WHY I MOURNED NOT HAVING A GIRL
Celine Bell know she should count her blessings, but...
There’s a Madonna song with the lyric, ‘Do you know what it feels like for a girl?’ With my second pregnancy, I felt a slightly adjusted sentence was appropriate for me: ‘Do you know what it feels like to want a girl?’ Because I wanted a daughter so very much.
Let me start by saying I know how lucky I am. I’ve been spared the uncertainty of infertility, the sadness of miscarriage and stillbirth. I have wept tears for beloved friends who have been through this, but can’t fathom how it must feel to live it in the first person. To all those struggling, I wish you luck. And I hope you can see my point of view, rather than seeing me as a spoiled princess. Here goes...
I found out my first baby was a boy at the 20-week scan. I’d been so nervous I’d picked a fight with my husband that morning, and we sat on the bus in silence, avoiding eye contact, and thinking about anything but the list of sad news and upsets that can happen at the half-way stage. The fight was forgotten as we saw him wriggling on the screen, waving and dancing. And when he arrived, two weeks late, he was a gorgeous wee boy, who has bought me joy, frustration and laughter every day since. Sure, some days the laughter is slightly manic, and I’ve cried A LOT over the usual new mum traumas. But he’s pretty awesome when he’s in a good mood. Or sleeping. Or just after a meal. (Donald Trump seems like a very angry man – based on my toddler, I think he might feel better after a good feed.)
And having had one boy and who was so perfect and such fun, the thought of having another was quite exciting. But despite that, I still really wanted a girl. So much so, that I didn’t learn the gender with baby number two, because I didn’t want to be disappointed. See? Spoiled princess. Because how can you EVER be disappointed with the news you are carrying a healthy baby – boy or girl. I thought, rightly, that there could be no disappointment on the day of the birth when that sticky, red, squirming baby was passed to me. And I was right, he was in no way a disappointment, and as soon as he was handed over, I knew he was the baby I was supposed to have. I loved him instantly, with none of the slow falling in love I’d had the first time around. My body and heart knew, mostly, what to do. (My boobs didn’t, but that’s another story for another time).
So why then, did I look at little girls with bunches, pink jackets and glittery leggings in the park, and experience almost a mourning feeling for the few weeks afterwards? Why did I pause in the pink aisles of Zara Kids and finger the cute silver tutu? FFS, I’m hugely against gender stereotypes in clothes, believe firmly that both Martha AND Max can play with dinosaurs or dolls and hate the idea that a newborn girl should be in pink. In the 1920s, boys wore pink - it wasn’t until the 1940s that pink became associated with little girls. (You can read more about this here – it’s fascinating).
Time has passed, and I forgive myself for these traitorous feelings. I see that I’m going to have so much fun with two gorgeous boys. I’ve also come to a conclusion: when life doesn’t look as you have always expected, you need to recalibrate to the ‘new normal’. I never thought I’d marry an Aussie, but I did. I never thought I’d live in hipster east London, but I do (I’m more M&S than moustaches, but I love it anyway). And I assumed that as I’d come from a 2.4 child family with one girl and one boy – I have a younger brother – I’d replicate that.
So now I’m used to the fact that I have two boys, would I have another baby? I often get asked if I’d try again for a girl. No bloody way. I’m knackered. I haven’t slept properly for three years. I can’t remember the last time I had a non-functional conversation with my husband – all sentences start with ‘What…?’ or ‘Have you…?’ I don’t want to test our relationship yet further by throwing another baby-shaped grenade into the mix. And what’s more, I’ve realised - spoiled bloody princess that I am - that what I have is utterly perfect. I was meant to be a mum of boys. I wish everyone could have my luck.