In my uncle's garden
Friday, December 6, 2002

For the last two or three weeks there has been a tally in my head, a tally of Reasons To Believe the Baby is Not Okay versus Reasons To Believe the Baby is Okay. (Let's be clear. By "Not Okay" I mean dead. I don't even know if it's possible for a baby to just die in utero without any sign of miscarriage, but that doesn't stop me from worrying about it.)

On the Not Okay side, we had the fact that I couldn't feel the baby move, the absence of any illness or cramping or other pregnancy symptoms, rampant and careless tea drinking, sleeping on sides other than my left, and hardly any sign of a bump.

On the Okay side, we had no bleeding or obvious badness, my general good health, and the fact that I'm not even supposed to feel the baby move yet.

It's stupid, but I was actually worrying because I felt good. I felt fine. I felt... nothing.

On Wednesday we had an appointment for an ultrasound. It's the standard week 20 ultrasound, where they check that all the bits are in the right place. I met Blake at the subway stop by my office, and we went to the hospital together. (It's not really a hospital; Mount Sinai has a floor in an office building, where they do all their ultrasounds and non-birthing obstetric stuff. The rest of the building is regular office stuff.)

We arrived in plenty of time and Blake got something for lunch from the cheesy cafeteria on the main floor, and then went to the elevators. We got on an elevator with a nicely dressed office guy, and he hit his floor, and "3", the floor that Mount Sinai has. He said "I knew that's where you were going. I've worked here for four years; I can tell." I guess there aren't many couples going to other floors.

We arrived early for the three o' clock appointment, but ended up waiting until three fifteen or so before we were called in. I lay down on the cot and pulled down my pants to show my belly, and the technician squeezed some blue lubricant onto my skin and pressed the wand into my flesh.

The first thing I saw was our baby's heart, beating.

The technician spent a few minutes taking measurements of the baby from top to bottom; head, arms, hands, heart, ... When she got to the legs she asked us whether we wanted to know the sex. We said we did, and she said "It looks like a girl." The screen showed a rather invasive pan up the baby's legs to... nothing. I guess if it was a boy, there would be something, but I'm really not in a position to compare, having never seen baby boy bits on an ultrasound.

I was a little shocked that it -- that she's a girl. I was really expecting a boy, in that deep, unreasonable, unthinking way that one sometimes expects things.

I'm almost disappointed. No, I am disappointed, because I'm a bad horrible rotten person. I'm not just disappointed because I was expecting a boy, I'm disappointed because I wanted a boy. And I wanted a boy because I think boys are more interesting and have more potential than girls. Boys can be astronomers or chemists or conductors or brilliant musicians. Girls? Girls can just follow along, be pretty good at this or that. Girls whine and bicker and do not have the potential for excellence, and also, they're boring.

I'm wrong, of course, and this whole situation is revealing a deep, ugly misogynistic streak I didn't realize I had. But I think it's better this way; if we had had a boy first, I would not have had to confront this in myself, and I would have pushed our son to fulfill all kinds of dreams I have for him (because he's a boy) and I would have neglected our daughter (assuming #2 would have been a girl) and simply allowed (encouraged?) her to languish in the shadow of her brother.

Since we are having a girl first, though, I will have to get over this bad attitude before she is born. I will also spare my non-existant first son the trauma of bearing all my hopes and dreams, while simultaneously (I hope) letting my daughter know that she can achieve whatever she wants to, and that we will support her in what she chooses.

This makes me sound like a monster, and I guess I am (I certainly wouldn't take this kind of misogynistic talk from anyone else) but I'm pretty confident that I won't screw this up. For one thing, I have five months to work this out, but for another, I know when I see my baby and watch her grow, I will recognize her for an individual, not just some nebulous Girl who is an amalgamation of all the (lame) girls I have ever known.

She will be clever, like we are, and interesting and opinionated, and musical and strong and healthy. She will be unique, with her own strengths and passions, and my narrow little ideas about what it is to be a Girl will be shattered.