Thomas Beatie talks about his pregnancy in ‘Labor of Love.’
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
Sometimes, it seems like there’s a pregnant woman everywhere you look. The clerk at the gas station just started wearing maternity clothes. Two of your co-workers are due at the same time. While you were having lunch yesterday, you must’ve seen three waddling women on the sidewalk and one at the mall last night.
It seems obvious to point out that they’re all women, doesn’t it? Because, of course, everyone knows that men can’t get pregnant.
Read Thomas Beatie’s new book Labor of Love (Seal Press), and you’ll see how wrong you are.
For much of his childhood, Thomas Beatie says he preferred boy’s toys and masculine clothing, and he hated anything girly. That’s because from the time he was old enough to know there was a difference between boys and girls, Beatie says he “knew” he was male. There was never any question about it, even though he was born with female anatomy, given a girl’s name, and raised as a female child.
His Hawaii childhood should have been idyllic. Beatie grew up in a castle with a swimming pool and other extravagances, but such indulgences meant little. While his mother was sweet and gentle, Beatie claims that his father was abusive. He says the beatings he endured led him to learn from his father’s mistakes.
Later, after a few failed relationships, Beatie met Nancy. Nancy was supportive and warm-hearted, and they quickly fell in love. Wanting to “make it official,” they got married, but since same-sex couples are illegal in most states, they married again after Beatie transitioned. Then, like many newlyweds, they decided to start a family.
But there were complications. Nancy was unable to conceive and Beatie had legally become a man by then. Rejecting the idea of a surrogate and spurning adoption, the Beaties decided that, because Thomas still had his female reproductive organs, he would be the one to carry the child.
On his second try, he became pregnant.
Author Thomas Beatie isn’t afraid to lay it on the line for his readers. He’s honest—sometimes brutally so—yet tactful. His story leaves nothing out, but it’s not a tell-all, either. I thought his diplomacy, coupled with his willingness to be truthful, made this a really good story.
On the flip side, Beatie complains a lot: about nurses who see him as the man he is, but are slow to understand that he, not Nancy, will be carrying the baby; about lack of support from the lesbian/gay community; about the fact that this was newsworthy at all. Though he knew his daughter’s gestation was going to break ground, he seems dismayed that he couldn’t quietly, privately be the world’s first pregnant man.
Don’t let that stop you from reading this book, though, because it’s really quite fascinating. If you love to see a happy ending to a controversial story, Labor of Love is pregnant with possibility.
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.