For the longest time, I never really understand the big deal about hormones. I didn’t really suffer hormonal mood swings, PMS, or cramps during my monthly cycle. Scout’s honor. I thought it was one of those things that people just blew out of proportion, or used as a scapegoat for being a bitch. I was a little judgmental of my fellow females, but it was just so outside of my personal experience that I couldn’t understand.
Ladies, I am so very sorry.
A couple of years ago, around my 31st birthday, my hormones decided to wake up and wage an epic battle on my sanity. Hello, biological clock! I developed chronic acne issues. For the week or so leading up to my period, I was needy and overly sensitive to everything. I could literally burst into tears over nothing. God help us if there was an actual fight….I would go into a full-blown panic attack. I felt like a different person at times. It has been the most bizarre experience. The most disconcerting aspect of this new reality was that suddenly I desperately wanted to have a baby. (For the record, I never wanted to birth a child. I was fairly ambivalent about the whole idea of being a parent until my daughter kinda fell into our laps.) Now, I feel a need to become pregnant. Fucking hormones.
B and I had discussed having other children in a rather vague way, but my hormonal mid-life crisis put a new urgency into my thoughts. If we want to have another baby, and if we want me to carry it, then we have a tiny, ever-diminishing window of opportunity for this to happen. I refuse to try and get pregnant when I start pushing 40, so the next couple of years are all we have to work with. There was not much to the discussion about whether we truly wanted to try and get pregnant….we pretty much agreed right away that this would be a new goal for us.
Since we are truly overachievers in life complications, this decision came about right around the time B came out as trans. Of course it did. And I still struggle at times with resentment. Because it felt a little bit like my personal epiphany about wanting to have a baby was swallowed up by the tidal wave of B’s transition. This was yet another thing that ended up becoming about his needs. Suddenly our conversations surrounding my potential pregnancy were about how B wanted to try home insemination so he would feel more involved in the process. He was pretty depressed about the fact that he wasn’t biologically able to get me pregnant. And that was pretty frustrating.
The other major impact of trying to plan a pregnancy and a transition at the same time is the financial impact. Getting pregnant without a biological father can be expensive. Sperm costs money, and any procedures done at a doctor’s office cost money. If my mind reeled when contemplating the expense of a pregnancy and a new baby, I nearly blacked out when we began researching the various surgical procedures B wanted to have. Suddenly, B was talking casually about possible surgical options that carried a price tag between $25K and $100K! I wanted to support and encourage, but I also felt the need to point out some practical considerations. We are not rich people. We work hard and scrape by with a fairly decent middle class existence. We have debts. We have a child. We are contemplating having another. How exactly are we supposed to come up with tens of thousands of dollars for surgery? And at times B seems to be in fast forward mode. He has been taking testosterone for about three months, and wants to go under the knife by the end of the year. I just want him to slow down a little. Some surgeons won’t even do certain procedures unless you’ve been on hormone therapy for a year.
Some days I think B feels like all I do is rain on his parade. He has always been a bit of a dreamer. He always has something that he needs to do or acquire that is going to make his life better. I love that quality sometimes. But sometimes I have to be the voice of reason that says, “Hey! Wait a minute! Let’s think this through.” During those times, I think B just hears me saying no.
There are days where I feel like all B can talk about is his transition. He asks me how his voice sounds today, or if I want to feel the new patch of facial hair that is coming in. He will point out the new thicker pattern of hair growing on his stomach, or stand in front of the mirror and check out how the new clit pump really makes his dick bigger. It’s a bit of an obsession, and I know how excited he is, but sometimes I feel like I’m married to a process instead of a person. I keep track of when his shots are, because the second week can be difficult. His irritability level is higher than normal. Testosterone has changed his personality in subtle ways. He is more dismissive of my feelings than he used to be. He is more assertive and aggressive. On the bright side, the hormones have given him a higher sex drive than ever before. We are both just working so much trying to save money that we don’t get to take advantage of that much.
Nearly a month has gone by since either of us has been to a therapy appointment. We are so busy, but I know there are things we need to talk about. Having a mediator is vital to our communication right now. We both have such strong feelings about the things that are going on that it makes it hard not to get defensive or take things as a personal attack.
I feel like I need to post a disclaimer here. I’m supportive of my husband’s needs. I want him to do whatever he needs to do in order to be happy. I love him. But I think there is a huge difference in supporting him and understanding him. It is hard to understand why he feels this is necessary. I don’t buy into all the gender stereotypes. I don’t believe that someone who identifies as male or female has to conform to society’s idea of what that means. In fact, I find androgynous people incredibly sexy. I believe that we should all strive to overturn this idea that we need to be labeled. I am also a big believer in accepting and loving yourself as you are. The idea that someone would need to surgically alter their body in order to be okay is very alien to me. I wish we could all be happy and comfortable with ourselves as we are. I realize that isn’t going to happen. For whatever reason that I cannot grasp, some people need their body to match their gender. I respect that. I support their right to do it. But it is still hard for me to understand. And dealing with how my husband’s transition affects my life is an ongoing struggle. I want people to know. I want to tell you the good, the bad, and the really fucking ugly. This is real talk. I don’t want to hurt anyone. But I want to be brutally honest about this. I have doubts and fears that creep up on me, and I hope that by sharing them here I can help other people going through the same thing. And maybe help myself a bit in the process.