The day I get my IUD removed in the summer of 2022, my doctor asks me if I’m excited to have another baby.
I’ve just gotten off a consulting call with a new client, a reproductive health organization offering abortion services. A week prior, I helped crowdfund $5,000 for abortion funds, helped another organization write gender-inclusive language practices for their communications team, and sent a baby shower present to a friend expecting her second baby.
“Well,” I say. “It’s complicated.”
My compromise was to hire a doula who advertised as gender-, size-, and health-inclusive. She was the only person on my care team who took care to clarify my pronouns, to ask how I felt about gendered terms for my body and my parenting journey, to ask about my relationship and my identity and my values. During my 38-hour labor, she was the person who asked me if I consented to interventions, if I wanted to pause and take time to think, if I was ready to continue.
Months after I gave birth, after an unplanned C-section and a postpartum depression diagnosis and a relapse of PTSD, I wondered how that experience might have been different if I’d felt like I could be open about who I am. If there hadn’t been a part of me that was distracted by keeping the glass door on that closet, would I have been able to take more time? To ask for more space? To be less afraid to push back?
Even in the best of moments, pregnancy is an exercise in the unknown.
He moves for the first time when I’m in the middle of talking to a caller about her abortion experience two years prior. She and I are the same number of weeks pregnant. Her voice is uncertain, caught between anxiety and hope. She wants this time to be different.
When I tell a friend about it later, she asks me how it felt.
“Tender,” I say. “Honored. It takes a lot to trust someone with that kind of vulnerability.”
“No,” she says. “I meant about the baby.”
Is it unethical to have a baby when the world is literally on fire?
Will the people I organize with think less of me for having a baby right now?
How much of wanting another baby is about wanting to heal the trauma from my first pregnancy? If the answer is “any,” is that too selfish?
I read even more femme now than I did with my last pregnancy — is it even worth it to try to be out to doctors?
Is trying to get pregnant right now hopeful or insane?
“Does it matter?”
During my pregnancy, I start and stop half a dozen books, unable to get through the gender essentialism. Your body was made for this, mama. Women have been doing this for generations. This is the core of divine femininity.
In The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthood, Krys Malcolm Belc Writes, “Nothing about being pregnant made me feel feminine. This body is what it is: not quite man, not quite woman, but with the parts to create and shape life.”
I take notes on direct action and legislative advocacy and clinic support in a FUCK ABORTION BANS T-shirt with a bottle of prenatal vitamins sitting on the corner of my desk. On the other side of my office door, I can hear my toddler sprinting through the house, followed by two attentive dogs and one attentive parent.
It is the calmest I’ve felt in weeks.
“Well,” I say. “It’s kind of a weird time to have a baby.”
“Oh, honey,” she says, picking up her forceps to remove my IUD. “Isn’t it always?”