Trevor is a Milk Junkie and a transgender man with a husband and a baby
Yup, my little guy turned one last week. It seems like just yesterday that I was struggling to latch him on for the first time. He was tired from a long labour and I was inexperienced and so very unsure of myself. Eventually my midwife stepped in and expertly guided his head toward my nipple at just the right moment. We have been through so much together between then and now.
I am a transgender guy. This means that I was born female but transitioned to male by taking testosterone and having a chest surgery that removed most of my breast tissue. When my partner and I decided to start a family, we consulted with my doctors and then I went off my hormones in order to become pregnant.
That’s when the reading started. I read piles of baby books and quickly came to the conclusion that I ought to try to breastfeed. Even if I could only make a small amount of milk, it would be of great benefit to our child. I decided to nurse using a supplemental nursing system, which consists of a tube going into a bottle of supplement. You latch the baby onto the end of the tube and your nipple at the same time so that even supplemental feedings can be done at the breast.
Learning to use the SNS was our first great challenge. It felt like I needed about four pairs of hands to hold the contraption, position the baby, and mold my meagre tissue into a shape that a newborn could latch onto. For the first two weeks, my partner had to help me with every single feeding, night and day. Luckily, by the time he had to go back to work I was able to manage it myself.
As Jacob became stronger, latching him got easier but he also started to find the tubing with his creeping little fingers. I had to learn how to juggle the SNS and a wriggling, curious baby who had no idea that when he pulled on that enticing piece of plastic, the food would stop. But we found our rhythm with this too and kept on nursing.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve had to deal with the glares and stares of strangers who have wondered what on earth I’m doing. I have a beard and I nurse my baby because I know it is good for him. One woman harassed us on an airplane, telling me that I was ruining my child. Then she advised me that Jesus loves me.
But mostly I look back on this year and I am overwhelmed with gratitude that breastfeeding did happen for us. Jacob is happy and social and active. Now he crawls over to nurse when he wants to touch base, or if he is scared or tired or hurt. And although it is maybe not the most manly of tasks for a transgender dude to take up, I am happy to oblige. He’s my baby and I’m his parent, after all.
Trevor MacDonald lives in Winnipeg, Canada, with his partner, baby and dog. He is currently a stay-at-home dad, and has an honours BA in political science from the University of British Columbia. While remaining secure in his identity as a gay man, he breastfeeds his baby boy because of the zillions of studies that prove that breastfeeding is a healthy, biologically normal choice for babies. He writes about his queer breastfeeding adventures on his blog at www.milkjunkies.net
Photo via Milk Junkies