[See part I for the backstory, in which I figure pregnancy will fix everything and then it all goes downhill. fast.]
When all was said and done, we all made it through. Our baby was and is tremendously healthy, an absolute delight. My liver kicked back into gear right after the birth, and while I can’t really say that the birth (an early induction that took over 3 days) put me in touch with the universe, I did feel like a total bad ass. We came through closer as a couple and as a family, and we got a truly amazing kid.
But pregnancy didn’t fix anything.
Of course, what seems clear now is that I was asking pregnancy to fix something unfixable.
Before the gender question was officially on the table, I was known to sometimes describe how disconnected I felt from my body during pregnancy. It was more than the health issues, though those contributed. I felt so empty. At the time, I was pretty sure the problem was that I wasn’t riding my bike. My acupuncturist fussed at me not to ride during pregnancy, and so I didn’t. I know plenty of people do ride while pregnant, but the stakes were pretty high. I wasn’t going to do anything that might muck things up, and this was the woman who had miraculously made me ovulate. I would have done pretty much anything she said. In regular non-pregnant life, I bike a lot. Not long tours or fast road rides, but I bike a ton for transportation. Again, long before the gender question was on the table, I would describe how riding my bike was one of the few way I ever felt connected to my body, using my body for a useful purpose. I felt strong. I felt fast. I felt present.
So surely the emptiness I felt was because I wasn’t riding. That must have been it. What I never put together until the gender lightbulbs finally went on, was that it was pretty suspicious that I only felt at home in my body when I was biking. Even riding every day, that’s really not very much time at all.
As my understanding of my gender began to shift, as my sense of who I want to and can be physically opened up, I suddenly took up residence in my body, after having been absent for decades, at least since puberty.
One of the first places things clicked was in bed. Shortly after our sexual relationship started to shift, Gail said to me “It’s like you are here now and I didn’t know you weren’t before. The only time before that I’ve ever seen you this present in your body was when you were giving birth.”
She was right. Birth hurt a hell of a lot, but at least I was feeling something, and I felt damn powerful. And now, I’m feeling all this great stuff I’ve never felt before, (in addition to bad stuff I was pushing away all these years) — my body isn’t just dead space.
So maybe, in a way, pregnancy did fix something. Sort of. It was a first taste of this new relationship to my body, though not at all in the way I had hoped. Even though my last ditch effort to make peace didn’t really take, I did make progress, of a sort. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those conversations Gail and I had, the ones where I more or less said I was trans but we both pretended I hadn’t, started fairly soon after Ira was born.
There’s another way in which my mission was a little bit successful. I’ve been asked a couple times now if I had trouble nursing, how it makes sense that I feel so uncomfortable with my chest now, but when I nursed a baby I didn’t seem to mind. The baby needed to eat and I needed to feed the baby, and feeding the baby was part of the plan to fix everything, so of course I had to do it (and do it well). So I nursed. I’m glad to have done it, but I’m never going to do it again so how about we be well rid of them.
But then I had a moment which it dawned on me suddenly that lots of trans guys want and get hysterectomies (in case you haven’t noticed by now, sometimes I miss the obvious). I know I may not have a choice down the line, and may need one, but my flash response to thinking about it was “Hands off. Don’t even think about it. I’m keeping that. My baby was in there.” I can’t recall ever having a positive thought about my uterus before pregnancy, so it was both surprising and nice to to have that sudden unbidden protective reaction. Maybe it’s not that grand vision I had planned at the outset, but hey, that was a tall order, and to feel a link between my body and my kid, well, that’s certainly more than I had before, so I’ll count is as something good, even if not exactly mission accomplished.