Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Could Throw Up, Too

Yesterday was an emotional ride in an old pick-up through the rolling hills of Missouri while trying to hold a full glass of red wine while wearing an expensive white pant suit.

Mindy and I went to our OB appointment on Tuesday. The doctor was friendly, even when Mindy said she had a list of questions. Dr. Winkelmann actually turned around to face her and listened intently without ever hinting that she was in any hurry. She was supportive. Actually, she had walked into the room when Mindy and I were bitching about our days, about the student loan repayment and about how frustrating work is. The doctor asked how we were doing to which we both replied, "Ugh."

"Well, I can't get a deferment on my student loans because I'm single (I nod toward Mindy) and I don't have any dependents (I point to Mindy's stomach)."

The doctor, whether she meant it or not said, "I wish there was something I could do." And then we hit her with our questions about natural childbirth and episiotomies and the like.

Mindy also said that I was afraid she'd die and leave me with the baby. The doc turned to me, on her swivel stool, and said, "Not on my watch."

I like her.

Then she told us to come back in two weeks for "the big ultrasound." And, instead of handing Mindy the appointment slip, she handed it to me. That small gesture almost made the student loans worth it.

So, yesterday we had scheduled a tour of the birthing center here in Columbia. Last week we checked out Fulton. Yes, Fulton, because we'd heard a doctor there does natural childbirth and all that, so we decided to check out the facilities. The nurse on duty was busy and kept getting phone calls, but overall, she seemed no nonsense. Mindy even said, "We're gay. Is that a problem?" And the nurse, in between picking up the phone (ob, this is shelly), shook her head and told us one of the night nurses was a lesbian and she'd (O.B., this is shelly) be thrilled.

Anyway, we went to our appointment last night. In the waiting room for the tour was: a white couple with kid and a pregnant mom, a black couple with a kid and a pregnant mom, a single white woman with a huge stomach, and us.

A white nurse came out, her tiny, gold cross necklace (jesus included), bouncing as she checked our names off of the list. When she got to the white couple, the mom pointed to her son and said, "He's here for the big brother class." The nurse got all fake excited and asked the kid his name, what he did in school that day...all that. She turned to walk away when the black woman asked what that class was for. The nurse, ignoring the black kid, told the mom about the class.

When the nurse got to the pregnant white woman who was alone, she asked if anyone would be joining her for the tour. The woman said, "No, he's deployed." The nurse apologized and was fake sympathetic.

Then the tour began.

We walked in a silent, awkward group through halls and into rooms where the nurse explained this or that.

When we reached the first elevator she asked the white kid if he'd push #3 and then said, "thank you, sir." It was then that she finally turned to the black kid and asked what grade he was in. Then we got out of the elevator.

Finally we reached the labor and delivery room. It was big and nice. The nurse told us this and that while we stood staring at the delivery table/bed. It looked like a normal hospital bed until she twisted some things around, pushed some buttons and voila! stirrups flew up and this is where you have your baby! She walked to a wall and flipped a switch. LIGHTS! There was a harsh, bright light shining down on the empty bed with the empty stirrups. We stared. The light was only made worse by the whiteness of the sheets. I squinted and had to look away.

I pictured my beautiful wife there on that table, that light right on her business, her legs spread wide and nurse all standing around. She was sweating and screaming and all eyes would be right on her vagina, lit up like it was with those LIGHTS! All the world's a stage.

I zoned out as the nurse said stupid stuff and talked to us in a voice like we were kids. Finally she asked if there were questions. I asked if they had a birthing chair. She said, "No." But then she played with the switches on the bed, putting it at different angles and saying, "it'll kindof move..."

We made it to the postpartum room where she called the white man "Dad." And said nothing of the sort to the black man.

It was here that she went on about the menu you could order from after you give birth, because you'll be very hungry. You just pick up the phone and say, "This is Mrs. Smith" and you can have anything you want.

The white "Mom" asked if the babies get wristbands. The nurse explained that they wore several to indicate who they were.

Dad gets a wristband, too, she told us while looking at the white couple.

I didn't like this nurse to begin with, but at this point, I despised her. The single lady had already told you that her husband's deployed. Obviously, Mindy and I are two huge lesbians. It seems like she's assumed the black man probably isn't the baby daddy. So, who is she talking to when she says, 'Dad gets a wristband, too."

I understand that Mindy and I are the minority, that maybe she's never given the tour to gay people...or black people by the way she's acting. But, a considerate person might have know, that woman said her husband is in a foreign country fighting a war, so maybe I won't say "Dad" because it might upset her. You know, since her husband won't be here for the birth of their baby.

Now, wait for it...

Then she said that the babies wore a security device on their umbilical stumps. In fact, if a baby goes any where near an elevator or one of the hundreds of locked doors, the doors freeze and the elevators don't work and the alarm goes off. She's very pleased as she says this. My mouth hangs open.

"So, the babies are micro chipped in their umbilical cord?" I asked.

"Yes. Isn't that great!?"

"No," I said, "It's totally creepy."

The last stop on the tour was the nursery. We looked in the window at two babies off in the distance. By that time I was ready for a drink. She says, almost under her breath, "I'm gonna get those babies closer to the window."

She goes into the nursery, pushes them up close, then unswaddles and baby (causing it to cry) and holds it up to us. The white MOM coos. The rest of us look around. Then, she grabs the security tag and flips it up with her fingers; it's the size of the baby's shin. (Imagine wearing a tag the size of your own shin. Now, try to sleep comfortably.

While she was doing all this the baby spit up. The extremely pregnant single woman jumped back and made a terrified noise. "You can tell I don't have kids...yet."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Add it Up.

My friend Amy, showed me this New York Time's article back in October. Since then, I've thought much more about "The Cost of Being Gay."

I think people (my family) assume that because I'm a professor, I make a lot of money. I don't. I make less being Professor Holzhauser than I did counting and weighing artifacts, digging holes, and drinking too much in cheap hotel rooms.

I make about 11.50 and hour. Before taxes. Yes, this is what I earn teaching English to college freshmen, our country's future leaders. Since Mindy isn't here, I'm not going to tell you how much she makes, but I'll hint that it's not very much more than what I make.

We have a nice house, but didn't overpay. We didn't take out one of those huge loans we couldn't afford (we bought our house just seconds before wall street fell). We have a budget and we're usually close to sticking to it. We don't buy much. What we do spend money on is beer, eating out and scrapbooking. But, really, we only eat out about 4 times a month. For a European that might sound like a lot, but to an American, I'm sure we're way under average.

With the widget on the way (in 4.5 months) we've been trying to think of ways to save/earn money. I'm applying to be a Census worker: It pays more.

Besides our house payment, one of our biggest bills is our students loans. It totals 500$ a month. That's like another house, you guys.

I called one of my loan places and asked if I could have an economic hardship deferral. I told the guy that my family size is 3 (as defined on the form), but of course, it didn't actually work out that way since 1. I'm single 2. I have no dependents. I explained that I was married (we live together and share the bills), and my wife is pregnant. It's not that he was rude, he just sort of ignored all that, since it doesn't actually matter. He said I wasn't eligible.

I've checked out getting food stamps, but we make too much. Of course, there isn't a section on the form for, like, *very high student loan repayments* so they think we have 500$ more a month than we really do.

Oh, I know, you're judging me. Normally, I wouldn't condone people trying to get food stamps when they don't actually need them. But, I pay the same taxes you do, and I get much less in return.

I can't have Mindy's health insurance.
If I had health insurance through my work, she couldn't be on mine.

This is a total bummer because, well, the widget will always have to be on her insurance. Even if I got a nice paying job and Mindy wanted to stay home, we couldn't do it because the widget needs health insurance.

I get so mad and I just fucking cry sometimes.

My taxable martial status is "Single." In fact, on all legal documents, I have to check single.

At our first OB appointment, Mindy had to write down an emergency contact and her relationship to that person. She put my name on the line that read "Spouse." The next time we went, when the receptionist handed her the paper and said, "Make sure everything on there is right," we saw that my name had been moved down the list to the line that read "Other."

Since my name is long, it looks something like this:

Emergency Contact
Relationship: Other/Christina Holzhau

So, no, receptionist, everything is not right. It's incomplete. In fact, it looks very, very wrong.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


There isn't a specific time I remember when I thought, "I want to shave my head." It was sort of a natural progression. You may remember that in past writings I've mentioned my spiky blue hair with long blonde bangs. The truth is, that hair style didn't last long (my girlfriend at the time said she didn't really like it). So, it was Sarah who cut those bangs. Not long after, I walked into a Sally Beauty Supply shop and bought electric clippers.

If you're a woman, I encourage you to shave your head once in your life. The feeling of a shaved head is about equal to driving through the expanse of the western u.s. So much freedom and solitude...and the feeling that you might be the only one.

I didn' t have to shampoo for weeks at a time. I just got my head wet and rubbed it a little. I never had to brush it, and of course, there was nothing to style.

Now, believe it or not, I got called "ma'am" more than before I shaved my head. Even in the most liberal parts of Houston, if I wore a baseball hat, I was a sir. At the time I was offended, though I was aware I was slightly gender bending. I had tiny boobs. I was very thin. I wore cargo pants and thrift store t-shirts. I looked like, on more days than not, a 14 year old boy. But I still knew I was a girl and I wanted others to feel it, too.

* * *

Besides Mindy falling asleep as soon as she sits down, the most annoying thing right now is people asking if we're going to find out the "gender" of the baby.

I'm no expert on sexuality, but I do know this: Gender=what you feel like. Sex=What you have. People have sex changes because their brains don't match what their bodies are. I don't have time to educate everyone on all of this, so I hope it makes sense.

Let me clarify: No, all lesbians don't want to be men (but some do). No, all gay men don't want to be women (but some do). Some straight men like to dress as women, but don't want to be a woman. Some straight women hate dresses but still have sex with men. You see, everyone is different. Everyone has her own gender, sliding up and down and all around out of control.

I have boobs and a vagina. That makes me a girl. But, sometimes my characteristics are more masculine...and that makes me...a human being.

Oh, I know people really mean to ask what the sex of the baby is. We don't know and we don't want to find out. When we tell some people that, they get all pissy and say "well, it'll be hard to buy for." What a crock of shit.

It's a baby, you guys. The baby won't care what it's wearing until it gets older and all of the social constraints are put upon it. Every culture decides what is masculine and feminine.

* * *

I started dance lessons when I was 2 and a half. Obviously, I didn't make the decision. My mom had grown my hair to my waist. People told me how pretty I was, how pretty my long blonde hair was. They'd touch it. Several times a year I'd be slathered in make-up, put in a tu-tu, and shoved onto a stage to dance. I never really like it, but it wasn't terrible, either. But I didn't like to play dress-up when I was home, with other girls. I wanted to play army or war or something.

My family kept buying me Barbie dolls. I hated them. But they just kept coming in. I had a huge doll house crammed full of naked barbies. I was pissed when I realized I couldn't fit Ken's shoes on Barbie's unnaturally arched feet. I asked for GI Joes. I got Barbies, My Little Ponies (they weren't so bad), and Cabbage Patch Kids (and I actually didn't mind them, either.)

I asked for football pads and drum sets. I played with my cousin's GI Joes and Ninja Turtles whenever I visited.

The boys in town wouldn't let me play football until I proved myself.

* * *

Right after I shaved my head I visited my cousin at her grandmother's house. My cousin had just had a baby. The year was 2001, I think. Anyway, her grandma had Alzheimer's and so she had to watch her for a while. Her grandma, who had known me my whole life, walked into the living room and JoAnn said, "grandma, remember Christina?" The woman looked at me, horrified. She turned around and said, "boygirlboygirlboygirl." After a few minutes she'd quit and start to do other things in the house. But, when she'd see me, she was reminded, "boy girl boy girl."

* * *

If our baby has a penis but wants dolls, I'll buy them for him. If she has a vagina and wants to only wear baseball shirts, I'll let her.

People want to know so they can categorize, so they can start imagining what he or she will do, how beautiful or handsome the kid will be.

Give my baby a break. Don't start assigning it gender roles. It'll already have enough troubles explaining why he or she has two moms.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Rope Swing

It was the year that the final plastic seat broke on my swing set that I begged Mom and Dad to keep the frame in the yard. It still had some use, I figured. It still had the lower, horizontal bars on both sides, the ones bracing the two larger, diagonal poles on each side. Those lower bars I could flip over quite gracefully thanks to gymnastics classes. When I grew tired of that, I'd find new ways to use the long, lonely bar that ran down the center. I mean, sure, I'd pull myself up on one side and pull myself along with my arms, feet dangling, till I reached the other side. A few times I'd try to flip around it, like the smaller bars, but Mom yelled at me that it was too dangerous since it was so high off the ground.

One day, one lonely only child day, I found an old yellow nylon rope in the shed. I tied one end to the swing set. At first I tried to Tarzan swing on it, but it just hurt my hands. After some thinking, I tied a hoop in the rope and put it out in the middle of the set. Satisfied, I climbed one side and shimmied out with my hands. The idea was to put both legs into the hoop and then my ass, you know, a swing. I got my right leg in with no problem. But something happened I hadn't foreseen: the rope slid all the way up to my crotch. My hands, already balmy, great sweatier with the anxiety. I couldn't get my leg out of the hoop and I couldn't get my other leg in. I couldn't hold myself on the bar with one hand because the bar was too fat. I hung there a moment, staring out over the river, trying to plan my next move. I glanced down at the circle of rope stuck between my legs. I had two options: let go, rack myself and fall to the ground OR wait until my little hands grew too tired and sweaty then rack myself and fall to the ground.

The other day Mindy and I bought bottle covers. We're going to use glass bottles, so these rubber covers make them easier to hold and less likely to break. We found them on clearance at Target, super cheap. It was a strange moment in the baby aisle. Mindy and I looked at each other, "we should get them, since they're on sale" I said. Mindy hesitated, the look of disbelief I've grown used to over the past 14 weeks. So, again I said, "Let's just buy them." "How many?" asked Mindy.

We didn't know.

It's really the first thing we've bought for the widget. We've received a few gifts here and there: a skeleton onesie, a hand me down outfit from a friend to get us in the mood.

We strolled around Babies 'R Us (a horrible warehouse of a place). There were diapers, thousands. I didn't realize how expensive they are. There were cleaning products, nail clippers for teeny, tiny hands. They had everything a human would use, except in miniature.

In the clothing section Mindy got a little teary and turned to me, "I'm pregnant." I know, babe. I know.

I found a little baseball jersey that happened to have the number 25 on it. That number means a lot to me, a whole history of Holzhausers and baseball and that number. I couldn't resist. Whatever that means.

So, just a little over 25 weeks to go until...until it all ends and begins.

I held on to that bar as long as I could. It felt like hours, years. I couldn't let go, just in case someone came by to help or something just in case I figured out the solution. I kept imagining how horrible that rope would feel when I slipped and all my weight would land straight on my crotch...and that thin nylon rope. I started to cry a few times, but told myself to shut-up, I'd put myself in that position.

When my fingers finally slipped, it happened. I came straight down on the rope and fell about three feet to the ground. I lay there a moment, assessing the damages. It was just a little rope burn, stinging the tender area of my very upper thigh. My hands were red and smelled like rust. I jumped up, laughed at the rope, pulled it down and went on and on and on.

As far as I know, no one saw me fall.