Monday, January 31, 2022

More Newborn Educational Goals

In December, I posted about the first things I'll be working on teaching my child when they're born. Here's an update, because as it's turned out, I've found some more goals to track. These goals are in the category I referred to as Language in the previous post, but have since renamed Communication.

I got these goals from an assessment titled Social Communication Skills - The Pragmatics Checklist. This assessment asks parents to rate a variety of communication acts in their child on one of four levels, depending on whether their child doesn't communicate that thing at all, communicates it nonverbally, communicates it with simple language (1-3 words), or communicates it with complex language. The assessment was studied with hearing, hard-of-hearing and deaf children aged 2-7 years old. At age 2, most of the hearing children studied were using most of these skills with simple language and a few with complex language, while deaf and hard-of-hearing children lagged behind.

I coded each items as three separate goals, for the three language levels. Since most 2 year olds are working on simple to complex language for most of these skills, I had to put the nonverbal versions of those skills earlier, drawing upon research and my own general knowledge of child development. Three of these items ended up being relevant for 0-3 month olds.

Here's the goals:

  • Makes requests nonverbally (SCS-PC 1-1)
  • Complains nonverbally (SCS-PC 13-1)
  • Requests help nonverbally (SCS-PC 5-1)

Note that I modified SCS-PC 1 to drop the "polite" stipulation. SCS PC 16 is about interacting with others in a polite manner, so including politeness in this item as well is somewhat redundant. Besides, I don't really mind if my child is communicating their requests to me in a way that reads as rude to other people. And how does polite vs rude even apply to the earliest stages of language development?

The benefits of these skills for my child is giving them a basic ability to let others know their wants, needs and dislikes, so that we can help ensure that they are comfortable and happy. In addition, complaining has its own benefits - even if no one can fix it, expressing your feelings and knowing other people sympathize can be cathartic. Sometimes you just need to know someone's there while you sort through your feelings.

My child has already begun showing progress on SCS-PC 13, incidentally. As I mentioned before, in late November, I tried shining a flashlight on my belly to observe my child's response, and my child spent a couple hours vigorously thrashing in response, which I've interpreted as a distress response. In addition, on December 23, I had an anatomy scan ultrasound, and after awhile, my child seemed to get overwhelmed, turned to face towards my back, and refused to move. Afterwards, they also wiggled around for awhile similarly to the flashlight event, and only settled down when my Dad placed a kalimba on my belly and played it. So, my child has already shown nonverbal indicators of what they like and dislike.

One of the main things I'm planning to do to work on these goals is simply to respond to potential communication attempts in meaningful ways. If I think my child is requesting something, I'll either give it to them or explain why I can't. If they seem to be complaining about something, I'll verbalize what I think they're feeling and offer comfort. If they seem to want help with something, I'll offer them help. This should help them realize that their actions have the power to influence how I treat them, and start intentionally trying to communicate with me.

In research on parenting styles, one particularly beneficial strategy for building emotional regulation and communication skills is responsive (or sensitive) parenting. Responsive parenting refers to a parent who honors their child's emotions and adjusts their own interaction pattern accordingly, offering support when the child is feeling vulnerable and encouragement when they're exploring the outside world.

In the 0-3 month age group, mostly, this means not ignoring the baby's cries, as well as adjusting how much stimulation you offer based on signals of interest vs overload the baby gives off.

I've already shown the first steps towards this by trying to interpret what my baby's wiggles mean about their mental state and not repeating stimuli that I believe causes them distress - for example, I haven't used a flashlight on my belly after that one time. Once my child is born, I'll have a lot more access to information about how they're feeling, and I can work on tuning into that and matching my actions to my child's emotional needs.

I've also, since well before my child's conception, been working on building my own emotional resilience and self-care, so that I'm more likely to be in a mental state where I'm actually capable of focusing on my child's feelings instead of drowning in my own. I'll continue to try to prioritize my own mental health needs and make sure I'm feeling well enough to parent effectively.

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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Need a New Excuse

When I was a child, I hated those math worksheets and doing math by hand so much, it drove me to hate math altogether. It’s only once I started reading research studies to fuel my intense interest in genetics that I found any aspect of math I didn’t hate, and only gradually, as an adult, have I been shedding my hatred for other aspects of math.

Even as a child, I recognized that what I was doing was pointless drudgery I could do far more easily if I used an appropriate tool - a calculator. My teachers told me that it wasn’t enough to be able to do the problem with a calculator. Why? Because “you won’t always have a calculator with you”.

Now, even in the 90s, if you really made having a calculator a priority, you totally could’ve had a calculator with you in pretty much any situation that you’d have a pen and paper and a need to do simple math problems. I saw cashiers with calculators all the time, for example. There was only one situation I knew where you couldn’t have a calculator - if you were a kid forbidden from using them.

But that excuse has only gotten more transparently ridiculous over time. Now, most kids, at least by late elementary, do in fact carry a device at all times that is able to be a calculator as well as so many other things. And most 90s kids have grown into adults who have a calculator with them without having made it a priority to have one.

Some teachers are adapting to the times and doing what teachers should’ve been doing all along - finding ways to use calculators to improve their teaching, rather than banning them. But others are still clinging to the need to find some excuse for putting students through painful drudgery that makes them hate math. The practical argument no longer holds even the vaguest sense of reasonableness, so they must make up other excuses.

And making up excuses is exactly what they’ve done. A university calculus instructor attempts to prove calculator-dependency makes students more likely to fail the final exam, and merely proves how little he understands about the scientific method as he demonstrates the “groundbreaking” result that people who can pass one math test are more likely to pass another, while entirely failing to isolate the potential impact of calculators as opposed to any other variable.

The most common argument is that using a calculator regularly results in poorer conceptual understanding than working out problems on pen and paper. This argument isn’t really borne out by actual research, mind you, but it’s a popular one nonetheless. And since when has teaching been bound by what actual research shows is effective?

But if what they’re wanting is to build conceptual skills, why depend on pen and paper? It’s possible to make an abacus with cheaply available household materials, so cost isn’t an issue, and an abacus is far better at building conceptual understanding and also far more fun to play around with than pen and paper math. And besides this classic, ancient tool, there’s also a wide range of math manipulatives, many of which could be easily handmade if cost is an issue.

However, using any of those tools - calculators or manipulatives - or indeed changing the rote methods you’ve read in your teaching handbook in any way, requires that you, yourself, actually understand the concepts you’re teaching. And I suspect that therein lies the real reason many teachers resist moving away from pen and paper - because pen and paper is how they learned, and their understanding of math is too rudimentary and rote to be able to translate it to any other modality. And so many teachers, ironically, seem to utterly detest the idea of having to actually learn anything themselves.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

I Want Twins!

I’ve heard this sentiment from a few people - that they want multiples. Maybe they just want a big family as quickly as possible. Maybe they specifically want the experience of raising siblings who are both going through the same developmental stages at the same time, who can swap clothes or wear cute matching clothes, who can be in the same grade in school. There’s a bunch of reasons why people might want to have multiples.

Now, you could raise questions about whether this is really a good goal to have, and I’ll probably get into that. But first, if you want to deliberately have twins or more, what are your options?

Hyperovulation with Medications

Many fertility medications come with a potential side effect of multiple birth. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant when I did, the next cycle I tried to conceive, I would’ve probably started taking one such medication - letrozole. The intended goal would have been just to make sure I ovulate within a specific, predictable time period and don’t miss ovulation for that cycle, but a side effect was a potential for me to ovulate more than one egg. If that occurred, and then more than one egg successfully bonded with sperm and went on to implant, I could have had fraternal twins or more. Of course, that’s a lot of ifs, and you could still easily end up with a singleton or no pregnancy at all.

Now, if you don’t already need fertility assistance (either due to fertility problems or simply not having a sperm producer in your life), the first obstacle would be getting the medication prescribed. I don’t really know what that would entail, and it’s probably very dependent on what country you’re in and how much money you’re willing to spend. And, I suppose, whether you’re willing to break the law. But, assuming you’re doing this legally, your first step would be to get a fertility doctor to prescribe you a medication with a side effect of multiples.

My fertility doctor made it very clear that she personally, as well as the regulatory body she answers to, do not want me to conceive multiples. She told me that if my vaginal ultrasound for that cycle showed four or more eggs preparing to ovulate, she would not proceed with the insemination. We could proceed if I wanted to with two or three (which increases the likelihood of twinning only slightly), but not with four or more. She told me a whole bunch about how multiple pregnancies are at increased risk of preterm birth, miscarriage or fetal death, pre-eclampsia, anemia, etc. Both mother and babies are at significantly increased risk if there’s more than one baby in the same womb.

For me, as someone who didn’t have a sperm provider in my life independently of the clinic, that rule would be a show-stopper. Even if I wanted to try to conceive while ovulating four eggs, I wouldn’t be given that opportunity. If you did have a sperm provider, though, you could potentially try at-home insemination against medical advice. But if the fertility doctor got wind that you’re intending that, they’d probably stop prescribing the fertility medication.

In-Vitro Fertilization

If you go for IVF, they’ll probably try to produce multiple embryos in a single cycle, and then freeze the extras and only implant one or two very healthy-looking ones. You might be able to convince them to try to implant more embryos at once, but that runs into the same potential problems with medical ethics that I got into with the discussion of hyperovulation meds, and with less ability to try independently against medical advice. Still, maybe you’ll find a fertility doctor willing to implant four or more embryos and give you a pretty strong chance of multiples.

There’s also the potential that you could conceive an embryo naturally in the same cycle as an embryo transfer, and both could implant and grow successfully. There’s at least one documented case of a couple who implanted a single IVF embryo and gave birth to fraternal twins, which means they must have conceived naturally in the same cycle. So, if you really want twins and you’re getting IVF, if you have a sperm provider in your life, you should try to conceive naturally during embryo transfer cycles.

Surrogacy or Both Parents Pregnant

If you don’t want to deal with the risks of carrying multiple babies in the same womb, or the barriers doctors are likely to put in your way because they don’t want you risking your and your babies’ lives to have multiples, another option is to recruit another womb for this goal. If you’re lucky enough to have a partner who also has a womb, this is a lot easier - simply have both of you try to conceive simultaneously. Otherwise, you’ll probably need to find someone, or get a fertility clinic willing to help you find someone, who is willing to carry one of your children on your behalf.

Fertility doctors might try to talk you out of this because twins are a lot of work to raise, but they’re much less likely to flat-out refuse to help you, since you’re not incurring too much medical risk, and if you want to have no sleep for a couple years, that’s your business. In some cases, fertility doctors might even encourage you to try this, especially if you’re a two-womb couple, since it increases your chances of having a baby period.

One thing to keep in mind is that technically speaking, these kids won’t be biologically twins, since they didn’t share a womb. They may also have a greater age difference than biological twins, because you might not have both gestational carriers get pregnant in the same cycle. (In rare cases, biological twins can be conceived in two separate cycles if the pregnancy doesn’t fully suppress ovulation, but it’s a lot less likely.) Still, a difference of a few months will only matter in the first year or two. If your dreams for multiples are mostly focused on their lives as preschoolers or beyond, it won’t really matter if they’re a few months apart.

If you’re a two-womb couple, another thing to consider is the logistical challenges of having two people in the same household pregnant at the same time. Who’s going to change the cat box, or use the drain cleaner to unclog the drain? Are you both going to be wanting to puke in the same toilet at the same time? What if you go into labour at the same time, or in close enough succession that the first one is still in recovery?

There’s also the emotional implications if the pregnancy outcomes differ. If one parent miscarries, for example, will the fact that your partner is successfully carrying a child make you feel better, or worse? If you have a preterm baby clinging to life while the other baby is still in their womb, how will you balance the logistical and emotional challenges of simultaneous third trimester pregnancy and a NICU journey?

Adoption While Pregnant

Another option, if you don’t care about biological relatedness, is to simultaneously try to conceive and try to adopt. Some adoption agencies and fertility doctors might frown on doing both, others have no problem with it, and even if they would rather you didn’t, it’s really hard for them to know what you’re doing with a separate agency if you don’t mention it yourself. It’s even harder for them to stop you if you don’t need fertility assistance to conceive.

If you want to adopt a newborn, typically your best bet is to go for private adoption. This means you’ll write up a profile of your family, along with stuff that the adoption agency writes up based on a home study, and pregnant people who plan on giving the baby up will look through these profiles and decide which parents to reach out to as possible adoptive parents. Often, it’ll be an open adoption, meaning that the birth parent will know who you are and you’ll send updates on the child periodically, and possibly arrange meetups. This also means that even if you don’t mention that you’re trying to get pregnant, if you succeed, you’re unlikely to be able to keep it from the birth parent indefinitely. So, consider how they might feel about their child having a non-adopted social twin.

Another option is foster-to-adopt. Most children available through this route will not be newborns, but some newborns enter the foster care system. Usually, they enter the system with serious challenges, such as neonatal abstinence syndrome (ie, opiate withdrawal from prenatal exposure), fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, etc. Or they might enter the system a few weeks or months after birth, having suffered serious abuse or neglect. You’re a lot less guaranteed to have a finalized adoption, since if the birth parents clean up their act or another biological relative turns up with a suitable home, they’ll take precedence in custody arrangements. However, if you’re willing to take on the challenges of a special needs baby and the uncertainty around final custody outcomes, this is a much cheaper option than domestic adoption, and comes with the warm fuzzies of knowing that you’ve helped a child in desperate straits.

Another advantage of foster-to-adopt as opposed to domestic adoption, from the adopter’s side, is that supply and demand are in your favor. When it comes to domestic adoption, there are more potential adoptive parents than there are newborns available for them to adopt. In contrast, there’s a shortage of good foster homes for any age group of foster children. Which means that you’re likely to have less of a waiting list and more likely to actually end up with a child from that route.

Adopting Twins or Friends

There are also biological twin pairs in the adoption systems. They’re less common than singletons, of course, but they’re out there, and most of the time, adoption agencies and social workers would prefer that they be kept together - especially if they’re older than a year and grew up together so far. This is also probably the most unquestionably good way to choose to have twins, because instead of making kids who could’ve been singletons into twins artificially, you’re just maintaining an existing twin relationship.

Another variant on this, in some cases, might be to adopt unrelated children who have a preexisting bond, such as adopting best friends from the same orphanage. Once again, you’re maintaining an existing relationship, and that’s generally considered a good thing.

If they’re 1 year old or older, keep in mind that adopting older children comes with unique challenges. These children have a life before you that has shaped them psychologically - often in ways that leave them with psychological scars. They may have parental bonds to people other than you, and mourn the loss of those people, and you’ll need to make room for those emotions without resenting the place those other parents have in your children’s hearts. They may have trouble bonding to you or seeing you as their parent, and while for some children this resolves after an adjustment period, for others this can be a lifelong issue. They’re more likely than newborns to have established visitation rights with people who may or may not be good influences in their lives.

It can be hard enough raising one child with attachment and trauma issues. Are you sure you’re up for raising two?

Furthermore, this is assuming the preexisting bond between the two children is a positive influence on their lives. What if it’s not? What if they have a preexisting problem with sibling abuse, or you unintentionally adopted a bully and their favorite victim from the orphanage together? Keep in mind that you may be faced with the question of whether or not to give up one of the two to a different care arrangement, for the sake of the other child of the pair.

Adopting Two Separate Children

You could also adopt multiple children with no prior relationships. The easiest way to do this is probably to seek out more than one adoption agency simultaneously. If you choose not to tell them about the other agencies, they’re unlikely to even know.

If you’re adopting older children, you’ll run into the same problems I mentioned under adopting older twins/friends, but without a preexisting bond between the two children (which, as mentioned above, could be a good or bad thing).

You're also more likely to have people question your decision than if the children did have a preexisting bond, because after all, maybe these two could have gone to two different adoptive homes and had parents who weren't overwhelmed dealing with two newly-arrived kids the same age at once.

It can also be a problem for a child's identity, if they're old enough to have a sense of themselves as a singleton and now suddenly they're being treated like part of a pair with a total stranger.

Still, it does mean that two children who might not otherwise have had a home will have one, and it might be good for them to have a family member who gets what being adopted is like.

Adopting When You Already Have A Child

You could get a singleton, biological or adoptive, and spend some time raising them as a singleton, and then adopt another child the same age as them. This option is almost certainly going to be older adoption, with all the problems that can entail.

On the good side, you could potentially experience the “raising a baby” early years stuff with only one child, which is a lot easier than having two, and then get the post-infancy raising twins experience.

However, consider how adopting a same-age child would affect the dynamic with your existing child. As mentioned above, going from a singleton to one of a pair could be a major identity adjustment - possibly even more so since it’s the only thing that’s changing in their life, as opposed to just being one of many changes as it is for the newly-adopted child.

It’s also important to consider the question of favoritism vs damaging an existing bond. How do you treat two children fairly when one has been your child for a long time and the other is a stranger? There’s no easy answer to this.

And, if the newly-adopted child has problems, which they probably will if they're older than 1 year, what happens if those problems start adversely affecting the child you’ve had longer? What happens if your newly-adopted child, for example, has a problem with abusive behavior and targets your preexisting child? Or if witnessing behavioral or emotional symptoms upsets your preexisting child? Or if the stress you’re under trying to help the new kid spills over and affects how you treat the preexisting child? These can be concerns anytime you get a new child when you already have one, but it’s often easier to deal with if the new child is younger than the preexisting child.


If you want twins, there are ways you can make it more likely. But each of these ways comes with potential problems and challenges that you’re less likely to deal with if you have consecutive singletons instead. So, please, take a good, long look at the downsides of these options, and the upsides, and ask yourself if it’s really worth it for you. Know what you’re getting into, and be ready for the consequences of your choices. That’s all I can ask of any prospective parents, really.

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Perioriented, Variooriented, or Just Grey?

Written in response to the January 2022 Carnival of Aces topic, "Divergence vs. Convergence".

Am I variooriented or perioriented? Tough question.

I identify as grey-ace and (non-grey) aromantic.

Is that perioriented? For a long time, I saw so little distinction between aro and ace that I didn’t identify as aroace, just asexual - similar to how many perioriented allos identify with a single label for both sexual and romantic orientation. When I first came across the concept of separate romantic and sexual orientations, I resented the idea of being asked to split up my own experience into separate bins when I didn’t experience it that way.

Even now, I often struggle to tease apart what aspects of my experience feel more asexual or aromantic to me. For example, is my current journey to single motherhood by choice more of an ace or aro thing? My unwillingness to even consider natural insemination, and the angst I’ve had around needing medical procedures that involve my vaginal area, are definitely more ace-related. But my unpartnered status? Is it because I don’t desire romance enough to seek it out? Or is it because virtually all my potential romantic prospects are sexually incompatible for me?

On the other hand, am I variooriented? When I consider what sex life I might enjoy, I imagine having fetishy queerplatonic bonds with friends with benefits, similar to the ideal sex lives of many allo aros. I have felt sexually objectifying, as I look at a person and don’t really want to consider them as someone beyond how they get me sexually interested, and have wrestled with how I feel about the ethics of that sort of mentality.* And I’ve felt the particular way that struggle intermixes with the way our society stereotypes sexual expression outside of romantic desire.

I have also felt sexually attracted to an actual, real-life person I’ve known, a close friend who doesn’t know about my greyness or my attraction to her. I’ve weighed the costs and benefits of honesty vs ruining our current friendship for something that I know she won’t reciprocate (she’s straight and vanilla afaik), and then concluded that I’m too much of a coward to say anything regardless of what I decide.

When I talk to aroaces, I find we have some things in common and some things not. When I talk to aroallos, I find we have some things in common and some things not. Even when I’ve talked to other aro grey-aces, I’ve found we have some things in common with them and some things not. Each category includes some experiences I strongly relate to, that are definitely not shared by people of other orientations.

The one group within the ace spectrum that I feel the least in common with are alloromantic aces. Even then, talking specifically about sex, we sometimes have things in common. But sexual activities and experiences are often vastly different between alloaces and aroaces, specifically because most alloaces I’ve encountered have or intend to date perioriented allos and therefore have a very different cost/benefit analysis to sexual activity than someone who is unlikely to attempt to date or be motivated to get very far in dating if they do try it.

As for how I discuss this with people who don’t know anything about asexuality? Mostly, I don’t. When I come out, I come out as asexual only, and the vast majority of people assume that means I’m aromantic without knowing that the two could even be separated. The only times I’ve clarified further have been with other queer people or extremely trustworthy straights, or in academic discussions of sexual orientation. Mostly, what uneducated but not actively bigoted people assume about me when I say I’m asexual is correct about me. And I worry that trying to raise awareness that it’s not correct about all aces will lead them to make incorrect assumptions about me.

Besides, I’m usually too concerned about whether they’ll think I’m sexually repressed or my trauma made me ace or I’m making it all up because I’m a stuck-up tease who thinks they’re ugly. There’s a lot more basic misunderstandings I tend to focus on correcting first, and the discussion of the diversity of aces is a side issue for me.

And unless they’re one of the topmost trusted people in my life, a fellow queer, or someone I’m actually considering doing fetish acts with, I don’t mention my greyness at all. I don’t want people thinking that my grey-ace identity outweighs my sexual repulsion, and most people assume ace means sex-repulsed anyway.

* My current stance is that if the person clearly consented to having their image on the public platform I found them on, and I’m not doing any actions that would adversely affect them to fuel my sexual gratification (eg leaving horny comments on a non-sexual youtube video), it’s fine to not actively consider the individual behind the image when I’m seeking sexual gratification.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Children and Childhood: The Ace Carnival Round-up for December 2021

Here it is: the round-up for the December 2021 Carnival of Aces. This topic was double-barreled, inviting aces to talk both about their own childhood and the children they might want to raise, and I got several responses in each category.

Having Children

I was pleasantly surprised by how many aces wrote in about their own desires for parenthood. I've often felt that in asexual community circles, not wanting children is assumed to be part of the package for asexuality, and it's made me feel pretty alone. This helps. I was also surprised how often vaginismus or related conditions came up - I wonder if anyone has looked into how prevalent pain with penetration is for the asexual spectrum? I, too, have vaginismus, which has affected my experience of artificial insemination and related medical procedures.

Perfect Number talks about how it felt to be pregnant and asexual in Being Asexual in Pregnancy World. She talks about how pregnancy resources assumed that a pregnant mother's pre-pregnancy sex life was fine and easy without any communication required, an assumption which boggles her mind (and likely the minds of anyone who doesn't happen to have sexual preferences that perfectly line up with what our society has decided is the norm). She talks about her sex life getting better as a result of pregnancy, instead of worse, because she felt empowered to actually set boundaries to avoid experiencing pain during sex instead of putting up with it. She also comments that giving birth cured what was most likely undiagnosed vaginismus, and afterwards, sex was no longer painful.

I, too, have noticed how heteronormative pregnancy resources are. An ongoing annoyance for me is how the pregnancy tracking app I've been using, Ovia, keeps asking stats questions that have no relevant option for me as a single parent, often surprising ones, like the question "who usually buys the groceries in your household?" assuming the only two options are you or your significant other. (I live with my parents, they usually buy the groceries.) I've also previously had frustrations with period tracking apps that don't allow for tracking sexual activity and fertilization in a way that reflects how utterly separate those two are for me.

Sildarmillion actually submitted two entries, the first of which is titled On being asexual and wanting to have a child (specifically, give birth) someday. A lot of this feels like it could have been written by me six years ago, although since I was younger when I was going through the "I wanna have a child" epiphany, I didn't look into the same options. Although my own struggles with penetration are less than Sildarmillion's (and in fact tampons have long been my preferred period product), I can relate to finding transvaginal ultrasounds painful. I can also relate to the frustration of heteronormative resources on vaginismus, one of the possible diagnoses Sildarmillion is exploring for her difficulties. I found it really tricky to find good information on what course of action would be suitable for treating vaginismus with the goal of reducing pain with vaginal medical procedures, rather than the goal of enjoying PIV sex. I finally resorted to calling up my fertility doctor to ask her what diameter the IUI applicator she used was, and comparing that to the dilator set I'd gotten.

Pigeon, aka Em, submitted Some Thoughts on Possibilities for Ace Parents, discussing aer musings on aer own desires for the future and possible parenthood, and what options would exist if ae chooses to go that route. Pigeon lists adoption as an option which may or may not be more difficult for a single parent than for an m/f couple, and mentions some aces potentially having sex to attempt pregnancy. (I recall reading, I think it was on AVEN forums, about an m/f couple who were both ace and talking about their struggles with that route to conception. Neither of them much liked sex and it was hard to push themselves to have the amount of sex that's ideal for m/f couples trying to conceive.)

Ae also talks about IVF meaning that you don't have to have sex or convince a person with a penis to help in order to get pregnant. I would like to point out that IUI is a less famous option but likely a better first approach unless you have known fertility problems, since it's less invasive and usually much cheaper.*

Ae also mentions queerplatonic coparenting, of children who may or may not be biologically related to said queerplatonic partners. On which topic, I'd like to mention a news article that made me happy in 2017, about a single biological mother and her best friend winning a legal battle to have her best friend recognized as a second parent to their son. This wasn't a planned arrangement in their case - the son, Elaan, has disabilities and his biological father isn't in the picture, so his biological mother's friend stepped up to help raise him. However, it's an important legal precedent for queerplatonic parents. Pigeon also discusses possibilities for three-parent families, both romantic and queerplatonic. This describes my situation, since I'm a single pregnant mother intending to coparent with my own parents, who are an m/f couple. However, I think people are probably going to think it's weirder to have platonic coparents if they aren't biologically related to you.

Own Childhood

Four participants talked about childhood, taking three very different takes on the topic.

Coyote talks about eir reaction to Christmas and how this relates to both eir unhappy childhood and eir ace identity in Christmas is my Valentine's. I have heard from many abuse survivors who find the emphasis on family during Christmas difficult, but the fact that Coyote isn't inclined to build a "traditional" family of eir own means that e lacks the escape some allo abuse survivors use to make Christmas more pleasant. And unfortunately, Coyote's allo friends seem to have the common problem of valuing romance higher than friendship by default.

Cyril, from Aro By Design, also takes on the topic of how friendships are valued in comparison to romance in their piece, Growing Up Ace, where they discuss how friendships are seen as something for children. Cyril describes how children's books tend to focus on going on adventures with your friends, going through exciting and dangerous things and supporting each other through it all. And then, you come to YA, and suddenly all the books are focused around romantic relationships instead of friendship. Cyril ends the discussion by musing that adults have a lot to learn from children.

Keygoose, meanwhile, takes on the topic of childhood from a somewhat different angle in Too Young, Yet Old Enough. She talks about being a teenager and questioning asexual, and how Keygoose finds herself feeling like she's "too young" to really know if she's ace. The theme of friendship comes up in keygoose's post, too, in her musings on different-gender friendships and the taboos that heterosexuals place on such friendships. Keygoose says part of what's made her hesitate to identify as asexual is the wish to prove such taboos wrong by being a heterosexual who values opposite-gender friendships. Finally, Keygoose finishes off by settling on the label "grey-asexual", as a way to avoid having to give a yes-or-no answer to the question of asexual identity.

And lastly, Sildarmillion's second entry was a musing on the term "childfree" from the perspective of a child, titled An unpopular(?) take on the term ‘childfree’. Once again, she echoes many of my own thoughts, as she points out how -free tends to be used to refer to not having something perceived as negative, and how "childfree" implies a negative connotation to having children. While I fully support anyone deciding for themselves whether or not they want children regardless of which option they choose, I have to say that I've seen quite a bit of negativity about children from self-identified "childfree" people, including some extreme cases who basically don't want to ever even see children, especially children acting in developmentally appropriate ways. (Conversely, one of my best friends is a teacher who loves children, and describes her own stance on parenthood as "I don't want to be a parent, I just want to borrow other people's kids temporarily". So, clearly, not choosing to have children doesn't mean you have to dislike children.) I can also recall times as a child when I met adults who clearly hated children, including a few teachers like that, and I could feel the dislike coming off of them and it adversely affected me. So, please, whether you want to have children or not, learn not to hate people for simply being younger than you are and needing more assistance and guidance than most adults do.

* IVF stands for in-vitro fertilization, and involves extracting eggs from an ovulating person, introducing them to sperm in a laboratory, and then inserting an embryo 3-5 days after conception (not counting time spent frozen, since this pauses development) into the uterus and hoping they burrow into the endometrium and successfully grow. In contrast, IUI involves inserting sperm directly into the uterus right around the time of conception. Medications to regulate ovulation are optional for IUI but required for IVF, from what I understand, so if you're concerned about medication side effect, IUI can be a safer option. In addition, IUI involves one procedure per attempt, possibly preceded by one or more vaginal ultrasounds to determine the precise timing of ovulation, whereas IVF is at minimum two procedures per attempt, again not counting the vaginal ultrasounds. And the cost is vastly different. Not counting the cost of donor sperm, an IUI cycle costs a few hundred dollars, while an IVF cycle costs a few thousand. (Donor sperm also tends to cost a couple thousand, if you don't want to go through the process of finding your own donor - which, I agree with Pigeon is an utterly mortifying process!)