Last night, when I was sleeping, I gave birth to a seven pound baby boy. But even though the details of this dream were stunningly vivid, I don’t think it was really about the baby. We’ll see.
When I went into labor, it wasn’t painful because they had drugged me up to within an inch of my life. I was in this stoned and hazy reality when Julian was laid on my stomach. He had the most beautiful eyes, and I was a little bit startled because even though he had my widow’s peak and my smile, Julian was clearly half African-American. I hadn’t chose an African-American donor, but it was ok with me. I knew that I’d be limited by the things I didn’t know, but I was willing to find them out.
When I brought him home from the hospital, my mother and my grandfather, who died when I was 13, were waiting for me. I covered Julian instinctively with a blanket, because my grandfather grew up in an era where being racist was not only acceptable, but encouraged. I didn’t want Julian’s first encounter with his great-grandfather to be negative, so I was trying to protect him until I could talk to my grandfather and warn him that he could be wonderful to Julian, or he could get the fuck out of my house. Aside: Because my grandfather died when I was 13, I am assuming that he would have eventually come around to accept something like a lesbian granddaughter who went to a fertility clinic, but I can’t even say that for sure. My mother helped us into my bedroom, and left me alone with my son so that we could spend some alone time. I spent a long time trying to get him to breast feed- he could latch on, but there was no milk. Eventually, I gave up and asked my grandmother (who had suddenly appeared in my dream and died last year) if she would go to the store and get some formula. I asked her if she wanted us to go with her. She said yes.
I got dressed and then tried to change Julian’s clothes. Apparently at the hospital, they hadn’t cleaned him very well and his clothes were stuck to him with that slime coat that babies are born with. For some reason, I did not have a baby bathtub, so I took off my clothes and we got into the shower together. I washed my son with Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo, and marveled at his curls.
It is at this point that I wish I was an artist, because if I was, I could make a portrait of Julian just from my dream. He is a beautiful child. He has lamb’s wool curls that go out in every direction. His eyes are dark and brooding, even for a baby. He has a strong crease in his upper lip, and his nose is large and strong like his African-American biological father. There is a dimple in his chin, and he is so striking that as his mother, I’m a little jealous of his looks. Julian could win baby photo contests, but I won’t sell him out that way. Unless we need the money.
I put him in a Cubs onesie that Towanda sent, and swaddle him with a blanket. I make a mental note to get Julian an appointment with Angela, because even though he is only nine hours old, he is well on his way to joining a Rastafarian cult. Oh, the things a parent has to deal with…
My grandmother and I are on our way to the car when I notice that our mailbox has been changed. It now reads “Leslie Lanagan and Monkey Banana.” It is the most horrible thing I could have imagined- my neighbors have clearly heard about Julian and are trying to make it known that they do not support me or my child. I make a promise to Julian. We won’t live in the South any more. We’ll go to a state that has less discrimination, or perhaps we’ll go to Canada or overseas. Anywhere to escape a culture that would ridicule me and put my son in danger. But danger doesn’t have to be physical. Abuse comes in a lot of different flavors, and I want to protect Julian from all of them.
We make it to the store and buy formula. I take it home and mix it up. Finally, I am able to feed Julian, to give him what he needs. Afterward, he sleeps, and I begin plotting and planning what I’m going to do next- to make a life for me and my child that gets away from the limitations for minorities in the South (because as a lesbian and her son, we’re both minorities) and provides for the open sky of the future.