The vision that I have of our family is ever changing.
I was once convinced that my first child would be a boy. I was wrong. And then, I thought my second one would be. Wrong again. I think, if I’m being completely honest with you and myself, I really only told myself they would be boys because what I really wanted was a girl and I didn’t want to feel the biting pain of disappointment when there were no vaginas in sight. But either way, I somehow convinced myself — I was destined to have a boy.
But after the arrival of Skittle, my second precious girl, I began to allow myself to imagine a house full of little girls. The thought to me was so sweet and magical, and so perfectly fitting as I am about as far from being a tomboy as one can get, that I became attached to it. I tried not to, because I knew the likelihood of one day having four girls (four being our ultimate goal), was not great, but we all know how the heart works. It does funny things. Sometimes, it falls in love with the wrong people or illogical ideas. Sometimes, it does it over and over again.
And yet, despite my heart making a wish, despite the vision I’ve had of our family for over a year now, we have a baby boy on the way.
When we learned Poppy’s gender, it sort of felt like my heart exploded. Tears popped from my eyes. I knew they weren’t tears of joy, but in that moment, I couldn’t explain any of it. I was expecting this news, but hadn’t been particularly hoping for it, and I just felt sort of ambivalent. I couldn’t label what I was feeling as happy, sad, excited, disappointed, scared, or anything else. I just felt all of it and none of it all at once. That was the most unexpected part for me.
As the news sank in throughout the day, I came to realize that I was feeling much sadder than I had wanted to feel. When this time came, and I suspected it would come eventually, I had hoped to feel overwhelming excitement about the tiny little penis inside of me. I didn’t.
I felt SAD that I may never hold another baby girl of my own in my arms. Sad that the sparkly satin headbands and frilly cupcake leg warmers and pink pink pink would be going by the wayside. Sad that baby dolls and My Little Pony might start competing with trucks and superheroes in our home.
I felt MAD, mostly at myself, because I had gotten my hopes up about having another girl. If I hadn’t started hoping, I wouldn’t be feeling so crummy.
I felt SCARED that I don’t know how to be the mom to a little boy. I don’t know anything about cars and trucks, or sports, or superheroes. I hate the color blue. I am a girly-girl. I am just about as stereotypically “girly” as one can get. And my husband is no macho man. What the hell do we know about raising a boy?! And how was I going to afford buying a whole new wardrobe for our little guy? (Consignment and thrift shopping has helped, but I still have spent an obscene amount of money — already! — on this kid.) And my girls were both relatively easy and amazing sleepers…what if having a boy is different? This pregnancy has already been harder on me, what if raising a boy is too? And don’t even get me started about masturbation, uncontrollable boners, and drugs… (My husband and his brother are both recovering drug addicts. Addiction runs in the family. Especially for males.)
And I felt RESENTFUL towards just about everyone. Every person who made me feel like we “needed” a boy. Like our family wasn’t complete without a boy. Like somehow, if Baby #3 had turned out be female, we would be missing out on something big. And resentful towards everyone who sent text messages and posted on Facebook saying:
- “Yay! You’re going to LOVE having a boy!”
- “Congrats! I bet you’re SO happy!”
- “Praise God! I was praying for this for you guys!”
- “Oh my gosh! I bet [your husband] is so thrilled to finally have a boy!”
As though, of COURSE, I would be thrilled. I should be thrilled. And my husband, even more so. (News flash: Honey wanted another girl, too. Not every man feels the need to have a son.) And I even resented my mom, who asked, “Are you excited?” and when I didn’t respond positively, she finished with saying, “Well, I’m sorry your baby is a boy,” because that wasn’t what I needed to hear either.
And then, the common link between all these feelings, the undercurrent, the one that ran the deepest…I felt GUILTY. I felt like the worst person in the world, because who resents their loved ones when they only mean well? And I felt like the worst mother, because why couldn’t I just be happy? My friends and family were right, I SHOULD be happy! And even more, I felt like the worst infertile, because dammit, I had a BABY growing inside of me and that should be enough. There were people in this world who would kill to be in my position, carrying any baby — boy, girl, monkey or otherwise — and I had once been one of them. Who was I, suddenly thinking I had a right to have any baby I chose? I felt like a selfish, spoiled, ungrateful, entitled brat, and I hated myself for it. The guilt ate away at me for days.
I’m relieved to say most of these feelings didn’t last in such intensity for very long. I worked through them. I processed them. I searched for the silver lining. And I learned to have a little grace, mostly towards myself. I’m only human after all. Even in the best of circumstances, there can be mixed feelings. That’s normal. That’s OKAY. I don’t need to justify it. I don’t owe anyone an explanation. I’m allowed to grieve. As I wrote in a recent post, there is grief around every life corner. I don’t need anyone’s permission to feel what I feel. I can own it and feel it, really feel the huge weight of it, accept it and embrace it (maybe over and over again, as necessary), and then hopefully move on. And if I can’t move on, that’s okay too. There are some feelings and emotions that just never go away and, instead, you learn to live with them. It’s all part of being human, isn’t it? And there’s no shame in that.
Everything “bad” thing I felt immediately after learning about this baby boy has diminished, but they haven’t gone away entirely. I still feel sad sometimes, sad and scared and guilty, but the good feelings have moved in and made their home, too. I’m excited. I’m happy. I’m in love.
This baby was loved before I knew he was a “he” and that hasn’t changed at all. And now that he has an identity, and I think maybe even a name, and I feel him move at all hours of the day and night, I love him even more.
Everything that I have loved about having a baby girl isn’t going to go away because he’s a boy. Each moment will be unique to him, but I will still have chubby thighs to squeeze and fine baby hair to smell and one day he will learn to say “mama” in that sweet toddler voice I love to hear. That won’t change.
Most of all, I believe this little human was chosen for us. Just for us. He is our intended one. Meant to be. Meant to be ours. Two X chromosomes, or an X and a Y, it doesn’t matter.
He is ours.
He is loved.
And we’ll figure the rest out along the way.