17 Jul

I always knew I’d need to know whether my baby was a boy or a girl as soon as technology would allow. I assumed that this fetus who’d taken up residence was a girl — of course, obviously, what else would I have? — but the ultrasound would confirm it before I started counting my chickens, which I had already begun doing. Buying girls’ clothes, picking girls’ names. My baby was a girl (are you listening in there, baby? You ARE A GIRL. Got it?). The ultrasound technician and her apprentice took a moment looking at different views just to be absolutely sure, but even as she placed the wand on my belly for the first time she said it was unmistakable. She asked if we had a guess. “Oh, we’ll be happy either way,” I lied. She announced it was a boy and I thought she was joking except for the sinking feeling that accompanied the obviousness of the fact that she was not joking. No, wait. Not joking. She was smiling, but not the joking kind of smile. The expectant smile that comes with telling someone the true and actual sex of the baby she is carrying. I am no actress, but I’d like to think I fooled her. I didn’t cry or anything, and I cooed sufficiently — honestly — at the images of my baby wiggling around on the screen. In the dimness of that room, my expectations changed entirely. A boy. Damn.
Telling people you are disappointed about your baby’s sex is not a way to make friends. People will tell you stories of their aunt who spent her whole life trying to conceive, whose marriage was broken by infertility and who died a lonely old spinster. They will tell you of miscarriages and deformities and do their best to shame you about your feelings, insinuating that disappointment with any aspect of pregnancy or parenthood renders you an ingrate who probably doesn’t deserve to bear children. Or even look at them. People are ridiculously vitriolic.
Finding out George’s sex before his birth was my plan for avoiding what I thought may have otherwise happened AT his birth. The midwife exclaiming “it’s a boy!” to anything other than raucous joy was not an option. So I spent the second half of my pregnancy getting ready for a boy. Boy clothes. Boy names. Boy mindset. My floors would be muddy and I’d have nobody to approve outfits before ballet performances, leaving a hopeful little tutu’d toddler with her grandma while papa and I had a date. The absurd visions of putting on lipstick together at a vanity were dashed. Nevermind that I neither wear lipstick nor own a vanity.

Of course, as most anyone who’s been in this situation will tell you, it was moot by the time I went into labor. I was over the moon, thrilled beyond comprehension with the person to whom I gave birth. And as we settled into life together, I realized that his sex and his gender and his interests were not interchangeable. Um, no doy. It was one of those WTF moments I’d like to think we all have with ourselves wherein you figuratively slink away from the scene of your spectacular figurative fall and hope either nobody saw or everyone was figuratively drunk and had their own embarrassments to worry about.
The other day, as I tried on the skirt I bought to wear to some friends’ wedding, I twirled around and asked what George thought. In the mirror I saw him grin and giggle and lay his head down on the bed to watch me. Maybe there’s a tutu’d toddler in my future after all.


4 Responses to “vanity”

  1. Jess July 17, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    Hahaha! I love your writing style 🙂

    I was the same. I was convinced I was having a girl and found myself looking at girls’ clothes when out shopping. So we found out at 20 weeks pregnant. I didn’t want to have to adjust once the baby arrived. Well, it took two days to get my head around having a little boy! And, oh my, how good is it being able to see ‘he is kicking me’ rather than ‘it is kicking me’??


    • veryveryfine July 17, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

      thanks, Jess! glad you’ve found me. your blog is great and your little boy is so cute! hooray for boys!

  2. Victoria July 17, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    Beautiful post! Thank you for being so honest about something that is rarely spoken about.

    I assumed I would have a girl first because I was an older sister to a younger brother and in my mind that was just the way it would work out but I love the unpredictableness.

    • veryveryfine July 18, 2010 at 12:31 am #

      thank you, victoria! aren’t those ideas about how parenthood is “supposed” to be just a kick in the pants? i don’t think i’ve been right once yet.

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