Notes on a Non-Binary Pregnancy: Pregnancy is a *trip*, y’all

Ok, honestly, most of what I have to say here is reasonably obvious, and none of it is ground-breaking or new, but holy wow, pregnancy is such a weird thing.

I *grew* a whole entire other *human being* *inside* my *body*. And that’s just a totally? normal?? thing??? Somehow????

I swear I really do realize every single person who as ever lived did a bunch of their first growing inside of another human. But at the same time… ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? What kind of absurd science fiction are you talking about? That can’t possibly be a really real thing, it just can’t.

Let me put it this this way: for a good chunk of last year, my body contained TWO ENTIRE SKELETONS. Granted, one was very small, but COME ON. There’s no way that’s just a regular, common thing.

My point is, I guess, that the way we all came to be is definitely some completely made up nonsense. I don’t believe in any of it XD

Notes on a Non-binary Pregnancy, part 2: So strong, so… fragile?

[CN: this post is largely about the potential for miscarriage]

I wrote most of this post at about 25 weeks pregnant…

At that point I was already surprised by how little I’d been inspired to write down about the whole experience. It was mostly a boring pregnancy, what can I say? Everything was just textbook; my fetus and uterus both grew right on schedule, the heartbeat was always what it was supposed to be, my blood pressure was fine, I had no morning sickness, no mood swings, and my weight gain curve was ridiculously by-the-book.

I mentioned in my previous post that I felt very strong during my pregnancy. And yet, there was also this other side to that feeling. I hadn’t realized that when you’re pregnant, all kinds of normally innocuous things are suddenly very life-and-death.

and so, I was occasionally blind-sided by how… fragile being pregnant made me feel. What should be minor medical things are much more complicated and serious when you’re pregnant.

I actually had some spotting/mystery blood early on in the pregnancy (about 8 weeks), which is both reasonably normal and also extremely terrifying.  Even the doctor I saw about it was just like, “[sadface] um, yeah, so it could be a sign that you’re miscarrying, but all we can do is wait and see?”

And at 20-something weeks along I started having UTI symptoms. This is something I am an old hand at dealing with, normally, but suddenly now that I’m pregnant everything about it had a whole new level of danger.

Normal UTI symptom process: get thee to a walk-in, confirm the presence of bacteria, get some anti-biotics, destroy infection.

When you’re pregnant this is all more complicated, because anti-biotics aren’t safe for the fetus. Or at least, the good ones aren’t, so you’re stuck with hoping that penicillin will do the trick. They kind of want you to wait for a culture to confirm the anti-biotics are called for, but on the other hand, if your infection manages to progress into a kidney infection, not only is that more dangerous to you (because kidneys!), it’s also very risky for the fetus and trigger pre-term labour (which, at the 23 weeks I was at the time, did not have great odds for a live birth). It’s all so fraught! I was not prepared.

In this case, there turned out to be no notable bacteria in my urine anyway (this has happened to me before, even with severe UTI symptoms. Me and my urinary tract have a complicated and mysterious history wherein we like to troll my doctor with weird results that can never be replicated with further testing. It’s a fun game we play. But I digress.)

Even later in the pregnancy, when I was actually obviously pregnant (that didn’t happen until late in month 7!) a mother in one of the children’s library programs I was running last year pulled me aside to let me know her daughter had recently been diagnosed with “fifth disease”. Fifth disease is like a total nothing childhood infection, but oh guess what? It’s very deadly to fetuses, of course! It turned out I showed no signs of having had contact with the disease, but it was an awfully scary week of watching for symptoms and waiting for test results to come back.

Notes on a Non-binary Pregnancy, part 1: the dysphoria that never came to be

Wow, where did the time go? I’ve planned to write so many posts over the last, jeez, year-and-a-half since I told y’all I was pregnant, and I have in fact, written a few things since then, but there’s a lot of stuff I haven’t taken the time to sit down and write about. So, here I am trying to knock off the rust.

My baby is ten months old now! And parenting is, omg, honestly so much more wonderful than I even thought (and it’s something I’ve looked forward to enough that I made it the single highest priority in my life, so that’s really something!)

But yeah, I meant to take you with me on my pregnancy journey, and then I… just didn’t, so you’ll have to accept some retrospective writing instead.

One of the things I was mildly worried about as my pregnancy progressed was that my changing body would be a dysphoria trigger for me (in particular, I was not looking forward to my chest getting bigger). Somehow, although those changes all came to pass in good time, there was no accompanying dysphoria.

I think part of this is just that, although it was an altogether straight-forward pregnancy, the whole process was still such a wild, intense trip in so many ways (more on this in a later pos…) that I had a hard time feeling much other than amazement and fascination about my body.

Honestly, I absolutely loved my pregnant body. I felt strong (except for when I didn’t… but that’s also another post) and despite my assumptions, not at all feminine. I can’t even explain why not. I just… didn’t.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt more at home in my non-binary body. And that’s definitely not an entirely pregnancy-related statement. I’ve also just been… happy, in a pretty sustained way, for a good few years now. I’ve come into my own in my 30s, somehow, and I am at peace with who I am in this world in a way I don’t think I ever expected to achieve.

This is also probably part of what has kept me away from writing – for a long time this blog’s primary purpose was untangling and chronicling my own gender identity. Before that, I was processing part abuse, and getting a handle on a newly sprouted feminist ideals and beliefs. These days, I’m not doing as much difficult reflection on myself or the world I live in, so I’m going to need to learn to write from this new place of greater peace and contentment. Because I also am really and truly happy to be back!

No but seriously, why do our brains do this?

We interrupt our lack of regular programming for this random memory:

When I confronted my abusive ex about being a bully in our relationship (I did this after we broke up), his response was

I can’t believe you would let me steamroll you like that. Excuse me for assuming you were stronger than that. Actually *I* feel betrayed by the discovery that you let me do that.

HOLY WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCKING FUCK THOUGH. How did I spend literal years talking myself out of thinking of him as terrible tucking person and absolute textbook abuser?

That is all for now.

One more piece of the puzzle…

[TW: this post talks about my relationship with my abuser, and his behaviours within it; coercion and vaguely sexual grossness are discussed]

I’m honestly surprised that this has come up again in my brain, but here we are. It’s been a long time since I’ve had particularly negative emotional/traumatized reactions to thinking about my past abusive relationship (which ended nearly a decade ago now), but I’m apparently still finding new pieces that help hang the narrative together.

I’m not even sure why I’m writing about this newest mini-revelation here, other that the fact that processing the ongoing impact of this abuse, and documenting my process of recovery/rebuilding my own narrative around it this has always been one of the functions of this blog for me. I hope these sorts of posts are useful to others, too.

A quick (trigger-filled; approach with care – posts with explicit content have content notes about that at the top) reading list of the times I’ve written about this in the past, if you need to be caught up on the context here:

Early, mostly abstract/general thoughts, coming to understand that I did in fact experience abuse, and that it wasn’t my fault:
Things I have Trouble Reconciling/
The ‘asking for it” narrative

Understanding that my brain was messed up by my experiences:
“Abuse-logic”
Abuse-logic and memory
Writing about abuse, thinking about abuse

Getting to the meat of it: in which I discuss my experiences in more specifics:
In which I talk about my personal experiences of sexual coercion
The things I did while in an abusive relationship (but no, really ,what the fuck was that even?)
Why does my brain do this? the difficulty of recognizing first-person experiences of abuse and mental illness

And most recently, in a similar(ish) vein from this post:
Every now and then, something new shakes loose

…ok, no wait, also this one. Which I apparently failed to tag as “abuse”, but was the one I was specifically looking for as relevant to what I have to say today:
“Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power”… except when it really is just about sex

This post is a partial rebuttal, or at least a re-contextualization of the above.

The thing is, my abusive ex’s bullying of me wasn’t limited to sex (it never really is, is it?) Today I just want to tell an illustrative story and talk through some of the implications that I found myself wondering about last night, for no apparent reason.

So, I saw the first Saw movie when it was in theatres. I think this was before I was dating the abusive ex, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m not going to look up the release dates of the movies in this series to figure out exactly which ones happened when, because it doesn’t really matter, and I don’t care to refresh my memory of which one is which.

There are… a lot of things I could say about this series as a whole, but my main point right now is, watching those movies is an intensely unpleasant experience. Of course, it’s supposed to be! this is not me criticizing the movies, at least not on that front. i just, after seeing the first one, I had no desire to watch the sequels. Not for me!

But my ex, he wanted to watch the sequels. Oh boy, did he. And he most definitely very specificially wanted to watch them with me. Because that’s what you do when you love someone, right? You do things together?

I can’t remember which one was in theatres at the time of this story, but it was the third or fourth one? In an any case, there was at least one that I had missed seeing in theatres, that I was going to have to catch up on in time for the latest theatrical one.

I didn’t want to, though. And I was definitely clear about that. And I was clear about why (see above), and even that it wasn’t that I thought they were bad. I just didn’t want to watch those movies.

Ok, obviously this story ends with me watching more of those movies. Because other people’s explicit boundaries are just challenges to be overcome, right?

But it’s somehow *even worse* than that?

So yeah. We argued. For literal hours. Eventually I caved, because watching the damn movie would be less painful than continuing that fucking conversation. And then we were in a position of getting ready to watch a movie that I knew was going to be emotionally harrowing when I was already extremely emotionally raw and worn out. Fun date night, y’all!

On our way from the movie rental place to his place, where we would be watching the movie, he… made it clear that he wanted us to be naked while we watched the movie?

Like, I think we literally just came out with “we should get naked”. I don’t anymore how this Maybe he said this once we were actually there and settling on to the couch? That would make slightly more sense to me, though it was a still a strange thing for him to say (like, even for him).

We often did watch things together naked, because we were watching them in bed or whatever, but it was extremely strange for him to explicitly request nudity when he wasn’t immediately gunning for sex – I literally can’t think of another time that happened.

It’s… telling? to me, then, that this is the time this request happened. I was not inclined to comply, for the record – the aforementioned emotional rawness and my anticipated discomfort with the movie itself meant my defenses were very much up.

But I was also too worn out to put up much more than a momentary resistance. We watched the movie naked.

I… don’t even know what else to say about this. What the fuck was any of that? Is there any reasonable explanation for his motivations here other than, “obviously he took a sadistic pleasure in making me as vulnerable as possible?”

I’m really sure he wouldn’t have seen it that way. He would framed it in terms of wanting “intimacy” of course. I no longer no whether he believed his own shit or not, though, really.

I know he was selfish. I still can’t explain the rest of it, not really. But more and more, it’s hard to deny that he engaged in very real manipulative power plays and grooming tactics, that his campaigns to violate my boundaries went well beyond what could possibly be written off as him not understanding what we was doing. The weird clairvoyance of demanding nudity, on top of having already (verbally) beaten me into submission that day just, doesn’t fit into any part of any narrative that excuses his behaviours in any way.

It’s, yeah.

A lot of fucked up shit got done to my brain in that relationship. And it definitely wasn’t just accidental. I don’t know why I’ve held on to the idea that it at least kinda was, for so long, through so many other revelations and acceptances.

Blech.

Questions from the search terms: “femme women using they them”

I’m back with another question from the search terms! Today:

“femme women using they them”

I’m going to approach this one from two different interpretations:

  1. the generous interpretation: the asker is wondering about people they know who actively identify as both women and femmes who also use they/them pronouns.
  2. the (sadly) more likely interpretation: the asker is wondering about people they perceive as women, who have femme presentations, and who also use they/them pronouns.

1.

So, what’s the deal with femme women who use they pronouns? I don’t know, really, it would be ask to ask them about it. But if you’re wondering whether it’s ok for them to use they pronouns, then yes, absolutely that’s fine!

Women of all kinds have different feelings about the various forms of woman-gendered language. Some women hate being called ladies, and they get to feel that way about it. Other women love it, and that’s great, too. Most women are good with being called ‘she’, but maybe some aren’t, and prefer to use ‘they’ or a neutral neo-pronoun. Or maybe some prefer to keep their gender under wraps in certain contexts, and use ‘they’ in those contexts.

I’ve written before about how ‘they’ as a pronoun is simply a way of referring to someone without gendering them at all, and there’s nothing wrong with someone preferring not to have their gender brought up every time they’re being referred to. Using ‘they’ pronouns is one way to reduce that frequency, and if it works for some women (femme or not! Femme-ness or lack thereof is completely irrelevant here, to be clear!) then that’s just fine.

2.

It’s also possible that the ‘femme woman’ you know who uses they pronouns isn’t a femme woman at all!

Maybe they’re a femme non-binary person that you perceive as a woman. Non-binary people aren’t obligated to be ‘androgynous’ or vaguely masculine, and many of us like to femme it up some or all of the time.

Maybe they identify as a woman sometimes, but not strongly enough or often enough to go by ‘she’.

Maybe they told you they’re a woman because that’s what they were most comfortable explaining to you, but honestly it doesn’t matter. They’ve apparently also told you they use they pronouns, so go ahead and do that. You won’t hurt anyone if you do.

Babies, and “finding out their gender”

So, pretty much everyone knows I’m pregnant by now. I’m not great at telling everyone at work, but the word is definitely spreading on its own – people I work with occasionally from other locations often know before I tell them, and the library CEO recently thanked me for the surprisingly convenient timing of my pregnancy in terms of the library system’s bigger projects XD .

Inevitably, people want to know whether I’m going to “find out the gender” ahead of time. Whenever people ask me this, I am tempted to give them one of these:

Because, like, come on! You are literally talking to a trans person *right now*. Do you even hear yourself? Usually I will just correct them to remind them that only thing I can find out at the point is the (probable) sex – really, all you can learn from an ultrasound is whether or not the fetus appears to have a penis, which isn’t really as conclusive of anything as we like to pretend it is.

Personally, I don’t really care whether I find out the baby’s apparent sex from an ultrasound or when they’re born. It’s kind of all the same to me. My partner made a very good point, however, which has made us decide to wait to find out.

The thing is, if we learn the sex early, other people will want us to tell them what it is. And they’ll use the info to start gendering the baby immediately. And we’d like to put that off as long as reasonably possible. So, we won’t be learning the fetus’ apparent sex from my ultrasound on the 22nd (tomorrow!)

My general approach/attitude to my upcoming baby’s gender is the same as what I had planned before I got pregnant. In short: I know that I won’t know the baby’s gender until they are able to tell me what it is; however, for practical purposes I plan to use the pronouns the are traditionally applied to the baby’s apparent sex at birth (if they’re intersex, then I’ll go with they/them), while generally avoiding other forms of gendered language for them.