I lay on my back, one arm tucked behind my head. I tried to make out the random shadows and blurs on the screen and, like always, was amazed that the woman before me knew what she was looking at and for. “So, do you and your husband want to know the sex?”, she asked. I said yes, we did, but could she write it down for us? We are going to open it later.
Two years ago, I could not relate to couples for whom finding out the sex of their unborn baby was essential. Really, I thought. You want to ruin the surprise? You want to be that organized? I never said it out loud, of course, because I’m sweet like that, and although I’m wise enough to appreciate that we are all different, I knew it was not for me. No ma’am. I wanted the old-fashioned way. I wanted a surprise.
Turns out, all that changed after I had Ella. I felt like the celebration of which sex my baby would be got lost in the labour, whereby the end, I was so exhausted and shocked, I lacked the energy to give the news the excitement it deserved. It didn’t matter if it was a girl or a boy, no, that’s not what it was about. It was about honouring and celebrating and making something big and special out of the news. It was about reveling in the festivity it deserved. With Ella, the festivity was the birth, not so much the sex of the baby, and I missed celebrating the fact that she was a girl as a separate stand-alone thing.
It would be different next time, I decided, and Joel agreed.
So there I lay, watching the woman turn away from me and scribble something onto the card Joel had brought with him to the ultrasound appointment. The excitement grew in my belly as I pictured what our evening would be like. I felt happy we were making something ceremonial out of this beautiful occasion.
As the sun was going down last Thursday the 5th September, we gathered the things we needed. I piled rugs and candles and glass jars and other trinkets from around the house into a big bag to take down to the beach. Joel packed the seafood he had bought especially for this night, along with a summer salad and other BBQ things for us to share after we had opened our very special parcel. We were incredibly excited.
Even the shell nearby was shaped as a love heart and I took this to be a very auspicious sign. Of what, I’m not sure. Just that it was all so freaking full of excitement and love and happiness. I felt nothing but blessed. My heart was completely full that Thursday evening.
Three candles were lit, one for Joel, Ella and me – the people to whom this baby belonged. And once we were all set up, Joel and I were all, Ok, you ready? Do you want to do this? Joel held the parcel in his hand and as he opened it, I leaned forward, eager and anxious and nervous and apprehensive and so damn excited all at once.
And then friends, lo and behold, THIS is what we saw.
You wanna know the truthiest truth?
I was disappointed.
I know you’re not supposed to say it, but I was. I knew girls. I wanted Ella to have a sister. I wanted to say ‘my girls’. I know, yes. I know. I should have been grateful we have a baby at all. I should have been happy it was healthy and well and strong. I should, I should, I should.
I knew it would come, though. So I forgave myself for being selfish and I waited patiently. A few days later, Joel and I would be sitting in our car driving up the coast. We’d be dreaming of what it would be like. We’d be throwing boys names around and we’d land on one which would make us stop. We’d roll the name off our tongues and we’d shorten it into the nickname we’d call him, and all of a sudden, I started to cry. That was it. That name, right there. That was my boy. My boy.
And it hit me. That heart-swelling, voice-stealing happiness. That humbling moment you remember that the best things, the best ever things, are those which aren’t planned for or anticipated. The love that hit was humongous and all I could do was sit there, crying, repeating his name over and over in my head. He was ours to love, this little boy. He was all I wanted.
And this girl?
She’s going to have a baby brother to love.
It’s all just so beautiful.
*Friends, if you know my mum or dad DO NOT SAY ANYTHING TO THEM. They don’t want to know the sex of the baby and I’d like to try my hardest to honour their wishes. Thank you x