By Rebecca Godlove — Pediatric Alliance, Chartiers/McMurray Division
The plan was for our sonographer to write down the sex of the baby and seal it in an envelope for us to take to the bakery. Then, the pink or blue cake would be decorated for my step-mom Deana’s birthday and she’d get the surprise of her life when she realized her special treat was actually our gender reveal cake! We’d all be surprised together, since Ross and I would also be learning the baby’s sex for the first time!
Well, that was the plan, anyway. But Ross and I cheated a tiny bit.
After our routine anatomical ultrasound, in which we got the wonderful news that we were “boring” (meaning that everything looked perfectly normal), we headed to our favorite coffee shop for breakfast. Ross pulled the envelope out of his coat pocket and waved it at me, wearing a little smile. “Soooo…you wanna know?”
The suspense and temptation were too overpowering, and I was weak. “Yes!” I shouted over my mug of tea, even though I knew it was a girl. I’d had a strong feeling about it the whole pregnancy, plus all the old wives’ tales “confirmed” it, too. I’d already imagined her first trip to DisneyWorld. Would she want to dress up as Belle or Ariel? I couldn’t wait to deck her in frills and lace and top her curly hair with pink and purple headbands custom-made by my artsy friends. There was a girl in our church’s youth group who wanted to be a dance teacher, and wouldn’t it be so adorable if our daughter went to her classes and performed in a recital wearing a sweet, fluffy little tutu and –
“It’s a boy!”
We must have looked absolutely ridiculous to anyone passing by. Our jaws dropped, we gasped in unison, and we collapsed onto the sofa. We could hardly speak. Certainly, we were thrilled for a boy – both Ross and I, as well as my parents, only had sisters. His older sister has only daughters. But we’d both accepted the fact that I was carrying a daughter – and we were happy about it! Even my all-American, tough-guy dad was getting excited for a tiny grandbaby girl. We had the perfect girl’s name picked out and everything. This really was a surprise!
We struggled to keep the secret until my stepmom’s party. Surrounded by family and some of her best friends, she wiped away joyful tears as she served up sugary-sweet slices of neon blue birthday cake. Everyone cheered. My grandmother, aunt and uncle snuck us a few presents for the baby, even though we insisted the party was for Deana. It really was a wonderful night; I’m so glad we made the decision to share the news the way we did. It was very special.
Other than our scary experience with the hematoma, my pregnancy has been relatively uneventful. I don’t say that lightly. I am very humbled and grateful that I did not suffer the endless hours of morning sickness, dizziness, headaches, and prolonged hospital stays that many of my friends endured. But now, even as I am entering into that “sweet spot”, where I now (finally!) look pregnant and most of the symptoms of the first trimester are over, I’m facing something I totally forgot to expect.
Unsolicited advice. Awkward comments. And belly rubs.
“Are you sure it’s just one baby?”
“If you pick that name, the kid will be made fun of his whole life!”
“Make sure your coffee is decaf!”
“My OB-GYN told me not to eat that.”
“Should you be lifting that?”
“Are you worried about the baby inheriting your allergies?”
“Wow, you look big for four and a half months!”
“Are you going back to work right away?”
“Will you be breastfeeding?”
“Are you getting an epidural?”
Yikes! Was I that intrusive when my friends were pregnant?!
Of course, most of the commentary is coming from good hearts. People want to make sure that pregnant women are taking care of themselves, getting proper medical attention, and making healthy choices for their babies. Still, there has got to be a better way to express that concern than making pregnant women and new moms constantly second-guess their decisions! I want to believe that every good parent tries to make the best choices for his or her family. I have friends who are stay-at-home moms, as well as moms who work full-time. I know moms who cloth-diaper and ones who use disposable ones. I know moms who home-school and those who have opted for public schools; still others picked private schools. All are valid choices, based on the financial, moral, emotional, and/or medical needs of the family – which I may or may not be aware of. Which means I don’t get to judge!
But…let’s be straight on this belly-rubbing thing, okay? I’m assuming you’d never walk up to a woman who doesn’t look pregnant and gab her tummy; under most circumstances, that pretty much constitutes harassment! So why does the addition of a cute little baby bump suddenly make it okay? Ask first – even if she’s a good friend of yours. If you don’t ask, don’t be surprised if Mama decides to rub your belly in return!
(I’ll continue to keep you updated on this crazy and wonderful journey towards meeting my baby boy!)
(*** Read Rebecca’s last essay, “My Story: Little Pink “+” Sign”)