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The Ink Aches for the Page

I have put off writing this post for nearly two weeks now. This blog is like a new notebook, chosen for the aesthetics, pages waiting to be filled. Cracking open the cover to reveal cool, smooth lines, waiting for the stroke of just the right pen, the first three pages left blank; a table of contents and title page, surely. Every notebook’s first entry feels momentous; the words that score the page have to be just right, tell just the right story. I can’t use a notebook without carrying it around for a few days. I have to get to know the weight and dedicate some of my inner monologue to deciding what belongs inside. This, with its pixels and graphics and digital eraser, feels no different.

There is an article circulating about how some people have that internal monologue and some don’t, and each is largely ignorant of the other. I find myself on the far side of the “of course I have an inner monologue,” imagining myself Frost or Whitman studying the trees in detail on my way to work. I hear myself in a voice that is not my own. Rather, it sounds like an even-tempered liberal arts professor supplementing their salary reading books for Audible; it is simultaneously indistinct and familiar, like turning on NPR in a different city. It is all there when I write, too. I narrate the view from my windshield, snippets of descriptions and turns of phrase. I create dialogue, generally using the pet name “dumbass,” to make sure I know I’m speaking to myself. I win imagined arguments with wit and carefully modulated tone, without a single gesticulation; this is how I know these fights are fiction. I turn on the radio to turn off the streaming stories and conversations.

The internet is a soapbox, delivered by ACME. For years now I have felt a powderkeg inside of me, a long fuse lit and sparking. The urge to write began to burn last summer. I was struggling with July. The month had once promised celebration and recreation: Hawthorne’s birthday, Independence Day fireworks, hours of fishing and drinking beer in the river. In 2019, it was Oscar’s first birthday. I remember, acutely, standing in our creek the year before, my swollen feet soothed by the current, skirt hiked and face upturned, maybe a week before he was born. We had found so little literature on queer parenting; the “For Dads” sections of What to Expect When You’re Expecting didn’t fit, and the “mama and mommy” books weren’t quite comfortable either. There’s a niche I could fill, I thought, especially as I devoured Angela Garbes’ Like A Mother. I wanted to write a feminist exploration of pregnancy and building a queer family – and still do. But there are other stories to tell.

I am a loss mom; I will never know what it is to have the chance to parent all our children. Our firstborn, our son Oscar Prince was born still on July 19, 2018. In the weeks and months that followed, we found some resources – other families that had lost children to umbilical cord injuries, congenital defects, and reasons forever unknown. I became interested in being a peer counselor; prior to Oscar, I had no idea how prevalent stillbirth was. I certainly never remember anyone who had experienced that. I’d known people who had miscarriages and abortions, and taken dozens of laboring (or wishfully laboring) women to the hospital in my time in EMS. None of those seemed to have space enough for our grief or for Oscar, all 7.1 perfect pounds of him. Hawthorne found one blog – The Legacy of Leo – that was written by a lesbian loss mom. I made agreeable noises to checking it out, but never did (another story for another time).

When the clouds of grief thinned and anger began to burn, the visceral drive to write returned. I began recording the snippets that came through my head on my phone; I wrote a short piece and shared it with a few of my circle. In June of 2019, I stumbled across the Pregnancy After Loss Support group. They had a section called Bump Day Blog, and a space for monthly articles. Around the same time a former professor and current Catan wizard started a 21-day writing challenge on Facebook. These came together to give me a place, a direction, and accountability. I applied to the PALS blog to contribute monthly. I was surprised when I received a quick response asking if I would want to write for the Bump Day Blog on a weekly basis as I was approaching the end of my first trimester. I did not finish my friend’s writing challenge, but again, that’s another story. I agreed to the weekly blog.

Fridays became a day I looked forward to, a time I knew I would carve out and dedicate to writing. I’m used to putting my wants and needs behind other things – not because I am asked, but because often, I don’t place as much value on my creative interests as I should. I wrote eighteen Bump Day Blog posts, ending abruptly after Week 33 with the early arrival of our daughter, Lucy Danger. It took a couple months to get back into the swing of things; having our baby in the NICU an hour and a half away, then home with a 6-pound bundle of squeaks, and my wife taking the next steps on their genderqueer journey, I was a little preoccupied. I finally submitted Lucy’s birth story to the blog at the end of January. A couple days later, during a 3AM pumping session, I came up with Queer Mama Rising.

I am a queer, witchy feminist, an activist and ass-kicker. I’m a quality improvement nerd and a statistics junkie. I’m a damn good wife, a member of Red Sox Nation. I’m a mama to our starside Oscar Prince and earthside Lucy Danger. I am multifaceted, I am exhausted, and I am writing. I’ve got too much to say to stop now.

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