Debrief

Ahh where to even start talking about last night’s childbirth preparation class.  One down, five to go, right?  The class itself was super informative – basic anatomy, dilation, effacement, how something that big comes out of a space that small, relaxation techniques… you get the idea.  I’m more fixated today on the identity crisis it launched inside of me last night when apparently, when the instructor says “OK, ladies?”, she’s actually referring to me.

We’ve touched on parts of this before, but never have I wanted to be less referred to as a “lady” than in a room full of “ladies” with their husbands/boyfriends/knocker-uppers, who have clearly dragged some of them to the class in the hopes of getting some sympathy and more foot rubs.  When the instructor says, “OK, now, guys?”, she’s not talking to me.  In fact, she’s talking to my very ladylike wife.  It’s like we’re in Bizarro World.

One thing about living in The South means that a good amount of the other dozen or so couples in the class are good ol southern locals.  No, not the locals who are joining CSA’s or going to the Saturday morning farmer’s market prior to hitting the Whole Foods.  They’re more the ones who, when asked what they’d normally be doing instead of being at class, answered “fishin’.”  Maybe it’s the neon orange hunting hat that gave you away, sir.  Or the parking lot full of V-8 diesel trucks parked in the “compact only!” spaces. But I think we knew when we walked into the classroom that we’d be the only lesbians.  Duh.

Being the only lesbians normally wouldn’t be a problem.  We’re often the only lesbians.  The saving grace is usually that I can stereotypically pair up with the “husbands” and talk about beer and football.  But even in this class, I would be out of my element trying to socialize with the husbands, who are comparing local fishin’ holes over styrofoam cups of  lemonade during the break.  But instead, I’ve resorted to throwing my ladylike wife to the orange-hat-wearing wolves.

Much like how I often feel like the dad, I also feel like the husband, which apparently is not a problem any given day, unless I’m trapped in a room full of husbands.  Then it’s awkward.  Cause then I’m soooo not the husband or the dad.  And all of the sudden, my wife is the husband and the dad.  Of which she’s not.  She doesn’t need to be told what a kegel exercise is, what it feels like, and how to do them.  She doesn’t need to be shown how hard it is to put on her shoes while pregnant by doing so while holding a folded pillow in her lap.  She’s not my silly, fishin’ husband who is detached from my pregnancy, and needs to be taught how to take care of me.  She takes pretty good care of me as it is, thanks.  And in fact, I can take care of myself in a lot of ways still, even, that don’t require me to subscribe to the thinking that all of the “ladies” need to be waited on hand and foot.  It’s like those parenting books we lit on fire took back to the library immediately when it assumed that all expectant dads were insensitive TV-watching douchebags.

I know we’re in the minority, and I might actually feel more uncomfortable if the instructor made everything gender-neutral simply for our sake.  It’s not like we’re in a huge metropolis swarming with pregnant lesbian couples.  We can give her a break.  My inner struggle is reconciling that, by being the pregnant one, I’m lumped in with the moms.  That’s not to say that I’m not a mom – we’re not set on, “OK you be the mom, I’ll be the dad.”  It’s sort of like when ignorant straight people want to know which part of a lesbian couple is “the man.”  It’s an awkward, terrible-tasting cocktail that is managing to make me feel less like who I actually am.

I told my wife last night, as we were debriefing, that I feel like I’m running out of good cheer.  Now, I’m usually well-stocked in good cheer (despite my overuse of the word “fucking”), and am ready to repeat any positive “Hey, things will be OK” mantra to myself and my wife, whenever we find ourselves having hard times.  Maybe it’s served as my coping mechanism all of my life.  But somewhere in between an overwhelming to do list, physical discomfort, raging hormones, and committing to a six-week class chock full of pre-attendance pep-talks, my supply of good cheer is slowly being depleted.  I assume that Vegas is stocking up as we speak, which bodes well in the long run for us as parents, but is leaving me just short of bone dry of my usual contagious happiness.

TLDR:  Childbirth classes, though informative and useful, kind of suck when you’re a butch, pregnant lesbian.

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Posted on April 23, 2010, in identity. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi! We had our fourth childbirth class last night. Even though I don’t really feel like a “lady”, I do enjoy being around other pregnant women, even if that’s as far as our similarities go. I know most of the stuff the teacher talks about already, but I really like being in a space that is all about being pregnant, since that seems to be all I think about these days! Your post makes me feel really lucky that I live in Portland, OR and my birth class is full of people who definitely go to the farmer’s market on their way to whole foods. Heck, so do I. It even seems like our teacher has very little gender baggage, never using the word “Dad” or “guys” or “ladies” at all. I really like that when she’s referring to the birth partners, she calls them the “sweeties”.

    • Hey there!
      Yeah, this is definitely one of those times where living in a more progressive state/area would probably be less alienating, as we are also one of those people going to the farmer’s market on the way to the Whole Foods. It’s a college town, and we both work at said college, so we usually blissfully exist within the liberal campus community, and are insulated from the population of some of the southern, conservative locals.

      I think I might be able to get past being a “lady” and enjoy interacting with the other pregnant ladies if I (we, as a unit) didn’t feel so incredibly self-conscious about our glaringly bright gayness. I found it hard (at least last night) to nod in solidarity with the other pregnant ladies when I was so preoccupied worrying that by doing so, I was alienating my wife or hurting her feelings, and making her feel less apart of this process.

      PS – You must be really coming down the home stretch now! Hope you’re feeling well!

  2. There’s such a lot of baggage that gets attached to pregnancy. Obviously, if you’re pregnant, you must be straight. Of course every pregnant person wants nothing more that frilly pink clothes! Clearly you must be a delicate feminine flower with a big dumb oaf for a husband. It irritates me, and we’re not even there yet. I am irritated on behalf of everyone else.

    Also, your classmates sound like some of my (slightly more distant) relatives. The guys talk about fishin’ and the women talk about people they know (and I don’t). They used to try to make me feel included in the conversation by asking if I had a boyfriend. It was quite a relief when I hit spinsterhood (~ age 23), and they stopped asking. They’re all nice enough, but we don’t really have a whole lot to talk about. Also, I haven’t really seen any of that branch of the family for a while, so I don’t know what they’d think of the whole married-to-a-woman-trying-to-have-a-baby-together thing.

    P.S. Honey– if you don’t mind my asking, where are you taking your childbirth classes?

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