“Are you going to try for a girl?”
Jeez. That’s an interesting question to come out with oh so casually. Do you assume I’ve never thought about it? That’s sweet.
Hmmm. What can I tell you? Let’s see…
Shall I start with the notion that you can’t try for a girl, you can only try for a child?
Shall I tell you that I have, in fact, tried for a girl before. Several times, in fact. I got boys. It’s cool. I love them fiercely.
Do you want to know about my hormonal condition that makes it more likely that I will conceive boys? You thought it was all down to the man, didn’t you? Because you’ve never had to delve into the science and the research like I have.
Please, do go ahead and tell me the theories about timing, about diet, about intricacies to do with the act of conception. You clearly think I must not know these theories, because I have all boys don’t I, so I can’t possibly have known. Perhaps you want me to reciprocate and ask you in return which position you used to conceive your children, what you eat, and how frequently your other half ejaculates.
Do you want to know just how realistic the idea of a daughter has been to me at times?
That we’ve had names picked? That I imagined all my boys were girls at one point or another during my pregnancies with them?
Do you want me to tell you that gender is a construct?
That I don’t even like pink or frills and don’t care one bit about doing girly activities with my perceived construct of a daughter.
Do you want me to tell you that despite this, I still do have silly preconceived notions of how awesome I’d be as a mum to a teenage girl. That I just wanted to know her, whoever she is and turned out to be.
Do you really want to know why we “keep making boys”?
Or are you just trying to remind me of my miscarriages. Of the fact that we have as many living children as we do pregnancies that didn’t make it.
Do you want to hear about the restrictive and sometimes crazy diets I’ve put myself on
For months at a time, in the hopes of giving myself the best chances of conceiving a girl?
Or how about the hormonal pills I take to keep me fertile? Because I’m not, without them. I can’t conceive with a click of a finger. It takes time, and preparation, and the right hormonal balance.
Do you want to know more about my medication? About how it sometimes has me up sick in the night?
Do you want to know that I’ve done these things long term, even though my husband has categorically said no more children, just in case he changes his mind one day?
Do you want to know about the world of extreme gender ‘swaying’ tactics?
I bet you thought it was simple, didn’t you? You didn’t have to try this hard.
You know what’s especially fun?
When people tell me that little quote about how a son is yours until he finds a wife but a daughter is yours for life. Cute.
It’s also brilliant when strangers stop me in a supermarket to tell me I MUST have a daughter because they are the ones who will look after me in my old age. Not my good for nothing sons. Not them.
Do you want to know how volatile a subject this has proved between me and my partner?
Bonus points if you ask me this question in his presence, by the way. It’s always fun to have to casually play down the very in depth, extremely personal, soul searching conversations (arguments) we’ve had on this very subject. The at times near-desperate pleading to see the other person’s side. The literal years that we’ve been having this to and fro.
If you have the time, maybe I’ll tell you about the guilt I’ve felt for pushing him, and the guilt he’s felt for not giving in to what I want, for sticking to his guns for what he feels is the best thing for our family as a whole.
What’s one more child, eh?
It’s no big deal. You thought we were mad when we announced we were having a third, but of course you are totally on board with us trying and trying and trying until we get a girl. That makes total sense.
Do you want a breakdown of our financial situation?
Could you afford four kids? Would you like to donate to our crowdfunding page? We’d have enough money if I got a donation for every comment I’ve ever received.
Do you have any advice for me if number four turns out to be a boy?
What’s the bet that you’ll be the person making the disappointed comments that I’ve found so damaging and hard to deal with in the past? You want me to go through that again like it’s water off a duck’s back?
Perhaps you want the gory details of the gender disappointment if the gamble doesn’t go the way you’d hope? Would you understand then, that it’s not a frivolous game to pay?
Do you want some admission that I’m not happy with my lot?
Don’t for one second think that us parents of all boys can’t immediately read between the lines of this question to the truth of the matter: You think our family set up isn’t perfect.
Go on, ask me this question in the presence of my sons for good measure.
Put the thought into their beautiful little heads that perhaps I didn’t want them, or that I’m unhappy that they are boys and not girls (they’ve actually asked me this, you know). That’s always really helpful, no really, thank you so much for that.
Do you want to know that it’s been a long, LONG old process to get to a place where I’m genuinely happy with the idea of not having any more children.
It’s taken literal years for me to stop planning and pondering, and adopt a “What will be will be” thinking. And sometimes even now, my emotions on the subject change direction as abruptly as a strong wind. It knocks me down out of the blue, and can take weeks to get back up again.
So go on, ask me that question some more, so I have to confront those conflicting feelings yet again.
When you see my troop of boys, tell me jokingly not to look so sad, tell me teasingly that I could have tried harder for a girl. Ask me that leading question: “No more, really? It would be nice to have a girl though wouldn’t it?”
Ask me in front of my wonderful children. Always in front of my children.
Ask me for the rest of my life. Because I know you will.