By Sage Agee
On January 6th, 2021, I gave birth in a body that was not yet mine. I had postponed my medical transition until after I had the baby because I thought it would be easier to go through pregnancy while passing as a woman in my small rural Oregon town.
When Otto was born, I decided to chest feed for at least six months. They latched easily, and chestfeeding gave my chest a job. Six months turned into ten months, and finally, I had an emergency surgery that forced me to stop chestfeeding. It felt like a wake-up call. As soon as I knew Otto was weaned off for good, I called my doctor to start hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
I took my first intramuscular injection of testosterone on December 20th, 2021—my 27th birthday. Starting hormones changed so much so quickly. While some physical changes are still slow-going, my voice began to deepen within the first couple of weeks. The emotional changes hit me right away. I was overwhelmed with the relief of knowing I was finally taking steps toward aligning my physical body with my actual gender.
At this time, Otto was just turning one, and I had left my nonprofit job to stay home on the weekdays with them. Even with the affirming changes happening in my body, I started feeling insecure about being a stay-at-home parent. I was afraid of falling into the domestic role that I, and the rest of western society, had always associated with femininity.
Each day was harder than the last—waking up too early, preparing the only breakfast they’d eat in the mornings, and watching the clock for the first nap time to arrive was monotonous. One morning, sitting on the couch while they ate their banana, they made an incredible discovery. They lifted up their shirt, stuck their tiny finger in their belly button, and looked at me with pure amazement. Their body was the most fascinating mystery to them, and every time it goes through changes, be it teeth or peach fuzz, they are awe-struck.
I found myself staring at my full-length reflection in the mirror that same day. I lifted up my shirt to note the changes in fat distribution. My hips started to narrow as my belly filled out. Mine was nearly as round and squishy as Otto’s. I pushed away the impulse to critique my shape, remembering the child-like wonder that brought pure joy to my child’s face. I patted my tummy, pulled at the skin, and traced my fingers along the cellulite.
When Otto is fussy, the first place they want to lay their head is my belly. I wonder if they know that was their first home. I wonder if they’ll always know, even as the exterior changes. They pat my tummy, pull at the skin, and trace their fingers along the cellulite. I show them the ways our bodies mirror one another. Their nose is like mine but smaller. Their second and third toes are webbed like mine. We find what’s different—their teeth that gap, their eyes that encase whirlpools while mine are a dark green forest. We marvel together at the individuals we are becoming.
Three months into HRT, I began to notice dark red hairs growing under my chin. Facial hair is something I wanted deeply. I tried not to get my hopes up in case it didn’t happen since hair growth depends on a lot of factors and is different for every trans person the same way it’s different for every cis person. The first time I caught sight of them in the right light, Otto watched as I felt each individual hair with a soft joy. As a parent with chronic fatigue, I take most naps alongside Otto. Later that day, they woke up first. I opened my eyes when I felt the tickle of their touch underneath my chin. I watched them mimic my curiosity, feeling their own chin alongside mine—comparing our transitions.
Even while distance is carved into these spaces between me and the support I used to have, Otto is reminding me of my visibility. Last week, we practiced saying “blueberry” together as our mouths turned purple with each berry bite. Otto says it like “boo brr,” and I say it with new vocal cords that vibrate my chest. I called my brother and he didn’t recognize my voice. “I just can’t believe it,” he said. I called Otto into the room and they ran to me. We take turns screeching, and my voice cracks, and we fall to the ground laughing. With each new silly sound, I find myself miming their excitement.
Sometimes, I think about what it would feel like to carry another child in this evolving body. I wonder about postponing top surgery or at least asking for a procedure that keeps my ability to produce milk intact. Then I look at Otto, and I feel content and excited to grow together. As I continue on my gender transition journey, I have this incredible adventurer next to me to remind me how amazing it is to see it all for the first time.
Featured Image by Orione Conceição.
Sage Agee (ze/zir) is a queer, nonbinary writer living in rural Oregon. Ze spends zir time raising a small human and making homes for snails. Ze has written for Parents, Autostraddle, Giddy, XTra, and has poems published in Honeyfire Lit, Impossible Archetype, Pareidolia, and more. Zir poetry was nominated for the 2021 Best of the Net Award.