Nesting is a traditionally female activity, unless you happen to be a penguin or swan. This is somewhat problematic if you grew up like I did, trying desperately to hide any and all indications that you’re effeminate or [gasp] gay. Otherwise I ran the risk of getting the crap beaten out of me. So avoiding all “sissy” things became an almost reflexive instinct for me. The one exception that I couldn’t help myself over was Lynda Carter in the 1970s television series Wonder Woman. I mean, seriously, what kind of boy loves Wonder Woman? (Hint: a gay one.) Later in life, I tried to use my obsession with Lynda Carter/Wonder Woman to prove that I was bisexual – but my husband pointed out that my crush on Ms. Carter actually definitively proved that I’m a raging homosexual. Whatever. Lynda Carter was gorgeous!
I spent many years trying to speak in a lower octave after growing increasingly self-conscious over the endless barbed commentary on my high-pitched voice and girly giggle. Good old dad still occasionally remarks on my higher-than-average voice. (Yeah, thanks a lot old man.) And my husband laughs because my voice unconsciously drops a half octave when I’m on the phone. Not that he should talk: he lets out a most unmanly (#girly) high-pitched squeal – the kind that only dogs can hear – every time he sees something he wants for the nursery. “Oooh, look! It’s Winnie the Pooh!” And now we’re back to nesting and putting the nursery together.
One of the first things I did as we began nesting was put an extra security bolt on the sliding glass door in the nursery. Our house was recently broken into and, although the motion detector and alarm thankfully scared the burglars off before they stole anything, I’m still a little paranoid. The thing that I found really irksome, however, was that my 80 pound dog was completely useless as a deterrent: they had sprayed her with something and locked her on the patio deck. Seriously, what’s the point of having a large dog if she can’t even scare off intruders? My dog would probably lick the face and hands of a mass murderer coming to kill me in my sleep. So that’s why I put an extra bolt on the room where the most precious things in my life will be, and broke a drill bit while installing it. Breaking a tool is kind of a milestone of manhood, isn’t it? Once I got over the nagging fear that it broke because I wasn’t using the drill properly, I felt like such a stud and incredibly butch.
My masculinity was further proven as my husband and I started to assemble cribs. We bought two of those new-fangled four-in-one contraptions that convert from cribs to toddler beds to day beds to full sized beds. Buying nursery furniture reminded me of when my poor immigrant parents bought their first new house and gave me not only my own room, but completely new bedroom furniture to boot. (My parents had many short-comings, but providing for their children wasn’t one of them.) Anyhow, when we started to assemble the furniture, I told myself that I wouldn’t step in and take charge like I usually do – but let my husband take the lead. That theory didn’t last very long because, when I came back from hauling out the empty boxes, I found my husband sitting on the carpet in the middle of the nursery with a wing nut in one hand and a confused expression on his face as he stared at a wooden crossbar in front of him.
“How on earth am I suppose to get this to work?” he asked me with a befuddled look at the wing nut he was holding.
The problem was that he needed a barrel nut, not a wing nut. So here’s the question: am I more of a stud than my husband because I knew that, or less manly than him because the only reason that I figured it out was that I actually read the instructions (which as we all know is a singularly un-masculine thing to do)?
I’ve been going on like this whole thing is an exclusively male and testosterone driven experience, so I have to say that our gestational surrogate has been the definition of fortitude in its purest form. Not only has she been taking progesterone injections with a really frighteningly sized needle (see photo) for months, but she’s been dealing with family and professional challenges that would be stressful even without being pregnant. And she’s still suffering from unrelenting morning sickness. Thankfully, she’s being weaned off progesterone and is almost out of the first trimester – which should help. I won’t go into details out of respect for her privacy, but I will say that our surrogate deserves a standing ovation for her dedication, strength, and selflessness. Some people may have the mistaken impression that gay men don’t appreciate women other than their mothers, so I hope that I’m at least beginning to correct that fallacy here.
We took a day trip to be there for our surrogate’s first regular appointment with her obstetrician. (Our reproductive endocrinologist just transitioned primary medical care.) It seemed really important that we be there because reproductive endocrinologists are very sensitive to intended parents, keeping them informed every step of the way, but some obstetricians (especially if s/he hasn’t worked with surrogates before) can view the pregnant woman as their only concern. Our agency told us that we needed to understand that medical updates might only come from our surrogate because of this; they also told us to try to be at as many appointments as possible so that we can form a relationship with our surrogate’s obstetrician. I guess this isn’t very different from a heterosexual couple: a straight husband has to put in similar effort to stay involved in and informed of the pregnancy.
Here are ultrasound pictures of our babies at GA 10w6d (almost 9 weeks post transfer). They’ve grown so much in two weeks, with crown to rump length (CRL) measurements of 4.22 and 4.88 centimeters. And their hearts are beating strong, at 180 and 194 beats per minute respectively. What was really exciting (other than seeing that they look like more human-like and less like jelly beans) was seeing them move. They were squirming and jumping about! Life is truly amazing.