Staring at the reflection of the baby bump in the mirror, the proud parent-to-be felt a rush of nervous excitement. Like any mum or dad, the prospect of bringing a baby into the world felt overwhelming. But this is no ordinary pregnancy because for almost a decade Kayden Coleman had been living as a man.
Not only had he told all his friends and family that he was transgender, he had been on testosterone jabs for five years, had grown facial hair and was about to have a double mastectomy.
But then nature dropped a bombshell and, despite years of taking male hormones, Kayden became pregnant. Now he and husband Elijah, 27, are besotted with 22-month-old Azaelia and are planning to tell her all about her unusual family when she is five.
Kayden was stunned when he first realised his growing belly was not the result of a lack of exercise, but a baby.
With a broad smile, the 29-year-old explains: “I never thought about getting pregnant. Because of the male hormones, I didn’t think it was a possibility. It was definitely a surprise.”Kayden was going through the mastectomy or “top surgery” as he calls it – when he became pregnant.
Doctors said it was because he’d had to take a break from the hormones before the operation.
He says: “To have a mastectomy you have to be off hormones for six weeks. ”Kayden didn’t think that small span would put him at risk of getting pregnant. But a few months later he started to feel strange. “One day my back was killing me,” he says. “Elijah was going to give me a massage, so I lay on my front on the bed. It felt like there was a pillow under my stomach but there was no pillow. ”Kayden thought he was just bloated. “I actually said, ‘I think I should go get a pregnancy test’. We were joking about it. ”A few minutes later, it dawned on Kayden that his “joke” might actually be serious. Nervously, they went out to get a pregnancy test. He says: “I took the test the same night. I felt nervous but excited. The results were conclusive but I still didn’t believe it. ”When he went to the doctors, Kayden found he was 21 weeks pregnant. “I was shocked. It took a while to process it. But I was also busy figuring out how we could make things work in such a short space of time. ”Still shell-shocked.”
The couple set about turning their flat in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, into a family home. And in July 2013, they got married.
There was a lot to take in especially for Elijah’s friends and family, who did not know Kayden was transgender.
Security guard Elijah says: “It was such a personal thing that I felt if Kayden wanted them to know he should tell them himself. “But when we found out Kayden was pregnant we knew we had to tell them. How could we explain the baby when she popped up after a couple of months?” Kayden was lucky that most people failed to notice his bump but he did get some confused looks.
He says: “This woman in a shop said to me, ‘Honey, you look like you’re pregnant’. I just laughed and said, ‘I am pregnant!’ She didn’t believe me.”
His pregnancy went smoothly but when it came to the birth in December 2013, it was a different story. Kayden, who was induced at nine months as he had high blood pressure , was in labour for four days. Kayden did not face discrimination from hospital staff but did feel he was treated differently from other mums-to-be.
“All the medical people were really nice but I did kind of feel like an experiment. While I was in labour, medical students kept coming in and out. It got to the point where I had to put my foot down and demand a c-section. ”When Kayden first saw his daughter he was still in shock.
He says: “Even when I first held her it hadn’t sunk in that she was mine, so I didn’t really feel much. But I knew things would never be the same again. I was so happy to finally see her face.” But when they brought Azaelia home, both parents found family life challenging, with Kayden giving up his job in a museum to take care of their daughter and Elijah working 10 hours a day to support them.
And Kayden also suffered postnatal depression.
Elijah says: “It was tough. Kayden had postnatal depression for about a year. I wasn’t around much and we don’t have family nearby, so it was really hard. People who say it’s a joy are either lying or they have a lot of help from family. ”The situation wasn’t helped by the fact that the couple had a rift with Elijah’s family after they first heard the news. Elijah says: “It must have been difficult hearing that your son’s boyfriend was pregnant, I don’t deny that. But I felt like there were some unkind comments and I didn’t appreciate that. ”However the couple and their relatives got through the difficult times and now have a happy family unit as Azaelia starts toddling.
Kayden says: “Now it feels great. I couldn’t imagine, and don’t want to imagine, life without her. She is amazing. “She is an awesome kid. Very well-mannered. She’s very sensitive but also very much like both of us. Her favourite word is, ‘No!’“I don’t feel like we should have been parents all along but I feel like we are great parents now. ”It was a happy end for the couple after many years of strife for Kayden. Growing up as a girl in a religious family in Florida, he always knew something was not quite right.
He says: “I just didn’t know what it was. I went through a lot of phases of trying to fit in and trying to figure out why I was so different. I have three older brothers. I always wanted to be around them and play sports and do the things that they did. I grew up in a very Christian, very Jamaican household and that type of stuff wasn’t acceptable. Girls had to act like girls and boys had to act like boys“ I convinced myself I was a lesbian because at least when I was doing that I could play a masculine role and it was more accepted.”
Kayden reached breaking point at 20 when he became depressed and suicidal. He started to do online research and, as he began to understand what it meant to be trans, everything fell into place. He started to wear a binder, which flattens the breasts, and began taking male hormones. Meanwhile, Elijah had battled with his sexuality , coming out to his parents at home in New Jersey when he was 15.
He recalls: “My mum had lots of gay friends. One of them mentioned that I might be gay to my mum and she confronted me about it. “My dad struggled with it for a few years but I think on some level that my family had always known.”
Elijah and Kayden were introduced, through a mutual friend, on Twitter in 2012. For three months they messaged each other and spoke on Skype.
Elijah says: “I didn’t know Kayden was trans when I started pursuing him but he told me during our very first conversation. I was fine with it. It didn’t make a difference to me.”
Eventually, the pair decided to meet up in New York City and immediately hit it off. It was the following year that Kayden became pregnant. He is not the first man to have a child. That title went to Thomas Beatie, 34, a transgender man from Oregon, who, in 2008, announced he was expecting a baby with his wife Nancy, 45. He has since had three children. Kayden is now planning a hysterectomy but he and Elijah could not be happier to have Azaelia in their lives. They are raising her as two fathers she calls Kayden “Daddy” and Elijah “Poppy” and will tell the youngster the full story in another three years.
Kayden says: “Kids are a lot more understanding and receptive than adults. But I don’t plan on making a big deal out of it. I’ve never made a big deal out of it when telling anyone, because to me it’s not a big deal.“As long as Azaelia is loved and cared for, I doubt she’ll care.