Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On Having a Daughter

I always wanted a daughter.

The reasons that I wanted a daughter aren't the typical ones.  I hate those baby headbands (what is the point of a headband when there isn't any hair?)  I don't like pink, especially not that light pink that is always used to represent baby girls.  It wasn't about the clothes. 

Wanting a daughter was always more about the relationship.  I'm close with my mom.  She pretty much knows everything. I wanted a daughter so I could create that same relationship, so that when I was 60, the phone would ring regularly.

It was about teaching my daughter to be strong, just like her mom and her Oma Jo and Great-Oma.  Teaching her to be independent and witty and adventurous.

In November 2012, at my anatomical scan, when I was 20 weeks pregnant with Benjamin, I tried not show my disappointment when they said, "It's a boy!"  Now, of course, I wouldn't trade my boy for anything in the world.

And when I was pregnant with Lydie for those first 19 weeks, I was convinced that she was a boy.  Convinced.    Dr. Birkenholz thought so too, saying last April, "I think it's a boy.  And that's very unprofessional for me to say."  But I laughed and told her I thought so too.  Ozzie the dog and Jimmie the cat are both boys, and it's been "Heather and the boys" for so long, that I just couldn't see that any differently.

But most of all, I wanted myself to be okay if that was the case.  A total defense mechanism.  And I knew how much I loved my boy, and I knew I'd love a second boy just as much.  I wanted to focus on that.   I wanted a girl so badly, that I prepared myself for a boy.

The day before our anatomical scan, Benji and I were leaving the grocery store, when we spotted a shiny red fire truck in the parking lot.  He was in awe.  And I thought to myself, "That is pretty cool." And I realized that I really would be okay in a house full of boys.  And maybe those boys would even call me when I was 60.  Just maybe.    

Me and Lydie, in our 19 week photo.  The chalkboard reads, "19 weeks.  BOY or GIRL?"
The next day, the ultrasound tech said, "You have a son at home?  He's having a sister!"  My jaw hit the floor.  I was in total shock.  And I truly didn't believe her.  I asked her if the penis was just hiding.  She shook her head.  I asked her to check again.  And again.  Finally, she seemed a bit insulted, saying, "I do this for a living, you know."  And Justin was giving me glances like, "Shut the hell up, Heather!"

I clutched my sonograms, with the one with "I'M A GIRL!" typed across it on the top of the pile.  When Dr. Birkenholz came into my exam room, I exclaimed, "They said it was a girl!  I'm not so sure."  I handed her the pictures and asked if they were missing something.  She laughed, and pointed to one, saying, "Heather, this is the labia."

Oh.  Oh!

And I was thrilled.  Ecstatic.

Justin said I should market my strategy, all about playing mind games with yourself to get what you really want.

It felt too good to be true.

I couldn't think of a better combination for siblings than older brother, younger sister.  Ben would look out for his sister, but teach her how to play in the mud.  She'd grow up trying to keep up with him.  He'd tease her, of course, but not let anyone else mess with her.  When she got older, she'd have crushes on his friends.  Only 20 months apart, they'd fight all the time of course, but they'd be close too.  Best friends and biggest allies when they were adults.

And of course, my daughter and I would be close too.  And I'd teach her how to be independent and witty and adventurous.  And she'd be a good athlete too... swimming, playing soccer, maybe she'd be a runner too.

That day, Ben and I went shopping to celebrate.  I bought this onesie and used it to announce our baby girl on Facebook and Instagram:
I pictured Lydie coming home in this onesie.

And even though I always thought it wasn't about the clothes, I was thrilled to look through them all, knowing I wasn't just buying good sales for my niece.  The boys' clothes were never as cute as the girls.  And although I hate that light pink, I was so excited to find cute girl clothes in green and blue.  Like this dress, that I bought for my daughter that very day:

After all, there was no reason I couldn't have the relationship AND the clothes.

Except we all know how this story ends up.

I have a daughter.  But I don't have the relationship I always dreamed of.  And I won't get to teach her how to be strong and independent and smart.  In fact, I struggle every day with how to parent her in her absence.

And she definitely won't be calling me when I'm 60.

Maybe I'll get the chance to have another daughter some day.  But I don't think I will.  Maybe it's me reverting back to my defense mechanism, my strategy that worked so well last time.  But I feel like Lydie was it for me.  Lydie gave me the promise of all those dreams.

I don't know what to do with those dreams now, just like I don't know what to do with the closet and dresser full of blue and green clothes.

Photo by Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

1 comment:

  1. Oh heather...I'm so so so sorry. My heart breaks seeing that blue and green dress for your girl.

    I struggled so much with my (getting pregnant and) pregnancy with Theo. I was up against the wall convinced I would have a girl. And what tore me up, is that in life, I wanted a girl too! So it wouldn't be a bad thing! But not like this. Not "instead of" my boy. ( I hope you know what I mean). Because I don't feel I have Theo instead of Alexander in a ruling him out kind of way... But it's unfortunately (heartbreakingly) the case.

    Children, boy or girl, I'm learning are like little snowflakes. One is so different from another. Boy vs boy. And girl vs girl. And I'm thankful I have a boy to parent, but I no doubt believe Alexander would be wonderfully and noticeably different from Theodore. And I ache for that. Like a pounding in my mother brain that just won't let up...I want to KNOW my other son.

    There will always be a persistent and never ending ache and need for Lydie. I know it. And in a strange (but not so strange blm way) way, it will be welcome.

    I used that defence mechanism too. 100% told myself I would have a girl and then, was having a girl. Funny how it kind of "worked". But we both know our messed up mind games don't mean squat to the universe.

    Whatever it is I'm trying to say...I hope you feel it. Because I'm certainly all over the place with this one.

    I'll hold those dreams with you, and will remember Lydie, and miss her always xo


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