BLOGtober Comes to an End

We made it! Thanks for those of you who took all, or part of the journey with me!

By blogging daily, I’ve seen an increase of over 50% in my readership over any other month since I started blogging in July 2011.

At first, blogging seven days a week did not feel like a fun thing, but I’ve really grown to like writing regularly, as compared to writing only when something major happens.

So, starting Monday, I have a new loosely-scheduled five-day format I’m going to test. See what you think…

Monday– My Personal Journal
This is just as it sounds. A wrap-up of what’s going on with me.

Tuesday– Reader Questions/Comments/Requests
Submit your questions or topics to serialnonconformist@gmail.com

Wednesday– Relationships (especially in terms of LGBTQIA+/poly issues)
This will likely be a combination of discussions about my relationships, and relationships in general. Also, I certainly do not feel like this has to be confined to romantic relationships. This can also be about things like friendships, parent-child relationships, and work relationships.

Thursday– Social and Political Issues
I foresee this being driven by social justice issues more than reports on governmental politics, though obviously, the two do collide at times.

Friday– Sex and Sexuality
Lots of things can be part of this: LGBTQIA+ specific topics, sexual health, technique, kink/fetish/BDSM, the psychology of sex, body image issuesI want this one to be question driven.

Obviously, if something is really pressing, I will break the schedule, and get to it the same day. I think, though, that this is a good balance, and doesn’t keep us on any one subject to the point of exhaustion.

I will be saving the “Infighting in the Poly Community” post for Thursday. I have a few responses from others in the community to draw from, as well as my own thoughts and experiences, it should be a good piece.

This will serve as today’s post, Tomorrow, I will be giving you a preview edition of the Friday sex post. I’m really looking forward to this one. People in my real life often ask me about sex and sexuality, I’m very excited to write about it.

My hope is that this becomes largely a two-way dialogue. I hope you’ll find that I have useful ideas about a whole host of things. When I don’t know about something, I can reach out to a network of friends which includes people with hugely varied life experiences, and professions. …and, if that fails, there’s always Google 😉

In all cases, though, I will give you my own take, filtered through my life and expressed in my voice. I’m so excited to set out on this new adventure with you!

Love ‘ya
MWAH!
Send me stuff! serialnonconformist@gmail.com

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The MRM vs. Transwomen ***TW***

***TW: mis-gendering, strong trans*-bashing, transphobic violence***

In the primer, I shared what I felt was a useful summary excerpt from a very good article by Jaclyn Friedman. I also found some interesting reading on attempts to ‘rebrand’ the Men’s Rights Movement, in light of the negative publicity generated by… well, by speaking. Here is some of what I read: http://community.feministing.com/2013/02/25/mras-attempt-rebranding-as-mens-human-rights-activists/

But, what I just couldn’t pry myself away from was a post in “The Spearhead.” (seen as one of the “moderate” and “respectable” MRM drivel-spiggots)

I thought it was especially appropriate, given that I have been talking about transgender motherhood, I wanted to share a little gem with you from this past Mother’s Day. After I let the author, W.F Price have the floor, I will be back with some thoughts.
Here is the article, presented unaltered, with extremely strong trigger warnings:

__________________________________________________________

A NY Times Mother’s Day Op-ed: Trannies are Equal Moms

by W.F. Price on May 12, 2013

When you see some kinds of articles, you start to understand why it was prescient women like Phyllis Schlafly who killed the Equal Rights Amendment. Men were pretty much in favor. I mean, what’s not to like about it? Under legal gender equality women would have to share all the crap that falls primarily on men’s shoulders. However, it should be pointed out that feminists, with a few notable exceptions, never supported it either. The version they supported included something known as the “Hayden Rider,” which preserved all female privileges and exemptions while granting women all of men’s privileges, i.e. the status quo.

But a brave, valiant minority is challenging female supremacy. Not patriarchal drones or supporters of male privilege, but men who reject everything about masculinity. Men who reject it so much that they chop off their genitalia and take female hormones in order to eradicate everything male about them.

One of these stalwart, self-mutilating individuals – a “former” male who goes by the name Jennifer Finley Boylan – has declared that he’s every bit the mother as any woman. Sure, he had children as a male, but that doesn’t mean he can’t now call himself “mom,” and demand they do the same. However, it isn’t only his kids who must call him “mother,” but all of us. If we don’t accept that he’s a mother, we’re bigots. Why? Because he has shared the defining maternal experience, which he puts down as “suffering.”

ONE day, toward the end of my transition from father to mother, I came home to find my 6-year-old son looking thoughtful. “Are you all right?” I asked.

“Yes,” Sean said quietly. He was playing with Thomas the Tank Engine. His favorite engine was No. 5, red James. That had also been my name, back before it became Jenny.

“What are you thinking?”

“It’s just it used to be you and me and Zach, the three boys on one side,” he said, “and Mommy and Lucy-dog on the other.”

“I know,” I said, feeling my heart clench.

“Now it’s Zach and me on one side, and you and Mommy and Lucy-dog over there.”

“I’m sorry, Sean,” I said. My voice was barely a whisper. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s O.K.,” said Sean. “The boys are just outnumbered.”

I have been a dad for 6 years, a mom for 12, and for a time in between I was both, or neither, like some parental version of the schnoodle or the cockapoo.

[…]

People have pointed out to me that, despite calling myself a mother, I didn’t give birth to my sons. They’re right, of course. But there is a lot more to parenting than birthing, just as there is a lot more to a novel than its opening sentence. After this long journey from an opposite-sex couple to a same-sex one, my wife and I can say it’s what comes after that counts.

I understand the reluctance many people have to play down the importance of gender, or for that matter, biology, in parenting; a world in which male and female are not fixed poles but points in a spectrum is a world that feels unstable, unreal. And yet to accept the wondrous scope of gender is to affirm the potential of life, in all its messy beauty. Motherhood and fatherhood are not binaries. And that, I’d argue, is a good thing.

Only a small percentage of American households now consist of married couples with children in which only the father works. The biggest outliers in our culture are not same-sex couples, or transgender people, or adoptive parents, or single fathers, but the so-called traditional American families themselves.

What does it even mean, at this hour, to call anybody traditional? Surely it is not the ways in which we conform that define us, but the manner in which we each seek our own perilous truth.

Pure self-indulgence of the most disgusting variety, and highlighted on Mother’s Day. I’d like to say it’s sacrilegious, but sadly it is appropriate. I understand why some of the most selfish, depraved men among us would want to relinquish their masculinity. In our society, women are free to pursue their heart’s desire without fear of sanction. Judging women for putting their own needs first is condemned in every mainstream outlet, from Dr. Phil to The Atlantic.

Some men are bound to be envious of this. Some of them go so far as to try to try to become a woman. And what kind of woman do they emulate? The worst parody of one. Gaudy, self-righteous, exhibitionist, attention-seeking, demanding, selfish and all too willing to place their burdens on others.

And in this great society we have built, it is they who stand at the pulpit and speak to the masses.

USA! USA! USA!

______________________________________________________________

Let’s all just take a minute. Let your arms fall loosely at your sides. Draw a good, full breath, hold it a moment, and let it escape slowly from your mouth.

Okay. Are we good? Let me establish what I think are some parameters.
First off, I will never be able to educate Mr. Price.
Second, Many of you could probably write at least as good a response as what I am about to.

I am talking to those in the middle. The people who read that post and thought, “I can see both sides of this.” If you said that, I am talking to you.

I began this by writing a character assassination. It was disturbingly easy to find materials. But I don’t want to have to shoot every messenger who pollutes the world with this kind of hate. Thus, I deleted it.

I’d much prefer to appeal to your humanity.

Let’s start by establishing that Jennifer Finley Boylan is a person. She has feelings. She has a family, who also have feelings. One predictable outcome of Mr. Price’s insidious hate speech is that these people’s feelings would be hurt… profoundly. Who is helped by that?

Then we go out one layer to find people like me. People desperately trying to carve out a place in this world when the endless shouting of the W.F. Price’s of the world trying to take those places away… People like the ones who made this:

Go out another layer still, and find those who haven’t yet learned enough about transgender people to know what to think about us. Gosh! If it means male perverts in girls’ bathrooms, I’d better make sure those trans-whatchamacallits stay the hell away from my kids.

Which is just great!

In fact, why don’t we just round up all the transgender people and put them into internment camps, like Todd Kincannon, the former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party suggested.

Oh, and remember that scary pervert in the girls’ bathroom that everyone is so scared of? Here she is:  Seriously. This is SIX YEAR OLD Coy Mathis. THIS GIRL, and others just like her are what people are loosing their shit over.

And, even if this was an adult transwoman like myself, we don’t have any intentions of causing trouble in bathrooms. We are far too busy being afraid for our own safety

Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, was viciously beaten by two teenage girls after allegedly trying to use the women’s restroom at the McDonald’s restaurant.

This may all seem like fun and games to you, Mr. Price, but I am paying for the real-life consequences of the hate that you invoke.

Too many of my sisters have paid a far greater toll…

In 2012, 256 transgender people were murdered because they dared to exist.

Here’s a Primer for Today’s Post

Excerpted from Jaclyn Friedman’s excellent piece “A Good Men’s Movement is Hard to Find” which appears here: http://prospect.org/article/good-mens-rights-movement-hard-find

The list of grievances for MRAs is long. It includes the elevated rate of suicide for men, educational discrimination against boys, economic and workplace conditions for men, violence against men, false rape reporting, fathers’ rights in custody battles, rates of male imprisonment and prison conditions, and the horrors of war. Many of these issues deserve a thoughtful response and the force of an organized movement for address them. It’s too bad that’s not what men’s rights activists are offering.

Case in point: Last month, AVFM and CAFE (the Canadian Association For Equality, an MRA group) held a “historic” rally in Toronto. Attended by a few dozen people, the rally featured speakers airing grievances about violence against men, and men’s unfair treatment in family courts, the workplace, and educational institutions. “Men matter,” the crowd cheered. One speaker, who was quickly ushered away from the mic, called for violent uprising against communism. But what was most notable about the rally was that not a single speaker proposed a solution to any of the problems they identified.

 

Looking Ahead

I’ll be rounding out BLOGtober with work today on MRM. I know we got a lot of that a week ago, but there are new developments, and you guys seemed to be really interested in the subject.
Thursday’s post will address infighting in the Poly community. I plan to do a questionnaire for this, as I did with the motherhood story. I like including the thoughts of a panel.

Have an amazing day, lovelies. I should hope to have the MRM stuff posted in a few hours, though those pieces always take extra time to research, because there’s so much nonsense to hack my way through.

Love you!
MWAH!

Nibbling Fine Chocolate While Taking a Bubble Bath and Having and Orgasm

That’s about where I am in my life at this moment.

…But wait, I thought you told us today’s post was going to be about the intersection of womanhood, motherhood, and birth.

Yup! That’s what it’s about.

In order to get from the questionnaire responses to my current euphoria, I have to establish the context a bit.

I have had to fight very hard to claim my womanhood. Given my transgender history, I will likely always have to fight to claim my womanhood. Contemplate, if you will, the insanity of having to do that in perpetuity.

I spent the first thirty years of my life attempting to cobble together a passable male identity by affixing ill-fitting scrap metal bits of the caricatures of men to myself.

I thought men were angry, so I was angry. I thought men were controlling, so I was controlling. I thought men were all sorts of awful things, so I was those things too. I presented a version of masculinity which was very much like nails glued to the outside of a cupcake. There was no substance to back up any of the behaviors I was emulating.

Nobody bought it, and, as a result, I was bullied (Very old posts about that here: https://serialnonconformist.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/myself-laid-bare-originally-posted-nov-23-2010/ and here: https://serialnonconformist.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/it-gets-better-originally-posted-oct-19-2010/ Take them for what they are, my thoughts from a very long three years ago.)

In the years after divorcing my first wife, I began to feel safer about letting the nails fall off, and exposing the cupcake reality. When I decided that I had to and could transition, I tore the remaining nails off right then and there.

This did not, however, leave a fully-formed adult woman standing there. I had to be a girl first, then an adolescent, then a young adult. This is an often repeated, if not universal part of early transition. A person transitioning has to go back and live an abridged version of what their life might have been like if they’d been assigned their true gender at birth.

I definitely feel fully formed now, but in any life, there are holes in a person’s understanding of the world. In my case, those holes are patched over with the mythos of womanhood that I retained from my years worshiping women from the outside. Part of that mythos held that pregnancy and birth are the quintessential aspects of womanhood. Before you judge me too harshly, consider how pervasive the ‘magical motherhood’ narrative is in our culture.

The other thing to keep in mind is that, in some ways I am a thirty-three year old woman, and in other ways I am only a three year old woman. In this case, I hadn’t had time to learn that ‘magical motherhood’ was not a narrative which was broadly subscribed to.

…which brings me to why today is glorious!

I have been able to accept so very many things about myself, and assert that my realness is not inferior to my cisgender sisters. Pregnancy was a hold-out, though.

I know straight, cisgender women who have struggled, and had to choose non-gestational motherhood. I also know other non-gestational lesbian mothers. Each of these people ache over it to some degree. But, at no point do any of them have to defend their right to be seen as female.

I was needing to be told that, with all that’s different about me, my abilities and limitations did not make me an outsider. That was what this project gave me!

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

I got to feel like Babykiddo’s mom today.

I doubt that I have to tell you what that’s worth.

I feel REAL

I love you all so very much!

MWAH!

 

 

 

Women Discuss Motherhood (part 5 of 5)

In researching for tomorrow’s post, I asked some friends to share their thoughts on the nature of womanhood, motherhood, and birth. The answers were so interesting, I thought I would share them with you

Here are the responses, offered in random order, anonymously, and without comment…

Q: Does society in general deem mothers ‘more womanly’ than women who do not have children?

A: There seems to be an expectation that women should go forth and bear fruit. I am sure women without children really get tired of “explaining” themselves to people….why they don’t have kids…be it physiologically impossible or by choice and so on. It’s a lot of pressure and it adds to the feeling of failure if it is a physiological problem. I can’t say if society deems them less womanly…only less motherly perhaps.

A: Truthfully, I think so. I think that women who choose not to have children are seen as more masculine, seeking power rather than emotional connections. Society assumes all women to be motherly, I think.

A: It’s hard to say. I think its important to differentiate between “womanly” and “maternal.” They aren’t synonymous. I will not deny the power it holds, but I’m not buying society’s definition of much of anything these days…

A: Society absolutely does. Society feels that women should be mothers. Not all women want to do this, nor should they. But if you have small girls as children, you buy them dolls and teach them to be mothers. It is an ingrained behavior that conditions girls to believe that they will be complete only when they have babies.

A: I think that people think of me as more motherly now – but I think that motherhood has made me more focused on that side of me. But I don’t think I’m more or less womanly – I can’t speak for society. Lots of women are choosing not to have children – I don’t think society sees it the same way they used to (which was to have pity for the childless) I think what makes a woman womanly is her nurturing nature — which some of us express in motherhood – but I think I expressed all through by taking care of my friends.

A: Automatically, I want to say that society does deem mothers more womanly, but everything within me knows how completely incorrect that is. I even believe that just bearing children and not fulfilling that motherly role makes some women “more motherly” than women who have not had children because they’ve exercised their biological duty as a woman…But I completely disagree with this. I think being a woman is about so many different factors, but whether you’ve had children or are a mother shouldn’t be at the top of that list.

A: I don’t think so. In a twisted way, the physical changes of motherhood are feared and shamed by modern society.

A: I think they probably do. It’s not a conversation I’ve had very often, but I would assume that overly-conservative America would have such a closed-minded perspective. People who think this must also be very stuck on the idea that if you are born with penis it means you’re a man who should only be attracted to women, and that if you’re born with a vagina you’re a woman who should be attracted to men, and they do not even consider the other possibilities, even though there is a lot more diversity in sexuality and gender identity in reality.

A: Yes. But society is fucked up.

A: I think as a whole, society sees motherhood as a part of being a woman. Not all women are mothers, either by childbirth or choice. Not all mothers are worthy of the title. Womanly is a description given to individuals, to behaviors, to thoughts, to feelings. Womanly is sometimes a feeling you have yourself. Motherhood, childbirth, choosing to nurture another human can be part of it, but there is more.

A: I believe so, yes. Society tends to believe that if you don’t have kids, you must be a crazy cat lady or some kind of selfish freak.

Women Discuss Motherhood (part 4 of 5)

In researching for tomorrow’s post, I asked some friends to share their thoughts on the nature of womanhood, motherhood, and birth. The answers were so interesting, I thought I would share them with you

Here are the responses, offered in random order, anonymously, and without comment…

Q: Do you think a woman needs to be a mother (of any type) in order to fully experience the essence of womanhood, and, if so, how are pregnancy and birth important to your answer?

A: I do not believe this. Motherhood is an aspect of womanhood, but I do not see it as the essence of womanhood. The strengths and gifts of motherhood can be found in other aspects of life, I believe.

A: My emotions tell me yes, my brain tells me no. I feel that if I am a woman, I am supposed to have children.. that is what my body is for. So far, I haven’t been able to succeed… the one thing I should be able to do, and I can’t. I know that I shouldn’t feel like less of a woman..but I do.

A: I absolutely disagree with the idea that a woman needs to bear children or be a mother to fully experience womanhood. To me, womanhood is so greatly about being about to do what you want with your life in the way that you choose is the best for you. In this case, I believe that choosing to have children makes you just as important a member in womanhood as choosing not to have children.

A: I have never considered this question at length, so am not positive of how I would answer tomorrow, next week, next year vs. right now. I don’t think there is one way to “experience the essence of womanhood”. Each individual is a human being, and their life path is created with choices/experiences..and no two people are the same or see/do/feel the same things. I think an individuals womanhood is unique.

A: No, no, no, no! I don’t feel any more or less womanly than I did before getting pregnant. In fact, I find it terrifying that I feel exactly the same as before.

A: NO. Mothering is an aspect, but it’s not the only part of womanhood. of course, then you get into defining “womanhood”, and I’m twitchy about gender roles and what defines a woman. But having a child/carrying a child/birthing a child does not define womanhood.

A: I don’t give much thought to the idea of the “essence of womanhood” — I did have to consider that I would not have a child — and it didn’t make me feel less like a woman. That being said — it was part of why I wanted to divorce to move on and have my child. But, I don’t think not having motherhood would make me less of a woman – -just less of a mother. When I gave up the idea of a birth child, it wasn’t the loss of the pregnancy that I mourned – it was the loss of the idea of being able to have a child at all — it’s much easier. But I may feel this way after having lost 4 — knowing that it was never ever going to happen for me that way — (shrugs) — To be honest? pregnancy – for that matter – infancy? sort of a pain in the ass you have to go through to get a child (the age I have now is AWESOME)

A: That is a hard one… I do feel like my friends who do not have kids yet are missing out on something. Being a mom is by far the greatest thing I have done with my life, and my oldest isn’t even 2 yet! I imagine it keeps getting better (not including the teenage years). But to say that you have to have kids to fully experience womanhood? Maybe, maybe not. Actually, I take that back. I think men and women need to have children to fully experience life. This is what it’s about. Pregnancy is absolutely wonderful and my heart breaks for any women who does not get to have the experience.

A: I don’t think so at all. There is so much more to being a woman than making and rearing babies, so much so that I don’t think it’s necessary at all to be a mother of any type to live a full, happy, meaningful life as a woman. Same goes for parenting in general for any gender identity. I think it also varies person to person. Some place a lot more importance on propagating the species by producing a genetically related person than others. I personally want to do that, but if I was told I couldn’t physically do so I am confident I could still make a full and happy life for myself. I wouldn’t feel like less of a woman or inadequate either.
I fear pregnancy. Not sure it factors in much to my opinion.

A: NO. I had accepted at one point in my life that I would not have children. I never felt like I wasn’t a woman or that I hadn’t done enough. However, letting go did not mean that I did not feel loss and sadness. Sometimes you have to just let some dreams go to make way for new ones.

A: No. Not at all. I think that being a woman is a state of mind, in much the same way that people identify their sexual orientation or religion. I know plenty of women who have no children at all and seem to have fully experienced it. I think that society has sort of made the idea of having children important so that people who aren’t ready or don’t have the proper lifestyle have children, and thereby create problems. Children shouldn’t be treated as accessories (as I see often working on the Upper East Side of Manhattan) and more as well thought out choices.

Women Discuss Motherhood (part 3 of 5)

In researching for tomorrow’s post, I asked some friends to share their thoughts on the nature of womanhood, motherhood, and birth. The answers were so interesting, I thought I would share them with you

Here are the responses, offered in random order, anonymously, and without comment…

Q: What are the differences in how you think it might feel to be a gestational vs. non-gestational mother. (The mother of a child you did vs. did not carry.)

A: I’m not sure. I’d like to think that, being an open-minded person, it wouldn’t matter either way. But part of me wants my own child. I’m really not sure since this is an option I’ve debated heavily.

A: It is hard to say. I have noticed some adoptive parents I know that seem to by trying to prove themselves over and over. Maybe has a gestational mother, I don’t feel like I have to because…well …there’s the proof.

A: Again, for me it would not be weird to have someone else carry, and maybe even to play a role in the child’s future for having been “incubator.” I would not personally feel like less of a Mom. I do not look forward to pregnancy at all. I dislike the idea so much that I am very open-minded about the alternatives. Too bad I can’t say the same for my peers.

A: I guess I kind of hit on this one above. I think it takes longer to connect with that baby, but not much! A mother is a mother! I do wonder if the lack of sleep/ loss of social life etc. is harder for non-gestational mothers. Pregnancy really does set you up pretty well for all of that.

A: I don’t think there is a difference –well – that’s not really true. In my case — when you don’t know if you will be able to keep a child – the connection grows stronger and stronger over time – there’s a bit of you that you have to hold in reserve….but from what I understand there are many women who don’t bond immediately to their birth children — and build the connection over time — so perhaps my experience isn’t so different.

A:This is a good question. I haven’t pondered it much, really. I would like to say there would be no difference, but I honestly cannot say for sure.

A: How can I possibly speculate? I remember thinking, at some point during labor, I just wanted the baby out and I didn’t care how. It was so tough, I actually worried I might resent him after he was born. Of course I felt no such thing. In retrospect, I feel like pregnancy was such a short time of his life. Just a blink of an eye, a blip on the radar. There is so much more to look forward to and explore with him, that being his gestational mom couldn’t make any significant difference in the long run, in terms of closeness and bonding.

A: I am not sure. Considering adoption to me was important, choosing to be a parent, choosing the lifetime of responsibility. Having one of my own from my own body, was simliar, a choice, a lifelong contract to take care of them.

A: Although having children in your life is always a blessing, I would place a different weight on children that I birth, in comparison with children that I inherited, adopted, or planned with a partner/surrogate who was the “birth mother”. I would love a child that I didn’t birth as my own, but I don’t think I would be able to escape the pride that may come from knowing that my biological child is 100% a part of me.

A: My mother was unable to have any children after me, so she and my stepdad adopted my little brother when I was already 17. I can tell you that I know she loves him just as much as she loves me. So, I think the only difference is actually the physical act of carrying the baby…. There is not that bond, but I really don’t think it matters when it comes down to it.

A: I have great respect for non-gestational mothers. Their want for motherhood is a powerful force that must overcome far more obstacles. Many women find themselves mother’s without truly contemplating how much or even if they want to be mothers.

Women Discuss Motherhood (part 2 of 5)

In researching for tomorrow’s post, I asked some friends to share their thoughts on the nature of womanhood, motherhood, and birth. The answers were so interesting, I thought I would share them with you

Here are the responses, offered in random order, anonymously, and without comment…

Q: What are the benefits and hardships of your ability or lack of ability to carry a baby?

A: I feel blessed to have carried both my daughters. My two experiences were very different, and special in their own way. There is a “hardship” in a sense of needing to be responsible with my ability to conceive. A responsibility I did not shoulder well in my teens and twenties.

A: I suppose the easiest answer is that there is an expectation that I should. I want to have a child, if I choose to, on my own time and in my own way. There is an expectation that since I’m a woman, and in a long-term relationship, I should bear a child. I’m not completely sure that that will be the direction my life will take.

A: I thought, with PCOS, the hurdle was getting pregnant. I wish I had been more aware and prepared for the complications that occurred (pre-eclampsia, IUGR, low milk supply).

A: I didn’t have any trouble once I managed to get pregnant, so I can’t speak to how it feels to deal with infertility, but I have some friends who did. It seems to me that being pregnant provides a mother with an instant connection to the baby. It’s harder to connect from the outside. I also think that having failed pregnancies makes it harder to enjoy being pregnant, at least at first, because of the fear of losing the baby again.

A: Having gone through a period of time where I thought children were not going to be possible, I can relate to the lack of ability. The hardship is just the sense of loss of something I thought I was going to be able to do. I had already experienced a betrayal by my body because of cancer and now no children. I guess I handled it though the same way I handled cancer….you just deal with what life gives you and make the most of it. BUT, since a miracle occurred and I was able to have children eventually, I can say the benefit is obvious…the love and satisfaction from having two great kids. There have been serious health, financial, and emotional crises to bear though. Most notably being pregnant and having children has been hard on my physical health.

A: It’s nice that I have the ability (therefore option) of carrying a baby myself, especially in terms of practical considerations like financial cost. Paying for other methods must be terribly expensive. I however fear pregnancy, and the disadvantage of being able to carry is everyone’s expectation that I will. Do I really have a choice? It wouldn’t feel weird to me for another woman to carry my egg fertilized by the father’s sperm, but likely he and our families would not be okay with it.

A: I had a VERY difficult pregnancy with my daughter, after having a miscarriage. My body is very different from having had kids. But the changes are not really problematic.

A: When I didn’t believe we could conceive, at first I assumed we would adopt, and that would continue that path to Motherhood. As I grew older/more mature, I decided it was ok for me not to have a child. I was working with about 15 children with disabilities each day, and that was plenty. I believe a benefit of my ability to (finally) carry a baby to term was developing a responsibility and bond to the life I had inside me. Being an egocentric person, I needed that time to grow as a person.

A: So far I have been pregnant 4 times, and miscarried 4 times – all around the 12 week mark. This was from 2007-2010. I have been too scared to try again, I don’t know if I could go through that heartbreak one more time. I’m still in a kind of limbo I guess, not sure if I will ever try again or not.. (I’m 32, I need to decide before too long!) So, the hardships for me are the extreme emotional toll, the stress it has put on my marriage, and on how I feel about myself as a woman. The benefits, I suppose, are that I don’t have to have that responsibility in my life.. something I was never completely sure I even wanted in the first place.

A: It was a hardship to not be able to have a child – and I felt a lot of guilt about being the reason we couldn’t. It was a horrible time – and I blamed myself for the losses — more than I should have. Are there benefits? Only that I don’t share a child with a man that I don’t love — no irritating conversations with the ex.

Women Discuss Motherhood (part 1 of 5)

In researching for tomorrow’s post, I asked some friends to share their thoughts on the nature of womanhood, motherhood, and birth. The answers were so interesting, I thought I would share them with you.

I had eleven respondents, so I will be providing all eleven responses after each question.
Here are the responses, offered in random order, anonymously, and without comment…

Q: When you were growing up, was the idea of being a mother appealing, and how was that opinion influenced by the notion of pregnancy and birth?

A: Growing up, I always assumed I would be a mother, and never considered another avenue until I had been married for many years and had failed to conceive. I had decided that it was OK with me not to have a child, but months later Mother Nature took over and she is now 14 (moral: if you decide its ok not to have kids, start using birth control just in case.) I had never given much though to pregnancy or birth. I knew some of the trials of being pregnant, and also had learned the ins and outs of childbirth..neither affected my desire to have a child. I accepted it as part of the job.

A: Absolutely, yes. I wanted a big family. Because of my PCOS, I saw pregnancy as this beautiful, sparkly, unobtainable goal. I had a highly glorified image of pregnancy and birth before going through it myself.

A: The idea of being a mom was appealing — but I’m not sure if I had a real thought about being pregnant/giving birth. When I got a bit older I was a bit freaked out about childbirth – but figured it was the primary way to get the child I wanted.

A: It was for a while, but became less so as I got older. I was the child of a very young mother, in a family of very young mothers, and I always wanted another life. I am, truthfully, terrified of being pregnant. I mean, I’m sure I could do it, I’m a survivor like that. But nothing about it sounds fun. I think I’d prefer to adopt, but with all of the hoops that are involved, I’ll probably just wind up sucking it up in the end.

A: Yes, I have always wanted to be a mother. I had long term baby doll games that I would play where I would feed them on a (rather loose) schedule and only play with other things if they were “napping”. This would go on for days. I knew that babies came from the mommy’s belly & how they came out, but I don’t think I knew that it was painful. I was fascinated by the idea of pregnancy.

A: I guess being a mother sounded appealing…like that’s just what you do when you grow up and get married and such. Didn’t give much thought to pregnancy, but birth sounded terrifying.

A: Honestly, I never really thought about being a mom when I was growing up. It just always seemed like something I was never going to do.. I can’t say that it was appealing or unappealing.. I didn’t have feelings one way or the other. I just saw pregnancy and birth as how new babies come into the world.. didn’t think much further into it than that.

A: I went through various phases of both wanting and not wanting children. As a young girl and teen, motherhood seemed almost inevitable. It was just what one did. My teen pregnancy brought the thought that I did not want children *yet* but that I would eventually. As a young adult, I did want children, but in an amorphous, poorly defined way. I feared childbirth and the pain involved. In my late 20’s, I had settled on the thought I didn’t want kids.. Then I became pregnant (unplanned again). I felt that my choice to have children was then distilled into this pregnancy. Either I wanted this child, or no children. I chose carry that child. I don’t feel that my notions of pregnancy/ birth influenced this decision much at all.

A: Being a mother was not particularly appealing, I don’t think the notion of pregnancy/birth had much impact.

A: The idea of being a parent and teaching a child about the world was always appealing, but of being a mother specifically, no, not ever, especially in terms of pregnancy and breastfeeding and constant care of a newborn. I did not play with dolls and pretend to be a mom; I played with Legos, tinker-toys, Lincoln logs and video games.

A: Growing up, the idea of being a mother was not necessarily appealing, but I expected it to be apart of my life. I never thought anything else of it. In this vision of having children, birth and pregnancy were never anything that I thought about or had any particular feelings toward.