There we were at the moment we had been waiting for, the 16-week ultrasound, when we would be able to find out the sex of our next baby. Of course it goes without saying that all we really wanted was a healthy baby, but when the doctor asked what we were hoping for, we admitted it: a girl.
We had 2-year-old twin boys at home, and we wanted to round things out. In hindsight the doctor’s acting performance was pretty good. She knew the sex because she had just reviewed my genetic testing blood work. So she poked around for effect, and we saw a nice strong heartbeat, an adorable nose, a little wave. And then, there it was – the unmistakable presence of boyhood.
We were a little shocked. Could I really be having another boy? In fact when we found out our twins were to be boys, my husband said, “Love it – two boys. But, we’ll have to try for that girl!” We weren’t even out of the office yet.
I felt sad my husband wouldn’t get his own Daddy’s girl, and I kept asking if he was okay because he was really hoping. I was a major Daddy’s girl. My Dad was my number 1, and if you even thought about looking sideways at him, you had to get through me first. It’s a really special relationship that I had hoped my husband would have the chance to experience. And while there was a part of me that was hoping for a boy because a girl would be new territory and I knew what to do with a boy, I too had become enchanted with the idea of a sweet little girl with dark curly hair like mine – a contrast to my blue eyed, blonde surfer boys. Who doesn’t want a mini me, right? A girl was what we and seemingly everyone else had been hoping for. So we were all pretty convinced that’s what we’d get.
It took us a day or so to recover, and I started to think about why we felt a little down about it. Is it okay to feel a little disappointed? Was I being a brat? Ungrateful? We got to see a healthy, waving and kicking baby boy on the ultrasound that day. It was a relief and thrilling, but we were feeling a little blue.
I realized it wasn’t about feeling entitled. We just simply hoped to have our chance at the baby girl experience too. I’m really close with my mom, and my husband has an amazing bond with his mother and sisters. We’d be great at raising a girl. But my fate has been sealed. The factory is now closed. We’re having a boy, and I was going to have to produce enough estrogen for all five of us.
But the disappointment didn't last long, and the prospect of raising good men ultimately trumped everything else. A friend pulled me out of my pity party with one beautiful text in reply to the news: “blue heart emoji, kiss emoji, thumbs up…The world needs more good men!! The universe knew you were up for the task!!” I welled up and replied with even more kiss and heart emojis. How powerful is that?
She was right. We have been given the chance to raise 3 strong, caring, thoughtful, respectful, emotionally in-touch men to make a positive impact somehow, somewhere in the world. Hopefully that is what we all aim to teach our children, but I do feel a certain additional responsibility raising 3 boys. Sure I’ll teach them they can do anything. But I’ll also make sure they know that so can a girl and that they should support that too.
As the only woman in the house, I need to ramp up my own feminist side and be sure to teach them about the strengths of men and women, and raise their awareness of gender equality and respect with actions and words. With that and in light of the current #metoo movement, my husband and I have discussed how we together need to mold our sons’ thinking, and we realized we had already begun to excuse our toddlers and ourselves with “boys will be boys” type of rhetoric in response to certain behavior. We’ve now been given a platform to discuss our own experiences and observations, and it resonated with both of us that this isn’t something to take lightly with these sponge-for-brains toddlers.
So if you meet me now with my sweet and sometimes rambunctious toddlers in tow and are brave enough to ask me what I’m having, I’ll understand what you’re getting at with the blank trying-not-to-offend stare or less discrete jaw drop when I say “another boy.” But don’t worry, I’m good! I’m truly excited to be a full-on boy mom. Bring on the mess, the noise, and property damage. We consider ourselves to be very lucky.
Gillian O’Banion is mama to identical two year old twin boys and wife to Colin, an integrative physical therapist. After 15 years in Manhattan, she’s a recent transplant to the Westchester ‘burbs and is finding the balance between a previous life in wellness and lifestyle marketing and her current profession as a full-time toddler wrangler.