My Terrible Truth: I Was Terrified of Having a Son

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This is a terrible truth. It’s not something I have shared anywhere, with anyone. I’m sure that some people assumed it, based on my publicly ultra-feminine aesthetic and love of all things pink. But when I got pregnant, I was secretly praying for a girl. I went so far as to convince myself that the baby growing inside of me was a boy, so that I could better cope when (and if) I found out that was true.

Growing up, I was the Barbie queen. I had the biggest collection on the block. I loved playing with my mom’s makeup (my parents caught me more than once sitting at her vanity with a blush brush in hand). I was a girly-girl through and through. I was the ultimate stereotype, from big hair bow to skirts every day to an eventual love of manicures, fashion magazines, and glitter. Glitter everywhere.

I always dreamed I’d be a mommy one day, and even though I babysat for little boys in the neighborhood and adored them, those daydreams of eventual motherhood were usually about having a daughter. A mini-me, a little buddy that would go everywhere with me and do the things I did. Someone to watch Cinderella with, a nursery filled with ruffles and bows, a small human who would one day grow up to “shop” in my closet and tell me all her secrets. A baby girl. It was my biggest dream right after a great marriage (check) and before a lucrative career (sorry, that’s just me).

Walking into the 20-week ultrasound appointment, I felt a little dizzy. Of course, I would love my little boy with my whole heart. He would be my prince, a tiny version of my husband. What could be cuter than that? But if I was being honest with myself, I really wanted to start things off with a little girl.

The truth is, I was scared about becoming a mom, and I thought that having a girl would somehow make all of the obstacles I was convinced I’d face as a mom easier. She’d be a mini-me, someone I could relate to. Because here’s the thing: For all the dreams I’d always had about how great it would be, there were doubts, too. I worried my husband and I would bicker over logistics (we do, but we’re even closer now), that my body would never be the same (it’s not, but I’m getting there), that friends and colleagues would put me in the “mom box” and value my company less (it happens, but not as badly as I thought it would). I was scared that my entire identity would be wrapped up in being a mother, and I didn’t yet know my baby so the love was something I didn’t understand.

I got what I wanted. The ultrasound tech panned over the area in question and declared, “There are the three little lines. It’s a girl!” I was shaking. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t just excited, I was relieved. We told the family with great fanfare, just as we would have done if the baby had been a boy. But beneath the surface, I felt I could finally exhale. It was more than joy, it was the knowledge that the first person to make me a mommy would be more like me, so she would make it easier.

Fast-forward to real life without pregnancy hormones. Now that I’m raising a child, I understand that a mother’s love knows no parameters, certainly none that are gender-based. My daughter is my heart, she’s my vision, my insides. Yes, we do everything together and yes, she lets me put her in pink (for now), but I learned a lot since having her. I don’t expect her to grow up and be just like me. I don’t care what she’s into. Nails and fashion or soccer stats and building blocks. It really won’t affect me. It’s the reverse now, I understand. I’ll be into whatever she’s into, because she’s mine and I love her.

I had to meet her to get it. I had to have an actual child in my arms to understand that whether it was a girl or a boy, I would love that baby like no one I’d ever met. And that I would cherish the role of being its mother. One day, I’d love to have a son, too. Or maybe not. Now that I’m a mom, I understand that it really doesn’t matter at all. Maybe the fact that I was having a girl made those final months of pregnancy easier to bear, so for that I’m thankful. But I wish I had known then what I do now — there was nothing to be afraid of. Any baby would have been a dream come true.