This is the story of an anti-girly girl who once mockingly stuck her finger down her throat at the sight of virtually anything pink. About a woman who wanted a son. About a woman, who, after giving birth to one, hoped, swayed, and prayed for a repeat.
This is the story about a woman who, while lying on the gurney during her baby’s gender reveal, felt a pulling from somewhere deep inside—her uterus, perhaps?—that things weren’t going to go her way.
When my nurse told me that my baby was indeed a girl, I felt blind-sided and defeated. But the most palpable emotion stirring inside me was pure, unadulterated fear. Yes, I was a girl once, but the notion of mothering one felt oddly foreign.
Boys, on the other hand, were what I knew: Rambunctiousness, grit, toughness. That’s what I was banking for.
Rationally, of course, I knew I had let my emotions take over. I was pregnant, for God’s sake…again. Without really having to try. Apparently, my AMA (read: Advanced Maternal Age) eggs still had it, and here I was bellyaching over gender. There were women who would trade places with me in a New York minute.
I knew this.
I was embarrassed by how I felt. But that’s the thing about emotions: Just try and tell yourself that they don’t matter, particularly when you’re so invested in a particular outcome. See how far that gets you.
That said, I knew I couldn’t go on this way, denying my daughter perfectly good energy that I had been using to mourn a son that wasn’t to be. I had heard nightmarish tales about women who were never able to jump this hurdle, who even kept a box of clothes from their desired gender stowed away in the attic. I didn’t want this to be me. So I started reading books, you know, to cope.
I was, in fact, reading one of those books while I waited to be seen by a prenatal specialist. A week prior, my OB had determined that one of my daughter’s kidneys was enlarged, a condition known as hydronephrosis.
I was completely convinced that The Universe was trying to tell me something. So you want to create problems, huh? You want to take things for granted?
This scared me straight.
But only for a minute.
By my third trimester, we were in the clear, and the growth of my daughter’s kidney had leveled.
And I was back to square one. Afraid. Frightened that I would somehow mess this girl up. She deserved a mother who would delight in playing My Little Pony and searching for prom dresses, and I had already written myself off as someone who couldn’t even fake the funk.
My daughter is nine months old as I write this. I wish I could say that my taste of gender disappointment taught me how to appreciate what I’ve got, that it was, in hindsight, a blessing in disguise. Truthfully, I don’t know what to make of it all. All I know is that this was never about love; I never questioned my love. Rather, it was about expectation.
I also know that, fortunately, when my daughter was placed in my arms for the very first time, Nothing. Else. Mattered. I accepted her completely. Whether she will one day splash in muddy puddles like her brother, or sleep with a glitter-covered wand, I want her to be herself.
I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but I know in my bones that there is good stuff here. Perfect stuff. I wouldn’t say that I’ve got this, no. I’m winging it for sure. (Truth be told, I’m winging it with my son, too; do we ever truly have this motherhood thing licked?) But I know that the love I harbor for my daughter is so deep, and so natural, it defies logic.
And guess what else I’ve learned?
Pink ain’t so bad.
More from health