Daughters

I cried when the sonogram technician told me what I dreaded, embarrassed by my fear.

In my head, I imagined hearing reactions to the news: “Oh, another girl in the family.”

I internalized their displeasure of increased femaleness.

He said: “You are crying? Why are you crying?”

I explained: “I feel like I am letting you down. I thought you wanted a boy.”

He replied: “You don’t know boys. I like you, why would I not like our daughter?”

I giggled, but I didn’t trust his love.

Men leave daughters. They keep their sons.

Predictably, when I told my mother there would be another girl she was not surprised. She was excited for a second grandchild but forecasted that I was in for a mother/daughter relationship similar to our own.

When I met my first child, I knew her face–it was a mirror. Behind the cesarean drape, I saw her bright alert eyes and the tears of his. I was so excited to meet her.

He never left our sides. My mother marveled at how he cared for her and changed her diaper. The basic meeting of an infant’s needs afforded him praise and the admiration of my female relatives. I was cautiously optimistic that his love would endure. I was semi-confident that he would stay the course.

She cried for two hours every evening for three months. From 5-7 every evening she arched her back and wailed. I walked her, soothed her, yelled back at her, and tried to nurse her until he came home.

He found me reeking of my dried milk, hair pulled back, exhausted and destroyed. I was nasty and short-tempered, and then he asked me a rhetorical question.

“Do I need to wear a t-shirt that says that I am not going anywhere?”

He knew my darkest fear. He recognized my struggle. He, with his gentle blue eyes, was not the abandoning type.

Three years later I told him there was little chance I would get pregnant again. She was difficult to conceive, so “it” was not a problem. Two months later our daughter read a note to him (with my help) that informed him that she would be a big sister in the fall. After a six-hour car trip, a junky transmission, and lots of booze, he reassured me that he was happy for our news.

I adored our daughter, so I thought I was immune to the gender discussion that continued with almost everyone I shared our happy news. Most people were remarkably confident that we would have a boy, even a psychic in California confirmed it. This time a boy would enter the female family. It seemed important to so many like a prophecy fulfilled.

And then I cried again. This time it was in the delivery room.

We named our second daughter after my great grandmother and introduced her to her sister. It was a blissful time.

I remember a relative visiting who asked me if we would keep trying for a boy. I convinced her that I was content. I was. I am.

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