If I was to write a book about Samuel’s story, then probably the first line would be: “Do small penises run in your family?” Now you can’t just read that and leave, you must read on….
As we knew there may be issues with Samuel, as soon as he was born one of the NICU baby doctors came down and examined him. I was left lying there all a mess, obviously a little sore and my husband was outside the room holding my baby. I’d not even held him, barely touched him at that point.
The midwife, Tessa I think her name was, popped out the room for a few minutes then came back and said that everything appeared fine at the moment with the baby, but the baby doctor wasn’t happy to confirm the baby’s sex. I looked at her blankly, but he’s a boy, he’s got a penis, he’s a boy. She smiled awkwardly at me and said that yes, she thinks he’s a boy, after all he did wee on her when he was born, but his genitales are small and she can’t feel any testes.
Samuel’s dad came back in the room with him and I got my first cuddle. We tried some breastfeeding (which wasn’t successful) then I had to waddle to the showers to get myself sorted. When I came back I was really dizzy and was put in a wheelchair to go up to postnatal. Tessa was examining Sam’s bits again and said that she could definitely feel a tube in his penis, “look mum have a feel, there is a tube isn’t there?” Then she looked up at my dear husband and said the words, “Do small penises run in your family do you know?” It would have been funny if it wasn’t so bizarre.
Sam’s dad didn’t know what to say, so I said that he was fine, a very normal size but how would he know about his brother and dad – hardly something they would talk about!
So we were shuffled off to postnatal very confused. Then the head of NICU arrived, Dr K, (we’d met him in the last week of the pregnancy) and examined Sam and studied his bits and had a feel about. He decided to send Sam for an abdomen scan to see about his testes and if there was anything there that shouldn’t be. Then Dr K said that perhaps when we tell people that the baby was born we could not mention the gender, just to be on the safe side. I looked at him blankly. I looked at Sam, who to me did actually look like a boy, just with slightly smaller bits.
So he had the scan. His dad went with him and saw the scan for himself. After seeing the scan he was very confident that yes, Sam was a boy. There were no signs of anything else (ie girls internal bits) and there was a blur where the testes were – they just hadn’t dropped. So when they came back to postnatal we made the phone calls telling our parents of Sam’s arrival. The Grandparents couldn’t understand why we had taken so long to call them and we didn’t really want to go into it. Because it wasn’t over.
Dr K said that they still wouldn’t confirm the sex until they had results of a chromosome test. Fantastic.
About 10 days later we got the result back. Sam was a boy.
It turns out that the slightly smaller genitales is part of his condition, ARX, but it doesn’t affect him really and surgery has brought down his testes. Having been peed on a number of times, we can say that everything works fine!