Thursday, 7 December 2017

Pink or Blue, Either Will Do

When we were planning our wedding, I think the question we got asked more than any other question that year was "when is your wedding again?", even from my own family. We would say August 27th, and it would go in one ear, they would nod, and then it would go out the other. It was extremely frustrating to tell the same people over and over the date we were getting married. So after we got pregnant I fully expected that everyone would incessantly ask when the baby was due. Instead, overwhelmingly, the question we get asked the most is, "do you know what you are having?"

One of the biggest decisions we had to make was whether we wanted to know the sex of our baby. I'm not going to debate the issue of gender neutrality here, or the pros and cons of teaching your children gender specific societal expectations and the harm we may or may not be doing to them, that's not what this is about. It's about whether we wanted to find out if we were going to have a little boy, or a little girl.

I have always been of the belief that the gender of your baby is the last great surprise in life. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong, but to date there has been nothing that has entered my mind that could exceed the surprise of finding out whether we're going to have a boy or a girl. I picture myself running out into the waiting room to see our families and exclaiming "it's a girl!", and being excited no matter what word it is that I exclaim.

My beautiful wife, Kay, on the other hand, hates surprises, particularly surprises that she knows are surprises. For example, if I bring home flowers, she's happy with me for doing so, but if I were to tell her on Monday that I have a surprise for her on Friday, she will pester me incessantly until I tell her exactly where we are going, what we are doing, and what the activity requires of her. In most cases, this ruins my well laid plans - and then she feels bad for ruining the surprise, and then I feel bad because she feels bad - it's maddening, but I've learned to cope by keeping her surprises to myself. Unfortunately, she can't exactly keep the surprise of being pregnant from herself - so that was the first problem I foresaw.

The second issue I expected, arose from Kay being a planner, with that Type-A personality that forces her to be in control of all aspects of her foreseeable world. So not finding out the sex means no gender specific purchases, it means no expectations, it means waiting till the last minute to get things ready that we might otherwise have needed - basically it means no planning.

In my eyes, all the foreseeable issues I expected revolved around Kay. I didn't expect that it was me that would have all the difficulty. When we started hitting up the baby stores in the area I found out that "gender neutral color" apparently is synonymous with "no color at all". So wanting that "last great surprise" was starting to mean that I'd have to sit in the nursery, a white and grey clinical setting, with a throwback to the masturbatorium I had worked so hard to forget, and get depressed while trying to rock my screaming baby back to sleep. I was not having it, and I started to second guess my decision. Kay on the other hand, was calm, laid back, and was like "it's fine, we'll just have the shower after the baby is born" - meanwhile I'm having a nervous breakdown because I'm thinking I'm going to damage my kid by depriving it of color in its early years.

I eventually chilled myself out and realized that I was being ridiculous, and what really grounded me was an epiphany I had while making a long solo drive early one morning. As I was driving, I was picturing in my mind that the day had come, that the baby was coming, and we hadn't found out the sex. The baby came out and I was ecstatic to find out the gender, and just like I had imagined previously I walked out into the waiting room to tell everyone what we had - but this time, instead of saying it was a boy or girl, I said "I have a son" or "I have a daughter". That subtle difference changed everything for me, what it did was make that child mine, my responsibility. It really set in that I was going to be a father, not just have a boy or a girl - and I didn't care anymore about what color of clothes it was going to wear - what I truly care about is having that surprise moment when I meet my child.

As cliche' as it sounds, Kay and I really just want the baby to be healthy, we'll be ecstatic no matter what we have, but full disclosure; Kay thinks it's a boy, and I think it's a girl - "may the odds be ever in your favour".

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