Answers to questions nobody asked
Where DO babies come from?
When Ash and I decided to have a baby, I thought I might write a book about it. The decision took five years to reach, and even with us in agreement, the way forward was murky. We couldn’t just disappear into the bedroom and, ta da, make a baby. I was already a mother, but my child had been born into a heterosexual marriage; what would it be like to have another child in a queer one, this time as a non-birthing, non-biological mother? Here was a story, and I couldn’t yet see how it would end — which, when considering a book project, is a good place to start. There was also the fact that when I say it took us five years to decide to have a baby, I don’t actually mean us. I mean me. This was a process, not just in Ash’s body, but in our heads, my head.
I was really fired up about this book for about forty-eight hours. I started a new Scrivener project for it. But after I’d dumped my initial thoughts into a document, I never opened the project file again. By the time Ash was pregnant, I could admit it: I didn’t want to write the book. I once heard Melissa Febos say that everything she’s written, every book, has been an effort to leave something behind, to quit something. That made sense to me: each of my books has been an effort to transform myself, a road I build to transport my self from one iteration to the next. The more I considered this baby book, the more I began to sense that the transformation was behind me, or the energy of it anyway, the potential energy that propels writing forward. I had lived it out in the years that Ash and I spent talking, wrestling, agonizing, bringing ourselves to agreement.
The decision to move forward and try for a baby felt like the end of a transformation, rather than the beginning of it. I mean, of course I know there’s more to come. Ames was barely born six months ago, and his arrival into our family has already undone and remade us a couple of times. But the big transformation that drew me to the book idea — the part of our story that I didn’t understand, that confounded me, that made writing feel necessary, the part where everything was at stake — the energy of that was already gone. I didn’t want to write the book because I already understood the story well enough to live it.
That said, making a baby as a queer couple has been weird and joyful in ways I didn’t expect, and I do want to write about some of it — here on this newsletter, in this post and at least one more, maybe two, to come. I am a nosy person who is interested in people, and I often wonder about their lives in ways that, were I to ask my questions aloud, would be seen as creepy and prying. I imagine that people, maybe you, have questions about how this baby came to be. Maybe I presume too much, but I don’t think so.
I’m thinking of today’s newsletter as the first in a short series in which I will try to answer a few questions that nobody has asked. Maybe it will be of use to you or someone you know.
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When we first began talking about a baby, I was 39. Ash was 30. It seemed then that, if we were to have a baby, I might be the one to do it. Ash had always wanted to be a parent, but they are non-binary. The obvious route, I remember thinking, was through me. I liked the idea of being pregnant again, of doing it a second time with the knowledge I’d gained on the first go-round. I would be the one to have the baby, though because of my age, we’d have to act fast.