There I was in my midwife’s office, tears rolling down my face. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t stop them from falling. “I’m not sad, just surprised.” She made a note in my file as I blubbered on. “I just can’t see myself mothering a little girl,” I continued, “I always thought I would only have boys.” My midwife assured me that my feelings were perfectly normal. “Just give yourself a little time to process,” she added. I nodded, wiped my continuous stream of tears, and left the office feeling like the absolute scum of the earth.
Twenty minutes earlier, my husband and I were sitting in the dark office of a pleasantly chatty ultrasound technician. As she measured the bone length and heart chambers of our growing little one, I excitedly predicted that I was carrying our fourth baby boy. I explained how only 3 years separated my oldest son from my third son, and how close they all were. Adding a fourth little boy would be an easy transition for our family.
As convincing as I may have been, I was blinding myself from the inkling I had about this baby from the start. My first trimester brought extreme morning sickness. It was a textbook first trimester, one that I had not ever experienced in my other three pregnancies. On top of that cravings were different, my weight gain was different, I just felt weird. Then, I panicked. I googled every pregnancy wive’s tale on the internet.
I looked on in dismissive amusement as the Chinese calendar predicted a girl. The ring tied to a string swung like a pendulum. Each prenatal appointment revealed a “girl” heart rate. I even inspected a cup full of my own urine mixed with Drano for something, anything that would confirm my own version of the truth. Regardless, I spent the first 19 weeks of my pregnancy bonding with a little boy. The problem was I was bonding with a little boy who was almost entirely a figment of my own imagination.
“Do you two want to know the sex of the baby?”
“Yes of course!”
With three words, the sweet technician turned my entire world upside down.
“I’m thinking pink!”
“WHAT?!” Tears of shock rushed down my face and didn’t stop.
When you hear stories of gender disappointment online, it’s easy to sit in your judgy-seat and spout off things like “at least the baby is healthy” and “you’re blessed to be able to even have kids.” Really, what does that do besides shovel more guilt on top of someone already working through some difficult emotions?
It brought me nothing but joy to see our healthy baby dancing on the screen. The issue was that I bonded with this baby as a little boy. With three words, I no longer knew the person growing inside of me. I wasn’t sad or disappointed; I was terrified and felt what I can only describe as … betrayal. I felt betrayed by my own desires and betrayed by the God who blessed me with her.
Thanks to the many hours spent awake at the end of pregnancy, I had time to process my emotions. I found that at the root of my fear was the belief that I was incapable of mothering a little girl. Little girls look up to their mother, and I felt pressure to be a woman I had not yet become. I was not yet her, and I was doubtful I would ever be a woman worth her admiration.
Eighteen months after her birth, I see Samantha adds a sweetness to our family that only she can bring. I know my daughter will either emulate or reject the example of womanhood I place before her. The adoring eyes of my sweet girl give me to courage to grow. Hopefully I will grow in to a woman worth mirroring.