Change of Heart

You probably remember me posting not too long ago about how I was planning not to find out the gender of our baby this time.  Yeah… I’ve completely flip-flopped on this decision for several reasons.

I think I started second-guessing my decision about six weeks ago (holy crap, has it already been that long since we shared the news?!) when I found the courage to share the news of my pregnancy with my bereavement support group.  I asked the other women who had went on to have other successful pregnancies afterwards what the genders of their following babies were, and how that felt to them.  Both the women I asked had had stillborn girls; one went on to have a boy, and the other went on to have another girl, and both described the news as very difficult to process.

The woman who had a boy afterwards was upset because she’d grown accustomed to the idea of a girl, and immediately began to worry that she would have nothing but boys from there on, and the opportunity to have a girl would have eluded her forever.  (Fortunately for her, she had another rainbow girl later, but I can totally understand her concern.)  The woman who had a girl found herself frustrated that she was having another girl at all – why did she need to lose the first girl only to have another girl?  Why couldn’t the first one simply have survived if she was just going to get another girl anyway?  Both women told me they were primarily frustrated that, regardless of the gender, the new baby they were expecting wasn’t going to replace the one who passed, and finding out the gender somehow helped to drive that point home for both of them.  Having a new child doesn’t replace the one you lost, as much as you might wish that it did, and that’s it’s own horrible thing to need to process during your pregnancy after loss, but I digress.

After these honest discussions with women who had been where I was heading already, I pretty immediately began to worry if finding out in the thick of everything would end up overwhelming me, and if I might benefit from having the time before the birth to process the news myself.  I remember how my first birth went, and how completely, totally uncomfortable I felt.  Since Brock was my first, I don’t know how much of the discomfort in that room was related to the fact he was stillborn, and how much was just me feeling uncomfortable in general.  I remember feeling that people were sitting in on something that was very intimate to me, and feeling stifled – but would I have still felt that way if our baby had been alive?  I honestly have no idea.  Either way, it was a tense room, and I felt like I didn’t have the privacy or presence of mind, with all those people watching me, to work through my feelings about it properly.  I wonder if I will feel the same way when our second child arrives.

I’ve decided not to find out the hard way.  I already see myself having to process a lot at the time of birth – the fact that this baby will (knock on wood, please oh please) come out screaming where I’m used to silence, the fact that this baby will not be Brock (no matter how I might wish that they are), and that I will finally be done with this long, scary pregnancy.  Then I’ll have all kinds of normal new mom stuff to deal with – latching, cuddling, photo taking, visitors.  Do I also want to throw in the added stress of having to try to decide, in the moment, how I feel about the gender of the baby?  I will be perfectly happy with either, I’m sure, but I also don’t doubt that certain anxieties and doubts, like the ones I listed above, will still find a way to be present.

So, at the moment, we’re hoping to find out the gender at our anatomy scan on Friday.  I don’t really know if I’m hoping for anything in particular – I don’t think so? – but I also have absolutely no intuition on what our baby will be.  Heck, I was all but convinced Brock was a girl, so I know better than to trust my mother’s intuition on this one – this is one area where it was let me down before.  I have had several people tell me they think it’s a girl, but I think they are simply betting that because we’ve already had a boy, so they think it is more likely to have the opposite this time.

I am also hoping that finding out will help me bond with our upcoming baby a bit better.  At the moment, I’m still finding it hard to believe I am pregnant at all, and I would really like to move on to trying to make a proper connection with our baby.  I am going to love the hell out of our child, regardless of their gender and what they decide to do with their life, but there’s something frustrating about having to call our child ‘baby’ or give it a pet name (I have nicknamed him/her Lipsmacker, because they made a show of it on our last ultrasound) and having to call them ‘they’ or ‘it’ all the time.  It feels terribly impersonal.  When I know the gender, I’ll also know their name, and knowing our baby on a first-name basis feels like a really good idea right now.

I will check back in on Friday or Saturday to let you all know how it went!  I’ve already got a friend ready to take reveal photos for us, but have yet to decide on exactly what we want to do for it.  Either way, I will share photos when it happens.

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