As I write this, I’m nearly 22 weeks pregnant with my second child. My husband and I already have a 14-month-old daughter who I could seriously gush about all day so I’ll refrain (just about) here.
When we were expecting our little girl, we decided not to find out the sex. We weren’t particularly bothered if we were having a girl or a boy and we were happy to go for unisex clothes, accessories and décor. It was nice to have a surprise to be honest. This time, however, we decided to find out. It wasn’t that we were hoping for another girl or for a boy, it was more for logistical purposes. For one thing, there are bags and bags of girl’s clothes being stored that we’d need to know what to do with. We’re also planning some alterations to our home so we wanted to pre-plan what the bedroom situation will be a couple of years down the line.
So, at 19 weeks and four days, we went along to Liverpool Women’s Hospital for our anomaly scan and asked if we could find out the sex if possible. Thankfully, baby was being co-operative and revealed herself to be another little girl. Both me and my husband were ecstatic. It’s not that we’d have minded having a boy – we’d have been just as made up – but knowing there’ll be two little sisters only 18 months or so apart in age is lovely and I’m already imagining them growing up to be absolute besties.
Now, we’re not the types to have a gender reveal party or anything like that. I have no problem with people who do, it’s just not really our thing. So, we told some family and a few close friends that we’re having a girl but, other than that we didn’t really bother unless someone specifically asked. At the end of the day, we mostly found out so we could get ourselves organised, not so we could make a big announcement.
For the most part, people have been lovely, saying how nice it’ll be for them to grow up together and so on. But one response really, really wound me up. It wasn’t someone I know, just someone I was chatting to in a shop, but it still got to me.
I was paying for my shopping (mostly nappies) and the lady behind the counter said something about how much you need and I said that I can’t believe I’ll be doing it all again soon. She congratulated me and asked how far along I was so, when I told her, she asked if I knew what I was having.
“Yes, we’re having another girl.”
“Oh, isn’t that lovely! But isn’t your husband disappointed not to be getting a boy?”
Being British, I just kind of smiled and said that he wasn’t disappointed. But, after leaving the shop, I realised that what I wanted to say was this:
“Of course my husband isn’t disappointed that we’re having a girl, you silly old bat! He’s besotted with our daughter and can’t wait to have another one. And what makes you think ‘disappointed’ is an appropriate word to use in relation to someone’s pregnancy news anyway? Spoiler alert: it’s not.
“Oh, and while we’re at it, even if we were having a boy, my husband wouldn’t be ‘getting’ him, just like I’m not ‘getting’ a little girl. This child, like our daughter, will be both of ours and won’t be closer to one parent over the other on the basis of their sex. Do you honestly think men just switch off and aren’t interested because they have daughters?
“I suppose next you’ll be telling me how he’ll be sorry he can’t take a little boy to football matches.”
Obviously, dear reader, I said none of this. I just raged about it in my head until I’d blown it out of all proportion and got far crosser about it than it deserved. After all, I’m sure the lady meant well and it was just an unfortunately worded way of saying that my husband will feel outnumbered. At least I hope so.
The thing is, it does irritate me regardless because it suggests we can only relate to people of the same sex, that men can only be close to their sons and women their daughters. This, obviously, is a load of crap.
As is the use of the world ‘disappointed’. As well as showing us that we’re expecting another girl, our anomaly scan also showed us that cooking away in my belly is a healthy little baba with all her organs and limbs in the right places. How anyone could be disappointed with that outcome because of the type of reproductive organs the baby has is beyond me.
It reminds me of that bit in Pride & Prejudice where Lady Catherine tells Elizabeth that “Daughters are never of so much consequence to a father.” It’s a funny line in the novel because we know Elizabeth is the apple of her father’s eye and the person he respects most in the world. But even in this day and age it seems people still share that point of view, that while sons are important to the whole family, daughters only matter to their mother.
Well, all I can say is it wasn’t true when Jane Austen wrote it, and it’s not true now.