Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's a Girl!

As I mentioned, a ton of my friends are pregnant right now, and they seem to all have reached that magic 20 week mark around the same time. And if you don't know what's magic about 20 weeks (besides being halfway mark of pregnancy!)- it is typically the time that you get to find out the sex of the baby! Hearing all the excited (and nervous) comments from my friends as they go through this stage remind me of our experience, and I thought I would share one of my journals from that time. I'm not always proud of the mixed up emotions that happen in my mixed up head (and heart), but they're real. And there is beauty in honesty, even when it's still a little messy.

Written 6/22/11

You’re a girl. Despite what we thought…and what others predicted…you are a girl. A perfect little girl. The girl that God has chosen to join our family.

I had been looking forward to the ultrasound for weeks- at least the 16 weeks that I had known about the pregnancy, but honestly probably years before that. Seeing your baby for the first time is known as one of life’s great joys, and I couldn’t wait for it to be my turn to look into that little screen with awe and wonder and have my life changed forever. And, as with most pregnancy and parenting topics, this moment did live up to all the splendor of its hype, while simultaneously being a relatively mundane experience. With this pregnancy I’m learning that the most earth-shattering, heart-altering experiences also have a way of feeling so natural that they seem mundane. Yeah, this morning we watched our 20-week-old fetus flutter around on a monitor…what did you do today? I suppose it’s because we can’t possibly wrap our minds around the miracle of life being formed, so I waffle back and forth between being positively dumbstruck by the possibility that I am actually making a baby as we speak, and so comfortable with the idea, that it seems impossible that it would be any other way.

But between the extremes of disbelief and quiet understanding, we got to see our baby. There was warmed up goo, a magic wand of sorts, and a small TV screen that added up to real, live moving pictures of our child-to-be. Dustin and I stared in rapture, taking in every wiggle and twitch…finally confirming that this was all really happening, and it was all really amazing. One fear I had with the ultrasound is that I wouldn’t recognize our baby- not that I wouldn’t be able to pick it out of a crowd- but that the image of our child would blend in with the unfamiliar setting, and I wouldn’t be able to tell a hand from a head, from an ovary.  It turns out  that the hands were easy to identify, the head makes sense in profile, but then easily can be confused with a belly from other angles, and my ovaries just look like black holes on the monitor. I had no idea how thorough the exam would be- and I was fascinated to watch the technician expertly maneuver her wand to capture every little angle and view of our baby. She measured limbs, counted toes, checked organs…We saw kidneys, and brain sections, and heart ventricles. At points, the baby was less than cooperative. It lay at a funny angle, making it hard to get all the photos we needed, and at other times moved around so much that the screen couldn’t keep up, and went fuzzy. But the tech barely blinked, just shifted her wand, changed direction and continued the exam to determine that every tiny detail of our baby was perfect. And it was.

From thirty minutes of watching and recording, the technician was able to confirm that the baby had all of its necessary parts, was an appropriate size for its age, had a strong and normal heartbeat (that we got to listen to- and to our surprise it was even louder and clearer than when we heard it on the dopler), and had plenty of room (and fluid) in which to grow. (That had been my number one fear- beyond some terrible complication- I hoped I was giving it enough room and nutrients that it was able to grow and flourish. Thankfully, all was well.)

And then we got to the moment of truth: we reminded her that we did indeed want to know the sex of the baby (a fact we had to double confirm, which I suppose saves people from hearing the big reveal before they’re ready). So she set about getting the baby in a position to see the “goods”, which turned out to be quite a task. We were able to see the baby’s little rump from underneath (adorable!!) but its stubbornly refused to separate its little legs. The tech was undeterred- and began to press and wiggle the wand against my belly, encouraging the baby to pose, by repeating “open up, open up!” At this point I looked at Dustin and attempted to warn him (entirely too late) that we might not be able to determine the sex of the baby in this visit, and if not, he shouldn’t be too disappointed. He half-heartedly lied that it would be ok either way, just as we both had half-heartedly responded to the technician that we weren’t hoping for a boy or a girl…just a healthy baby would be fine with us! The whole truth is not only did we both think it was a boy, we both deep down wanted a boy. I had gone back and forth in my mind about what I truly wanted, and had thought I didn’t have a preference- but the truth is, it was a little like choosing a restaurant with friends. You say you’re fine with anything, until they choose pizza, and you realize you had your heart set on cheeseburgers all along. And so went my self-denial. Throughout the exam as I watched the little profile dance upon the screen, watched the baby open its tiny mouth, flex its itty bitty tongue, move its baby baby fingers, I was sure- it was a boy. It felt like a boy, and looked like a boy. So when the baby moved its legs apart, giving us all a clear view of its “down theres”, and the technician was able to quickly, and assuredly announce “It’s a girl”, I found myself not only surprised…But disappointed.

And that is the word that I am never supposed to use. No mother is supposed to be disappointed with their baby. Ever. And if you are, you certainly not supposed to say it, or write it, especially in an adorable little keepsake journal that you plan to pass on to said baby later in life.  But for real: I was disappointed. I had hoped for a boy to start our family- to be the older sibling, to look just like Dustin and follow in his footsteps, to pave the way for many siblings to come. A girl had always been a possibility of course, but just didn’t feel like what we meant to have.

But these were not appropriate thoughts for the occasion, so I quickly shoved them back, looked at Dustin, and smiled! A girl! Was I excited? Of course! Who wouldn’t be! That’s just great! A girl!

Dustin was quick to notice my half grin, and empty expression, probably because he was wearing a similar mask. I knew in my heart that he shared my feelings. He was disappointed, which could only mean that I had let him down. I failed to give him the boy he so desired. But there wasn’t much time to dwell….the exam was wrapping up. The tech burned a DVD and checked my ovaries (for what? I wasn’t sure…) She then announced that she was going to have the doctor come in and check- making special note to assure us that nothing was wrong. Dustin and I exchanged glances during our brief alone time, and kept up the fake assurances, that Sure! We were fine! A girl is amazing!

The doctor came in, again telling us that nothing was wrong, he just wanted to take a look. And so he did. And a quick swish of the wand later, he informed me, “There’s nothing wrong with your ovaries…we thought there might be, but based on your history, I wouldn’t worry about it.” We were left a little dumbfounded by this- especially after the multiple specific reassurances that he hadn’t come in due to a problem. But based on the news, we didn’t make and issue, and were quickly ready to go. (Though I was informed that my placenta was in a low position, something they would need to check at the 28 week mark. The tech told me again not to worry, especially because there is nothing I can do to  “move it” so we’ll just wait and hope for the best. Not exactly the words I always dreamed of hearing, but in light of all the good news about having a healthy baby, we decided to take the Zen route, and save the placenta worries for another day.)

Dustin and I gathered up our stuff, now proudly toting photos and video of our very own baby…but there was still a thickness to the air between us. We each tried to keep of the charade that we weren’t disappointed in the slightest, by telling each other how happy we were…but we didn’t want to overdo it (if you’re really that happy, you don’t have to go out of your way to prove your happiness, right?) so it led to a quiet, slightly somber trip up to the doctor’s office.  Soon enough we gave up the ruse, and graduated to making any effort to convince each other (and ourselves) that this was the best news! We named first-born girls that we thought turned out ok, we brought up how happy my mom, and Janet would be, and I in particular repeated more than once, “It’s ok…I’ll totally be excited about this someday. I’ll get there.”

But as the days passed, I worried that I might not get there. I actually had a small fantasy for the first few days that the technician must be wrong- we shouldn’t even prepare for a girl, because we would undoubtedly find out at our next appointment that it was all a mistake. Our baby boy was in there after all! I lamented to myself that it just didn’t feel like a girl, and more dramatically, I wondered if I would ever really bond with her. I felt like a failure for not producing a boy, and an immensely bigger failure for being anything less than elated about our baby, regardless of sex.

A scant ten days later, I can’t say that I’ve had a one hundred percent change of heart. After all, I did think for four months I was having a boy, so it very well may take more than a week to adjust to the new reality. But I have had moments where I’ve begun to see the blessing that this girl will undoubtedly be. When writing a Father’s Day journal, I was brought to tears thinking about the men in my life, and how well they love me…I was struck by how lucky I am, and how special they are, but most of all how much I look forward to seeing that love poured out on my baby girl. I can picture Dustin falling in love with her sweet little face, and the imaginary image of them cuddled up together is enough to erase any doubts or fears I had about raising a girl. I love my mom tremendously, so it would make sense that I would want to recreate that bond with my own child (and I do!) but for some reason at this stage, my heart has become set on envisioning the relationship between my little girl, and her daddy.  I know that regardless of his jokes about wanting a boy, or even his initial reaction of slight disappointment, Dustin will love our girl beyond anything I can describe, or maybe even understand. And knowing that he is ok, makes me ok.

Plus- I bought the cutest little striped romper…and thinking about our baby’s chubby thighs sticking out of that little outfit might just be enough to convince me I want nothing but daughters. Almost…

You’re a girl. Despite what we thought…and what others predicted…you are a girl. A perfect little girl. The girl that God has chosen to join our family. A girl that we already love beyond measure.


  1. oh my goodness!! This made my cry - I love this so much.

  2. I read this post a few nights ago and was too bleary eyed from tiredness and blurry eyed from tearing up to comment.

    Beautiful post. I could sit and read your writing for many hours.

    Love your devotion to journaling the old-fashioned way even during such a busy time of life. I am sure your family will look back on them one day and be oh so thankful you took the time. :)

  3. Hi Courtney,

    I found your blog because my sister sent me your nursery on Project Nursery bc of your REALLY CUTE chalkboard wall...we just moved to Pittsburgh 2 months ago, I'm due Aug. 20th with our first baby (boy), and we just did most of the nursery this past weekend and I painted one wall in chalkboard paint. Anyways, when I saw you lived in Pittsburgh, I had to say hi. We just moved from Austria, where we were for the past 3 years but I'm originally from Texas. Fun to find another 'blogger' and decor person. :)