HINI enough for you? Sorry, couldn’t resist.
We’ve all had our plague over at this end: Rowan came home from a class trip to the play farm exhausted and lethargic and put himself to bed for two days. Rachel coughed approximately twice. Isaac was feverish and snotty and sleepy for a week. As for me, I developed a sudden-onset hacking cough and low-grade fever right on the tail end of the Great, Never-Ending Sinus Infection of 2009. In a fit of denial, I ushered myself into my GP’s office so that she could “rule out bronchitis.” Because, me? I don’t get the flu. The flu is for mere mortals who ACTUALLY LEAVE THEIR HOUSES. Which I, as a self-employed, home-office–based freelancer, prefer not to do. I was genuinely surprised when my doctor showed up in the examining room decked out in a hazmat suit and took my temperature and blood oxygen levels and then handed me a prescription for Tamiflu and a requisition for a chest x-ray. And a mask. I looked at the little blue piece of paper in my hand.
“You mean, like, a chest x-ray in the next few days? Like if things get bad?”
“No,” she said, looking at me as though the flu had affected my brain. Which maybe it had. “I mean a chest x-ray now. Your lungs don’t sound too good.”
I keep forgetting I have children, I guess. Children who are snotty germ magnets. Children who insist upon drinking from your water bottle and licking your cheek and coughing into your face. Children who are only just becoming adept at handwashing and coughing into their elbows. Children who go to school with other children and pick up all their germs. Before I had children, I rarely got sick. But Rowan’s birth seemed to usher in the Age of the Antibiotic, and Isaac’s arrival did nothing to stop it. Life with children seems to be a series of steppingstones from one prescription to the next: bronchitis, ear infections, pinkeye, strep. It’s a wonder we get anything done around here.
And yet, we do. I’d complain more (okay, maybe that would be difficult, but shut up) about the constant sickness, not to mention the other zillion parental things that take up vast swaths of my time and energy, except for the fact that I can’t argue that the children have somehow made me less productive. In the era BC (Before Children), when I — in theory — had all the time in the world to write, I didn’t seem to. But the Age of the Antibiotic seems to have had the side effect of writerly productivity: the novel pages are adding up, a slow series of essays have been accepted (and more than a few rejected), not to mention this blog, which wouldn’t exist without the kids. (Or, if it did, it would be kind of creepy.)
And neither would this book.
Yes, it’s in (Canadian) stores now, and will be in the US come the spring. And, last weekend, Rachel, Rowan, Isaac and I had sufficiently recovered from our viral invasion to get on a plane and fly to Toronto for the official launch of And Baby Makes More: Known Donors, Queer Parents and Our Unexpected Families.
I’m so glad we did. You know, I spent a lot of my 20s regularly visiting the Toronto Women’s Bookstore — a must for a downtown-dwelling women’s studies major, really. So it was a singular thrill to see my own anthology launched there. As it was to meet for the first time so many of the contributors to the anthology: Mary Bowers (who drove in all the way from Chicago), Annemarie Shrouder, Carrie Elizabeth Wildman, Shira Spector, Dawn Whitwell, Torsten Bernhardt, Marcie Gibson, Erin Sandilands, Jake Szamosi. And some of their kids. Mary and Annemarie brought the house down with fantastic readings. My doting father took lots of pictures.
And Rachel (who also has an essay in the book, by the way; all you non-bio moms in particular might want to take a look) brought the kids. We were a little concerned that a book launch wasn’t necessarily the best venue for them, but they held their own just fine. Rowan took good advantage of the cookies and juice, capitalizing on the fact that there was little we could do to stop him from availing himself of a sixth Oreo in the middle of someone’s reading. At one point during my reading I looked up, and he had walked down the middle of the aisle to watch me. He stood, smiling, ten feet away, as I told the story of the events and the people leading up to his conception and birth, the complicated and exquisite love that brought him and his brother into the world and that surrounds their lives. He looked at me, smiling, and I looked at him and smiled back as I read, and then, when I looked up again, he had gone, in all likelihood back to the cookie table.
“Susan's talking now!” he told Rachel. Later, he asked her, “When Susan was talking, was that from the book she made?” he asked Rachel, later. “Yes, she she was,” she told him. And that night, as I put him to bed, he told me, “Congratulations on your book, mom. It’s nice that you made a book about us. I liked the party.”
And then he coughed. Still, it’s also thrilling to know that he’s beginning to get a glimpse into what exactly it is that I do, and how he and his brother are part of it — germs and all.