Sometimes I wait in the check-out line of our local dollar store and stare at the displays for pregnancy tests. I remember the evening that my partner and I stood there together, joking that we should buy one. It was the same evening that my partner then went to a pharmacy and bought a more legit pregnancy test. It was the same evening that we tested positive for the little ball of cells that would become our incredible, beautiful, vivacious child.
I ran into a cis gay acquaintance at a queer resource fair. I know him through an organization where I give a Gender 101 training at least once a year to new volunteers. He was tabling for said aspiring-to-be-super-welcoming LGBTQ organization. Things were going along smoothly and I was happily showing off kiddo when Acquaintance Guy smilingly inserted one foot into his mouth and the other into my gut.
Straining above the loud music, I said, “I’m not a mom,” to which he fumbled awkwardly. I made my exit quickly, holding tight to kiddo to stem the tide of feeling alone and invisible.
I had been bracing for postpartum depression, given my risk factors of prenatal depression & anxiety, prior premenstrual depression, some seasonal affective disorder symptoms, and a history of crying when I don’t get sufficient sleep. Pregnancy was a huge drain on my mental health, so I did what I could to prepare for extra help, support, and sleep during the immediate postpartum time. Aside from the whiplash of my birth experience, I’ve been in surprisingly good spirits. I’m reveling in the joy that Baby brings into our lives, even when I’m exhausted. I know that hard days will come, when Baby will get a cold that will put them in pain and it will wrench my heart and push my body to immense sleep deprivation. But these days, on the good nights, when Baby falls asleep at bedtime in my arms, it feels like I’m holding a precious thing that connects me to the vast universe. It is beautiful and humbling and I wish I could stop time to properly absorb it.
My baby is perfect. 2 months old and perfect.
Labor and delivery was awful. Induced at 42 weeks, pre-eclampsia (magnesium sulfate is the WORST), GBS positive, water broken over 24 hours, 43 hours of labor, kidneys started to shut down, preeetty much fully dilated but no urge to push, c-section, bladder infection, and, to top it off, a 2-inch blister on my leg from my compression socks where my legs swelled up to the size of logs. I had no idea my feet could be that puffed up with swelling. Oh, and then my IV infiltrated 3 times while getting antibiotics for fever that hadn’t yet been diagnosed as a bladder infection.
But Baby is perfect. Baby spent a few precautionary days in the NICU on antibiotics, but mostly thrived in the NICU. It meant, however, that I didn’t get to meet Baby for the first few days, which was agonizing.
In preparation for for induction at the hospital, we made signs for the doors explaining that my partner and I aren’t women. During our week in the hospital, a bunch of the staff, especially the doctors on call, really tried to get our pronouns right. Two of them even used the correct pronouns a few times in my chart. I sent them thank you cards. One of the RNs mentioned that one of her close friends is non-binary and she was so happy to see our door signs. Sure, some of the RNs didn’t really try, but my partner would correct them and those folks were in the minority. No one gave us any crap or asked us inappropriate questions or made us feel second-class. Given how much bodily suffering was already happening, I count that as a win.
My body feels like a beached whale all the time.
People keep telling me how small I look, but they don’t realize I’m hiding under very large men’s clothing, instead of showing off my “bump” in a form-fitting dress with horizontal stripes. I would much rather they not comment about on my body at all.
One unexpected nice thing: As my sister recently started emotionally tearing up about how excited she is for me and how much she loves and wants to support me, she told me that she knows I’ll be a great “mom.” Unexpectedly, my mother prompted her, saying, “Parent.” My family has taken years to get to this point, and I honestly didn’t expect my mother to ever get this far. Such a heart-warming surprise.
A binary trans friend of mine started TTC about a year before we did and clued me in to a fact that I had never come across before: apparently “FTM” means “first time mom” in non-queer spaces, especially online birth and parenting support groups. From what I’ve seen, cis-hets seem to be completely oblivious to any other meaning.
I miss so many things that I used to be able to do with my body and hopefully will be able to do again soon. On the top of my list at the moment is being able to sleep on my side. I’ve been sleeping propped up on my back due to regularly dislocating ribs for over a month now (thanks, Relaxin). Side sleeping is so much more comforting. The fortress of pillows cuts me off from having much physical contact with my partner at night.
Also, I miss ribs that don’t dislocate from my spine.