Before we begin, I want to warn you: this isn’t one of those essays about how I wanted a girl, found out I was having a boy, cried for weeks, and then realized that having a son was the greatest gift of all. No — this is about how I wanted a girl and how I got what I wanted.
More than a year ago, when I looked down at a positive pregnancy test, I endured less than a minute of the initial holy-crap-we-are-having-a-baby shock before the thought crept into my head: “I hope it’s a girl.”
In the weeks that followed, my desire for a baby girl only got stronger. I preemptively googled those old wives’ tales to see if I exhibited the signs that I was carrying one. And like an overgeneralized horoscope, I’d read into every scenario, convinced it was written for me to the point that I was oddly pleased with a massive breakout on my chin — unsightly, yes, but it was a clear indication that “girls steal their mother’s beauty.” And I even became superstitious about the predictors that didn’t line up: I’d buy a tub of Häagen-Dazs at the grocery store whether I wanted it or not because cravings for sweets meant I was having a girl.
Meanwhile, I tempered my fantasies in front of others. When someone asked about my preference, I’d feign befuddlement. “Oh, I haven’t even had time to think about that!” Or I’d pretend not to care at all. “You know, just as long as it’s healthy!”
But then came the big reveal — our 20-week ultrasound appointment. When the technician announced she knew the sex, my brain whirred. In that instant, I tried to imagine what would happen if the news didn’t go my way, how I’d have to fake elation and learn to get over it — a harrowing task considering I have a hard time getting over bad service at a restaurant. Then she announced it: “You’re having a girl!”
I couldn’t contain my relief. “YESSSS!” came out of my mouth with the same veracity as a baseball fan whose team just won the World Series. My OB was taken aback. “Wow, you must really like pink.”
Her presumptuous statement caught me off guard. Because I wanted a girl, I must be into fairies and unicorns and dresses covered in hearts and flowers? I took offense to her insinuation that I aligned with such a flagrant gender stereotype. I’m not girlie, I don’t particularly like pink, I’ve never successfully braided another person’s hair, and I’m not inherently excited about Disney princesses. (Full disclosure, though: I did own an American Girl doll, but it was Molly, which is the equivalent of not having an American Girl doll at all.)
So why, then, had I been crossing my fingers this whole time for a girl?
I started to worry. The closest I come to art-and-crafts projects is my Pinterest board, so I wouldn’t be able to teach my daughter to sew or crochet. I’m a slice-and-bake cook at best, so it’s not like I was looking forward to passing down any carefully crafted family recipes. Conversely, it’s not as if I had high expectations of raising a proud tomboy, for I was hopeless at sports and wouldn’t have the know-how to coach her little league team.
I could never quite put my finger on why having a girl was so important, so essential, until I gave birth and met her for the first time.
It was only then that I realized that having a girl, for me, meant re-creating my childhood. I could watch my daughter grow and at the same time look back on my own long-forgotten memories. Her firsts could stand in for mine. Having a girl also meant re-creating the relationship I have with my own mother. So when she’s no longer here, she’ll still be with me. I’ll be able to stand in for her. I could be for my daughter what my mother was for me. I could raise my own best friend.
Which now makes me want my girl to have a girl someday, too.