Trystan Reese and Biff Chaplow exploded onto the parenting scene a couple years ago after the couple fought to adopt Chaplow's niece and nephew, who were living in a traumatic home. Their journey through court hearings and custody battles was chronicled on the popular parenting podcast The Longest Shortest Time, and Reese and Chaplow were dubbed the "accidental gay parents."
Now, after gaining custody of their son and daughter, Reese and Chaplow are planning to add a third child to their family. Reese, who is a transgender man, is pregnant. In a new episode of the podcast, he and Chaplow talk about their decision to have a baby, going through a miscarriage, finding out Reese was pregnant, telling their families, and how other people react to seeing a pregnant man.
On preparing his body for pregnancy:
In order to get pregnant, Reese had to stop taking testosterone, which meant that his periods started coming back for the first time in 10 years. But even after months of trying and carefully tracking his cycle, Reese wasn't pregnant. He and Chaplow started to get discouraged, but while many cisgender women who are trying to get pregnant might feel the need to blame their body for failed attempts, Reese was found a way to be much kinder to his body.
"I had to work so hard to feel great about my body that I didn't ever blame it on on my body," he said. "I just sort of thought maybe this isn't meant to be. Maybe we learned what we were supposed to learn from this experience and and we need to just sort of accept where we are and this beautiful family we have which is not a consolation prize at all.
And one morning I woke up and I felt really, really bad. Like I had a fever bad, like lying on the tiles of the bathroom floor because how cool they are — feels good on your face kind of bad.
And I randomly grabbed one of the tests and it came back positive. And I was like oh my god this is actually happening."
On telling Chaplow that he was pregnant:
"I had to go wake him up and I was like 'ah I'm pregnant.'
He was a little bit sleepy but he was just like 'I told you so.' So that's still, like, romantic. He said 'I'm really excited to start planning for you. But like is it OK with you if I go back to sleep now?'"
On going to the doctor's office:
Reese told The Longest Shortest Time that he and Chaplow were anxious for their six-week appointment, when pregnant people get their first ultrasound, and on the week of the appointment he called the clinic to make sure his doctors were aware and prepared to treat a pregnant dad.
"I can feel someone looking at my face and searching for the remnants of womanhood. They kind of squint their eyes a little bit and I can tell they're trying to, like, take away my beard. They're trying to transition me in their heads."
Triple-checking that this clinic was prepared to treat transgender people, though, paid off.
"There hasn’t been an ounce of transphobia from anyone I have come in contact with," he said. "I expected to have to show extra ID, them to have to call their manager, all kinds of things and none of that happened. I went to go give blood at the phlebotomy lab, checking in with the person at the desk and she would type in my Medical Records ID and she be like 'OK you're here for the six weeks along blood test. oh six weeks along. Congratulations you look good.'
And I'm sitting there and I'm like 'did you not notice that I am a man?'"
On telling his mom:
After ultrasound, Reese wrote an email to his mom to break the news.
"I didn't know what her response was going to be and I didn't want to put her on the spot with the expectation that she was going to fawn and gush," he said. "I wrote like five or six drafts of the email just to make sure that I got it right. And she wrote back right away. 'Congratulations I know you're going to be great dads. There's no reason why only screwed up people should have kids.'"
On telling their kids:
Their son, Riley, is happy to have a new baby coming to their family soon, but also worried about what kids at school might say if they knew his dad was pregnant.
"He tried to ask us if we would pretend like the baby was just our cousin that we were babysitting," Reese said. "[For him] it's literally like just anything to have this not be our baby that my dad gave birth to. So, you know, we're happy to let him protect himself however he needs, but there is a limit. And pretending that this baby is not ours is where the line is drawn."
Their daughter, Hailey, on the other hand, is overjoyed to tell anyone and everyone.
"She has told everybody in her class that her dad is transgender and is having a baby and she's going to be a big sister. So we've kind of gotten to see it play out."
On people's reactions to seeing a pregnant man & keeping himself safe:
Safety is a big worry for all transgender people, but especially for a visibly queer and pregnant man, so Reese has figured out how to protect himself while in public.
"Because it's still freezing cold in Portland, I'm able to layer. So with like a chunky sweater, a long open coat, and then like a drapey scarf, you cannot tell at all."
But the one place Reese is really public about his pregnancy is online. He posted a video explaining why he, as a transgender man, would even want to be pregnant on Facebook and got a lot of feedback — both positive and negative.
"Everything from a lady upon learning that I am a trans person who's pregnant saying that I look like a circus freak, and much worse things than that have been said to me and about me, all the way to trans people who are angry that I even made a video to begin with because I shouldn't have to explain myself."
On how cool it is to be pregnant:
"It's been really awesome. And that's like not cool to say," Reese said. "You're supposed to like complain about your ankles or whatever. But I've been having a blast being pregnant. Feeling the movements has been so cool. The kids every night will read stories to my belly. You know, it's just been really awesome."
Welcome toMothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
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