Like many women, when I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I was excited and a little bit nervous. I read plenty of what to expect literature, but until you’ve experienced the physiological and emotional roller coaster that equates pregnancy, you just don’t know what it’s like. Finding out whether you’re having a boy or a girl is a significant part of the experience. While some people opt to be surprised at the moment of delivery, I knew I wanted to find out the sex of our unborn child ahead of time.
And I’ll admit it: I wanted a girl.
Of course I said aloud that I’d be happy with a healthy child, male or female, and I meant it! But having grown up the eldest of three girls, and having been blessed with several amazing and beautiful friendships with girls and women at all stages of my life, I just felt it would be more natural to give birth to a baby girl. I felt more prepared. I understand the anatomy. And I like pink. But deep within me, a gentle yet powerful feeling bubbled beneath the surface from the beginning… Hey lady, you’re having a boy! It’s a boy, so give up on the girl dreams!
I could have just trusted my intuition and proceeded with the pregnancy, but instead I went ahead and got an ultrasound per my midwife’s recommendation. And it was…. a GIRL! Wow. My husband and I were thrilled. The evidence suggested we were moving toward the delivery of a healthy, developing infant with female parts. We shared our good news with family and friends, and I think my mother literally grabbed her purse and keys and sprinted to Target to purchase about a thousand items in shades of pink, purple, white, and pink. I received tiny pieces clothing adorned with colorful sprays of rose colored flowers, sweet pink kittens wearing sparkly pink collars, and sparkly dancing princesses. At the risk of overdoing pink, we painted baby X’s room a delicate shade of lavender. Actually my husband painted the room (don’t you know that paint fumes are toxic to a pregnant woman?).
Did I mention that everything I received at my fabulous baby shower was PINK? Clothing, blankets, hats, stuffed animals. Seriously. My dad had to be blind-folded during the entire party because he didn’t want to know the sex of the baby.
Thank goodness the car seat we chose was printed with a gender-neutral jungle scene. Diapers don’t care so much how they get used, either. Same concept by which they are soaked or … never mind.
It’s June 14, 2007. I am exactly 39 weeks pregnant when my water breaks at 1 am. I collapse on the floor, not because I was in pain… I was overtaken by surprise. It was just like it happens in the movies! (just kidding)
We rush to the hospital where I am attended by students, nurses and midwives. Sparing my readers the details, it’s enough for you to know that 18 hours later, a child was born. A male child. He was beautiful and small and slightly smushed up looking post-delivery. And we were thrilled that the moment had arrived.
But he was a boy! Hmmm.
The hospital technician had been wrong. Totally wrong in fact. This darling naked angel in front of us was Not. A. Girl. Our choice of a name clearly wouldn’t work. And 99% of the clothing and accessories we had so generously been showered with wouldn’t work.
We hadn’t intentionally meant to “genderize” our unborn child, really. I wasn’t a particularly feminine child; I ran with the boys, climbed trees, played soccer and dug holes with the best of the neighborhood crowd. But in our anticipation of receiving a girl child, it seems that we accepted, along with the majority of traditional western parents and grandparents, that our little one would have a propensity for silk and fluff and roses. We found ourselves in an interesting situation, and all sorts of questions popped up for which we had no immediate answers.
Among them, the health care team asked if we planned to circumcise him. This procedure, within hours of his birth, seemed a little harsh; though I understand it isn’t uncommon. We opted to wait.
As we drove home for the first time with our son, I hovered over the tiny sleeping person in the car seat. I listened to him breathe. I watched in wonder at this little boy who had joined us in the real live world, more or less totally unexpected.
Did I still want a girl?
In my arms I held the perfect tiny creature I had been intimately getting to know for the past nine months. But I did feel a huge sense of loss. For the first time, I acknowledged to myself what I had been silently holding for months – that by bringing a daughter into my family’s and my life, I would somehow make it better that I had – we had – lost a sister, a daughter, a wife. I wasn’t prepared to let go of the image of the little girl whom I’d already decided would help me move a little closer to surviving the loss of my sister. This unconsciously made decision wasn’t really fair to the child or to my sister, actually. But when the technician told us we were having a girl, my mind naturally went in that direction – would she look like me? (aka would she look like my sister?) Would she do the things that we like (liked) to do? Would she read and run and write and play soccer and laugh like us?
Would she be a Padilla girl? I’ll never know, because the little one I thought I’d be meeting on June 14 turned out to be someone entirely different.
Today I’m more in love with my son, and his little brother, than I could have ever thought possible. As the years go by, the love grows stronger and I’ve learned so much about boys. And I wouldn’t trade either of them for a million little girls.
My general opinion now is that boys rock! (even if they don’t wear a whole lotta pink)
Check out this video if you don’t believe me.