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Archive for the ‘“Yesterday”’ Category

Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been seventy and surely would finally be blissfully earning the moniker we gave him much too young, “The Old Man”. My dad would’ve been a good old man, the best really. He already excelled at it by his late forties and that sort of thing only gets better with practice.

For his 70th, I’d like to share a story from my 15th.

Once upon a time, there was a horribly selfish 14 and 364/365 year old, who was incredibly PUT OUT by the fact that her dad was going to miss yet another of her birthdays. You see, my dad {yes, I will be playing the role of The Selfish Brat for this story} was the secretary for something called the International Claim Association, or ICA. {Which, totally unrelated but worth mentioning~ when I was a young thing I was a little hazy about all of this so I used to tell people my dad was a lawyer for the CIA. Untrue! But probably impressed a lot of very confused people.} In fact, my dad was an attorney for a life Insurance company so he was deeply familiar with the claim department of his company which led to his involvement in this organization.

Let me just break here to say, none of this matters. Except that it did because the committee meetings for this particular organization were often held the second week of September which also happens to hold an extremely paramount moment in history: the date of my birth. And because these meetings were often held at warm, sandy-beach locations, my mother naturally wished to accompany my dad and where did that leave me? A neglected orphan cruelly left to suffer yet another birthday alone {or, you know, in the company of very loving, capable grandparents and older siblings who more than made an effort to give me a special day, WHATEVER.} {I should also note that while my dad did very well for himself and his family, 5 kids in parochial school and all the various other expenses so many grunions incur, of which there were numerous and plenty, is not easy on the checkbook so taking us kids along was just not a viable option.}

By the time my 15th birthday hit, I was OVER it. Had it been a year later, I probably would not have cared, being at an age where spending the day with my friends would be much more important than hanging with my family but at 15 I was not quite there yet and the memory of my 12th, and golden, birthday still stung. On that occasion, not only was I was missing my dad but out of the goodness of my mother’s heart {she stayed home this time}, she agreed to baby-sit my severely ADHD cousin who had been served sugar and Mountain Dew at a Boy Scout function and who subsequently had to be locked out on the porch for fear he would destroy our house. It was an unpleasant experience and I told my dad he wasn’t allowed to miss anymore of my birthdays until I was over 18. I’m sure he didn’t actually agree to this, but somewhere in my head he did, so when I found out he would again be attending the ICA meeting over my birthday I was… displeased.

He left a day or so before the 12th of September. I can’t remember the conversation we had or the hug I’m sure he gave me, despite the fact that I had not stopped giving him The Filch Eye since I found out he was leaving. On my birthday, from Wherever, USA {I can’t even recall which warm, sandy location he was visiting this time} he called and I told him, after careful consideration, I would forgive him for ditching me if he brought me home something really, really special. Something to make up for not only missing this birthday but the handful of others over the years. He just chuckled in his way and told me to “be good”. I took that as a confirmation that he was going to bring me home something awesome. Something truly spectacular. And really? I should not have been this naive. I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that my father didn’t pick out any of our gifts growing up. I’m positive that task was delegated to my mother and she did a fabulous job at it so I don’t know what I was thinking. By the end of my dads trip I had myself pretty well convinced that he was bringing me the 1995 equivalent of a time traveling, golden unicorn that shit money. {Spoiler alert! That did not happen. Disappointing, I know.}

Anyway I had built this whole thing up in my head, so sure, sososososo sure, that my dad wouldn’t want to disappoint me and would have been sufficiently guilted into picking me out something fabulous. And sure enough, when he got home, he intimated to me that he did pick me out something special. All my teenage angst and rage dissipated, I was immediately filled with love! admiration! and awe for this wonderful man. This beautiful father who brought his newly minted 15 year old daughter a special gift. He passed me a smallish green box. Oh! Jewelry! I hadn’t even thought about that! Diamonds? Sapphires? Oooooo definitely sapphires, they’re my favorite and also my birthstone which makes them awesome AND meaningful. I was so in love with the contents of that box for roughly 20 seconds and then…

I opened it.

And it was a fish.

A fish made out of shells.

It wasn’t even a pretty fish.

It was a dumb fish.

It was the goddamn dumbest, ugliest fish I had ever seen in my entire life.

I hated it.

I hated that fish more than anything I had ever hated before and I was an angsty teenager so I hated A LOT of things.

Here is where I’d like to tell you that I pushed that hate deep down. Deep, deep down. And graciously smiled and hugged my dad for picking something out just for me. I did not do that. “What the hell is this?” may have been uttered. Also “A fish? You thought of me and bought… a stupid fish? Really?” I was not happy and after making sure this wasn’t a gag and my REAL gift wasn’t waiting for me outside, I left the little green box on the counter and stormed off to my room.

Such a brat. A complete, utter, ungrateful brat. To my mom’s credit, she was patient and understood why I was upset. Later that night, through the crack in their bedroom door, I heard her explaining to my dad that no 15 year old girl wants a fish made out of sea shells for her birthday. “They want CDs. They want pagers. They want Abercrombie shopping sprees. They really don’t want decorative fish.” And in true, unperturbed Garry form, he said quietly, “I thought it was nice.”

I did not forgive him easily. I did not take that dumb fish out of its box for weeks on principle. Eventually it made its way to my room, I’m sure my mom brought it there, and at some point I took it out. Inside was a little stand so it could be displayed and well, time is a funny thing, that ugly fish made it into that stand and was placed on a shelf in my room. I still hated it. It reminded me not only of being disappointed in my dad but of my own shitty behavior when I had received it… but there it stayed. Mostly forgotten, occasionally despised, for the rest of my years at home.

*         *        *      *

After he died I found myself in my old room. For the few months following the unexpected, I had abandoned my cozy loft apartment that still had my cats and my fiance, to give support to my mom in the wake of a loss that seemed as long and wide as all eternity. There, on my dresser was that dumb, ugly fish. And I picked it up, and ran my fingers over its cool, smooth surface, its sharp angled fins, and I cried. And I clung to it. I imagined my dad wandering off into the hotel’s gift shop. I saw him walking slowly along the shelves, scanning the various kitschy objects. Picking trinkets up, putting them down. I saw him pick up the ugly fish. I saw him smile at it. I felt him run his fingers along its surface. I heard him say, “I’ll take this one. For my daughter, she turns fifteen today!” And then they put that atrocious thing in that small green box and now here it was, 8 years later, a gift from my dad. A part of him here, waiting for me to love, and to appreciate the love it always had for me.

Ugly Fish {that’s its name… after all, a spade’s a spade} has spent every night since, these 10 long years of missing him, on my nightstand. It is a reminder to be gracious. A reminder that I was loved. A reminder of my dad. And I love him so much. And the dumb fish too.

Happy birthday, dad.

2.10.1

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11.21.2

11.21.6

11.21.5

11.21.4

11.21.3

11.21.1

11.21.7

 

 

{*Rowan at 8 photo credit Christine Welsh Photography*}

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One of the high points of the room swap was freeing up space in our room for my desk. My mom bought me this desk as a college graduation gift. It was a light in an otherwise pretty shitty time, considering my dad died the last week of classes, just two weeks before the graduation I would not attend due to the circumstances. We went out shopping for it together the following spring, when we had all found just a little bit of footing. I spotted it, covered in old, delicate looking doilies and china knickknacks in the back room of a cavernous antique shop in St Paul. It was {and remains} a turn of the century piece, beat to hell, covered in scratches and stains. I loved it immediately and absolutely, for no explicable reason other than it was solid and it had hope, and gave some of that hope to me. It was to be a place to gather thoughts, to form ideas, to write, to sit down at to use my degree. {Ha!} Or you know, house errant Barbie shoes and Lego heads. {Oh life, you are a funny thing.}

When I brought it home to our apartment on the second floor of a St. Paul Victorian, I placed it in my very own writing room. A room with a circular cutout alcove lined with windows, scratched wood floors and paned french doors. {This is where I ironically point out that when it was just Bill and I we had more bedrooms then we do now with three kids.} It was my office and I cannot tell you how much I loved that room. I’m sure I am romanticizing the shit out of that place but oh, it was so me and I felt more like myself in that room than I ever have before that time or since. For one year it was mine and then… well, it was time to be a grown-up, to build equity {so. much. ha.}, to raise our kids in the tree-lined suburbs, in homes free of giant shards of lead paint just hanging out in the corner of every windowsill. I knew we had to go but still, poor Bill had to drag my 5 months pregnant body kicking and screaming from that room in the city back to our hometown where we created the most wonderful little people on planet earth but man, this place has never been, nor ever will be mine. It has always been a place for my kids, a sacrifice for my family and it’s served its purpose and then some. But that room, with my desk, was home and when we move on from this place I’ll know I’ve found the right house when I feel that again, in whatever form it may take.

Due to our growing family, and shrinking usable space, the desk ended up in our open loft and Bill took it over to work at for his freelance projects for a number of years but then he got a work laptop and the desk has sat, mostly unused for months until last night. It may seem insignificant but this is the first time since shortly after having kids that I have my own space in a room with a door. A door that I can use to shut my {lovely! sweet!} loud-ass offspring out of my room with. Even though it’s nothing fancy. Even though I haven’t cleaned the last 10 years’ worth of junk out of the drawers yet. And even though I can still hear said offspring banging around on the other side, a measly four feet away, it just makes a difference, a big difference. Now I have a place to put my computer {which has been taking up a corner of the kitchen table for the last forever}, my camera {previously housed precariously on the top of a tall bookshelf in the living room}, a journal and whatever books I’m currently reading, which right now are Understanding Exposure, Click magazine, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban {with the kids before bed} and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. It is a happy place, a hopeful place and mine. All mine.

11.17.1

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Little Miss

Mr. Sir

The Duke

In the week or so after birth he looked exactly like a blond version of Rowan but he’s already changed so much. Whatever the case, he’s for sure the spitting image of a super stud muffin.

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…of the baby of course, get your mind out of the gutter, Internet. Our big anatomy scan is at the end of the week and it is just now starting to hit me that we might very well know if Sammy Davis Junior Junior is a boy or a girl by the end of the appointment. I always find it hard to get excited about these ultrasounds, mostly because I’m riddled with anxiety that the baby will be healthy and have all its major interior and exterior body parts working well and accounted for. It definitely helps that I had a scan at 10 weeks and there on the screen we saw a wee little head, and two arms and two legs flailing around, but still, it seems like so many things can go wrong and even though our combined genetic histories put us at nearly zero percent for defects or worse, stranger things have happened.

So to distract myself from the stress of those thoughts that I can’t seem to shut off, let’s relive how I found out what Rowan and Keaton were going to be because if my past has taught me anything it is ALL BETS ARE OFF, when it comes to expectations for finding out the sex of your baby.

{Author’s note~ This post some how got obnoxiously long {I seriously have a shutting-up problem, I promise to get it properly evaluated by a physician at some point}, in case you don’t want to read it or give up half-way through to save your eyeballs, I will sum up thusly: We will hopefully be finding out the sex of the baby in a couple of days and we really don’t care either way, The End.}

From a very young age I wanted only boys. I grew up in a neighborhood of boys. Boys were easy. You played in the dirt in the morning, played baseball in the afternoon, rode bikes in the evening and probably topped off the day back in the dirt. I liked playing with boys because I liked how boys played. At school I tried playing with girls, but there were just so. many. rules. And if you screwed up those rules you were unceremoniously banished from the game only to be the favorite again the next week. Though I definitely had tomboy tendencies, I liked playing girly things just fine as a kid {I did have three sisters after all, two older ones that I idolized and a younger one I liked to boss around} but I did NOT like the way girls played. If a boy was mad at you he maybe called you a stinky fart face or something similarly poetic, punched you on the arm and then you could all move on with the game. If a girl got mad at you it was a roller coaster of psychological manipulation and abuse for what could be weeks or months on end, depending not so much on the infraction but on the vindictiveness of that particular girl. This is the main reason why I wanted boys and only boys, the other small part being that, well, Christy as a teenager? Ugh. No thank you. No one needs a repeat of that shit.

When I got pregnant with Rowan, I kindly informed Bill that his only job was to ensure that I only received Y chromosomes from his supply, which I think was a pretty reasonable request, don’t you? {This isn’t a trick question, the answer here is YES.} After all, I had to have my head hanging in a toilet for months on end only to have my lady bits assaulted with something that GOOD LORD just does not seem conducive to its size. I was so confident after the pain and suffering of those first four months that little baby Jesus would bestow upon me the boy I wanted so dearly. And really when you took into account that Bill had an impressive amount of cousins that were having babies at the same time and they were all birthing BOYS, every single last one of them, absolutely ZERO GIRLS? Well, I thought we had this in the bag.

I was nervous for the ultrasound, having been so sick, but I DESPERATELY wanted to know the sex. I so needed something to carry me though the last half of that horrendous pregnancy. Finding out that the boy I had envisioned all my life was on his way was just what I needed to make the rest of the pregnancy bearable. The appointment was not at my normal OB office but at a hospital I was unfamiliar with and run by a tech that had most likely earned her certificate the day before our appointment. She wouldn’t even tell us if the baby looked healthy or not as “that’s your doctor’s job”. She made it very clear that her job was only to take the measurements and when we asked about the sex of the baby towards the end of the scan she moved the wand around my stomach in a  nervous fluster before saying she had no idea, not even a guess.

Unfortunately my next doc appointment was weeks away so I fumed and worried that entire time, angry that she couldn’t have at least given some sort of indication that everything looked okay and was functioning properly with the baby and disappointed that I would most likely have to wait until the birth to find out the sex. If there is one thing I hated at the time, it was the color yellow, as I knew that was all I was going to see for the next 4 months. When my next OB appointment finally came, my awesome doctor apologized for the shitty experience we had and quickly assured us that although the baby was on the small side, that it looked 100% healthy. He also took pity on me and ordered another ultrasound to check growth at 5 and a half months, making sure it would take place right in the office with the most experienced tech they had.

That scan was amazing. The tech pointed out every part on the baby, going over bones and organs, taking his time while letting us marvel at the beautiful little blob on the screen. He asked us if we wanted to know the sex and we said if he could see it then yes,

“Oh yeah, I can see it,” he said confidently, “It’s a girl!”

Me: …

Me: …

Me: Are you sure?

Tech: Yep!

Me: …

Me: How sure?

Tech: Very sure. I’m not legally allowed to tell you I’m 100% sure, but if this baby comes out with a penis, I will personally reimburse you for any pink baby clothes you buy beforehand.”

Me: {looking at Bill with narrowed eyes} He sounds pretty sure…{and in a hissed whisper} You did it wrong! You better start running now…

See how nice I was! I wanted to give him a head start so he had a chance to escape my WRATH. I was downright reasonable, gracious even! Once we got in the car my mom called, wanting to hear the big news first and I will admit that when I told her in an exasperated tone, “Well, the baby has ten fingers, ten toes and one fucking vagina, thanks to Bill”… it was maybe not my proudest, most mature moment. Bill and I went out for lunch where I begrudgingly admitted that the universe would probably not implode over this and I can tell you that after lunch it took roughly 7 minutes to fully get over myself because that is the time it took to get to Target where I was assaulted with so many twee little pink and purple, flowery sweet baby girl things and something in those feminine patterns ramped up my pregnancy hormones to FULL BLAST and that teeny, healthy girl residing safely inside of me? No longer felt like a curse but the most amazing gift I had ever received. It was the first time I could visualize not just a random baby but MY baby. And when they placed her in my arms, the deal was cinched. I know bonding and love comes differently for many mothers and babies, as the experiences between Rowan and Keaton varied wildly, but when they placed that child in my arms I was in love so completely, so wholly, and I never looked back.

Having this amazing girl-child in my life caused many changes for me, not the least of which was that I went from wanting 3 boys, to an army of girls. Seriously, that first year or so after Rowan was born, I would have gladly signed up to give her 9 more sisters. When we decided to start trying for another baby, I put in my order for another girl with Bill, and {maybe not so gently} told him not to screw it up this time.

Well. I guess we all know how that turned out.

It was less of a shock this time around because I didn’t have very long to get my hopes up. At twelve weeks the doctor couldn’t find Keaton’s heartbeat with the doppler so they rushed me in for an ultrasound where, along with a steady, strong heartbeat, the doctor also thought he spied a weinerhausen. He told us it was WAY too early to say with any confidence but that if he had to guess he’d say it was a boy. So at 19 weeks when we had the official ultrasound and the baby’s penishood was confirmed right away as he was NOT shy, it was not a super big surprise.

After lecturing Bill about learning to follow directions better {because really} I settled in to the rest of my pregnancy, trying to get used to the idea of a boy. I will admit that it took longer to warm up to the idea of a boy than it did to come to terms with a girl. While his family was definitely more populated with the male species, MY side was mostly girls. Who would he play with, with all these girl cousins running around? Plus I had spent the last two years learning to be a mom to a girl! Was I going to have to start all over again? How do you change a diaper with all those extra parts in the way? I felt like I was finally coming into my own in this parenthood gig and now I was headed back to square one. {And I was, but for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with the baby’s sex and everything to do with his screaminess.}

To be honest, because of the severity of the colic, I didn’t really have too many thoughts about Keaton’s “boyness” until he hit about a year. Yes, baby boys pee on you. A LOT. And they pee on your bed spread and walls and drapes and floor and pretty much anything within a 10 foot radius. A LOT. But he never shot projectile warm liquid poop at my face {with my mouth agape in horror} while I was sleepily changing a diaper at five in the morning like his lovely sister did during the second week of her life so all’s forgiven.

In the end? My daughter, who I swore would be a mud loving tomboy like her mama, turned out to be a fairly accurate stereotype of a pink-loving, princess-worshiping, sparkle fashionista, American Girl-Child {although the kid’s not shy around mud or rough housing and I would never classify her as prissy}. And my son vacillates wildly between car-loving, rough-housing, sword-wielding, ALL BOY to Mr. I Do Not Care What You Think of My Sparkly Pink Toes, and can work a tutu and ponytails and strut like nobody’s business.

People often say, “oh you’re so lucky you have one of each- you can be done now!” Um, huh? Having one of each sex was never my goal {clearly} and I know that had I had two boys or two girls, I would have been just as ridiculously proud and in love with them. I totally understand that there are differences between the two sexes but in my experience people put WAY too much stock into a child’s gender rather than what really makes them them~ their own individual brand of personality.

That being said, I really DO feel lucky to have one of each. I think they benefit massively from learning from each other. They are both exposed to things they probably wouldn’t have been, had we had two of the same sex, not the least of which will be the avoidance of awkward conversations with terrible visual aids when it comes to the big body talk- there are no mysteries of the exterior appearance of the human body left to these two at this point. I can honestly say that the gender difference has in no way affected their love for each other. They truly are the greatest of friends. They love sharing a room. They don’t always love playing the same game with the same toys but most of the time they can find common ground with minimum bloodshed. I can very truly say that I am blessed beyond measure that my original gender requests went unheeded by the universe.

So this time around? I have put in no requests other than the standard wish for a healthy baby. I honestly do not care and have no clue or feeling whatsoever as to whether we are expecting a boy or a girl. Bill thinks it’s a girl based on… I’m not really sure what. Keaton wants a brother and if it were up to him, we should just throw this one back if it’s a girl, and Rowan has put in an order for one boy and one girl, so she’s going to be disappointed either way as we are already VERY SURE there is just one baby hanging out in my uterus. I entertained not finding out the sex at all and while I see why some people make that choice it is really just NOT for me and my strong propensity for impatience and planning shit. Then I entertained the thought of just keeping it between Bill, the kids and I, but who am I kidding, there are just NO SECRETS when it comes to six year olds and Rowan is so excited to find out that it would be a pretty big blow to tell her she had to wait 4.5 more months in the interest of secrecy.

Obviously, after all this blathering on, we will most likely get an uncooperative baby. I have a midwife this time around and they generally do not like to order unnecessary tests so unless we want to pony up for a private ultrasound, we’ll be left in the dark until October. And while that wouldn’t be awesome, it will be okay because I am ready for all possible scenarios at this point. I just feel so lucky to be feeling mostly alive and functioning and the reality of a third child to our little family is starting to come to light. While the thought can be somewhat terrifying, it mostly causes me to break out in a wide, stupid, silly grin for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

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Once upon a time there was a lady who was really, really pregnant.

Her mother gifted her and her husband a beautiful white crib. The pregnant lady told her husband to put it together so that the baby could have its own place to sleep instead of sharing a bed with the dog or 3 cats. {No photographic evidence exists of the putting together of the crib but the bassinet was put together at roughly the same time and I assure you that the husband's face looked very similar to this so you get the gist...}

After a lot of puking and general be-moaning of her pregnant self, the pregnant lady became a mama. Just like that. And she had the most precious girl in the whole world and that girl slept safe and snug in the beautiful white crib.

Then seemingly right before her parents' eyes, the baby girl grew a little bigger...

And a little bigger. Then the lady who was just a lady, went back to being a very pregnant lady and the beautiful white crib had a spectacular metamorphosis from pink...

To blue. And the sweetest baby boy came to sleep snug and tight in the beautiful white crib. {But not until he was eight months old because strangely enough, during the previous seven, the boy was convinced the crib was covered in molton lava and screamed his wee, precious little head off any time the lady tried to put him in it.} But he figured it out! And...

Similarly enough, he grew bigger...

And bigger. Until one day the baby boy wasn't a baby anymore and he wanted a big boy bed of his own.

And so the beautiful white crib went through another transformation from crib to toddler bed...

And the tiny blue stars were traded in for pink once again, as it was returned to its rightful owner. And for 21 more months the girl and the bed were together, but a funny thing happened...

That little girl kept right on growing. And even though she loved the beautiful white crib, she was ready to say goodbye.

The boy too was sad to see his toddler bed go, but excited for his very own big kid bed. And so the new bed was ordered and the delivery men came to put it together...

They tried to wait patiently but that's a pretty hard thing to do when something as exciting as bunk beds are being erected on the floor above and the lady won't let you go and ask the workers if they are done yet. So they just kept right on waiting..

and waiting...

And waiting some more.

And just when they didn't think they could wait any longer...it was time to go and inspect.

And the boy and the girl were really high up!

And really happy.

And down, down, down came the beautiful white crib. And the lady, the mama? She was sad. That beautiful white crib had been where she laid her babies' soft heads down for nearly six years. It was a fixture, a part of their little family and now it was gone. But the mama, and the daddy, are happy for this next chapter to start anew.

THE END.

Epilogue

It’s spring break for us this week and we are running around like crazy people cleaning out dressers and closets and trying to fit a ton of fun stuff in for the kiddos. That being said I will try to get another, less schmaltzy, nostalgic piece up, including pictures of the finished product and give, in full detail, with my full arsenol of swear words, an account of just how fucking fun it is to change the bedding on that top bunk.

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Once upon a time there was a young, lovestruck {with Brad Pitt} 15 year old girl who one fateful day, watched Legends of the Fall. Her life was changed completely after just one viewing of this movie but to be sure she watched it 347 more times. In a two week period. It was then decided, that her first born son would be named Tristan and being completely in charge of the impossible, the girl also announced that she would have three sons {the second to be named Julian, the third Aidan} and none of those pesky, bratty, rotten girl-children. It was decreed, and would be so, and that was THAT.

The girl grew up and unfortunately for me uh her, she did not marry Brad Pitt. But she found a suitable substitute and soon they were expecting their first boy. Only it wasn’t a boy. When the ultrasound technician reveled the sex, she- OK  FINE- *I* turned my head immediately to Bill with wide unbelieving eyes that silently screamed at him “YOU DID IT WRONG”. Then I turned back to the technician, “Are you sure?” And the technician laughed, clearly missing the gravity of the situation and said to me “I’m not legally allowed to say I’m 100 percent sure, but if this baby comes out with a penis I will personally reimburse you for all the girl clothes you buy.” Then I looked at Bill and mouthed “You better start running now”.

Now I know as a mother I am only supposed to care about how healthy the baby is but we had had an ultrasound a month or so before that deemed our baby wonderfully, perfectly healthy, this one was granted specifically to find out the sex. Plus, I was so young and so naive and my husbands sperm DISOBEYED ORDERS. Naturally, I was upset. I called my mom to let her know the news with this charming sentence: “The baby has 10 fingers and 10 toes and 1 fucking vagina.” Bill, who had remained mostly quiet thus far, drove us to a restaurant and I couldn’t help but notice his smile. What was he so happy about? He had wanted a boy too but was ridiculously happy with the news that we would have a daughter. He couldn’t really explain it, other than it inexplicably made him smile. You know, after he was done fearing for his life because again: HE DID IT WRONG. I had to carry this thing that had me bed-ridden or heaving over a toilet bowl for months on end. I had to grow a human from scratch. All he had to do was give it a penis.

Thankfully my shock and anger were short-lived. After lunch we went to Target and that was it. With each shelf, each row of pink I encountered, the rage dissipated to indignance, then to annoyance then was gone altogether. This was either hormones or divine intervention because LORD JESUS I have always hated pink. But. There I was, filled with a growing gooey warmth, walking through the aisles of soft pink sleepers and tiny purple booties. I was beyond at peace. I was happy. I was excited for a daughter. I picked out a tiny little newborn outfit {in pink, for I could not help myself} and knew that this was my Rowan, a name I had picked out for a HEAVEN FORBID girl or a boy a few weeks earlier {since BILL SOMEBODY had a severe allergic reaction to the name Tristan}. I never looked back after that afternoon. Sure I might make a joke here or there about Bill’s inability to follow instructions but from that day on I couldn’t wait to meet my daughter, and that only partly had to do with wanting to get the little ninja-kicker a safer distance away from my bladder.

I may have mentioned here a few thousand times that Rowan was a very content, easy baby. By the time she hit two months, I was ready for 10 more kids, however my husband and our bank account were not, so I waited until they were ready and then mother nature made us wait a little bit longer. After Rowan, I couldn’t imagine myself with anything BUT a girl. We had picked out our second daughter’s name more than a year before I got pregnant and though we ran the whole “We don’t care what it is as long as it’s healthy” line, we both not-so-secretly wanted another girl. And it wasn’t so much that we wanted a girl, more that we just felt it was meant to be, that we would be parents of girls, sisters.

Because of how sick I was, I had regular ultrasounds to check the baby’s growth. At a 12 week US, the doctor said it was too soon to tell but if he had to guess he’d say boy. Bill and I smiled but foolishly didn’t even take the comment into consideration. Way too early to tell, we told ourselves. Then at my 20 week Ultrasound he told us right away he could see the sex of the baby but would wait until the end to tell us so we paid attention to the other parts. This was a stupid thing to say because for the rest of the time I just daydreamed about punching the doctor for being a condescending asshole. Then when he said BOY, I gave a weak smile and looked at Bill, who did the same.

Afterward, we didn’t really know what to say to each other. “A boy, huh?” I said. “Yep”, he replied. “Heh.” I didn’t really know how I felt. Not upset. I just didn’t know what the hell to do with a boy. And all those baby clothes we had ready for Rowan 2.0 in uncountable shades of pinks and purples, useless. I had spent almost 2 years learning how to parent a girl child, I felt like I had to start all over again because this version of a baby comes with extra parts. That they can aim. I wouldn’t let myself admit that I had already invested myself in the idea of a second daughter so much that a part of me was a little disappointed. For the most part, Bill felt the same way. He loved being a daddy to a daughter and didn’t know how different it would be to have a son.

Then came the epic battle over Keaton’s name which made things worse. Bill and I have always seen eye to eye on girls’ names but boys’ names were SO. VERY. HARD. We fought. I cried. And after weeks of arguing I’m pretty sure he looked into having me committed to a psyche-ward when I insisted on the name Weston and I may have considered homicide as a completely reasonable option when he kept coming back with Jonas and Desmond. In the end we abandoned a name we both loved because our families hated it and finally, FINALLY settled on Keaton one week before he made his entrance at 38 weeks.

I now believe that this boy was put on this earth to prove every assumption I had made about babies in the previous 27 months of being a parent wrong. He was the complete opposite of Rowan and if we are being honest he came out like most newborns, looking like a old grandpa baby. And he peed on me, SWEET JESUS did he pee on me. But. His differences as a baby had nothing to do with sex or gender and everything to do with him being an entirely, unapologetically different person from his sister. Get this! Babies are individuals too! Stop the freaking presses, an idiot mother has just had a completely mundane revelation!

I have never looked back. Never questioned or wondered what life would be like had he been a girl. {And OK maybe it doesn’t hurt that Keaton likes dress up and shoes so much…} Rowan surprised me with how perfectly, how snugly she fit into my heart. Keaton stretched it out to make a completely unique place for himself there, constantly tugging it with his wide smile and the way his moppy head of hair tucks under my chin when we snuggle on the couch. And down the road, when the time comes for number three, I can honestly say I DO NOT CARE- partly because we’ve already agreed on names either way, but mostly because no matter what the sex, they will find a way to surprise you.

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