I'm having a baby boy sometime this week. I'm so excited to meet him, to kiss his toes, and to introduce him to his big brother and watch as (hopefully) the two of them bond over the next several decades.
And yet, there's a small part of me that grieves the loss of my little girl.
No, I've never been pregnant with a little girl to my knowledge–I miscarried a year ago but it was too soon to tell the sex. In the first 20 weeks of this pregnancy, when the possibility existed of welcoming a little girl into my arms, I daydreamed of redecorating the nursery into a gentler, more feminine world. I perused the kid section on Pinterest, stopping to note the “20 hairstyles to do with your little girl” pictures. I enjoy an especially close relationship with my Mom, and I let myself imagine the possibilities of having the same relationship with my little girl.
Instead, I felt my heart thud when the ultrasound tech cheerfully announced, “There's the penis!” With my first child I firmly denied any preconceived notions of what it would be like to have a boy or a girl by refusing to find out the sex. In fact, I convinced myself it was a boy, simply because that was the sex I was most afraid of having. I grew up in a mostly girl household. What did you DO with a boy?
Well, it turns out you love them and become fiercely proud of their independence and bravery. You kiss their bruised knees (not a gender specific ailment, I apparently looked like I was beaten as a child due to the number of bruises I acquired at play) and read them bedtime stories. You let them wear superman capes with your sparkly headband as a crown and you make Jedi costumes for them with all the same passion you'd make fairy princess costumes for a little girl. And you feel absolutely confident that even though you daydreamed about a girl, you'll love your newest child as fiercely and intensely as your first.
But there's a funny thing about your small, tiny longing for a girl. You're not allowed to talk about it. If you mention anything, everyone hastens to assure you that the brotherly bond is amazing and that at least you don't have to get used to raising a girl. You are told that “boys have a special relationship with their mothers too,” and the mother with one of each declares that she'd rather have six more boys than this one little girl.
A little online search reveals hundreds of mothers who have a desire for one or the other and have the opposite. But talking about it is taboo. Somehow you're saying you don't want the child you have, or are degrading their value. There's something wrong with you for wishing for something you won't have. Worse, you're insulting someone else who just plain wants a child, regardless of sex.
After reading all those stories I felt relieved. I wasn't alone. I wasn't the only one who daydreamed about a future that wasn't. And a funny thing happened. I felt better. Validated. Accepted, although I didn't actually talk with anyone else who shared my sentiments. I am able to look forward to my son's birth with excitement and anticipation without a shred of sadness for what could have been.
But I do wonder a little bit. Why the push to “fix” me? Why isn't it okay for me to just feel this way? I suspect it has very little to do with me and more to do with the discomfort any listeners had. I wonder, had someone listened and accepted how I felt without feeling the need to offer reasons why I shouldn't have felt that way, if I wouldn't have moved past those feelings faster.
So, if I were to go back in time, I'd say, “Don't fix me!” It is not your job to make my emotions conform. Please just listen. No judgement. No advice. No 'sops.' By accepting what I have to say you allow me to accept my feelings and daydream about my baby boy, and that is a gift.
I wrote this a couple weeks ago, and delivered a beautiful, 10 lb baby boy last week. As I expected, he is absolutely perfect and wonderful, and I wouldn't trade him for anything or anyone else in the world.