When a Desire for Family Turns Tragic

Anyone who has taken a moment to read my “about me” knows that children are in the plans. What does that mean for me? Well, it’s pretty internally complicated.

Firstly, lets talk about some of the hard facts. I’m trans masculine, but haven’t undergone any gender confirmation treatments, why? Well, because we want babies. By the time I figured out who I was in this world, babies were something that our family knew we wanted, and gender confirmation treatments, while not completely incompatible with babies, can make things more difficult. Testosterone doesn’t play well with baby making, so I would have to go off of it to likely become pregnant. Six months was the number the internet proffered forth as the appropriate amount of time to be off of testosterone before attempting to get pregnant. Now, of course there have been instances of trans men accidentally getting pregnant, but it’s much harder. The typical time frame under which trans men see positive results on testosterone is six months to a year, at least in most cases. So taking all of that into account, I would no sooner start taking testosterone and would be in the middle of the super awkward transition phase, and then would need to stop to make babies in order to keep to our families time line.

I keep mentioning this timeline, let me explain… I’m 32. I know that isn’t super old, but when we are talking about 2-3 children, with appropriate doctor recommended down time in between, it starts to look pretty old. Back when we first started talking about this, forty years old was the number to beat. Getting all the kids in before I turn forty was the need in order to stay out of the high risk category, and when you do the math of 9 months pregnant and then at least a year off in between, 32 became the magic number. We needed to start having babies this Summer in order to keep true to that.

So, the Summer of 2016 was a bit of a blow out as we prepared mentally for settling down with children. We traveled a lot. We partied a lot. We basically got the last of our reckless youth out of our system. Especially me, knowing that my body would not be solely my own for the next several years. On one trip we went to New Orleans and Galveston, Texas in the Spring. We visited Washington D.C. in June. On another trip we visited Philadelphia over the Fourth of July. We went up to Salem, Massachusetts during October.  We visited pagan festivals and danced around giant bonfires. We had a blast. And then after the New Year we looked parenthood in the face, and starting making plans.

Firstly, we started making room in our home. Our loft was a space that was hardly used for anything more than storage. We started calling it “cat poop land”, as one of our bad cats kept ducking between boxes and finding inconvenient places to do their business. This was to be our nursery, and so cat poop land had to go. We tore up the carpet, put up a wall, built a closet… the room is still not done but it looks like a room, and we figured we should be able to get that finished long before a baby arrived.  Just some paint, and flooring to go.

So at the start of the year, we started trying.  I stopped drinking, smoking, and otherwise behaving in a reckless manner.  I started taking prenatal vitamins, and reading tidbits about what to expect.  I was ready to be a seahorse Dad.  I was eager, even.

Now, one of our other weird little things about our household is that we intend to raise these babies as a family.  They are all of our children.  These kids are going to have two moms and two dads, regardless of the genetics that created them.  Amber froze sperm, so her and I should be able to make a baby.  Joshua has an unlimited supply (assuming no catastrophes), so him and I should be able to make a baby.  And Jasmine wants to get in on the action, and so Joshua and Jasmine plan to have a baby.  Everyone is genetically involved, and they will be raised as siblings.  Not as half-siblings, or cousins, or anything else weird… just siblings. Given that we don’t want grandparents to favor one child over another, we intended to keep parentage secretive.  They are our children, collectively.  When the kids are old enough that they really need to know for medical records and such, we will tell them, but until then Jasmine and Amber are both Mom.  Joshua and I are both Dad.

So, trying… I had never been pregnant before.  Never.  Which strikes me as odd, because I wasn’t always the most careful.  Remember, I was married for seven years.  Him and I hit a point where we weren’t exactly trying, but if it happened, we weren’t going to be upset, either.  So we stopped being so careful, and instead played Catholic roulette.  But I never got pregnant.  I was actually worried about my ability to become pregnant, given my previous carelessness.  So we tried… and then came the waiting…. am I?  Am I not?  Those few weeks felt like eternity.  Then one day I took a test.  It had been long enough, right?

Negative.  It came back negative.  I was so sad and angry at my body.  I have a uterus, and this is all it’s good for!  Why can’t it do one simple job! I was really trying to hold my shit together, I didn’t want to upset the rest of the house.  Maybe I didn’t wait long enough.  Maybe I wasn’t far enough along for the test to pick up on it?  And so the waiting continued.

Joshua’s birthday was a couple weeks later.  I really wanted to give him great news for his birthday, so I made plans to take him out to dinner.  That morning I would take the test, and if it came back positive I would be able to give him great news over dinner.  If it came back negative, we would still have a lovely dinner together, and he didn’t need to be any the wiser.  Why bring him down on his day, right?

IMG_20170203_173253074The morning came, it was Jasmine and I at home, Amber and Josh were both at work.  I slinked off to the bathroom and pulled the little purple and white stick from it’s packaging.  If it came back negative, I wanted to cry in peace.  If it came back positive, then, and only then, would I run and tell Jasmine.  I read the instructions again, just to make sure I was doing it absolutely right, I tinkled on the stick as instructed, and then I waited.  I sat there, in the bathroom, just staring at the small plastic window.  Watching the liquid be drawn upward and the indicator strip turn blue.  I stared, waiting with anticipation to see if the small blue cross would form that would tell me I was going to be a Dad.  I waited, and then there it was, it formed in a deep, unmistakable blue.  I gasped, and sat there shocked: I was pregnant.

I had to confirm the result.  I pulled out a second stick, and tinkled a little more.  I needed to make sure.  I know that false positives are rare, but it just seems like my luck.  The second stick beamed forward with the deep blue plus sign.  I had never been more proud in my life.  I ran off to tell Jasmine.

That night, while sitting over dinner, I told Joshua.  He had a hard time keeping the Cheshire grin from his face.  He also felt nervous, and I was nervous too.  We were breaking ground in a way we never had before.  And there aren’t a lot of examples of how this should be done, so we were going to have to make this up as we went along.

My morning sickness was miserable.  While I didn’t throw up much, I was nauseous all the time.  And tired, as if I had been working for twenty hours straight, when really I had been on my feet for maybe twenty minutes.  I kept telling myself, “it’s supposed to get easier once you’re past the first trimester”.  It became a sort of mantra.  But we were all thrilled to be doing this together.  Everyone chipped in to try to make me as comfortable as possible while still moving forward to get things done.

It was almost a month to the day when it happened.  I had slept alone that night.  I was miserable and nauseous, and any motion from my partner made that worse, so I had slept in Jasmine’s empty bed.  I woke up in the morning with a feeling between my legs that was familiar but disturbing.

Most people who have periods have awoken from a night’s sleep at one time or another wet, their period having started some time during the night.  That was the sensation… wet.  I didn’t feel too bad, just wet.  I was half asleep and very tired.  Coming to a little more, the feeling of “wet” became even more apparent, and then a moment of panic set in.  I reached down and touched between my legs, terrified to bring my hand back above the covers.  When I did I started to cry instantly: blood.  Lots and lots of blood.  I dashed to Amber’s room, she was the only one home with me, and woke her up in a panic.

How could this have happened?  I was approximately eight weeks pregnant, which doesn’t sound like much, but when it’s wanted… planned… eight weeks is enough for a lot.  It’s enough to be talking about names.  It’s enough to start buying children’s books for the nursery.  It’s enough for a lot of hopes and dreams to already be blossoming.

We drove to the ER.  Amber trying to comfort me, me almost shaking with dread.  I knew what was happening.  I knew it in my bones.  Amber was in denial, “it’s just our little one giving us a scare, just the first of many”.   She drove fast, though.  While her words showed a strong front, you could see the terror in her eyes as well.

I called Joshua on the drive to the ER.  He was at work, and hadn’t actually been in for more than a couple of hours.  He didn’t make any bones about it.  He was leaving work, he would meet us at the hospital in a few minutes.  When we pulled into the hospital parking lot, he was already there.  I can’t imagine the speeds he had to drive to beat us there, but he did.

The next several hours were a grueling process, mostly involving a lot of waiting and no answers.  At one point a test came back, and they said that I was still pregnant and I thought for one fleeting moment that maybe Amber, and now Joshua, were right.  Maybe this was just the little tyke’s first chance to scare us.  Maybe… maybe…

Later they wheeled me back for an ultrasound.  It was actually the first one I had ever had.  For weeks we had been counting how big our child was by the fruit size, and calling it that fruit as a pet name: “Our blueberry is being a dick today, I feel terrible!”, “The raspberry really wants meat, red meat”.  I was hopeful that the technician would point at something on the screen and say “that’s your little one, see?  That’s your raspberry!”, but that didn’t happen.  The tech was quiet, and thoughtful, and didn’t show me anything.  I asked sheepishly “how are we looking”, to which I was told that the doctor would talk to me.  My feelings of “maybe” quickly started to melt.  Why wouldn’t she reassure me?  Something was wrong… my feelings of dread were back, and strong.

More hours ticked by as I and my family waited.  Finally a doctor arrived, it was the diagnosis I had feared from the moment the thought “wet” had fully formed in my mind: I had miscarried.  Our child was gone.  I wept.  The doctor tried, poorly, to reassure me that it was nothing that I had done.  These things just happen.

That night my family and I ate our feelings.  All you can eat sushi.  We gorged on salmon as we sat and lamented our loss.  We ate till we were miserable, and still the void didn’t feel filled.  We went home, and we all drank, me for the first time in months.  I was angry at the world.  I was angry at my body and I wanted to punish it.  How dare it not do the one thing it was designed for!

I continued to cry for days.  Mostly in private.  At every turn people asked how I was doing, and proceeded to try to comfort me.  Really I just needed to cry.  I needed to cry hard and ugly and I needed others to cry with me.

The doctor said we could try again after two cycles.  Two cycles… at least two more months, possibly more.  My baby would have been twenty weeks along…. half way.   That’s when I get to start over, when my baby should be halfway here.  It would have been an October baby…

Time goes by, and the immediate pain fades.  Life moves on and is busy and hectic.  However, yesterday was a slap in the face.  My first period after the miscarriage arrived.  Wet. Like a flashback of that morning. Wet. You don’t get to have a child. Wet. I didn’t think that my first period would be such a painful reminder.  I thought I would be happy to see it return so that we could start ticking off the waiting period, but really it just hurts.

Two more months now… two more periods, and we can try again.

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