“Ah, one of each… you must be so happy!” Well, yes. Words actually can’t describe it. After an agonising nine-month wait, I have my healthy baby girl in my arms. A little sister for my not-so-little boy.
Strangely, gender is always the first thing mums and dads get asked about… “will you find out if it’s pink or blue?”… “was it a girl or a boy?” and, the dreaded: “are you hoping for a boy or girl?” But why are we so fixated on gender? Why is it so important?
During both of my pregnancies, we decided not to find out the sex of our babies. But the not-knowing drove me mad! As soon as we stepped out of the 20 week scan, my mind would go into overdrive and suddenly, I needed to know whether we’d be having a boy or a girl. Fortunately, instinct stepped in to satisfy my curiosity and both times I convinced myself I would have a boy. I got it right five years ago when my little boy was born and when I found out I was pregnant again, I quickly dreamed up a future with ‘my boys’, never really considering that my high, tight, front-facing bump would break all the old wives tales and brew up a baby girl.
When the doctor held up our little bundle, all curled up, red and angry, it was clear that mother nature had decided to throw the most wonderful curve ball. As the news sunk in, our happiness was overwhelming. I was a gibbering wreck and we both choked back happy tears. But why, as the random stranger put it, did it make me so happy that I now had “one of each”?
The thing is, I’ve never had much time for gender stereotyping, so my reaction to having a girl surprised me. But so many of us are guilty of it and it quite often goes on subliminally without any of us batting an eyelid. Morrison’s quite rightly came under fire recently for selling t-shirts that promote boys having ‘big ideas’ while girls have ‘big smiles’. Why?!
These kinds of assumptions from retailers, who should know better, are incredibly harmful and take us right back to the dark ages. I am doing the very best I can to raise my babies without prejudice, encouraging them to be free to explore anything and everything without boundaries and expectations. But… I’m just five years into this parenting malarkey and my little boy already wants to be the fastest, the strongest, the biggest and the bravest. He loves dinosaurs, superheroes, Lego and Nerf guns. His favourite colours are blue and green. And when he found out he had a sister – not a brother – he hid under a cushion and refused to come out.
Since meeting his sister for the first time, he has, of course, fallen in love with her. He gave her a cuddly dinosaur to welcome her into the world and she repays him every day with smiles of pure joy. But what’s shocked me is my reaction to having a girl. Was it relief at the thought of taking a break from racing cars, Star Wars, Lego injuries and the Spongebob Squarepants theme tune? Surely not. Why shouldn’t my baby girl dream about racing cars? Why shouldn’t she run around pretending to be a Storm Trooper? Would it be so bad if Spongebob Squarepants stuck around for a few more years?
The truth is, I’ve come to realise that the elation I’ve been feeling is not about bringing up a baby girl, it’s about introducing a brand new baby to the world and all the opportunities and possibilities that brings. She will be taught, just like her brother, to be strong and independent and we will encourage her to explore and learn. And although her brother wants to be the biggest and best, he also has a beautiful, kind heart so that’s a win in my book.
Our baby girl has completed our family and so I know that every milestone will be the last for us. It’s not about gender, it’s about cherishing moments – whether they are pink and sparkly, blue and explosive or the entire rainbow of colours in between.
Click here to see a recent BBC experiment on how people perceive little boys and girls.
A Guest Blog from Lisa Davies
A Welsh ex-pat, Lisa Davies is a mum to a five year old little boy and currently on maternity leave with her five month old baby girl. After many years living in Cheltenham, she’s now getting a taste of a more rural life in a small Cotswolds town on the outskirts of Cheltenham. You can follow Lisa on Twitter.
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