dad questions

So I went to UCSF last week to get my uterus checked out. It’s the saline sonogram and test transfer where they blow up your uterus (slightly) with a balloon to make sure that everything looks good. I’m getting all the tests and appointments out of the way now even though I haven’t yet devised a weaning plan and hombre is still nursing a lot.

When I made the appointment, they told me to take 800 mg of ibuprofen an hour before (I honestly don’t know why since it wasn’t painful either time), and a pregnancy test. I was supposed to tell them the date of the negative test.

Now, I’ve taken enough negative pregnancy tests in my life that I’d rather not take one just for fun. I told the nurse on the phone that there was no way I was pregnant, like no way, and she kind of stumbled but said OK, just let them know.

I forgot about it. I don’t stress about these situations- mostly I want to keep the other person from getting terribly uncomfortable. I am comfortable by now with doing this on my own.

A nurse with an accent, maybe Russian, came to get me from the waiting room. I was getting settled in the exam room when she asked me about the pregnancy test. I said, perhaps a bit emphatically to reassure her of the impossibility that I could be pregnant, “Oh no- there is zero chance I am pregnant. I haven’t had sex in A REALLY LONG TIME.”

She blinked and I knew I had given way more information than she needed. She said, “Oh, OK, you’re not here for fertility reasons but to check your fibroids?” She looked relieved like she had figured it out.

No, I’m here for fertility reasons.

Oh, OK- now she was legitimately flustered and flew out of the room. I made a mental note that I don’t need to alienate people with so much information and resolved to dial it back.

The doctor then came in with another doctor visiting from Switzerland, and a different nurse. They were friendly and chatty and we talked about the gorgeous new building with the stunning views of the bay.

The main doc asked me about the pregnancy test. This is when it would have been totally fine to say, “Yes, it was negative.” Or even “I date women.” But I’m weirdly unable to lie even when it’s helpful and innocuous. So I said, “No, but there is zero chance I’m pregnant.” Which only left them to pry a bit and remind me that sometimes bleeding can be misconstrued as a period when its actually not, which is why they require the pregnancy test. And I was thinking- here I am laying the groundwork to get pregnant, so if there actually was a chance that I was, and that the pregnancy would be endangered by this saline sonogram, YES I would take a test. Of course. I wanted them to know I wasn’t ignorant.

So I opened my mouth and the whole story came tumbling out about doing this on my own etc. That’s how I roll. (You know that, because you read my blog.)

So they got it and moved on and the Swiss lady asked if I had weekend plans and I said YES, my son’s second birthday party! And then I had to explain that he was also conceived and born at UCSF and etc etc etc.

So, I guess that’s me being discreet or low-impact with people who don’t expect a solo mom… The whole story comes flying out. It’s about putting them at ease by showing that I’m at ease. The Swiss Doctor wished me luck.

I rarely get asked about E’s dad but I did get asked last week by an IT guy I’ve known for many years- he was sitting at my desk working on my computer while I stood next to him. He said something like, “I see pictures of the baby but none of the dad!” Gesturing around smiling, implying that the dad was sorely underrepresented. The right answer was something like, “Oh, that guy? Yeah, it’s all about the baby now.” But instead what came out of my mouth was, “Oh, that’s because he doesn’t have a dad.” Which is what I think we all agreed is NOT what I was intending to say- I wanted to say, “Our family doesn’t have a dad” but I did go on to explain that I chose to have a baby on my own. Maybe the answer was, “That’s because I had him on my own.” He said that was brave, and then he got quiet. I felt like the whole office was listening. Live and learn.

It doesn’t have to be awkward, but I suppose it is because people innocently stumble into a very personal conversation. One thing I’ll never do is pretend he has a dad for the sake of making people more comfortable. With the exception of someone passing by in the airport who asks his age and then says, “His dad must be tall!” No point chasing them down to set them straight.

E himself is starting to try to make sense of who has a daddy and a papa. We had a conversation in the car yesterday that went well. He was saying Papa and I said who do we know who has a Papa? He listed some friends. Our family doesn’t have a Papa. Who do we have? He said Mommy. And I added Mimi, Chacha, his aunts, his uncles (S and J!), and his cousins. He repeated all these back with a smile. He’s totally satisfied with that. I know that, for a while yet, the awkward one in that conversation is me.

We have a book called Love is a Family which I super loved until I realized it doesn’t include gay families! I only realized it after I recommended it to a two mom family. Ugh! The point is that there are single moms and dads, step parents, adopted kids. But no two dads or two moms… Disappointing. I’ll search for more truly inclusive books.

Still, the message is good: love is a family. Love is all you need.

Love you guys!




13 thoughts on “dad questions”

  1. Great entry! My baby-G is only 3.5 months and I get the dad question often! I think it is because her eyes are piercingly blue and mine are dark brown. She gets the beautiful eye comment daily. And then people look at me, then her, then me. I adopted her off the freezer top shelf! When strangers inquire about her dad’s blue eyes, I sometimes mention that my mother has blue eyes, which she does (I see them calculating genetic punnet squares in their humanities-educated brains). Otherwise I just say, like you suggest, our family doesn’t have a dad. I never am offended, it’s just people making connections and conversation, which we all need more of!

    1. Agreed! Love your open attitude- some people are offended by questions but I see it as an opportunity to help normalize different family structures. Go baby-G! I noticed that her eyes have changed drastically since the dark-eyed birth announcement! Seems like it usually goes blue to brown but she did the reverse? Keep fielding the questions with grace, my friend xo

  2. I love this! This made me laugh: “Now, I’ve taken enough negative pregnancy tests in my life that I’d rather not take one just for fun.” But seriously! And I would be exactly the way you are with TMI — it’s just the truth! Good luck, lady — and CUTE picture of E!! OMG!

    1. Thank you! And thanks for the link- I’ll try to find some of these in the US. There aren’t that many children’s books that seem to be done well, they all seem kind of low-budget or something. Maybe this is an untapped market?

  3. Great post! 3 thoughts:

    1. In kindergarten, the kids were chatting about their families over lunch, my daughter R said “I don’t have a dad”, and the ADULT TEACHER’S AIDE said “everyone has a dad, even if he’s not in your life”, and was prepared to argue about it! Thankfully R was secure enough not to be too bothered, and it led to a good talk with her about “dad” vs. “donor” and people’s varying levels of awareness.

    2. Coming out as a single-by-choice mom is a lot like coming out as a lesbian, complete with people’s inaccurate assumptions, wondering if we’ll get a negative reaction, and deciding when to bother and when to let it go… I don’t think I’ve thought much about how the two are similar but distinct, since I was both.

    3. Books about diverse families are awesome, and there are SO MANY now! I used to give them as gifts to all my straight-couple friends when their kids were little, but now that family diversity is so much more accepted I’ve slacked off on that…

  4. Getting kids comfortable with difference feels like so much of parenting for me, and also becoming a comfortable parent at every age and stage. There are so many ways to be and feel different than classmates and friends. It’s nonstop. I love how you navigated the conversation in the car. We all need a version of that conversation in our lives. Perfect! Love, Wig

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