For the second time in a year, transgender man Thomas Beatie is pregnant. When he first told the world of his plans to give birth in April 2008, the story captivated the international community.
Beatie, who gave birth in July and expects his second child next summer, penned a book called "Labor of Love" chronicling his unique life experience and engaging saga. Read an excerpt of his book below.
Today, it is happening—it is finally happening. I am wearing an enormous, 4x white T-shirt, on inside out. The soothing, insistent sound of a heartbeat—around 140 of them each minute—is the only music in my otherwise quiet birthing room. My contractions are intensifying, and every couple of minutes I feel this surging pain that starts from inside my gut and radiates out. I remember trying to do a dismount from a chin-up bar when I was ten, and landing square on my back. That was the worst pain I ever felt, but this is way, way worse. Our midwife puts a cold washcloth on my forehead; my wife Nancy kisses me tenderly on my cheek.
It has been a long, hard, often surreal journey to get this point, and now I have to summon one last big burst of energy for the final leg. "Gravity is your friend," says the midwife, by way of urging me to walk around to try to speed things along. But the truth, I am finding, is that having a child is not in any way a passive act. You don't just show up and wait for the baby to arrive. You have to will the baby out of your body, and that means marshalling every last ounce of strength and resolve that you have.
Nancy puts her hand on my belly and feels our daughter thrashing around, and she tells me, "Don't worry, she'll be here soon." But the hours pass. I focus on odd little details to take my mind off the pain. Our midwife's left index finger is wrapped entirely in surgical tape; she cut it slicing whole grain bread that morning. This strikes me as neither a good nor bad omen, just unlucky for her. I also notice she has a tiny diamond stud in her left nostril. You can barely make it out in the dimly lit room but when she leans in to fix my blanket or move me from side to side, it sparkles. She's a wonderful woman, so calm and reassuring, and I like that she's obviously a bit of a hippie, too.
I am 100 percent effaced; I am also nearly fully dilated at 9 centimeters. And still no baby. We got to the hospital in the early morning; it's nearly nighttime now. "Let us know when you feel the urge to push," says our midwife. "Not just pressure, but a real urge to push." Nancy starts watching out for what she calls my "pushy face," then asks if she can get her own epidural. That's Nancy; cracking jokes, making everyone feel at ease, and still remaining a tower of strength for me to lean on. That morning at home she sifted through a bowl of jellybeans and brought all the purple and orange ones—my favorites—to the hospital. She slips a couple of them to me—a simple, throw-away gesture between a husband and a wife—but it strikes me yet again, as it does every day, that I could never, ever have done this without her right by my side. Nancy gets up to straighten my sheets and touches my face with her hand. She says, "You're nose is really cold, like a puppy."