Today we celebrate the birth of our 4th child! I decided it was the perfect time for me to finally set the record straight. My decision was solidified when I spoke to my dear cousin today and when I mentioned that the baby was turning 1, her response was “Are you going to try for a boy?”.
If I had a dollar for every time I was asked that question……
Let’s start with the fact that ODC and I have never “tried” to have a baby. We are not dummies, and we understand Sex 101 and where babies come from. As a married couple, birth control has just never been high on the priority list (and that probably explains why we have four children under the age of 10!). When we were married, we knew we wanted children; you know, a boy and girl, that’s the perfect family right? Well fast forward to a month after our wedding and we received a wedding gift that we were not expecting. (as much as ODC wants to believe the baby was conceived on our honeymoon, in paradise, aka Maui, Hawaii, I know the exact moment it happened, once we were back home, in good ole’ Washington, DC).
The following pregnancies pretty much followed the same protocol. To be completely honest, I cried every time I saw that + sign. I have never thought I was “done”, but for whatever reason, in my mind, the timings was never quite right. What I know now is that there will always be “something” and there is never a “perfect” time.
We have never found out the sex of any of our children. This has provided extreme excitement as well as unbearable anxiety for me. When it was just an idea and not a reality, a boy and a girl was what I thought I was “supposed” to want. Once I entered into the reality of having a baby, all bets were off for me. It all started with my first pregnancy and the 90% of people telling me I was having a boy. I think I have an underdog syndrome, I don’t like to go with the majority. As much as I wanted to prove these “street corner sonogram technicians” wrong, I even started believing I was having a boy. These feelings were almost confirmed by my midwife and the ultrasound techinician. Although we said we didn’t want to know the sex, comments like “Oh, yeah, I can tell what it is” and “You can’t see it???” all made me believe if it was THAT obvious, I must be having a boy. (Not to mention, the sonogram picture looked just like ODC!)
As the time drew nearer, and the predictions were at an all time high, my desire for a girl intensified. ODC remained calm and cavalier, stating that he honestly didn’t have a preference, but he believed the baby was a girl. Fast forward to the delivery room and when I heard my midwife say “It’s A Girl!”, I was beyond thrilled and excited.
So, I got my way and proved all those wives-tales wrong! You would think that would be enough, right? Well it wasn’t. It got worse. My 2nd pregnancy, of course, “I HAD to have a boy”, you know, I already had a girl. Well not in my mind. I wanted another girl. This time around we were having a home birth and we decided not to have any ultrasounds. No peeks for anyone! People think it’s crazy not to want to know, but I love it, I guess it’s the “Outta Da Box” part of me. I still had to deal with the “Boy” comments, but ODC, once again, remained neutral. I would ask him “Don’t you want a boy?” and he would honestly say he didn’t care. Experiencing my first homebirth was beyond anything I could imagine, being the one to identify the sex of my baby was such an amazing moment. Announcing “IT”S A GIRL!” to a room of family and friends was unforgetable!
Surprise….Baby #3! Everything was pretty much the same as the previous two in terms of the comments and predictions. It seemed like the more girls I had, the more I HAD to have a boy in some people’s minds. At this point, I began to open up to some close friends and try to explore my feelings and figure out why I
desperately was praying for wanted yet ANOTHER girl! Maybe it was because it was all I knew. I’m the oldest of 3, and I have a sister and brother. I am 10 years older than my brother, so we didn’t really grow up being close because of our age difference. My sister had 2 girls before I had children, and I had never witnessed this picturesque image of these little boys who loved their mothers sooo much that people would tell me about in their effort to convince me of why “I needed a son”. I loved my husband, I loved my dad, but neither of these relationships equated to my desire for a boy. I started journaling at this point and I was very honest with God about my feelings. I started to visit Babycenter.com and I came across a group called “Disappointed in Gender”. I started to discover that there were many women, like me, who had a STRONG preference for one gender over another. This is also when I realized that these feelings are often considered taboo. So much so, that this group is now a private group. I sincerely do not want to be insensitive and minimize the feelings of those who have had difficulty conceiving or experienced the devastating loss of child. It goes without saying that a healthy baby and mom is the main objective. I am only being transparent and sharing my honest,”human” feelings.
One day I heard God tell me very plainly, not to go back on that site. I think it was making my anxiety escalate to another level. Well, you all know how this one ends…complete bliss, 2nd fantastic homebirth and…A GIRL!
Number 4 hits the scene and now ODC wants to get in on the act. He’s had enough of this girl stuff, and doggone it…he wants a Boy! So now along with people “laying hands on me” (“in the name of Jesus” no less), strangers commenting, Facebook statuses, one of my closest friends calling my baby “Jonathan”, daily proclamations from my gym family, family pressure, I am living with my outspoken husband who is declaring and taking every opportunity to tease me by saying: this baby is a boy! The opinions have now intensified; “Your poor husband”, “You need some testosterone in your house”. For that one, I had a comeback: “Obviously you don’t know my husband, he has enough testosterone for our whole neighborhood!” At this point, I realize that I am being selfish and when I try to sort out my feelings to ODC, I get nowhere. He tells me I am “wrong” for having a preference and I accept the fact that he’s not going to understand. (But secretly, when we would get into a little spat, I would think to myself “I hope we have another girl, so there!”).
I once again confide in some of my closest friends and admit that I can’t shake this girl thing. I pray, I journal, I even talk to my midwife. I explore the realities of raising a brown boy in this country. Even with a black president, the stereotypes still exist. Even with an excellent, husband, who is a wonderful father, a little boy was something I couldn’t see myself having. I start to blame my age; “I’m too old to keep up with a boy”, “I need to stick with what I know”. These were all excuses, I simply wanted Baby Girl #4.
Please don’t ever ask ODC about my reaction when I looked and realized #4 was a GIRL….he says you would have thought that I had 3 boys and this was my first girl! Im on a roll!! I start setting my sights on my great-great grandmother, she had 8 GIRLS…lovely! (the only difference is that she just may have been “trying” for a boy, #9 was a boy and then she was done, lol!)
It is interesting to watch the dynamics that exist surrounding gender in this country. It’s an unspoken rule that your family is not “complete” unless you have at least 1 boy and 1 girl. Oh and don’t keep having children after you already have one of each sex….I’ll save that for the book. If you continue having children, after having 2 or more of the same gender, than you are no doubt “trying” for what you don’t already have.
One year later, and now that the extreme hormones have subsided, I still try to sort through my feelings. I recently read a post by PhD in Parenting titled Bias Against Boys. The blog post resonated with me and captured some of my unspoken thoughts and fears. My experiences have made me very sensitive about women’s feelings during pregnancy. I never make assumptions about the gender, the number of children, or anything for that matter. I thank God for my daughters! All of the wise cracks about periods, hormones, hair, and the like don’t phase me at all.
So, now you know that I’m not “trying” for a boy and if I am blessed to have another child, it wasn’t in an effort to have a boy (although the book I found that ODC checked out of the library may mean that he, on the other hand, has other plans……To Be Continued).