I've always wanted a daughter. Ever since I was a teenager I've known I'd want a baby girl someday--to dress, be my live doll.
To just be all mine.
I got married, I got pregnant and I ached for a girl--ached at the sight of the dresses, buttons and bows, the shoes, all that make having a baby girl so much fun. Never had I even imagined having a boy although funnily enough I am in absolute love with Calvin of the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes. The idea that I might like having a precocious, darling, supremely imaginative boy of my own just like Calvin was a fantasy I nursed but in the far recesses of my heart and mind.
During my first pregnancy I'd decided not to find out the gender of the baby since I was too afraid of finding out that it wouldn't be a girl. The twenty week sonogram happened and the doctor conducting the exam had a funny grin on his face. I blurted out, "Tell me just tell me. I want a girl so just tell me what it is!"
All he said with a smile was, "If this one's a girl, I want you to call me."
Boy oh boy.
Our son was born.
And I fell in love. I had got my Calvin, dimpled, curly haired and all. Precocious, imaginative, darling and yes, all boy.
Second round. It's got to be a girl. My husband and I even spoke of the baby as she this, she that. The twenty week sonogram happened and this time I was firm. "Don't tell me," I said. "But I might change my mind about knowing so write the "finding" on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope for me to look at later with my husband."
I returned home clutching the envelope, went to my husband's upstairs office and asked him to open it. "I'm way too nervous," I said.
He opened it. Inside was a sonogram print out covered with a post it.
A blank 'post it'.
"Its blank," my husband said. My heart sank. I wanted to cry. That could only mean one thing. He peeled off the 'post it' and on the print out was an arrow pointing to the identifying part and a line below that said.
'It's a boy!'
I lay down on the floor and felt my throat tighten. I didn't feel excitement, no joy. Only a sinking sadness. A selfish sadness I know. But in that moment, the realization that in my lifetime I'd never know what it was like to buy a baby girl frock, or a pretty hair band or a flouncy skirt. Not for my child anyway. I let the tears sting my eyes but I didn't let my husband see them.
He laughed after a moment. "Well...you get to remain queen," he said. "Always."
I tried to laugh with him. He lay down beside me and put an arm around me. "You love our son. This one will be a barrel of laughs and loves too."
"Yes," I said, not convinved, thinking only about the moments I would now miss of daughter and mom shopping trips, followed by coffee and cake somewhere, giggling gossiping sessions on the telephone, the kind I have with my mum. The tiny frilly bikinis, the--I was close to bawling so I stopped letting my mind wander. I felt my new son kick. But I ignored him, didn't touch him back as I had always done so far.
"Its almost time to pick up baby number one from school," I said, got up and made for the door.
"It'll be fun," my husband said. "Really."
I drove to school in a daze.
I tried to make small talk with the other parents. Some of the mums there knew I had had my sonogram that day and asked me if I was willing to tell them what I'd found out. "Its a boy," I tried to say cheerily. "The good news and bad news is I don't have to buy anything new since I have all my son's old stuff. Now I can just spoil myself with jewelry and shoes and bags."
The moment passed and it was time for the kids to come out. First out came this little Steve McQueen look alike. His ultra glamorous mum and big brother were waiting for him. As soon as the boy came out, his brother bent down and put long skinny arms around his little brother. I felt my heart lurch. As the trio started to leave I approached the mother and introduced myself. Asked her what it was like having the two boys. She looked at her kids with twinkling eyes and told me how it was. Small talk, no earth shattering wisdom, just everyday stuff. But I saw how her older son had his arm around his kid brother who was still looking a bit shell shocked after his first day of school. And I felt slightly better. I thanked her, picked up my son who had his arms around my leg and we went home chatting about his day.
I spent the late afternoon playing with my son, trying to wrap my head around dealing with two boys--their boisterousness, their noise, their games, two heads that would smell like a damp puppy dog, all that stuff little boys are made of.
Earlier that day I had gotten in the mail a box full of creams and scrubs I had ordered for myself. I hadn't had a chance to open the box all day and had a meeting in the evening so when I returned home later that night, I was surprised to find the box opened and overturned, the contents gone, the wrapping scattered. I went upstairs to my bedroom and found all the creams arranged neatly on my dressing table along with my other creams. The scrubs, however, were missing. I called the company to say they had forgotten to pack the scrubs. But they were closed. I'd have to call the next day.
Then I asked hubby how come he had opened the box...he usually didn't do that sort of thing if a package had my name on it.
He told me it hadn't been him. Perhaps our son had done it. A wave of tenderness rose within me . I went to my baby who was fast asleep and kissed his face. Then a thought occurred to me. I wasn't kidding when I had said my son was precocious. He's also a very thoughtful and super observant child.
Hmm...I thought and checked inside the bathroom. Sure enough, tucked away inside my storage closet for beauty products sat my body scrubs. The right place for them. They didn't belong on the dresser...they were a bath product. And so my baby had put them there for me to find.
Fresh tears sprang to my eyes. What a horrible person I was to have wasted my day worrying about having two boys. If our second was half as darling as our first, I'd be on top of the world. My son will never wear a baby skirt or go shopping with me but he'll always be my baby, my very own--he'll always be someone I can talk to, someone who tells me how nice I look when I am dressed up, someone who admires my earrings with tenderly placed fingers. This time I ran to my son and smothered his sleeping face with kisses. He didn't stir, just shifted a little in his sleep, puckered his mouth and sighed.
All felt right at that moment.
Yes, all would be just fine. My husband was right. My son was a doll. An absolute doll who gave me all the hugs and kisses I asked of him, whose dimpled smile could light up my day. Why would a second son not add to that joy. Knowing this was all the consolation I needed.
I shall walk down the street with my three men--my two sons dressed in crisp dress shirts and khaki pants with leather belts and matching peacoats. My husband and I'll strut beside them with head held high.
And finally now that I have no berets and fancy dresses to buy for a little one anymore, I shall gladly do that strutting in a new pair of Manolos or Jimmy Choos, with a Prada bag slung carelessly over my shoulder.
I close my eyes and imagine the picture. Oh yes, that surely is consolation enough ;-)