My prima tied a piece of thread to a needle and held it over the palms of all the women in our familia. The needle swung in a circle for each girl child and back and forth for each boy child-the mujer had or would have. The needle swung with painful accuracy telling of each miscarriage and abortion our mujeres had known. I watched in amazement as the needle told things my prima didn’t know.
When it was my turn, the women of our familia casually watched. Being the only lesbiana in our familia, no one thought I could possibly want or have a child. When my prima held the needle over my palm, it stood completely still. My heart filled with sadness. I asked her to do it again, and again. Each time it did not move. My prima said you could always adopt. My heart cried.
I had always wanted children but did not want to give birth. I thought it would be my mujer that would birth our children. Watching the needle stand in complete stillness, my soul cried for you. I cried for you. My body would never know you. I would never know how you felt growing inside of me. I would never know the beautiful milagro of creation, a baby growing inside of me- birth. I would never know you, my sweet love.
That night my cuerpo cried for you, I cried until my tears turned into prayers. I prayed to the Virgen, Tonantzine, asking our Madre to make me a Mama, your Mama. I lived in quietness for the next few months, praying for you, calling you, dreaming of you, you my sweet love…I prayed for you.
Your Mama is a strong 2 spirited mujer, a proud ESTRELLA de ORO lesbiana. For me there was no other choice but artificial insemination to get pregnant. Living in Phoenix, I had many fertility doctors to choose from. I chose the leading fertility specialist in Arizona, an arrogant white man who wore all black and spoke of fertility and of “getting me pregnant” as if he were the Creator herself. We began the fertility process; he with his drugs, ultrasounds and follicle measurements; me with my altar, prayers, fertility circles, fertility foods and bendiciones from women elders. I was calling you, my sweet love.
Soon after I began the fertility process, I moved to El Paso. Living on the Frontera came with so many beautiful regalos. I was living on the tierra of our people. For the first time in my brown vida, I was part of the majority. I was excited with sueños of being a Mama in this land, growing a brown baby in a brown community. You, my sweet love would know your history, your cultura, your people, your tradiciones, and your ancestors.
Feeling you so close, my sweet love, I quickly began my search for a fertility doctor here in El Paso. I found there was only one, but he was Mexicano! In Phoenix I never had the option of a person of color and now the doctor assisting me was my own gente! Making my first appointment, I was asked many questions: “what is your medical condition and why are you having difficulties getting pregnant?” I explained I do not have any fertility problems. I am simply and proudly an ESTRELLA de ORO. I am a gold star lesbian, I have never been with a man and in this most sacred gift of conception, I would make no exception.
Very quickly and carefully I was told that the doctor, my brown brother, would not accept patients like me, lesbianas. I soon found there were no other fertility doctors in El Paso. The closest doctor was 6 hours away. I decided to go back to the arrogant white man in Phoenix, whose response to me being lesbiana was “I can get anyone pregnant.” So every other month, I went to Phoenix for treatment. I would stay there for the two days of the initial cycle of fertility drugs and monitoring and then drive back to El Paso. After about a week and half, it would be time for insemination, and then I would drive back to Phoenix. I did this a few times and did not get pregnant. My suegra said “of course you are not getting pregnant; after a woman makes love, she lies around in bed relaxing, sleeping; it is when the body is still, calm and full of love that is when the baby comes”.
I was driving back to El Paso in a rental car, hurrying to get back to work. My employers in the Women’s Studies Program were understanding about my beautiful struggle but were also inconvenienced by all of the time I spent traveling. To this day, I am grateful for their patience and support.
The arrogant doctor was outraged that I was being denied treatment and had to travel back and forth to Phoenix two times for each insemination. He called and wrote a formal letter to the doctor in El Paso, asking him to accept me as a patient. The El Paso doctor said he would treat me conditionally. He said he was doing this as a favor for the Phoenix doctor. The El Paso doctor agreed to monitor my follicle growth, which were the daily vaginal ultrasounds, and administer the hormone injections but refused to do the insemination. After I was given the hormone injection that would cause my eggs to drop, I had 36 hours to get to Phoenix for insemination. I would not let myself feel discouraged, overwhelmed or angered by this violent homophobia. I was already your Mama, your strong, determined, revolutionary Mama. I was in the movement of creation, of life, of being a Mama, your Mama. I would not allow the bad energy that comes with homophobia enter our sacred space. I met that energy with a peaceful resistance of prayer and compassion. You, my sweet love, my greatest teacher, were already teaching me, showing me a new fight, a revolution through the unconditional love of a Mama.
After many unsuccessful tries, the El Paso doctor agreed to also do the inseminations. Making sure that I understood his position and his view of my place. He told me “you got in through the back door.” I would not let his negativity and homophobia enter my beautiful sacred space of creation. I thought of him as one of the many prayers, intentions, songs, sueños, foods, baños, and tears of creation that I gave and accepted to call you- to bring you to me, my sweet love.
Now, I would no longer have to travel to Phoenix. I could do the entire process here in El Paso. Looking out the window of our small apartment on the Frontera, I would concentrate on the massive Mexican flag swaying in the wind- the wind that freely crosses borders. Dreaming of you growing in the space of Nepantla, the space in-between borders, I prepared my body to receive the morning fertility injections in my stomach. The injections began the monthly treatment that I came to know as my honor of being your proud ESTRELLA de ORO Mama. When I went to doctor appointments, I took the Peruvian fabric given to me as a fertility gift and placed it over the paper on the exam table. This fabric of intention and love is what I laid on while I was inseminated. I then went home and spent the day in bed, my bed, being loved up, while my body welcomed the life force that is you.
After a year and a half, on the 7th insemination, I became pregnant with you, my sweet love. I was inseminated and conceived you on thanksgiving day. I think back to the thanksgiving day at Nanis, when the needle stood still over my palm. My tears of sadness turned into tears of prayer and are now tears of an indescribable love. You have given me a new true meaning to thanksgiving day. You, my sweet love has healed many old historical wounds and have helped me to meet homophobia with a fight of peaceful resistance and have redefined this day of giving thanks. Tlazocamati Madre Tonantzin, Tlazocamati Virgen, Tlazocamati Paz.
by Jessica Ruizquez - a selection from the upcoming Girl God anthology, Single Mothers Speak on Patriarchy.
Jessica Ruizquez is a Chicana Lesbiana Mexica mama. Living and raising her baby, Paz Nican Tlacatl, in the traditions of their ancestors on the frontera of El Paso and Juarez. She has been a single, stay at home mama since giving birth to her son eight years ago. She is a hustler. Jessica earned her MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from UTEP where she studied “Curanderas of the Borderlands.”
Lucía Martínez is a Chicana Lesbiana visual artist from la Frontera of El Paso and Cd. Júarez whose work revolves around activism and dialogues with friends. Currently she’s collaborating with the poet Jessica Ruizquez. Lucia Martinez’s work has been exhibited throughout the Southwest and México and published in Mujeres De Maíz. Lucia has a BA in Art and Spanish and is currently a translator.