Defining Our Norm…

Next month (April 30) we will celebrate Laine’s one year “T-versary.” We are ending this first year by celebrating with a complete hysterectomy. Woo-hoo! Ok, so most of you are thinking why in the world would anyone be excited about having surgery?? But the fact is, as a transman, he doesn’t need the parts and the parts are only causing him pain (as crappy as that is, it does mean the procedure is medically necessary and therefore insurance coverage helps pay for it).  He (and I) are looking forward to this surgery because his high sex drive equals need for orgasm release. Orgasm and fibroids are not a good combination…they equal pain post sex. Hysterectomy will solve this little issue.  Hence our excitement. Next Friday March 18, we will be (not so bright eyed) at 530 in the morning as we check into the hospital to complete another step in this transition process.  My anxiety is semi high regarding this surgery, not because of the surgery itself.  I know Laine will soar through it and recover quickly.  My anxiety stems from the thought of how many times will Laine have to “come out” or explain himself during this process, something that can be frustrating on any given day, much less when undergoing or recovering from a surgery.  I had to call the hospital billing department this week to make the copayment for the procedure, no less than 4 times did I have to correct the woman on the phone…HE, HIM, HE, HIM…”DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?!?”  What is really amusing is when Laine and I are sitting together, across a desk from a medical assistant and they start explaining the process and procedures etc. and the woman is making eye contact with me, clearly addressing her spiel to me and we have to politely inform her… “I’m not Laine…he is.” (This happened.)

Over the past month we have settled nicely into our new home and our lives. It is strange really, we have lived together since December of 2014, but that first year we never really settled into life. Laine moved in with me and the kids, into a home my ex and I had purchased a few years prior. For that first year of our lives together, that location served as a house for us, but never our home. There was always something preventing us from finding a routine. Something keeping us from creating a fluid transition from the early morning waking hours to bedtime each day. Now in OUR home, we have found the fluid schedule and routine that works for all of us, adults and kids alike. Life has finally settled in and I like it. I didn’t realize how much I craved what we now have, until we found it. Chaos has always been routine. Anxiety was normal for me. Now we have established a new (non-chaotic) routine and the day flows.  We are happy, the kids are happy.  Life is comfortable, but not at all in a boring way (!!!) and therefore life is wonderful.

Our youngest baby (ok so she’s a four legged furry baby) had surgery last week.  She had a bad knee that refused to remain in socket causing her to hop around on three legs for weeks now.  (I have never seen anything run so fast on three legs in my life, nothing slows this mutt down!)  She is healing nicely now and hopefully will be back on all fours within a few weeks.  Leave it to us to rescue a puppy with patella luxation. The day of her surgery, I woke at 230 in the morning with the stomach flu.  This meant I was out of commission for the day.  Laine handled kids, his work, household chores, vet drop off and pick up, cooked dinner (NOT TAKEOUT), and diligently took care of me while I got myself back in working order.  He deserved a Super Dad medal to say the least.  As if that wasn’t enough, the 11-year-old had a Mother/Daughter tea party the next day that all three girls were looking forward to.  With Mom (me) still recovering from dehydration, (step) dad had to jump in and save the day, even if he was the only guy in the room.  They decorated hats, ate finger sandwiches and cupcakes and made bracelets.  He lived to tell about it, and based on the pictures, I think he might have even had a little bit of fun.  😉

Towards the end of February, we gathered our friends and celebrated the last 9 months of our journey with a housewarming/engagement/celebrate legal name changes/birthday (Mel turns 29 for the 6th time) party.  As if having our house full of our family and friends wasn’t enough, we were extremely lucky that Sarah Smith was passing through Phoenix at the end of her tour.  If you haven’t heard of Sarah and her music, check her out (www.sarahsmithmusic.com) …her music is flipping amazing, and she’s pretty damn cool!  She (and Ken) performed LIVE IN OUR LIVING ROOM!!!!! (I’m fairly certain I am still trying to come down from that excitement high.) We are so happy we could share this experience with all of you who joined us that evening for food, drinks, laughs and live music.  Those of you who were unable to attend with us, we missed you and hope you will join us in October for our next big step.  Our circle of family and friends are what make our journey through life memorable.

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Man-Brain…its really a thing!

The best way to navigate something like transition, no matter if it is yourself, your partner or another loved one going through it, is by educating yourself. That being said, we are packing up to head to Philly on Wednesday. This trip is for a three day Trans* Health Conference. Looking over the workshop list again this morning, I am excited to learn as much as we can fit into three days. There is a workshop being taught by Laine’s potential surgeon, and one specifically for SOFFAS (partners). There are show and tell workshops regarding surgical options and workshops specifically for FTM’s transitioning over the age of 40 and 50. One of the most important things I am looking forward to getting out of the conference is the conversation that comes out of workshops and the experience, and flows over into dinner and drinks just between the two of us. I personally feel that a very important part of this process, while in a relationship, is communication. Laine and I typically talk about everything…and these types of experiences put some conversations on the table that might not otherwise arise.

The first month of transition is officially complete. Laine has been on testosterone for 32 days now. Over the last four weeks the most dramatic changes have been mood swings. Things seem to be balancing a bit better now but we’ll need a few more weeks to know for sure. He hasn’t experienced a “crash” since swapping to weekly shots. After the week three shot, his mood spiked the opposite direction of a crash and he had to figure out how to bring himself down from an “angry/aggressive” mood. The last week and a half has been fairly even and maintainable without any dramatic swings one direction or the other.

The other major change has been his sex drive. Ok, so it isn’t a MAJOR change, as his drive was high before…it has however doubled from the already high drive that it was and I am trying to keep up.   I truly now do believe without a doubt that the male “sex obsession” is no doubt hormone related. There are days I have to remind him that my eyes are “up here” and not in my cleavage when having a conversation. I just shake my head and laugh at him. Everything they say about the ‘T’ turning a grown (52 year old) adult into a 14 year old boy, its completely TRUTH!

The other reality we have discovered…”man brain.” Its really a thing!! No joke. Here’s perfect proof. Last week when Laine picked up my engagement ring from the jeweler, he looked at the ring and thought “Is that the one I ordered?” Man Brain kicked in and he decided that it must be because it had the right diamond in it and after looking at multiple rings they all begin to look alike. He brought it home without questioning the jeweler. If you follow this blog you know what happened next. He proposed, the ring was too small, I put it on anyway, 24 hours later I had to have it cut off and I was ring-less for one week. Fast forward from the proposal weekend to yesterday.

We’re sitting at lunch across the street from the Chandler mall. I’m bumming out because I KNOW my ring is across the street but I’m fairly certain I’m going to have to head home without it for at least a few more days. Almost on cue, Laine’s phone rings. It’s the jeweler. He explains to Laine that MY ring is ready and there was a mix up. At this point we’re confused, I’m ecstatic because my ring is ready but I have no idea what they mean by a mix up.

We finish lunch, and head over to the mall. I get to the jewelry store and the jeweler recognizes me immediately and says “Hi!” I say “Hi” He says “So there’s a really long, almost funny story….” He goes to the back and returns with my ring. However this is not the ring I had cut off my hand a week ago. This ring is even more amazing than the first one.   This ring is the ring Laine actually ordered for me. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped for a moment when I put it on. It fit perfectly. Of course it does, this is the ring that was actually sized for me.

The jeweler explains what happened. Someone else ordered the “other” ring, within a day or two of Laine placing his order. When the other ring arrived in their store, it was somehow mixed up and given to their jeweler to place the center solitaire which Laine ordered into it. They tracked the ring from that point by owner of the solitaire, hence calling Laine to pick it up and giving it to him. Neither Laine nor the jeweler noticed it was the wrong setting…insert that “man brain” phenomenon here.

It just so happened that I had to have the other ring cut off so it was in their possession when MY ring arrived in store. At which point they looked for the solitaire that belonged in it and realized what had happened. Since they had the “other” ring in their repair line at that point, they swapped my solitaire to MY ring and then called us to pick up the RIGHT one.

Fortunately, we are able to verify the solitaire is the correct diamond. Laine ordered a Firemark diamond. If you know (or Google) anything about them, each diamond has been specially stamped inside the stone (with a secret method that DeBeers wont release the “How to” method to anyone.) Every stone has a unique number in it that can only be seen under 50x magnification. Usually diamonds are looked at under 10x magnification…so it’s a pretty cool tracking method. Needless to say we were able to compare the stone in the RIGHT ring to the number on the documents we have and they match. This time after seeing the RIGHT ring, Laine recognized the setting as well and no longer had the internal questions he had with the first one.

This entire experience has made us laugh, a lot, and yes I cried a bit last week when I had to have a ring cut off my hand…but through it all we learned a few lessons. For me, things happen for a reason. There was a reason I had to get the other ring cut off and hand it back to the jeweler within 24 hours of receiving it. As Laine posted on his Facebook page, he learned that when he has those gut feelings, he needs to speak up and ask questions. The internal questions are probably the right questions to ask out loud. No matter which ring is on my hand, the important part is that Laine is the one by my side and I am by his. We will forever have a memorable engagement story to tell, and as long as neither of us forget which venue we decide upon and we both show up at the right place on October 2, 2016…then life will continue to be perfect.

Diamonds, Bathrooms and Jewelry Saws…Oh My!!

I have begun and erased words on this screen a handful of times already. Not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I don’t know where to begin. I typically blog closer to the end of the week, mainly because Thursday is shot day, so it is a good time to document the week which has passed. Today is Tuesday, and I am certain if I wait until Thursday, I will be so overwhelmed with my own words that I will never get started.

This past weekend turned out to be a very important one in our lives. Sunday (May 24th) afternoon Laine pulled me into his lap and began a conversation about how he had planned to wait to ask me to marry him until he is “fully” Laine. (Yes, we have had the future plans conversations prior to this event, so the marriage talk was not a complete surprise.) I asked him what “fully Laine” looks like, and I explained that to me he has always been Laine. This being said, he agreed and the conversation continued. He then explained the 15 different ways he had planned in his head to create the perfect proposal moment. The most recent plan being during our trip out of town in a few weeks…approximately 5 weeks away!

I should explain right here that there are many reasons in which Laine and I are so perfect together, but one commonality we share was very apparent during this special moment. When we each decide we want something, we go for it. The impatience takes over and all reason is lost. The ring he had picked up at the jeweler only a few hours earlier, after waiting 6 weeks for it to arrive special order, was burning a hole in his pocket.

After all the planning, thinking, and trying to find the “perfect way” to propose, he ended up doing just that. Me sitting in his lap, him putting his heart into words and me falling in love with him all over again as the nerves took him over. Needless to say, I said YES!! As of fall 2016, we will officially become Mr. & Mrs. (and yes, I am legally taking his last name.) 🙂

Remember how I said above that we both tend to let impatience take over and reason go out the window from time to time…the next part of this story solidifies that…he couldn’t wait to give me the ring and I couldn’t wait to wear it….even if it was too small.

Laine did the right thing…he had my finger sized before he placed the order.  We slip the ring on my finger and it gets stuck at the knuckle. I know I should not force it…I KNOW this. However yet again all reason is lost, this ring is gorgeous and I want to wear it! With a bit of force, ok maybe a little more than a bit, it goes on and if it goes on, it will come off right?? Easier said than done.

Immediately my finger is starting to swell. I’m trying not to panic at this point. Laine is calm, at least on the outside, he knows Ill loose myself if I see him panic. We try soap, we try oil, we put my hand in ice, we try the dental floss trick, we Google tricks to get rings off fingers. Nothing is working. In fact the ring is moving less now than before. We decide that my finger is clearly traumatized at this point based on the size, color and the fact I’m nauseous at just the thought of twisting the ring one more time. So we give it a break and decide to let the finger rest over night hoping the swelling from trauma will go down a bit.

Monday morning arrives and there isn’t much change. I ice it again, and we try one more possible way of getting it off. No luck, it isn’t moving. It is inevitable at this point that we have no other option…they either have to cut the ring off my finger or my finger off of my hand. The thought alone made me sick to my stomach, but it had to be done at this point.

We traveled to Chandler to the store in which the ring was ordered through. The salesman knew Laine and was laughing at me. He took one look at my hand and he too knew there was no option. Two jewelry saws later (platinum is some hard metal!!) John (the salesman) had the ring off my finger and my finger could circulate blood properly again. Needless to say my ring is currently being repaired and UPSIZED so when I get it back it will fit properly and we wont have to repeat this experience. I’m trying to be patient while I wait for it to return to me, for we all see where impatience gets us…but it’s really hard!!

To finish off this memorable three-day weekend, we took the oldest two kids to the movies Monday afternoon. We arrived a bit early so we planned a bathroom stop on the way to our theater. Our daughter and I began to head into the women’s room, and Laine was lingering behind us with our son. Up to this point he has still been using women’s restrooms or avoiding them all together, but he was well aware that starting May 26 (today as I write this) he has to officially use the men’s room at work per HR. I stopped and looked back and he told me to go ahead. I haven’t pushed the bathroom issue one way or another as that is something Laine has to be ready for, so I didn’t argue.

When our daughter and I walked back out of the women’s room, Laine and our son were gone. I looked around expecting to see them sitting on a bench waiting for us, but they were out of sight. Next thing I know, here they come, out of the men’s room. Our son is talking a mile a minute to me explaining the experience of talking Laine into putting fear aside and using the men’s restroom. I couldn’t hardly follow the story due to the speed of his words and the surprise that it actually happened.

What Laine told me later, surprised me even more. After our daughter and I went into the restroom, Laine needed to use the bathroom but had told our son he would just wait and it would be no big deal. Our son took the initiative and told Laine to get into the bathroom and go! He walked Laine into the men’s restroom, showed him where the stalls were and then stood guard near the door. Our son never had to use the restroom at all during this entire exchange. He simply took on the roll of protector. When I heard this I had a proud mommy moment for certain. Both of my boys surprised me through this experience!!!

Hopefully the first time was the hardest and it will only get easier after that. It did happen to work out perfectly that on his first men’s bathroom trip, Laine had a 12 year old bathroom buddy to make it a bit easier. I’m so proud of Laine for taking such a big step in his transition, although I will admit I’ll miss getting to travel as a pair to the restroom from now on. Anytime I’m bummed about that, I’ll just remember that the women’s room is probably cleaner, prettier and smells better than the men’s!

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