Lady and the Tramp

I’ve been grappling with the idea of childbirth preparation classes for months now.  First, it was fear and uncertainty.  Will it be okay if we wait for information about labor and the hospital instead of knowing right now? Then it was excitement.  I can’t wait to get some baby learnin’! Then dread.  What if we don’t make any friends? And then, in a horrifying turn, back to fear again.  What if they are mean to us because we’re gay?

Well, isn’t that something.  I have never in my life been ashamed of who I was.  There have been times when it has been safer to choose a different path.  Safer to let someone assume I was Canadian, or straight, or didn’t speak the language.  But in my daily life, I’m just who I am.  I choose to assume the risk that someone won’t like me or will feel offended by my choices.  It happens.  It’s not within my control.

Being myself IS in my control though and so I quickly slipped from fear to shame last week as we walked into our childbirth class.  My stomach was tied in knots from the perceived glare of the ten straight couples and I was disappointed and ashamed of myself for not being confident regardless of the looks on their faces or the whispers behind hands.  I was ashamed that I wanted to be anyone but myself.  Anywhere but there.

I couldn’t shake the sensation of being stared at or the feeling of being unwelcome.  But in the back of my head my mother was scolding me not to let the opportunity to learn be wasted.  That woman doesn’t understand feeling marginalized or the subtle fear of a dark parking lot filled with sneering men.  But, she (as usual) has a point and I made every effort to refocus and take what I could from the class.

Now that a few days have passed, I’m surprised to look back and realize that I wasn’t offended in the slightest by the hetero-focus of the class.  I consider myself a visitor in their straight world and so it’s okay if I have to do a bit of translation for myself.  I am surprised at how deeply the gender roles confused me.  But I’m one of the “ladies”!  We’re both the “mom”.  It was hard to work past that and get to the information.

Hopefully, this Thursday will be better.  I wouldn’t ever want to skip these classes and I wouldn’t miss the opportunity for D and I to have the best birth possible.  So we’ll get through it, regardless of who is the lady.


One Response

  1. I’ve been meaning for a week to respond to this, but I wanted to actually think it out, so… Anyway.

    This post really struck a chord for me, I think partly because I’m nervous about situations just like that one. We’re lucky enough to live in a little bubble of the world where being gay isn’t that big of a deal, but there are still always moments. Especially when venturing into something as heterosexually dominated as pregnancy/childbirth.

    The closest I’ve come to that so far was when we went to a bridal expo back before we got married. (I was curious, mostly from an anthropological point of view.) That was… “terrifying” is perhaps the most accurate word. But people there kept assuming that one of us was the bride and the other was a friend. Or perhaps that we were both planning our weddings to some guys. The whole thing was strange, and felt entirely unrelated to us. We were getting married, yes, but not in anything like what these people were planning.

    We live in our bubble, but we aren’t there all the time. And sometimes when we go other places I find myself wondering why people are looking at us strangely as we walk down the street. And then I realize that it’s because we’re holding hands, and it makes me a little nervous that we stand out that way. I hate that it does, but as you say, it’s hard to shake “the subtle fear of a dark parking lot filled with sneering men”.

    I’m sorry that you’re having to go through this. I hope it gets better. For that matter, I hope the world gets better. In the meantime, you have just as much right to be there as anyone else in the class, even if you don’t wear an orange camo hat.

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