pumpkin patch. So many things to climb – bails of hay, tire stacks, and even a hill with a bell at the top. We even engaged in a friendly sack race which made me laugh so hard. We spent a lot of time in the giant corn box…a sandbox filled with corn kernels. You’ll want one for your own! The corn box was conveniently located next to a duck race using water pumps which was a hit with the adults. LADC loved the tube slides so much that she insisted on doing them alone. They were not too fast for a tiny two year old so we let her go for it…OVER…AND…OVER…again.

Admission: $10 Regular, $7 for children under 4′ tall – All events included expect Apple cannon and pumpkins

Ticonderoga Farms – Chantilly, VA

This was our (mine and LADC’s) third trip to Ticonderoga Farms. LADC and I have  in the past attended my former employer’s corporate picnic with friends so this year was our first time being able to do all of the farm activities. Ticonderoga has a huge pillow jump, a mountain of slides, several playgrounds, goats and chickens to feed, hay rides, a bamboo maze, pedal carts, pumpkin patches, and live music. We spent a lot of time playing hide and seek in the pumpkin patch and on the slides. WE enjoyed the slides over and over again! Climbing that slide hill like 50 times is an exhausting good time!

Oh and everyone gets their own pumpkin to take home!

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Admission: $16.95 for everyone 2 and up (slightly pricey)

As the fall festival season winds down, I come away with one final thought.  – Turns out all that is important to us is a good slide and apple cider!

Come Out, Come Out…

Where ever you are…how ever you want…when ever you want. It’s really up to you.

Yes, it can be scary.

Yes, the words are hard to find sometimes.

Yes, it feels too hard.

Sometimes it will go well.

Sometimes you will cry….tears of joy, relief, and even pain.

Some people will cry with you.

Some people will hug you.

Some one will be shocked. BUT

Some one will say, “I knew.”

You may lose a friend.

You may lose a family member.

You will feel free.

You will sleep better at night.

You will move forward.

You will know so much love.

It was hard, scary and a very long process for me. BUT I DO NOT REGRET IT! The truth is I still come out all of the time. It is the nature of things still. People assume straight. Sometimes when I meet a new adult especially in a professional setting or another parent, I get to come out. I usually get to come out when I am asked about my daughter’s father. It is often in polite conversation or in reaction to my daughter’s very light blond hair in contrast to my very dark hair. I always feels slightly embarrassed on behalf of the asker as I say, “she has two moms.”

Once you’re out to the people who matter most, the other times will just become a thing you say.

So come out. We are all here waiting for you with open arms.

To Pour or Not to Pour…The Toddler Decides

During a rather idyllic breakfast on Wednesday morning, LADC asked to pour her water onto her grits. My gut reaction was to shut that mess down but instead I simply said, I don’t think that’s a great decision but go for it. It may not taste very good. 

Sounded gross. But totally harmless.

She poured.

She stared.

She tasted.

She gagged.

She waved her hand over it and muttered some toddler-ese which I interpreted as…”You were right, mom, that was a POOR decision.”

When I asked her if it tasted badly she said, “Yea,” connected to this half laugh half sigh that she does when she know something was so ridiculously silly. (seriously, it is the cutest)

We can call it a culinary experiment so it sounds really brave and smart. We do encourage exploring and learning at home. Making messes and doing the silly thing is kind of part of our every day life. Some of us shoot water cannons at others while they mow the grass just because it makes the toddler insanely happy. We will be cleaning up glitter for the rest of our lives.

If I had said no to pouring water on the grits, there would have been tears and frustration. I do not like to say NO all the time. Sometimes our instinct is to say no because of inconvenience, a bad mood, laziness…those times I have to stop myself and remember I am trying to raise a tiny human. I have to stop to remember that pouring water on the grits might just turn into a moment that I can tell her about when she asks about when she was a small. Saying yes to the silly odd random thing might just be the best decision I make all day.

I read an article once about parents who never said no. They discussed the good and bad consequences of decisions with their kids and gave them the choice. Keeping an open dialogue for when the tough subjects come up. I mean some things are inherently dangerous and require a strong NO. We have some non-neogtiables like brushing teeth. Has to be done even if there are tears and ear piercing screams. BUT Some things are just things that can be turned into a teaching moment. Some things are just silly so you do them anyway.

LADC thinks grits are the best breakfast ever. As most parents know, getting a toddler to eat can be challenging so having their favorites on had is essential. I have had to permanently add grits to the grocery list. I remember not liking grits as a kid but I also remember them being white and bland unless you put a slice of cheese in it. (We use Bob’s Red Mill Polenta following the suggested directions and also adding some nutritional yeast and flax meal to make it extra nutritious.)

Guess Who’s Back!?

Hello all (if you’re still out there)! I haven’t read a blog or written a blog in like 6 months. I have been momming, working and wifing hard…not always in that order but always doing all the things. If you follow us on Instagram, you’re fully up to date on her growth and what we’re doing now.

Working from home was hard. I made it work. I did some office management work for a about 6 months which demanded a lot of computer time. However, I am now back working in the real world…and by real world…I mean I play for a living and I love it. I was presented with an opportunity this past February and I seized it. My little one goes to work with me every day!

I finally have some room to give updating, writing and musing some attention.

I mostly want to hold on to memories that I know my brain can not possibly hold on to forever.

Like would I always remember that she laughed in her sleep the other morning. Then Lisa and I giggled back and forth. I wonder what she was dreaming about?

I want to remember the pee-pee in the potty dance she did for hours last night EVEN before she actually peed in the potty.

Or those moments when we have one big group hug and there are so many giggles, kisses and love is just oozing out of us.

Maybe moms always remember this stuff…Maybe I will remember it but just in case my brain gets so full of wonderful memories that some start falling out…I’ll write them out just in case.

Worry, Fear, Panic…

I woke up opened Facebook and burst into tears this morning. My wife held me while I cried and tried to come to grips with what I am feeling. I’m crying because we have a new President. They are not tears of joy or elation. They are tears of a broken heart, a battered soul and a head wringing with worry. (I’m not a crier so this is kind of a big deal).

I grew up thinking I was Republican. I wanted to be involved with the Republican party. I immersed myself in South Carolina’s political atmosphere. As I moved about the world my feelings on social issues changed but I could comfortably call myself a fiscal conservative. Then I met three attorneys who changed my heart and mind for good. They lived and conducted themselves professionally with such compassion and such pure hearts. I watched them tirelessly answer the call to protect the most vulnerable of our state. Working with people from every walk of life in our state with no hesitation. You see, I could no longer think only fiscally because there were lives hanging in the balance. Lives that have no voice of their own. Lives that time and time again get lost in the fray. When I came out, all of the sudden I became one of those lives. A person who suddenly had to fight for equality. I was a socially marginalized individual.

An election cycle that perpetrated worry, fear and panic, now has me waking on the day after the election filled with worry, fear and panic. Seems as if that platform was successful on all fronts.  I respect that people want change, to buck the establishment, to find a better way for their families and their businesses. Those are ideals I can get behind. Those are things we all want out of this life. If that is why you voted for Trump, I get it. Some things aren’t working and maybe he has a better plan. I can’t see it…though.

I can’t see past…

  • The people who can see that my family (LGBT community) is at risk but think that it’s OK, inconsequential or a great fucking idea,
  • The people who can’t see that my family (LGBT community) is at risk and don’t care,
  • The people who can see that women’s rights are at risk but think that it’s OK, inconsequential or a great fucking idea,
  • The people who can’t see that women’s rights are at risk and don’t care.
  • The people who can see that latinos are at risk but think that it’s OK, inconsequential or a great fucking idea,
  • The people who can’t see that latinos are at risk and don’t care,
  • The people who can see that muslims are at risk but think that it’s OK, inconsequential or a great fucking idea,
  • The people who can’t see that muslims are at risk and don’t care,
  • The person who commented on a photo saying to someone go back to Africa,
  • The people who think everyone in a hijab is a terrorist,
  • A Vice President who believes in conversion therapy for gays,
  • A President who spoke of Roe v. Wade as if it offers carte blanche abortion,
  • The Trump supporter in my news feed who posted a picture of a black man’s face superimposed on a white woman’s body that I’m pretty sure is racist even though I have no idea what it supposed to be,
  • The people who started yelling, “Lock her up,” during election night at the Trump rally,
  • The people who still think my marriage shouldn’t be legal,
  • The people who want to build a wall to keep out those escaping countries to be in the land of the free,
  • The people who are just plain and outwardly scared of the color brown,
  • The people who are scared of brown and don’t have the balls to admit it,
  • The people who think the political parties are Christian or heathens (or more accurately heaven bound or hell bound),
  • A President-elect who disrespected a sitting President over and over by challenging his citizenship,
  • A President-elect who speaks so callously of women, minorities, immigrants and the LGBT community,
  • The people who called Hillary Clinton, Killary and thought it was just in good ol’ fashion political mudslinging, and
  • The people who think they put God back in control of our country. You put a man in control of this country. Please remember that. (Quite frankly, the only person who actually personified what that means to me was Tim Kaine so I guess it’s subjective.)

I can’t see past those people. Those people do not represent an angry, disenfranchised and frustrated electorate who want change. They represent xenophobia, racism and general deplorable behavior. Yea, I used the word deplorable. It’s appropriate here. I am worried, I am scared…but I don’t have time to be past this moment. I have a wife, a daughter and the rest of the world to show who I am. It’s not someone who mocks or belittles or even the person who wallows in defeat. I have to be the wife, mom and person I need to be to show the people above what true compassion and love look like.

The beacon of hope is those who sent messages of love this morning and last night. Thank you.

A 5 Month Baby Update

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The other morning LA snuggled up to me and grabbed on to my arm. At first, I was afraid she was waking up and I was not ready to get up but she just wanted to be close…and so did I. She is starting return affection and seek it out. She is snuggled, kissed, hugged, held and loved all day, every day between her mom, grammy and I. The other day I said give me a kiss and she open mouthed me right on the cheek. I think she might be familiar with the term kiss. She reaches out to be passed to the next one of us or holds her arms out when the Exersaucer has just exhausted her patience. She will grab your neck to hug you and plant an awesome open mouthed kiss anywhere on your face that she lands.

She is always on the go now. Attempting to crawl with her face pressed against the floor and butt in the air. She hasn’t quite mastered crawling but she can smoosh herself where she needs to go. She wants to stand and takes steps much to our doctor’s dismay. She is so strong she can push herself up with minimal effort. She still is too wobbly to stand or walk but she really wants to. Our doctor didn’t believe that she was sitting up on her own until we put her on the table. LA just sat there balancing herself.

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She is playful, determined, slightly impatient, smiley, funny and soooo cute. I fall in love with her a little bit more every day. I watch her sleep and still check to see if she is breathing like a crazy person. It is so fun watching her grow and change. Sigh…

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Anyway, at her appointment last week we had an official weigh-in and measuring. She is just about 14 lbs. and 28 in. All of her other vitals were normal. She did not enjoy her shots but did enjoy scooting around on the doctor’s stool with her mom.

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LA LOVES:

  • Sophie the Giraffe – mostly putting the feet in her mouth.
  • Putting her own feet in her mouth.
  • Putting any feet around in her mouth.
  • Jumping in her jolly jumper.
  • Laughing at stuffed animals being dropped on her.
  • Eating avocados, bananas and carrots.
  • Toys that crinkle.
  • Walks in her stroller.
  • Bath time bubbles!

LA LOATHES:

  • Sweet potatoes.
  • When the seal on her ExerSaucer will not fit in her mouth properly.
  • When other people eat. Always. Every meal.
  • Poachers…especially Lion poachers.
  • Donald Trump. Don’t know why but she cries every time he’s on TV. (I may have made that up)

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“My Facebook Feed Looks Like the Confederate Army Declared War on a Skittles Factory”

The title of this blog post isn’t actually what my Facebook feed looks like exactly* but was posted by more than one person I know. I found it particularly hilarious being both Southern and gay. The past two weeks have proved to be quite divisive among people in my Facebook community. Social networking conjures up a lot of half thought out commentary on very complicated subjects. I would like to think my views are not best expressed in memes and 140 characters. Does everyone need my views on all the things? Probably not, but I think it is important to talk about all the things instead of making blanket proclamations across all the internet. I think that is why I blog because I do feel a need to get dialogue going even if only in my own head. My blog has become a bit more opinionated over the past year which I feel is partially because in the past couple of years I have taken ownership of who I am. I also used to fear social media a little more. Certain career paths dictate a need to be the Switzerland of social media which is great because it keeps me from going postal with all the words. People do get fired for their social networking missteps…it’s a real thing.

The Confederate Army Part 

The evolution started with the shock and grief over what happened in Charleston. My friends in Charleston and across South Carolina posting heartfelt tributes for those who lost their lives at Mother Emanuel AME and for the City of Charleston. I have followed along as so many participated in vigils and showed support as best they could. The world agreed that what happened was beyond comprehension. The world still mourns those victims. Then I watched as my feed turned to the Confederate flag, sparking debate on history and heritage. Arguments about losing focus on the victims too soon. Words said with pleas, empathy, love, irritation, disgust and staunch belief. It is true there is a lot of history out there. History that can not be undone.

I almost owned a Confederate flag t-shirt when I was younger. It was the thing to do. Everyone had them. It was a fashion statement of sorts. Luckily, my parents knew better and said no. I wasn’t even that in to “Southern heritage” but people were donning their confederate shirts with cute lab puppies and ribbons in their hair. I just wanted what everyone else had. So yea I kind of get where some people especially people in my age box don’t see the problem. We were taught young that it was a symbol of something sacred not something negative. BUT…I was a kid. I am an adult now. I watch the news, I hear people speak around me with adult ears, and the blurred lines become clearer.  Then just this morning I see an article about a rally planned by some faction of the Klan that will take place in Columbia in protest of the flag coming down. I read about the burning of six seven churches in the Southeast (at least two in SC) in the past few weeks**. Along with news of an AME church burning in SC just last night, there was also news of threats received by several female pastors in Clarendon County, South Carolina.

So does the flag need to be removed from the statehouse grounds, I think so. I think it is time. It belongs in a museum to be studied and viewed by those who wish to do so. Should the symbol be banned, no. I think that would be a free speech violation. However, if Wal-Mart and other corporations decide not to carry or adorn their products with the flag, that is also their choice. I think if you support Hobby Lobby not offering contraceptives as part of their medical care, then you should definitely be on board with at company’s choice not to carry items with the Confederate flag. Those two things are definitely not on the same legal level in my eyes but I think it is a comparison you can understand. Taking down the flag will not solve the problems of hate and racism in the world just as watching Gone With the Wind will not cause someone to be racist.

South Carolinians loves their state flag. South Carolina is a state proud of its flags and symbols. That is even evident here in DC when I can not go a day without seeing a South Carolina state flag on a car or a palmetto tree sticker. We’re a proud people. SC state pride and Southern heritage doesn’t depend on that flag waving down at the statehouse. My wife’s accent is proof that you can take the girl out of the South but you can’t take the South out of the girl.

The Skittles Factory – Taste the Rainbow

I was fortunate enough not to lose many friends after coming out. It was the one thing I feared. It was not really the fear of no longer having that person in my life, it’s that initial sting of rejection and judgment. I have never met anyone who enjoys rejection and being judged though so you can probably relate. The only “friend” I lost after coming out that I know of was expected. We did not have a big blow out or even a pithy exchange. She just up an unfriended me on the Facebook one day. Some people with closely held religious or even moral beliefs have a hard time with people not agreeing with them and feel personally attacked. That is out of my control. Also, I decided that if you can not like the pictures of my super cute child because of your religious beliefs, you do not need to be in my life at all.

Because of my Facebook purge of ’13, there are very few people who blatantly say, “I do not believe in gay marriage.” I know there are some and I know who they are. Some of them are peaceable people who kind of live and let live. A few others have felt the need to identify themselves as loving Christians who do not agree with homosexuality but love everyone just the same. I find that proclamation to be amusing as well as unnecessary because I don’t think the intended audience is me. It’s so the wrong person doesn’t think you support the homosexual lifestyle. I think if you’re having to make that statement, you’re super unclear on the definition of love. I also find that some people don’t realize that religion, gender, sexuality, race and political affiliation are not all the same thing. Somewhere in this country there is a Trans Gay Buddhist Republican who is looking for a place in this world.

I was listening to Rosie O’Donnell (I’ll pause so some of you can roll your eyes) this morning on Straight Talk with Ross Matthews***. She was describing the moment she heard about the decision last week in the marriage case. It was the best description of what it felt like. It is hard to explain how it feels to realize how being deprived of a right/privilege has weighed on you. I’ve been legally married for two years. Living in states with marriage equality for a good portion of that time so I wasn’t living with the inability to get married nor having my marriage be invalid at home for any length of time. When that marriage opinion came out still I shook involuntarily, I began crying and really had trouble not falling completely apart. I cried on the Metro all the way to the Supreme Court. It is a big fucking deal for marriage to be legal.

If you’re worried about your religious freedom, here are my suggestions. If you belong to a church that doesn’t support gay marriage, don’t perform them. It’s that simple. Churches have been marrying and not marrying people for years. Also, don’t marry someone of the same-sex. That should be really easy unless you are gay. If you’re a baker, a photographer, etc., you can’t discriminate on race, religion, gender and I think we should add sexuality to that. I just don’t think denying homosexuals service in a place of business is a deeply held religious belief. The words of John 3:16 are part of a deeply held religious belief. How to get yourself to heaven is a deeply held religious belief and I’m pretty sure it’s mostly the only one that matters.

Any civil discussion this post prompts is welcome! Keep it respectful. I know I am throwing a lot of thoughts out there. Some of these topics are scholarly article worthy. These views are my own and not personally directed to any specific person. I would never want to intentionally alienate or be dismissive of anyone.

*I committed FB suicide back in 2013 so I don’t have quite the array of views any longer. I emerged with a new page and have only added back good friends and a few family members.

**It is unclear if arson was involved in some of the fires but isn’t it super crazy that so many churches have caught on fire. 

***Rosie was randomly a guest on Straight Talk today and I realize the amount of gay Democrat cliche that your brain is chewing on.

NaBloPoMo July 2015

Tips to Tackling Transition Talks

There was a time I did not know any gay people. It was probably middle school but the time period existed. Boy George, Ellen Degeneres and Pedro Zamora were my only confirmed gays before my junior year of high school. My parents and grandparents most likely would say they did not know any out (instead of rumored) gay people until adulthood. It is highly likely and most probable that my great-grandparents knew no gay people. If we look at the transgender community, the evolution of visibility is probably similar. Up until a handful of years ago, I did not know any transgender people. However, my daughter whether she realizes/knows it or not will have transgender people in her life. Your children may even already know another transgender youth. Visibility matters because it gets the dialogue rolling, minds opening and hearts growing.

Visibility of people like Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, Aydian Dowling and 14-year-old Jazz Jennings may inspire someone in your life who has been too scared before now. Being gay and/or being transgender means having to do a lot of talking about personal details. More specifically having “coming out” conversations. So from someone who has been “coming out” for like 10 years now; here are some things you should know.

  • Coming out conversations are exhausting, nerve-racking, sometimes scary and just plain hard.
  • Do not tell the person they are confused or worse, wrong. The person having this conversation has been working on this speech and started this process long before talking to you.
  • Because we are all mere mortals, we tend to focus on how it affects us when someone comes out. It is totally OK to have feelings about someone else’s coming out but think real hard before you speak.
  • Sexuality and gender identity are no one’s fault. Also – No one was recruited, conditioned or persuaded.
  • Choice is a word that should be avoided unless you’re just glad they made the choice to be happy and live an authentic life.
  • I do not think people we randomly meet in life owe us a coming out conversation.
  • If someone tells you they identify as a girl or a boy, use the correct pronoun. Sometimes we don’t know what pronoun to use. That’s OK. Chances are the person will let you know.
  • Ask questions even if they seem silly. It’s OK to not know things. It’s OK to wonder. Just be respectful and open to the answer.
  • Unless you’re real real close like that. Who, what, where and how someone is having sex is none of your business. Not saying you should never talk about it…but your new co-worker probably doesn’t want to talk about that with you…yet.
  • Appreciate that this person is placing all of their trust in you with this information. That’s a high compliment to the place you hold in their life and heart.

You can never go wrong if you are honest, open and full of love. Love and light come from all kinds of sources in this world. Be open. Be kind. Be love.

I am very excited about Becoming Us that is premiering next week (Mon. 5/8) on ABC Family. You can check out the full episode right now on the HRC Blog. The HRC website also has a lot of good information on Coming Out, Transgender issues, Marriage Equality and any other LGBTQ+ topic you need to know about.

Her Vagina Has No Problem Cashing Checks

As promised over two weeks ago, I will tell you all about the labor and birthing process. It all started when Lisa boldly stated that she would have our baby during Week 40…She may have said on her due date but memories are fuzzy now…to which I responded, “Don’t Write a Check Your Vagina Can’t Cash” (the original title of this post)…Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, she did it! We have a lovely petite cutie pie born on March 3rd. Born only one day after her due date!

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When I started writing this entry, my idea was to go from start to finish…filling you in on the details of labor but I could not make that flow. I finally figured out why…my words on the labor and the delivery of our child are heartfelt not chronological…It was an awesome experience that I was able to participate in not just watch. Of course, I didn’t feel any of the contractions or the ring of fire but I was right there in the trenches. I wasn’t just handholding and doling out ice chips like you see in the movies. Like most things in life labor is hands on in the moment learning…No video or written word does it justice. That doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to share from my experience…

Here is what I learned about labor –

Labor is loooong…real long. It is not like no one warns you about this…because they do. You hear stories about 48 hour labors…but it’s kind of one of those things you do not fully “get” until you’re in it. Lisa started on a Sunday night didn’t finish until Tuesday afternoon. During the pushing when I could see the top of LA’s little head, I just knew that she was about to push right on out for HOURSsssss…You don’t think you have the strength or endurance but everyone becomes otherworldly with all of the adrenaline kicking…

Labor is exhausting…for everyone. Once contractions start even if they aren’t patterned, you’re a slave to their whims. You can cat nap between if you’re lucky but they come…they’re mighty and strong even to an observer…you both push through and then collapse again for a few stolen minutes. Early labor lasts so long that you’re exhausted from the physicality and sleep deprivation before active labor even starts. Lisa was pushed to the limits of exhaustion and physical strength but still she gave more every single contraction and push. There was a moment of calm when I held my overly exhausted wife’s arms as she squatted resting on her knuckles in the labor pool so she wouldn’t drown herself…She would drift off to sleep her face just about to hit the water before she would jerk herself awake.  She did hit the water once…after that I was arm locked around her. Our midwife made her get out of the water because she kept falling asleep on her hands and knees.

Labor is physical…Again, for everyone. I was sore the next day and in the days after like I have never been before (my back is still not right)…and I did not push a human out of the hole the size of a fruit loop. My arms, my shoulders, my back…oh my…contrary again, to Hollywood’s version of labor…it does not all happen on the back….there is standing, walking, sitting, squatting…from the bed, to the shower, to toilet (yes, toilet), to the birthing pool…We did it all. There were times when I was supporting Lisa’s entire upper body…and in the moment there is no pain just focus…On my part anyway, she WAS CLEARLY in pain. She pushed for four hours…most of which was on the toilet…we all piled in the small bathroom where Lisa pushed and then collapsed back on the metal pipes not even noticing until days later she had hit her head on the pipes…when it was time to deliver LA she pushed on the bed…and I held her right leg in the air and pushed her chin to her chest during that last probably hour or so…The strength that has to be exhibited in those moments is other worldly…

Labor is a group effort…from the moment we walked in the door we had an excellent team working with us. The medical staff and midwifery team worked together seamlessly which I’m sure is a benefit of the GW Midwifery  team being part of the hospital. We had a dedicated nurse, midwifery team, doula and a few other people from time to time.

  • Midwife – What I failed to realize until we were there in the throes of labor was that we would have whichever midwife was on duty. And the midwife on duty for delivery happened to be the head of the program, Whitney. Remember, how I said she was really intense and intimidating…Well I could not imagine having any other person delivering our child now. She was reassuring, amazing, patient, kind…there are not enough adjectives to describe her.  A midwife in training did the physical work of brining our baby into the world. She painstakingly applied a warm wet cloth and poured oil on so Lisa would not tear. She was successful too! Whitney stood by giving patient direction for each push and contraction. They really did create a warm and loving environment.
  • Nurse – Um our nurse was a bad ass…she even looked like it.  She encouraged Lisa and really was just so supportive. I have not often been in hospital settings delivering babies so I do not know if there is always one nurse in the room the entire time or not so I’m impressed whether I should be or not. The bonding that happens quickly in this setting is impressive…It was like we’d known her forever. When she had to leave the room or go on a mandatory break, her absence was felt. That’s how good she is at her job.
  • Doula – This was our kink.  You know things never go quite as planned…Well when I called our doula she was in another delivery…and our back up was unavailable as well…BUT Momease was able to find someone who was equal to the task. She came in knowing very little about us but that did not stop her jumping right in.  It was a plus that she was also a massage therapist because Lisa had a good bit of back pain. She was able to use pressure points to help alleviate some pain…I am glad we went with a group of doulas and not just hiring an independent contractor.
  • Others – We were there for a shift change so we started with a different nurse and different midwife team…they were great as well. They really were but they were not there for the big show…but they did watch over us and monitor Lisa and the baby during the wee hours of the morning. We also had a few visits from other nurses who were trying to assist with inserting a PIC line into Lisa which is mandatory upon admittance but Lisa’s veins weren’t having it.  She blew three…got stuck like 8 times…the midwife finally just said…she’s fine let’s just not do it. We also had a med student observe since GW is a teaching hospital.IMG_0410

Labor can be scary…for reals…Most of labor and delivery is natural and fluid…even though it doesn’t seem it at the time…you contract, you push, you rest…repeat. Lisa’s labor was no different but when our little girl came out…her cord was wrapped around her neck twice. My heart sank immediately…she was blue, she was not crying…it was the single worst feeling I’ve ever felt. As I stood there holding Lisa from that last push…I watch as Johnna carefully unwrapped her with Whitney standing by giving calm direction. I know this lasted only a moment but time went slowly…but when I finally heard that cry…I lost it…In the minutes before that final push I knew something was not right. I saw Whitney whisper to our nurse…but they remained calm and so did we…Lisa also had trouble delivering her placenta…as time passed and the placenta didn’t…that’s the first time I saw our midwife get serious. An anesthesiologist was called to insert a line and there was even talk of having to go in to remove the placenta…There was bleeding so more fear rushed over me as I held our minutes old baby. But our magical mystical midwife reached her WHOLE hand into Lisa and retrieved the placenta.

Artist rendering of Lisa's placenta...a little extra lobey...

Artist rendering of Lisa’s placenta…a little extra lobey…

Labor is beautiful…sure there are bodily fluids…things you can not unsee…but I was never grossed out or felt like it was all too much to see. Even as I sat in front of Lisa while she pushed on the toilet  I was there…I was up close and personal watching this miracle happen…and you don’t realize what a freaking beautiful miracle it is until you see a head coming out of a vagina…The human body is amazing…

Labor is natural…Lisa was determined not to use drugs or interventions during her labor.  A goal and/or desire that some thought she would feel differently about in the moment…because they had but she did it…Natural, No drugs, No interventions…her strength in those hours was amazing…There were times she told me/the doula/the nurse that she could not do it but she was already doing it…We each would reassure her that she had been and still is doing it. I saw my wife give in to the labor in a natural way letting her body guide her. Toward the end she would know when to push even before the monitors registered…She would say, “Ok guys, it’s time.” And she would push harder and longer each time…When she thought her back could not take it anymore…our midwife said the only way to stop the pain is to get the baby out…Lisa understood the goal and let her body finish the work.

I will never forget when I saw the hair on LA’s head peeping out (how’s that for graphic?). Our baby was about to make her way in to the world. I stared at those hairs for hours before she actually made her appearance…so I look at those little hairs that stand straight up on the top of her head with fondness…And during those scary moments as she lie on Lisa’s chest making no sound I forgot to look at her private bits…When she finally cried…I cried as I announced, “It’s a girl!” I was given the honor of cutting her cord which I think looks slightly like calamari…and was proud to do so!  Our midwife said as our little girl wailed her way into our hearts…”I’ve been watching souls come in this world for 40 years…this is a powerful soul…who is going to incarnate powerfully”…I cannot wait to see where this journey takes us…

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National Coming Out Day – My Story

In a week of victories and set backs (I’m looking at you South Carolina) for the marriage equality push, National Coming Out Day seems to fit in quite well. Coming out is a process or at least it was for me.  I am still working my process but I am leaps and bounds further than I was on this day last year. My story is not perfect…it is riddled with stops and starts. I have been at this for nearly 9 years. Of course, I would do a million things different but it is my story…so I have to own it!

Coming Out to Myself – 

It took me 27 years to fully come out to myself. It was the saddest day of my life. I was riding in the backseat of the car with my mom crying beside me…my mind reeling from the moments that were unfolding before me.  My mother, uncle and cousin had just driven an hour to give me the worst news I have heard in this life so far. My brother was dead.

From that moment my physical body just checked out…I was panicked and clear all at the same time…sound around me had disappeared and my thoughts were loud and clear in the back seat of that car. There was one person I wanted to talk to, there was once voice I needed to hear…and it was clear to me in that moment why. When I was finally alone, I paced in the backyard…it was there by the fountain made out of a fancy stainless steel espresso machine that I accepted what I had known – I was a lesbian and I love myself.

Coming Out to the First Person(s) –

I chose to tell my friend Amber.  We had been friends since high school. She came out to me by introducing me to her girlfriend. I was sitting on my dorm room floor freshman year of college talking on my Mickey Mouse phone with my friend Donald when Amber bounded through my door hand-in-hand with a girl whose face I can see but name I can not remember (I think it starts with an A).

I found myself again sitting on the floor…but we were 11 years older…she was with living with her then partner and I was the one coming out…after an episode of the L Word (tee hee)…Her/their response, “Duh, we knew that. We’re glad you realize it now.” I’m paraphrasing obviously but it was easy and slightly embarrassing. It was not surprising that she still loved me but it was nice to know in that moment.

Coming Out to a Best Friend –

Coming out to a straight friend is as hard as it is easy to come out to another LGBTQ friend. I remember coming out to Dianne in her car…it was night…and we were on our way home from the bar(s)…I was in love/like with someone and completely messed up about it so I had to tell her. Her reaction as always was calm and rational while using what I’ll describe as her wise teacher voice. She was not even surprised but she accepted the news with grace and love as she heard it from me for the first time. I am sure her first clue was when I watched Kissing Jessica Stein on a nonstop rotation for like a year. She is still disappointed that I do not find her attractive in a special way and never had a crush on her. Telling her was harder for me than it seemed it was for her to hear. She is my friend and she loves me no matter what.

Coming Out to Family –

I have turned coming out to my family into an epic novel…This by far has been the hardest thing to do for me. I have only been out to my mom for two years and to my dad for not quite a year. I told my mom in person and my dad in a letter. For years I was scared to tell my parents because I did not want to cause them any more pain than they had already felt. I knew that my being gay was not going to be the best news in the world and it certainly would not be the worst news they had ever heard. There was never going to be a right time to tell them. I knew parents well enough to know their responses…and I knew my dad’s word for word before he even put pen to paper. They were honest in their responses and I did not lose their love.

Coming Out is Important (AND SO ARE YOU) – 

Like I said at the beginning, coming out has been a process for me. The stories above aren’t dramatic or traumatic…even those that felt like it at the time. You are going to come out to people in your lives and it all won’t be the same way or even the same day.  I would not suggest a Snapchat to all of your contacts.

No matter the reaction to your news…each time you say it…a little bit of your heart opens back up…your soul begins to lighten up…your mind becomes a brighter space. Keeping that secret hurts in so many ways. The secret can be just as damaging to your relationships as the truth. I read other coming out stories to give me strength (Wish Me Away by Chely Wright is a favorite)…read the blogs about coming out…talked to my friends who were out…watched Oprah…You name it I was using it as a resource. All the resources in the world won’t take away the fear…You have to overcome it.

It is normal to fear what you might lose. There will be some people in your life that will not have a positive reaction. You just have to come to terms with that and still push forward. Have a friend/mentor/trusted confidant in place – you may need a shoulder to cry on or just an ear to process your feelings afterwards. It won’t all be negative but it is OK to be prepared.

It doesn’t have to be perfect – We’re not perfect! You deserve to be happy, to feel light, to find love and share it! Give yourself that by coming out! You are braver than you know and stronger than you think!

There are resources out there to help support you in so many ways.  Reach out! Do not let yourself feel alone because you are not!

Resources:

Human Rights Campaign

The Trevor Project

PFLAG National

Out For Health

Believe Out Loud

If you have questions about my coming out, you can email me at lezbveganmoms@gmail.com.  I will be happy to answer any questions but I am not a professional anything so it’s all opinion and experience.

And because everything needs a soundtrack…My Coming Out Soundtrack!