We first saw our child, her mother and I, at 20 weeks like most parents do. Of course we had started to get to know them much earlier than that.
Always, in my mind, that child was a girl.
The strange thing for me was that at that scan, we were told our child was a boy. The technician had identified a penis and so it was decided. But still in my mind, that child was a girl. This was over 15 years ago, when things were very different to how they are now.
We really struggled with names after that. Boy names just didn’t come to us. Girl names, sure, but boys just weren’t working for us. At one stage we considered Jackson, after one of my favourite performers, Jackson Browne, but it just didn’t work. In the end we decided on Thomas, but it still never quite worked. It just didn’t sit right.
We hadn’t even settled on a theme for the nursery, we liked the idea of aeroplanes but never got around to it really. Was it a sense we had?
In my mind our child was still a female, when I pictured her growing older, it was a her, even though we had been told otherwise. It was a very confusing state of affairs.
When the big day eventually arrived, it turned into days. 28 hours of labour finished with an emergency caesarean. It wasn’t what was planned, or a part of the script, but when is it ever with kids?
As the obstetrician chopped away, the anaesthetist was hilarious. Gorgeous little Doctor Patel was chuckling and carrying on behind the screen that separated us from the gore, and he was having a great old time. At one stage, he asked again what we were having. A boy we replied, and he chuckled some more and disappeared behind that screen again. Just what was happening back there?
A couple of minutes later our child popped out, and with more of a chuckle, a freshly skun rabbit was lifted over that screen. What’s so funny we asked. The rabbit’s legs were hanging so we couldn’t see what gender it was, it didn’t have one. But it was alive and breathing, crying a little and alive. And that’s all that mattered.
So that child who we were told was a boy, turned out to be a girl. What had been right in my head, turned out to be true.
So we gave her a name, and let her identity grow. But just like the way that I had always pictured her as a girl, even after being told otherwise, this wonderful little person pictured themselves as something else. Despite everything that they were told, they began to see themselves as someone else. There was something else, something different, that they were meant to be.
Maybe that ultrasound technician was onto something, and saw something that nobody else could. That original observation, strangely, was actually correct, but it took us all 15 years to actually understand just how that was to be.
Their observation of physical characteristics turned out to be very wrong indeed, but what they did see, in my child’s heart, was very true.
What I do know is that this story has never gone to script, which is perfectly alright. My child has never really stuck to the plan, but maybe that was their idea all along.
The thing that makes me laugh the most out of all of this, is that after all of this time, my child has chosen a new name for themselves. And they settled on Jackson. Not from any input from their mother or myself, that’s what they chose.
Just Be … yourself, son. That’s all that I could wish for.
Shannon's business card reads "photographer, writer, connector, narrator, autodidact, storyteller, wanderer, communicator, collaborator" which is mostly him, but he's also a mad Star Wars fan, a fur dad to two gorgeous little dachshunds and the biased father of one beautifully complicated child.
By day he's apparently working on a classified project that requires a top secret magic decoder ring, and by night he can be found recharging his batteries, usually wearing some sort of flannel.