Katie and I have always been on the fence about kids. I think this is more of a “resistance to letting go of our freedom as adults with a healthy combined income that would rather travel and not be saddled by a family yet” thing. When we were first dating, Katie was very confident in the answer to the kid question: a definitive yes. That changed over time. I’ve done lots of checks to make sure this wasn’t due to my inability to commit on the topic and have been reassured it’s not. We both determined we could see a life with or without children in it. We both agreed that the subject would be taken more seriously when I turned 30. This wasn’t attributable to any significance I place on the age itself, more due to timing. I have an IUD and that would be due for replacement the year I turned 30. Also, 30 was when we hit 5 years of knowing each other as a couple. I come from a divorced family, and having gone through that as a young-adult (I was 12, my sister was 10), it was/is important to me to know my spouse before having kids. I wanted the foundation to at least better guess if our relationship could survive kids.
I know, I know! Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? You win again, Past Natalie. Who knew we would be where we are now when I made these promises to myself and to Katie? Who knew our relationship would be the most volatile it’s ever been during the same timeframe I setup to start planning our next chapter? Well, Past Natalie did, of course! At least, I think she must have on some level. I’m not religious, but somehow there is cosmic balance in the timing of all of this. I’m so grateful we don’t have kids or more than just our shittens (shits+kittens = shittens) to put through the hardest battle of our marriage as we determine how to move through this uncharted territory. That said, the most devastating part of this transition, in addition to losing the idea of my husband, has been watching all the plans I’ve made for my life with Katie slip away, becoming figments of my/our dreams. There are milestones in every humans life I took for granted would always be there. For me, family planning and the luxury of time were definitely two of them. It’s also very painful to plan a future with someone when you don’t know if you can love a woman as much as you love a man. The biggest question in this entire process isn’t one I can answer right now. I often shove the thought aside because why worry about something I can’t control right now? I’ve gotten used to the shaved legs and longer hair? Maybe I can do this, right?
So, what’s complicated about the Kid Question for us? For those who are less familiar, you lessen the odds substantially of conceiving a child organically when taking hormones that will help you become a different gender. This means we need to bank sperm before she starts taking any hormones. Timeline is our ultimate complication as Katie was very determined that February would be when she would start hormones (to coincide with her birthday). planning to get the money together with such a short turn around is not easy and often the conversation about what our next steps should be included any combination of the below points:
- Do we bank sperm?
- Or do we adopt?
- How much do both options cost?
- Where do we go to bank sperm?
- How much sperm should you bank?
- What if it doesn’t work and I can’t get pregnant? How many tries do you have?
- Is that online sperm bank legitimate because it’s a lot cheaper and they can test DNA through online sits so why not store sperm?
- Holy, shit! This all costs a lot.
- Why does the Google Search for “How to plan a family with your transgender spouse when you’re 30” not show up any results that are helpful to my situation?
- Where is my story in this universe?
Ultimately, we did decide that banking sperm was worth it. Through many tears and hours of exhaustive back and forth it came down to this: when I imagine my future with Katie, should we have one together, I cannot imagine one where we don’t have kids. Like, if we can make it through this, we can make it through anything, including raising blue-eyed offspring who are meme-obsessed know-it-alls, who love to shop and cook and watch TV like we do. OH, and those little humans are perfect, never do drugs, join cults and are genuine, contributing members to society right? The Kid Question is difficult to answer and plan for. This month, we have an appointment with a sperm bank and we could learn a myriad of different things that impact or change our minds as we’ve made them now. These include cost and health concerns we don’t know how to plan for yet. Ironically, price is not one of the many questions answered on Fertility Planning sites.
I will say, one of the more interesting parts of this transition is that I’ve noticed people who know about Katie avoid asking us about family planning at all. If they do, they ask nervously, as if they are worried the thought will break me. No one was nervous to ask the Kid Question pre-transition, back when we fit into the “box” of a “normal” family timeline. I was asked when we started dating if we would have kids or not. Past Natalie always really wanted to say, “excuse me Aunt Sally, but I’m 26! Leave me alone!” Instead she actually responded “We don’t know, we’re too young to figure that out yet”. This was always followed by a polite, glaring smile. I find the Kid Question intrusive. How do you know I can have kids? You’re asking a question that has an unknown response, which I find tacky unless you know me well enough to introduce vulnerability. To be clear, due to the lack of information that I related to when trying to consider different options in my future with my transgender spouse, I feel obligated to document our conversations on the subject here. Again, there is a lot of reading material for those who ARE transgender, not as much for the late-20 something wife. This fact will never cease to surprise me. Hopefully this is helping that conversation, even a little.