Friday, November 12, 2010

I was surprised by a girl.

I didn’t care about gender when I argued for a bigger family. I just knew I wanted more kids. But heading into our ultrasound last week, I was two-for-two. I just had that feeling, both times, that we were having a girl. I felt it so strongly with my second daughter that I had already purchased matching sister outfits for them. This time around, everything felt very different. I was sicker and more tired. My cravings were different. My belly had a different shape. For the first time, it occurred to me that perhaps this time, we were having a boy.

It probably impacted my neutrality somewhat that my younger daughter was insistent on how much she wanted a little brother. It surprised me until a few days before the ultrasound. We were spending the evening with some friends who have two boys that are close in age with my girl. She shocked me. The three of them were chasing the dog, playing sneaky hide and seek games, even tackling each other and wrestling on the ground. I started feeling nervous that things were getting too rough, but I was wrong. She was loving every second. Her older sister would have been crying a river if she’d taken those blows, but my little girl had a blast. A light bulb went on in my head and I realized why she was so adamant about wanting a brother. There’s this whole other rambunctious, fun-loving side of her that she only gets to express on the playground and the monkey bars. I knew from early on that she was a climber and that she was harder on the furniture and the dog than I ever remember being, but seeing her with her two buddies, knocking around like a maniac, I realized there’s a gap for her that her sister and I simply do not fill. For as much as she loves Barbies and dress up, she still longs for a Wild Catawampus now and then. No wonder she begs for dates with Daddy.

So I left our friends’ place that night thinking this little baby must surely be a boy. Most certainly, God knew my girl needed a brother. I embraced the possibility that we were going to get to pass on my grandpa’s name. I began to deal with my fears about whether to circumcise him, and just how awful our house was going to smell in another ten years when perspiration kicked in. I found myself contemplating whether to argue for a fourth child, so that our son wouldn’t be the lonely baby brother of two doting big sisters.

Someone else's baby girl, but you get the idea.
 None of this would matter, if the ultrasound had revealed an anatomical malady in our baby; all our attention and concern would rightly be on our baby’s health. But because all of the important stuff was perfect, the last step in the screening is what stunned us. What my aunt referred to as the “it” shot – there it was. The third time around, we did not need the tech to confirm for us; those were girl-parts. I looked over at my husband – he, too, looked shocked.

As soon as the tech left the room, we began to strategize for how we were going to break the news to the girls. We wanted to ease them into it, so that our younger daughter could get caught up in our joy over her new sister, instead of being disappointed. We put a pink balloon on the mailbox as their first clue, so that as they walked home from school and saw it, the idea could sink in before being confirmed. My husband videoed the girls through a window to capture their reactions. Sure enough, our younger daughter initially fell silent and looked shocked, but by the time we met her at the door with our enthusiastic confirmation, she hugged me tight, kissed my belly, and chattered affirmations to the baby; bringing joyful tears to our eyes. God knows best, after all.

While “trying for a boy” was not a factor for me in having more kids, I have to admit that the realization that I’m never going to have a son has struck me this week. It is unlikely that my husband is going to agree to have any more kids, so this was it. Somehow, as life plays out and time goes by, there are some things you have to let go of. I’m the mother of daughters. I can love my nephews and play with my friends’ kids. I can do my best to nurture the guys who come through the youth group; I can feel gratitude for great relationships with the men in my life; but I’ll never know what it’s like to have a son. What I can and will do, however, is teach my three daughters there’s nothing second-class about being female – and to love Star Wars and Cyclone Football, so there.

Come, my children, listen as I teach you to respect the LORD. Psalm 34:11


  1. Can't believe I missed this beautiful post... I am SO excited that another girl is going to be raised by you... actually the thought brings tears to my eyes. What lucky lucky daughters you have!!! We need more little Emily's in this world! Wish I was kindered-spirit-cousin-in-law :)!

  2. I know we'd have the best tea parties! :)