Buying Dad by Harlyn Aizley, Alyson Publications
Its 10 a.m. Saturday morning and were
at prenatal yoga for partners when suddenly it dawns
on me that Faith is a woman and we both are gay.
I really hadnt 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 hasnt been
that big of an issue, not at our prenatal appointments,
not at childbirth class, not even at infant CPR.
Its 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. Its not
that each of the other couples consists of a man
and a woman that drives the point home. And its
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."
Its 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. Its that Faith cant hold me
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 others love.
I try hard to believe that I can drop backwards
without looking and that Faith will receive me with
open arms. This time its not that Im
a suspicious and inherently distrustful person that
prevents me from believing in the power of my girlfriend
to catch and embrace me. Its that she cant.
Ive 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 Im killing you."
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 its like she doesnt 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. Its
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.
Its like Im lying back in a dental
chair but without the chair, and with Faiths
chin pressing into my head. Its the most uncomfortable
and precarious position I can imagine. If a breeze
blows in through the open window were both
in serious danger of toppling over. At least Im
not really at the dentists, 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 its some yogic interpretation
of life and death, gravity and a lack thereof.
"Just dont move."
Is this our destiny for labor and delivery? Two
small women alone doing a job meant for a man and
"Its not like we were really going to
do those positions anyway," I tell Faith later.
"I mean, Ill probably be in so much pain
Ill be yelling at you to get the fuck away
from me. Trust me, we wont 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
youve been taught and to perform prenatal
partner yoga. But maybe thats just me again
wondering whether or not weve 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.
"Ill remember them," Faith says
without batting an eye.
Im so relieved. Of course, well be
okay! Of course, were doing the right thing!
Didnt we breathe in beautiful synchrony with
each other during warrior pose? Didnt we relax
deeply and without laughing during the twenty minute
meditation that concluded the workshop? Havent
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.