but i knew it all along, and you... you thought differently. which is fine with me, because there's nothing i like better than to stubbornly hold on to a minority position or point of view that no one will back me on, and argue and argue and argue. the icing on the cake is that occasionally i'm right. just often enough, in fact, that it encourages me to continue this behavior! ah, life.
so you were all wrong, and we had a girl. but let's back up a bit, shall we?
once it became obvious that lb was doing the good lord's work and growing a tiny human put inside her by santa clause, people EVERYWHERE had an opinion regarding the sex of said piece of work. they got so excited. complete strangers wanted to know when we were due, etc. i would yell at them and say that she's actually just fat and how could they be so insensitive? unfortunately for me, we were directly related to some of these people, which made a few holidays uncomfortable. sorry for ruining easter, nana.
it turns out that once you're pregnant, all the people of the earth are experts on predicting what you will have. once we told people that no, we didn't know what it was, that we were waiting, they would size up the worthy vessel that was my wife, consult the spirit world or whatever, and proclaim- it's a boy, or- it's a girl! thanks a lot assholes, we said we were WAITING.
the most entertaining part of the process came at the point where the method of sex-dowsing(sounds dirtier than it is) was revealed to us: it's the shape of your belly, if it sits forward it's a boy, if it sits out to the sides it's a girl; if the woman was on top during conception it's a ninety-five percent chance it's a girl(none of your business); if ovulation came under a full moon, it's a boy; if you gargled the star spangled banner, have six toes on your left foot, and have a birthmark in the shape of wisconsin just below your bellybutton, it's a...
seriously? yes. there were even some silly ones that came from books. y'know, books? the truthiest door stops or bug killers we as the human race possess? exactly yes. them.
and what really made me mad was that more than half(a number that, incidentally, would give you a win anywhere but in america) predicted a boy. and they stood a fifty percent chance of being right. and i didn't want a boy. and i can only say this now, after the fact. but i'll get to that in a bit.
i knew that these people, and a few of these experts, were making this stuff up and could not possibly determine the sex of our child based on the criteria they cited. there are really only two ways to accurately determine the gender. they are an ultrasound, and birth. and believe it or not, even those have been wrong on occasion. it's true, ultrasound technology has come a long way, and there's not much they can't see with those machines, but sometimes something looks like one thing, and ends up being another. many a pink or blue color scheme has been rendered inappropriate(to those who care for such things) based on the "results" of this technology. and we heard at least two stories of gender proclamations at delivery that turned out to be, well, a little hasty. there's a lot of stuff that comes out along with the baby. sometimes you have to clean them off before you really know what you have.
when we first got pregnant, we decided that we didn't want to know ahead of time what it was. well, i decided. not in an iron fist, putting my foot down, man of the house kind of way. we just had one of those moments where we were discussing for the first time which we would prefer, and i said ignorance, and lb said clarity. and ignorance won. we talked about it a little bit and lb decided it would be more fun to be ignorant.
so then we started really trying to wrap our heads around the idea of this little anonymous person coming into our lives, and we occasionally got freaked out. you realize that everything will change, things will be different, your old life is no more. we were able to rationalize this part away by examining our lives as we currently lived them: we don't do ribbon cuttings, museum openings, and our speaking tours are currently on hold; we don't entertain, don't stay up late, etc. the only way this baby could cramp our style would be for it to already have a facebook profile and pre-scheduled play dates when it was born. we were going to be ok on that one. and so help me god if i raise an extrovert...
soooooo, what else could we worry about? money? we were ok there too. lb's grandfather had left money to each of the grandkids and we were using hers to have this baby. not a lot, but enough to subsidize some child care and cover some necessities.
how about health? there's an early screen they do that determines the risk level for down syndrome and some other things, and we were ok there too. there were some irrational fears, too, of course. but there's no need to get into them here. we can save those for the birth story. which is coming. i swear.
having eliminated some of our surface-level concerns, it was time to really get into it. to go deep into the way back of our minds, way back to the place in each of us...
where we both really wanted a girl. screw healthy. screw happy. if the moment of truth came and it was a boy, we would not be getting what we wanted. but neither of us would openly admit this. not to ourselves, not to each other. to confront this is to confront the guilt you feel over preferring one sex to another, when the sex has not even revealed itself to you. we knew that if it was a boy we would love it. but we also knew that we would feel guilty about wanting it to be a girl. we would not, however, feel guilty about giving 'him' a girly name and dressing 'him' in dresses. we would deal with our guilt ahead of time so as not to damage our child with it.
and i say 'we' here, but i don't mean to speak for my wife. in the time that we've had to talk about things since beatrix was born, we've realized that we're generally on the same page about things. but the majority of the sentiment is mine, as only i could know how i truly felt, only she could know how she truly felt, and so on.
and once we established we would not find out the sex ahead of time, we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of having both boys and girls. that in itself is a whole 'nother entry. suffice it to say that things balanced quite often, and i found myself going back and forth over which i would prefer. but my first inclination, my gut instinct, said 'girl.' i would imagine scenarios specific to each gender and myself as a father. my little girl. my son. i felt i would really be okay with either one, but i wanted to think about why i had initially gravitated so strongly towards having a girl.
my first real exposure to the world of babies came when my baby sister ashley was born. i was twelve, my mom and step-father both worked, and i was the oldest with my sister jamie about four years behind me. so i warmed formula or breast milk mom had pumped, gave bottles, changed diapers, etc. and as she got to be a little older, i read bedtime stories, took her for walks, continued to change her diapers (the kid pooped like you wouldn't believe), taught her to tie her shoelaces, made a mean ponytail, and even dabbled in some crude braid-work. i don't know why, but i freaking loved that kid. i was twelve, ornery, and, well, twelve. why did i care about this baby? why wasn't i resentful of the time she commanded? i'm told that it's highly unusual for a child as old as twelve to get along so well with a sibling so much younger. and that's far from the first time someone has referred to me as highly unusual. but still.
even worse, two years after that my baby brother seth was born. great. two babies. and i loved him too, the little bastard. i just thought these guys were awesome. don't get me wrong, there was many a day that i would go directly home from school to babysit my stupid sisters and brother. by the time sethie(as we had decided to call him) had come along, jamie was a little older and helped out more. and i don't mean to make it sound like we were a family of children, parentless in the wilderness, foraging for nuts and berries, all alone in the cruel, cruel world. in fact, i was thinking back to when ash and seth were little, and i couldn't remember them being particularly fussy. which i thought was odd until i realized that any time they were being difficult, i wasn't involved. a little revisionist history going on there. looking back, i really only remember the love, and only a little of the frustrations. and i honestly believe those memories to be accurate. i had issues, but never with ashley or seth. the dynamic between jamie and me, again, is a whole 'nother entry. it's complicated, but has a happy ending. let's just say that if there's one person that can go toe to toe with me on most things, it's jamie beth.
when it came time to consider the sex of my own child(so that we could place our order with the gene lab) i instantly reverted back to the last major baby-type change in my life and thinking of my time with ashley, wanted a girl. had sethie come first, i may have wanted a boy.
another reason i leaned towards a girl was that while i had a little more time to see ashley grow and become a little person, i had missed out on the fun boy stuff with seth when i went away to college. he was four when i left home and was coming into his own, but wasn't quite there yet. he'd develop interests, start sports, etc. all while i was away.
seth could throw a perfect spiral the first time he touched a football. and he's got the cutest knees.
i'm not someone who carries lots of regrets around. i think that all of the things good or bad that happen contribute to the person you are becoming. take some of them away or change them, and you detract from and change yourself. but i really regret not being home more during this time. there is a huge gap there that i will never fill. on the one hand, i'm glad i missed the teenage years. on the other, i feel like a deadbeat who skipped out for a while. at the very least i could have saved him from some bad haircuts(yes, mams, i'm talking to you...). you would think this would make me want a boy, to fill in those gaps, right? well, no. i still wanted a girl.
and i really think it's because i had a much more complete vision of life with a little girl. it became my default setting. as time went on, i had to work in the idea of a little boy. and i liked it. so i went back and forth. for a few weeks i would really want a boy. then for a few weeks i would go back to wanting a girl. but even in the times i looked forward to having a boy, i secretly just wanted a girl. i pictured my little blonde daughter-my wife's a blonde so it stands to reason, right? ashley is a blonde also, so it fit with the theme of regression i had going. i pictured pig tails, frilly one-piece bathing suits at the beach, and most importantly- passing the body changes/sex talk off to my wife when it came time. but i'll re-read "are you there, god? it's me margaret" one more time between now and then, just in case.
i always pictured a brown-haired baby, though. and when i saw that little brown head poking out of, um, the stork's basket, i was not in the least bit surprised. so now i have a brown-haired little girl and every once in a while i just look at her and think- 'you chubby little cheeseneck.' and then i also think it's weird that she has brown hair like daddy. and bringing this all back to the original premise of the post, lb and i will look at her, then each other, and say 'we have a girl,' or 'that's our daughter,' or 'she's a girl.' we just can't believe it.
because you all said it was going to be a boy. that's what you're 'feeling' was telling you. and as teed likes to say, we drank the kool-aid. we listened to the majority and believed it, to the extent that we needed to prepare ourselves for that eventuality. i guess we should thank you all for that. i hoped for a girl, but had come to terms with the fact that it may be a boy, only because i was afraid to hope for the thing i really wanted. but i got it anyway:
and so the moral of the entry is: Don't Do Drugs. amen.