Pregnancy, Then and Now

Hey everyone, I’m Jacob. I’m currently pregnant and I’m going to be using this space to talk about my experiences as a pregnant masculine person.

This is my 2nd pregnancy and despite it only being 3 years since my first, it’s proving to be very different. On the surface this isn’t that unusual, I think a lot of people find that their subsequent pregnancies are different. There’s a sense that my body knows how to do this and things that may have once alarmed me are now at least a little familiar (round ligament pain anyone?!) and of course like many people who have been pregnant before I now have a small child who takes up the majority of my time and attention and prevents me from taking anywhere near as many naps as I’d like to!

But as well as all those familiar things that many people experience, I’m also finding that lots of things are different with this pregnancy in ways that are pretty unique to my trans experience.

My first pregnancy was dominated with fear of the unknown. I didn’t know how I would react to being off testosterone (which I’d been taking for 6 years before I first stopped to try and conceive) or even if I was infertile. It’s very common for trans people who start testosterone to be told that you will lose fertility – this is something that I plan to cover in more detail in a later blog as it’s such a pervasive lie that has impacted so many people’s lives. However with my 2nd pregnancy I came into the experience having successfully conceived and been pregnant before. Not only did I know that my fertility was probably fine having been on testosterone again, but I also knew how to fortify to manage the feelings of going off T (testosterone) and what the likely changes would be.

With my first pregnancy I wasn’t just worried about how my body would react, I was also really scared of how the people in my life would react. Despite coming out multiple times in the past (first at 12 and then various times as my understanding of my gender and sexuality evolved), I had no baseline to compare to when it came to this. Many people in my family had reacted less than well when I first came out as trans and it had taken a decade to mend some of those bridges. When I shared about my pregnancy I was happily surprised by just how well most people took it. For the most part they were just delighted to have a new baby in the family and it even meant some of those more rickety bridges had a chance to fortify.

After giving birth to my first child I was struck by just how important our connection was and that the story of how she came into the world was hers to own, not mine.

For the first time in my life my trans narrative wasn’t just my own but I was sharing it with someone else. With that in mind I made the decision to be fully open about being her birthing parent. This means that going into this pregnancy there isn’t anyone in my world who doesn’t know that I’m a birthing parent so sharing about my 2nd pregnancy was less a “coming out” and more just the sharing of joyful news – just like it is for most people.

On a broader social scale, with my first pregnancy I was absolutely terrified of the media and the risk of finding the Daily Fail or The S*n camped outside my door waiting to take photos of the pregnant man. At the time, there had been some media stories in the press but always as sensationalist headlines and not much substance or follow through. This media landscape is one of the fundamental things that has changed since my first pregnancy. Since then Freddy McConnell and his team have released Seahorse, a documentary about his pregnancy and also Freddy’s now public battle to change the UK birth certificate so that the birthing person doesn’t have to be “mother” (he had initially intended, for the safety of his child, to be anonymous in the press coverage of this court case). At the same time there’s also been a significant amount of research into trans experiences of maternity care (I’ve taken part in so many studies!) and Brighton University have done amazing work in overhauling their maternity guidelines to be inclusive of trans people. All of these things have caused significant changes to the conversations around trans fertility and pregnancy. Suddenly we’re not labelled as “the first pregnant man” every time and there’s the beginnings of an understanding that we exist in strong numbers and there’s only going to be more of us as the understanding that when you choose to medically transition, you aren’t choosing between your identity and fertility.

Being pregnant in 2021 is proving to be a new and interesting challenge. Between vocal transphobes and exciting, positive changes in policy and understanding there is an experience of being so hopeful while also having to shield against some painful and relentless hate. And all while experiencing a global pandemic!

I’m excited to have this space to document my experiences and share thoughts on everything from lactation after surgery to having a baby bump and a beard. I hope you join me.

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The Queer Parenting Partnership was launched in 2020, in response to the shocking lack of birth and parenting support services for LGBTQ+ people in the UK.

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