Team blue or team pink? The gender reveal!October 17, 2016
As much as I’d love to bake a cake and video us cutting it open, revealing blue or pink sponge, or release a box full of coloured balloons a la Giuliana Rancic, or any of the many (MANY) gender reveal ideas I’ve seen on Pinterest, well, I’m a tired pregnant working woman and I’m just not that imaginative. How are Americans so good at these things?
Firstly, some context. When I first met my husband he told me that he’s from a family of men. No girls born for generations. Literally more than 180 years. I thought he was pulling my leg, or at least exaggerating, until I saw the Farmer family tree, and it was all James, Roberts and Williams, going back forever.
So when I got pregnant the first time, he just assumed we’d be having a boy (probably called James, Robert or William) and that was that. But… Phoebe is the first female Farmer – try saying that fast after a few vinos – for nearly 200 years. A little maverick.
When the doctor told us she was a girl, my husband went rather pale and quiet – for about three days. “I’m not disappointed” he’d say. “I’m just recalibrating.” While I cried with happiness, picturing a brown-eyed mini me, not realising until that very moment in the clinic, how much I wanted a girl.
And, of course, Phoebe has turned out brilliantly, and he buys her plaid shirts and mini jeans the same as his, and I’ve gently explained that she’s a person, not a ‘girl’ and she can be into sports, and science, and making dens in the woods.
But I know he’s been hankering after a boy, of a little William James Farmer, and that’s okay. We’re allowed to picture the family we want, or think we want. And I think we’re both aware that society’s assumption is that once you have ticked the ‘one of each’ box that your family is ‘complete’. That you’re ‘done’.
So when I peed on a stick this time, and yelled into the shower while he got ready for work, there was something unsaid. That it would be lovely to have a boy. To be ‘done’.
As the pregnancy unfolded, I was watching for symptoms, both familiar and new. The exhaustion. Was I feeling more nauseous this time? The craving for frozen yoghurt and smoked salmon (not together, you weirdo). Was I carrying differently? And I came to the conclusion that it was exactly the same as last time, and I felt reassured. That everything was alright, and that we were probably going to have another girl.
Yesterday we went for the 20-week scan. The scary one when the doctor looks at all the organs, one by one. Here in Dubai you can have this at a dedicated clinic, where there’s a widescreen TV on the wall, showing your little one’s heart in jumbo size, pumping blood around their tiny body, a heartbeat faster than you think it should be.
We met there and I was nervous. What if something wasn’t ‘right’? The scan started, and we saw the brain, the doctor quietly measuring the cerebellum, we saw the spine, with vertebrae strung like pearls, areas of darkness and light, long thigh bones and little fingers, grasping at nothing.
And then he said “And there she is. Definitely a girl” and we squeezed each other’s hands and smiled in the darkness.
I’m so happy. I’m so relieved, for so many reasons. From the practical (not having to buy more clothes when we still have some with tags on in Phoebe’s wardrobe) to the emotional, that I can’t wait for Phoebe to have a sister, a little friend, and I can already picture them, dark heads bowed close together in mischief, and whispering.
And we haven’t had any ‘recalibration’ this time.
But it’s daunting too. I only have a brother, and know nothing of sister relationships. And I’m worried about the comparison between two girls – from both myself and the wider world. About protecting them from that.
For now, though, I’m going to enjoy feeling her kicks and squirms, and allow myself to daydream about our two little girls.