The factory is silent. Its assembly line stands motionless. Somewhere off in the darkness, a buzzer sounds. One by one, lights begin to flicker and illuminate on long-unmanned diagnostic panels, giving a sense of enormity and complexity and scale to the machinery. The low hum of power supplies warming up comes next, followed by the higher and louder whine of turbines and electric motors. A whistle sounds, and one by one, employees begin to file in and take their places at the controls. Purposed for a single task, whose time has now come, the factory slowly comes to life...
Saturday, June 11, 2011
WHAT?! As in, "Why does that girl on the ultrasound have a penis??"
Let me preface this by saying it has taken me at least ten weeks to be able to come to terms with everything I'm feeling enough to write this post. Let me warn you, fair reader, that this is an ugly post. It's full of guilt and sadness and lots of negative things to cope with. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
With that said, I am also going to let you know up front that anyone who attempts to make comments here about what a horrible person I am, how guilty I should feel, how dare i, how ungrateful or selfish I am, or -- I should just be glad that..., or look at the bright side... Yes, I know. I've thought of all that.
So remember, you can comment, but it will be moderated. The worst I can threaten you with is that your comment won't get posted. If it's bad enough, and I know you, I will seriously re-evaluate our friendship.
The day of our "big" ultrasound was April 1st. Ha ha ha, April fools!
At the 12 week ultrasound in February, the tech made a guess. She said, "If I HAD to make a guess right now...I'd think..." and she poked around a bit... "boy."
My heart faltered a bit. Really? A boy? She has to be wrong. There's no way. I don't WANT a boy. What about all Craig's crazy chemo-sperm? There's no boys in there, right? It's too early to tell, right? She's got to be mistaken.
That lady has not been wrong yet. Why would I think she'd be wrong that time? Regardless I scoured the net for any information I could find. I found studies of the inaccuracies of ultrasound from one week to the next. Was it just too early? I looked for statistical information. I pored over other people's ultrasounds. I said maybe, maybe there was hope. It had to be too early.
And I cried. A lot.
Fast forward to April 1. I'd filled Craig in about my apprehensions and all the mixed up feelings I had about the possibilities, and he read the blog post prior, so he knew how I felt that morning. Still, I tried to be really upbeat and not just sickly nervous. We brought Claire with us because of course Craig wanted to come see too.
So we got back to the ultrasound room, and I got all set up, and Craig was holding on to Claire because she's a little bit nuts, and she's like, "WTF is going on?? Mommy??" And she tried to cling to me while I was on the table.
The first thing the tech asked me was if we wanted to know the gender and I said YES (though I tried to say it not too emphatically!) So she went wiggling the transducer around and got it to where she needed it and said, "Looks like you've got a boy! Congratulations!" And oh yes, it was obvious, even to the untrained eye.
You know that feeling you get when your boss calls you into his office unexpectedly, and he doesn't sound happy? Or the feeling of that moment when you see the blue lights in your rear view mirror? Or the dizzy feeling you have when you stand on a precarious ledge looking into a deep ravine? Combine all that "I am in serious trouble!!!" feeling into a single, sickening moment.
I lost my breath from the huge lump in my throat. Craig grabbed my hand and squeezed it because he could see I was in distress. I tried REALLY hard not to cry because Claire was there, but that just made it worse. My brain was screaming NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. I couldn't hear anything anyone was saying for a few minutes.
The tech asked me, "Are you excited?" And I said, "No."
I feel terrible now for saying such a thing, but my emotions were pretty raw.
She could tell I was upset. She started going on with the rest of the exam, checking for heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, umbilical. But I hardly heard any of it. I have a DVD of the whole 20-minute affair, but the details now are such a blur.
Craig tried telling me it was going to be okay, in between wrangling Claire. Claire was mostly interested in wanting to go wash her hands in the bathroom sink (my little baby Howard Hughes) so he took her. The tech asked me if I was going to be okay. I couldn't answer. She asked me how Craig felt about the news, and I said he was really hoping for another girl too, but honestly, he will be happy with any baby because that's just...Craig. She said she had a couple in there earlier that day where the husband really wanted a boy, and they found out they were having a girl. She said she thought the guy was going to lose it -- he was ANGRY.
Craig and Claire returned just around the time the tech was looking for the heartbeat. Claire responded to that sound with her, "'Gain? 'Gain? 'Gain?" plea! (So we heard the heartbeat twice more before we left, of course.)
And through all that my mind was just RACING. What am I going to do? What are we going to do? No. What? No. It can't be. I just wanted to cry but there was no way I could let it out there.
We finished up and got our "souvenir photos" (which I stuffed into the diaper bag) and went on to see the doctor. That whole part of the day is really a blur because it was the three of us, plus the doctor, plus a nurse in that tiny exam room, with Claire swiftly losing patience. She was busy going apeshit, with Craig trying to hold her, while I talked to the dr/nurse, but of course I couldn't pay close attention. The doctor asked why I was so upset and I told him. He tried to make me laugh by reminding me it was all Craig's fault! ("Thanks a lot!
said Craig.) I remember telling him I would be okay eventually because what choice did I have? None. I would just have to come to terms with it because there was no other option. Both the doctor and the nurse tried to tell me that it would be okay, but I just couldn't hear it.
Driving home was rough. While it's a skill I thought I had perfected, driving and crying is not recommended. We put Claire down for her nap, and then I was inconsolable. For hours.
Of course everyone who knew where we were going that day wanted to know the result! Craig messaged his family, and I finally got it together enough to do the same for mine. I wanted to talk to my parents so badly but they were on a cruise in Central America somewhere. Thankfully, I didn't have to actually call anyone to tell them. The feeling I had was almost like...shame? Like I couldn't bring myself to even tell anyone we were having a boy. It was such disappointing news to me, it just felt...yucky to have to admit it.
And I have spent the better part of the last two months trying to come to terms with all that yuckitude. I will admit I've had horrible thoughts. The most horrible you could think of, harming anyone and everyone to try to "fix" this situation. I'm not proud of it, but I put it here because I know it's something others have gone through, and I'm not alone. Google "gender disappointment" -- It's very real, and it even has degrees. Disappointment like mine is typically rated "extreme."
WHY? Why, I hear you ask. I hear it loudest from those of you who have boys. I'm sure they're lovely. They're your boys. But for starters, I just don't like little boys. I never have. I've never once sat and thought, "Oh, it would be so nice to have a son."
Wait, I take that back. When I was about 17, I came up with a name for a boy that I thought, "If I ever have a son, that would be a nice name." And that's the last I thought of it.
Let's start shallow and work our way to deep. Wade into it, so to speak.
Majorly shallow reasons:
-- Boy color scheme is ugly. I hate combinations of primary colors. Blue, bleh. Green, guh. Yuck.
-- Boy clothes are not cute. Everything has a stupid collar. If I wanted my infant son to look like a preppy douche, I would...well, that would never happen, so it's irrelevant. There's just an abysmal selection of colors and styles.
-- I'm not interested in: sports, construction vehicles, astronauts, or war toys. I can feign an interest in dinosaurs, zoo animals, puppies and safaris. Maybe I could get into the rock star thing. But those are all my big "theme" choices, as well as a wide swath of toy choices.
-- Little boys are not as cute as little girls. Purely inexplicable personal prejudice. I just don't think they are.
More complex thoughts:
-- I can raise my girl to like "boy things." Claire is fairly gender-neutral in her toy selection and preferences. She likes airplanes and trains and animals, but also her baby dolls, sometimes. It is MUCH harder to employ the same equality with a boy.
-- Boys are rambunctious and aggressive. Don't get me wrong: Claire is a bundle of pure, unbridled energy, and has been ever since she learned to roll over. But she is not actively aggressive. I really think it's the lack of testosterone. Boys just have that gene/hormonal balance that makes their brains work a certain way that girl's brains don't. They hit and bite and want to whack things with sticks and jump off of everything. So we can try to make him a "nice boy." But probably try as hard as I might to fight it, I fear society will just sweep him back their way.
-- Penises. Peeing standing up. Peeing on the floor. Raising the toilet seat. Peeing at diaper changes. Random erections. Touching it in public all the time. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh.
-- CIRCUMCISION. More about penises. To snip or not to snip? Will I be scarring my child for life, or making things easier? Does it make a difference one way or the other? I've got my mother in one ear telling me she thinks it's "barbaric" and a whole mess of other things in the other ear. This is such a complex argument, it makes my brain hurt to even consider the path of this decision. So I'm not going into it here. You get the idea.
-- COST OF "STARTING OVER". Do you remember me mentioning all those boxes and boxes of clothes I had? 90% of them are useless now. Whee. Our whole swing-high chair-stroller-play yard-car seat theme is wrong now. I think we can replace the covers for a couple of those pieces, but while cheaper than new stuff, it won't be cheap. They can't share a room, so we've got to renovate a new nursery out of my art room. Fortunately books and toys are mostly gender neutral, but otherwise... I don't make that kind of money.
Stupid emotional goulash:
-- We are only planning on two children. This is it. I have no other chances. I will only ever have one daughter. (This thought hurts. A LOT.)
-- I wanted Claire to have a sister SO badly. Especially one that would be close to her age. The sister-sister bond is probably the tightest there could be. While she will hopefully be close to her brother anyway, everything I hear is that it is just not the same. (And how could it be?)
-- Two little girls = AWESOME CUTENESS. Boy/girl combo? Not so much.
-- Girls tend to grow up and stay close to their families. Boys do not. Men follow their girlfriends and wives. I hear I should start praying now for a daughter-in-law who will allow me to still be as closely involved in my son's life as I want to be (obviously without REAL intrusion or anything.) This thought is disturbing.
Deep rooted crap:
-- As this is our final child, I get what I get now. Maybe we shouldn't have gone down the road of having a second child if I couldn't handle this possibility. I actually find myself thinking that a lot, more when I'm feeling especially guilty. It's not just the fault of finding out the gender, I also have this thought when Claire is being particularly difficult. Like maybe we should have stopped at one. (I have a feeling I am not the only one, nor will this be the last time(s) I have this thought.)
-- I have two sisters. I've always loved how we are "the girls." Even my dad says he's one of the girls. It's cute. I know all about little girl things. I understand little girls. There haven't been any boys in my family...ever. WTF am I going to do with a boy?
-- I will be the first to admit, I have lots of REAL problems with men. I'm not sure why. I don't have daddy issues; my dad is someone I love and respect and would be an excellent role model for any man. Maybe I've never placed much value on attention from the opposite sex. Maybe because it seems so easy to get. And that's why I gave up early on trying to get it. No challenge in it.
I can probably count on my fingers the number of men I really, truly respect and like. The rest? Some only have a few shortcomings, and those are the ones I count as friends. But the majority? Ugh. On the other hand, how many women do I respect and like? SO many. And while it's openly biased, I value some of the same individual qualities more in women than I do men. For example, bravery can mean two completely different things in the context of gender. Brave women are generally more impressive to me than brave men. I cannot say why for sure.
So in the last 10 weeks, I've had a lot of these thoughts in my head all the time. I am prone to major depressive episodes, and I'm pretty sure I'm in the midst of a bad one right now.
I've done nothing to prepare for this baby, and he will be here so soon. I feel like we haven't bonded at all, the way I did with Claire. He kicks away at me all day, and I'm only mildly amused sometimes. But it still seems surreal, and sometimes I wonder if it won't be real at all until he's here in the world.
I've realized that I am not sad I am having a boy. I am sad I am NOT having a girl. I've thought on it long and hard, and there's a very significant difference.
I realize so much of this is really unfair to a baby who has no say in the matter. I know.
I know I'm lucky to be able to have a(nother) child at all.
I know I'm lucky that he's healthy.
I know it would be nice to have one of each.
I know that gender doesn't necessarily determine personality or intelligence or any of a zillion other traits.
I know that as soon as he's born I will love him until the ends of the earth. I know that somehow I will be able to love another baby as much as I have already loved Claire. I know he will be the cutest thing I have ever seen and I will want to snuggle him and bite his toes. I know a lot of this will seem petty and simple and irrelevant in retrospect.
But right now I am still mourning the loss of the little baby girl that I won't get to have. Somehow she was very real in my head, and it feels as though she's died and gone forever.
My next 10 weeks I will continue to struggle with that until I've cried my last tear over it. Until I've put out of my head all the little girl things I wanted to save and do and look forward to. I will work on coming to terms with all the things I see as negatives. I will try not to feel sick every time I realize how little time is left before I have to welcome this boy child with love and really mean it.
And I think, for the first time in my life, I will be actively seeking therapy. I can no longer do this on my own, and it's beyond my husband's ken and capability, and it's not fair to my family to rely on them any longer. I feel weird about it after working for YEARS to manage things on my own, but I feel like I can't afford not to.