April 24, 2013

Last night was the second of our parenting classes, Newborn Connections. The class is in the basement of a hospital in San Francisco. It’s mainly for parents who plan to deliver in the hospital, but we chose to go to a class in San Francisco hoping that we wouldn’t be the only gay parents. We were.

The class was good. Maybe not $95 good, but I’m glad that we chose to take it. When we arrived and I saw the infant-sized dolls on the tables I thought, “Oh Lord… This might suck.” But the props turned out to be a good addition to the class. I discovered I’m pretty good at holding a baby (although I don’t recommend the American Academy of Pediatrics-approved “crotch hold” which sounds like an illegal wrestling move and not something you’d want to use to carry around your baby), but I am terrible at diapering. I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow I got her shirt tucked deep into the diaper. Like, right in harm’s way, so to speak. Then, while attempting to pull the shirt out of the diaper it came loose and slid down her legs, exposing her little butt to the elements.

I will practice more at home. We have a small watermelon that’s approximately the right size. Of course, the melon isn’t wearing a shirt…

The class opened with a discussion of the first moments after birth. Like most articles, books and websites I’ve read recently, this discussion was very mom-focused. For the first hour after birth, the child is supposed to lie on the mother’s bare breasts. Skin to skin contact is supposed to increase the production of helpful hormones and begin the bonding process with the baby.

I’m not sure how this is going to work in our situation. B. is not supposed to bond with the baby, for obvious reasons. Am I going to rip off my shirt and lie down with my daughter in an empty hospital bed? I don’t want her to be deprived of those helpful hormones. But it also might be a little odd if I’m barreling through the hospital, half-naked, carrying a newborn, and looking for a spare bed.

I’m sure there will be plenty of time for bonding, but the emphasis was on that first hour. It’s probably just one of those things that we are going to have to realize we can’t provide for our child. And one of those things that in the scheme of things is less important than what we can provide.

April 21, 2013

A lot has been happening in our lives, but not so much with the baby, which is why I haven’t posted in two months. I guess this part of the pregnancy is uneventful if everything is going well. I shouldn’t say it’s uneventful since the baby isn’t growing inside of me. I’m sure B. would have a very different description of the last two months.

We still Skype with her every Sunday. And although the camera isn’t pointed at her belly, she still doesn’t look that pregnant. I’m comparing her to the server at the Mexican restaurant where we ate last night. She looked like her water was going to break all over my chips and salsa. But she said she still has a month to go. We have two more months to go, but B. is considerably smaller than I thought she would be by now. She has a noticeable bump, but her face doesn’t look much different.

Apparently the baby has been very active. We’ve been calling her “Philipa” because we are not sharing the name we have actually chosen until she is born. We’ve found that people are judgmental about names when the names are disassociated from the person they describe. When people put a face with a name they are more kind. I’m not sure if this is because the name is suddenly synonymous with an adorable baby or if because at that point the name is on the birth certificate and it’s a done deal.

In any case, I’m concerned that Philipa is going to stick around as a nickname. And let’s be honest; that is an ugly name. I don’t care how cute she is, she’s not going to transform a name like Philipa into a thing of grace. But our family has started calling her that, with the exception of my mother-in-law who calls her “my princess” (we’ll get to that in another post…).

In other news, we both live in California now – which is great because neither one of us was doing well with the long distance thing. We have sold our house in Massachusetts and I have been hard at work in my new job for a little more than three months now. We’ve renovated and decorated our new house. We’re settling in to our new life. Just in time for it all to be transformed again.

February 12, 2013

Due to the massive snowstorm in the Northeast (that people are calling Nemo for some reason), I missed our baby shower yesterday. Over two feet of snow fell on our town in Massachusetts. I am in San Francisco now (Alberto is moving out in a couple of weeks after finishing up some business in Massachusetts – including the small matter of selling our house) and although I moved my flight so that it landed several hours after the snow was projected to end, the airlines cancelled flights for three days because of the storm.

So Alberto and some of our other friends sent me pictures of the shower and I attended via text message from my desk at my new job.

Although it sucks to have missed the shower, we have incredibly generous friends. They didn’t just get us great gifts (although they did get us great gifts) but they showed their love and support for us. We will miss them all when we are living in California, and we hope to be able to visit often so that they can be a part of our daughter’s life.

January 28, 2013

Today was our 10-week ultrasound. We flew to Atlanta on Saturday and drove to Chattanooga, TN yesterday so that we could meet the OB-GYN, spend a little more time with B., and see our baby live on the fetal monitor. We went to dinner on Sunday evening with B. and her family and then met her the next morning at the doctor's office.

Okay, I’m totally burying the lede: It’s a girl!!

That’s right. Alberto has some exchanges to make because we are not having a boy, we are having a girl. While we were watching the fetus moving around on the ultrasound, we kept using the pronoun “he” to describe what we were seeing. The OB broke into our conversation and said, “What’s all this ‘he’ business?” (The OB is kind of a character. Picture Octavia Spencer’s character from The Help. Then picture her delivering your baby.) “That is not a boy. That is a GIRL. See this right here, that’s a VAGINA.” (She said it vah-JINE-uh.)

I immediately started laughing. I’ve always heard that God laughs in the face of your best laid plans. I have never once pictured Alberto and me with a baby girl. But that’s okay because I am nothing but excited about this development. I was inexplicably excited, actually. I think the shock made it more real somehow. It shook me out of my vision of how this process would unfold and that made it more vivid.

I’m a little perturbed that the OB didn’t admit her error. She seemed to not understand why we assumed it was a boy. Honey, we got that information from you! We didn’t just come up with it in our sleep. I can’t see anything on those grey, ultrasound photographs; I was not about to speculate about parts and organs.

All the way back to the airport in Atlanta Alberto kept saying, “A girl…” quietly, under his breath. We definitely need to reorient. And to get started on those returns.

January 11, 2013

It has come time to register for our baby shower. At least, the East Coast baby shower (yes, there will be two). Alberto and I both thought that this would be one of the most exciting parts of this experience. We looked forward to getting our hands on that gun. I’ve seen so many people (well, women) in movies and on TV joyously registering for wedding or baby gifts. I've always felt jealous, hoping that someday I, too, could shoot things and they would magically be delivered to my house.

It did not live up to expectations…

Alberto and I have very different philosophies when it comes to the purpose of registering. Since we didn’t register for wedding gifts, we didn’t find that out when we were married almost six years ago. He wants to fire that gun with abandon, like a villain in a movie about the Wild West. I want to curate a list of products that fit our life and style. He wants to register for multiples of everything – two cribs, four changing mats, three of those adorable towel things that you drape over your baby’s head after a bath. Then if we get multiples of items that we don’t need, we can return the excess. I thought the whole point of registering is that you don’t have to return a bunch of crap.

Anyway, this lead to a discussion. We left Target the first time with nothing on our list (the gun wasn’t working properly anyway, which may have added to our frustration). A second trip, last night, was more productive. I resigned myself to the fact that we may have to return some things and he was a little more selective in what he chose.

I also found out that Amazon.com has a registry, which allows me to do a lot more research on products before I add them to my list. That is much more my style. But I’ll admit it’s not quite as much fun as shooting your prey at Pottery Barn Baby.

January 4, 2013

Baby's first toy (Alberto and I have bought lots of clothes at this point, but no toys yet). A gift from Alberto's parents. It's hand made. We're excited that next Christmas there will be a 6-month old in the house, covered in wrapping paper and showered in gifts.

December 21, 2012

In the two weeks since we’ve announced on Facebook that we are having a baby there has been such an outpouring of love and prayers and positive thoughts that it has almost been overwhelming. The Monday after the announcement, I spent all day checking to see who was the latest to make a comment or to hit “Like”. Each click brought happy thoughts.

Since then, there hasn’t been much to report. I hope those of you who came to the blog in the days following the Facebook post will keep checking back, as I will continue to update the blog throughout the pregnancy (and also, maybe, after; if I can stay awake long enough to write something).

The one thing that has happened in the last two weeks is that the Holidays are wearing down our resolve not to purchase any baby clothes until we know, definitively, the sex of the baby. Last Saturday we were just a few miles from the Wrentham Outlets and we decided to take a peek inside some of the children’s stores there.

Lordy, that was a mistake. We tried to keep everything unisex. I could write a whole Gender Studies paper about the onesie that we bought with a dinosaur on it. A girl could pull that off, but had we bought a onesie with a butterfly on it we wouldn’t put it on our baby boy. What, exactly, makes a butterfly a feminine symbol? There are male butterflies and female dinosaurs. A tyrannosaurus with ovaries is just as likely to bite you in half as a butterfly with a penis is to flutter around your daisies.

Well, either way, we saved receipts.

December 10, 2012

Here's the photo from the Facebook announcement. Caption: Beverage Service in the Barcenas-Smith house starting June 2013.

December 6, 2012

Today was B.’s end-of-the-first-trimester appointment and we are officially in the second trimester. That means that the risks associated with the pregnancy are cut in half. It also means that it’s time to start telling more people.

We had planned to make an announcement on Facebook on Monday. Good thing we didn’t. We would have been overshadowed by The Royal Baby. Yes, Kate and Wills announced their pregnancy on Monday, prompted by a trip to the emergency room for Kate’s extreme morning sickness. The Barcenas-Smith baby will not accede to power through hereditary means and thus our announcement will not be covered, for three days no less, by the Today show. Of course we also won’t have to deal with radio DJs impersonating our parents and confusing the hospital staff.

I’m not sure how people announced their pregnancies before Facebook. I guess I have received postcards with ultrasound pictures of fetuses on them in the mail. And a traditional pregnancy announces itself at some point in the second trimester. Although if the bearer has not made some sort of formal statement there could be some awkward dancing around the subject of weight gain.

But like most of the modern world, we’ve decided to make it formal on Facebook. Now we just need to come up with something clever, but not too clever. Cute, but not too cute. There should be a visual component. It needs to maintain B.’s anonymity and it can’t identify our surrogacy agency. It needs to be informative enough that people aren’t confused (wait a minute, neither one of them has a uterus…), but it doesn’t need to go into any uncomfortable details (that’s what this blog is for). I feel like I’m directing a short film for Oscar consideration.

In any case, we’ll post it – whatever it is – in the next few days. And I’ll post a copy here for those of you that aren’t on Facebook.

November 20, 2012

Here is the picture from ultrasound #2. I don't see anything resembling a penis, but I'll take the doctor's word for it.