Transgender father Caleb Bolden, 27, put his transitional journey on hold to give birth because his partner Niamh Bolden, 25, couldn’t conceive.
“I want other trans people to know that it’s okay to carry a child,” daughter Isla-Rae’s proud dad told SWNS.
Niamh suffered three miscarriages – and the stillbirth of twins at 23 and 27 weeks – before being told she would likely never have children because her eggs were immature and could not be fertilized.
The couple, from Cambridgeshire, England, were considering several alternative options, including a $90,000 fertility treatment. Ultimately, they decided that Caleb would carry their child.
Forgoing testosterone injections to conceive was a tough decision for the transgender dad who started transitioning in 2017.
“It was soul crushing. I knew from a young age that I wanted to make the transition,” admits Caleb, a store manager.
“But I knew for me and my partner that it was something we had always wanted and I wanted to try.”
He ended his testosterone injections in January 2022 after being dependent on taking it for almost 27 months.
“Going off testosterone was a rocky road because there were so many hormones circulating in my body.”
The couple met their sperm donor through social media and were instantly hooked.
Caleb agreed to proceed with intrauterine insemination – a fertility treatment that gives sperm a better chance of fertilizing an egg. according to Penn Medicine.
Doctors told him there was a good chance he couldn’t conceive, but within six months and three attempts, the Boldens expected to conceive.
As his belly grew, more people fell for the transgender dad with the round baby bump, prompting mixed opinions.
He said most of his friends and family supported him, but some opined, “Men can’t get pregnant.”
Caleb mentioned that most of his peers didn’t know he was a transgender man until he revealed he was pregnant, which they were very supportive of.
In May 2023, Caleb gave birth to a natural child at West Suffolk Hospital.
“We’ve had very good support from West Suffolk Hospital,” Caleb said. To protect his privacy, the team allowed Bolden to perform the delivery in a separate room instead of in a ward. They even created a special care plan to accommodate Caleb’s needs.
However, the delivery process was not without its challenges.
“During labor [Isla-Rae’s] The heart rate dropped rapidly and I underwent episiotomy.”
An episiotomy is a procedure designed to aid difficult vaginal deliveries while controlling and preventing potentially dangerous perineal tears during the delivery process, according to the National Library of Medicine.
When Caleb left the hospital he was in excruciating pain from the episiotomy, which gradually failed.
“The stitches broke and I had constant infections for five weeks. I couldn’t move,” he admits.
While trying to recover, he was bedridden and unable to interact and bond with his newborn like he would have liked.
He tried to breastfeed but found it “quite difficult”.
The unique birth journey caused Caleb to have some doubts about the role he was playing for his daughter.
“I know she’s my daughter and I gave birth to her, but it felt really weird to me and I didn’t feel like the father figure to her.”
But now that he’s fully recovered, Caleb feels connected to the new family member.
After the successful pregnancy, the family plans to expand their happy home for three to four people.
“I want to be able to carry another child before I start taking testosterone again,” Caleb reveals. “I plan to do that later this year and will be using the same sperm donor again.”