Husbandry (2)

Continued from Part 1

What a shame it was, she was stuck with that sad B-movie actor with the low sperm count who was a lousy provider and probably a lousy fuck, as well… She never conceived — but not because of dumb luck or chance or poor uterine conditions. She never conceived, because she hated herself for being with that husband. Her body didn’t want to be there. I heard it speculated in a chat room that she hated his guts, and I suspected all along that a part of her — a very big part of her — in no way wanted to bear his spawn.

He didn’t have what it took to do it. For what it took was Desire. It took Hunger. Not the $10,000-a-shot chilled sperm, not the specialists, not the surgery, not the implants, not the prayers, the techniques, the balancing upside down to let his barren spunk wander its useless way down her would-be birth canal… It took the kind of passion that’s willing to wreck itself on the rocks of impropriety for the sake of the other. It couldn’t come from a man who thought more of himself than her, who wanted only to keep her where he could see her and patrol her borders in the dark of night, when he should have been running free across her wide open spaces, diving into her depths, and pushing the edges of her envelope of safety for the sake of Desire. What it took, was something more than what he had to give, and before she met you, we all thought, what a shame she didn’t have someone to savor her the way she deserved.

Back then, your lover stood a better chance of making babies, by living on her own, bathing by the light of the full moon, daubing herbs across her ripe and ready body, murmuring the secret words that would split the egg waiting deep within her, waiting for so, so long, so long that it was prepared to give up once and for all if HE didn’t leave soon… She stood a better chance preparing herself in the luminous moonlight and inviting conception on her own, than she did fucking that guy in the middle of each of her monthly cycles. Her baby wanted to come, but wouldn’t yet because HE was still there.

There’s more to her conceiving a child than biology, there’s more to it than making sure temperatures are taken and eggs are dropped. There’s more to making babies than forcing egg and sperm to join. It’s about making life out of nothing, because life wants to come in, and it sees a suitable place to take root. And when she came to you, she found herself savored. She came to you and she found Desire, and the right, right feeling that the one she was with was the one who deserved to call her children theirs, as well.

As infertile as she was with her ex-husband, both of you sensed/felt/knew she would never be so barren with you. From the moment she met you, her body wanted you. You knew it. She felt it. And her body would not reject the seed you sent to it. She said she was sure of it. Her body and your intention would be more… You promised it. You both must have known you had what her ex didn’t — Desirability. Did it make you want all the more, knowing how much she wanted you, to try your hand at the work of conception? To see if you could fan the cold spark glowing in the charcoal bed of her heart, where her hope had nearly died? To see if perhaps the attraction between two women could be strong enough to convince one of the bodies involved that it wanted to house a growing inhabitant, no matter what it tells men knocking at the door?

She came to you and you gave her the chance she never had with him. She came to you, leaving her ex-husband and making her home in your house, in your bed, and never saying she regretted a thing about her choice. She came to you and rubbed herself raw on the gravel of your desire, her skin bright pink, shiny with sweat, her hair a tangled mass falling across her face as she lay across the bed, back arched, long legs wrapped around your head, her firm thighs clenched tight around your ears blocking out all sounds but the rise and fall of her calling as you rocked her back and forth across the bed… When you first talked with her about kids, in your mind’s eye did you see a turkey baster in your hands with a silvery pool of latent life washing out to meet her, as she lifted her hips in the air to take the semen you shot from the opaque plastic rocket you held in your trembling hand, squeezing its rubbery brown bulb with all the intensity called for at the moment of conception? Did you know from the start, she’d be the mother of your child?

What did you say, famous woman, when she first asked you? When she ventured “Do you want to have a baby?” almost not daring to meet your gaze? Did you pull her to you tenderly, touched by her trust in you, by her faith in your relationship, by her courage at wanting to do this immense thing that would endure your whole lives — and beyond?

Or did you back away, uncertain? Uncertain about her motivation? Uncertain about your preparedness, wondering if you were up to such an awesome responsibility? Not sure if you’d even be able to do it — where would you find a donor? How much should he… donate? When would you do it? When would her body be ready? Would you two know the right time, reading all the books that told you how to get your rhythms in sync, taking her temperature daily, for days, weeks on end, till it fell within the proper parameters? What if your show went on the road, when she was at her most fertile? What if you weren’t around at just the right moment? Did your mind short-circuit over the logistical challenges?

Did you give this serious thought before you got into this commitment, or did you go with the flow and trust your gut instincts? Did your mind consent to following your heart, her heart, then rethink your actions over and over in the advancing months of her gestation, watching her get bigger and bigger with each passing week, wondering if this was truly what you wanted, watching and waiting and fantasizing about taking the next opportunity to cut free, run from it all, hoping everyone would forgive you — your parents, your lover, your fans, your unborn child? Did you have serious doubts about whether you really could stick with it, hoping and praying that you’d just adjust and cope, hoping your wild ways would change for good, green with envy at the other dykes you know who were still footloose and fancy free?

What did you do with the fear — the fear that you just couldn’t do it?

To breed, to husband, comes naturally to some. Some stake their lives and reputations on it. I wonder sometimes if I’d be any good at it, myself. And I wonder how you’ll handle yourself, as your progeny grows full and strong and future generations spring from your mind and your handiwork. Your art isn’t the only part of you that will last into the years to come.

In so many ways, you’re providing for the future. With your art, your legacy of creative genius, and now with your child, your partnership, your marriage, your legacy of material and spirit. It’s what you’ve been doing all along — providing — and you’ve always been a good provider.

The house, the cars, the clothes, the child… You provide, protect, and now you impregnate. You give your lover a stable home and a steady income. You let her decide if and when she wants to work outside the home. You’re supportive, even solicitous. A house, plenty of food, every luxury she could imagine, the kind of life almost any girl would want. The kind of life any mother would want for her daughter. So what, if you don’t pee through your dick? Her mother can overlook that, since you’re giving her daughter the ultimate gift — a child of her own. Forget the BMW, the cruises, the ’round the world trips. You’ve given her a baby.

you’ll make sure that mother and child are always safe and sound.

You’ll keep her safe and warm and the nest well-feathered. You’ll keep her happy, satisfied. You’ll keep her. Come to think of it, is this another way you planned to keep her?

Tell me, do you think she’ll ever go?

Tell me, how could she?

And how could you? She had your baby.

But honestly, what do you get out of this? Sure, you made history, sure you did what very few have the guts or the resources to do. Sure, you made a clear statement to the world about your right to have a family, if you so choose. But what’s come out of that statement, that act, that personal-as-political defiance that you threw into the limelight? Another mouth to feed, another startling announcement to an ignorant world that you, too, can have a “normal” life? A proclamation that will resonate a while then fade to politely disguised public discomfort?

Now that Baby is really here, behind the scenes, the situation must be less glamorous to be sure — colic and pabulum and rectal thermometers… not a full night’s sleep since the birth, a lover who doesn’t want to be touched, the impossible search for a decent baby-sitter when you want a night out on your own…. complications, so many, many complications…

What happens when the misgivings set in? Do you sometimes lock yourself in the bathroom with the newspaper and weigh the rewards you gain, and decide now and then that you’ve come up short? No time left to yourself, no more discretionary funds or resources. No freedom to flirt, no chance to escape the reaching, clinging child on your lover’s hip… Now committed and set on this course, do you compensate yourself by indulging your occasional impulses to bad behavior? Do you brag to the guys about what you’ve accomplished? Do you take your wife and Baby with you everywhere you go, like a testament to your virility? Look — look — do you crow with pride at what you’ve done?

Surely, you must feel some sense of accomplishment. Does it come out in ways you never expected, in ways that frighten and offend you a little, crowing and proud in front of the other guys, slipping into coarse temptations to re-enact the time you knocked her up, a-la locker room sleazy banter? And has it surprised you that you relish those ways, deep in your settled husbanding heart of hearts?

Or do you fight that urge and keep to the high road? Now that you’ve worked past the anxiety, do you find you like this business of impregnating and birthing? Do you take great pains and pleasure in creating a safe, warm place in your heart and mind for this new life? You’ve done what husbands have done since there first were loyal husbands and devoted fathers, watching your woman’s belly swell and the child inside grow strong, welcoming Baby into the world with a freshly painted room studded with mobiles and visually stimulating toys, marveling at those tiny fingers, tiny toenails, little button nose, amazed, awed by the new life you’ve created, pride welling up in your throat, your heart beating strong, and your loins full of fire, thinking all the while of the future generations to spring from your line.

With Baby’s welfare alone, in mind, were you sensitive and sincere throughout your partner’s pregnancy? Did you have sympathy pains, vomiting alongside her each morning for the first trimester? Did you also eat for two, and did you end up not fitting into your clothing and have to hire a personal trainer, when your manager started to comment on the width of your hips? Did you wake at 2:00 a.m., reaching for your lover in the bed beside you, finding her space cold, and pad downstairs in your nightshirt, joining her at the kitchen table for a midnight snack? Or did you just pour a glass of milk, kiss her softly, and head back to bed, so you could rise at dawn and rehearse the next day?

Were you there in the delivery room, with her every step of the way, when she was in labor, wishing it were you, not her, in such pain? Did you pray you could take that pain from her, lift her out of her own skin, he flesh and bones shrieking in trauma and agony, as she bore you a child from her wracked flesh? And when your baby was finally born, did you wish it were you, lying there soaked in sweat and trauma, holding a little life that came from your very own body? Through it all, did you secretly wish you could be doing this thing, this awesome, amazing, wonderful thing? Did you talk about trading places with her next time you planned to have a kid? She said it was the most miraculous thing that’s ever happened to her. Did you entertain the idea of being the one big and round and full of extra bones and flesh and blood? Through it all, I’m sure you knew you could, if you only wanted to.

You just choose not to.

The more you think about it, do you realize it’s not for you?

I know I do. Every now and then, my body will ask for a baby, begging for sperm to join with my egg, and I’ll sit with the idea for a few hours, thinking about what it would be like to feel an extra being nestled in the cradle of my womb, knowing it’s wholly dependent upon me for sustenance and existence. Every now and then, when I hear about dykes making babies, I wonder what it would be like to watch my own lover swell with what I’ve put within her, feeling the awesome thrill of accomplishment, the ultimate creative act, the one (perhaps only) thing that makes girls into women in the eyes of the world, and the one thing that would seal my identity as a real adult. But the idea lasts only as long as I can take the images of rending blood and tissue and epesiotemies and screams… ambulance-pitch yells at 3:00 a.m. for months on end and guessing at what the different decibels mean…. guessing which symptoms mean what illness, wondering if it’s normal for infants to look and act that way, having no clue how this particular baby should be cared for… the trips to the doctor and the back-to-school sales and the pictures taken every couple months to chart the course of the growth of this life I’ve brought into the world… the pressure to turn this child into a real man or a real woman… The allure lasts all of 15 minutes. Then I get off at my subway stop, or I finish my business in the restroom, or I roll over and go back to sleep.

To be continued…

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