It’s a Girl! Oh, Wait…It’s a Boy?
I’m currently at 25 weeks of my first pregnancy (love your pregnancy calendar by the way). At 19 weeks I had my first official ultrasound and we found out we were having a little girl. Since then I’ve been daydreaming in a sea of pink ribbons and sweet and spice, and everything nice. It wasn’t much of a surprise because everyone said from the moment we announced our pregnancy that we were having a girl. So when we found out the sex, it just seemed like confirmation of what we already knew.
Fast forward to now and during my second ultrasound they announce…. It’s a boy!
Now I understand that this is an over-reacting hormone induced analogy, but I feel like someone has taken the little girl I’ve been bonding with inside of me and replaced her with a boy. I’m shocked and having trouble switching gears. I’ve started returning all our pretty pink items, but I’m finding myself unenthusiastic to start replacing the items with blue and … I don’t know trains?
I’ve heard that this can happen, but the stories I’ve heard usually have the parents surprised when they are holding their bundle of joy in their arms and the amazingness of the birth experience overshadows the shock. I’ve found out at the super anxiety, nesting, over planning, first time mother stage.
I’m asking for your help because I know you are madly in love with your boys and I was hoping you could use this time to gush about your love for them and shed some light on how awesome they can be. I’ve always imagined a mini-me with matching long unruly hair and pink ruffle bloomers. Please help me find the same love for the little man I need to get to know inside me and to let go of my dream of a little girl.
I could go on and on about what it’s like to mother a son and how it’s amazeballs and transforming and how my boys have truly helped me become a better woman, feminist, wife, human being, all that. And it would all be true! But I don’t know how much it would really help you navigate the complicated emotions that you are (understandably) going through right now. We’re all supposed to say, “Oh, I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, I just want it to be healthy” and blah blah THRONE OF LIES. Lots of us care. Lots of us have a preference.
And lots of us get the opposite.
I spent a lot of my first pregnancy feeling guilty about my disappointed reaction to the “it’s a boy!” ultrasound, and my ongoing ambivalence about having a son. I wanted a girl, or at least some idealized Gilmore Girls fantasy version of a girl — now that I have actual children in my house, I can laugh about my completely unrealistic expectations that a girl would automatically equal a little mini-me and a boy would be some kind of foreign, unfamiliar species of human. My boys are a lot like me in some ways, a lot like their dad in others, and yet are all completely, 100% their own separate selves and it has nothing to do with the color clothing they wear or the toys I buy them.
And that’s something you’ll figure out eventually. You’ll look at your son and realize that he was never the girl you thought you’d have…but he also isn’t the boy you thought you’d have. You’ll realize that even if you did end up with the originally expected genitals, you STILL wouldn’t have birthed the particular little girl you invented in your head. And one day, you might find yourself making an involuntary gagging face at the mere mention of “pink ruffle bloomers” and thank your lucky stars that you were forced past the idea that babies are adorable little dress-up dolls and bought your kid some practical, easy-to-wash clothing.
Above all, you’ll realize that the boy or girl thing is not actually a zero-sum, either/or scenario, and your son will absolutely enjoy many of the things you were dreaming of a couple weeks ago. Screw that sugar and spice vs. frogs and snails BS. Boys and girls are all of the above.
(Do you know how many times we’ve seen Frozen? And listened to the soundtrack? Do you? I’m asking because I’ve honestly lost track.)
But here’s the thing, and forgive the caps lock: IT’S TOTALLY OKAY THAT YOU ARE NOT THERE YET. IT’S TOTALLY OKAY TO FEEL THE WAY YOU ARE FEELING.
I’m a big believer that the more we fight to suppress our anxiety and guilt — the more we try to simply mash it down and force ourselves to ignore it — the stronger the anxiety and guilt becomes. It bubbles under the surface and makes your chest hurt and wakes you up at night. “THINK ABOUT ME RIGHT NOW,” it whispers at 2 in the morning. “THE MORE YOU TRY TO THINK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE, THE ANGRIER AND POINTIER I GET.”
It’s so totally okay that you feel disappointed and whiplashed right now. Please know that feeling this way has absolutely no bearing on what kind of mother you will be and does not speak to your future parenting capability or bonding skills. I want you to breathe deep and repeat those sentiments to yourself. Out loud, even. Write them down. Pregnancy is already a roller coaster and you just got yanked backwards and upside down right when you thought the ride was slowing down. Don’t wallow, but don’t be afraid to feel your feelings. Come to peace with your ambivalence.
If you don’t want to buy blue, don’t buy any. Buy lime green and purple and red and orange. Get onesies and bibs with your favorite nerdy/pop culture references on them instead of trucks and the “Daddy’s Lil’ All-Star” crap. Buy him a baby doll and cute hats. Raise a big middle finger to gender stereotyping. Make jokes about the next ultrasound hopefully not revealing twins, but don’t feel pressured to pretend that this situation was fun or ideal, because it wasn’t. People find out the sex because they want to know the sex. This was frustrating and disorienting, no doubt.
I still sometimes can’t believe I have three boys and zero girls — I really did think I would have at least one daughter and each subsequent ultrasound reveal was met with OMG REALLY?s and then some rueful laughter, because gahhhh so much penis — but any “disappointment” over it is…well, not really “disappointment” at all. And it’s not merely just “acceptance,” either. It’s perfect. It’s happy. It’s chaotic. It’s just…my life. And it’s absolutely the one I was always meant to live, even if I originally had other ideas.