Pragmatic Mom

December 14, 2009

The Gender Dilemma: Is it a Girl or Is it a Boy?

Filed under: Age: Infant & Toddler,Parenting — Pragmatic Mom @ 2:23 pm
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 This is a great article written by my mom friend and neighbor.  It also appeared in Parents and Kids Magazine 2003.

By Roberta Martone Pavia

When we received the call confirming my pregnancy, our initial reaction was one of disbelief, followed by feelings of unbridled joy. This jumble of emotions, normal for many parents-to-be, surprised not only myself and my husband, but also our friends, who, for the past four years, had shared with us the rollercoaster ride that defines infertility. During much of that time my husband and I were plagued with doubts and indecision: Are we doing the right thing? Will we make good parents? Can we adapt our carefree double income, no kids lifestyle? And, most importantly, do we want to?

But when I finally heard the news, all those doubts and indecisions were erased in a flash. After years of trying and turmoil, the miracle had finally happened. We were ecstatic. However, the euphoria was short lived. Just a few weeks after we heard the news, I also heard a voice inside my head began to nag: what if the baby is a boy?

I hadn’t admitted to anyone, except my husband, how much I coveted a girl. At first my husband tried to brush off my obsession. But as he watched me become more obsessed with the idea of a girl baby, he panicked, fearing I wouldn’t know how to love a boy child. I tried to explain that love was not the issue. I could love a stone. It’s just that, although the logic escaped me, I craved a little girl.

Please understand it’s not that I dislike the male species. On the contrary, I adore men and little boys, as well as most of the stages in between. It’s just that I never really warmed to the idea of raising a boy. All those stereotypes of roughneck kids punching and kicking and sweating were foreign to me. Growing up with two sisters and no brothers had definitely colored my world toward the pink end of the spectrum. I was a girly-girl eschewing little league for ballet classes and soccer games for mud-pie making. I loved dolls and dress up and china dishes.

Now, as I looked ahead to the future it held a decidedly rosy hue. I pictured my daughter and her little girlfriends hosting dainty tea parties with their dolls. I daydreamed about dance recitals and pink tutus. I remembered with poignancy those mother-daughter shopping excursions I so loved as a teenager. What did I know of fire engines and racecars? Baseball and battlefields? And, more importantly, what did I want to know of them?

Yet, why did this obsession with the feminine gender continue to grow? Did I subconsciously want to live my life over through a daughter? Was it because I never had my fill of dolls and frilly dresses as a child? The answer eluded me, and, as I struggled with my guilt, I fervently hoped this obsession would be supplanted by the anticipation of the birth I so longed for. Happily, for the next few months, it was.

As I focused on my progressing pregnancy and the health of this unborn child, with each passing week I breathed a sign of relief that all was well. As the months passed and my knowledge of the process grew, I realized how truly fragile and precarious this tiny being was. Fact: with my statistics — 40-plus, no previous pregnancies, fertility drugs – I had a 50 percent chance of losing the baby during the first three months. Luckily, that percentage dropped to a low two percent once I passed the first trimester.

Yet, even as I grew more secure in my pregnancy, that other concern began to resurface. Evidently it wasn’t enough that I was healthy and pregnant. I wanted more. I wanted a girl. I wrestled with my guilt. How could I even think these thoughts? I should be and was thankful to be pregnant while older friends all around me were struggling with adoption and infertility.

I began to take it as an omen that strangers and friends alike looked me over and pronounced authoritatively: It’s a boy. I would argue – sometimes vehemently – to the contrary. But with each passing day, I became less sure. And, finally, I resolved to prepare for a boy. Just in case.

As the birth date approached, we scoured books for likeable boys’ names. Needless to say, we had first, second, and third choices for the female nomenclature. But after a relatively short research period, to our surprise, we found a likeable boy’s name. As I pondered the masculine name and all it implied, slowly, tentatively I began to embrace the idea of a baby boy. Maybe it would be fun to experience all of the things I had never experienced as a little girl.

Finally D-day, or rather in my case, delivery week arrived. I was in the throes of labor, which consisted of one week of hospital rest, four days of inducement, four hours of active labor, and ultimately, an emergency Cesarean section. Having made it this far, I found myself, like countless others before me, just praying for a healthy baby. Boy, girl, blond, brunette, redhead. Suddenly none of that mattered and what was most important was the health of the baby. So, when the attending physician said those magic words, I truly could have cared less. My only question was whether or not the baby was OK. Today, the baby and I are doing just fine. And, oh, by the way, it’s a girl. Now we’re pining for a little brother to keep her company.

November 10, 2009

Who’s Afraid of Justine?

This article is written by my mom friend and neighbor and appeared in Parents and Kids March 2003.

By Roberta Martone Pavia

      My husband and I had tried so long to get pregnant that when it finally happened we realized we hadn’t given much thought to what came next. As we were basking in the news of my pregnancy, it hit us: although we were seasoned corporate executives, we didn’t know the first thing about taking care of a newborn.

     Growing up, I was the last of three children. I had no younger siblings on which to practice. And, since my nieces and nephews lived out of state, I couldn’t practice on them, either. In addition, my babysitting days were a distant memory. So, it’s no surprise that I was somewhat petrified of this seven-pound newborn.

      The first few days were OK because I was still in a haze from the miracle of birth, not to mention the drugs from my Cesarean section. My older sister came to the rescue and spent the first week with me, which momentarily delayed my panic. Also, my husband took a week off from his job to ease the transition.

     My daughter was a good baby. We didn’t realize how good until we heard the horror stories from other parents. Babies who nursed every 10 minutes. Three-month-olds who wailed non-stop. For the first week our daughter did what the doctors said she would: ate, slept, and pooped. And then did it all over again. And, again.

     Still, when my sister headed home and my husband headed back to work, I was filled with anxiety and panic. What if the baby stopped breathing? What if she choked on something? Those first few days I felt like I was walking on egg shells. One false move and I was convinced everyone, including my new daughter, would realize I didn’t know the first thing about motherhood.

   Before my baby’s arrival, I wanted to bone up by studying parenting books. I’m one of those people who needs to do exhaustive research: as a student, I over studied; as a professional, I over prepared. And that’s how I expected to get ready for motherhood. I just didn’t realize I wouldn’t have the time or energy to do either. So, here I was unprepared for the most important job of my life. If I did something wrong this time, the consequences would be dire.

     Those first few days, I lived for my daughter’s naps and was lucky that she was such a sleepy baby. In fact, she slept a good part of the day. And because I wasn’t sleeping much at night, so did I. So much for my plans to repaint the kitchen and strip that chest of drawers. Between changing, feeding, and rocking, I was lucky if I had enough energy to make it to the couch for a snooze myself. What did parents with cranky babies do? All too soon I would find out. 

     Our daughter was a model baby. She rarely cried and if she did it only took a few minutes to figure out why. A messy diaper.  A hungry stomach.  Then one day, when she was about two months old and I was gaining confidence in my mothering skills, she started crying. The cries turned to wails and screeches and screams. What had happened to my perfect baby?

     After 45 minutes of rocking, nursing, and trying to soothe her, I called the pediatrician, sure that he would tell me to rush her to the Emergency Room. The nurse was very helpful and understanding, but I swear I detected some humor in her tone when she said the problem was probably gas. Gas? But this baby is wailing I told her.  “Gas,” she insisted, since I had taken my daughter’s temperature and found it to be normal.

     After a walk outside, a warm bath, and a back rub, I was still panicked and my daughter was still screaming. Finally, as quickly as the crying had started, it stopped. And my little one started cooing and purring once again. Maybe it was gas, afterall. The good news was I had lived through the toughest moment of her little life ¾ and mine as a mom ¾ and both of us had emerged unscathed. From then on, it got easier. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but soon I was able to sleep through the night; something I vowed I would never be able to do again.

  Today, my “baby” just turned ten and not only am I sleeping through the night, but I feel like a seasoned parent often giving advice to those who are a few steps behind me. I warn them that the “terrible twos” are a piece of cake compared to the “terrible teens.” At least that’s what parents who are a few steps ahead of me say. I can hardly wait.

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