But at the same time we have received an outpouring of love and support far beyond what we hoped for in our wildest dreams. We have had neighbors rush to give us hugs and offer to help with yard work; strangers send us baby booties and expensive blankets; people from Fiji and Australia and China write us to wish us good luck. We have had a Christian pastor tell us he is rooting for us. Before our daughter was born we had a baby shower, and we hosted several couples with young children of their own. I had all but given up on ever having a baby shower; I figured it was just something that, sadly, I would have to do without. But my neighbors chose to rally around me, and their support surprised me and touched me profoundly. At the shower I watched all the little children run around, and realizing that they were a part of our world was one of the most emotional moments of our lives. To feel accepted, to be part of a community is—especially for us—a very precious thing.
This book, therefore, will not try to change anyone's mind about us. We know that we will always get our share of good and bad reactions. All I can do with this book is tell my story, plain and simple. It is not for me to force anyone to approve of what I am doing, as if I could anyway. But I do believe that my family deserves a fair shot at happiness, same as anyone else's. I feel that we deserve respect, as well as equal treatment. These are things I have fought for, and will fight for until I die. In this I am no different from any father—I am passionate about my family, and determined to give them a life full of love and happiness.
In the fall of 2007, I went in for a check-up soon after a home pregnancy test told me I was expecting. I had an ultrasound and watched the monitor intently as a grainy image appeared. All I could see were two blurry, microscopic dots, indiscernible as human life but at six weeks all we have to go on<0x2014>an embryo and a yolk sac, either healthy or not. At six weeks there is no allusion to a child, no wishful hints of a family chin, no names that suddenly seem right. No hopes or expectations, other than please, please, let everything be okay.
But then something happened on the monitor, a weird pulsing, some kind of flashing, and quickly the most awful thoughts took over. Was this a warning light? Was something wrong? For some reason, in this frantic moment, I focused on how the walls in the exam room were bare of any posters or framed pictures, save for a calendar with the image of a baby and the slogan, "We believe the little things make all the difference." Is this what I will remember forever of this day of terrible news—some cheesy calendar? After all the people who rejected me because I transitioned to a man; after so many questioned my love for Nancy and believed we should not get married; after all the taunts and threats and even bottles hurled at us; after doctors turned us away and told us we made their staff uncomfortable; after psychiatrists rooted around for signs of deviance and mental illness; after relatives shunned us and hurt us in ways we could never have fathomed; after my own brother told me my baby would be a monster—after all of that, it comes down to this strangely blinking light on an ultrasound? To a barren womb in a barren room?
I held tight to Nancy's hand and asked the ultrasound technician about the light.
"That," the technician told me, "is your baby's heart."
This is the story of that little blinking light.