“What do you want: a boy or a girl?”

There is a certain answer to this question that the universe expects of moms-to-be, and it goes like this: “Oh, I don’t care, as long as the baby is healthy.”

The thing is, though, I did care. I cared a lot. I wanted a girl.

For some reason, before I got pregnant and right on up until that momentous 20-week ultrasound, I always pictured myself as the mother of a little girl. Not because I wanted to dress my baby in frilly pink clothes and ply her with Barbies and princess toys – far from it. But I’m extremely close to my own mom, and always pictured forming that same bond with my daughter.

When our ultrasound tech zoomed in on the baby’s “parts” and proclaimed that We! Were! Having! A! Boy! I managed something between a cough and a laugh, gripped my husband’s hand until we were safely in our car, and promptly dissolved into tears. He tried consoling me, but quickly grew frustrated – there was nothing he could have said that would have made it better.

Once I had a chance to do a little soul-searching, I realized a couple of things: First, it wasn’t that I didn’t want a boy. Rather, I was mourning the loss of a certain dream – a certain vision of motherhood – that I had constructed over nearly 30 years. Suddenly, I had about four months to replace it with a new one.

Second, I felt guilty – I hated that I had reacted this way. I should have put on my big-girl panties and plastered on a smile. What business did I have freaking out when so many women would drag themselves over broken glass to sustain a healthy pregnancy, boy or girl? I was a horrible person.

After about a week, I started to tentatively embrace the idea of a having a boy. When I looked at my husband’s baby pictures, at his adorable smiling face, something shifted, and I felt a little less afraid. The word “boy” seemed a little less abstract. Still, part of me felt a little like I’d planned a trip to Paris but someone had flown me to Rome instead.


Of course, as soon as I cradled our son for the first time, I knew this wasn’t just any boy – he was my boy. Our boy. And now, when I smother his chubby little face in kisses and watch his eyes crinkle with glee, I wonder what my problem was. If I’d known it was him – him! – that I was getting, I wouldn’t have wasted a single tear mourning my phantom girl. And I suspect the same is true for most women who start out with a preference.

Before our babies are here, all we have to go on (if we choose to find out) is boy or girl. Well-meaning family and friends start to overwhelm us with pink or blue clothes, with bows and flowers or footballs and dump trucks. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there will be a little person with quirks and personality beyond those rigid gender boxes.

Some may still think that I was selfish for caring one way or the other, and those people are entitled to their opinion. But I wanted to put this out there for all the women who have a preference and feel like they shouldn’t. Mothers are expected to be superhuman in so many ways, but this shouldn’t be one of them.

It’s OK to want what you want – boy or girl – and it’s definitely OK if you need some time to cry a little bit and get your bearings if you get a surprise. You wanted to see the Eiffel Tower, but ended up at the Colosseum. And you know what? It’s pretty awesome, too – you’ll see.

Baby Yo-yo with Yoda

One perk of having a son? Seeing how happy it makes Papa Yo-yo to buy him "Star Wars" stuff.