Not too sure where to start with writing a ‘blog’ as such… somewhere to pen thoughts that i wouldn’t necessarily say out loud?
I’ll introduce myself: I’m Hannah, 26, 2 boys (3 year old and 5 month old), a step- daughter;Mollie, and partner of 6 years, Ed.
We live in a little bungalow in a little village with little/next to nothing in it- but I kind of like it that way. Our life has never been simple, or quiet as a matter of fact; our home is filled with laughter, bickering, crying, but most of all love.
I wanted to write a blog to talk about our son, Oliver (the 5 month old) and life in general as a Mum of 3 children.
Oliver didn’t have the easiest or simplest start to his little life, infant- it was pretty shitty. At our 20 week scan we were told we were having a girl; overjoyed as we already had a little boy together. We (I!), went out and bought A LOT of pink for our baby girl and were given bundles of clothes from various different friends and neighbours. By 6 months pregnant, I had already washed, ironed and put away all baby girl’s clothes into date order so we would be prepared for the coming months.
The ‘big day’ came and I went into labour… a very quick labour! The midwife knew there was meconium in my waters so a close eye was kept on the baby’s heart rate to make sure everything was ok. As she was born, paediatricians swooped in the give her an ‘extra hand’ in the breathing department. The two midwives looking after us said, “congratulations, you have a baby girl” – job done, so we thought.
The next day whilst waiting to be discharged from the hospital, a nurse came down to perform a newborn check on the baby- who we had named Charlotte Grace Astrid (Last Name). She asked me if Charlotte had ever been breach? No I thought, wondering why she would ask me this. Something wasn’t right here… she left and bought back with her a paediatrician and his registrar, who also questioned me about the baby- no one had actually told me what they thought might be wrong but at this point I was panicking. Ed was at home with Harry, waiting to drop him off at nursery before coming to pick his girls up. Next thing I knew, a midwife; Sally, from the transitional care unit, came to talk to me to tell me I was being moved over there with the baby. I was then called into a meeting with all the professionals to discuss the ‘issue’ with the baby.
Then the bomb was dropped… we’re not sure what sex your baby is, “it” has ambiguous genitalia. OH SHIT. What the hell does this mean? We don’t have our precious baby girl anymore, do we have a baby with male and female body parts?! I broke down, my world was crushed that we couldn’t take our precious baby home there and then. That’s where the fun began… (yes that was sarcasm).
We were discouraged from calling her ‘Charlotte’ and should refer to her as ‘baby’ rather than using a gender to identify her. We couldn’t help it though, we had named her, bought clothes for her… how did we now not do that?! My parents bought us a lot of white clothes to help out, it made it more comfortable as it was neutral, however inside, the both of us were in turmoil. The poor baby had tests done hourly, daily, over nightly, until the staff were happy that her general health was ok. We were in hospital (the baby and I) for a week, only apart for as much as 5 minutes when I could run to the shower or toilet. No fresh air or walking around all week, living out of a suitcase and eating hospital food – I mean, I know people have longer stints in hospital, but with the uncertainty of our baby’s future, this had to be my lowest point I had been through in my life.
I became tearful, miserable and didn’t really want to see or speak to anyone… but oddly craved for people to come and visit so I could have that small piece of home with me. Not being able to give your baby a name is the strangest feeling, and talking to other mums on the ward would be a confusing and slightly embarrassing situation too, as the first question people ask you is “what did you have?”.
We were eventually called into a meeting with the consultant who delivered us some mind boggling news- our baby had an XY chromosome make up, indicating we could have a boy… how the hell had this happened? After this, we were sent to a specialist hospital who were more equipped with this sort of ‘situation’. At this point, i had been away from Harry (3 year old) for over a week and hadn’t slept in my own bed with my partner for this amount time too. When we first got to the hospital, they didn’t have anywhere for us to stay together (Harry was at my parents and the baby had to stay in the neonatal ward). I felt like if the final part of me was to be taken away, I wouldn’t be able to cope. They very kindly put us into a Ronald McDonald house where we could stay together and only be 5 minutes walk from the baby as parents are not allowed to stay on the ward.
The next week consisted of a lot more tests, a lot more meetings and a lot more consultants. By the end of the second week we were desperate for some news. We were assigned a psychiatrist as the concern was that the baby could have a compilation of male and female genetic make up, in simple terms… we as the baby’s parents would have to make a decision as to what gender to bring him/her up as.
Luckily we were called into a meeting where the Endocrine consultant told us that we (thankfully) had a little boy. They concluded that he had male internal structure, hormones and chromosomes. Results like this are not often as simple as our outcome, there are children with various different conditions, some of which dumbfound even the experts. After our meeting we went straight home where we could FINALLY re-start a normal life as a family of now 5! However, the trauma of the last couple of weeks hit me like a tonne of bricks when I got home. It felt at first, that we had lost a baby?! One day he was a girl, one day he was a boy… I couldn’t get my head around that. I became very jealous of Mollie (step-daughter) and the fact that I hadn’t been able to give Ed a little girl that we had both deeply wanted, which then led me to feel guilty as we had just bought home our perfectly healthy little boy! Going through clothes I had bought for ‘Charlotte’ was pretty traumatic… outfits I had planned for spring, summer, next winter even – a christmas dress for 2015; cards that had been sat by the front door with people’s well wishes, all with “congratulations it’s a girl” written on them.
I had already fallen in love with our baby, I don’t think it actually mattered to either of us now that we were home that we had another boy, I think it was more of having to watch our baby go through so much trauma in his short little life. Everyone kept telling me that he wouldn’t remember any of it, only we would… which is what, even now I get anxious about. Injections, blood work, ultra sounds, ambulances, heart monitors, consultants, infections… I couldn’t just forget about it. We gradually got in to the swing of having 3 children, the boys obviously living with us full time, and Oliver as he is now known, settled in to his new life at home very quickly. Infact, he is the calmest, sweetest baby I have ever encountered. His beautiful nature means that every morning when he wakes up chattering to himself, it puts a smile on my face.
Oliver is a special boy who has a life long condition. He will need to have operations in the future – to clarify, he never was a girl, he never had male & female parts, he has always been a boy. He falls under a huge category of DSD’s (Developmental Sexual Disorders), and in his case, things hadn’t quite developed properly. We still have an assigned psychiatrist who we see regularly, to make sure Ed and I are ok and coping. We have regular clinics with Endocrinologists, Urologists and in the future Geneticists. Oliver has already undergone hormone treatment to see how his body responds to certain hormones, whether he will have enough for puberty, and will have to have fertility treatment when he is older to see if he will be able to have his own children. We have no answers as to why this happened, and no definitive conclusion as to what his condition is.
I wanted to write this short entry (trust me, there has been 5 months worth of thoughts I could enter!) as I saw an interview with a Mother and Son on tv the other day… the son is transgender. The doctor sat next to them in the tv debate, suggested that gender issues were becoming fashionable these days, and the NHS should not fund these ‘fads’ where people decide one day they don’t want to be someone anymore. This infuriated me! Up until I had a child with a form of sexual disorder, I may have been of the same opinion… maybe not as severe as that, but none the less, did not understand it. Luckily for us, Oliver’s complications are not as severe as other children’s, teens or even grown adults. Caitlyn Jenner recently became transgender, and had been living in the wrong body for almost 60 years! Sexual Disorders are just as much important as treatment for cancer. Living in the wrong body could cause serious mental health issues…I have anxiety about how Oliver will cope with his condition as he gets older, when he hits puberty, when he becomes interested in girls, when he wants to have sex…and felt from that particular interview with that particular doctor, still, in this day and age, shows people’s limited views on something they do not understand.