I was beginning to write this when my wife yelled for me to come to her. Now in the third trimester, I was alarmed and came running, but found her with a smile on her face and an invitation to hold her belly in my hands. I could feel our daughter kicking and squirming more intensely than ever before.
I remember when my wife first asked whether I wanted kids or not. Our relationship was barely two months old and we were walking by the lot where a new apartment complex was being built. She asked me what I thought about kids; I smiled and responded with a hearty yes. I’ve always wanted to be a parent.
And so a mere three years after that conversation, we began the process of getting my wife pregnant. Copious appointments at the fertility clinic, thousands of dollars spent. Try number one. . . No baby. Try number two . . . no baby. We could only afford one more try and had accepted we would likely be adopting.
Try number three we bent the rules a little. She had a sip of alcohol after insemination. We went on vacation with her family, and she rested.
We took a pregnancy test exactly two weeks after insemination, convinced that once again there would only be one red line. As we walked away to wait for the test to cook, we sighed in anticipation. We came back and looked. One line. We consoled each other and mourned the chance to experience pregnancy.
Then, I decided to take another look. Lo and behold, there was a faint red line on the test.
We held our breath and waiting a few days and took another. Positive. We went to the clinic and got the blood test. Positive.
The past 7.5 months have flown by, and here we sit awaiting my daughter’s imminent arrival. It seems like just yesterday when we were at our first midwife appointment, and she asked me what I wanted to be called. I cried when she asked. So few understand the power of language in the LGBTQ* community (I’m a fan of the asterisk because it provides for expansion of a limiting acronym, including all of the diversity of those who claim it).
It was the second time I cried that day. The first time was when we saw the blurry outline of our baby on the ultrasound screen; that alien child so different from the single dot we celebrated at the fertility clinic.
I will not be Baby A’s mom. Nor will I be her dad. I will be her. . . Gender non-conforming, queer as all get out, parent.
Navigating our society as someone who does not fit with stereotypical gender norms is difficult on a good day, but as a soon to be parent, I’m finding there to be a whole extra layer of complication.
I think we will refer to me as Mae Mae, although my daughter may have a different idea as to what to call me.
Becoming a parent is uncharted territory for me, and while I’m finding resources, being a genderqueer (genderqueer = person who doesn’t identify as male or female) parent feels like walking into the wilderness with only the faintest of trails to follow.
Because parenthood is different from motherhood or fatherhood; it is a way of being which seems to escape definition or common knowledge. There are books with moms and dads, books with two moms or two dads, but there are no books (that I know of) with a mom and a parent; or a dad and a parent.
As a Queer Parent, It Sometimes Feels Like I Simply Don’t Exist
I know there are many other parents like me; others navigating this wilderness and forging their own trails. I know a few in person whom I fully intend to rely on heavily. This is an individual journey, though. That’s the thing about identities, whether LGBTQ* or not. They belong solely to the person who claims them.
And so, what words work for me, may not work for another. There is still a lot I don’t know. Upon the arrival of our daughter, I may claim the word mother with no squirmy feelings. Or perhaps I will lay claim to dad or papa or any number of names.
And perhaps Baby A will claim an entirely different name for me. Perhaps she will help me navigate the wilderness of genderqueer parenting just as much as I will do my best to help her navigate the wilderness of life.
About the Author:
Mason Aid blogs about mental health with an emphasis on how it relates to the LGBTQ* community at www.themasonaid.com. Their wife is due in mid-March, and they are excited to learn what parenting is all about.
In post images: Author’s Own
Featured Image: Daiga Ellaby for Unsplash