I can remember the day of my ‘big scan.’ It’s the scan most pregnant women feel nervous about. It’s the one that’s going to tell you if there are any obvious signs of anomalies, or health concerns for your growing baby. I, like many women, had mine at 20 weeks.
I remember going into the room, tensed up and shaking from what I thought was the cold. I later realised it was a form of panic attack. The sonographer asked me various details, which I answered really curtly… another mechanism I seem to deeply when I am terrified and panicking. (If my some miracle she is reading this, I am truly sorry for being so short with you, I was simply frightened beyond belief.)
I sat up on the bed and let her get on with her work. She had the most wonderful northern English accent that normally I would have smiled at listening to her marvellous pronunciation of her words. But on this day I couldn’t. I was just frozen with fear. My whole body was rigid as she went about scanning my tummy. I don’t’ think I let out a breath the entire time she was in there, convinced she was going to tell me something was wrong.
‘I’ve never seen such a fidgety baby’ she laughed in her wonderful accent. (And by the way nothing has changed in that regard, the little dude moved around all the time in my tummy and now that he’s on terra firma he still does!)
Anyway as we got the end of the scan, I remember her going through all her checks and I kept waiting and waiting to hear the ‘BUT.’
Only there was no but, as far as she could see the baby was healthy with no obvious signs of anomalies. I almost cried, right there on the bed. I let out the breath I’d been holding since I’d gotten up that morning. All the worry and anxiety left my body in a stream through my limbs. I felt like jelly.
‘Oh you wanted to know the sex, didn’t you?’ She piped in.
I’d been so caught up in worry about the baby’s health, I’d forgotten about the gender.
‘It’s a boy.’ She beamed.
‘A BOY??’ I said louder than I’d meant to, looking at my husband who was clearly delighted but with concern in his eyes for me.
I couldn’t believe it. A boy. Me? But I knew nothing about boys!
I went home in a daze that day, delighted that all was well with my bump, but feeling very unnerved by the fact that it was really a tiny boy in there making all those kicks…
I took up my default position and I started to worry. I really knew nothing about boys. Yes, I was married to a man and all that, but when it came to little boys, baby boys, raising a boy, I knew nothing! I wasn’t sure if I even liked little boys.
If I’m being really, brutally honest. I was disappointed. I hate saying that, especially now, but looking back, I was. I hate that I was disappointed by this wonderful, innocent life I held inside me. I hated that I was disappointed by the gender, when there were a thousand couples facing infertility who would have given literally anything to be in my position that day.
So for a time, I hated myself for these feelings. I wallowed in guilt and berated myself every day while I tried to get my head around the fact that I was having a boy.
I guess I’d always just imagined I'd have a little girl. Stupid fantasies about pink toys, princess dresses, Minnie mouse, glitter, wellies, bling encrusted headbands. But more than that, I had this idea in my head that I wouldn’t be able to bond as well with a little boy, that our differences would make us less close. That he’d always gravitate towards his daddy and not me. I somehow thought there’d be less cuddles, less kisses, less love.
But I was wrong. Two years in, I can tell you all my preconceived notions about little boys were so very wrong.
First, when babies are tiny newborns, it doesn’t really matter if they are a boy or a girl. They are just babies… except for dodging the boy pee spray, they are fundamentally the same. Eat, sleep, cry. Repeat.
As he grew and his little personality developed, I’ve been amazed at how close we’ve become. Hugs, cuddles, laughs, tickles, that closeness I craved and thought I wouldn’t have. It’s all here… of course, so is a bucket load of energy too. I mean he is always on the go, running around like a headless chicken. I can remember my mum telling me that when my brother was young, she just couldn’t get over how active he was, she said he was just short of running up the curtains and that boys are just balls of energy.
And she was right, the little dude is a live wire, climbing, running, bashing, all the clichés you can imagine and I love it. He’s brash and loud, yet surprisingly tender and sweet. It’s been the most incredible journey so far, one that has not stopped surprising me day after day and challenged every single thing I might have thought about raising a boy.
Sure, I still walk past the girls section of the clothes department and a little part of me aches for the glitter pink tights, the tutus and the myriad of unicorns and princesses.
But that said, I wouldn’t change my little boy for anything in this world. I love the bones of him, I’ll always be in his corner, always be his safe place, always his mum who looks at him as if he is the most delicious creature on this earth.
Ultimately, what I’ve learned is that gender really isn’t important, because our children are people first. They are our little people. They are part of us. And that world-altering love you have for your kids is something that goes far beyond anything as trivial as gender or physical characteristics.