Oct 22, 2009
05:15 PM

Joining the Gayby Boom

Joining the Gayby Boom

I’ve been out of work for eighteen years. Or at least that’s what Social Security thinks, since freelance writing assignments and portrait painting rarely raise my income to the point where a tax return is required. Eighteen years ago I went on maternity leave from my forty-hour sit-down job at Airborne Express answering phones and pleasing irate customers in microseconds (following a grossly underpaid stint in retail and fine art), to have an eight-pound, ten-ounce baby boy. Never went back to work. Dr. Clark handed our naked, vernix- (that sticky white stuff that keeps babies from shriveling up like prunes inside the amniotic sac) covered boy to me, I looked into his open eyes, looked into my wife’s face and said, “I’m not going back to work,” and she said, “I know.”

We were at the dawn of the Gayby Boom. My wife and I were remarkably responsible for twenty-somethings on the verge of motherhood—we’d got the mortgage, the medical benefits, the roomy gas-guzzler ready for baby gear—even if we had no idea what we were doing. When our son arrived after twenty-one hours of labor (the doctor just shook her head at me when I wordlessly begged for painkillers near the end and contemplated defenestration) we were the first out lesbian couple to birth a baby at that hospital.

And then the seventh co-parent adoption in Washington for a same-sex couple when our son was two months old. Oh yeah, we thought we had it covered.

We didn’t.

So, here’s the thing, they stop being babies. They crawl, they walk, they run, they go to co-op preschools, become somewhat independent—and then you want another. When our son was three we had our daughter, in a brief, barely made it into the birthing bed delivery. What a difference one and a half inches of head circumference makes.

And then you’re the lesbian parents with two at the school, and that’s pretty cool (if you’re surrounded by liberals, not so cool if you’re afraid for your life), and you want another. Welcome baby boy number two, with half an inch grace from his brother’s now infamously hard cranium making his six-hour induced birth better than it might have been.

Still no painkillers (you’d think I’d have learned something after two previous efforts), though in the middle of the worst part I was heard to groan, “Tell (pause) Anna (groan) take (pant) meds,” as my mind reeled at the idea of our daughter possibly going through the same pain someday. As my wife said later, it was like “note to self.” Strange what we’ll do while delirious.

Which is how we have three kids: almost eighteen, fourteen and six; at a very rough estimate we’ve changed sixteen thousand, four hundred and twenty-five diapers, gone to about twenty-eight school conferences and made a couple thousand school lunches, since it didn’t take Super-size Me to teach us that lunchroom food wasn’t Grade A goodness. We’re deep in the parenting trenches as surviving members of the Gayby Boom generation. Stay tuned.