by Sandra Telep
I don’t remember how I found out about Cory’s book, but I do remember when because it was the day before the Kickstarter campaign ended. I was one of the last contributors — one of the last lucky bunch to be able to be a financial part of the publishing of this book, to get an advance copy, to receive updates on its progress in my inbox. It must have been a Facebook link to the campaign; that seems to be the only way I hear about anything these days.
The details, though, are kind of irrelevant because, thankfully, this sort of abstract idea of a maybe-book became — quite suddenly, it seemed — a tangible purple, amazing thing in our hands. On our bookshelf, even.
I remember when my son was born, one of the gifts we received was a boxed set of old-school Little Golden Books (the disturbingly outdated/sexist/ableist/sizeist Good Humor Man among them, but that’s another post entirely.) And tucked into the box was a completely blank Little Golden Book. White cover and all white pages. A create-your-own! I slid the create-your-own out of the box and put it in a special place at the top of the closet, vowing to write a book for my child that would represent our family and how it came to be: a butch mom, a femme mom, a kid conceived through donor insemination — all living out our homosexual agenda peacefully with our cats. As it should be. I thought, I am a writer! This is perfect! I could have written a book at any time, of course. Sites like cafepress make it easy to self-publish and even a good ole stack of paper and a stapler would have been enough, but somehow the idea of a pre-fab book, just waiting for my story made it that much more appealing.
Fast forward four years and parenting/teaching/living all took a spot in the line ahead of writing a book and that all-white Little Golden is still in the top of my son’s closet, now floating around amongst the outgrown clothes, the yet-to-grow-into clothes, the accumulation of stuffed animals, and the stacks of drawings and scribbles that I am determined to save forever. We have collected many books over the course of the last several years and several of them have been about two-mom families or ways that babies come to be. I am, fortunately, quite good at changing stories as I read them, so I’ve been able to adapt what we have to fit our family for the most part either by skipping pages or making something up, but I have always wondered what would happen when my son learned to read and could see that I was changing words and skipping around.
Enter: What Makes a Baby. This book, I swear to you, has changed my life. Dramatic? A little. But also true.
What Cory does (and I am such a fangirl that I feel comfortable just using his first name here) is tell a story without actually telling it. He gives parents a framework within which we can create and tell our own stories — and he does it so seamlessly and gracefully that we almost don’t know it’s happening. I read the book to my then-3-year-old son and he started asking questions about whether he had a uterus or not and whether his mommy (not me) gave us the sperm we used to make him. Which opened the door for us to explain, in age-appropriate terms, where he came from. How he was made. Lines such as “Not all bodies have sperm in them. Some do and some do not,” gave us the opportunity to explain that while we needed sperm to make him, we didn’t happen to have it ourselves.
Not all bodies have eggs in them. Some do and some do not.
The page that says, “Whichever way the baby comes out, it’s a pretty big deal for the baby. It’s also a pretty big deal for the people who waited and waited and WAITED for the baby to be born,” allowed us to explain the way in which he was delivered, while also allowing room for us to explain the way his cousins, for example, were delivered. That’s what makes What Makes a Baby so unique. And so treasured. And so needed. Among a field of books that talk about “when two adults love each other very much…” or “when you were in your mommy’s tummy…” or “when your mommy and daddy…” there comes this book that respects and honors and creates space for all families and all experiences.
Our family needed this book. Your family needs this book. In fact, I can’t think of a family that doesn’t need this book. Luckily (and at long last) we can all have it.
Cory Silverberg is the keynote speaker at PFP’s Family Matters Conference, which will be held at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia on October 19, 2013. You can meet Cory, buy the book, get it signed, and live happily ever after. Register here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2013familymattersconference