Daddies and Faith

© Buying Dad by Harlyn Aizley, Alyson Publications 2003

It’s 10 a.m. Saturday morning and we’re at prenatal yoga for partners when suddenly it dawns on me that Faith is a woman and we both are gay. I really hadn’t thought too much about this seemingly overt fact since the days of regular intrauterine inseminations when it was glaringly obvious I was not having sex with a man. It just hasn’t been that big of an issue, not at our prenatal appointments, not at childbirth class, not even at infant CPR. It’s really not until now, at a well-meaning prenatal yoga for partners workshop, that it again becomes acutely apparent.

There are eight couples all together, including us, four on either side of the room. It’s not that each of the other couples consists of a man and a woman that drives the point home. And it’s not that, in an effort to be inclusive and politically correct, our yoga instructor compulsively refers to each couple as "birth mother and her partner." It’s not even that when we have to hug and caress each other openly and in public I catch a couple of the other "partners" sneaking a peek at the two gals, free soft porn on a Saturday morning. It’s that Faith can’t hold me up.

In all of the positions that involve "partners" propping up the birth mother, Faith is either too short or too weak to support me and my pregnant body. While the other birth mothers safely sink into the large hairy arms of their male partners, more than once the weight of me causes Faith to lose her footing. These are labor support positions, poses that we are supposed to practice and make second nature so on that day of days when I am experiencing contractions so strong and painful I want to gouge my eyes out with a fork, I instead can transfer all of my weight onto Faith and focus on breathing deep meditative breaths. So much for labor support. To make matters worse, Faith is an inch shorter than me. Leaning into her means leaning on her.

Our yoga instructor has the monk tape playing and a peaceful "om" fills the room. The other couples sway rhythmically to the tune of their societally sanctioned and physically coordinated love. Each couple is instructed to breathe together, to move together, to open up their psyches to the baby within and receive each other’s love.

I try hard to believe that I can drop backwards without looking and that Faith will receive me with open arms. This time it’s not that I’m a suspicious and inherently distrustful person that prevents me from believing in the power of my girlfriend to catch and embrace me. It’s that she can’t. I’ve put on twenty-five pounds in the past six-and-a-half months. Each time I give Faith my fertile body to hold she makes a grunting sound in my ear.

"Stop acting like I’m killing you."

"You are."

The yoga instructor calmly works the room, stopping by each birth mother and partner to adjust and approve, all with the slightest laying on of her hands. When she gets to us it’s like she doesn’t know what to do. All those years of yoga training, vegitarianism, and spiritual healing have not prepared her for a 140-pound woman pressing down into a 112-pound woman who is supposed to be holding her so securely as to make her feel weightless. I suppose the same might be happening if I had gotten involved with a very small man, or a very weak man, or a man who was physically challenged in some way. It’s not necessarily gender specific the fact that, while the other birth mothers get to lean back and rest their heads on their partners shoulders, when I stand in front of Faith she actually disappears.

"Try this," says the yoga instructor as she carefully bends my knees, arches my back, compresses my shoulders.

It’s like I’m lying back in a dental chair but without the chair, and with Faith’s chin pressing into my head. It’s the most uncomfortable and precarious position I can imagine. If a breeze blows in through the open window we’re both in serious danger of toppling over. At least I’m not really at the dentist’s, I tell myself. Be grateful for small pleasures.

"There," says the yoga instructor, then moves on to the next couple.

Faith grunts again.

"Do you have me?" I ask, thinking that maybe, somehow, this is what the position is supposed to feel like, as if it’s some yogic interpretation of life and death, gravity and a lack thereof.

"Just don’t move."

Is this our destiny for labor and delivery? Two small women alone doing a job meant for a man and a woman.

"It’s not like we were really going to do those positions anyway," I tell Faith later. "I mean, I’ll probably be in so much pain I’ll be yelling at you to get the fuck away from me. Trust me, we won’t even remember them."

Secretly, I wonder if men and women remember them, if part and parcel with putting a penis inside a vagina in order to make a baby comes the uncanny ability to remember all of the labor support positions you’ve been taught and to perform prenatal partner yoga. But maybe that’s just me again wondering whether or not we’ve done the right evolutionary thing by bringing a child into this world, wondering whether the two of us really can manage so vast and incredible an undertaking.

"I’ll remember them," Faith says without batting an eye.

I’m so relieved. Of course, we’ll be okay! Of course, we’re doing the right thing! Didn’t we breathe in beautiful synchrony with each other during warrior pose? Didn’t we relax deeply and without laughing during the twenty minute meditation that concluded the workshop? Haven’t we been together for close to ten years already and learned how to make our love for each other florish and grow in a PIV (penis-in-vagina) world? We can do it. We must do it.

To prove her point, Faith pulls me back into her and digs her chin into the top of my head. I oblige by bending my knees, slouching my shoulders, and letting go all doubt and disbelief.






© 2003 Harlyn Aizley