Separate, but Equal. A Mother’s Journey to a Baby Girl. (Part 1)
For as long as I can remember I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. I was the oldest of my cousins and was always the little mother hen who looked out for them and tried to take care of everyone. I knew I wanted to be a mother as sure and naturally as I knew the earth was round and that the sky was blue. It was a certainty to me. A constant. As I grew older, this desire never wavered, never faltered, and only grew stronger.
For my whole life, when I imagined myself as a mother the image that came to my mind was me holding and raising a little girl. No matter if it was a daydream or a night dream the picture was always the same. It was me with a sassy little girl. Her face was so clear to me, her movements, even her voice. In every image in my head she was so clear and real to me that it was like my very own movie of the future. In my biographical movie, my daughter has stringy light brown hair, tan skin, and is small for her age. She is a little peanut with a huge personality. She is bold and brave with the greatest smile and the biggest laugh. Her energy is light in a dark room and her sparkle shines so bright in her green eyes. She is as alive to me in my dreams and in my heart as if my dreams brought her to life.
When I was a teen, I remember one dream that was so powerful that when I first woke up I wasn’t sure if it was reality or a dream. I occasionally have dreams like that. That feel so real that it takes me a few minutes or even a few hours to shake them. Well this dream felt so real that 15+ years later I still haven’t been able to shake it. In the dream, I am standing in front of a little girl. She is between 1-2 years old. Someone else is holding her so that she is facing me. I lean down and ask her name. She tells me in this confident and brave voice, Mikayla Alexia. I can still see her face and hear her voice in my head as if she was standing in front of me today. Even though someone else was holding her in that moment I knew with such clarity that she was my future little girl.
When I was in my 20s and creating my bucket list, being pregnant with a little girl was the first item on my list. Followed of course by marrying my soul mate and traveling to Italy. As time passed, I married my soul mate. We traveled to Italy together. Little by little the items on my bucket list were becoming a much appreciated reality.
I grew from a teen, to an adult, then to a wife, and then to a pregnant woman. I was certain that the baby growing inside of me was destined to be my little girl. I was so confident about it that I never even pictured a boy in any of my fantasies or pictures of what my future child would look like. Then, the moment of the delivery of my first child came and it was a boy. From the moment he stared up at me with his HUGE brown eyes I was in-love with him. Unequivocally and without any hesitation fully and with every ounce of my being IN LOVE with this soul in my arms. I never once grieved the fact that the child I always imagined was not the one looking back at me.
Two years past and my love for my son only grew, yet my yearning for the daughter I always imagined grew just as steadfast as my unconditional love for my son. So when my husband and I discussed having a second child we discussed two options; adoption or getting pregnant on our own.
My husband knew and understood how important having a girl meant to me and the option of adoption could provide us with the choice of gender as well as providing a home to a child in need. After much conversation and consideration, we decided on trying to get pregnant on our own. My husband felt it was selfish of us to take a baby away from a family that could not have children on their own when we were capable of doing so and I still deeply desired to be pregnant with my daughter.
So before we started trying to conceive I went into deep research mode. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on about how to choose the gender of your baby. I read about diets, conception positioning, acidity levels, vitamins, timing, ovulation, clothing to wear, basal body temps, and cervical mucus. I knew Dr. Shettles Method inside and out. I had rainbow color highlighter marks throughout his book as my guide. I had not ONE, but TWO fertility applications downloaded and used daily on my Ipad just in case one was more accurate than the other. Once I felt prepared, educated, and ready to finally make my lifelong dream of getting pregnant with my little girl a reality, we started trying to get pregnant.
For eight long months, my husband and I were completely dedicated to the “make a girl” plan. I took my basal body temp each and every morning for 8-months. I was religious about tracking my temp, cervical mucus, and ovulation each day even multiple times a day on both fertility apps. My husband and I both adhered to the strict “make a girl” diet. We only had sex during the “girl timeframe” of ovulation. We did everything the multiple books and websites told us to do in order to ensure that my lifelong dream would come true in our happily ever after.
With each month that past, without becoming pregnant, I began to become increasingly hopeless and exhausted. For anyone that has ever tried to conceive can testify that there is very little fun involved. It becomes a job. Our job also had a lot of rules and regulations which took out even more of the fun and romance.
Then the day finally came, after over 8 months of trying, we were PREGNANT!!!!! I woke up that Friday morning to take another pregnancy test. I had just taken one on Monday and it was negative, so I was sure this one was going to be negative too, but I took it anyways. I peed on the stick, walked away, watched a show on tv, and then came back to check the results. I was the words PREGNANT on the test.
All of a sudden a warm sensation ran from the top of my head, down my face, and into my stomach. My first thought was “Oh, thank goodness!” I of course took another test because I was in such shock and disbelief. I wanted to be sure before I allowed myself to celebrate. The second test said Pregnant too!!!!! I was so relieved, overjoyed, and ecstatic. I planned a fun way to tell my husband later that night and we celebrated our news with friends that night. It was such a fun and joyous moment. My heart was full and light all at the same time. Full of excitement and light and free with relief as if it was a soaring in the air.
My husband and I planned a fun and special way to tell all 3 sets of our parents and siblings at Christmas about our August due date. It was a time filled with feelings of cheer, excitement, happiness, and contentment. It was also a time filled with anticipation as it has never been a
secret that I am not the only one who really wants a baby girl in the family.The entire extended family desires a little girl in the family as well. With our large blended family, out of 11 children there are only 3 girls. Out of 14 grandchildren we only have 3 girls. Our family has not had a girl in the past 13 years. My two nieces want me to have a little girl with just as much desperation as I do. I receive text messages from grandparents clearly stating that it is up to my husband and I and the last single sibling to produce another granddaughter. The shared desire for a little girl addition to the family is not only shared, but is also anxiety producing.
After the initial excitement wore off the pressure cooker anxiety set in. The anticipation of learning the gender created an underlying anxiety that I had never felt before. Then week 6 of my pregnancy crept up on me and all the unpleasant early pregnancy symptoms hit me like a Mac Truck. Week 6-16 were filled with nothing but nausea, constant motion sickness, exhaustion, and insane cravings. I felt hungry all the time, but I couldn’t eat without feeling sick to my stomach. I felt like I was starving all day every day and whatever I ate made me feel sick or wasn’t satisfying. I felt like I was literally losing my mind. I was more exhausted than I have ever been in my life and my body ached all over. At the same time, my environmental stressors were also at their peak. My father who is my closest and dearest family member was undergoing triple bypass heart surgery. My husband, son, and I spent 3 weeks in Florida visiting the hospital daily and getting his home ready for his return.
I was not prepared for this at all! I was not prepared for any of it. The initial pregnancy symptoms, the environmental stressors, or the unexpected anxiety that came with this pregnancy. My first pregnancy was smooth sailing from week 1 to week 40. I never experienced any of these symptoms. Or if I did it was at such a mundane level that it only slowed me down slightly or disappeared within a day or two.
I was the pregnant chick that other chicks hated! I was doing body pump classes at the gym into my 9th month. I was glowing and loving every second of my pregnant bliss. Well, I guess this pregnancy is my wake-up call because I am at 20 weeks and am still miserable and not having any fun at all. I keep asking my OBGYN, “when is it going to get fun like last time?”
My only saving grace was the countdown to finding out the gender of my baby. My inspiration that got me through every miserable moment was that it was all worth it for the little girl I was going to be blessed with in the end. Everyone we knew; family, friends, even strangers keep saying that I better buy pink because it must be a girl. I am sure it is a girl this time too. That is the only explanation for feeling this horrible all the time. The love for my little girl was my motivation every day.
I even have the nursery all planned out. My Pinterest board is packed full of each aspect of the nursery. The previous owners of our house had a little girl so the walls of the nursery were already painted pink before we bought the house. I mean it was meant to be. Plus, every time I log onto Facebook I see that another one of my pregnant friends has found out they are having a girl. Seriously, each and every one of them. All the of the pregnant people I know that are also due this summer are having a little girl. The Chinese Gender Calendar confirms it. I am having a girl. I declare this The Summer of the Girls!!!!!! It was serendipity at its best. All the signs from the universe are saying that this baby is A GIRL!!!!
Except, that she is actually a HE. My baby girl that I am meant to have and have waited my entire life to meet is actually a BOY. The words are even surreal and painful for me to type. As I type them, my stomach literally flip flops and I can feel the ache in my heart turn up. The reality still takes my breath away a little.
The words “It’s a boy” as they came out of the ultrasound technicians mouth still ring in my ears. I was laying there on the table and was sure I was going to hear “It’s a girl!” But those words never came. I asked her; “How sure are you?” She looked at me as if I had five heads. She pointed to the picture on the screen of my baby from the underside position, legs out, and there it was clear as day……..A PENIS!!!!
I don’t remember much of the rest of the appointment. My brain shut off and my body went numb. I walked outside of the doctor’s office and the cold wind hit my face and brought me back to reality. I could feel the tears building up in my throat and making their way to my eyes. I darted for my car. I called my dad first. I wasn’t ready to break the news to my husband yet. I sobbed on the phone as I told my dad ; “the baby is healthy and everything is fine, but it’s a boy.” He immediately started speaking in clichés to me. He said; “Everything happens for a reason. At least your baby is healthy”. The more he spoke the angrier I became. Of course, I was happy that the baby is healthy. That is a given, that is a constant. But he was robbing me of my ability to feel grief and lose for the baby girl that I have spent the past 25+ years loving in my heart. He was not allowing me to say goodbye to the imagine in my head of the family I always thought I would have. I had to get off the phone. I had to hang up…NOW!!!! I told him I was too upset and had to go.
I then called my soul sister from back home. Thank goodness she answered. I just sobbed and in between sobs I managed to say; “I just came from doctor. (Sobbing). Everything is okay. (Sobbing). But it is NOT a girl.” (Sobbing). She replied with; “Oh, Sarah, I am so sorry.” She let me cry over the phone and she just kept repeating “I’m so sorry. I know how much this meant to you. I’m so glad you called me.” I continued to sob and she continued to repeat those comforting words until I was ready to talk more.
I explained to her that I literally did not know how to put one foot in front of the other. My brain had shut down and I was searching for how to step forward, but nothing was coming to mind. I did not know how to think straight or where to go from here.
I had not prepared myself for this possibility because for me it honestly was never a possibility. I was destined to be a mother to a daughter. That had always been as true to me as breathing. Not only did I have destiny on my side, but my husband and I had done our due diligence. We had followed all the rules to a T. We had done everything we were supposed to do according to every book we had about how to choose the gender of your baby. I had endured the awful parts of this pregnancy every day for the past 19 weeks. How could this even be possible and what does this mean from here?
How were we going to break the news to our families? Everyone wants a girl so bad. How could I not make this happen. Not just for me, but for them too?
What went wrong? I don’t understand! It was supposed to be The Summer of the Girls! It was supposed to be Destiny! It was supposed to be Serendipity! Or at least that is what I have thought all this time. Now all my thoughts have betrayed me.
My husband only wants two children. What does this mean for our marriage? Our future?
My nieces are going to be so disappointed, they wanted a little girl so bad. I have disappointed them yet again! How are we going to tell them?
What were we going to do about the pink walls in the nursery? How are we going to decorate the nursery now?
How am I going to handle two boys? Are they going to be wild and crazy like my sister-in-law says?
Why is this happening? What happened to my image of my family in my head and my heart? Am I going to be able to let go of the yearning to raise a little girl? Will that ever fade? Or will it haunt me?
How do I move forward from here?
These were the questions swirling in my head all at once. Never once did I question my ability to love this new little boy. You see, that is because my love for my unborn child is separate from the grief and lose I feel for the little girl that I am not having. The two things are separate, but equally as powerful.
Separate, but Equal. A Mother’s Journey to a Baby Girl. (Part 2)
The two things are separate, but equally as powerful. So I began the Stages of Grief
Stage 1: DENIAL
I realized I was in denial, but not when I was actually in it. It wasn’t until after that I was able to reflect and understand that is what I was doing. I was in denial as I told my soul sister during our first phone call that as soon as I got off the phone that I was going to Google the accuracy of gender at 19 week ultrasound. She politely agreed and then countered with me that after I Google the accuracy that I then Google “moms who wanted a girl, but not a boy.” I reluctantly agreed to her terms. I then spent the next 2 hours looking at ultrasound gender pictures online and another hour searching for blogs from other moms who have shared my experience.
Stage 2: BARGAINING
Again, it wasn’t until later that I realized I was bargaining. A week before THEE ULTRASOUND that told me we were having a boy instead of a girl, my older brother passed away suddenly from complications due to a kidney transplant. During my time up at the funeral with my family my father, stepmother, and I discussed my upcoming ultrasound. I told them that I knew my brother was in heaven telling God to bless us with our little girl. Finding out that we were going to have our girl, following the loss of my brother would be the only thing that would give his sudden death any sense to me. It would help me make sense of his sudden and unexpected departure from us. As if it was a trade of some sort. Like the Universe, God, Higher Power, or whatever label you give it was saying that I took so greatly from you and your family and will as such give so greatly to you and your family too. I understand now that it does not always work that way and this was me bargaining with God to make sense of it all.
Stage 3: ANGER
This stage I knew I was in very quickly after entering it. Everyone and everything was irritating me to an intense level. I was yelling more, was easily angered, and was full on pissed off!!!!
I am from the school of thought that if you want something bad enough that you work hard and put in the commitment until you make it happen. This thinking has worked well for me so far. I have always been used to people doubting me and my ability to make my dreams a reality. From middle school and boys doubting my intelligence or ability to play sports. To when I was 18 years old and people doubting my ability to live in my own apartment. To people doubting my ability to leave Florida and move to North Carolina. To people doubting my ability to open my own business at 24 years old. I am used to people doubting me and I am used to working EXTRA hard in order to prove them wrong. This time, it was no different in that people doubted that I would be able to conceive a little girl. This time it was no different in that I out in the extra work and was fully committed to my dream. This time it was COMPLETELY different in that no matter have committed I was or how much hard work I put in I could not make this dream a reality. This fact enraged me!!!!!!!!!!
Then, I would see parents with their girls and feel jealousy and anger. I would think to myself, there is no way they can understand because look they have their little girl. If I saw people with two girls I thought; “Oh of course they even have two and not just one.” I thought no one could understand how I feel because even the moms I knew that had only boys told me they never wanted a girl. I knew no one that was able to understand and truly feel my pain. The anger of not being truly understood combined with the anger of jealousy of seeing others with their little girls was like a quiet monster that slept inside of me and crept out at the most unexpected moments.
Stage 4: DEPRESSION
I’m not sure if I have reached this stage yet. Maybe I am in it now and don’t realize it yet. Maybe I will skip this stage and move to Acceptance. Maybe this stage will hit me at a later point or in small bursts throughout my years to come when my heart still aches for the little girl of a dream unmet.
Stage 5: ACCEPTANCE
I am actively working towards acceptance. I am naturally a doer. Some may call it Type A. Some may call it a Control Freak. I call it being proactive. So I consciously and proactively focus on my thoughts and actions and try to move them in the direction of my new future. I am doing this by changing my language and referring to my unborn baby as he. I am using the masculine language of him, he, little brother, and son. I am referring to him specifically by his name. I am creating a new Pinterest board of new nursery ideas. I am writing this blog as part of my therapeutic process. I am reaching out to fellow moms for support.
I am going to ask the ultrasound tech at each upcoming ultrasound to use the masculine language as well and to confirm for me each time that my new reality is in fact real.
I am taking more time for me to focus on my unborn son. To feel his kicks and to learn his movements. I am consciously and proactively making a connection with him. I am practicing visualizing my unborn child as a son. I am practicing picturing my family with two boys.
My grief creeps at different points throughout the days and weeks, but I do not allow it to linger for too long. In all honestly, it takes continued effort at this point. My hope is that as time continues on my grief will lessen and my joy will increase. I trust in the moment that I see my son that I will love him as endlessly and as deeply as I do his big brother. I also trust that if I stumble that it is only a reflection of my grief and not at all an absence of love for my child.
Separate, but Equal. A Mother’s Journey to a Baby Girl. (Part 3)
And so I begin a new future.
Some may read this and call me selfish, greedy, or unappreciative. Some may say that I SHOULD be happy that my baby is healthy because there are other’s out there that have lost their unborn child or who’s child is born with disabilities. They may say that I SHOULD be grateful that I could even get pregnant naturally because there are thousands of people who are not able to do so. You may think that I SHOULD be satisfied to have a baby boy because at least I can have a baby at all.
If you are one of the people who thinks this about me that is okay because I am not writing this looking for other people’s approval. I am not writing this even looking for other people’s sympathy or comfort. You see, the word SHOULD no longer has any power over me. It is actually a forbidden word in our household and in my active language. The word SHOULD is more harmful and debilitating than any four letter curse word. It robs a person of their true emotions, it traps a person like quicksand, and paralyzes them in the pressure of others expectations.
Let me be clear, I am grateful for my healthy pregnancy. I am appreciative of the life growing inside of me. That is my truth. That is my powerful truth! That is also only half of my story. My other half above is also my powerful truth! Only telling you one part is only being partially truthful. My complete truth is that my two truths are separate, but equally as powerful.
I write this because I realized that I am not the only one who has ever felt this way, but I may be one of the few who is actually talking about it. My hope is that my truth may bring other woman or families a sense of understanding, compassion, and support in the fact that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I am with you. We are on this journey together. You may be further along in your journey than I or maybe you have not started on this path, but we are in this together. I will not tell you how you SHOULD feel or what you SHOULD do. I will repeat the words of my soul sister and say, “I am so sorry you are hurting. I know how much this meant to you. You are not alone.”