Have you ever had a plan for how your family would be? So many of us do. We often start our big planning even though we’re little girls ourselves, imagining away how our very own family will look like one day. Plotting what life of being a mum to a little boy or a little girl will be like.
I used to dream of a perfect family, there was a space for a caring husband (obviously) and two children. As I have an older brother myself, I always thought having a son first and then a little girl to follow will be ideal. There’s this common belief that an older brother will be protective and caring of his little sister, and isn’t that just perfect?
I ticked the very first box on the list pretty quickly and found my loving husband. It was soon time for a little person to join us and make us a family. Was I surprised when an ultrasound revealed the gender and it was a little boy? Not one bit. Everything was going to plan (which was going to be perfect, right!?).
I became a mum to a gorgeous little boy and it only set me more into my perception of life. Into my vision of a happy family, of my little world where I’m a mum and it’s exactly what it should be. We soon decided it’s time to expand our wee family and to me, it meant welcoming a little girl into our lives. A sweet baby sister for my beloved son!
I was quickly blessed with another healthy pregnancy and as soon as an ultrasound was scheduled I was excited and eager to hear this confirmation, that we’re expecting a baby girl. I was certain! I had so much evidence already from all angles of life, this pregnancy was so different in every way, a complete opposite to my first experience. I had no doubts. So the moment the consultant sonographer exclaimed “Congratulations! Your little boy will have a brother to play with!” it felt like a slap on the face.
Excuse me?! All the questions rushed through my head! It can’t be! Could she be mistaken?! There’s obviously a slim margin for a mistake with these ultrasounds, right? This little boy wasn’t a shy creature though, he happily unveiled his private parts on the screen leaving us with no doubts. The thought of being a mum to two boys started to set in and I couldn’t gather myself.
I know how this is going to sound but I’ll say it anyway, I felt crushed. It’s not that I was disappointed or unhappy (although it might have felt this way at the beginning). I was just terribly confused because now I had no plan.
So what is my life going to be like now? An all time vision of happiness was brushed away and I had no answers for myself. No consolation, just a whole lot of mummy guilt because of how I felt. After all, I was having a healthy little baby, so many women can only dream of such a blessing.
I now look back at these moments and smile to myself. I never thought I’d feel this way but I am now endlessly grateful for this little boy for coming into my life and ruining my ‘perfect plans’ ..just to show me how little I knew about what’s perfect and how unimportant planning is when it comes to children. He also opened me to a though of acknowledging myself, my emotions, my right to feel whatever I feel with no shame or guilt. Because simply if I can’t accept these feelings from myself, how can I be prepared for all the whirlwind of emotions being a mum to two wild souls will bring?
John Medina once said in his book Brain Rules for Baby
“There is no such thing as a bad emotion. There is no such thing as a good emotion. An emotion is either there—or it is not. (…) Emotions don’t make people weak and they don’t make people strong. They only make people human.”
The moment I met our little boy was also a moment I realised everything was in fact PERFECT! My plan for my family and life, in general, was to be happy and this is exactly what the universe served me with. In a split second I forgot what the whole plan even was ..expectations left peacefully making room for an ever-growing acceptance and excitement. Because quite frankly, if everything was always going to plan, how boring our lives would be?
So when I got pregnant with baby number three, I was in a totally different mindset. Calm and at peace, not even wondering about my baby’s gender. In reality, knowing the baby’s sex in advance only takes your focus away from what’s truly important. You start projecting what your life is going to be like, start building a stash of all the ‘necessary’ items for your baby’s arrival, you start planning everything all over again, even though you’ve just had a tough lesson on how meaningless planning actually is.
We decided with my husband that this time around we will not be finding out our baby’s gender. We were happy to wait, but it turned out everyone else wasn’t! Literally every person we knew would constantly ask about our baby’s gender. And all the comments about how it MUST be a girl this time made me furious! Seriously, what’s wrong with another boy? Does it really need to be a girl for us to be a happy family?
The flow of questions was endless and I struggled to brush the pressure off. All the sudden my pregnancy became everybody's business dragging me constantly down to the bottom of the question list with the never-ending “so is this going to be a girl this time??”
Then I accidentally came across an article on gender disappointment and it just hit the nail on the head! At the time I didn’t even realise it was an actual thing, and so many women struggle with their emotions to the point of depression! In a way, we add to the suffering keeping all the emotions under the surface of a faint smile. We never really discussed any of this, the guilt keeps our lips firmly closed. But it’s so important to open up, to reach out to others, share and simply understand the scope of the problem! Why? Because finding out baby’s gender is not just something that brings an array of emotions to the parents. It can be also daunting on all the people around the expecting family. In the end, I realised it could in indeed create a sense of disappointment in others, which I didn’t want to experience nor permit around this pregnancy.
All the friends and family seamed to have planned the perfect set up for us. I know there were no bad intentions, only concerns and wishing the best for me and my husband. It was also lacking in thoughtfulness though, and as innocent it may have been, it angered me at how easy it is for others to overstep the privacy of another person. Especially in the subject of pregnancy, where it can be so delicate and much too often tangled with trauma for so many families.
This pregnancy came to me at the moment when I was finally prepared to cherish and appreciate it in its full glory. With expectations traded for excitement, and projecting replaced by experiencing the moment. The very presence of a new soul my body became a home for, whom I’m about to meet although I already love him/her as if we’ve known each other for centuries. Isn’t that essentially magic?
But yet again, it’s a beautiful lesson for myself. For next time one of my friends or family members becomes pregnant, I’m pretty sure my very own question list will consist of just two questions, starting with “How are you feeling darling?” and “Are you free for a cuppa next week?