This popped up on my memories on Facebook recently. The instant I read it all of the feelings I felt at this time came flooding back and it filled me with a blend of anger and sadness. My husband and I anticipated some comments about having three boys, but honestly we were bombarded with the opinions of friends, family and randoms in the street about not having a daughter.
This was 4 years ago and I remember the day so vividly as if it were yesterday. I had a beautiful new baby boy, obviously my third, and I’d had two solid weeks of comments and questions about the gender of my little miracle (not to mention raging with new baby hormones). The last comment that came before my post was from a lovely woman with two boys of her own who was very vocal about her own desire to have a girl. She absolutely meant no harm, but her words were brutal. I remember proudly showing him off with a big, goofy grin from ear to ear when she said, “did your heart just break when they said it was another boy?”. Talk about a slap in the face. My heart did break when she made that comment. I don’t think I even spoke, I really can’t recall if I said anything back but I remember being devastated that she could consider my beautiful boy anything less than perfect.
To cut an extremely long story short, one that I will inevitably get to on this blog, Hugh ended up being one very sick little boy. A few days after that annoyingly harsh comment Hugh went into heart failure at three weeks old, his heart rate kept going into extremely fast rhythms (SVTs) and we nearly lost him. As in he had possibly an hour or two to live. It’s a long story, and I’m trying to keep to the point so I wont unravel that one yet.
The sadness came when I realised after seeing and hearing of the disappointment my beautiful boy could bring to some of the people in our lives, sometimes to complete strangers, my boy was now lying in a tiny bed with twelve people trying to save his tiny body from dying (my husband counted them, I just wailed). They didn’t care if he was a boy or a girl, they just needed a vein that hadn’t collapsed to get a cannula in. Standing in resus watching those people work on him I actually thought of how annoyed I had been that so many people had voiced their opinion on the gender of my baby, it was that big to me that in that moment of tragedy and despair I was standing there so sad that so many people had pushed their opinion about my boy onto me.
Hugh was diagnosed with a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot and required life saving open heart surgery at eleven weeks old. We had to get him to the surgery big and healthy and strong to give him the best chance of getting through it.
In the weeks that followed his diagnosis, and the six week wait for his surgery, I thought many times of the ridiculous pressure we put on the gender of a baby. I wondered how all of those people who had been disappointed by my baby’s sex would feel now that his life was hanging in the balance? Would they finally appreciate him?
We ended up being in isolation at home for those weeks leading up to his surgery, and while it was crazy and hectic, I didn’t have to deal with the comments about my baby’s gender anymore. It was a teeny tiny bonus to being stuck at home. And then I just stopped caring. With bigger things to worry about, and not being reminded with daily comments, I stopped caring. I didn’t ever feel disappointed that I had three boys, but I felt really disappointed with the comments people made to me. It had never occurred to me to comment on the make up of another person’s family. But if I’ve learnt anything from all of this is that some people just don’t think before they speak. As time has moved on I’ve realised that perhaps those people just didn’t have anything else to say. Perhaps they were pushing their opinions onto me, and maybe they just said it without any judgement or purpose. Some people are stupid.
The comments don’t bother me anymore, probably something to do with no baby hormones and not feeling vulnerable with a new baby. People often make comments but I see them differently, they’re just an observation. Once a woman said to me, “oh three boys. I bet you wish you had a girl”. I asked her why and she didn’t know. Then she just slinked away awkwardly. Another asked if I was disappointed with three boys and I asked if she was disappointed with her boy and girl. Again with the awkward slinking. I didn’t intend to be smart, I just responded with the same intention of their own question. I had to give that strategy up because I did look bitter and I’d had enough of the slinking.
I would have loved a girl, I would have loved three, or one of each or whatever. But I chose to have three children, and when it comes to children you get what you’re given. I wanted children and I’m so blessed to have them. I didn’t find out the sex of any of my babies because it didn’t matter to me, I figured that once I’d gone to the effort of getting them out I probably wouldn’t care what they were. And I didn’t. I remember after having my second son, I didn’t know his sex for a few minutes because I was just so glad he was out and alive and breathing. I checked all of his fingers and toes and I was amazed that I could produce another baby that looked different to the first. Then, after all that, I saw his penis.
Boys are different to girls, and I think a boy in a bunch of boys like I’ve produced can morph into some kind of mega-boy. Some of my friends who have girls or one boy are often shocked at the boyness of my boys. I get it. They climb and jump and break things. They often work as a pack. They wee on walls, floors and around toilets most of the time, and in the toilet some of the time. And yes I am well aware that not all boys are like this, but mine are. I am grateful for them every day (as long as I don’t go near the toilet).
I’ve never felt like I’ve missed out on anything by not producing a girl. I know some people don’t believe me, but I honestly don’t care. Recently I was thinking about something I’ll do in the future, and I thought of how I’ll do that with my daughter and it was the first time I had realised that wont happen for me. I had a pang of sadness right in the gut. Then my eldest son called my middle son the “b” word and he retaliated by punching him in the face so I had to sort that out. And I was back in the world of boys, soaking up their boyness and loving that I have them. Well not at that EXACT moment, but I am so lucky and I don’t doubt that they were gifted to me for a reason.