Today, for one fleeting moment, I am at the blindingly glorious center of perfect bliss. We had our 20-week midpoint ultrasound today, and confirmed that our children are thriving and healthy. We also found out that we’re having a daughter and a son. When we finally confirmed gender for each baby (our daughter was uncooperatively modest), the ultrasound technician congratulated us saying, “How perfect! You have one of each!”
It seems to be a deeply ingrained part of the human condition, this appreciation for gender balance – for symmetry, and for harmony between the yin and yang. The song “Tea for Two” talks about having “a boy for me, a girl for you.” But what about couples that have two girls or two boys: are they not a perfect family as well? Are they somehow imperfect? And does having only one child make that family odd and imbalanced?
That said, I freely confess that I’m ecstatic about having a daughter because girls are so rare in my family (my paternal grandfather had two daughters out of ten children, and my father had three sons) that I didn’t expect to be blessed with one. I hope that my son didn’t somehow feel unappreciated or unwanted in utero because of my rejoicing over his sister. There was also a fleeting moment of panic when I realized that I was having a daughter and the lyrics “you can have fun with a son but you’ve got to be a father to a girl” echoed in my mind.
It’s funny how prevalent gender stereotypes are, how deeply they run. My husband and I have been looking at baby clothes for months, and the odd thing is that it’s easy to find baby boy clothes in colors other than traditional powder blue – but the baby girl clothing section is invariably awash in a sea of pink and looking like it was “hosed down with Pepto-Bismol.” To avoid trapping our daughter in gender-stereotypes, we tried to tactfully request that our family steer clear of completely pink clothing. Apparently pink is a touchy subject: that request caused a two-day long kerfuffle in our family, with people arguing that the request was inappropriate and/or impossible to comply with. All’s well now, but I found it curious that anyone would object to trying to not dress our daughter exclusively in pink. I won’t be surprised if, after all of this, our daughter’s favorite color ends up being pink. #irony
The worst conversation during that time naturally had to be the one with my parents when I called to tell them what their grandchildren’s genders are. Despite my every effort to explain that I’m the father of both children and both of them are their grandchildren, they still are desperate to know which one is genetically “theirs.” My mother said, “Roots matter. It matters if your sperm went into them or no.” Let me first point out that no man wants to have his mother discuss his sperm, even in passing. (Ew! #icky) Secondly, the truth is that my husband’s sperm (as long as my mother is so comfortable discussing sperm) would probably get higher scores from most genetic experts at least on medical grounds.
My parents don’t believe that I don’t know or care which child is genetically mine. (Neither my husband or I honestly care, so we don’t plan on ever doing genetic tests to find out: we are both equally parents to both of our children.) My mother in particular is angry with me because she thinks I know which child is “hers” and just won’t tell her. But she consoles herself, as she said to me, because she’s almost certain that the boy is mine. The only basis for her hypothesis is that I’m masculine enough to only sire sons, and that it’s more likely that my husband would have a daughter. (What?!) And she thinks that she’ll be able to tell – potentially immediately – which one is “hers” because you can’t outsmart a mother’s instincts. #eyeroll
In the long run, this means that I can’t allow my children to have any sort of relationship with my parents – because I can’t allow such blatant favoritism. It makes me a little sad to know that another chapter in my relationship with my parents is going to end soon, but I’m more overjoyed about meeting my children soon. And I’m not sure that genetic ancestry will as obvious as some people think, because they both look like they have my husband’s chin in the last ultrasound. They are too cute for words regardless. The ultrasound pictures below were challenging to get, what with my son continually sticking his ass in his sister’s face and my daughter responding with kicks (I don’t condone violence, but you go girl!). I love youboth SO much, A and Z!