As soon as I saw the ultrasound screen, I knew. I didn’t need to wait for the sonographer to tell me. I could see it was a boy.
Which meant it wasn’t a girl. And all I wanted was a girl.
It was wrong to want a gender so badly, wasn’t it? A healthy baby was all you needed. I was lucky enough to already have a girl. Some people don’t get healthy babies or any babies. I almost choked on my own ingratitude.
There was nothing sensible about my tears. I wondered if the sonographer had seen this kind of reaction before. She probably thought they were tears of joy.
They were tears for the girl I was ridiculous enough to believe already existed. Tears that I would probably not hold another soft newborn feminine spirit in my arms again. Tears for letting go all that was familiar.
I loved the boy. It wasn’t his fault. I asked him to forgive my tears. Even though I didn’t really understand them myself.
The stupor of grief unceremoniously cleared days later. Somewhere in the filmy distance between head and heart, I discovered this: I feared him.
I feared all boys.
A parade of boys appeared from the pits of my past… I remembered of them all. The Shallow. The Vain. The Brat. The Brute. The Buffoon. The Manipulator.
Wounders. All of them. Except for the one I married. I’m not sure why he wasn’t.
And now I feared giving birth to someone – something – with the potential to wound me too. Did that even make sense?
I had a name for the boy. The only one my husband and I could agree on. I typed it into a random ‘baby name meanings’ website hoping it would magically give me a clue to why I had become the wounded ungrateful woman who was afraid of her unborn son.
The computer said this: The Replacer. What? What kind of bizarre meaning was that?
Ah… THE REPLACER.
And just like that history shifted. And I pivoted delicately with it.
This boy would replace every single notion of what I thought a boy was. He would redefine it. He would replace every one of those relationships. Yes, history could and would change.
I read somewhere that you should write three words down that describe what you want your unborn child to be, then put them in an envelope, seal it, and open it 18 years later. Beware the power of our intent. So I did this.
The boy is nearly two now. He is strong. He is gentle. He is kind.
At night he nuzzles into my neck. Sometimes he traces my lips with his soft tiny fingers. Then he wraps his hands around mine as he drifts off to sleep.
I shouldn’t be surprised that he is sweeter than I hoped for. I shouldn’t be surprised that he is more beautiful than I imagined.
The power was mine all along.
I am nurturer.
I am mother.
I am healed.