House Hunting

By Aarron Sholar

I look online every day for a home that my boyfriend and I can start a family in, even though I don’t move in with him for half a year. Our budget is under $1,800 a month, at least some utilities included, 2-3 beds and 1 or more baths. First, I look to the west of Minneapolis. The first apartment I find is in a good town, it’s only $1,350 for a 2 bed place ($1,650 for 3 beds!), and there’s a small playground nearby. But there are no pictures of the inside, and there are no specifics indicating if utilities are included. We want to rent at first, when we have our first child, because we don’t know where we’ll end up. He doesn’t want to live in Minnesota forever, and neither do I (it’s too cold). At first, we were looking for a 2 bedroom so we had a place to put my own bed, which would be the spare, but now we have somehow decided to try and have a baby after I graduate grad school, and now I have to worry about the two of us and a baby.

The young couple I live with now has a townhouse; it has more than enough room for the three of us, and with just the two of them, they’d have even more. The idea of a baby harps at my brain even more— shouldn’t a baby grow up in a house with a large backyard and swing set to use whenever they want? Should a baby be cooped up in an apartment, having to be driven to the park to play? I find a townhouse in the same area for $1,550 a month, but again, no utilities specified. It’s 2 bedrooms, so the perfect size for now, and for the baby that would not take up much space. It even has a garage! But I begin to worry; would this be enough for all the baby supplies? Is the closed-off kitchen a good idea? Can we even fit my office, bed, and a baby all into the same room? Is a baby even a good idea? I’m only 25, would be fresh out of school and searching for a job. I worry.

New York Life reports that costs for a newborn’s first year of life can be anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. If I start a new job at $40,000 a year, and my boyfriend makes maybe $60,000 a year, then we’d have a solid $100,000 to spend on this supposed newborn. But the baby would cost us half of that, and I don’t even know how much I’d be making right away. There are some super cute townhomes down the highway from where my boyfriend lives now; they’re only 2 beds and 1 bath and fairly compact units, but man are they cute! We drive past the townhomes one day when getting Starbucks:

“Look! I saw those on Zillow! They’re super cute inside, and they’re only $1,530 a month!”

“If they’re still available when we’re looking we can look into them.”

I glance back at the units as we drive off, coffees in our cup holders. I imagine us coming home from the hospital, our baby all curled up and sleeping away in a carrier, being welcomed to their new quaint home.

I once saw a listing I can’t find anymore. The townhouse was perfect; it had enough room, it was updated in every sense, the baseboards were all painted black (which looked so cool!), and again, as both I and my boyfriend agreed— it was perfect. But we don’t need a home yet, there is no baby (can there be a baby?), and I have to stay where I am now until I graduate. But I continue to imagine this baby and look at homes. I even still look at homes out of our price range, even homes that are for sale instead of to rent. Why do I look at these homes we definitely cannot afford? Why do I still dream of creating this child with him if I have other things to worry about, like moving and getting a full-time job. When I talk with my mom on the phone one day, she warns me:

“Will you be able to get time off from a new full-time job to have a baby? You should wait a little longer so you can establish your job first.”

“Well, I probably wouldn’t need time off until 2024, so I’d hopefully be at the job for at least half a year by then-“

“You should also be careful what you post on social media now. While an employer legally can’t deny you a job because of pregnancy, they still can if they find it online that you’re planning to do so.”


I open my Facebook and look at the most recent post, and I contemplate deleting it for fear of risking employment:

“starting today, I’m stopping all my HRT for the next year and a half-ish so AJ and I can try and have a baby closer to the end of this year. It’ll be a challenge, but it’ll be worth it! Until then, I look at all the cute baby clothes at target when I get groceries!”

My desire and advice of my mom fight deep in my brain— my internal clock tells me it’s time to have a baby, but my anxiety tells me to establish a sound income first. Then there’s my boyfriend, who turns 31 this year and was ready to start a family yesterday. I tell myself that it’s good to have a baby sooner rather than later, that I want to have a family with him too, that I understand his own desire. But I wish this decision could be more spontaneous, required less planning.

Being transgender, family, let alone pregnancy, comes with some extra challenges. When my boyfriend and I went for our pre-conception consultation, the doctor told us that I’d have to stop taking testosterone six months prior to trying to conceive, as I’d have to be able to track a steady period in order to determine when my body was most fertile. I have to prepare a whole six months in advance before we even try to have a baby. If I decide, within those six months or any time after, to not have the baby myself, we’d have to start over. The time would be wasted, useless. This decision, in a way, is an all or nothing. If at any point I want to even just wait, our timeline is reset. I’ll push back the family I want by another six months, I’ll deprive my boyfriend of the family he too dreams of, dreamt of for the last few months. I don’t want to have to reset, to have to change my plan after finally making my decision on pregnancy.

But I am determined to keep this timeline, and so I continue to search, keeping the baby in mind all the while. My boyfriend tells me that he has a new area he wants to move to after I graduate—south of Minneapolis, as he wants to look for a new job there and be closer to his family. I agree, as I tell him, “I’ll go wherever life takes me.” I find a cute townhouse in that area at $1,460 a month (why are utilities never detailed?) with an open kitchen and living area. It looks like it comes with at least one-car garage! It’s only 2 beds and 1 bath, though. But here’s a cuter townhouse for $2,095 a month, also with an open floor plan! It includes all but two utilities, but the price is too high. However, what if we went for the nicer place? What if we treated ourselves as people often say? What if I get a job and a new baby after I graduate? Why should new parents have to decide on a job versus a family? On a nicer house versus a baby? Business Insider reports that “finances are one of the top reasons why American millennials aren’t having kids or are having fewer kids than they considered ideal,” and that “44% [of women who participated in a survey] said they can’t afford to have more children, and 43% said they waited to have kids because of financial instability.” Picking between these desires is something my own parents didn’t have to do— they could buy a house in 1994 for $200 thousand something, they could have a baby a mere year after buying a house, they could afford to internationally adopt two more children (myself included), yet I am unsure if I will be able to afford the same dream. I am unsure if I will be able to buy a house as nice as theirs, have a baby of my own and then adopt maybe two more (domestically, though, because that’s cheaper). I imagine a standard suburbia house, much like my parents’, with a sizeable yard for the three kids to run about, play on a swing set, and find cool sticks. Inside there is (maybe) vaulted ceilings in the kitchen and living area to make everything feel more open. There has to be a fireplace for the holidays. I’ll have my own little office somewhere, and maybe the basement holds all of my boyfriend and I’s hobbies— his Funko Pops, Gundams, growlers from bars, and my Bigfoot Squishmellows and Sonic the Hedgehog memorabilia. My boyfriend will cook us all dinner and I’ll clean up afterwards, and we’ll all eat together, as a family, at the little kitchen table, just as I did every night with my parents.

But I continue to look at the houses on Zillow, ones that are for rent in and out of my budget, ones that are for sale, ones in areas I never plan to live in, because I am hoping, banking on the idea that maybe, by the grace of God, something in the universe will let me achieve this seemingly impossible dream.

About the author:

Aarron Sholar is a transgender writer who has pieces forthcoming and published in The McNeese Review, Prose Online, Alien Buddha Press, The Under Review, Thin Air Online, Sunspot Lit (awarded the Quarterly Editor’s Prize), Broadkill Review (nominated for Best of the Net and The Pushcart Prize 2022), and others. He holds a BA from Salisbury University and is an MFA candidate in CNF at MNSU, Mankato, where he is Head CNF Editor of Blue Earth Review.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

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