Cheryl Dumesnil

Now available at your local bookstore or here.


About Love Song for Baby X:

Follow poet Cheryl Dumesnil and her unlawfully wedded wife as they stumble toward parenthood, through four odds-busting conceptions, three miscarriages, a temporarily legal wedding during San Francisco's Winter of Love, a stint as poster children for the marriage equality movement, and finally the arrival of their longed-for son.

Along the way, in the face of relentless uncertainty, Dumesnil struggles to cultivate some sense of inner peace. Though she wrestles mightily with the opposing forces of hope and fear, in the end, she finds the middle ground between them: acceptance.


Praise for Love Song for Baby X:

Love Song for Baby X details the strength of will and powerful faith that mothers must have to bring their babies into the world – and tells us how they survive that journey with their souls intact.

                                                                                                                                —Judy French,
Pregnancy Magazine

Some couples trying to conceive step into a sperm bank as a last resort. Poet Dumesnil (In Praise of Falling, 2009, etc.) and her partner started there, but her first pregnancy ended in a blighted ovum—or might have, as she shares an experience that led her to question her dismissive doctor's reading of the ultrasound. She had another miscarriage, then another, which, in the words of a bizarrely cheerful doctor, "w[on] [her] a ticket to endocrinology!” Though she expresses her sadness and worry, Dumesnil does not use her circumstances as an excuse to treat others badly. She complains about her HMO but appreciates that her endocrinologist did not “bat an eye at these lesbian wannabe mamas in his doorway." Her experience speaks to the loss of control many accomplished women feel when they try to get pregnant: "[E]very other time I've wanted something—like a graduate degree, or a job—all I had to do was work hard to get it…if pregnancy was a merit-based reward, I'd be so pregnant right now." After her miscarriages, Dumesnil decided not to make plans based solely on pregnancy, which led her to write about, and participate in, the same-sex marriages taking place at the San Francisco City Hall in 2004. Just days before getting married, the author found out she was pregnant. Hours after her televised wedding, she learned that an injunction had stopped the marriages, and she pushed past her anxiety and fatigue to march in protest. Dumesnil's ability to handle disappointment and setbacks with grace and humor, along with her engaging writing style, make this an engrossing read.

A relatable, even-keeled, well-written account of the struggles and triumphs of infertility treatment.

—Kirkus Reviews


Any hope-to-be parents, no matter their sexual orientation, will be touched and encouraged by Cheryl and Tracie’s journey to parenthood. Dumesnil’s lyrical, poignant, and sometimes hilarious account of the roller coaster ride between Hope, Fear, Loss, and Hope again in her commitment to birth a healthy baby made this book impossible to put down. Bearing children into this tremulous world has become a political act, especially for same-sex families. Cheryl and Tracie have done it with love.

—Jeanne Elium, author Raising a Son and Raising a Daughter

Imagine combining Emily Dickinson’s grace with Rosie the Riveter’s know-how and Annie Hall’s neurosis with Billy Jean King’s determination. Then put a quest for a baby in the mix. You might come up with something like Cheryl Dumesnil’s new memoir on lesbian motherhood. I have no idea how she makes the painful act of waiting and hoping so divinely comic. The answer is as baffling as motherhood itself. All I know is Dumesnil understands when to unlock the human heart and allow a mystery to remain a mystery.

—Steve Fellner, The Weary World Rejoices, Blind Date with Cavafy and All Screwed Up

We know, by the book’s dedication to her sons, that the outcome of poet Cheryl Dumesnil’s epic journey is a successful birth. And yet it reads like a suspense novel, each chapter paying out just enough plot line to keep us held tight (yet wanting more), each emotional and physical moment limned with a poet’s eye for detail.

We travel with Dumesnil and her wife from conception to miscarriage and back again, and again, and again; from early courtship to marriage at San Francisco's City Hall to invalidation by the California State Supreme Court. At the core of these peregrenations is a tale of love and mindfulness: the gradual acceptance of the baby-making journey as one of letting go, even in the face of “god-sized Fear.”

As Dumesnil moves from meticulously researched control to hard-won, triumphant release, we learn along with her not just what it takes for two women to make a baby, but what it takes for any of us to become a parent: the capacity to improvise on top of the best laid plans, to find grace and possibility in calamity and surprise. In the face of yet another daunting medical hurdle, exhausted from the journey thus far, Dumesnil tells a nurse: “I’ll figure it out. I mean, that’s what parents do, right? We figure it out.”

—Polly Pagenhart,

To book
Cheryl Dumesnil for readings, interviews, speaking engagements, panel discussions, writing workshops, campus visits, or book group discussions, in person or on Skype, contact her here

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