Parenting is full of surprises. Just three years in and I've already become deeply familiar with that fact. Pretty much everything that happens from bedtime to bedtime is an unknown. (I was going to say from wake-up to bedtime, but that leaves out the night hours that can bring anything from bad dreams to bed-wetting to unconscious shouts of "Give me my cookie!")
So when there's a chance to make things just a little less astonishing, I'm happy to take advantage. This is why I'm all for learning the baby's gender as soon as possible. During our first pregnancy, however, The Admiral disagreed. He wanted the big, cinematic "It's a ..." moment. And so, being the ever-courteous wife that I am, I acquiesced to his wishes. He didn't find out.
But I did.
As I've told anyone willing to stand still for 18 seconds, we had the sonographer write down the baby's gender and put it in an envelope. And then the envelope went away. The Admiral not only didn't know what was in it, he didn't know if I'd even opened it. We were afraid that if he knew that I knew, I'd be subject to intense scrutiny every time I picked up a Hanna Andersson catalog. So I kept both secrets for over four months (not counting that one tiny little slip-up in front of Stacey and Kristy).
And that was ... hard. Even for a stoic specimen like myself, keeping that information to myself was a challenge. And it wasn't just about keeping a secret; I had to keep up an act, lobbying equally hard for my picks on both genders' names, keeping every new nursery item completely gender-neutral, and continuing my vehement argument against circumcision even though I knew it was pointless. Because I knew we were having a girl. If I even doubted it, the exclamation point on the sonographer's note removed all question. My daughter was on her way.
So now, halfway though my second pregnancy, the question rose again. Would we find out or wouldn't we? I actually hesitated at first, thinking that maybe it would be fun to try it the other way, to have the big suspenseful moment after delivery. But then I thought ... naaah. The suspense is just as good in that little dark room with the goop all over my belly. The Admiral, however, still wasn't convinced. While willing, as always, to respect his wishes, I did mention what a challenge it was to keep quiet for 20 weeks. And how much easier it would be if we could plan out things like room arrangements, wardrobe needs, etc. And how nice it would be to prepare Miss M for the exact sibling she'd be getting, instead of constantly saying "little brother or sister" (especially since she'd been convinced from the start that I was having a girl). And about 17 other logical reasons why it really would make more sense for us both to find out.
Up until the day of the ultrasound, he still hadn't decided what to do, but at some point between the exam room and the sonogram suite, he went with Find Out. Thanks to a scheduling snafu, Miss M was actually in attendance as well, so we were looking forward to all finding out together, which was an unlikely scenario at the actual delivery.
Those of you who have ever spent ten minutes with a three-year-old, and my three-year-old in particular, can already see where this is heading. Miss M got bored after about 15 minutes of staring at barely recognizable body parts on a black and white screen. The Admiral did the best he could to entertain - and ultimately restrain - her, but there was just no getting around it. We could keep her locked in there and let the sonographer try to complete a fetal survey over the screams of "I want to play OUTSIDE!" or he could take her out and let the scan finish in peace. He bowed out gracefully and sacrificed The Moment for the greater good.
The sweet little sonographer held out as long as she could, hoping they'd be able to return, but I'd already snuck into a latecomer's appointment time and she couldn't wait any longer. She stopped measuring the skull and diaphragm and kidneys and went right for the up-kilt shot. She asked if Miss M had a feeling about what it was, and I said she was sure it was a girl. "Well," she said, "sometimes children have a good sense about these things." My eyebrows lodged an inch above their natural position as I waited for confirmation. "But this time she's wrong. See?"
And I did. There he was. My boy.
I didn't realize until that second how much I'd been hoping for a son. I'd always admitted to wanting a boy, mostly because of my lifelong fear of adolescent girls, but during this pregnancy, I'd gotten comfortable with the idea of having two daughters (i.e., I had and currently have no plans to be pregnant again). I love the heck out of Miss M, and having her got me way past the idea that gender would have any influence on how I felt about the next child. But still ... a boy. My boy. I felt like I'd just met someone I'd been waiting my whole life to meet. I wondered how I was going to get the ridiculous grin off my face before I got back to The Admiral, but when I saw how disappointed he was to miss the big reveal, and how demonic Miss M was acting, we decided to just stay mum about it until a more family-friendly moment.
Fortunately, I only had to hold it in for three hours instead of four months. When I got home from work, I showed The Admiral the take-home pictures from the ultrasound, including a very immodest shot labeled "It's a boy!" as if there could possibly be a doubt. And then I got to gloat about my amazing psychic powers, the ones that have enabled me to dream the correct gender of my babies twice in a row. The Admiral took the news in stride (especially considering that he was sure it was a girl, based on our 14-week mini-ultrasound), confirming my suspicion that the result wasn't nearly as important to him as the process of finding out.
So now we know, all three of us. The Admiral is a little nervous, because it feels even more like starting all over. Miss M, of course, still insists she's waiting on a little sister. And me, I'm just happy to be able to utter pronouns out loud. I'm all for surprises, but when it comes to the human growing inside my body, I feel that I'm entitled to any advance information I can get.