When I got a call telling me the baby I was carrying at 41 was a girl, I screamed with glee right into the telephone. My husband still laughs about that. I’d said I didn’t care what we had.
Just like I didn’t care when I found out the baby I was pregnant with at 29, the one I planned to name Sophie, was a fella named Hayes, or when his little sister Gigi turned out to be Vince. In fact, the main reason I wanted to learn their sexes early was to get over any disappointment I might feel long before delivery. I wanted to welcome my boys with non-pink Onesies and without looking back.
Perhaps I was so sure that both Hayes and Vince were girls because I could not believe that my body could manufacture a boy. I had grown up in a house without brothers, so little boys and their little-boy bodies were alien to me. I got over that fast, bonding in the most primordial way with my sons through nursing, bathing, diapering and watching them spray pee in my face. Soon I realized there is a delicious sweetheart relationship between mother and baby boy.
When I became pregnant a few years ago, I again dreamed of having a girl. And I got her! Complete with wide blue eyes and a headful of curls and the ability to enslave family and strangers alike with her fearsome cuteness and guileless charm.
A girl! Closets full of dresses, ribbons and barrettes! People were shocked at me, a weight-lifting, jeans-wearing, makeup-free type. Well, Jane, who is now 2, wears jeans and sneakers, too, and Doc Martenesque black boots and hooded sweatshirts. And very often she wears exactly what I’m wearing because that’s how crazy in love I am, drunk as a honeybee on her feminine sweetness.
One day as we were going to the swimming pool, Jane watched me tie a sarong around my waist. We couldn’t leave the house until I made her a sarong, too (out of a pale-blue silk Nicole Miller scarf, no less). You should have seen the two of us sashaying along.
When I think of cultures where boys are preferred and girls less enthusiastically welcomed, even abandoned, I cannot fathom how this can be. When I recently watched the video of Sophie’s Choice, I wept for it all. Is a baby girl not the sweetest thing in the world?
I believe one of the most important things I can do for my boys is to teach them to take care of themselves and to know women to be the absolute equals of men. And I want to raise a daughter sure and brave, not physically or spiritually banzaied by gender but inspired and made powerful by it. I believe I already see that strength in Jane, bouncing high on the trampoline with her brothers.
But being with her has rekindled something else in me as well: a tender appreciation for girlishness and girly things, all left behind so long ago. Maybe this is why I wanted her so badly. Long live pink.