This pregnancy, we have approached every ultrasound with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Yay, we’d get to see our baby! OR, we could find out something was horribly wrong. The anatomy scan at 20 weeks, the one that can clearly indicate the sex of the baby, should have been the week between Christmas and the New Year’s Day. Since we were planning to be out of town that week, I asked if we could move it up because waiting until we came back from our holiday festivities would just be too long. They complied, and we anxiously awaited the ultrasound at 19 weeks.
The ultrasound tech was all business. She called me into the appointment 15 minutes early, and Alex hadn’t yet arrived from work. I tried my best to stall her, but she sat me down, gelled me up, and got started identifying all of the tiny bones and organs.
“Is that the heart?” I asked. “Can you see all four chambers?” I had done my research and come prepared with a list of questions.
“You aren’t going to ask me a question about every body part, are you?”
I was silenced. She really knew how to create a magical experience.
I asked her to wait until Alex arrived to tell us the sex of the baby, even if she saw something before. And while my extensive internet research had indicated that this ultrasound could last up to 20 minutes, after about 5 she said, “Is he almost here, because I’m done.”
That was just as a nurse led Alex through the door. With my eyes, I said to him, “I’m sorry!”
His eyes responded, “Why did you start without me? I’m on time.”
My eyes replied, “This woman is crazy and hates us! But I made her wait to tell me the sex of the baby. What was I supposed to do? She basically forced me into the chair. I’m afraid of her. And I think the baby is healthy, but I don’t know because I’m not allowed to ask questions. And you look adorable today.”
Yes, this was all communicated clearly with our eyes.
Out loud, the ultrasound tech interrupted, “Are we ready to finish now?”
And that’s when we found out we were having a girl, even though we both knew it going into the appointment. Perhaps I knew it even when I found out I was pregnant. I’d like to call it intuition, but we had about a 50 percent chance of predicting correctly.
What we wanted–and still do–was a healthy baby. But I’d be lying to undermine my excitement at the prospect of having a daughter. Until this pregnancy, I didn’t think I’d ever have a girl. I have brothers, and I just thought I would have sons, too.
It’s a girl.
I went through a phase during childhood where I decided it sucked to be a girl. It was around the time that I was playing boys’ Little League baseball because there was no league for girls once tee-ball and coach pitch ended. During this period I wore t-shirts that were mostly from the boys’ section of Nordstrom and Gap Kids when I wasn’t wearing a John Stockton jersey. I also harbored a huge crush on about four of the boys on my baseball team and wondered why none of them were in love with me.
It was a confusing time.
Sad, though, that I only made it to about nine years old before I noticed that boys seemed to have more exciting options in life. Luckily, I had parents who did not limit any of my access to said options because I was a girl. They encouraged my interests and embraced my phases and didn’t allow me to think that being a girl was lesser or second best or that it was anything other than what I wanted it to be. They exposed me to everything: ballet, gymnastics, violin, piano, soccer. I liked baseball.
After I played two years of Little League, our town organized a fast pitch softball league for girls. I didn’t want to join it because I thought that girls were bad at sports; I wanted to continue to play with the boys. “You’re a girl, and you’re good at sports. The other girls will be, too,” my parents responded as they signed me up for softball.
And of course, they were right.Nearly all of those girls on my softball team were better athletes than I was by the time we finished high school. Women’s fast pitch softball gave me some of my favorite memories and remains my absolute favorite sport to play and watch.
I love being a girl. (A woman when I’m adulting.) It is who I am, and I feel at home in it now. My favorite memories range from playing and coaching girls sports, living with female roommates in college and after–turning on music, drinking wine, and getting ready to go out– and shopping with my mom without the boys, even when I preferred to shop in the boys’ section.
I love growing a human in my body. (Rawr! Insert flexed-arm emoji here.) I love wearing dresses. And jeans. I love eating long meals with my girlfriends, half a day sustained on pasta, wine, and conversation. My favorite colors are blue and pink and gold and floral (yes, that’s a color), and I’m currently only reading books and watching shows with females leads. I have an unhealthy obsession with Shonda Rhimes, and I would like my daughter to live in a world where a woman is president.
I wasn’t always happy or proud to be a girl. I believe I’ve come into it because I was always allowed to define my own femininity (which is an extreme privilege in this world, I know). Being a girl and woman is what I decide I want it to be; it was when I chose baseball over ballet and it is when I choose my career and my clothes and my paint colors.
My unborn daughter has already been called so many things: sweet, beautiful, precious, a princess. (It’s hard for me to hold in my eye-rolls on “princess,” but I’m trying to accept it.) And I know, unfortunately, that throughout her life she will probably be called so many more things because she is a girl, not all of them as well-intended. The world will try to define her femininity for her, tell her who to be and how to act and what to look like.
friendly ultrasound tech told us that we were having a girl, the pregnancy started to feel a little more real. It was like we were receiving a clue about who this little stranger was going to be.
But we weren’t.
We are having a girl, and I have no idea who. What will she like? Will she like singing or throwing or pretending or building or writing or running? Will she like what we like: softball and soccer and traveling and pizza and llama sheets? (They’re currently in her crib.) Will she excel in everything for which I have no talent: crafts, maps, dancing, and… PRINCESS THINGS?!!
All we can hope to do is expose her and let her choose, let her be the girl that she is. Let her be the person that she is. We can encourage her talents and interests and indulge her curiosity. And most importantly, we can expel any doubts or limitations the world presents to her about being a girl or a woman so that she learns to feel at home as herself–in her body and her mind and her passions and her talents.
I can’t wait to discover what they are.