what to expect when you weren’t expecting the Y chromosome


I’ve been having a hard time wrapping my head around something. I’m going to be having a son.

I joked a while back about the reassurance that an ultrasound would provide that I was not incubating “some sort of tentacled alien spawn.” But, aside from reassuring me that creature had the correct number and arrangement of limbs to be classified as human, it also revealed to us an appendage that I had not anticipated. It seems that I have been, in fact, incubating some sort of testacled alien spawn.

It’s come as quite a surprise to me just how much of a surprise this is to me. I mean, I have known all along that it was a possibility.

And yet somehow, I didn’t really think it would happen.

I left that ultrasound appointment feeling someone stunned. Surprised. In mild shock. And I will admit here, and please don’t attack me for this, even somewhat disappointed.

That seems so harsh. Disappointed? The poor little guy hasn’t even been born yet, and already I’m disappointed in him? That hardly seems fair.

“I guess we won’t be reusing Phoebe’s dresses,” I’ve said. But of course, even though I’d love to hold on to some of those cute girl clothes a bit longer, my feelings aren’t really based on wardrobe.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s going on here. And I’ve realized that there are a lot of things going on.

Ever since I was little, I imagined that someday I’d be a mother. The specific circumstances of this motherhood status were typically murky, especially with respect to the role of a father in these imaginings. But always, I imagined that I would have 2 girls. Just like in my family.

Growing up, and moving around so much as I did, my closest friend was always my sister. We were, and still are, very close. It always seemed the natural order of things.

Somehow, I always imagined I’d reproduce this pattern, when I got around to reproducing.

I realize that even if I were to have a second girl, the individuals wouldn’t necessarily have had the relationship that my sister and I had. I know, of course, that Phoebe is not a new version of my sister, and that a second daughter wouldn’t be a new version of me. And yet I feel like I’m saying goodbye to that person that never existed outside my head.

And then there’s the fact that boys were largely unknown to me growing up. My immediate family consisted of me, my mother, and my sister. The next most involved family member was my grandmother. Obviously, there had been males around at various points. But by and large, we were a family of females. Even the cousins I saw most often were girls.

My father was around for my first 6 years, and then died. Both grandfathers had already died at that point. There were uncles I’d see for a few days every few years. There were boy cousins that I’d met here and there. There were stepfathers and boyfriends of my mother’s. But mostly, these males never felt part of my own life. They were visitors, or passers-by. I knew boys at my various schools, but was never even friends with any till high school. It wasn’t till college that I had any close relationships with men.

I realized, in my various ponderings, that John is the first male to have been in my life in any significant way for more than the 6 years that my life overlapped with my father’s. And John has even passed that number by another 10 years, clocking in now at 16 years.

And I sure am glad that John is here to share this experience with me. Because, among other things, John has some experience with growing up around boys. In fact, he even grew up as a boy.

I find myself continuing to be surprised that we’ll be having a boy, still avoiding using the gendered pronoun even now that it’s weeks since the revelation. And I question whether this leads me to feel a bit more detached from the pregnancy than I was the first time around. Or maybe it’s just that I’m so busy right now, and that I’ve been feeling pretty bad physically.

I am certain that I’ll come to love him fiercely as I love Phoebe. And I expect that there will come a time when I won’t be able to imagine things any other way, and when I can’t imagine my life without him.

21 thoughts on “what to expect when you weren’t expecting the Y chromosome

  1. Well, you seem to have adapted well enough to boys to have gotten yourself not one but TWO! I’m sure you’ll all be happy.

    And when you think of the dress recycling, remember: he could be gay! So it’s not a total loss already.

  2. Don’t tell anyone, but you may discover that in a way boys can be far more fun than girls. ;o)

    (and I can completely identify with the no-men growing up– I grew up with my mom and grandmother only)

  3. My wife was in similar shock when our first was a boy so I am sure this is a natural feeling.

    You will look back and chuckle at this post someday. You will learn as your son does…it is kind of a cool experience.

  4. my first is a girl, and my second is a boy. i remember also thinking, oh no, i saved all these girl clothes for naught. but you know what? every day, i am surprised at how much fun he is — in a different way, but fun anyway.

    congrats :-) and fret not. it will be great. you’ll see!

  5. I was a little disappointed too when I found out that I wouldn’t have two of a kind – and I’m having the same detachment. I think its a second pregnancy phenom. And as I sorted adorable preppy little boy clothes that I would never again use I had the same waves of nostalgia.

    But!

    You’ve assured me that girls are awesome, and I will assure you again that boys rock the house.

    The most daunting thing for me has been walking into children’s clothing stores and thinking, “Holy ****, I could theoretically buy any item in this entire store.” To go from 1/3, which is what they allocate to boy clothes to 100% really overwhelms me. =)

  6. Boys are awesome. Of course, I have no girl, so I am a little biased, but I bet you’ll find the differences pretty fun.

    And yes, you’ll need more cars. :-)

  7. it’s OK to feel that way (I imagined having a boy before having The May Queen), but i know that you’ll get to that which you write at the end of the post. you won’t be able to imagine it any other way

  8. raincoaster-
    Maybe we’ll hold on to those dresses, just in case.

    jen-
    dude.

    Mme. M-
    Well, I guess we’ll find out.

    morethan-
    It will certainly be a learning experience.

    wrekehavoc-
    You too? But fun is good. We like fun.

    heather-
    Thanks for the assurance that boys rock. And I hadn’t really noticed that girl clothes get more space in stores, but now that you mention it, yeah…

    magpie-
    I guess so…

    Ashley-
    Yes, and I will do all my own stunts.

    KC-
    Yes, I remember that you had a post expressing some similar reactions. But your little guy certainly has turned out fabulous.

    pgoodness-
    I will prepare myself for the awesomeness. But I will also get more cars for Phoebe. Girls need lots of cars, too.

    Painted-
    You were surprised too, then.

    Emily-
    That really gets at what I’ve felt.

  9. I didn’t care if I was having a boy or a girl…we tried for so long to get pregnant that all I really wanted was a baby. But when I found out I was having a boy…I wasn’t disappointed, but I was a little worried. I kept thinking “what do I know about raising a boy??”…but…so far, so good. :)

  10. I hope you’re not offended at some random stranger responding here, but this was such a thoughtful and interesting post I really wanted to say something. The idea of feeling the loss of a child that was never there is fascinating, and never occurred to me. But it makes a lot of sense. If you’ve had an image in your head and suddenly that shifts I imagine it takes time to get used to it. I don’t have children but I’ve always thought I’d prefer not knowing the sex of the child before it was born. In my head I thought it would keep me from developing a relationship with it or interacting with it in unconscious sex specific ways. But I read this and I’m a little torn at the idea. I’m not having kids so this is more of a mental exercise for me, but would it be better to have time to prepare and adjust to having a girl if you were expecting a boy (or vice versa), or to go for 9 months not knowing but suspecting and then being surprised and having to make that adjustment after he or she is already born? It’s definitely food for thought.

    Sorry again if this is an intrusion.

  11. When I used to think I’d have kids, I also thought I’d have two girls. We are two sisters and a brother in my family, and I love my brother like crazy, but my true piece-of-my-heart friend is my sister (Hiya, Fox!). But I know people who have that relationship with opposite-sex siblings, too.

    I’m feeling like shouting, “Congratulations!” even though you’re still a little stunned. There are many way cool things about boys that it will be lots of fun to discover … and, too, John will have a partner when you all sit down to play the Women’s Lib game … oh, wait, I think that game only existed in my childhood house!
    –Stacie

  12. azahar-
    No name just yet. Though “John” is a strong contender for first name, it being a family name. (Of course, it’s a name that runs in a whole lot of families…)

    dragonfly-
    The worry is certainly there, too. I feel bewildered.

    mimi-
    No, I hadn’t seen that. Thanks for passing on the link.

    foxrafer-
    Thanks for your comment, and it’s not at all intrusive. I’m glad to have food for thought to offer, and appreciate your thoughtfulnesss.

    girlgriot-
    Oh, I’m terribly curious about the Women’s Lib game. Can you tell me about it? (It sounds like it would make a great post!) As for the congratulations, I accept them gladly if bewilderedly.

  13. Thanks for popping over and leaving a note at Life of ‘Pie – I have to say, it’s been such a relief to hear so many people say they felt this way and that it turned out okay. I grew up with a sister and the only cousin my age was a girl, and my friends were girls and well, I just don’t KNOW boys, either. Even Misterpie grew up with two sisters, so he was also hoping for another girl, knowing how much he loves Pumpkinpie. But I’m sure we’ll both get there on this eventually… I figure it will take some time. Good luck with it, and if you have any great tips, let me know, too! (I’m trying to start actaully getting some visual in my head by looking at some boy clothes – depressing, not helping – and watching other little boys, which I hope is not making me look like a creeping abductionist in the waiting!)

  14. i know i’m late jumping in, but still.

    i have a pair of siblings much much younger (10 and 12 years younger) than i am, which is to say, i raised a boy and a girl when i was in high school. obviously, ymmv, since Phoebe is so fun, but i’d hands-down rather deal with raising a boy than a girl after that round. boys are so much more laid-back, less prone to whining fits & random petty temper moments. though you do miss out on fun times with dresses, and the *sympatico* you’d have with another female.

    of course, it’s a total reversal when they’re adults. then the boys get weird while the girls get fun!

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