Here's a long story with a short ending. It starts approximately 2 and a half years ago, and who knows when it will end.
Once upon a time I was pregnant for the first time. I was nervous, excited and a little naive. Everyone asked me the same old questions, in this order: "How are you feeling?" "Is this your first?" 'What are you having?" The answers to the first two were easy--the last one drew mixed results.
You see, we never wanted to find out who was in there, until he or she came out screaming. We thought to ourselves, "Well, we have this child's WHOLE LIFE to know the gender, let's be SURPRISED when the baby is born." This thinking worked out well for us, for a while. Being the compulsive shopper that I am, it was hard to restrain myself when looking at the little blue and frilly pink things in stores, but I survived.
42 weeks later E was born screaming. Everyone surmised I was having a boy just by looking at me, and, as thrilled as I was that he was here and alive and healthy and WONDERFUL, I was a little annoyed that everyone was so RIGHT in their "knowledge." I was, by NO MEANS, disappointed that he was a boy--we were stoked, actually--but I didn't want to hear all the "Told yas!"
Moving on. Fast forward 11 months when I got pregnant the second time. Everyone told us, "Oh, it's nice not to know for your first one, but you'll want to find out what you're having for your second."
We held strong, but this time I knew it would be a girl. And then the shit hit the fan, and I waited and waited in the hospital to give birth to my dead, gender-still-unknown baby. And, lo and behold, she was a girl. When the dust settled and they finally told us she was a girl, I remember wailing, "I knew it! I knew it was a girl!"
So, that leads us to the third time around, meaning now. We caved this time. Well, I guess "caved" is over dramatizing things. I would love to still be that optimistic mama, knowing that I'd have "his or her whole life to know the gender." Oh, if only that were true. We actually, in our deepest hearts, did NOT want to find out what we're having. But this time around, I can't handle any more surprises. I want to know all I can know, control all I can control. I don't want to find out there's a tiny part of my brain that wishes for one gender over the other, and then be surprised or disappointed on delivery day (assuming we get there).
Believe me when I tell you I want nothing more than a living child to bring home, boy or girl. Truly, in my heart--well, I almost wrote "I don't care what it is." But that's not entirely true. I care a whole lot--just not about the gender specifically. My heart and mind and body ACHE for a living baby. I don't really care about the color of the receiving blanket.
Going into the sonogram, we weren't sure we'd even be able to find out now--I was only 16 weeks and the tech was checking out my delightful, enormous cyst rather than checking on the baby, per se. I was nervous as hell--this was new terrain for us. But the tech was lovely and kind, and was excited to show us what she could . . .
. . . and he's a boy.
I am getting tears in my eyes just writing this, because knowing there's a real live little baby boy in there wipes clean the nebulous, hazy image of a "baby." Unwillingly, I start to picture him--will he look like E, so fair and blue eyed? Or will he be curly-dark-haired like his dead sister? Or will he look like me, or C, or any one of a million family members with a great-grandfather's nose or a cousin's smile?
All the feelings I try to guard myself against, all the hopes for some unpromised future start popping up like bubbles, and it gets scary. But there's a relief in the frightened feeling, too. I remember, vividly, one day while pregnant with Calla. The realization that she was a girl--the biological, maternal, psychic realization--made me stop in my tracks and my heart start to race. Somehow, I have always had a vision of two boys.
I sound like I'm wading into wacko territory. I'll dial it back a bit.
Here's where the story pauses, for now. This little one is a boy, E will have a little brother--universe willing that this one makes it out alive. Would I be completely truthful if I said I wasn't disappointed it's not a girl? Not exactly. My heart soars at the thought of this little boy, but shatters just as equally for the little girl who will never be here, with us. It's not some 50/50 chance girl I'm sad for, it's our baby who died in January. It's her. I miss HER.
Since Calla died, I have this new thinking of pregnant mothers. We are the shepherdesses, the women who provide safe harbor for the little souls. We are the vessels in which they grow. We teach them love and life and provide passage into this realm.
Maybe that's part of why Calla's death was so incredibly painful. I failed in my duties. And here I am with another chance, to hopefully provide safe passage. For him.