18 Nov 2011
The night before, Jacob's temperature spiked to just over 103 degrees. Still, he seemed to be managing ok with it. In the middle of the night he threw up all over our family bed, and then he smiled at us.We didn't mind as long as he wasn't too miserable. By morning his fever was way down. He was quiet but not unhappy. We had a lazy at-home, in-bed kind of day.
At 8pm, Jacob woke up screaming from his nap. I tried to breastfeed him, I bounced him, I walked him up and down the stairs, I walked him in circles around the house, I took him to see the dog, I let him have a whiff of the crisp November air, all to no avail. He cried all out as hard as he could for about a minute, and then would pause, sobbing those huge, full body sobs, for thirty seconds, and then would cry all out again for a minute, and so on.
Finally Ian walked in the door, home from work. I told him how things had been, we deliberated for a few minutes and decided to head to the hospital. Our little guy was in pain. There was something seriously wrong.
I could hear their questions already in my head. So who is the mother? How much formula has he taken today? You don't give him formula? Well, where do you get this donated breast milk? I imagined explaining first to the intake nurse, then to the doctor, then to the next doctor when the shift changed, then to some other nurses, then to another doctor all about how I was transgendered, I'd birthed Jacob myself, and was breastfeeding him using a supplemental nursing system and donated milk from generous women we'd met online.
The hospital we were headed for, only two blocks away, is notorious in our city for being breastfeeding unfriendly. Women and their newborns regularly leave with soothers, bottles and formula in hand after receiving muddled or no advice on breastfeeding. How were they going to cope with a breastfeeding man using donated milk?
Health care providers are supposed to be trained to cope with queer individuals and families. They should know the basics of what it means to be transgendered or gay, and they should at least get their pronouns straight, so to speak. (If you don't know what "transgendered" means, click here to see how I define it for myself) One doctor I encountered confirmed that yes, he knew what a transsexual is, no need to explain. I went on to tell him about my health problem only to realize that he had no idea what it meant to be transgendered. He had my anatomy, well, if not inside out, then certainly backwards. From that day forth, I vowed to always explain myself from the beginning, whether or not the health care professional in question claims to know what I'm all about. "I am transgendered. This means that I was born female, but transitioned to male. I did this by taking hormones..."
As we walked over to the hospital with our seven month old baby, I wondered what kind of conversations this evening would bring. I held him close to my skin underneath my coat. And, as we walked over to the hospital, our baby magically stopped crying. By the time we got to emergency, he was looking all around him and smiling coyly at the intake nurses. They took his temperature and found it to be perfectly normal. We walked around the hospital for about forty-five minutes and then went home with our baby who was fussing over having to be bundled up in the cold. He wanted a better view of where we were off to and his toque and my jacket were getting in the way. But at least we'd finally had the good sense to get out of the house and do something social for a few minutes...