Friday, August 21, 2015


Summertime is always a very full time of year for the McGills. Birthdays galore, a couple of wedding anniversaries, a couple of death anniversaries. This year, for me, it's a time of contemplation.

T's and my birthdays both are during the summer months. Born in the same year, we're the same age except for those days between our birthdays in July and September. Both T's parents and a handful of friends all have birthdays during this hottest time of year. And lest we forget, our E and many of her friends have birthdays in the summer as well. It's a solid four months of splash pads and zoo trips, of sunscreen and melting frosting. The slap of little feet in flip flops across the wet concrete and echoing shouts of laughter. There's much singing of Happy Birthday to be had, and plenty of treats to go with all these lovely birthday wishes.

Then there's the wedding anniversaries. Ours is tomorrow; August 22nd. This year marks seven years married for us. The Copper Anniversary - which we love, as we are southwestern women at heart. My parents' anniversary is only a few days behind ours.

Admittedly, T and I haven't been very good at the whole anniversary thing since our first anniversary. Since then, life has gotten in the way and we haven't felt called to have parties or even do much by way of celebrating. I like to think that we celebrate each other daily, even if that's not always true. Seven years hitched and ten years together feels like a good long time. My wife is a foregone conclusion - in the very best way possible. She's my rock, my sounding board, my tether to logic and reason. Ever the sensible and responsible one, my darling lady. This year was a pretty special one though, in that our state recognized our marriage early in the year and then the Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is legal nationally - this is our first anniversary that our home state "counts" us as a married couple. Able to file jointly on both state and federal taxes for the first time. Able to both have legal rights to our children. Able to own our home together, instead of her half and my half. We considered doing a vow renewal for our anniversary this year, to celebrate with those who we missed celebrating with seven years ago. Unfortunately we weren't able to make that happen this summer. It simply was too costly. Then I ended up pregnant and now I'm selfishly thankful that I'm not about to be photographed in my current "chubbily pregnant" state. Regardless of gifts and cards though, I've never been more grateful for my wife than this year. The pregnancy hasn't been easy on me, and I've relied upon her moreso than I would have wished. I know it's been difficult for her, and she has truly impressed me beyond measure with her ability to stay cool under the pressure of running our lives. Just to embarrass her for a moment, I want to tell you all that she's done 100% of the toddler wake-ups and drop-offs and probably 99% of her bedtimes. She's singlehandedly balanced our budget, gotten all our bills paid on time, undertaken all the meal-planning, shopping, and cooking. Oh, and did I mention, she also got a promotion at work during all this? And she's taken time away from work to attend our prenatal appointments. I know she knows I'm thankful, but it can't hurt to reiterate.

Thank you my love, for being a supportive and endlessly understanding partner during our whole relationship - but particularly the last two months.

In September, we also take time to remember the family matriarchs whom we've lost. T and I both mourn the deaths of our maternal grandmothers in September. Both strong women, forces to be reckoned with in each of their respective clans. Both grandmothers struggled with our relationship, and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that I regret they departed this life without knowing the depth of joy and love we've found, and without having known their great-grandchildren. In many ways, this feels like a too-abrupt ending; a cliffhanger without a sequel; a novel whose writer never finished. I cannot believe that either one would have wished to miss out on our babies. I hope that in their own ways, perhaps these absent grandmothers get to witness our family growing and to know our children, even if from a great distance. You are both missed.

All these things cause me to reflect. I'm 14 weeks pregnant now, with likely the only pregnancy I'll carry. I know that come March, I'll be alone in this body once more and forever. I know and have said often to myself that I need to try and relish this time, to celebrate the life growing within me. But I frequently find myself firmly mired in each moment, thinking only of my discomfort and wishing I felt better. Then I feel guilty for not cherishing every second, even the ones spent vomiting or with a cramping stomach.

I've spent the better portion of these last two months either being sick, uncomfortable, or asleep. I've thought only of what I must force myself to do that minute, or the next. There's been little time to daydream about this baby. As you might imagine, this isn't exactly how I envisioned pregnancy going for me. Thinking about the last two months makes me feel very sad and full of regret, and yet I cannot see how to have done it differently. I've had this conversation (if you will) with a few people, and some seem to find it distressing that I'm not the happy, glowing pregnant woman they want me to be. I think this is probably just the first of many times that I'll disappoint my adoring fans with what they feel must be inappropriate feelings or reactions, but I've come to a conclusion. It's just too much pressure to try and feel joyful all the time. Sometimes, the fact is, it sucks to feel sick and that must be acceptable.

Now, all that being said - I seem to be feeling better and less volatile this week. I'm glad. So very glad. Bring on some new kind of pregnancy torture - this "morning" sickness is for the birds. I'm looking forward to our Centering classes starting in September, and I'm also excited for E's and my birthdays. We're extra fortunate this year to be able to take E to visit my great aunt and uncle for the first time in Iowa, and I am so happy. I'm waiting patiently (NOT) to feel the babe begin to move, and I am so excited for T and E to feel it, too. Our anatomy scan is scheduled in October, just after a good friend is getting married. Truly, I feel like we're on the brink of some grand adventures and I'm glad to put the first trimester behind us. I hope to find a little bit more of myself in the second.

To sum up: Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! Happy memories! Happy life!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Big Announcement

Yesterday was our deadline.  By yesterday, we were supposed to come up with some clever photographic announcement.  Yesterday came and went and still inspiration was lacking.  Instead here you go---

We are going to have another baby!!!!!

A is almost 12 weeks pregnant and due mid-February.  We are very excited and rather exhausted.  It's interesting to have swapped roles and go through her first pregnancy while chasing an almost-three-year-old.

Yesterday was our second appointment at the Birth Center. We arrived and were brought back to an exam room pretty quickly.  We were going to meet one of the few midwives we didn't know from my pregnancy. For the first time, we had to wait. And wait.  It was the first time we actually had to wait to be seen, so we were a little impatient.  Eventually she came and asked us the usual questions.  Then the part we were waiting for- the heartbeat. Since we know the date of conception, we skip the dating ultrasound and have to wait to hear a heartbeat on the Doppler.  Once we heard the heartbeat we would feel comfortable announcing to everyone and making it "Facebook official," so to speak. 

So the midwife dug around A's abdomen with the Doppler again and again. After a few minutes, I started getting nervous. Its not uncommon to have a hard time finding the baby this early, but it still was hard to not fear the worst.  She asked if we wanted to wait until the next appointment and try again or do a quick ultrasound.  We opted for the ultrasound. 

It only took a bit of searching to find our little one squirming around, heart happily beating away. And then it was over. And we didn't have the cute little print out to post in lieu of the clever announcement photo we were still lacking. Oh well.

So in case you're wondering how we got here, I've been blogging all along, and saving them to post when we made our announcement.  If you start at this blog, and read "Newer Posts" from there, you can read about the journey we've had over the last 6 months!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage equality

Yesterday, June 26th 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that all bans on gay marriage across the nation are unconstitutional. What an incredible day!

Years ago, when we first began talking about having a family, we made a number of choices that would positively affect our rights as a family, particularly the perception of our rights by strangers - staff at a school, nurses in a hospital, etc. We made these choices because we knew that our rights as a family would come one day, but we truly didn't expect our home state to recognize our marriage for many, many years to come, and we wanted to protect our children when they were young.

Now here we sit, our oldest child not even 3 years old and our next baby on its way, and the Supreme Court has fixed this particular issue for us. To say I am in disbelief would be an understatement.

When I think about it, I feel overcome by emotion. This new life I'm growing was conceived before national marriage equality existed - and before he or she is born, it has been granted. This child will never know a world where their parents weren't married and legally recognized by our government. What an immense and weighty thing to have lifted from T's and my shoulders.

Now we are waiting to see how the state handles birth certificates, and hoping that both our names can be present on this new baby's birth certificate. For each of us to have 100% equal legal rights as parents from the very beginning is not something we will take for granted. We also hope the state might reissue E's birth certificate with both our names, as we were legally married at the time of her birth.

This is changing the face of LGBT rights, that's for certain. We still have a long road ahead of us - but what an amazing time to live in.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


I had intended on writing more about the trying-to-conceive process, but I was feeling pretty disheartened and was busy at work, so it fell by the wayside.  Here's a quick re-cap:

Cycle #2
We went forward with trying the month after the miscarriage.  It helped lighten our hearts, but I don't think either of us were very optimistic.  For moment at the end of the wait, we had hope, but we still stared at a blank test.

Cycle #3
We took one month off before we tried again.  Everything about this cycle was weird, we almost shipped the dewar back, but at the last minute we decided to try. Everything continued to be weird which made it hard to decide if they were "symptoms" or just a weird cycle... Especially when A's cycle was late and we still had a negative test.  At that point we started being worried about another miscarriage. I guess it almost softened the blow of not being pregnant.

Cycle #4
This cycle was perfect.  We made a concentrated effort to be positive and excited instead of nervous about all of the "what-ifs" that had filled our heads and hearts since February.  Timing was great. As it got closer to the day we decided to test, we both were very excited.  We were so excited that I was almost nervous that we would be disappointed. Luckily we weren't!  The second line showed up immediately!

We told our parents this week and everyone is very excited.  We're gradually telling the rest of our family and close friends.

I think we both still have a seed of doubt. We've been trying to figure out if the different twinges and pains are normal for early pregnancy or if we should be concerned.  We also aren't sure if we want an early ultrasound or not.  We have an appointment with the midwife in 2 weeks and I guess we'll talk to her about it. In the mean time, we'll try to stay positive and start dreaming of our family of 4!

So, let the adventure begin!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dear grieving mother

Dear grieving mother,

You don't know me. You would pass me in the hallway and never know who I am, but I might know you by your tearstained face, your hollow eyes, your not-quite-shrunken postpartum belly and your empty arms.

Your baby died. I'm so sorry.

I don't know anything else about you or your family or your situation, but I know your name because it was on your baby's toe tag, body bag and death certificate.

You see, after your precious little one passed away or was born still, he came through my morgue. The funeral home you carefully chose to use to try and say goodbye to him came to the hospital to collect his body, and I was in charge of releasing him.

It's the discharge nobody wants. It's the body none of us wish to have to release.

Your daughter looked so perfect, wrapped up in her blanket inside a body bag. She could have been sleeping. The way she had her hand curled up close to her face and her delicate little eyelids reminded me so much of my own daughter when she was born. I closed my eyes for a moment and let the pain grip my heart, knowing that what you're going through is a million times worse, and hoping that for maybe an instant your grief let up just a touch while I carried it for you.

I want you to know that I softly traced his cold cheek with my fingertips and gently ensured that the tag encircling his wee ankle matched the name on the outside of the body bag before tucking him back in. I smoothed his hair back and sent out thoughts of peace for his soul.

I want you to know that although you don't know me, and I don't know you - our lives touched for a moment. Your daughter was cared for gently and respectfully, and for the few minutes that she was my charge, I loved her. I loved her deeply, and in the same way, I loved you as well.

I can't do anything to bring back your precious child, but I thought maybe it might bring a few seconds' respite to the unending pain you're living through now to know that someone else, a stranger, was also touched by your baby and your grief.

I'm so sorry.

your local hospital's pathology tech