I was sure the baby was a girl. 95% sure.
Her name was Elizabeth. She had giant blue eyes and porcelain skin like her brother, with dark hair. She was a firecracker, stood her ground, knew she was loved. We were both a little stubborn so sometimes we argued. I was a little intimidated by her quiet strength, the kind she got from her father.
But I couldn’t wait to talk about real beauty and host tea parties and give makeup tutorials and go shopping, but then scrap all that and let her trash her tutu in the backyard if she wanted.
I couldn’t wait to see the light in Josh’s eyes when he picked up his baby girl, held her tight, rocked her to sleep, fought for her in prayer and waited up for her to get home.
I always wanted someone to fight for me like that. Oh, the redemption.
So it was no surprise at all when I went in for my ultrasound and the wand glided over my tummy, “Oh, there we go. Looks like we are having a girl,” announced the technician. I grinned over at Josh as she typed Baby Girl onto the screen.
We toured the rest of the baby body, spine, heart cavities, all growing right on schedule. Beautiful. Healthy.
And then we came back to that little baby bottom. But this time, something was different. “Oh, I was wrong. That is definitely a boy,” the ultrasound technician corrected herself. Baby Girl erased, letter by letter, off the screen. She returned again for another view. “Definitely a boy,” as she typed Baby Boy across the top.
I lay there, staring in disbelief at the unmistakable evidence. A boy? But what about Elizabeth? What about her room, the champagne pink and antiqued white furniture? What about the tutu I bought and the baby booties with the tiny pink flower my dear friend knitted for her? Where did she go? She was just here.
Gratitude. Thankful. I tried to put the thoughts back together. You have a baby. You wanted to be pregnant. You wanted more children. Your baby is healthy. You should be thankful. Don’t let the baby feel your sadness.
The guilt and grief mixed together in the shock. I called my friend to tell her. “A boy!” “What?” She couldn’t believe it either. We were sure. Almost everyone was.
I didn’t know what to do now. I didn’t have dreams for a boy. We barely had a name we agreed on, and I didn’t even like it.
I came home and cried for two days. Cried in front of my friends at our small group. Cried to friends who had fertility issues and miscarriages. I felt extraordinarily selfish. Guilty. I should be happy. I had a healthy baby. What could I complain about?
It took me until the next day to realize why I really wanted a girl. I wanted to learn how to be a girl myself. I wanted permission to explore and enjoy beauty, to stop feeling like being a boy would be easier, if not better. The world has a clear way of stating this message, and as annoying as it is to keep bringing this up, it’s still true.
I never really knew what femininity was for. I grew up fighting it. I hated weakness and vulnerability because they made it unsafe to be me. So I used beauty as leverage. It was a mess.
Being a girl felt difficult to redeem and impossible to love. I wanted to watch someone, my daughter, love her girlhood because I thought maybe then I could love mine.
I cried to God. “Who is going to teach me how to be a girl? You can’t. You’re a dude.” Then more tears.
I sat down to write it all out, and I found a new desire inside me.
I wanted to redeem more than just my own femininity. I wanted girls everywhere to feel wanted. My heart broke all over again for girls in the world who were aborted or sold into slavery or prostitution or forced to marry at a young age. No voice. No choice. Just a girl.
But not to me. That day I wrote in my journal:
“Give me a girl. You can’t celebrate her, but I can. You can’t enjoy her delicacy and her strength. You can’t comprehend how someone can be gentle and fierce, but I can.
Give me your girls. I want one of those unwanted ones.”
Since then, God has been showing me about the value of my love for these orphaned daughters, how he shares this love with me. And he’s been gently teaching me about being a girl. I don’t really know how he’s doing that, but he is, correcting some of my misguided thinking and helping me know what the beauty and grace and even the vulnerability is for.
And I know some day I’ll get my girls, by birth or adoption. But they are coming.
I’m planning to write about my new understandings about femininity as soon as I have clarity. I don’t want to put it out too soon, when I only know so little, but I want to share what I’m learning too. And I want to hear from you.
What does femininity mean to you? What qualities do you believe are inherently feminine or strong in women? Please share in the comments.
PS: I am really getting excited about this boy. We have a name for him we’re not quite ready to announce yet, but my head is clearing. I’m not sad I’m having a boy – I just wanted a girl. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but it does to me. I know I will be in love with this one just like his brother. I am so very blessed.