Tag Archives: biology

His Face

M is starting to look like S.  His face is lengthening and his smile is more reminiscent of her than me now.  There has been great comfort in the fact that people often think I gave birth to him, that his blond hair came from my mother’s side.  I am a little conflicted about him starting to look like her.  When we are together, are people going to see a perfect marriage of our genetics or are they just going to notice how his eyes don’t look like mine at all?  Maybe both?

I am assuming the questions from strangers will ensue, “Does he look like his dad?”  Which leads to me answering and cringing a little while I wait for their response.   But really, who knows?  Maybe he will go through this short phase of looking like her and then start looking like me again.

When I told S that he is starting to look like her, her face lit up.  I think there is a part of her that thinks she earned it by gestating him and pushing him out of her vagina.  I would have to agree on those points.  Part of me is excited for her because I know how important it was to her to have a biological child.  The similarities in appearance are just a tangible example of genetics.  The other part of me is jealous.  Yep.  I said it.  A little jealous.  Not that I would ever want to be pregnant or give birth, but it would be nice to keep up the rouse that I did for just a little longer.

-Betsy

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Awkward

Remember how the other day I said that no one has ever asked me about physical attributes of M’s “dad”?  Two days ago some one did.

M and I went on a tour of a pre-school (YIKES!). The room was tiny, like a walk-in freezer with windows and small people milling about and toys all over the floor.  After about fifteen minutes of awkward play, M was ready to go.  On the way out the door, one of the teachers asked how old he is.

“He turned two in December,” I told her.

“He’s really tall.  Is his dad tall?”

“He doesn’t have a dad,” I replied.

Before I could explain,

“Oh. How tall are you?”  She didn’t stop to breathe.

“I didn’t give birth to him.  His other mother gave birth to him and she is also 5’6.”

“Oh.  He’s tall,” she said like a closing paragraph summing up the thesis.

The topic of conversation did not feel awkward, but this woman sure was!  I think she must be used to talking to adults in really short spurts throughout the day, never being able to have an entire conversation at one time.  Her speech was rushed, quick like a bunny.  Before I could even formulate a thought in response, she was wiping a nose with one hand and holding a book she was reading aloud in the other while I was breathing deep for her.

-Betsy

Both of You

Earlier this week, an old classmate of mine remarked that she can see both me and S in our son.  My response?  “I know.  Weird, right?”

But it isn’t weird if you think about it.  I remember when I was a kid and I spent several nights in a row at my friend’s house.  I can home with a little bit of her attitude and her jeans, bedazzled on the butt.  Even now, if I spend too long talking to someone from England, by the end of the conversation, I might sound like we were raised in the same family.

Of course people see both me and S in our boy.  He spends most of his time with me (nurture) and he shares DNA with her (nature).  He picks up on my accent, so to speak.  He even often looks like me.  Same killer sense of style, same swagger.  Ok, I don’t really have a swagger anymore.  I left in in 1999. But you get my point.

So, next time someone says that he favors both of us, I think my response will be, “I know.  Cool, right?”  Nothing weird about it.

-Betsy

Explain This

Since the day my son was born, I have been biologically tuned into him.  This manifests, to this day, as me waking up 3-6 minutes before him.  Almost every time. Even though there is no regularity to his wakings.  Nap time.  Night time.  It doesn’t matter.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who said she thought it made sense.  It doesn’t make sense to me.  It makes sense for S, who is literally biologically connected to him, to experience this.  For me, it seems a little crazy.

Anyone else (who did not gestate or birth your child) ever experience this sort of connection?  Just curious.

-Betsy

“Is he yours?”

I decided it was time to find a doctor in my new home town.  I am rarely sick enough to need a doctor, but I am getting older and need to start thinking about being connected when things on my body start to break and breakdown.

It was a two hour wait.  “No!  This never happens.  She is usually right on time,” They assured me.  The nurse took me back and explained that there had been an emergency.  He didn’t introduce himself, but was pleasant enough so I asked him his name.

“Scott.  She’ll be right in to see you.”

After another fifteen minutes, she came in and was as sweet as pie.  She was wearing a HUGE diamond cross around her neck, so I immediately felt a little reserved.  I told her about S and that we have been together for more than 16 years.  Then she noticed we have a son but I have never been pregnant, “Is he yours or did you adopt him?”

“Well.  Both, actually.  He is mine and I did adopt him because the archaic laws in this country make me have to take extra legal steps to prove my relationship to this being I helped create.  Breathe.  And, even if we had not created him together and he had grown in a stranger’s womb halfway around the world, he would still be mine,” I thought to myself in the nano-second following her gaffe.

It is always interesting how it is the little things people say, often well intentioned, that seem to trigger the deepest reactions in me.  I don’t care about vocal opponents to marriage equality or about those stupid people who picket soldiers’ funerals.  What hurts is opening yourself up just a little and having someone not really see you.

“He is ours,” I say.  “My partner gave birth to him.”

“OH!  That is so COOL!” she exclaimed as if the idea had never occurred to her.

A few awkward questions later (awkward for me, not her), we had moved on to other topics.  She really was very nice and seemed to be trying really hard.  I guess I just look forward to the day when people don’t have to try so hard.

-Betsy

That Feeling In My Stomach (not the preggers type)

My little girl is sick today.  Nothing that won’t be cured within a few days, but the poor thing looks awful.  She went to bed seeming fine last night and woke up this morning with a nasty case of conjunctivitis and an ear infection.  It happened that fast- went to bed healthy, woke up touched by the hand of yuck.  By the time I got home from work this evening her eyes had gotten so bad (yes, she went to the doc’s this morning and is now on antibiotics) that not only were her lids puffy and swollen looking; her eyeballs red and all sorts of goopey; but she also had these racoonish, red, rash-like marks under her eyes from rubbing at them so much. Luckily that little spark plug doesn’t let much break her stride.  She was marching around the house wearing a mismatched pair of PJs; a white, scratchy Easter type of hat that is meant for her teddy bear (so it’s a size too small); and a pair of old school, strappy roller skates.  She looked like an elderly drag queen.  Still, when I took one look at her my stomach did that thing.  Parents, do you know the thing I’m talking about?  Does this happen to you?  Ever since that little peanut crept into my heart I have had this thing happen when I even think about her being hurt or sick or in discomfort, never mind when she actually is, my stomach does an uncomfortable dropping thing.  It’s weird.  It’s a visceral response to this awful feeling that as much as I want to do everything humanly possible to protect this small person I love more than almost anything else in the world, I can’t.  It makes me sick.  Tease me all you want for quoting what might seem like a cliche, but I really do get this particular one since she entered my life: “Making a decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”* Hell yeah.  It’s like having your heart when it’s head over heels in love walk outside your body and into a six lane stretch of rush hour traffic on the beltway and your brain is on the side lines screaming, “Be careful!  Watch out!  Be careful!!!”

Sometimes I worried before my daughter was born that I wouldn’t feel this deep attachment to her because of our lack of biological, genetic or gestational connection. Yet when I have that feeling in my stomach- as uncomfortable a reminder as it is- I also take a tiny bit of solace in knowing that she is so much a part of me that I feel her in my body.  And that makes me realize the power of our bond goes much deeper than any trace of biology.

– Charlotte

*quote by Elizabeth Stone

Twins

twins-Schwarzenegger-DeVito

My son and I are twins who were separated at birth.  Well, maybe not.  But we do tend to dress alike more than once a week.  This might have to do with the fact that I dress us both: blue and white stripes, jeans with brown boots, gray hoodies.  Whatever.  While this used to be just by accident, now I think my subconscious makes me do it.  It tricks strangers into seeing the similarities in our facial features, “He definitely has your eyes.”  I have heard that more than once.  Each time, I smile and say thank you, feeling victorious inside.  I know it was the matching pea coats and Raybans that fooled them.  If we are able to have other children, it is quite possible they will inherit S’s olive skin and black hair.  Will people think I am the nanny?  Or just watching my kid and his friend?  I must start scheming now on new ways to trick people into seeing our sameness.  Just in case.
-Betsy
(P.S. That’s me on the right.)