Any pregnant woman – or indeed partner of a pregnant woman – will be able to tell you that a huge amount of the pregnancy is spent answering pretty much the same questions over and over again. I remember quite vividly, whilst pregnant with their first, my sister in law telling me she was considering getting a tee shirt made with all the answers printed on the front of it just to give her a break from repeating herself. It’s just one of those inevitable things that comes with the territory of publicly declaring the pitter-patter of tiny feet. When are you due? Are you going to find out the gender? How are you feeling? Did you know that your life is over and that you are never going to sleep again?? You know, the usual fodder… Some of these questions though appear to have only one appropriate answer, and one in particular has raised it’s head for me recently.
We have just passed 22 weeks of pregnancy, and this means that a couple of weeks ago we had that all important scan – the one in which you may be able to find out if you are having a little boy or a little girl. Dan and I made the decision early on that we didn’t want to know what we were having – so much of pregnancy seems to be a list of dictations about what you should and shouldn’t do and has been far more functional and far less joyful than we’d expected it to be, so we both felt quite passionate about leaving something up to nature and saving a surprise for the end. Neither of us are into heavily gendered stereotyping like pink for a girl and blue for a boy, so we weren’t concerned about ‘planning’, and the idea that we won’t really know who our little bundle is until we meet them for the first time really appealed, so we stuck to our guns and asked the sonographer to keep the sex firmly under wraps. This seems to surprise a lot of people – we’re one of the very few people I know expecting recently or in the near future who didn’t want to know – and when we tell people it always seems to bring the same query – ‘But which one do you want?’
And this is where things get awkward, because we all know you are only supposed to say one thing. You are supposed to pat your rounded bump and smugly say, ‘Oh we don’t care, as long as it’s healthy…’ Anything else, would frankly be a travesty. I know this, because I have answered honestly a few times now and found for myself that no-one really wants to know the true answer, because if you dare to say one or the other you must be an incredibly selfish person who is only procreating for your own self-indulgent desires and don’t really love the thing that’s growing in your belly, as though if you end up with the opposite you are going to throw it back in the Midwife’s face and demand another! But I don’t think that is fair, and here is why.
I want a girl. There, I said it. I want a girl quite desperately. Whenever I picture this child of mine I see a girl and I can’t help it. You see, I am one of many girls. My brother was a lot older than me and off at University for my earlier memories, and so far the female trend has continued with him bringing two Nieces into my life. I’ve just never really been around little boys, I know absolutely nothing about them, and to be honest, the thought of raising one terrifies me a little. How would I bond with him? What would I teach him? Would he and Dan form a tight little unit without me and leave me watching from the sidelines? And here is the part I hate to admit the most – part of the reason I was happy to leave the gender as a surprise is because a part of me is genuinely concerned that that if they told me my baby was a boy I might be visibly disappointed, and then everyone would think I was an awful, awful person!
But here is the key thing. I am a sensible person. I know that all of this is in my head. I know that the gender of my child doesn’t in any way guarantee a certain personality, certain likes and dislikes or a lesser connection between us. And most of all, I know that at that moment they hand me a tiny, living human being that I’ve grown inside me for 9 months, someone that is half me and half Dan and completely and utterly dependent on us, I know for a fact that I won’t care diddly squat. I wont give a damn if it has a penis or a vagina or a god damn second head for that matter, I will just be overjoyed and thankful that it’s finally here, safe and sound. For now though, I don’t feel like I should have to lie about the fact I hanker for a daughter of my own for fear of someone telling me I’m having children for the wrong reasons or that I’m ungrateful and not able to see how lucky I am for being able to even have a child, let alone one of a specific gender – I know 100% that this baby is a blessing and something I will be thankful for for the rest of my life. Why can’t we just be allowed to feel things instead of just saying ‘the right thing’ all the time?
Answers on a postcard, please!