What Mary Cheney should expect while she's expecting

Forget morning sickness and weight gain and get ready for nine months of right-wing hand-wringing and embarrassed silence.

By Louis Bayard
December 7, 2006 10:45PM (UTC)
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Now That You're Pregnant

Congratulations -- and welcome to your politically inconvenient pregnancy! Though you may not look pregnant yet, chances are you're starting to feel it -- from every side. Whether it's just bruised emotions you're experiencing, or every silent stab of hypocrisy, your body is gearing up for the months of evasion, pulpit thumping and embarrassed silence to come. Try not to think too far ahead. For now, just sit back, relax and enjoy the beginning of one of the most intellectually upending adventures of your life.


What You Can Expect at This Month's Checkup

The day you first announce your pregnancy to the world will probably be the longest you have experienced since you were outed by the Democratic presidential candidate. Your first prenatal visit, by contrast, will be a piece of cake. You can expect tests, procedures and data gathering. You can also expect plenty of questions -- for example, "Who's the dad?" "No, really, who's the dad?" "Did it hurt?" "I'm not turning you on, am I?" "Does your mother have to be in the room, too?"

What You May Be Feeling


It's important to keep in mind that every woman's pregnancy is different. Yours is more different than others.


  • Fatigue and sleepiness
  • Food aversions
  • Absence of menstruation
  • Nausea, often triggered by the sight of Nancy Pelosi


    Many first-time lesbian mothers who are daughters of right-wing zealots report feeling subtle ostracism and alienation from once-loyal friends. Their reactions will almost certainly vary, but may take the form of "They're deliberately bringing a child into the world without a father, leaving a great gaping hole" or "They're shortchanging this child from the start" or "Love can't replace a mother and a father" or "Mary and Heather can believe what they want ... but what they're seeking is to force others to bless their nonmarital relationship as marriage [and to] create a culture that is based on sexual anarchy instead of marriage and family values." In certain cases, you may be accused of conceiving a child "with the express purpose of denying it a father."

    Relax. These reactions, in addition to being verbatim, are normal and fully to be expected from the community you have been slavishly courting for so much of your life.

    What You May Be Concerned About

    My mother used to write lesbian love scenes in novels, but now she's embarrassed by the thought of women getting it on or even holding hands. She does not laugh at jokes like "Heather Is One of Two Mommies."

    Every parent of a parent brings his or her "issues" to the grand adventure of pregnancy. Suffice it to say when your mother holds that little bundle of joy in her hands and slips on the pink tutu she has personally picked out for her, all her qualms about you and your athleticism will vanish.

    My morning sickness lasts several hours and is eased only when I throw up on pictures of Hillary Clinton. Is this normal?

    First-time mothers must seek solace where they find it. Most doctors frown on coating actual people in vomit, unless it is purely involuntary.

    My partner wants to build our own crib using two-by-fours she personally portaged from Home Depot. She's extremely strong and handy, but I worry about splinters.

    It is common for the nonpregnant half of a same-sex couple, who is often relegated to the role of baster holder, to feel left out, "a third ovary" during these exciting months of pregnancy. Encourage her, as much as possible, to take on whatever home-improvement projects catch her fancy. Closets are a safe bet.

    My dad's boss, whose election and reelection I worked for quite strenuously, says he believes "children ought to be adopted in families with a woman and a man who are married." He also said that "studies have shown that the ideal is where a child is raised in a married family with a man and a woman." Should his comments concern me?

    Only if you were thinking of Dad's boss while you were earning your $100,000 salary stumping for him. If you were just thinking about Dad and all the good he would do for America, there is no reason whatsoever to take his employer's remarks personally.

    Ann Coulter wants to be my doula.


    What It's Important to Know

    You and your partner live in Virginia, which, thanks to the legislators of your own party, does not recognize the legal status of same-sex couples. If you decide that at some point your partner should have a legal relationship to your child -- i.e., something more formally binding than "There's Mommy Heather!" -- you might consider moving to one of the handful of jurisdictions that acknowledge your legal rights as a couple and family.

    Caution! These jurisdictions tend to be under the sway of "blue" legislators. Approach individual residents of these jurisdictions with care. They may appear sympathetic (unless they have read your book -- small risk of that). They may refer to you and your partner as a "couple" and regard your child as "your child." As a price for their tolerance, however, they may expect you to reexamine certain issues -- e.g., your implicit countenancing of same-sex-marriage amendments, your silence in the face of outrageous discrimination against gay parents, your collusion with some of the most virulent homophobes in America's history, etc. Feel free to abstain from this soul-searching, which is a hazardous exercise during any stage of a pregnancy and should not be rushed into without proper medical consultation. If necessary, consult Dr. Frist.

    Above all, avoid unduly negative feelings about yourself. Live optimistically. A recent study found that seeing the bright side reduces the chance of delivering a preterm or low-birth-weight baby.

    What's the bright side?

    Your baby will be too young to serve in Iraq.



  • Louis Bayard

    Louis Bayard is a novelist and reviewer. His books include "Mr. Timothy" and "The Black Tower."

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