Guess what? There’s a pill to make a female person lactate! That means Dashiell can bond with the baby in the same dreamy way I will! I mean, if she wants to. She looks disturbed, and skeptical.
“These are for babies!” I say, reaching over and grabbing one of her secret –- hmmm what to call them? Everything feels vulgar. Dashiell is so elegantly modest, and has figured out to appear as if she has no rack whatsoever when in reality nature has gifted her with the resources to make a living as a well-paid swimsuit model.
“What are the pros? she asks, valiantly attempting to be open-minded during this assault on her genderqueer bod.
“Bonding,“ I say. I’m personally really looking forward to breastfeeding. It seems like it would be so sweet and romantic and amazing. To feed a little person with your body! I mean, that is really sci-fi when you think about it. And I’ve read all about how women sometimes get turned on while breastfeeding and it creeps them out, but I don’t think it will bother me. I’ve been getting turned on by creepy things my whole life and have learned to accept it.
“OK, bonding,” Dashiell nods.
“You could help me,” I said.
“Aren’t you going to pump anyway?”
“I suppose.” There are the pros. We never got to the cons, because they are the hazy and complicated and already well-understood relationship that Dashiell has with the more female-ish parts of her white-hot bod. So I let it go. Those pills probably cause breast cancer or something anyway.
This is the start of a very big week for me and Dashiell. I am prepping to have my fibroids removed via a robot and Dr. Heidi. She says I’ll be out of commission for two weeks, but I find it hard to believe that my body won’t just snap back into perfection after about three or four days. That’s my plan.
I’m also prepping for Dashiell and Rodney to move in. This means getting rid of a lot of things –- selling clothes, selling my lovely French antique bed, giving my cat-scratched leather chairs away to the brainy queer writer I’m mentoring. I leave piles of plates and dishes on the free pile at the foot of my stairs. A neighbor takes my toaster oven, then returns it to the pile. I move my dining room table into my bedroom, which will become a living room, complete with Dashiell’s wide-screen TV.
Dashiell is a television watcher. My relationship to TV is similar to my relationship to cooking. I like to do it with another person. Left on my own, I’ll read. But soon I’ll have cable! And we’re going to buy a couch. Because we know we’re going to be together forever and are planning on having a bebe, it seems like we should buy an adult couch that will take us through the long haul. We decide to hit CB2 and Crate and Barrel.
Here’s a bit of advice –- if you too are planning on hitting both CB2 and Crate and Barrel, don’t hit C&B first. Their couches are made of frigging goose down and are so hypnotic you wind up lounging on them for 40 minutes, forgetting that you are not at home but in a store. Then, when you go around the corner to the more reasonably priced CB2 and sit on a couch, you almost shatter your spine flinging yourself down on it. It’s like sitting on a curb after whiling away the minutes lounging on goose down at C&B. Then you almost throw your back out trying to get off the budget furniture. You will do as we did; you will run back to C&B and spend more money than you ever have on a couch. The ottoman has storage space for our blankets! I feel more adult than ever.
In addition to prepping for surgery, shopping for adult furniture, purging half of my belongings and getting ready for Dashiell’s own appointment at the fertility clinic, we learn we have fleas. FLEAS. A plague of them, biblical-style.
How can this be? I’ve been living with the cats for nearly a year, and never have I seen a flea! I text the teen who now has them: Hey, um, do Harry and Mancha have fleas?
Nope, she replies. Did I mention that the last time I had a mentoring session with the teen to review her queer Russian novella, she had the best shag hairdo, perfect smudgy eyeliner and a pink triangle T-shirt that read SEXUAL ANARCHY? Just thought it was worth mentioning.
I know I have fleas because I’ve been bringing Rodney over my house each afternoon to get him used to his new home, and every night he returns to Dashiell with a belly full of fleas. I’m not talking one or two of those pesky jumpers. I’m talking Dashiell is a Virgo and will hover over poor Charlie dunking fleas into a bowl of water and when she’s done, she counts 30-50 fleas.
I understand that asshole fleas can lay dormant in your home for a millennium, especially a hardwood-floor home like mine. I just don’t understand why they never attacked the cats. Do some fleas prefer dogs to cats? We learn that there are in fact different strains of flea when we douse Rodney in Frontline and it does nothing.
The man at the pet store -- who Dashiell calls "Antlers" because of the six perfect, rainbow-hued liberty spikes he has sprouting from his crown -– tells us to try Advantage because they kill a different breed of pest. And indeed, after smearing the new poison onto Rodney we find a nest of dead fleas beneath him when he rises from his dog bed. Gross.
I have a pre-op appointment with Dr. Heidi, who I think has just come from a surgery. She looks a little disheveled and is wearing some rings on a chain around her neck. She has me show her my belly and she points to wear all the various instruments are going to go in.
I’ll have three scars –- one on my lower left, one above my belly button where they’ll pump the gas in to inflate my innards and give them room to move (and give me painful gas for a week or two) and then one on the right, which will be the most painful as it’s the place the robot will enter to "chew" the fibroids. Eeeeeew. She tells me I’ll be constipated and should get some fiber. I start researching fiber-heavy foods and, before the surgery, make a big pot of white bean soup to eat through my recovery.
The night before Dashiell’s appointment with Dr. Waller at the Fertility Clinic, we lay awake talking about sperm donors. Dashiell can’t get fully comfortable with the idea of it all, and is trying to make sense of what bugs her. I think the whole thing is just weird –- your child will have half the generic makeup and who knows how many tics and talents, tendencies and mannerisms, derived from someone we’ll never know. I can imagine every time they do something that mystifies us, us saying, "Ze must have gotten that from hir donor?" (Father? Will he be the Donor or the Father?)
But I know it would be dangerous to attribute everything unrecognizable to us to that stranger, because I was 100% fully unfathomable to my entire family, and it was their DNA that put me together.
“Do sperm banks let donors donate again and again?” Dashiell wonders. She doesn’t like the thought of our kid having unknown family out there, walking around. I happen to find the idea of learning that you’ve got siblings in the world sort of mysterious and thrilling. Perhaps our offspring, likely to be an only child, would, too.
“I wish they didn’t get paid for it,” Dashiell mused. “We have to make sure the kid can meet the guy when they’re older.”
“Yeah,” I agree.
“That will be scary for us,” she says. I snuggle her up. I flash on the movie "The Kids are Alright."
“It won’t be so bad,” I tell her. “Maybe one of us will get to have sex with Mark Ruffalo.”