Friday, November 15, 2013

Do you really need to discuss these things before marriage? I don't think so....

This HuffPo article lists 35 things that you "absolutely must agree upon before marriage."  Some of the things listed are "Coke or Pepsi?" and "Cold pizza: yes or no?"

Do people get divorced over pizza and soda?  Or about how the toilet paper hangs off the roll?  Do relationships fall apart at the seams because one person likes roller coasters and the other doesn't?  Should breakfast for dinner be a deal breaker?  This list is preposterous.  If you are considering marrying someone, their preference for mayo or miracle whip probably shouldn't factor into it.  There is room for both in the fridge, really.  I don't have any studies to back this up, but I'm pretty sure sandwich condiment preferences don't predict successful relationships.

What is important is how you talk about these 35 things.  If you are considering marrying someone who refuses to have mayo in the house and demands that you learn to love miracle whip, that should be a deal breaker.  If you can't handle the remote being misplaced once in while, you should probably live alone, forever.  Maybe the point is to have practice conversations about little things that don't matter to gear up for the big ones.  I see some pretty glaring omissions.   I guess if you can have a serious conversation about the toothpaste cap then you can graduate to discussing things like shared bank accounts and kids.  That must be the author's intent....  nope?  Well, damn.  First of all, no one will agree on all of these things.  Second, if these things haunt your marriage, you are probably doomed and someone should speak instead of forever holding their peace.

Here are is a short and incomplete list of serious things I think you should talk about before marriage.

  • Kids, duh.  
  • Where to live
  • Will anyone stay home?  Who will work?
  • Money and debt. 
  • To share a bank account or not? 
  • If you don't like roller coasters, can I go ride them with my friends?  Me time and privacy.  Will you be allowed unlimited access to each other's Facebook or will you allow each other some privacy?
  • Religion and it's place or absence in your lives. 
  • Sex.  Make a yes/no/maybe list or at least a verbal one.
  • Marriage counseling.  Agree in advance to go if things get tough in the future. 
  • Whatever is important to you, not what some silly article says you should talk about. 

(I can't for the life of me figure out why it matters if my spouse likes cold pizza and I don't.  It's pizza.  He can eat it cold and I can eat it hot.  Modern kitchen appliances allow for great possibilities in this area.)  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Poly: Year One Analysis Part Two

I've already posted a retrospective of our first year experience.  Here I will discuss what I learned from what we did right.

We Approached It With Enthusiasm for Ourselves and Each Other
Truly, we had the best intentions for each other from the beginning.  I didn't want him held back from life experiences because of me.  We both wanted freedom and each other.  We both wanted to make sure the other one was comfortable with things before moving forward.  We were excited, maybe a little too excited, by the new possibilities that lay before us.  We had fun discussing things before we ventured forth.  The sex we had was always great, but the new level of openness between us allowed a new excitement and new experiences between each other.

Telling Our Friends and Some Family Created a Support Network
We weren't alone.  Having our closest friends and select family members in on the secret meant we could go to them when we needed to air things.  I love sharing stories.  If I had to keep all the NRE to myself at the beginning of things between me and NMB, I would have exploded!  At least sharing it with my friends kept my poor husband from bearing the full load of things.  When things went sour, people who knew about the open relationship also knew that we had gotten good experiences out of it. I could discuss the problems we were having without having to disclose the open relationship and having people immediately blame everything on poly.  "No, wait!  It's really what we both want, it's just gotten away from us!"

We Started With Rules, But We Renegotiated Many of Them Quickly and Easily
We started out discussing things like "No sex with others in our bed" and "No anal sex with others".  When these things became impractical, we renegotiated quickly and easily.  We kept communication open instead of holding fast to our rules.  Rules are a sensitive subject and one of those things experienced poly folk often criticize new poly folk for, but this is one area where we handled things the right way, I think.  Rules can be a tool to create comfort and build trust in the lifestyle.  Poly Man Whore had a post a while back stating that rules were proof that you didn't trust your partner.  Maybe so, but it also takes time to build trust in the poly lifestyle and learn the skills to make it work.  Rules can help protect you while you get there if you don't cling to them too desperately.

Initially, Our Communication Improved
As I previously touched on, we were all about sharing in the beginning.  We talked about a lot of what-ifs.  We shared sexual fantasies that we hadn't been completely open about.  We had always been fairly open about who we found attractive, but now we could be really honest without fear of hurting each other's feelings.  I could say to my husband, "I'd like to fuck that guy."  I'm ashamed to admit that I used to have some jealousy issues with him looking at porn.  Not that I had ever told him he couldn't, but it was something I didn't like to think about due to insecurity on my part.  This was quickly resolved when we started exploring being open.  A year later, we watch porn together and I'm mostly unfazed when he sleeps with someone new.  I found my compersion and I want him to have good experiences.

Meeting the Local Poly Group
This was one of the first things I did before we actually opened.  I looked up locals in nearby Big City and I went to a small social event at someone's house.  Meeting some people in the real world that make this happen gave me the confidence to move forward and give it all a try.  Without having had that experience, I would have been much slower to make moves.  After getting a good sample size of poly people who were nerdy, intelligent, interesting, well-educated, grounded and stable, I started to feel like it was possible to make it work in a way that I could live with.  (Side note: I'm glad I found the one poly group that I did first.  I went to one meeting of another group and the best way I can describe it is that it felt "cultish".  I may have walked away with a different opinion.  That group and it's vibe might work for other people, but it did not work for me.)

The Internet Was a Fantastic Resource
I read a lot.  When I was having a particularly difficult time with jealousy in the beginning, I did some Google searching and found More Than Two.  I can't recommend it enough as a free and comprehensive resource.  It's full of helpful tools.  The Internet lead me to the aforementioned local poly group.  The Internet gave us OkCupid and my boyfriend.  I continue to listen to the Savage Lovecast and learn more about other people's monogomish lifestyles.  I posted on r/polyamory when things got bad and reached out for the support of experienced poly people who like to write about it.  I used it to find the local poly group.  The books we read, The Ethical Slut and Opening Up were great, but the Internet gave us a searchable limitless database of other's experiences and lessons-learned.  Many people have noted that widespread access to the Internet has likely contributed to the growth of polyamory.  If I had not been exposed to the idea, I never would have come to it on my own.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Adventures in Public Breastfeeding: The Graduation

I've been slacking on my blog.  I promise I will publish a birth story at the very least and catch up on all my half written posts, but first I am inspired to tell this story. 

This past evening I attended my brother's junior high graduation.  I brought along my kid.  In the 3 weeks since he has been born, I've practiced public breastfeeding in a variety of locations including  a nursing school graduation, an outdoor market and several restaurants.  I know the law in my state states that I can breastfeed my child any place that I am authorized to be, the only exception being churches who are allowed to make their own rules.  Since you aren't likely to find me in a church, that means I can whip it out anywhere and feed my kid.  Incidental exposure of my nipple is irrelevant, according to the law.   

That said, I did feel slightly uncomfortable when my son started crying at the graduation.  I was seated in the middle of the room, right by the center aisle.  I elected to first calm him and then offer him the boob so as to attract less attention to myself while I got him to latch.  My plan was working.  Kiddo settled down and I exposed my breast momentarily while he latched.  My mom was sitting next to me and reached over to try to cover me.  

"I don't need a cover." I said.  Unfortunately, this may be the one time I did, as I looked up to see my friend's kid pointing his camera at me.  He had run down the center aisle in the middle of the ceremony to do this.  Now, this kid is autism spectrum, so his behavior can be more easily forgiven than a typical 14 year old.  It took me a moment to realize what he was doing and why the people around us were laughing.  I laughed too, but I also let my friend know what had happened.  

Now, some people might argue that this is exactly why women shouldn't breastfeed in public.  Here we have an impressionable young man who was witness to my *gasp* breasts in a public setting.  At a graduation, for cryin out loud!  A gymnasium filled with impressionable young minds! 

This is incorrect thinking.  I did nothing wrong.  I fed my baby.  The young man was the one in the wrong.  Photographing my exposed breast without my consent was completely inappropriate.  Likely, up until this point, all of his experience with breasts was through photos or videos on the Internet.  Of course it seemed appropriate to photograph this boob.  Since breastfeeding isn't something we see very often, he didn't know that this was different from the boobs he's experienced in the past. 

The outcome of this situation is exactly what should have happened.  His mother was informed of his actions, she corrected his behavior and he apologized to me.  He has been educated on breastfeeding and appropriate camera use.  Again, please remember that he is autism spectrum and thus has a different understanding of social rules.  It does not come naturally for him to predict the correct social behavior.  

When I prepared myself for breastfeeding in public, I did not prepare myself for this occurrence.  However, I think I handled it well.  The important thing is that my child was able to eat and I wasn't hassled for feeding him in the most natural and simple way that there is.   

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Impressions of a Clothing Optional Party

I had hoped to go to a clothing optional party while I was pregnant.  I have not been to an event like this before, but I liked the idea of walking around naked with my pregnant body.  Honestly, I feel like I look better naked than with clothes on at this point.  Clothes inevitably make me look bigger than I am. They hang off my bump and make every dress or loose top look like a moo-moo.  At least when I'm naked, what you see is what you get.  I don't hate my body, I'm just kinda sick of the physical limitations that pregnancy has bestowed on me.  As we speak I am hoping to induce labor before the weekend.  I want my body back.  So, my chance to go to an event like this as a massively pregnant person was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  It happened that I made it to the night of the party without going into labor.  It also happened that I was feeling pretty good.  The husband had a date in Big City planned for the same night, so I didn't have to worry about driving home in the early stages of labor should that start.  I could just call him to pick me up.  My boyfriend had secured my invite.  I had no excuses.  Anxieties be damned.  It had to happen.  

Knowing that my name was on a list and having attended some kink events, I was expecting a certain level of scrutiny upon arriving.  I was quite surprised when I knocked and someone called out, "Come on in"  A towel blocked the window of the door, but I could see enough flesh around it that I knew I was in the right place.  I walked in and joined a roomful of mostly nude people milling about and talking.  Other than the lack of clothing, it was a typical party atmosphere with chatter a murmuring throughout the room.  No one stopped me and asked for my name.  No one questioned my reason for being there.  The first person to talk to me was someone I recognized from some poly meetings.  Unfortunately, when you are about as pregnant as one can be and you arrive at a clothing optional party the very first question you have is "Where is the bathroom?"  Once that was settled, I met the organizer of the party and figured out my next move...  exactly how does one get naked at a clothing optional party?  The party organizer confirmed that I was Brazen Bunny and that I had received the e-mail with the rules.  Although I had received the email, I had a moment of brief mental panic.  "Maybe I missed something...  there weren't nearly enough rules, were there?  Surely..."  Then I reminded myself that I have common sense and I did get the email.  After asking, I was directed to a room upstairs where I might put my stuff and shed my clothing.  

Again, having attended a few large kink events where I found myself under intense scrutiny, I was surprised at the welcoming and laid back nature of this event.  The rules were basically thus: 
1) Be sanitary.  Carry a towel like a good hitchhiker and place it between your naked bits and the furniture should you chance to come in contact with it.  
2) Respect your fellow person.  Don't be a dick.  Don't do anything to make anyone feel uncomfortable.  
You know what?  It worked.  Those simple rules were followed.  No one even touched my belly without asking.  It was a shockingly comfortable environment.  I emerged from an upstairs bedroom in only my purple cotton panties.  I joined the people that I knew and indulged in some food.  A typical party atmosphere with nudity commenced.  I met some new people, re-familiarized myself with some people I had met in the past and spent some time with my boyfriend and our line of poly relationships.  I ate some delicious candied bacon and a chocolate cupcake.  I stood in a group talking until I could stand no longer and we retired to the "cuddle pit" which was kind of the best place for a pregnant lady to be.  Here we relaxed as a group and cuddled and talked.  Turns out it's really easy to tell when a clothing optional party is winding down...  you see less and less naked people.

Impressions?  Well...  bodies are nice to look at and although I appreciated seeing some very attractive people, it definitely wasn't the focus of my attention.  Being in a room with so many body types, I found myself focusing on only the good features of everyone.  This is the opposite of what people often do when looking at pictures of attractive people.  They tend to downplay good features and point out what is fake versus real.  In a room full of real life naked people, you just sort of take it all in and bask in the available nice features to observe.  At least that's how my brain responded, but I get the feeling that most people there operated like that.  No one was there to make anyone else feel bad.  But overall, it was about a feeling of freedom and a general social environment.  One side effect of having no clothes on is that there were no distractions from the social event at hand.  You had food and your fellow party goers to talk to.  No one was checking their phone.  Eye contact?  When you are worried about your eyes resting too long on a bare breast or a nice looking butt, it becomes easy to look someone in the face while you are talking to them.  Social interactions change in a positive way when everyone is nude.  At least that's what I can tell from my first experience with such things.  I expect I'll gain more experience in the future.  I can proudly say that I have attended my first clothing-optional event as pregnant as one can be.  I had fun and walked away feeling good.  I can not say that attending threw me into labor.  This is too bad.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Unexpected Third

It may have been somewhat absurdly timed, as things often are in my world, but the husband and I had an experience last night.  Well, two experiences, really.  I suppose it would be best for me to write about them separately, even though they were really one.  We had sex with a third party.  I had sex with a female-bodied person.  This happened while I am 38 weeks pregnant!  What the hell, Life?  You are one tricky MF.  Way to keep me on my toes!  Perhaps the hormones of impending motherhood are making me extra mushy, but this was a profound experience for me in several ways and I don't know that I have completely processed it yet.  I'm not going to write out a play by play.  Trust me, it was hot, but I want to write about the feels. 

First, there is the experience we had as a couple.  I've blogged before about the challenges we've encountered with opening our marriage and the added stress of the pregnancy.  Last night felt like the bookend to the beginning stages.  I feel like we've achieved a comfort level together that was difficult to imagine not that long ago.  The experience closed the first chapter on our poly life.  We have graduated.     I faced one of my fears in watching him with someone else.  Coming from someone who once demanded a Don't Ask Don't Tell policy with my husband's porn viewing, this is a Big Deal.  (This is not something I'm proud of, but it's true, blaming my Catholic upbringing goes a long way for crap like this.)  It's a good example of how much I've managed to grow as a person in the last year.  My confidence and security has increased exponentially.  I watched him flirt and wrestle and eventually kiss another person and I never felt the slightest twinge of jealousy or anything icky.  I was turned on!  Compersion, I has it.  My emotional homework was done and I was prepared for the test.  I didn't have to think.  The answers were there.  I was proud of the way we communicated in the beginning and throughout the experience.  It demonstrated our comfort level and the skills that we've learned.  I can't say that I didn't have any insecurities.  Having a new sex partner at this late stage of pregnancy did arouse some misgivings about my physical state, but I was reassured in a way that made me comfortable again.  The whole thing felt natural and organic and comfortable and just nice...  I did not expect it to be like that.  I expected a certain amount of discomfort for my first experience.  I was prepared to tread very carefully and take things slowly so that I could handle the negative emotions that were bound to come up.  The negativity never happened.  In the possibility of outcomes that I considered, one where everything went perfectly had never seemed a possibility.  I just wanted to fuck up as little as possible.  This is why I feel like we've graduated.  We aren't noobs anymore.  We can get things right the first time and walk away from a new and potentially delicate experience feeling good.  

The second part of this is my first experience with a female bodied person.  I first recognized my attraction to women in high school.  Aside from a few experiences during truth or dare games while drinking underage, I had not had the opportunity to explore this side of my sexuality outside of my head.  I had gone from one monogamous relationship with a man to another and at some point I started assuming that I wasn't bisexual at all.  I wrote it off as teenage hormones being out of control.  Why not?  I was perfectly satisfied with my male partners.  Opening had the side effect of reminding me of my attraction to women and gave me the opportunity to explore this again.  There were a few awkward and uncomfortable dates at the beginning of my OkC exploration, but again life got in the way and I decided not to pursue the experience at this time.  Then there was pregnancy and I put all new dating on hold.  Again, I was looking at an unspecified date sometime far in the future to fulfill my desire for exploration with a female.  I had accepted this.  

Thanks to last night, I can now go into motherhood having experienced and fully embraced my bisexuality.  I did not feel forced.  I didn't feel like I was just performing for my husband.  I was 100% in my body and in the moment.  I wanted it.  I enjoyed it.  I want it again.  Any self doubts I had about misinterpreting my attractions have evaporated.  I can completely claim bisexuality as a part of my identity, just as I can claim poly.  I don't have to wait and wonder about this any longer.    

I can't complete this post without expressing my gratitude to the person who gave us this gift.  I hope that she will spend more time with us in the future.  She is kind and comfortable and sweet.  She is beautiful and warm.  She gave us a special experience and I will be forever grateful.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Pancreas is a Dick

It's a little late in the pregnancy to be diagnosed, but it's true.  I have gestational diabetes.  Sigh.  Despite the fact that I'm a nurse, I don't know what this means yet.  I know that GD lends to larger babies.  I know that I will have to find a diet soda that I can live with.  I know that I won't be able to sit down with a whole sleeve of Thin Mints like I planned.  I know that my pregnancy is no longer a normal pregnancy and that I likely won't be allowed to go past my due date.  I know that I will have to eat small and frequent meals and avoid carbs and sugars.  I know that I will have to get past my hatred of sugar substitutes.  I know that I will have to check my blood sugar multiple times a day and that if I can't control it with diet, I'll be placed on an oral anti-diabetic.  I know that checking your blood sugar hurts. I know that I have no idea what I'll eat and that I have a hard enough time feeding myself now with no restrictions on my diet.  I know that my husband is good at this kind of stuff and that he'll help me.  I know that he'll also drive me crazy by telling me what I can't eat.  I know that I've shed a few tears over this, but the big cry is probably coming.  I also know that the ICU patient who lost her baby at 32 weeks would switch places with me in a heartbeat so I should suck it up and be thankful I still have a healthy baby growing inside of me.

And still, I'm mourning.  I'm mourning the loss of my healthy body.  I'm mourning the loss of ice cream and M&M's.  I'm mourning the loss of my freedom to eat whatever I want.  I'm mourning the fact that I no longer have chocolate as a legitimate coping mechanism.  I'm mourning the loss of the near perfect pregnancy that I had up until now.  I'm worried that this makes my chances of an intervention-free natural delivery less likely.  This makes me less likely to want to be pregnant again in the future.  It makes my thoughts of possibly being a surrogate less than ideal.

I realize that having GD for one pregnancy, doesn't mean I'll have it for others.  Apparently, my mom only had it for one of her four pregnancies.  I know that it does make it much more likely that I'll have it with subsequent pregnancies and that I'll develop type II diabetes later in life.  Despite the fact that I'm not hugely overweight, I'm fairly active and I have no family history of diabetes, I'm now at risk for being a diabetic forever.  If I get pregnant again in the future, I'll be screened for it much earlier and thus have much longer to deal with the consequences.

I'm resentful that this happens after it took so long to get pregnant in the first place.  I'm resentful that I waited until later in life and if I had kids sooner, I may not have had this happen.  I feel guilty for feeling resentful instead of just being happy that I have a healthy baby.

I've never before had to face a health problem that had real and serious consequences that demanded immediate life change.  I don't like this.  I don't like it one bit.  I cried while making a healthy snack last night, serious tears and sobs while spreading peanut butter on a whole wheat English muffin.  It was a tasty snack, but I cried anyway.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Comparison Between Two Fourth Birthday Parties

I've spent this Saturday afternoon and last Saturday afternoon at fourth birthday parties for two different children.  Last week was my boyfriend's daughter.  This week was my niece.  There were worlds of differences between these parties and only one of them was enjoyable for me.

Last week, there were many kids at the party.  They were loud and boisterous and had a great time.  The parents were older, late twenties/thirties, and attentive to their kids.  The kids played together and with the adults.  Some of the adults drank beer and played rock band.  There was good conversation about intelligent topics and a general family-friendly feel.  Each set of parents was responsible for their kid, but everyone kept an eye out in general.  It was laid back and enjoyable.  I wasn't bothered by the experienced mothers talking to me about being pregnant.  It turned out to be a great conversation starter and made me feel comfortable in the group.  Oh, and there were 3 poly couples at this party and 2 additional poly people that were there "solo", only in the sense that they were not accompanied by a primary partner as the couples were.  I'd say that made maybe 1/3-1/2 of the attendees poly.

Today...  ah, well, today was a different story.  I am thankful to have the opportunity to vent about this on my anonymous blog as it is directly insulting to my family.  Oh, where do I start?  First of all, I intentionally show up late as I've learned that it helps to minimize the amount of time I feel awkward and stressed.  I can blend into the crowd right away and hide.  The weather was nice and everyone was in the back yard as I arrived.  I come in through the gate and I am instantly bombarded with small children who want to pet the dog I brought to visit with my niece.  Soon, I a have my first awkward encounter.  My ex-step-father is standing in the doorway to the house, completely filling it and just standing there.  I have to ask him to move so I can put my gift inside.  I no longer speak to this man except at occasions like this.  I say no more than I must to get by socially.  Several years ago, he threatened me vaguely over the phone and I ended all relations with him at that time.  I will not reconnect.  I don't hold a grudge, but I don't need that in my life.  At these events, I walk a fine line of communication that sends a clear signal of what I am willing to give.

The party gradually filters inside and I take stock of the attendees.  The kids are mostly younger than my niece with a much younger set of parents.  Many of them want to talk to me about being pregnant.  I have little interest in this, but I try to be conscious of my age-bias and attempt to be friendly.  One of them says to me, "I just hate how tiny you are!"  I reply, "Thank you?" This mother would prove to be a real piece of work by the end of the party and that was my first taste of her personality.  Actually, let's go ahead and talk about Miss Thing for a moment.  She is approximately 20-21 years old.  She has 3 children, the two oldest are 10 months apart and probably about 2 and 3 years old, both boys.  The youngest was a baby girl, maybe 6 -8 months old who spend most of the time I saw her in the car seat.  The boys were eating candy the entire time.  She kept telling them, "No more candy" while doing nothing to stop them.  She didn't take away the candy they had.  She didn't put the candy out of reach.  Her words were empty and without consequence.  Eventually, she put the baby in the car seat and propped up a bottle for her, never checking back to see how she did with it.  I watched her lose the nipple and quickly maneuver it back into her mouth.  Good kid.  Near me, one of the toddler boys grabbed a bottle of beer and took a big swig.  Across the room, someone notices and hollers out, "Hey, that little boy has a beer!"  Miss Thing takes the beer away and says, "You can't have that!  A sip is okay, but not a whole drink!"

WHAT.  What?  WHAT!  what.

Can someone please explain to me why a 2 year old needs to know what beer tastes like and why you are announcing at a party that you allow your toddlers the occasional alcoholic drink?  He was clearly not put off by the taste so I doubt this was the first time.  This was when I decided that I really didn't like her.  The party was wrapping up now and some people leave.  I've noticed that one of the young moms has had her little girl, who is at crawling age, on her lap or within arms reach the entire time and I decide that I can have a nice conversation with her.  While this is going on, people start lighting up cigarettes in the house.  From now until the time I leave the party, there are at least 2 cigarettes burning in the room with me.  No one asks.  No one politely goes to the basement to smoke or outside where it's not even cold.  Funny thing is, the male smokers did not smoke around me.  It was only women and mothers themselves.  Really?  I send my brother across the room to retrieve my hoodie from the direct line of contamination.  This is when I start planning my escape, but I had waited too long.

Soon, everyone disappears downstairs to partake in a different sort of smoke.  Apparently, a child turning 4 is an occasion suitable for illegal drug use.  (I am not opposed to the use of certain illegal drugs, but I have issues with being left responsible for other people's children while they use.  I also have this crazy idea that maybe it's not a good idea at a child's birthday party.)  I am left upstairs with the one responsible young parent, my teenage brother and everyone's kids.  No one asked me to watch them.  No one asked me if I minded.  I'm 33 weeks pregnant and suddenly responsible for a small day care.  Car Seat Baby was placed in front of the TV and the candy-coated toddler boys were left to wander.  I stopped my niece from giving the baby small choking hazards and from weaving a balloon string through the toys of the baby's car seat.  I got to practice my mom voice on the Candy Twins when they attempted to wander upstairs.  They listened.  I chatted with Responsible Young Mom and did the minimum necessary to keep these children alive.  I really wanted to bathe the Candy Twins.  Their candy coated skin had attracted circles of dirt on their faces and hands.  They were filthy.  Eventually, everyone returns to the main floor and I start making moves towards the door.

At one point, my niece's grandmother  visits my side of the room with a lit cigarette hanging from her mouth.  She's putting my niece's coat on and asks me to zip it so she doesn't have to "bend over and get smoke in the baby's face".  I was too polite to say, "What about my face, bitch?  I can't walk up a flight of stairs without stopping halfway and you are polluting my air." and was content to know that I would be leaving very soon.  I grabbed my stuff, leashed the dog (who I had been watching more closely than Miss Thing had been watching her children) and started saying my goodbyes.  Then I see why my niece was being prepared for going outside.  Miss Thing's Baby Daddy has arrived with a toddler sized Spongebob Squarepants bounce house.  It inflated quickly.  I quickly note that it is not staked down and that there is a fair amount of breeze.  I turn to my mother who is drunk and high.

"You know those things are supposed to be staked down?  I've seen some horrible videos on the Internet of them flying through the air with children inside of them."

"Brazen, You are scaring me!"

"It's pretty breezy out here.  I'm leaving before I have to do CPR on any kids." And with that, I took my leave of the situation and washed my hands of all responsibility for other people's children.

Two birthday parties.  One thrown and attended by practicers of a "radical" lifestyle.  One thrown by my sister and attended by her other young mother friends.  One was a loving and safe environment for children and enjoyed by adults alike.  One was a hot mess that stressed me out for fear of the safety of children and blatant irresponsibility of most of the parents there.  There were exactly 3 adults at that party that had any right to be trusted with a child.  Only one of them was actually a parent and she needs new friends.  Just another reason why I've become a firm believer in building a family of choice.  My family of chance is cray cray.  Now if you'll excuse me, I feel like I need a flipping nap after all of that!  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Poly: Year One Analysis

These are some things I've learned over the last year.  They might not apply to everyone, but they are things that caught us by surprise.  Think of this as a list of where we went wrong and what I learned.

Unrealistic Expectations
When we were monogamous, we fell into this trap of believing that our commitment to each other was the only thing holding us back from relationships with others.  My husband had his crushes.  I had feelings toward male friends that I just knew would be reciprocated if things were different.  I had it in my head that me and my choice to be married was the only thing keeping me from exploring other relationships and my sexuality.  This was a silly fallacy that was quickly disproven.  My husband was shot down by crush after crush.  I was gently let down by my friend.  We had to remember that there are other factors outside of our relationship that we cannot control and that, as obvious as it should have been, there was not an army of potential lovers just waiting for permission to fuck us or love us.  Surely every new open couple goes into this with some level of unrealistic expectations, at least the ones that, like us, have been in a monogamous microcosm with strict guards against the outside world and a stunted emotional maturity when it comes to dating.  We had a lot to learn and one of them was the following bullet point.

Preparation for Outside Influences
Opening your relationship means more than sex and acceptance of emotions for others, it means opening yourself up to rejection.  Your relationship may be damaged by the unpredictable actions of others.  We were unprepared to weather this storm.  For my poly experiences, my emotions were not very negatively affected.  I have had mostly positive experiences.  My husband, however, has experienced a fair amount of rejection and one devastating break up that eventually resolved into a not-dramatic FWB relationship.  Again, being in a monogamous microcosm of two, you forget that other people can have a devastating effect on your confidence.  Just being emotionally available puts you at risk for rejection and you will get rejected in some form or another.  Other people are wildcards and they may turn out to be well adjusted, kind and not-crazy.  They may also turn out to be uncontrollable forces of destruction and ping about your life causing damage you never knew you were vulnerable to. Sometimes you can pick these people out right away and avoid a lot of drama.  If your partner lets them in, you have to weather the storm and be there for the one you love.  You also have to accept that you can't fix everything for your partner when something goes wrong.  This is going to sound really depressing, but your love might not be enough any more.  Or, as my boyfriend approximately said on this subject, it can be hard to accept that you are no longer the emotional center of your partner's life.

Coping with the Initial Excitement
We are warned about the potential consequences of NRE.  We are not necessarily warned about the NPE: New Poly Energy.  We both went a little crazy with our new freedom and excitement over a new lifestyle.  We told a lot of people.  We didn't always tell them the right way.  We told a lot of coworkers and we were lucky that this didn't backfire.

Becoming poly opened up the world for me in a new way, but I moved faster than my skills developed.  I felt like a teenager again and, at times, acted like one.  I made selfish moves.  I got swept up in the excitement of a new venture.  I was overconfident in some ways, and especially vulnerable in others.  I was emotionally immature and I've learned a lot about myself, other people, relationships (new and old) and dating.

Outside Sharing
This is an issue specific to our relationship.  I'm an open book.  I'm probably too open at times, as evidenced by this blog.  I'm certain that behind my back, I have been described as an over-sharer.  My husband keeps his cards close to his chest.  Busting open our Monogamous Microcosm (I'm coining that.  It's a phrase now.  I capitalized it, see?) made us feel vulnerable to outside criticism in a way that we hadn't dealt with before.  We both felt a certain amount of pressure to be a part of a fringe community that is critical of newcomers.  Yes, you are, Poly Community.  There's a lot of criticism of new poly people and how we handle things out there in the blog-o-sphere and the literature.  There's a lot of "you're doing it wrong" and we didn't want to be labeled as volatile new people and risky dates.  This is still a thing we're working on.  In fact, as I typed this paragraph, he walked in the door, noticed I was blogging and commented that he prefers to pretend this blog doesn't exist.

On the Subject of the Poly Community...
Additional note about the "your doing it wrong" vibe often directed at new poly people:  If you are a new poly person reading this, screw that.  Do what is right for your relationship.  I made some definite mistakes because I felt like I had to strive for this ideal put forth in poly circles.  That's crazy.  As my favorite nursing instructor used to say, "There are many roads to China."  Find one that works for you, don't feel pressured to follow the one that everyone says is right.  If something is making your partner uncomfortable, pull back and focus on that until they are comfortable again.  If you need a hierarchy to organize your relationships and make them function, then use a hierarchy.  If you need rules to feel safe, then use rules, just don't use rules to shut down communication.  If your partner tells you they need something and the new-poly-pressure tells you they shouldn't need that...  what the hell are you doing?  Give your partner what they need.  Don't get sucked into this idea that people are poly or they aren't.  Do what needs to be done to make it work for you.  I was skeptical of new-poly criticisms in the beginning and I still allowed for their influence to sneak into my psyche and I made mistakes that hurt my partner.  Don't get caught up in the idealism.  Find what works for you.  And it's okay to admit that things aren't perfect.  Guess what?  All relationships have problems.  Poly or not.  This is okay.

All this said, the individuals that I've met in my local poly community do not inflict this kind of pressured idealism.  This is more of a general feel on the Internet that we both became sensitive to.  In fact, the people I've spent time with in the local community have been nothing but warm and welcoming and supportive.  However, that's something I think we can all do a little better with.

Handling Jealousy: Your Mileage May Vary
Jealousy and insecurity are big ugly monsters when you are new to this lifestyle.  They are usually easily banished from the Monogamous Microcosm by following a few simple rules.  When you open your defenses and let them in, you have to cope.  We assumed that I would be the one to have a more difficult time with jealousy as I was the one of the two of us that had jealous upsets in the realm of monogamy.  My husband never felt jealous, but perhaps this is because he was never challenged to feel jealous.  Both of us were completely emotionally unprepared for how destructive this would be for us.  Poly literature acknowledges this difficulty, and gives you tools to deal with it, but nothing can really prepare you to be open to a new and terrifying emotion you probably haven't felt for years, if you've ever felt it at all.  From my first nuclear meltdown, I realized I could not predict how I would react.  Not only was I dealing with jealousy when my husband was sleeping with others, I had so quickly gotten involved in another relationship, I was also dealing with jealousy and insecurity in the new relationship.  This was new territory and it took time to navigate.  For the most part, my experiences with jealousy have become less intense over time.  I still have a weird little hang up about new sexual partners of my partners that I haven't completely unpacked, but as my security has grown and I've experienced this over and over, my negative responses have become easier to cope with.

Another important lesson that I've mentioned in a previous post is that jealousy cannot be banished with compersion.  You can feel compersion and jealousy at the the same time.  Compersion does become stronger as jealousy fades, but the two emotions can coexist.  You can feel happy for your partner and still hurt and feel insecure.  Don't expect to handle jealousy by making yourself feel more compersive.  It didn't work for me.

Know Your Resources
Know your resources.  Things are likely to get tough at times, as they will be in any relationship.  Don't wait for them to get bad.  Seek out your resources for emotional help.  Know your friends that will be accepting.  Know how you can obtain counseling and don't be afraid to use it.  We could have saved ourselves a lot of fighting and broken household objects if we had sought out counseling sooner.  We happen to have a limited number of free sessions available through our employers.  So far, counseling has cost us nothing monetarily.  If you have a similar program available to you, be aware of it and don't be afraid to use it.  If your family is a source of strength in your life, use them when you need to.  As I mentioned in my previous post, my dad's myriad of bad relationships lead to him giving me solid advice to fix mine.

Be Honest About the Flaws in Your Relationship
We started out thinking we were so very awesome.  I mean, we had a great marriage.  We talked things out, we rarely fought and when we did we worked it out.  We enjoy spending time together.  When I think back to our wedding, I get nothing but happy feelings.  When I look at the pictures of our wedding, I see how much we love each other and how excited we were to show that to the world.  We knew we could do this.  We could weather any storm.  We had easily survived things that makes other couples crumble.  We went into it with the right attitude, we wanted the other to have a richer and fuller life and the freedom to explore other people, emotionally and physically.

Instead of patting ourselves on the back for how awesome we were, we should have sat down and seriously analyzed what wasn't perfect about our marriage.  Becoming poly opened up a whole new emotional minefield that blew up some hidden and ugly truths that we were unprepared to deal with.  I didn't exactly realize this until we started seeing the marriage counselor.  We were happy, but we were not the epitome of perfect marriage and conflict resolution that we thought we were.  It turns out that our Monogamous Microcosm was protecting us from a lot of emotional work that we needed to be successfully poly.  Going forward, I will be more aware of this and focus on fixing things inside first.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Poly: Year One Summary

It has been long about a year since the husband and I opened our marriage.  We've come a long way.  I suppose I'll start this by summarizing our journey over the last year.

We started out with talking and reading.  We read books and talked about them.  We talked about who we wanted to sleep with and how we might handle that.  We talked about things we had held back on telling the other for fear of jealousy.  For example, my husband admitted to multiple crushes on many women that he's had throughout our relationship.  I admitted to having feelings for a close male friend.  We became closer in many ways during this time and it gave us confidence in the strength of our relationship going forward.

The turning point from hypothetical to action for me came after meeting a large group of local poly folk.  After realizing that there are people who make this work and that they are not crazy, it became a real possibility for me.  We continued to negotiate and eventually put up the profiles on OkCupid.

Then things started to get really exciting. We kind of lost ourselves in it for a while.  We told a lot of people what we were up to, carefully choosing the ones that we knew would be open minded.  We lost a friend who couldn't handle the idea.  Most of our friends were supportive.  We started to meet people and get excited.  He was encouraging me to sleep with someone and move things forward.

Then I met my boyfriend.  Of course, he didn't become my boyfriend for a few more months, but we slept together on the second date and the NRE behavior started after the first.  We texted in a ridiculous flurry.  We flirted and got to know each other.  I wasn't out to find a relationship.  I wanted to be a slut! Silly me, falling for the first new penis I see in 7 years.  There was still some other dating going on, but it became a little too time consuming for me to continue to seek out new partners.  Eventually, we put the title on things and I settled into having two relationships.

Meanwhile, the husband has not had the same happy experience that I have had.  He also lost a friend, one of few long term male friends that he had and someone he enjoyed working on creative endeavors with.  He went into the dating world wanting to find a girlfriend.  He ended up a slut, nearly quadrupling his lifetime sex partners in the first year of being open!  This has been fun for him, but not ideal.  The emotional impact of casual sex and dating has been costly.  I can now admit that I was so caught up in the positive impact on my life that I overlooked a lot of the negative impact on my husband.  I made mistakes.  Then I got pregnant.  Finally!  After 2 years of trying to conceive and starting to think it wasn't going to happen, there was a really dark line in the window that usually remained empty despite my staring and wishing.  Unfortunately, the pregnancy appeared at time my husband was attempting to renegotiate the terms of our marriage, including being poly and starting a family.  Things got rough between us.  Things got nasty.  We talked about ending our marriage.  On several occasions we told the other to leave or threatened to leave.  I haven't been completely forthcoming with a lot of this ugliness here as it was extremely difficult and I had no idea how things were going to turn out.  I didn't want my marriage to end and the embarrassment of "new poly problems" was an extra stress we didn't need.

Finally, when things had gotten so bad that I didn't think we could save them, we sought out counseling.  I had low expectations for it's effectiveness.  I feared my husband wouldn't go.  I feared he wouldn't like the counselor.  I feared that things were just over and there was no way back from our hurt feelings and pain.  I thought we were broken.  I thought he was broken.  I was wrong.  After one session, things improved between us.  They were certainly not perfect, but our house was not the war zone it once was.  I stopped making plans for a future as a single mom and I started focusing on fixing our marriage.  After just 4 sessions with our marriage counselor, we have new tools that we didn't know we needed.  We still have a long way to go.  We are still learning how to be together under new terms.  We still have the impending huge life change of having a baby and all the doubts and fears that come with that, but we are also happy to be around each other.  We enjoy each others company again.  We are more accepting of the other's flaws and better able to resolve conflict.  I love my husband, deeply and truly, and I'm so glad we're fixing things.

By the way, throughout all of this, my boyfriend has been pretty darn awesome.  He has been nothing but supportive.  He has given me a shoulder to cry on and evenings of respite when my home was not a comfortable place.  He has maintained his commitment to me despite my life becoming a bit of a mess.  He gave me a place of comfort and security during a difficult time without it being a threat to my marriage.  He's been tolerant of my moments of insecurity in the new relationship.  He's a good friend and a good lover.  I'm fortunate to have him in my life.  Finding someone with a shared sexual chemistry is difficulty enough.  Finding that person after a month of OkC dating and having them be not crazy and an awesome person... what are the odds?  My experience with poly could have been much different without him.  I love him and I feel good about loving him.

And while I'm being all sappy and appreciative of men that I love in my life, I also need to mention my father.  My dad knows about the open relationship.  Intellectually, he gets it, but knows that it would never work for him in his current marriage.  My dad's relationship history includes 2 divorces, lots of cheating and being cheated on, and lots of general ugliness leading up to his current marriage of 10 years.  I went to him when I was desperate and scared and crying at work and I didn't think my marriage was able to be saved or maybe even worth being saved.  He told me not to give up yet.  He encouraged the route of counseling.  He acknowledged that things may not work out, but he gave me the strength I needed to make the saving throw when I was ready to throw in the towel.  On several occasions he helped me to see things from my husband's point of view in a way I hadn't been able to see on my own.  My dad's experience in failed relationships helped to save mine.  His acceptance of our chosen lifestyle allowed him to advise me without assumptions clouding his judgment.

So, how do I feel about becoming poly after a year?  Grateful, more than anything.  I'm grateful to have the kind of partner that would even allow the possibility of an open relationship.  I'm grateful to have had good experiences with the poly world.  I'm grateful that we were able to find the resources for help when we needed it.  I'm grateful that we're going forward in our lives.  I feel like my life is richer with poly as a part of it.  With the impending kid, I'm glad that we will have adult distractions available to us.   Despite the stress it added, I don't regret becoming poly.  I still feel like it's worth working for and I'll continue to work for it.  That said, stay tuned for a follow up post detailing what I've learned after one year.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fisting During Pregnancy

Perineal massage is an often discussed technique believed to reduce the risk of tearing during delivery.  It makes sense that stretching your tissues consistently would make them more compliant and therefore ease childbirth.  If perineal massage may help, then why not fisting?  

I googled "fisting during pregnancy" to see if I could find out more.  I was hoping to find some anecdotal stories, but also some techniques.  Most of the results are links to old threads on various pregnancy forums.  These threads are ripe with sex negative reactions to fisting.  Below are some examples.

Ouch! I think I'd rather take the chance on tearing, thank you very much! LOL
You mean... fisting as in fist?? so...yeah..i dont think lol! thanks.  that doesn't sound appealing AT ALL.  for those of you wanting to know what fisting is, is having your SO use there fist all up in you.  Embarassed not good.
Sorry No I do not fell like being Punched in the cervix from both sides or have DH punch Lexie! It would be pointless any way I am having a C! Why would some one tell you that lol??
Haha, the only time something that big is going to go in OR out of me is when my son is born and comes out. The end.
Heck NO!!! I wouldn't want to stretch out my v-jayjay anymore than I have to. What if your baby falls out afterwards?!?

I was going to avoid this post... BUT I would just like to suggest that everyone just ignore this crap.
Seems like the tweens are back to rile up pregnant women's hormones. No woman would suggest fisting as a "fun" way to prepare for labor.
Be smart ladies. Ignore or report.

I'm really not trying to sound like a bitch, but are you being serious??!
If you are being serious (and again, I'm not TRYING to sound like a bitch) I always thought that fisting was just some weird fetish that lesbians messed with... but uh... I guess whatever floats your boat?

Woman have been birthing babies for a few years now, so I wouldn't be too worried about having to be fisted...
How can you possibly get sexual pleasure from fisting!  Oh my gosh, that sounds horrible!  I am so going to tell husband it is a requirement just to see the look on his face!  hahaha.
 she just had a freaky deaky fetish. thats nasty. the only thing that big that is supposed to ever be in the hoohaw is baby. or perhaps an very large penis. fisting is so gross.  
She said the vagina will eventually stretch enough to fit the hand....I don't want my vagina to be big enough to fit an entire fist!! There are surgerys to correct vaginas like that!Surprised

Much like many women's immediate response to anal sex, everyone assumes that anyone who is into it is perverted and that it is always painful.  It is beyond them to believe that someone would be drawn to fisting because it feels good.  The responses range from incredulous disbelief to downright disgust and denial so fierce that they are convinced someone made this up to mess with them to homophobic misunderstandings.  For every ten to fifteen of "ewwww" type responses, there was one good anecdotal story on fisting during pregnancy.  Some included a description of how you go about it, though most posts after that still had the general response of "not for me!".

I can certainly understand an aversion to a sexual practice that you believe will be painful.  I had the same response to anal sex for many years and only continued to learn about it and try for the sake of my husband.  The first time it happened successfully and I found that I enjoyed it was a huge surprise.  It just wasn't in my realm of thinking that it could actually feel good.  Our sex negative culture had me believing that all women fake pleasure from anal sex and that we all just try to get through it to make our SO's happy.

I have a harder time understanding why pregnant women are so dismissive to the idea of fisting when they are perfectly okay with a giant baby head, shoulders, arms, torso, etc... creeping out of their vaginas.  I also find it sad that they all assume that it HAS to be painful.  The idea that it could be pleasurable when performed in a safe and loving environment does not occur to them at all.  It's the sex negative culture again, of course.

Well, fisting is something I intend to work on with my partners (as much as each are willing) as this pregnancy progresses and I hope it will help me to deliver without tearing.  (No tears=faster healing with less pain=more sex sooner after delivery!)  I had my first full fist experience with this tonight with my husband.  Like many things that happen between us in our sex lives, this one happened organically and unexpected.  We were playing around with some mutual masturbation foreplay and I said, "See how much you can fit inside me..."  Slowly and with lots of lube, he filled my pussy with his sexy hand.  I know I've mentioned before that I find hands to be a huge turn on.  Hubby has long slender fingers and small knuckles on his big hands.  We started laying side by side on the bed and I stroked his cock while he played with my pussy.  Since I couldn't see what he was doing, I had no choice but to lay back and focus on the sensation.  At 25 weeks pregnant, my belly is too large for me to see much of what is going on down there at this point.  The sensation was intense, just a little painful, but in a way that I enjoyed.  I knew that I was getting more into my pussy that I every have before and I the feeling of knowing that was a turn on in itself.  It's especially empowering knowing that the work of labor and delivery is ahead of me.  This feels like something I can do to help prepare.  It's quite the feeling of accomplishment to have such a mass inside of me and know that not only did I get it there, but that I enjoyed the process.  It makes me feel like an orgasmic birth is actually possible.  Again, at this point I had no idea how much of his hand was inside of me, just that it was more than I had every taken in before.  Slow movements back and forth and circular motions made me come easily.  After a while, he withdrew his hand and I asked him to show me how much he had inserted.

"Um, my fist was in your pussy." He responded and offered to take a video of it so that I could see.  I climbed down from the bed and got my trusty iPhone (so versatile!) and an alternate lubricant.  This time, I laid on my back (not completely flat, of course, can't compress that vena cava with my uterus now) with him between my legs.  He again inserted his hand inside of me, slowly, this time while filming a 2:15 video so that I could see what it looked like.  Having the slight exhibitionist act of performing for myself as well as the knowledge that his whole hand was being inserted inside me made it even more pleasurable.  I think the position helped as well as he had more control of where he could move his hand.  I came again.  He later described how that felt on his end.  It felt like a really strong toothless mouth sucking sexily on his whole hand.  After just enough time to get the whole process on video, he withdrew and asked me to smile at the camera before turning it off.  Then we fucked.  The positions we can use are getting more limited by my growing abdomen monster, but the side lying position with him behind me works well still.  I can still lay on my back, tilted to one side, as long as he doesn't lay over me and put pressure on my belly.  He was a little apprehensive about being able to please me with his cock after having filled my pussy with his whole hand, but he had no reason to fear.  Having been so recently so deeply penetrated made me more sensitive to him than usual.  It seemed like I could feel the nuances of his penis better than I normally can.

After the sex, we played back the video.  We got about halfway through before an incoming phone call from a friend interrupted the viewing.  This lead to us having to quiet our giggles before I could answer the call.  Later, when we were able to give the video our full attention, I found myself getting turned on watching myself penetrated like that.  It's definitely an activity I want to engage in more frequently, especially as the pregnancy progresses into the third trimester.  I intend to attempt to recruit my boyfriend into participating in this as well.  Anything to help things stretch and build confidence in what my body can accomplish sounds like good preparation for childbirth.  I intend to bring this up as a question in our childbirth classes, but I'll place it under the unassuming header of "perineal massage" to get some opinions on it.  As for my doctor, I have an appointment next week and I will ask him about fisting directly.  We've already told him about our open relationship and he didn't bat an eye, so much so that my husband doubts he understood us correctly.  Having a gay man for an OB doc really builds my confidence about sharing such things.