The reasons I have an only child are many, and many of them are extremely personal. But with the debate swirling over the increasing number of parents who are playing around with gender selection so they can get that one baby girl or that one little boy they say they "need," I think it's time to open up a little.
We have a multimillion-dollar industry on our hands with people paying as much as $18,000 to ensure they get the "right" answer come sonogram time. I don't get it. And yet, I do. I've been there.
I have an only child because I couldn't guarantee a girl the second time.
When I got pregnant, it was with one thought and one thought only in mind: we wanted to have a baby. Any baby. Well, our baby, but still ... there was no grand plan for a boy or a girl. After five years of marriage, we'd simply decided it was time to make this a party of three. And after several months of trying, voila. Pregnant.
My husband wanted to know the sex of our baby. I didn't care. As it would turn out, we were met with a stubborn little baby in the ultrasound room (ah, her German heritage already kicking in). Crossed legs meant the sex was staying a secret. But my husband was convinced I was carrying a girl. My OB/GYN was convinced I was carrying a girl.
Although I didn't tell anyone at the time, I knew it in my bones. I knew she was a she, but I worried that telling people would somehow ruin things if I was wrong. What if I gave birth to a boy and people were disappointed? I couldn't put that kind of pressure on a son. I really, truly, honestly did not feel like I would be disappointed with a son.
Then she arrived. Ten fingers. Ten toes. And no penis.
It felt meant to be, and as I spent more time mothering a daughter, I fell into a groove. I could do this! I had girl parts. She had girl parts. I knew how things were supposed to work. It was more complex than that, of course. There was something about being a woman with a female child that made me feel empowered, like it was my responsibility -- even more so than my husband's -- to teach this little person that girls can do anything they set their minds to.
It will sound like a cliche, but I felt like a piece of me that I never knew was missing had returned, and I was whole.
Naturally, when you have an infant, you start talking about the next one. Will there be a next one? Like I said, our reasons for stopping right there are many. Some are too personal for a blog. But I can't deny that the gender of our first played a big role. My baby changed my mind about parents wanting to pre-determine the gender of their baby.
We had the girl we didn't even know we wanted (well, I didn't know ... my husband always wanted a girl). If we were going to do it again, we'd want another girl. But nature doesn't work that way. There is no guarantee. My grandparents had five boys before finally getting girls.
I don't believe in gender selection on a personal level. I can't put my finger on why; it just feels wrong to me. So we decided to stop right there. We have just one child, the girl we wanted.
And yet, with the way I feel about my daughter, I have to admit I understand the moms and dads who "mess with nature" for one gender or the other. Some are cuckoo for cocoa puffs. But for some, it's really about finding that missing piece of themselves.
Do you have a hankering for one gender over the other? Did it come after you fell in love with your baby?
Image via Jeanne Sager