Days of womanness


Estrogen hormone, courtesy  3Dchem.com

Day of womanness, part one: My plumbing, Myself. About a week ago I had a stout reminder of my biologically female selfhood, lest I think my ‘twixt genders state gets me off any essentially biological hooks: the one-two punch of (1) an external & internal ultrasound to check on the progress of some naughty little ovarian cyst, and (2) an overdue mammogram to confirm the absence of any naughty little breast-bound irregularities. I am woman, hear me disrobe into one of those impossible little paper gowns.

Every aspect of my female plumbing was plumbed. I have asked men friends whether the prostate checks are anything like what we get for mammograms, with that enormous piece of machinery clamping down on the breast, squish-squish-squishing like some arch fiend’s terror-room would squish our heroes in a Batman episode, and you have to trust that the lady operating the thing is going to get it to stop before it squishes the breast into a vertical or horizontal pancake. My bro-in-law contends that the prostate exam is nothing near so scary (the male member in one of those squish-o-matics?! no freakin’ way would anyone submit to the dang test! except ex-Robert Mapplethorpe models!). He did note, however, that for some men the thought of a stranger’s finger up the an*s is as scary or scarier than the thought of their member in a maniacal squish-o-matic. Particularly if there’s anything remotely enjoyable about the sensation. I leave it to you, dear reader, to ponder.

Meanwhile, back to the mammogram. The one concession about it for me was that first generation immigrant Russian ladies were administering the whole business. They have a lock on the medical gigs in that part of town (like lesbos have a lock, Bay Area-wide, on UPS). The lady at the desk asked me, as I was filling out the paperwork, “If, by the chance, you have changed addresses.” I wish’t she would have asked me more things and said more things, so I could file away more priceless phrases for my Bad Taste Imitation Foreign Accent file. No such luck. But “If by the chance” is lovingly tucked away for future use.

Day of womanness, part two: In walks Big Daddy. J and I went in for a neucal translucency test, part of the whole rigmarole for women who are pregnant in their late thirties (which J just barely is–in her late thirties, that is; she’s more than pregnant). We were on edge since at the first of the three previous visits we’d made there, we had discovered that the fetus J was carrying was unviable, the oddly euphemistic way of saying it was no longer alive, though there it still was. That news itself was—I falter at the word devastating, but it was extremely, extremely, extremely hard. And the experience was made measurably harder by the undisguised homophobia of the technician who did the first reading. When we subsequently went in for tests relating to our first child, we set our teeth and requested any technician but her.

So the other day, with kid #2 cooking away in J, we sat down in the perinatal clinic’s waiting room, the only two-gal couple there. Otherwise the folks in the room were descriptive of the community the clinic served. Two hetero Latino couples; one hetero interracial couple (gal Filipina, guy Anglo); one white hetero couple, but the guy’s hair was in a pony tail. Then in walks a sister, very short natural, dyed blond. Soon thereafter come two of her chums, who are teasing her ruthlessly about various possible names for the kid (“Stop that right now. I can’t even pronounce that,” etc.). There I was, smiling internally at the current cohort of East Bay pregnancy, when in walks the pregnant gal’s sweetie. Swaggering, confident, Raiders t-shirt-wearing, one hundred percent bulldagger.

“Jist shows to go ya,” I lean over and say in my beloved’s ear, as I ease my hand farther over onto her shoulder, newly emboldened by Big Daddy’s presence. “Gotta love Oakland,” she responds.

There I’d been, wanting to comfort my beloved and me both, my hand on her knee, irritated that this simple gesture would issue from any one of the hetero partners in the room without a thought to the discomfort/ disapproval it might inspire in onlookers. I was assuming that no-eye contact offensive-defensive attitude, in case anyone thought about giving us a look. Thinking to myself: this is one of the countless moments that do indeed irrevocably divide our parenthood from straight people’s parenthood. Then in walks Big Daddy, prow of the gender-busting ship. Bless Oakland; bless you, ma’m. Sir. Whichever you like.