I know I’m not the only mom in the universe who is a self-diagnosed control freak. In fact, if I were to wager a bet, I would presume there are more control freak moms out there than not. But in all honesty, I tend to raise the bar on both the control and the freak.
I plan, I prepare, I have it all set in my mind to happen in a certain way at a certain time. When my plans melt away to mush, I have the occasional breakdown and then pick myself back up off the floor slowly and surely.
So, after I had my daughter, I planned and prepared. I knew that I would be having a boy the second time around. I don’t even think I put a second thought into place. It was just the way it was going to be. I knew I wanted two children, no more, no less. I knew I wanted one of each. I knew that I wanted to wait three-four years between them. Then, when birth control failed me like no other, and I became pregnant
with my second child 28 months after my first child’s birth, I was forced to experience an episode of said aforementioned meltdown.
But I handled it. I accepted the nine, no, ten months of no wine. (It’s ten months. Why do we allow the world to be so underhanded as not to count every single momentous day we spend pregnant? It’s TEN MONTHS!). I budgeted for baby number two, I scheduled my doctors’ appointments accordingly, and I cold-turkeyed off of my beloved medications that seemed to be on track finally and working perfectly in keeping my anxiety at bay.
In fact, I only truly freaked out the night I found out I was with child, and really it came from the shock of just “how” all while sipping diet coke from a wine glass that my sister had handed to me, you know, to make me feel “comfortable” since wine was now a thing of the past.
Now, as someone who was under the age of 30 at the time, I had to wait out the gender reveal the old-fashioned way. Apparently, for expectant mothers OVER 30, a blood test 6-10 weeks in tells all, but alas, not for my 29-year-old body. I had to do it old school. If you Google it, it says gender can be determined with an anatomy scan at 15 weeks. However, if you visit my OBGYN, you get tortured into waiting 5 more weeks, just in case, so they know for certain, and because that’s when they can schedule you….. because, life.
Alas, I waited. And then on D-Day, I showed up, ready to see my baby boy. You see, it wasn’t even so much that I had planned for it to happen this way. There was an actual reason for why I was so intent on it being a boy in the first place. My fiance, Henry (one of FIVE children, yeah, no), is Henry III. So, apparently, it is unacceptable for any man to NOT pass the family name down with an additional roman number at the end of his name. And because my pregnancy with my daughter had not been so easy, and the second one was already difficult in many ways, I knew this was him… Henry IV. He was in there; he was healthy, he looked like his Dad, this would be my final pregnancy, my final child, my final LABOR… It was all certain.
And then the ultrasound technician turned my world in reverse. Girl. It was a girl. As if that mere moment that she uttered the word was not truly traumatizing enough, in the sense that any idea of Henry IV being in my belly was destroyed in a single moment, my unknowing significant other mutters the worst possible thing he could have. “Are you 100% sure it’s a girl?” Really! Really? Really.
I stomached up the courage to nod my head and force a smile. I thanked the tech, and I rubbed the jelly off my own jelly and kept my head down, memorizing my feet. I bit my lip, I sucked in just enough oxygen to keep me from turning blue, and I headed to the car with my entourage in silent tow.
Once inside my car, free from the judgment of any of the medical staff at my doctor’s office and out of earshot of innocent bystanders, I cried. No, I think it would be more accurate to say I sobbed.
It all just came flooding out, and I had no control over anything, not my tears, not my mood, not my anxiety, and certainly not the gender of the baby inside my belly.
I will share the next candid thoughts I processed with you in a moment of true, unadulterated honesty. I beg you to do all you can to withhold judgment, to do your best to relate to me in my moment of despair. In this extreme time frame in my life, I had absolutely no say in how I felt. It’s scary and sad to think that, but I know that it’s true because otherwise, I would have never in a million years allowed myself to process those feelings… these feelings I will share with you now.
I didn’t just cry. I felt a loss. It was as if there had actually been a male child in my womb, and I had lost him. I had initially created the existence of him as far back as my journey postpartum with my first daughter when I began ridding our home of anything pink or girly in anticipation for our eventual, next, male child.
I had given him a name. In fact, the name was where the desire had stemmed from, as I have already shared. And all of that built up to this boy that was actually not inside of me, that had never been inside of me and had ceased to exist. For the first time in my entire “mom life,” I didn’t even want to be a mom.
The sadness I was experiencing was debilitating. It rendered me void of that maternal joy and glow… I truly, and honestly, sadly did not want to be pregnant anymore. I got home and laid in bed for hours. Those hours felt like days. I remember it was a Saturday, and I was so grateful that I didn’t have any expectation of facing the outside world because, quite frankly, I didn’t want to. I wanted to cry and mourn my baby boy.
I cried until the tears ran out. I was most likely dehydrated, as I refused to eat or drink as I hid from the confines of my life in my dark bedroom. My fiance caught on, as you can imagine – the sobbing screams and temper tantrum I threw on my way home from the ultrasound got that message across clearly. “Did you REALLY HAVE TO SAY THAT THEN?? HOW INSENSITIVE CAN YOU BE? THIS IS YOUR FAULT, YOU KNOW. I CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN.” I was so wretched to him. I was wretched to myself. But you know what?
I was most wretched to that beautiful baby girl inside of me. I was so unfair to her.
In between the crying, sleeping, sobbing, and Netflix binge of God knows what trash, I Googled. I came onto blog and article after blog and article about something called “gender disappointment.”
There was a name to it. It was a real thing. I wasn’t insane. However, more importantly, I wasn’t alone.
Knowing other moms-to-be out there had experienced this very same reaction, and emotion made me not feel like the terrible human being I thought I was.
It made me realize that I am prone to human ERROR as a human, and that includes errors made only in judgment. I knew what I was feeling was wrong, but I didn’t expect it to have happened to anyone else. Why had I never heard about it? Why was this not something I read about during my first pregnancy when I memorized the chapters of “What to Expect…”
Had I known I wasn’t alone, I may have dealt with it even better. And so, just knowing that I was not the first mom to face disappointment because of the gender of my baby to be, I was able to swallow the sadness and accept the way I was feeling at face value, no more, no less.
When I woke up the Sunday morning after having had my Saturday to myself, I sat in bed quietly as I rubbed my tummy and thought quietly about my future while my significant other slept soundly beside me. I was one of two girls. I now had a little sister for my McKenna to grow up with, just like I had had growing up. She would have a best friend less than two years younger than she was, someone to play with, someone to joke with, someone to challenge Dad and Mom with. She could teach her how to do everything. They could go to Girl Scouts together. They could wear matching outfits and hair bows. They could have a bond just like the one I share with my own little sister, maybe even stronger.
Suddenly, one thought at a time, things didn’t look so bleak anymore. I would, should we decide not to have a third child, grow up with a nuclear family modeled exactly after the one I came from myself. It was a familiarity that warmed my heart just enough to allow me to open the window, let the sun in, find my McKenna in her bedroom, and hug her tightly to me while sharing the new joy and excitement surrounding the new addition to our family. I told her all about the kind of big sister she could be, and I shared my many plans for them with my unknowing 21-month-old.
Because I allowed myself that Saturday to mourn my son, I allowed myself the time to heal and grow from the disappointment and the experience of not being able to control one of the most important factors of my life.
I also allowed myself the time to grow comfortable, and more importantly, energetically excited for the new bundle of joy I had to plan for. I had plenty of shopping to do. I had names to think about and research. And I had a gender reveal announcement to plan to surprise everyone who, just like me, couldn’t have ever expected the unexpected.
Madeline Yolanda was born on August 10th. Henry and I chose a first name we both loved and a middle name taken from my Grandmother, one of the most important people in my life whom I have unfortunately lost. Had I not had this second daughter, I wouldn’t have had the chance to name a girl after her. It was another positive to having baby girl number 2.
Unlike her sister, Madeline was not a late arrival. In fact, she came three days early. The labor was much easier the second time than it had been the first time with McKenna. And let me tell you something about my Madeline, she is absolutely stunning. She is a happy, spirited baby girl. She has the most beautiful blue eyes, just like her sister, her momma, and her Grandma. She is chubby in the cutest of places. And she has introduced strawberry blonde hair into our family in the most adorable of ways.
I would not trade my daughter Madeline for every single baby boy in the world. I wouldn’t change a single, not one, thing about her. From the moment I first set eyes on her, I loved her with every inch of my being and soul (even if her fast arrival did prevent an epidural). And I haven’t gone a single day since that sad Saturday feeling anything but pure euphoria and love for her.
Regardless of the worry and concern I had, I may subconsciously render some resentment for her after her birth or after my Sad-urday. I never have, and I know now that I never will. I experienced a short-lived bout of gender disappointment, no different from any other woman ever has or ever will. I sometimes wonder if anyone I know has experienced the same thing. We always talk about our baby experiences and baby stories. We talk about the labor – how and where it happened, did it hurt, who was there. We swap tales of the first time our babies took their first steps and said their first words. But nowhere is there a forum or an acceptable place to stand up and say. I sobbed like a baby when I found out I wasn’t getting what I “wanted” and what I thought I “needed.”
And that leads to an even bigger question: Who are we to say, tell, or know what we want or need? I’m a Christian, so I feel that God would never give me something, a gift, an experience, or a circumstance, that he did not think I could conquer, and that would not make me a stronger person. As hard as it was, this experience taught me that having these feelings didn’t make me a bad mom. It made me human.
I’m not scared to share my feelings with Madeline when she’s older because it’s the truth, and I wouldn’t want to keep it from her. I don’t see a reason to. I’ll explain it to her the way I ultimately explained it to myself. I needed time to mourn the baby boy I had envisioned and had created in my mind, and I also needed time to accept and prepare for the baby girl who was slowly growing inside of my nurturing body.
Once I knew she was in there, and my sadness for my non-existent son dissipated, there was nothing but glory in the truth of her existence, of her gender, and who she was destined to be. Sure, I may have wanted a boy, but I wasn’t ready for one, and so I had the most remarkable little girl, the child that God sent to be mine. I don’t resent her, and I never will. If she ever asks, I’ll tell her, “You, my precious, were my most serendipitous gift.
It’s an honor being a mom to two gorgeous little ladies, and for any control freak mom out there like me (or well, pre-Madeline me) who thinks they know themselves better than God and the universe, well, hold on to those pink or blue clothes. Just in case.