Moms We Love: Sophia Dhrolia
Last Summer, Knix had a very special photoshoot in honor of our Postpartum Collection. Not only did 12 moms and moms-to-be join us on set, but they all brought their little ones along as well—10 babies to be exact (we know...we’re not sure how we managed it either!). There were toys, diaper changes, and while there were some inevitable tears, there were also many laughs and cuddles.
Almost a year later, we caught up with one mom who joined us to see how new motherhood is treating her, what her fertility journey was like, and what it's like to be a postpartum and gender non-conforming mom. Meet Sophia!
You were pregnant when we saw you last, how has life been since then?
It's been quite the roller coaster of emotions. I gave birth in September after a few days of various induction methods, 7 attempts at an epidural, and finally a C-section. We have a baby girl who is now 7 months and a 5 year old son. After giving birth I was not prepared for the emotions. Even though I witnessed my wife give birth, I was shocked. There were times that I sobbed for no reason and could not recognize some of the sounds of my own cries. I could not understand what was happening to me, even though I knew rationally that my body was processing a lot of hormones.
I was also swollen through the third trimester and was told it would get worse before better when I left the hospital but on day 4 my swelling started to get worse. Then my breathing became impacted. I asked those around me and it was chalked up to anxiety. One week postpartum at 3 AM, my wife called 911.
The paramedics assessed and didn't seem to think anything was wrong and one mentioned anxiety. I was alone and terrified. The first nurse that I met told me that I had the baby blues, took my blood, and told me to sit on a chair in the corner. A chair? I had a c-section one week ago! I went to the nurses station and had to advocate for myself until someone heard me. Magically, a room was empty and I was given a bed.
After a series of X-rays, CT scans, and an echocardiogram, I was told that I had congestive heart failure and litres of fluid in my lungs. I was admitted at 10 PM to the cardiac intensive unit for them to understand what was going on. Finally, a diagnosis: postpartum preeclampsia. I was in the hospital for 3 days, 3 days without my brand new baby. She was just in me and now I was separated from her. She was too new and I couldn't give her what she needed from me.
Thankfully my wife could be with her and our son and my friends and mom could be with me. I was not prepared for my heart to fail and for my body to change so much. I was not prepared to feel like my body failed. For 6 weeks I remained on blood pressure medication and was full of anxiety and guilt beyond that. I was afraid that I would fail my family. But my wife, my friends, and my therapist got me back on track. Seven months later I am healing and loving every (ok *almost* every) moment with our new addition.
What was your fertility journey like?
Ah fertility, that is something that I took for granted! As I mentioned earlier my wife and I share 2 kids and she gave birth to our first. We chose her to carry first because I was not entirely sold on becoming pregnant and she is older than me (sorry babe!). It took her longer than we expected but within the "average time for heterosexual couples" to get pregnant.
During her pregnancy, my desire to be pregnant and feel a human grow became strong. It was the science of it that drew me in. I wanted to know what it felt like to feel the baby punch and kick from the inside. So we decided that I would give it a go. Given that we knew it would take some time I started to try when our son was 9 months old. We had grandiose plans of their age difference and time off together because she was going to be on sabbatical. I went in so cocky. I was proud of my "fresh, young eggs" (relative to my wife). In medical speak though, I was almost a geriatric patient (ok not totally, I was 33 so not a spring chicken). I didn't get pregnant.
Years passed on and month after month, I faced only rejection. I did everything that I could using Western (repeated IUIs, IVF, etc.) and Eastern (acupuncture, boat loads of natural pills, no caffeine, no sugar, etc.) medicine. Three years later we decided that we would go back to my wife. But there was also the option of using her eggs and I carry, so I had another chance. I was excited and sad at the same time. I could possibly carry but I would not have a "mini-me" through genetics. My wife went through the egg retrieval and after waiting we learned that we had only one embryo.
I lost all hope of carrying because it did not make sense for me to carry when my wife had a proven, successful pregnancy. We sat down with the doctor who told us that it did not matter which body the embryo went into. My wife, being the incredible human that she is, said that she wanted me to go for it so long as I wouldn't punish myself if it didn't work. We agreed I would try, but there were still a few tests to "pass". Upon further testing, there was evidence of possible endometriosis. The doctor treated me for two months for the inflammation and then we went in for the embryo transfer. Nine days later and after a dozen home pregnancy tests we confirmed the pregnancy! It was quite the experience and there are still pangs of sadness about the genetic piece or that my body somehow failed me but then I remind myself that my body is a warrior and fought for me and the kids look like me!
Can you speak a bit about some of the challenges of pregnancy and parenting as a queer, gender nonconforming person?
One of the biggest challenges of pregnancy as a queer, gender nonconforming person honestly is my chest. I didn't expect it to get much larger, especially since I was not breast/chest feeding. I never bonded with my boobs, didn't really want them and now they are there and bigger and I hate them. Clothing does not sit right, the way that I want it to— flat.
Another challenge for me personally was the need for people to want to touch my body. I never understood nor had the desire to touch pregnant people and now was faced with people noticing my body. It became visible to people, feminine, and all of a sudden my body was one that people felt they had permission over. I declined all requests to touch me and made some people really stop in their tracks— shocked and confused. In addition to my body being noticed, clothing on my body became confusing and difficult. Everything in the beginning was flowy or flowery. Definitely not me! Eventually I found a great mix of T-shirts, slim maternity pants, and blazers that allowed me to feel as me as I could through the pregnancy. That ended up becoming a source of joy— the ability to rock my oxfords, and blazers while pregnant and stay as true to my style as I could.
Photo By: Zurry Donevan
As a parent, I am fortunate to feel the same joys and challenges as gender conforming individuals. I was afraid that I would be judged as not a "real parent" but no one has treated me any differently than my wife when referring to our kids. I think people may question our roles when they see us but no one has questioned us directly.
What’s your favorite part about being a parent?
Kid laughter. Hearing and seeing my kids laugh is my favourite. There's a joy I feel when I see their eyes twinkle with happiness. Also, watching Star Wars and playing with lightsabers with my 5 year old is a close runner up.
Describe your kids to us! What are they like, what are their favorite things?
My 5 year old is a witty, sharp, energetic kid. He is curious, loves going on adventures to find new beach glass and sticks, and is a very proud big brother. He loves Lego, his stuffed dog from Ikea that he named Marley, and riding his bike. He just started JK and really enjoyed (we're in a pandemic now) school. He's also a typical 5 year old who tells you that you don't know anything and has an answer for everything but is learning to genuinely apologize when he breaks something.
We are getting to know our 7 month old everyday. She loves food, especially avocados, sweet potatoes, and green beans. She's very vocal, probably because she's competing with her brother for attention! She has the best laugh and is so far easy to please.
You run an Instagram account that chronicles your journey with genderfluid fashion. What are your hopes for the fashion industry in terms of options especially for genderfluid individuals who are also pregnant or postpartum?
Thank you for mentioning my new Instagram account @sd.apper
My hope for the fashion industry is acknowledgement that genderfluid people exist, that we like clothes, and also go through a host of changes with our bodies and want clothing to follow in the journey. I did not want to use a rubber band to hold my pants together in pregnancy, I wanted pants that were slim, felt tailored, and dress shirts that accommodated my pregnant body. I didn't want to wear clothing from the men's section for style in an awkward size and I definitely did not want flowy and flowery for my new body. I just wanted a dress shirt that made room for my womb but let me button up to my neck.
Postpartum is all about high rise. I never appreciated the genius behind high rise bottoms. I find it extremely hard to find any dress pants and chinos that are slim and high rise! High rise underwear also felt like I stole my grandmother's undies until I discovered the Knix High Rise! I wish brands would think of genderfluid styles without labels and just offer more sizing. Maybe do more research into what genderfluid individuals look for and soft launch styles that would accommodate various bodies. I would absolutely love it if I could go into a store or online and shop for pants according to my size and curves and be offered styles that everyone can choose from. My perfect filter is: Pants, Slim or Skinny, and High rise (including joggers!). For shirts, a button down that accommodates my chest with a sports bra and a curvy waist but not accentuate these features. Is that too much to ask for?