Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
He’s always wanted to have children, and being a stepfather for the past two years has been a great adventure. There’d even been a plan to start looking into adoption and turn their family of three into four.
But now there’s a bump, and David doesn’t know what to do. He’s spent years escaping the grip of his own body and burying the past—but there’s no way he can hide from his history if he lets the bump get any bigger. It’s not just his baby; it’s also his breakdown.
He doesn’t know if he can do this.
Books dealing with this subject matter fascinate me because I can’t begin to imagine the strength it takes to go through with what it’s going to do to your body and your mind, yet it’s something you’ve always wanted. That’s the dilemma David is in right now. He and his partner, Ryan, were in a car accident and his HRT was reduced due to liver issues. Reduced too much, apparently, because what happened was pregnancy. David is a veterinarian, an educated, established man and this rocks his being to the core.
This was interesting to me because I remember reading of Thomas Beatie, a transgender man who carried three children with his now ex-wife. The media made it seem so happy and carefree and at the time I wondered how true that could be. Here, it is far from simple. David first can’t even decide whether to keep the baby, knowing what it may to do his core self having to now be seen, again, as female. I did appreciate that David didn’t just make the decision without consulting Ryan, even though Ryan himself puts David before anything. When David makes but can’t keep an appointment for an abortion, it’s a rough time ahead.
There were times during this story things weren’t explained until later. Such as, I didn’t realize for a while that Ryan is in a wheelchair and you don’t find out until much later why. Not a huge deal but it did have me going back a couple times to see if I missed something. His status as well, sort of popped out of nowhere and surprised me.
David and Ryan are a solid couple and thankfully they talk to each other. When David needs space to deal, Ryan gives it without getting his feelings hurt. David knows he’s being unreasonable sometimes, “I’ll make it up to you.” I just really liked them together. Add in that Ava, at age five, actually acts like a five-year-old and this family seemed real. Alas, Ryan’s brother, Jay, and his mother, Aggie, also seemed too real and disgusting. All I can say is, go pregnant David! We do get Ryan’s mom, who makes up for Ryan’s lack of family sense. The reason for naming the baby Sam was a little heartbreaking. “He’d died because he hurt, not because he’d hurt other people.” David’s feelings on both Ben and Sam, also so real.
What this story focuses on is what having this baby that they so want is doing to David. Especially since for years he’s not had to come out as trans. He has been just a man and that will inevitably change. “Because ultimately, David wasn’t a trans man. He was a man. Nothing else. No qualifier.” The dysphoria David suffers comes through loud and clear. When he hears Sam’s heartbeat, it’s not a happy thing for him. “He’d never known he could hear his own dysphoria.” It’s never ending. “He’d been so horrified by his own baby moving that he’d thrown up.” The fact that he’s also dealing with snide comments, stares and the massive waste of space that is Ryan’s brother and mother, well, I’m glad Ryan is who he is. “Knights riding in on white wheelchairs to save the day.” Glad that David has friends such as Vicky who knew him before and support him always. That Ava and Ryan’s ex are there for support as well. That the midwife, Nadia, is what medical professionals should be.
From his awkward boss to Ava’s ignorant teacher to sitting in a waiting room full of women, it’s just an emotional slap over and over. We read his struggle and feel his fear that after all this, he’s going to end up with a baby he doesn’t love. This is something I appreciated because not everyone gives birth and has that “hallelujah” moment, this child is perfection. Sometimes those hormones have to settle before you can feel it and that’s a normal thing.
This was such an interesting read with a hopeful, happy ending. Definitely would recommend it.
Cover art: Natasha Snow.
Expected publication: November 5th 2018 by NineStar Press