Sisters and Daughters

Monday night during Max’s gym class, I checked my messages on the Patient Portal at my OB’s office. It was probably the third or fourth time I checked that day.  I was in the gym with Max, who was being clingy, so the signal wasn’t as good and the page wouldn’t load. I locked my phone and resolved to look again later.

Chris arrived and took over in the gym with Max, so I could have a bathroom break. Later, in the waiting room, I remembered and checked again. There it was, in big, bold letters “MaterniT21 Test Results”.

My eyes popped wide. I clicked. The doctor’s message said that the test indicated the baby is chromosomally normal and no further action was needed at this time. Relief flooded over me, followed by, “Where the hell is the gender result?”

I clicked on the actual test report and scanned down for the next clue to our family’s future.

“No Y chromosome was detected. This is consistent with a female fetus.”

Those clinical, carefully ambiguous words filled me with incredulous joy. It’s a GIRL, folks! A healthy girl!! She is still too small for us to get a good look at her heart, but we have successfully cleared another hurdle. She is still alive and chromosomally normal at 15 weeks!

I couldn’t help myself. Chris and Max were right by the door of the gym. I wrenched it open and whispered, “Honey, the test results are in”.

He looked at me expectantly: “It’s a healthy baby girl.”

He later said that was the longest sentence ever.

I have started to feel her move more and more, practically every day. It is such a relief not to have to wonder ALL of the time if she is still alive. Of course, every time I don’t feel her for awhile, I worry, even though I know that’s normal for this point.

I sat in the restaurant after gym class, happy, but in a dazed sort of way. I really couldn’t quite believe it. We toasted, we recorded a video (multiple takes) of Max announcing, “It’s a girl!” I just kept saying that I couldn’t quite believe it. A sickening feeling that we were replacing Lucy threaded through my shock, disbelief, and joy. Surprise at that feeling followed, since I know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The test is incredibly accurate, though. The last ultrasound tech said she was 80% sure it’s a girl. I’ve had a gut feeling it was a girl for most of the pregnancy. (My gut has not been wrong yet, as far as I know. We never got to find out with Baby Bean.) The nurse at the doctor’s office said she calls it, “The 100% test”.

Of course, the inevitable guilt has begun to creep in. Knowing that it’s a girl has made me happy. It has made it less painful to think of Lucy. It has made it less painful to go in the girls’ section.

I think that is what is supposed to happen. This new baby is supposed to be healing. We wanted another girl, although we would have been delighted to have a little boy, and that’s ok.  I haven’t given up on the idea of perhaps having another boy one day.

But it feels wrong to have less pain about Lucy. I feel guilty about the fact that a boy result might not have resulted in affecting my pain about Lucy this way. I have worked very hard at not being obsessed with the gender this time and I’ve done a very good job, but I feel guilty that I might have felt the tiniest shred of disappointment at it being a boy. Hell, after the initial thrill of finding out the baby was still alive at 12 weeks and having that nurse say it looked like a boy (I really was thrilled on both counts.), I felt a twinge in the gift shop while picking out booties for the baby announcement photo. I felt like I would be locked out of the girls’ section forever.

I don’t want to feel like my daughters are two interchangeable people, like they are just babies, just a gender, not individual people. Those of you who know me have also probably guessed that it offends my feminist sensibilities that the girls’ clothing section is a metaphor for having a daughter to me. 😉

The fact is I don’t know this little girl as an individual yet. As I’ve written before, my knowledge of Lucy stopped at 15 months. We were just emerging from generic baby mode into little girl mode, never mind actually getting to know what she liked. That was still months, or even a year off. My only experience of mothering a daughter so far stopped with a baby who was just starting to blossom into a little girl. All I know is having a baby (which I had already experienced with a son) who I dressed in girl clothes instead of boy clothes. No wonder the girls’ clothing section symbolizes having a daughter for me. Plus, it is really fun dressing a girl, although I enjoyed dressing my son up way more than I expected.

I know that the initial shock and joy of hearing this news will mellow and integrate with my feelings of missing Lucy. They will coexist. I will have two daughters and they will be sisters, even though they will never meet in this life.

I am so happy to have this little girl. I can’t wait to meet her. Sometimes, the happiness supersedes the sadness. I know the mix is going to be beautiful.

1 Comment

  1. Karen said,

    February 3, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I’m so, so happy for you! I think you’re amazing for the way you communicate your thoughts and feelings through writing. I know it’s not easy and I admire you for it.

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