By K. Garner
The double red lines appeared on the stick. Something at the pit of my stomach said, “You can’t do this.” Something felt identity-crushing about being pregnant from the moment those two little lines became daggers into my soul. This was not a fear of being a parent. Some fear concerning my body, some fear of being trapped—that’s what it was. I had yet to know I was bi-gender—my gender identity fluctuates between male and female.
Why did the idea of a person growing in my uterus freak me out? Or having a uterus freak me out? It always had. “Period” talk was always embarrassing. But it was something ignorable. There was a little “beasty” in this wretched organ. Note that I say this now as a term of endearment for my child, who had yet to have a name, just as Angelina Jolie’s version of Maleficent loved Aurora but found her to be a peculiar creature at first. So were my thoughts on the fetus inside of me, that it was peculiar. The character Maleficent seems quite bi-gender to me. Magical staff a penile metaphor, perhaps? But I digress.
The idea of my breasts making milk, the idea that these things on my chest were a source of nourishment, that everyone said that after I was done sharing my entire body with the little beasty, I’d have to then offer my breasts to it. It was deemed near immoral to not allow myself to be feasted on.
Women—most women—have this gorgeous and beautiful ability to be nourishing, caring, open, filling, and comforting. Women are like milk and honey. I’m not saying I don’t have some of that in me. But Man-Me is a rock, a lone wolf, and believes in giving strength to others, but not in being fed upon. It sent chills up my spine when Man-Me thought of looking down and seeing something latched onto me, suckling. Then I shuddered and remembered my current state. I was already being fed upon from the inside.
Research and a few friends led me to figuring out what was going on. My struggle with this pregnancy pointed out to me that I was bi-gender. See, when I was female, I was not even as sick. My blood pressure was lower. I wanted to shop for cute dresses and all the cute baby stuff. The birds were chirping, the sun was shining. The next week was cloudy skies and a high chance of testosterone. It meant I couldn’t keep food down because I was so ill. Male, pregnant, and in a maternity ward that couldn’t possibly “get it.” Ultrasound. Pressing hard with the equipment. Probably out of annoyance with me.
“If the doctor said its class C, that’s just how it is,” the technician murmured.
“So I can’t have yeast-infection medicine because it’s… Where’s my ability for decision? I don’t want to itch. And class C is not a high…”
“This body isn’t just yours now. You’re looking out for two people.”
“No, this body isn’t mine at all. I can’t look out for it or anything in it. Do you have any idea how much pain I’m in?” I argued.
“Have you ever been diagnosed bipolar, ma’am?”
“Why do you think there must be something wrong with me just because I’m not comfortable with this? I’m hurting. I don’t know how to be a flippin’ Disney-glowing-princess about it.”
“You just need to relax, maybe put on some makeup.”
Moody. Showing. Pregnancy meant more than a fear now. It meant more gyno trips than ever before, it meant being pushed on and pressed on to get a read on the baby, it meant everyone, especially right-winged women, had to tell you what to eat, do, and not do. If there’s one thing a man doesn’t need, it’s being nagged by conservative women (old hens) who think they know what’s best, who look at you and think they’ve been in your shoes. They had no idea.
I didn’t want doors opened for me just because I was pregnant. Normally, I appreciate a gentlemanly gesture, but it wasn’t like that pregnant. Pregnant, doors just fly open for you. You never get a chance to even think about taking the handle. “Oh, let me get that. When are you due?” I knew people were just being nice. It’s just that my big breasts, big pregnancy, soon-to-be-ripped-open vagina (I feared) was constantly mirrored to me in the eyes of everyone. Everyone. No escape.
I can’t say it got easier. Soon I’d be diagnosed with preeclampsia. Maybe even my body is part male and its inability to have a healthy pregnancy was its way of proving it. I do have high testosterone. It is part of PCOS. I have a baritone singing voice. I have excessive hair growth. My body is as bi-gender as my interiority.
On the day my daughter was born, I wasn’t there. Rather, my body was there like a slab of meat on the operating table. While my genitalia wouldn’t have to go through any horrors after all, this emergency C-section required anesthesia due to the spinal block not working. I remember the oxygen mask being placed over my face. I remember looking up at the big eyes of that nurse and her surgical mask. There was nothing masked about me—I was half nude. I looked up at those eyes and said, “I’m scared.” Then I was out.
I awoke to be told my baby, Stormy, had been taken to the NICU. She had critically low blood sugar and was jaundice. What no one yet knew was that I’d lost too much blood and had a blood clot. It would be days before I’d even hold my daughter because it became a pulmonary embolism. I still felt like a caged man. My daughter and I both yet to meet, and possibly dying. All the pain and frustrations that pregnancy had been, did not compare to the fear, the pain, the fight of this new trial. I begged the doctors to let me see her, but they would not bring her to the PCU.
The blood clot broke down quicker than they thought it would. The strangest thing happened when I first held Stormy. I felt like a woman the second I held her. I felt like a mother. It has been the same ever since. I could be having a very male set of several months, but the second I’m with her—only when I’m with her—a motherly gene kicks in. I’ve never felt fatherly once. She is a golden-haired, curly-topped, two-year-old now with big hazel eyes. Getting her into this world really was a storm, but it was a storm that we both survived. It made us survivors. The male part of me has a very unique battle scar from it. The female part of me is ecstatic to be the mom of my dear, sweet Stormy.