I left the doctor’s office, completely stunned. Living in a base town means that everyone is having babies, and everyone is trying to get pregnant. But not me. Not once in my 26 years had I been pregnant and I had planned to keep it that way. Life was hard enough, why add to it?
But there I was, wiping away tears of absolute shock and walking swiftly back to the car, one hand anxiously clutching my stomach. There’s a person in there, I thought to myself, still not believing it. And I wouldn’t believe it, not for a long time. To say the idea was surreal would be a massive understatement.
I’d made the appointment because just six weeks prior, I had ended up in the emergency room with a terrible infection that damn near killed me. And I thought it had come back, since I’d been throwing up every single day for the last couple of weeks. My only concern going in had been catching it early, it didn’t occur to me that it might be something else completely. Like a baby. A frickin’ baby.
The doctor had just casually and quickly delivered the news, glossing over my shock. I was shuffled out the door with a referral for an OB and a lackluster “Congratulations” in spite of my tears. I was grateful for my husband’s company, but as we left the office I was struggling to form the words to tell him. Not because I was afraid of his reaction. I knew he’d be happy, we’d discussed having kids and it was something we both wanted…someday. In the future. The very far future. No, I was struggling because I just wasn’t ready to be pregnant.
You see, I’m not a woman. I never have been. I was born with a vagina and my parents insisted I was a girl my whole life. But from the time I was 9 years old, I knew I wasn’t a girl. I just didn’t have the language for it, and it wasn’t until I was 21 that I first heard the term “Non-binary.” It rocked my world. To finally have a word for my identity was completely life changing and I felt like I was finally able to embrace who I was. I am agender, trans masculine. I grew up wearing my older brother’s hand-me-downs and cutting my hair shorter and shorter.
“Butch” was always a way I had described myself until I learned about the whole spectrum of gender. It was a very difficult journey. It cost me some relationships, and most people honestly don’t understand it and don’t try. Add to it that I’m 5 foot nothin’ and 95 pounds, and it’s hard for people to take my identity seriously. But I’ve always been stubborn, and so I steamed ahead without regard for the opinions of the world. I bought my clothes from the boys section at Old Navy, I shaved my own head on a near weekly basis, and I insisted people use “they/them” pronouns when talking about me.
I’d been previously married for a few years to someone who came out as a trans woman during our divorce. It was bittersweet for me. I was grateful that I had been there to help her learn and discover her own identity, but I was angry that she had cut her transphobic teeth on me. She did try to respect my identity, but she had a habit of outing me to everyone without my permission, and getting upset with me for not being as “out and proud” as she thought I should be. When I had first come out, she mourned the “loss” of her wife, which had been tough for me to understand because I was still the same person I had always been. All I had ever wanted was to just be myself, for myself. It was my identity, and I wanted to be out to the people I chose to be out to. She just didn’t understand.
For a laundry list of reasons, we divorced. We’d never planned on having kids and I had settled into the idea of never having to deal with being pregnant. So when my husband and I got married in April of this year, the “kids” discussion had already happened. I like to be prepared and that’s kind of a major topic two people should definitely agree on before getting hitched. We both agreed that a family someday might be nice. Someday. Not right now. Or next year. Or in two years. Someday.
So I hadn’t really had time to switch the mental gears to the possibility of kids before “Surprise! You’re pregnant!”, and I was panicking. I’d already moved to Jacksonville, N.C., which is not a queer friendly town by any stretch, and I’d closeted myself as much as I could. Pansexual and agender? Noooope, not me. Definitely cis and straight. Straighty-straight straight. And to suddenly have to process the blow to my closeted, masculine self was just overwhelming.
I am now 29 weeks along, and I still haven’t really processed it. “Motherhood” is a concept that is ruling my life right now, and any masculine traits I might have clung to have just gone out the window completely. It sort of feels like I’m slipping away. I’ve spent the last 6 years building this love for myself based on my identity, and I’m watching it get blown full of holes. I think I’d be in worse shape if I hadn’t anchored myself by building my identity for myself and myself alone. To have the security of knowing deep in my soul who I am, and still seeing myself that way, has been lifesaving.
But I look down at my much fuller hips and much bigger belly and I just see femme, femme, femme. To be trans masculine, and to be pregnant, is a huge emotional undertaking when you don’t have a vast support system. My accepting friends and family are wonderful and they’ve done so much to encourage me. But there aren’t support groups for me, there aren’t articles or resources, there aren’t websites. It’s extremely difficult to find therapists who understand. I’m kind of on my own with this one.
I’ve had a lot of time to work through the roller coaster of emotions, and it’s sinking in more and more every day. I went from being terrified and completely rejecting the idea, to being ok with it and even excited. I’ve made peace with it. It doesn’t change who I am, just how other people see me. Which is something I never gave a crap about in the first place.
I am so excited to meet my baby girl. To hold her and to kiss her sweet face. But I’m most excited for the day when she’s finally old enough that I can sit her down and come out to her. I won’t be my daughter’s mom. But I’ll be the best damn parent I can be.
RORY MICKELSON is a writer who identifies as pansexual and agender/nonbinary/trans masculine.