I made no secret when I first got pregnant that I really wanted a girl. Really really wanted a girl. At my 20-week scan, when they showed me what looked rather distinctly like male genitalia on the screen, I cried. They also informed me that my ovarian cyst was not only still there, but also, no smaller, which was bad news and slightly scary. This may have had a small impact on my crying, but I know it wasn't wholly responsible.
At my 20-week scan this time around, I yet again saw what was clearly male genitalia. Having told myself and anyone who cared to listen, that I didn't mind what sex baby we had this time (as we wanted 3 anyway), I was surprised to find my eyes fill up with water once more and my heart sink a little. I had obviously been harbouring a secret desire which I hadn't even registered myself.
We had always intended to try for a third, but now, I feel there is a little pressure as I still want a daughter so much. What will I do if I end up with three boys? Try again? I doubt it. It's not just that I want a girl... I have this notion that boys are harder work and am already nervous about how I'm going to cope with two of them. Let alone three.
Maybe I should try to explain why I feel such a strong desire for a girl.
I am one of two children. My brother is older than me. Many people say it's nice to have an older brother as he looks after you. Does he? Really? I'm sure there are many long-forgotten instances when my big brother did look out for me in some way, but he certainly didn't stand up for me at school if I needed it and I don't ever particularly remember feeling protected by him at home either. Maybe I have a selective memory as we're not very close these days.
I thought a family with an older sister would be nice, so that she could take a slightly motherly caring role as the oldest. Maybe I was still deluded and there was as much chance of this happening as an older brother protecting his younger siblings. It probably just depends on the individuals.
I also, could only ever envisage myself as a mother to a daughter. Of course, now I have a gorgeous little boy that has changed. But factors such as dealing with puberty also come into play. I've been through female puberty so can deal with explaining it. Male puberty - eek! I dearly hope that my boys will be close enough to me that they can talk to me about anything and I can deal with it. But I feel it would have been much easier with a girl. Been there, done it.
To justify that I think it's OK to have a preference let me continue: I've always been a bit concerned that I'm far too blasé about having children, full stop. Especially as I now only have one ovary. (I confess, I expected it to take a little longer to get pregnant with one ovary gone. I did NOT expect it to happen so instantly. But maybe this gives me good cause to be blasé.) I certainly don't think I, or anyone else should go around worrying about whether or not they'll be able to have children before they've even tried. Worrying for no reason does no-one any good.
I expected to be able to have children. Like I had some sort of right. Having been through the birth process (and such a good experience of it too), I do feel a little more humbled and incredibly honoured that I have been able to have children, both physically able and also finding that right moment in life and the right partner. Not everyone has that chance. So yes, I do understand it being offensive to get concerned about something so trivial as the sex of your child.
Of course, I would prioritise having a healthy baby over having one of my chosen gender. But could we not say that those of us who show a preference for gender are actually no worse than those who wish only for a 'healthy' baby. I mean, define healthy. Many people have children with disabilities or maybe just allergies. They still love their children but would they have been criticised for saying whilst pregnant "I don't mind the gender as long as it's healthy"?
I don't think we should judge people for expressing a gender preference unless it actually affects the way they feel about the child once it has arrived. I see no reason why older children should be offended by their parents wanting a 'different one' this time, if they are part of a happy, loving family. I will have no problem telling my eldest that I had wanted a girl first... but I shall be careful to explain that he was no disappointment. Just not how I would have planned it had planning been an option.
And when I am out exhibiting my two boys in the next few years, I also won't have a problem with people asking if we'll be trying again for a girl - because we will be. One day. If I'm lucky enough to have a third and it's a boy again, I will be gutted and yet still appreciate that I'm a very fortunate person. Any child of mine will be thoroughly loved, no matter how different the child is to what I had hoped.