When we decided to try for baby number two, I assumed I was signing up for life as a mum of two little boys. You see, our families just don’t *do* girls. My father-in-law is one of two boys, my hubby is one of three, and his brother has two young sons; in fact, there hadn’t been a girl born in his family for about 35 years. And on my side, the most recent female addition was my cousin, born in 1989. Okay, so I know that genetically speaking, the woman plays absolutely no part in deciding a baby’s sex, but still, with both sides of the family so male-dominated, it felt like a foregone conclusion that we’d have another boy.
I actually thought I’d prefer a boy to a girl. With a gap of over five years between The Boy and The Baby, I figured that at least if they were the same sex, they’d share some common ground (a love of cars, trains and mud) growing up.
Round here, we’re not given the option to find out the sex at the 20-week scan, so we booked a private gender scan at 25 weeks. We’d found out the sex when we were expecting The Boy and both really enjoyed knowing, so we decided to do the same again. We also thought it would help to prepare The Boy for the new arrival. So there I lay, watching the screen and waiting to see a set of boy bits, when the sonographer said, ‘And these lines are your baby’s labia. You’re having a little girl.’
I burst into tears – tears of delight and utter, utter surprise.
That afternoon, every time I thought about the baby girl inside me, I welled up. Yes, yes, I’d said I wanted another boy, but secretly, doesn’t every mum want one of each? I was going to have a daughter. Me! A daughter! We told our families, and they cried too. My husband’s grandmother – grandma to three grown men, great-grandma to three young grandsons – was so overwhelmed she dropped the phone.
But by the next morning, doubts had started to creep in. The sonographer had said she was very confident that it was a girl, but sometimes they get it wrong, don’t they? It had happened to one of my friends not even 12 months before. There began my one-woman campaign to bug my husband so much that he’d agree to having another gender scan. And because I’m such a good nag, within a week or so, he’d given in, just to shut me up.
The second scan showed exactly the same as the first: a perfect set of girlie bits. This time, we even got a photo of the crucial part of The Baby’s anatomy. But I still didn’t believe it.
With the exception of a few close friends, I didn’t tell anyone the sex, so sure was I that it was all a mistake. I spent hours Googling ‘ultrasound gender scan pictures’ and comparing my photo with the ones online. I refused to buy anything pink, and hid all pink donations from proud grandmas in the back of the wardrobe. I even dreamed (again, and again, and again) about giving birth to a baby boy. My hubby, of course, thought I was insane. I began to wish I’d never found out the sex, as I felt sure I was going to be in for a monumental let-down when The Baby popped out male. Was I going to be able to conceal my disappointment?
Of course, the sonographers were both right. The first thing I asked when The Baby was born was, ‘Is it a girl?’ and it was. Seven pounds and 10 ounces of beautiful bouncing baby girl. We’d done it. We’d actually done it. We’d broken our families’ boy habit at last.
And oh my goodness, wasn’t everyone excited! Within hours of giving birth, the house was awash with pink flowers, pink cards, and lots and lots and lots of pink clothes, mostly courtesy of my mum, who’d apparently had to be physically restrained by my dad in the Monsoon sale.
During the baby days, parenting a girl doesn’t seem to be much different from parenting a boy, but one thing is certain: the clothes are far, far nicer. I’ve never been a fan of pink, but I find myself drawn to racks of pretty things like a moth to a flame, and have developed a dangerous Ebay habit. The Baby’s wardrobe puts mine to shame, and 99.9 per cent of it is, naturally, pink. I tell myself (and everyone else) that it’s just because it suits her colouring, but the truth is that dressing a girl is just so much fun.
No doubt one day, The Baby will go through a Goth phase, and I’ll outwardly grin and bear it while inwardly shuddering at her funereal clothes and black nail varnish (hypocritically, because I went through the exact same phase myself). But for now, she’s my own little dolly, and deciding which little outfit to put her in is one of the highlights of my day.
Now, I must go; I’m watching this lovely little pink Boden dress on Ebay…