Secrets drive me crazy. Tell me you have a secret and I’ll badger you about it until you fold. As a kid, I would surreptitiously peel back the tape on my gifts long before Christmas morning. Heck, I even read the last page of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows before I read the first.
So it surprised everyone, most of all myself, when I agreed with my husband that we could wait to find out the sex of our first baby. I had my reasons ready to spout off to anyone who asked about our decision: So much of what happened in the pregnancy was about me (my body, my choice of doctor), I was letting my husband make this one decision. And that with the sex of your first, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a boy or a girl.
Except that it did matter–oh so very much–to me. I really, really, really wanted a boy. I would secretly seethe when anyone—friends or strangers—would guess I was pregnant with a girl.
I had my reasons for wanting a boy—my relationship with my own mother was/still can be tense, especially during the teenage years, and boys seemed easier. If I had a boy and then did go on to have a girl, at least I would have some experience as a parent before I had to deal with the treacherous waters of parenting a teenage girl.
Also, I adore my nephew. He’s sandwiched in between two girls, his younger sister is a mere 15 months younger. It happened that I was between jobs when she was born so I helped out a lot during those first few weeks. As the middle child, he got stuck with his Aunt Annie. The baby needed her mom and his older sister was able to demand—and spend time—with daddy. My nephew won my heart over the course of those few weeks and was a large part of the reason I finally decided in my mid 30s that, yes, I did want kids after all.
So when anyone would guess I was carrying a girl, I would rail in my head and scream, “NOOOOO!!!” all while pleasantly smiling and nodding my head.
Then, toward the end of my pregnancy, my doctor sent me for a growth scan. It revealed that my baby was small and subsequent scans revealed that baby wasn’t growing much at all. My OB and the high risk doctor I went to for a second opinion suspected I had clots in my placenta. At 37.5 weeks, I was induced, late on a Monday evening.
I didn’t make it too far—I was only in labor about 4 hours—before my doctor said we needed to do an emergency C-section because the baby’s heart rate was dropping. So at around 3 a.m. I was wheeled into the operating room. Those minutes alone with the medical staff while they strapped my arms down, painted my abdomen with iodine and put up the curtain were truly frightening. The room was bright and cold and I was so scared my baby wouldn’t be OK.
The C-section was pretty standard as far as C-sections go. My husband was allowed in and he held my hand as the doctors cut open my belly. They say you’re only supposed to feel “tugging” to me, it was more like my insides were being ripped out.
After all the stress of the emergency induction, the scariness of the middle of the night C-section and the pain, when my doctor happily cried out, “It’s a boy!” I couldn’t have cared less. I was happy my baby was OK. I was overwhelmed that I was a mom. And my insides were still out open on the table.
I had expected having a baby would be the happiest moment of my life. And it wasn’t. And I certainly expected that hearing “It’s a boy!” after waiting for nine months to find out would also be right up there, and it wasn’t.
Flash forward a year and I was unexpectedly yet very happily pregnant with baby #2. This time my husband and I agreed we would find out the baby’s sex. Because it was my turn. Because, for practicality’s sake, we needed to know if we should keep all the clothes if we were having a boy. And this time, I really, really wanted a girl.
Because of my age, I did the Harmony test, which in addition to telling you your baby’s risk for Down’s Syndrome and other chromosome disorders, also tells you the baby’s sex.
My husband and I wanted to be together to find out the baby’s sex. I had a bottle of sparkling cider chilling in the fridge awaiting the day we got the test results (and crossed my fingers that the baby would be healthy and we would indeed have something to celebrate).
After what felt like an excruciatingly long 2 weeks, I got the call from my doctor. The good news: our baby’s chromosomes were perfect. And did I want to know the sex? I asked her to write it down and planned to pick it up the next day.
But when my husband got home from work, he said he couldn’t wait. We had waited 9 months last time, but this time, waiting 24 hours was too much! So we popped the sparkling cider and called the doctor’s office.
My doctor’s assistant answered the phone and gave us the good news, “It’s a girl!” This time, I was thrilled!
I loved that I had the chance to tell friends and family that I was having a baby and offer them a gender reveal cupcake on the spot. I liked that we only had to pick out one name. I liked that I could start shopping for baby girl clothes. But most of all, I enjoyed having a modicum of control over the crazy ride that pregnancy can be.