Keep Your Microaggressions Off My Baby

baby, gender

Other than the baby, we have three kids. They are all very different. BCat is sarcastic, but BigD doesn’t really get jokes. BCat is shy, but D2 loves talking to grownups, even if he doesn’t know them. This is how the mail man, the Wegmans cashier, and maybe three waitresses knew MDL was pregnant before any of our friends and family. BigD loves to play in the mud, but D2 would change his clothes four times a day if he decided they were too dirty.

They are even different in their similarities. They all love to build, but each has a different preferred medium. BCat is always making some sort of airplane out of Legos. BigD likes to build sound systems out of cardboard, and if they were real he would have all the parts to function, too. D2 likes hammering nails into things, whether or not it’s actually making something.

They all like music, but have talents in different areas. BCat played the cello for a while, and was very good for that length of time. Unfortunately, anxiety got in the way and we had to stop lessons, but I’m hoping for an eventual return. BigD loves percussion, although he can’t carry a tune in a bucket. He has had very little formal training, but he can read rhythms very well. D2 loves his guitar, even if he doesn’t like to practice his lesson material.

They have some pretty big similarities, too. They all love to run around and be outside, and they are all complete wimps if it’s too cold. They all love to eat, although it’s mostly tacos, pizza, and Chinese food. All three of them are very, very stubborn.

I don’t know what the new baby is going to be like. Circumstances will start this kid out with a lot of differences from the older three: different dad, different extended family, different hometown, different educational beginning.

The baby also gets a different assigned sex at birth. According to our ultrasound last week, the baby is a girl.

baby sonogram

Check out that squiggly brain.

I don’t want any of these things to mean she is treated differently than the other kids.

Yes, technically BCat, BigD, and D2 are my step kids, but our lives don’t function that way. They were very little when I came into their lives, and since their bio dad ditched for two y

ears (only to mysteriously return recently, but that’s another post), I’ve effectively been their father for quite some time. No, I don’t have any legal rights to them, but that’s only because children can only currently have two legal parents, and their bio dad isn’t going to give them up.

We are one family. Two grownups, four kids, two cats, and hopefully a dog or two when we get our own house. Origins have nothing to do with it.

And neither does gender.

We spent a very long time being “the family with three boys,” which is a concept that makes people in general pretty horrified. “Ohhh that must be so hard for you! Don’t you wish you had a girl? How do you deal with all the trucks, guns, and rocket ships???!!!” Now I’m expecting a good bit of “Aren’t you so glad to get relief from all the tractors, wrestling, and motorcycles?! Now you can go out and buy dolls, ponies, and pink Legos!!!!!!”

As a feminist, and as a trans person, I don’t want to deal with all this bullshit. We already have pink Legos. All the kids fight over who gets to use them. BigD is already in love with dance music. D2 is already as vain and fashion conscious as a high school girl. While I’m not going to declare any of the kids gay right now, I would not expect the baby to have the first boyfriend in the family. Things are not going to be that different.

While I am not trying to go all Baby X on the poor thing, I don’t see any need to have the baby constrained by all these gendered expectations. Seeing the baby’s ovaries on the ultrasound does not give any insight into her likes and dislikes, temperament, or personality.

I understand that I am more sensitive to gendered interactions than most people, and not everybody sees the way they treat others as gendered. But it is real, and the social pressure is real. No matter what I do, someone, somewhere, is going to try to get my daughter to act like a lady, whether or not what she is doing is socially appropriate for her age. Someone else will want to know why I would let her wear that, no matter what it is. Someone else will try to get her to settle down with a nice man, without taking into consideration her sexual orientation or her views on settling down at that point in her life.

These are not big examples. These are everyday judgments that I am certain will happen all the time, no matter what kind of person she turns out to be. While I have no idea who that person is, I know she doesn’t need that.

sonogram hand

This little hand will be able to hold many different colors of Legos.

But there are some things I can tell you about her already. All her organs are inside her body. This isn’t something anybody ever asks when they hear you got an ultrasound, but it’s pretty important. We got to see her brain, her intestines, and all four chambers of her heart, and it was really cool. Unfortunately, they didn’t print us a picture of that, apparently most parents don’t want it. She showed us all her fingers and toes, too, ten of each.

She is very active, and we can already tell she’s going to be a real wiggler. She swam her way around the entire uterus in the 15 minutes we were at the appointment, and as soon as MDL could feel the baby move, we realized she never stops.

She loves Chinese food, like her older siblings, and she loves fish, unlike them. She will start dancing if she even hears you talk about sushi.

She loves music. She dances to most kinds of music, and will sometimes only quiet down with a lullaby.

I’m sure she’ll be just as stubborn as the rest of us, too.

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You guys put what in the where?

baby, gender

So I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Max, trans guys can’t get anyone pregnant. Just how did this happen?”

Well I have two answers for two different groups of people.

Short answer for people who don’t actually care and are just trying to feel inferior in their biological superiority of being able to have children “naturally” blah blah aren’t you special etc: I am a wizard and I grew sperms. Fuck you.

Longer answer for people who actually care and/or are in a similar situation: MDL and I used intravaginal insemination at home with a known donor. It’s a lot less technical than it sounds, and purposefully so. I just like the big words.

Your typical, socially accepted LGBT let’s-make-a-baby narrative involves going to the doctor, having to answer a lot of questions about your health, lifestyle, and intentions, taking fertility drugs whether or not you actually need them, poring over pictures in the sperm database with starry eyes, lying on a table with a paper sheet while the doctor does his thing, and somehow not caring about the sheer invasiveness of the entire experience.

Basically, we’ve had enough experiences with doctors in various of areas medicine that we decided we didn’t need some shit head with a God complex ordering us around. We didn’t need to be told MDL was too fat to conceive (she’s not, but she is also not within the narrow guidelines expected by fertility doctors), we didn’t need any unnecessary drugs thrown in our faces by someone who has never taken them and doesn’t understand the side effects, we didn’t need our high fat/low carb/sushi loving eating habits judged by someone who has never actually studied nutrition. Too much of medicine, especially in women’s health, is based on tradition and has nothing to do with science. As a nurse in women’s health, MDL knows exactly what we would be going through. She sees the process women are put through every day at work. It is the epitome of patriarchy controlling women’s bodies. We are Not Into That.

And we really didn’t need to pay thousands of dollars to conceive. So many people have the privilege to do this in their homes for free, without drugs, without supervision, without judgment, while actually having fun, and we weren’t about to let being queer take that away from us. MDL had success conceiving without medical intervention three times before and there wasn’t any reason to believe it wouldn’t work. She drank FertiliTea and tracked her ovulation for a while. We did look into sperm banks, but we had an offer from a friend for free semen without trying to steal the baby later, so we went for it.

This was not necessarily the most legally sound decision, and I know people who have had these types of agreements go wrong. This is not something I would put out as a blanket recommendation to everyone. However, this was the right decision for us. Our donor is very close to our family. He visits frequently and we are updated on his life. We know for sure what he looks like, what his personality is like, what his family is like, and we can ask any medical questions at any point. This child will be able to have a relationship with him and won’t have any “where did I come from?” questions that can’t be answered. We are very privileged to have someone like this in our lives, as some people are forced to use a sperm bank. This was a purposeful decision, and after weighing our different options, nothing else felt right.

Anyway, there was no turkey baster involved, and it’s crude of you to ask that, people in the first group. The semen was ejaculated into an Instead disposable menstrual cup and my partner inserted it into her vagina. We left it there for a while, whatever was recommended by people who make recommendations on these things, I forget. And during that time, we did what everyone else does when they are trying to conceive. Which was good, because the semen gave MDL cramps that needed to be relieved.

And then the next day we did it again, just to make sure. Somehow, we were lucky enough that this one cycle was all it took. (Also, we still have some extra FertiliTea, if anyone needs it!)

TL;DR It was pretty much the same as everyone else. Sorry to disappoint you.