I’m not sure I ever really thought about what gender my baby was going to be when I found out I was pregnant last April. Instead, I spent all of the first 20 weeks worrying intensely about whether he or she would be healthy and ‘normal.’ Words like spina bifida, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, heart defects, miscarriage and stillbirth plus a million and one others floated around my head on a daily basis.
I remember walking into my 20 week scan petrified about what the sonographer might find. I listened intently as she mumbled through her checklist and lay there in complete disbelief when she smiled that everything was as normal as it could be. I hadn’t yet manged to process the good news, when she casually tossed a grenade into the room; ‘oh yes you wanted to know what you’re having didn’t you? Well it’s a boy,’ she smiled. A boy? I mentally asked? No, no, no I’m having a girl, I thought. I know absolutely nothing about babies in general, let alone raising a boy, so this must be a mistake! Nope, it wasn’t as she proceeded to point out his bits and pieces cementing the fact that yes there really was a little boy in there and no there was nothing I could do to change that.
A boy? I just could not believe it! For God’s sake, I wrote about fashion and beauty for a living! This had to be a mistake! Sure I was married to a man and yes we made a baby the old fashioned way, but that’s really as far as my man-knowledge went. I’ve always been a girl’s girl going to all all-girls school, having mainly female friends and even choosing college courses that were woman-dominated. I remember sighing to myself, as I mentally said goodbye to pink tutus, bling encrusted headbands, jazzy tights, Minnie mouse ensembles, lashings of glitter, fuchsia wellies and those insanely cute Disney princess outfits.
Whether I liked it or not, a tiny boy was growing in my uterus and there was nothing I could do about it. Instantly my overactive mind ran away with itself; clichés abounded as I foresaw a lifetime of peeing, home destruction, farts, standing on Lego pieces, enduring endless football matches, rugby, GAA, wrestling, rampaging hormone-induced spurts of energy, taking out shares in Brennans bread to keep him fed, smelly feet, wailing fits of despair if he was made to come shopping with me, no cuddling or confiding in me and the fact that he and his daddy would always have this special bond that I could just never penetrate. Not to mention the all those nasty stereotypes that well-meaning people kept telling me. ‘Boys are harder as babies, because they are hungrier, you’ll be up half the night feeding him. And they are slower to learn everything – rolling over, crawling, walking and don’t even mention potty training. And let’s not forget that old chestnut that girls the same age will buy and sell their boy counterparts in a flash.
I remember leaving the scan with all of this rubbish floating around my head, when I should have been on top of the world after finding out that all was well with the baby. I felt so conflicted. I was disappointed. I can’t lie. I really was. Then of course, the guilt set in. How could I be disappointed, when there were thousands of couples out there who were struggling to get pregnant or were unable to have children at all and here I was moaning about having a healthy boy on the way?! Ungrateful didn’t even cover it. I felt so ashamed in myself for what I was feeling. So I resolved to get over it. I began to try and see the positives by telling myself that most of the crap I had imagined was the very essence of clichéd nonsense. My little boy was going to be a person, not a collage of hackneyed stereotypes. He’d develop his own interests and character and while our relationship might not be the same as a mum/daughter one, I knew it would still be special.
Fast forward to today and I could not be more in love with my little boy, who incidentally loves cuddles. Besotted doesn’t even cover it and indeed I sometimes can’t imagine what it would be like now to have a girl! I’m on board with blue and spend the day laughing as I pull funny faces for him, blow raspberries and giggle as he bashes his toys and kicks his legs in total boy defiance. I’m learning as I go and try not to let thoughts of what it will be like as he grows up, take over my thinking. For now, he’s my little baby boy and we’ve a connection that goes beyond anything I could have imagined. Fundamentally, what I’ve realised is that children are more than the collection of age old labels we like to load onto them and they are instead little people with their own distinct personalities. Not every girl likes pink and not every boy loves Lego.
But look, I won’t lie, I still cast a longing eye over the girl’s clothes departments and the girly girl inside me feels a tiny pang of sadness as she passes by the pink tutus. But who knows; if I am lucky enough to have another baby and if that baby turns out to be a girl… God I’m starting to sound like Luca Brasi from The Godfather, but you know what I’m saying! If I do end up having a girl I’ll of course be delighted and start stockpiling the world’s biggest array of Disney Princess outfits (even though she could well be a complete tomboy), but you know what, if I end up with an army of little boys, I’ve realised it might not be so bad either!