I never hoped I would have a daughter. I simply assumed I would.
Being the oldest of four sisters myself, I somewhat assumed after one got pregnant, one naturally had a baby girl.
I had two boys. Two gorgeous, live, healthy, beautifully crazy and loving boys that are pure joy. When I got pregnant the third time, I now assumed I would have another boy.
My baby was a girl. A girl! With absolute certainty the little 12 week old fetus was a girl. Because her condition, the one that made her life be oh so very short, was a chromosomal condition that only affected girls. But at that point, it was just a theory, a possibility, a scary suspicion that I pushed aside for a little bit of time. Long enough to hold on so very tight to the biggest surprise, to the shining gift that I was mom to a girl.
And then Luna died.
I cried for her and hurt for her and learned how to live without holding her hand.
A year later I got pregnant again. This time, in my heart of hearts, I really, really wanted a girl.
I had been offered, you see, this amazing gift: the possibility to love another woman in my family with my whole heart. The chance to be “us girls”. When we went out to lunch, we would get up and go to the ladies’ room together. Maybe her hair would look a little like my hair and we would hold hands and tell stories and sing together and have little pouch purses that we would sew. I would get to love her in all the ways that I had been less loved. The female family line would continue from me to her. I would be her person, we would talk in a language that was ours. We’d be the girls.
I didn’t really want that until Luna. She was my gift, my girl, my promise. And then Luna died so soon, and she took with her so many little scenarios, so many Gilmore Girls moments.
Being pregnant again, the hope for a girl became so strong. It made me feel so guilty. So very, very ungrateful and guilty. Conditional love for a new little baby. I wished I didn’t want a girl. But in the dark of night, when the kids were asleep, I whispered to my husband that I secretly hoped for a girl. I know, he said. I felt a little less guilty, if just for a little while.
My fourth baby, blood tests confirmed, was a boy. The kids jumped for joy; they just wanted a sibling that would hopefully stay. I mourned silently, inside, gently.
I came to terms with the fact that I had a girl already. Maybe not in the way I had hoped, but I have a daughter. That is the continuity of my female family line. She is my girl and I am her mamá and this is our life together, even if I don’t know what her hair would have looked like in braids.
And my son, that beautiful little baby that was born gently into my arms, is our joy. I cannot for one minute imagine what life would be like if he was anything but the beautiful little guy that he is.
Through loss, hope and guilty wishes, I have come to the greatest gift a mother could have: the realization that I love my children for who they are. I now feel that my love is unconditional. I love them exactly for themselves. Whatever that self is, I am their mamá and they are my kids.
(*) Note: this is written from a binary gender view, and I apologize for the lack of inclusion of a larger understanding of gender as a non-binary continuum. I write in this view not out of disrespect or exclusion, but solely because it represents the feelings I was experiencing at the time. I mean to reflect upon my personal feelings, not to exclude a more comprehensive understanding of gender. I do apologize for the simplified view of gender that I am thus portraying.