mandysee_mandydo: (Default)
As a couple, Kathy and I occasionally get some odd looks. We've never been a couple to hide our affection for each other. If we part ways in public, we still kiss and hug goodbye and say "I love you" to each other. It's what loving couples do, as far as we're concerned. It what my parents did and still do. The looks we get when this happens do not miss our attention, but we don't care. It didn't happen when we were a "straight" couple, or at least not as frequently and obviously, but it does now. Having a child has added a whole new dimension to this experience. Today seemed to be the day for it to really come to the foreground. We had two interactions today that seemed to be a dramatically altering moment in others perceptions of us as people.

First we went to a local store. We went to the counter with our purchase and the clerk asked us, "Whose kid?" We both said pretty much in unison, "Ours." She suddenly had this puzzled look on her face and said, "Oh. Okay." People have kind of beaten around the bush about this one, but this was the first time anyone ask us so bluntly and seemed surprised to find out that we were two moms to one child.

Then we went to the local community meal. We used to go every week until I had to work at the time the meal is normally held. Even still, most people there know and recognize us and no one has ever really mistreated us there. In fact, usually it's very much the opposite. There is one elderly gentleman who is friendly with us and loves to see Ian. Today he was commenting on how big he was getting and then saw his eyes, commented on how brown they were, looked at my eyes, noticed they were blue, and then I said, "He got her eyes," in reference to Kathy. He asked a couple questions about the daddy and then the conversation continued much like this (X is the gentleman, J for me and K for Kathy):

X is rather happy and smiling.

X: "So is she your sister?"
K:: "No, wife."
J: "No, she's my wife."
X: "You're married?!"

At this point his facial expression has gone from very smiley to sort of serious OMG perplexed face. It was that quick and that obvious. I suck at reading people and even I got the message very clearly.

J: "Yes. We're married."
X: "So which one of you had him?"
J: "She did."
K: "I did."

And then they called for people with containers to come get leftovers and he walked away. That was perhaps the most odd experience we've had as same-gender parents. It wasn't bad, but it was definitely a very different experience for us.

So, my question for any of our friends who are same-gender parents: Have you experienced anything like this? Worse instances? In general things went over better?
mandysee_mandydo: (Default)
Yesterday I had to work providing video services for a public funeral for a local soldier who died in Afghanistan. When I say I had to work, I don't want to seem as though I'm trivializing or was only doing it because I had to do it. I was very glad to be able to help and honored to be a part of doing something positive for his family and the community. I went into it with the mindset that I had an important job to do and left completely heartbroken. It was an extremely touching service, and I think perhaps many times more now that I am a parent. I found myself grieving and heartbroken for a young soldier I didn't know, but thoughts of my son's future led me to a dreadful thought: if I'm this distraught about a young soldier I don't know, how could I handle if in 19 years I am at the funeral for a young soldier I conceived, fed, raised, taught, played with, and loved with all my heart?

Friends, family, and community members spoke of this local soldier's friendliness, his infectious happiness, his strength, and his intelligence. All I could think about was how we see these aspects in Ian even as young as he is. Then there was the slideshow with photos of the young soldier through the years, including one that I swear looked so much like Ian, which really started my fears rolling full steam. I grieved for this young man who was so loved by so many that his public service filled multiple rooms in the high school, and for his family who lost someone so dear. But I also worried that as much as we see so much potential and want to provide so much encouragement for Ian, I dread the idea of him becoming a soldier and going to war but couldn't consider trying to stop him from pursuing that future if he chose it. I would be utterly devastated if I had to suffer the loss that the soldier's family suffers now. I don't know if I would have the strength to go on after that.

I got home after the service and all of that grief poured out. All I could do was weep, hold Ian tight, let him know how much I love him, and beg him not to grow up to be a soldier. At night while trying to sleep I went through this again as I tried to get the day out of my mind and relax. I know I can't stop him from pursuing his dreams, even if it means he joins the military and goes off to war, but I don't want to be the mother in the front row at a funeral looking at my son's casket and hearing people speak about the joys of my son, a person in the past tense. I don't want to outlive my child, especially not that way.
mandysee_mandydo: (One Thousand Kisses)
I've come to post on you again.

It certainly has been a while since I posted here. Life has been busy as a new parent, and Livejournal has suffered from neglect as a consequence of busier lives and less internet connectivity.

Things are very difficult for us financially at the moment, but this too shall pass. I really can't feel down at this point in my life because I get so much joy from being a parent. The highlight of my every morning is waking up to see a happy, smiling baby awake and waiting to play and interact. It has been such an amazing source of wonder and happiness for me to watch as he takes in the world around him, learns, and achieves. From day one he was very alert and strong. He has only become more aware and physically capable in ways that seem to us and others around us beyond what is normal for his age, but I also temper that pride with the knowledge that I am biased and want for my child to excel, so I assume it's probably normal stages. It still doesn't make it any less joyful.

For the past couple of days he has been working on sitting up on his own. We absolutely cannot leave him in his car seat/stroller unstrapped at this point because he will start sitting up on his own. He's also taken to latching on to nurse by himself when he is lying in bed with [profile] painted_wolf. It's not a very good latch. He basicaly just gets the nipple, but he still seeks her breast and latches on by himself which I find very impressive. This morning I was repeating the phrase "I love you" slowly to him while he was in the mood for interaction and he gave me one of the best surprises yet: he was very obviously and gleefully trying to mimic my mouth motions as I said it. He even let out a little "ooo" sound when I got to "you" a couple of times. He also gave the biggest smile after each iteration, which pretty much melted my heart every time. It astounds me that at only 11 weeks he is so eager to talk and sit up. Reading the parenting books I get the impression that he's advanced for his age, but again I don't want to let myself run with this idea when it could very well just be my parental pride.

Right now, parenting is my life by default. We're still going out and doing a lot of the things we used to do but including Ian. He is a very active baby and likes to be engaged most of the time, which is wonderful for us but certainly tiring at times. Regardless of our hardships, I really couldn't ask for life to get any better. It's pretty awesome as it is and getting better every day.

So Much Ado

Aug. 2nd, 2009 04:49 pm
mandysee_mandydo: (Mrs. Peel Nurse)
So first things first, because I realize I have been extremely neglectful of LiveJournal in favor of Facebook and some of you are not connected with me there, so...

We had our baby! Ian was born on July 25 at 12:48 am and weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces at 21 inches long. Kathy was in labor for 16 hours before finally going for a cesarean section because she was not progressing from 6cm dilated after several hours. We are now the proud parents of a beautiful baby boy!

We're first time parents and at times admittedly a bit overwhelmed by trying to figure out what is normal and what isn't, how to do things, how to handle situations, and how to cope with this very drastic change in our life. No matter how much we prepared, it doesn't change the fact that this is the sort of life change that can't be fully appreciated and understood until it actually happens and one is in the thick of it.

Parenting lesson #1: As a parent one is going to make mistakes. We've made plenty already. Babies don't come with manuals and much like any other relationship in life there's a lot of getting to know each other and figuring out roles, communication, and responses.

We were completely out of sorts for most of the first week because we were lacking so much sleep and both so hormonal. We all three did a lot of crying, but thankfully a lot of that has been resolved with adjusting to new sleep (and lack thereof) routines. Kathy really struggled for the first few days with nursing because Ian just wasn't latching right if at all and ended up losing 11% of his birth weight by his first pediatrician appointment. Thankfully nursing has become so much easier and smoother with repeated visits to the birthing suite for pointers and Kathy's milk coming in. Kathy is feeling much less stressed now. I ended up not working my full one office day last week just so I could help her. Also I was a complete mess and not very functional. I realized that with the lack of sleep, stress of finding housing (yeah, whole other big story there about how much we really can't stand Plymouth State University right now), and my hormones being out of whack because I was screwing up my hormone replacement therapy and going all over the place hormonally. We're both settling into a sleep/wake routine that keeps us as rested as we can be all things considered and not so out of whack.

So the housing situation:
Back at the end of spring semester we thought we would be all set with housing on campus in the coming year and if anything we might have a small balance to pay (a couple hundred dollars like that year) and would have no trouble managing it. Keeping in mind that we expected to stay on campus for the next year, we signed the lease and also put our funds into paying for a summer lease to stay through year round. Paying for the summer housing was going to be tight financially for us, but it was worth the peace of mind knowing we weren't going to move while Kathy is pregnant and then move back with a newborn child. We made agreeable payment arrangements with the Bursar and all was good.

Then we get a notification from the Financial Aid office that Kathy hit a lending limit. We did as all PSU students are conditioned to do: check her information on the myPlymouth portal. The Financial Aid portal showed she had enough financial aid to cover her estimated cost of attendance, but knowing this is Plymouth we decided that a website wasn't comforting enough and we wanted to confirm with a human being in the Financial Aid office that she would indeed have enough to cover her expenses. We went to the office and were assured that she had enough financial aid. As far as we could tell, all was still good.

In early July, we receive the actual bill from the Bursar for the coming school year. Why they choose to bill so close to the beginning of the semester and give students one month to reconcile any outstanding balance on a cost of education that could be anywhere from $7,000 to in excess of $20,000 for the year is beyond me, but this was the case. Kathy received an alert that she had an outstanding balance of almost $6,000 due by August 7. We were freaking out because as far as we knew we had enough to cover our cost of attendence and this was confirmed by Financial Aid. Thus began the running around process of trying to figure it out.

We went from office to office, starting with Financial Aid. The woman we dealt with that day (and thankfully we never had to deal with her again) gave us all kinds of attitude basically implying that it was all our fault and shame on us for not knowing all of this sooner and that she didn't understand why we were so surprised since this is the same process every year and there's nothing unusual about our case. This was being told to us as we were also being told that our budget was incorrectly figured in their system (underestimated) and that they only had her down for needing one more semester to finish her degree when she had a full year to go, and a host of other oddities that apparently to this one woman constituted the "normal, usual process" that we should have been ashamed to not know or understand.

Meanwhile over in the Bursar's office, facing the possibility that we might not be able to stay on campus or even worse drop Kathy out of school one year away from her degree, they are now refusing to honor our payment arrangement for the summer housing because we need to hold on to some of our money to potentially pay for a rental deposit for off-campus housing. Now we have the entire upcoming school year bill and summer housing balance due by August 7. And since everyone worked on fixing our budget situation in their system, ou $6,000 shortfall became an $11,000 shortfall, but at least Financial Aid was able to come up with an additional $2,000 of federal unsubsidized Stafford loan for Kathy after swearing left and right that she hit a lending limit and could borrow absolutely no more for federal financial aid.

After figuring out all of our options, we decided that we had enough financial aid available to keep Kathy in to finish her degree with the needed credits if she dropped to 9 credits per semester and we pay per credit instead of the full-year tuition. We had to cancel our on-campus housing lease because there was no way we could afford to come up with the $5,000 per semester for that. We managed to come up with the funds to pay our summer housing balance by August 7, but now we're scrambling around with a newborn trying to find an apartment with less than a month to go. To add insult to injury, Kathy was in the hospital still and having extreme difficulty with nursing and the Bursar calls her cell phone (which we had on hand so we could call people as needed). I explain the situation and let her know that we have the money and will be in within a couple of days to pay and almost verbatim sha said, "Congratulations. We would really like you to pay your summer housing balance by August 7." You know, because we aren't under enough pressure or stress at the moment or anything.

So regardless of the housing situation, we're doing well and happy to have a beautiful baby boy, but we're still looking for a new home (and thanfully have a community of family and friends doing what they can to help us).
mandysee_mandydo: (Bob's Your Uncle)
We just got back from the doctor's office about an hour ago and they confirmed that we are indeed having a baby! Right now we're still going with a mid/late July due date, but we'll know better once [ profile] painted_wolf has seen an OB/GYN. We're very, very, very excited!!!


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