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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sex. But not the fun kind. Just the genital kind.

This is a post I wrote immediately after finding out that we were having a little girl, so eight weeks ago.  Up front, because of the content, I want to make it entirely clear that given days and weeks to process the information, my feelings have done a complete 180, and I am way beyond excited about our baby girl. However, my feelings in the instant we found out were very conflicted and very confusing, and I want to share them with you in the hopes that anyone else who has been through this - or is on their way to going through this - can find solace and comfort.

This is a hard post to write, and one that is likely to get me in trouble with some of the baby loss community.  I thought a long time about writing this post before I decided to do it. I know from talking to a few others that these emotions aren't unique to me and others have experienced them - but that they felt terrible and guilty for it.  So I wanted to write about it and get it out there in case others had this taboo experience. And I want to clarify before I put anything else down on paper (er, virtual paper) that I love this baby more than anything, even cookie dough ice cream [I'm not even sure I love Chris that much] [okay I do], and I am beyond excited that it's a girl.  The sweet little baby dresses and feminine nursery prints that are quickly stacking up in the soon-to-be nursery can attest to that.

But the truth is, I cried when I found out. Several times. Hard. Like snotty nose hard.

When I found out Caleb was a boy right after he was born, it was an extra rub of salt in the wound (I talk about this in the birth story a bit). Growing up, I'd always wanted an older brother and because of that I'd hoped to have a boy first, and I had secretly suspected that Chris wanted a boy, too. (Doesn't every man? Since, like, God?) And after he was born, it was hard not to imagine what life with a little boy would have been like.  I fell hard for those visions of snips and snails and puppy dog tails. A baby boy nursery was completely finished in my mind. Blue and green cloth diapers, rough and tumble, maybe a toddler fauxhawk, sending my kindergartner off to practice in a giant hockey uniform, as a high schooler watching out for his little sister.  It was a vision that I wanted to fulfill so badly I could taste it.

I had this irrational thought that if this was a boy, it would be like we never lost our first. I was completely aware that this wasn't a replacement child or the same child, but in some way it would be like it was the same spirit.  My pregnancy would have just lasted 15 months, like an elephant or something.  The baby would just have been delayed in arriving. I realize that doesn't mesh with me saying that I was aware it wasn't the same child, but somehow both truths existed at the same time. I'm magic, yo.

Finding out this was a girl was really hard. I won't say devastating, because it wasn't. I know what devastating is.  I've lived through devastating.  But in that moment, it was like Caleb died all over again.  It wasn't that I didn't want a girl - I did. Badly, even. I have a great relationship with my mom and want that with a daughter. But I wanted to fulfill those original visions, dammit.  And I really wanted my daughter to have an older brother to lead the way, something I always wanted when I was growing up.  It was like I was finally back on the train that had derailed so quickly and suddenly and devastatingly when Caleb died, only to find out that it was going to a different final destination.

And of course it is. Because this is a different baby.  A different baby that isn't our first baby. And that's okay. But I'm scared. What if Caleb was our one boy and those dreams of baby fauxhawks are never fulfilled? What if our daughter never gets to have a brother and misses out on the great fun that I had with my brother (even if he WAS younger than me and not older). What if our only boy died? That's a really, really hard thought to accept. I always wanted at least one of each.  That's such a naive thought, I know now. Dream of healthy and living babies, not of a perfect family with one boy and one girl.

This baby girl, I already feel like I failed her. She was always going to be here - she just is arriving sooner rather than later - but she was supposed to have an older brother to watch out for her, here, on this earth, not from wherever he is now.  A brother to tease her, teach her how to pee standing up, and intimidate future boyfriends. She was supposed to have experienced parents, ones who have already been around the block and know the drill.  A mom that nursed before, a mom that used cloth diapers before, a mom that knows the difference between fussy and colicky. She wasn't supposed to carry the burden of being a "rainbow" baby (a term the baby loss community uses to describe a baby that comes after a loss) or have a mom that might not ever be able to fully explain just how this pregnancy saved her in ways that will never be understood.

She's not even born yet, and I feel like she's missing out on so much by being the rainbow baby. 

But I'm head over heels in love with this little girl. That's another reason why it's so hard.  Because I'm already worried about her for the rest of her life. Girls have to put up with a lot of shit in their lives (come on, we're STILL making $.75 to the dollar a man makes??), and I don't want that for her. Not to mention that since children automatically like what their parents hate, she'll probably idolize Sarah Palin and love pink glitter.  She'll likely come out of the womb waving a sparkle wand wearing a tiara demanding that I enter her in the next glitz beauty pageant, like right now, MOM. I mean, we already saw in an ultrasound picture that she was rockin' a crown. I'm scared about seeing her sexy pictures on Facebook or whatever social networking site is the big thing in 15 years and telling her that she is NOT going out of the house in that outfit, over my dead body and I definitely definitely DEFINITELY do not want to see her on "16 and Pregnant," or any MTV show for that matter. Unless it's called "Nice Girls with Good Grades who Don't Have Sex and Dress Appropriately."

Please God let the Amish way of life become SUPER DUPER stylish in exactly 13 years. And then last for at least 10 years. I'm totally willing to learn to churn butter.


I can add another reason I cried so hard upon finding out (once I was in the safety of my car, alone) that I wasn't able to piece together until a few days later, after I'd written the bulk of this post. And it might be the most Freud-ian reason, and the most difficult. My cousin who hung herself was a girl, and I found out this baby was a girl just days afterward.  What if that was my daughter?  We were having suicide facts thrown at us left and right, and the one that stuck out at me was that girls are far more likely to attempt suicide than boys are.  There isn't a history of mental illness or severe depression in my family that I know of, but I had a few hard years there myself. Case in point: I'm pretty sure I cried myself to sleep every day from sixth to eighth grade. Much of that had to do with my specific class full of really mean girls (ugh, what if there are mean girls at my daughter's school?? What if my daughter IS a mean girl?). My mom, who was a teacher at my grade school, is good friends with one of my junior high teachers, and I've often heard from her that my class was indeed particularly vicious, and it wasn't just my tormented memory making it worse than it truly was. (Catholic school girls? Not just for sex fantasies; also great for destroying self-esteem!) However, high school (also Catholic; this time all-girls) was much better, and while I'm sure I had the typical "I wish I'd never been born!" thoughts during the rough times,  I was never suicidal.  But I didn't think my cousin was either.  So psycho-analyze that little depressing jaunt into my mind: it definitely contributed to the sadness.


But yeah. Amish. Anything you can do to help a sister out there would be great. If we all started wearing it, maybe we can start a fad!

Again, note that this was written weeks ago, when we first found out. Although my feelings have changed, I feel like it's important to let others who might be on this same journey know that you're not alone in what you might be feeling.  Given even just a day to process the information, I was already feeling much better. Now, so far removed from it, I can say that the bulk of these feelings have completely vanished and have been taken over entirely by pure joy and unadulterated excitement [and I've started practicing how to tell her she canNOT get her belly button pierced at 14].  I've purchased some pink thing's, ya'll. And I HATE pink. But some of those tiny pink baby clothes are irresistible. That said, most of what I've purchased is still gender neutral or at least not PINK, because she's my kid and I can put her in blue if I want to - I'm the one who has to look at what she's wearing all day and it might as well be my favorite colors getting splattered with poop. I should also mention that Chris is also enthralled with her already - and has actually given me crap about having blue and green in her nursery and wardrobe. He's very sweet and protective of her in a way I'm not sure he would be if it was a boy and I can't wait to see her wrap him around her little finger.

We cannot wait to meet our baby girl.*



  1. I get what you are saying in this post. I don't know what I'm having yet, and most of me does not care (as long as it's alive and healthy I'm down with whatever genitalia it's sporting)...but part of me can't imagine it being a girl. It's like after Aidan died I went around in a fog of "I'm supposed to have a baby BOY"...and if this turns out to be a girl it will alter my reality a bit.
    I also wonder if Aidan was my one and only shot at a boy. Neither my husband or I really were set on one or the other, but if we never have a boy it will always be in our heads "what would raising a son be like? We would have known if Aidan hadn't died".

  2. I get it too. At the hospital when we lost our twin boys my husband said to me "I just know those were my only shot at boys" Now as I am typing this one handed while I nurse our 1 month old son I am so thankful for this healthy baby boy, but our first Sunday in church when my husband held him the whole time my arms felt empty. I was supposed to have a second baby there with us. In a way I am missing baby B; as Owen even looked like baby A at one moment in the hospital. I hope that you get what i am trying to say not that i 100% know it myself, but i guess i am saying your feelings are normal and justified and dont let anyone tell you otherwise.

  3. I was going to ask you how you felt about having a girl when you posted about it earlier. If me and the hubs ever have another, I worry about how I'd feel with having another boy since Adam is gone. I worry about much the same things you talk about, like it feeling like a replacement when that is not at all what is the reality. Then I worry about what if he was our only boy, our only shot for one. My loss is much newer, so I haven't really processed it all. And for the love of Tom Selleck, let's hope Amish style is in in 13 years! I so have the same thoughts about my 2 year old daugther now. :) You are entitled to feel anything you feel, and it's all normal. No judgment from me, I get it.

  4. Wow. A lot of serious stuff there and I commend you for being so open and honest. Fwiw, as someone who has lost two babies and dealt with IF (my daughter is the result of IVF/ICSI) I am not offended. I think disappointment is natural with major life events and I definitely think this counts :). It is how we move forward and embrace a less-than-perfect situation that matters.

    One thing I want to comment on though, since I have seen you say it before and truly believe that you BELIEVE it.

    Not all men want boys. My husband, a TOTAL guy's guy is absolutely 100% is mesmerized and head over heels for our daughter. The moment she was born (maybe the moment we found out on u/s) his life was forever changed.

    WE have a son too. And my husband adores him obviously. But it is DIFFERENT with our daughter and him. Our daughter just loves on my husband in a way that is special. They are two peas in a pod. When we were newlyweds we always envisioned a boy and a girl (we got lucky that it came to fruition) and the little girl being my "buddy" and the little boy being his "buddy". Like his and hers. It has actually turned out to be the opposite. Now we joke that our DD is his little "girlfriend" and our DS is my little "boyfriend" :).

    When we found out baby #2 was a boy, my husband was slightly disappointed. In his mind, having his "girls" to love on and take care of was an ideal in his mind. I will admit I was surprised in the u/s room when he wasn't jumping up and down for being told we were having a son. What I saw, was my husband hold my daughter a little closer, look at her, and get teary eyed :(.

    I also wanted a big brother growing up. But now I look at my daughter and realize that she will always be a mother hen to my son (even though they are only 16 months apart). That is her personality. And frankly, I think that is just as cool.

  5. Jill, I love that story about your husband! I know Chris had a momentary fleeting feeling of disappointment, but he's thrilled about her now and is so sweet to my belly in a way that I'm not sure he would be if it was a boy. :)

  6. Congrats on your baby girl!

    I had to come out of lurkdom and share with you that I'm on the TTC train now and though I know I can't replace my son the thought of having another little boy comforts me. I know it would sting a bit if I got pregnant and found out it was a girl. I'd absolutely get over it but I can see myself having a moment. I think your feelings made total sense.

    I wish you the best.. Have fun buying lip gloss and hair ribbons.. :-)

  7. This post brought tears to my eyes. I obviously have never been in your situation, but I completely see where you are coming from and applaud you for being so refreshingly honest. I'm so glad you are so excited for your little girl!! I can't believe she will be here in just 18 weeks!!

  8. I understand, every word. As I sit going through the clothes we bought for Johnny, and think about replacing them with clothes for two girls, I can't help but feel sad. So happy for my little ones on the way, but that feeling never goes away of what might have been. So happy you are doing so well, and have made it so far! :)