Timothy and I toyed with the idea of waiting until the birth of our baby to find out the gender. We thought it would be ‘cool’ and ‘retro’ and even thought that our not needing to know meant that we were somehow more evolved and collected than those people who admitted that such a mystery would drive them mad.
It also meant that we could meet the proverbial “do you know what you’re having?” question with a simple, “no”.
But the real reason I didn’t want to know the sex of my baby was that it was important for me to communicate with the child growing inside me on a spiritual level. As a perfect being with endless potential. Not as a gender.
Though I grew up as a ballet dancer and a cheerleader and a homemade stylist, I have never been a girlie girl. I never spent more than a minute primping and prided myself on the fact that I could build a darn good fort and fix my own vintage car.
Gender stereotypes drive me crazy and I’ve never cared to accommodate society’s version of ‘perfect’. It may be because I grew up with two men who are so in touch with their feminine side that they would opt for a day of tea and shopping over beer and football while my mom would proudly don her power suit and go to battle with Nevada’s ‘good ol’ boys’. My father takes baths and my mother always drives. My dad wears crisp pink shirts and expensive jewelry and my mom is happier in jeans and tee-shirts.
My childhood was blissfully lacking stereotypical gender roles, and until I got my first crush on a boy, I never gave gender much thought. I hope to raise my child in the very same way, so why should the small detail of whether my unborn baby has a vagina or a penis matter?
Because it ultimately does. Because men get drafted into the military and women give birth. Because men are naturally harrier and have bulkier muscles and women menstruate. Because males are inherently masculine and women are inherently feminine.
Because when it comes to packaging, boys are boys and girls are girls, and as a women’s clothing designer, I had found myself shopping in baby departments doing what comes naturally to me, envisioning my little one in endless combinations of tunics, dresses, leggings and sweaters. I saw us shopping for her first pair of pointe shoes and, many years from now, putting the final touches on her wedding gown. Without my knowing it, my genderless baby had become a girl.
So imagine my shock when, during a moment of weakness, I peered through the sealed envelope containing the note from our doctor (in the spirit of full disclosure, I did hold it up to a light knowing that the glow would make it more legible) and saw three letters – B. O. Y.
I immediately handed the envelope over to Timothy. He knew I had seen something and eagerly opened it up, confirming what I had spied with the help of back-lighting. We were both in such shock that we called our independent sonographer to confirm what our obstetrician had written. Her findings were the same.
When we revealed the note to my father the next day, tears welled up in his eyes and he could immediately envision his grandson wearing the cowboy shirt that he himself used to wear as a little boy (and that he had been carefully storing in the attic in hopes that we would one day have a child that he could pass the shirt onto). Despite our differences in gender, my father did exactly what I had done and began to vividly visualize his grandchild. He clearly passed his good style and knack for nostalgia onto me.
When I admitted my utter shock at the news to my father, and revealed the embarrassing fact that it was my childlike manipulation of light that ultimately forced us to open the letter at 25 weeks pregnant instead of waiting the remaining 15 weeks, my dad said with his dry sense of humor, “you had to open it, the note could have read ‘Oh B.O.Y., it’s a girl’ and you would have gone on thinking it was a boy when it really was a girl.”
But it didn’t say that. Baby Dahl is a boy and HE is already the most beautiful ‘perfect being with endless potential’ that I have been communicating with. And he will soon be wearing the coolest cowboy shirt anyone has ever seen.