I'm glad we did that for Eliza. I'm glad we celebrated her before she was here, and that we shared our excitement with my parents and our friends. It was cheesy and lame and I loved every minute of it. I look at how happy I am in those pictures, and I'm so glad I treasured that moment in my pregnancy. I know I'll never have another one like it.
|Eliza's 20-week ultrasound pictures--a healthy, perfect girl!|
But if we were to have a party this time around, the theme would be "The Deuce: We Don't Give a Shit What You Are, As Long As You're Alive."
I imagine we would serve cupcakes with chocolate frosting in the shape of poo.
LOL. Sorry, I am gross.
Anyway, the point of the poop jokes and hypothetical non-existent party-planning is that my twenty week scan is tomorrow and we're NOT going to find out whether we're having a boy or a girl. Because we do not give a shit. As long as this baby is alive and stays that way.
Even though David and I are both type-A planners (we're the couple who writes their own itinerary on vacation because we are SO cool and laid-back, you know?). Even though I've always said that I hate surprises (Because it's so much fun to look forward to things! And if it's a surprise, you've taken away all the delicious anticipation!). Even though we're both really, really curious. We are going to wait until the baby is born. We are now the anti-planners. Expect nothing. Hope for everything.
Last time, I wasn't just pregnant. I was expecting a baby. So I acted accordingly. I planned and prepared for everything. Classes, books, magazine subscriptions. Furniture, clothes, toys, baby supplies. I wanted all the details to be perfect. I expected my baby was a sure thing and I had no reason to believe she wouldn't be healthy and perfect. We hadn't finalized her name, but I knew what she'd wear home from the hospital, what she'd wear for her newborn photos, what I wanted her birth announcements to look like... I could see her so clearly in my head. She was already mine.
This time, I'm doing the exact opposite. I want to know the Deuce is healthy and growing on schedule. I want to know that my body is doing what it needs to be doing. (Even though I know those things are not guarantees we'll be bringing home a baby.) Any and all other details can be worked out AFTER this baby is here.
I guess it doesn't quite feel like this baby is mine yet. Not that I don't love the Deuce, that I'm not irrevocably attached to this weensy little fetus whom I think fluttered a few little kicks that I FINALLY felt last night (conclusion: The Deuce likes no-bake cookies). I just can't quite believe the Deuce is a sure thing.
I've wondered if my wish to keep it a surprise is a way to try and protect myself from another loss. To be perfectly honest, yes, I'm terrified of getting attached to this baby. But guess what? Too late. Already there. I may not know if it's a boy or a girl, but I do know that I would endure anything to get the Deuce here, alive and well. Sleepless nights and nosebleeds. Carpel tunnel and sciatica. Twenty weeks of bed rest. A million stabs with needles. A shark fight in which I'm armed only with goggles and a small pen knife. Bring it on. Whatever it takes. I definitely don't need to know the gender to bond with this babe.
But I'm still not ready to count on him or her coming home with us yet. So I guess this is our way of acknowledging the uncertainty, the inability to see the future and plan ahead and know for sure. And of forcing other people to acknowledge it with us.
This will keep me from getting ahead of myself, but also keep other people from getting ahead of us with their "certain" outcomes and ideas of what our family will look like come July. I'm pregnant. That's a good thing. Man, we wanted this. Man, we love the Deuce. But this is all we've got, so far. We're not expecting a baby this time so much as wildly hoping for one.
It's also a way for me to try to embrace (however reluctantly) my lack of control. I don't get to decide whether this babe is a boy or a girl, just like I didn't get to decide whether Eliza lived or died. Life is full of uncertainty, and I'm just hoping that this time we luck into a happy ending.
Another part of this decision is that I want this pregnancy to feel different from Eliza's. (Besides the fact that this time I'm terrified.) I NEED it to be different in a way that isn't entirely negative and horrible. So the gender surprise is one way to do that. Definitely different. Not bad-different. Just different-different. Kind of fun-different, even! (And we all know that SOMETHING in this pregnancy needs to be fun instead of wretchedly anxious and nail-biting.)
And as for our preference? Well, if we can't have Eliza, any old sibling will do. I'm working under the assumption that the Deuce is a boy, mostly because every single person I know (save one--Hi, Teresa!) who has had a stillborn baby girl has subsequently gotten pregnant with a boy. This list includes several of the blogs I read, the people I've met through the grief support group, and my great-aunt Sue. (Actually, I just learned today of one more exception to this rule, but I still think that the number of boys-after-loss is much higher than girls, though. Even if this is based on my totally unscientific sampling.) A friend asked me if having a boy would be easier. I don't even remember how I answered her, but I don't think there is an easier. Is the baby ALIVE? That would certainly make things easier. Or at least happier.
Before I got pregnant with Eliza, I thought it was kind of shitty for people to express a gender preference (as I stated in my heartbreakingly hopeful and excited post about her 20-week ultrasound). I gaped open-mouthed at a guy friend of ours who voiced his disappointment when he found out he was going to have a daughter. I was equally appalled at David's aunt, who cried when she found out her first pregnancy was a little boy (David's grandpa Gene finally told her that he'd take the baby if she didn't want it, and that shut her up. Hilarious. Oh, Gpa Gene. We miss you.) I mean, I think it's FINE to have your own personal preference (unavoidable sometimes), but I just couldn't imagine voicing to the world that I was disappointed in the gender of my child.
But then I had a baby girl and I lost her and all I wanted in the whole world was THAT baby girl. Or... maybe since that was impossible, I'd settle for her sister. I wanted to have another baby, and I wanted that baby to be a GIRL.
Forget the fact that I once imagined a mini-David and a baseball-themed nursery and dinosaur rompers and train sets. That boy crap was no longer part of my vision. I'd already lost Eliza, but I wasn't ready to let go of the dreams I had of ballet lessons, and hair ribbons, and French braids, and dress up clothes, and an Anne-of-Green-Gables-inspired vacation to Prince Edward's Island and American Girls Dolls and prom dress shopping... Of course, I imagine Eliza would have loved all those things, but we'll never know.
Around Eliza's birthday, I was thinking about all the hopes and dreams and plans we had for her, (swimming lessons, dance recitals, getting into a good four-year liberal arts school), and I realized that it wouldn't have mattered if she was just like I dreamed she would be or not. I loved her regardless, just as she was. Just as she would have been. Even if she was nothing like I'd expected (read: nothing like me). Even if she liked soccer and hated ballet, even if she preferred sci-fi over historical fiction, even if she wanted to wear a tuxedo when she took her girlfriend to prom, even if she wanted to be (gasp!) an engineer like her grandpa and uncle instead of studying art history or fashion design or British literature. It's true, I miss the baby girl I'd dreamed about, but mostly I miss that I never got to know the real Eliza. And no sister (or brother) can give me back what I've already lost.
But they can give me someone new to love. And that's why it doesn't matter the least bit if the Deuce is a girl or a boy. Or if he (or she) likes baseball or musical theatre or (hopefully!) both. The love's the same. The gender is just... a detail.
And details we can think about later. AFTER this baby is born.
So we're holding out for the big reveal at birth. Which I guess is also one more way I'm trying to give the Deuce a vote of confidence. I'm still holding on to the hope that the day this baby is born, I'll be so happy that I really won't give a shit WHAT this baby is, as long as it's alive.
And then we can celebrate. Poo-shaped chocolate frosting for everyone!
How about you? Did you ever have a strong gender preference, regardless of whether you'd experienced a loss? Did you have to deal with disappointment? How quickly did you get over it (uh, assuming you did)? Did you know that America is the only country in the world where girl babies are preferred over boys? Do you happen to have a strong feeling about whether the Deuce is a boy or a girl? (A lady we met in Mexico took one look at my barely visible, 12-week tummy and said with total confidence, "Oh, you're having a girl.") Do you think we're crazy for not finding out?
And can I just ask for all your prayers, wishes, ju-ju, vibes, and good intentions to be directed our way tomorrow morning? I'm so nervous about this ultrasound I can hardly stand it.