At 10w5d, the results of our NIPT screen came back, showing that I am pregnant with a chromosomally normal boy.
Hooray for chromosomally normal! I have honestly been freaking out a little bit about what I would do if there were chromosomal abnormalities. I mean, I freak out about everything in pregnancy, so it’s not anything special, but I am hugely relieved to find that our risk of chromosomal abnormalities is so low (<1 in 10,000 for all of the common ones they tested for), and now I can stop worrying about that particular aspect of pregnancy.
The boy thing is more complicated. I’ve written before about my complicated feelings about the sex of our babies. The short version is that we were wildly excited in my first pregnancy to find out we’d be having a girl — my husband and I both want healthy babies above all, but bonus points for a girl. Well, I had my girl… it just turned out that she died, so I didn’t get to do much mothering of my daughter. With all of my subsequent pregnancies, I’ve been hopeful that I might get another chance at being the mother of a daughter, and both times I’ve made it far enough to find out the sex, I’ve found out that we were having a boy.
The news is honestly easier to deal with this time. My son is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me in my life. Not only do I have no regrets about being his mother, but every day I feel grateful and awed that I have the privilege of being his mother. I love him more than I can express, more than I have ever loved any other human on the planet (please don’t tell my husband or my mom!), more than I knew was possible. So, it’s not that I think I won’t love this little boy. Obviously I will. More than I can currently imagine, I’m sure.
It’s more that I can’t help but wonder about what being the mom of only boys will mean I’ll miss out on. My male friends are mostly less emotionally less close to their mothers than my female friends are, so I might miss out on that often-special mother-daughter relationship. If I have grandkids, I’ll always be the mother-in-law — I won’t have that special closeness during pregnancy when my daughter wants to know what it was like when I was pregnant with her, and I probably won’t have the experience that my mom had of being in the delivery room when her grandson was born. Those are the big ones, but there are little ones too. Helping a daughter through puberty would be a heck of a lot easier than helping a son through puberty for me, I think. I loved Girl Scouts when I was a kid, and I would just love to pack my daughter off to Girl Scout camp rather than having to consider the local Boy Scout camp whose website brags about the different number of projectiles that boys will learn to fire. And ugh, the superhero/macho/violent culture that stereotypically goes along with little boys is so repulsive to me — I donate any hand-me-downs we get with those hypermasculinized slogans and characters on them (seriously, it starts when they are babies and toddlers!), and I try whenever possible to stock my son’s wardrobe with bright colors and gender-neutral themes, but I’ll have less and less control over his interests and preferences as he gets older. I mean, obviously none of these things are guarantees. Some men are really close to their mothers, and some women aren’t. There’s no guarantee that even if I had a daughter she’d ever get married or have kids. There are plenty of great co-ed camps and activities to choose from. My interests are more stereotypically boyish than girlish. I fully realize that sex and gender are far less deterministic than we tend to assume. And yet… we live in a gendered society. I love the company of other women. I don’t get much of it in my everyday life, where I live with my husband and son and work in a building and in a field dominated by men. I hoped that there would be one other set of XX chromosomes joining our house to keep me company, and it’s a lonely feeling to think that my life will be even more male-dominated than it already is.
Of course, all of this assumes that (1) this pregnancy will continue, and (2) we’ll be done having kids after this next one. Obviously I would be delighted if (1) were true, but it’s not a guarantee. (2) is probably true. Before we got married, we thought we wanted 2-3 kids, but after our son was born, my husband said he’d be OK with stopping at one, although he was also OK with two — he sounded pretty skeptical that he’d be up for three. I’m also pretty skeptical that I’d be up for three. Considering everything we’ve been through to get to this point, if this pregnancy keeps going well, it’s hard for me to imagine doing it all again: trying to conceive, possibly having even more miscarriages, being pregnant, dealing with a newborn… and we’ll be older, and who knows if I’d even be able to get pregnant and carry to term again at the age of 37+, and obviously there’s no guarantee that we’d get a girl even if it all worked out! So I’m pretty sure we’ll be done after two, and since (thankfully!) everything is looking good at this point, odds are high (though definitely not guaranteed) that I’ll be a mom of two boys and that’s that. I’m OK with it, and in some ways delighted about it… just wistful.
When I went to the OBGYN’s office today for a heartbeat check and I heard that little whooshing thump, I smiled and fell in love all over again. How amazing it is to have a little one on the way again. How lucky we are that it looks like it might work out for us not once but twice — I never forget how awful it was the many times I doubted that I would ever be able to have kids, and I always know how lucky I am that I wound up being able to after all. I still hope against hope that this will be a healthy, uneventful pregnancy like my pregnancy with my son, and a healthy mom and healthy baby are all that really matter to me in the end. This is just one of many ways in which pregnancy after loss is emotionally complicated — I don’t think my feelings would be this strong if I didn’t have to deal with the feeling of having my daughter stolen from me three and a half years ago. I never forget her, and I always wonder who she would be if she were a little three-year-old running around now. My sense of loss is mostly about her, and I’m doing my best to focus on the world of things that I will gain by hopefully adding this new little life to our family come fall.