Saturday, May 5, 2007

Pink or blue

Being pregnant is amazing, in a very good way. Being infertile was also amazing, but in a way better categorized as "soul-destroying" than "good". I was constantly amazed at how miserable the absence of something that I'd never had could make me. How jealous and petty I could be. How stressed I could be for months and years on end. Mostly, though, I was amazed at how different everything was than I thought it would be. Prior to infertility, I'd always thought that if there was the slightest hint of a problem, I'd run screaming to adoption. Of course this was before I had actually researched adoption, and knew about the expense, the paperwork, the waiting, the parenting issues with attachment, loss, etc. It was also before I met my Mystery Man, who is rather more concerned about the issue of genetic relatedness than I am. I had also thought that whatever happened, I'd face it with grace. (I couldn't even write that without laughing at myself. I have been many things over the last three years, but graceful has not been one of them.) I had thought that I wouldn't take the risk of multiples. I had thought that I wouldn't do IVF, and never even considered the possibility that one day I might be excited, thrilled even, to be starting a cycle. I had never thought that any step of the way would feel the way that it did. If there is one enduring lesson that has come out of all of this it's that you really never can know how you'll feel in a situation until you've actually experienced that situation.

It's the same way with being pregnant. I was right about how happy it would make me. I really am happy every day about this pregnancy. That's one thing that is exactly as I expected. However, I'm a lot less controlling about it than I thought I'd be. I assumed that I'd have amnio. I had never even given it any thought before a few weeks ago. I KNEW I'd do amnio. Now I don't think I'm doing amnio, and I don't even really remember when I changed my mind. Similarly, I have always, always, known that I would find out the sex of my child as soon as possible. I thought it would help me to visualize and bond with the child inside of me. I thought that it would prevent any whiff of disappointment on the day of my child's birth. I thought I'd want to know. So, I'm shocked to find that here I am, and I really don't want to know.

There are a lot of reasons that I don't want to know. I think probably the most profound on an emotional level is the yearning for some sense of "normalcy", a whiff of old-fashioned romance, in this pregnancy. This baby was the result of my Mystery Man wanking in a cup, and me being given enough drugs to make Margaret Thatcher ovulate, and then being impaled on a giant needle and having my eggs sucked out. Neither of us when in the room when our baby was actually conceived. He/she spent three days in a lab before we even met. I've had an ultrasound every two weeks or so from that date on. I don't think that this makes my baby any less of a miracle than any child (rather I think it makes her/him even more of a miracle), but it has made the whole process feel rather, well, medical. Since I'm not going to have a nice home birth with a midwife (at the age of 38, and after years of infertility, that strikes me as a very very bad plan, if it's even possible in Korea), and there's no guarantee that I'll even be able to have a vag birth (you never know!) I'm finding myself really fixating on the moment when the baby first arrives, and I get to hear those magic words "it's a _____!!!!!!"

I also just don't care about the sex. I care if the baby is healthy. I want desperately for the baby to be healthy. At this point, that's the only thing I care about. Before infertility, I used to fantasize about having a baby girl, and then a baby boy. I thought I had it all figured out, and if I had gotten pregnant right away, I probably would have been slightly disappointed if my little life plan hadn't worked out that way. However, having had years to think about it, I've realized that ANY child is such a precious gift that I would be insane to think that it makes any difference what flavor I get. Every child is a unique and precious individual, and is welcome in my uterus, in my home, and in my heart.

Finally, (on a political/social note) I think that people put WAY too much of an emphasis on an infant's sex. Since my friends have started having babies, and I've had to deal with showers and baby gifts, I've realized that almost all baby clothing is categorized as "girl" or "boy". People, an infant does not care what color it's wearing! And even if they did, who's to say that boys like blue better? Some girls hate pink! Baby clothes are a trivial example, though. I really worry more about the tendency to assume that a boy will be one way, just by virtue of being a boy, and that a girl will be a different way, just by virtue of being a girl. Having been a nanny for a baby boy, I WAS amazed at how early and strong his attraction to cars and trucks started. However, he also liked his doll, and LOVED dancing (his grandmother once walked in while we were doing my own uncoordinated version of salsa together, and watched us for about five minutes before I noticed she was there. I was mortified!) Most girls love their barbies, but some don't. Some boys hate sports. Some girls love fishing. These things happen, and sometimes it's very hard on a child when everyone tries to force them to be something that they're not. So, for now at least, while I can keep the world from imposing its expectations (reasonable or unreasonable) on my child, I'd like to do so.

Mystery Man isn't quite as sold on the idea of waiting as I am, but he is warming up to it. Our one real problem is that this means that we have to prepare TWO names. I had a dream last night that our child was already a month old and we still couldn't decide on a name. Given how undecisive we can be, I wouldn't be too surprised if that actually happens. Oh well, if we wait long enough, the baby can pick their own name!

A footnote--this post is NOT intended as a criticism of people who do choose to find out. Like I said, I'm shocked that I'm not begging the ultrasound tech to try to figure it out now, and certainly don't feel that finding out is wrong. I think that if I still had any preference whatsoever, I would find out, because the last thing I'd want to feel on my baby's birthday is anything but thrilled.


Marie-Baguette said...

I liked your posting a lot, but I have to say that I wanted to know. I think it was made even worse by all we went through. Knowing the baby's gender (like picking a godmother at only 11 weeks) made us believe that things might turn out OK. It made the pregnancy more real. As to having the "surprise", well, this pregnancy has given me enough surprises to last me a lifetime. I feel that we are more connected to the baby than we might have been otherwise (but there is no way to know for sure). We give him silly nicknames, we made up songs for him, and like any baby-crazy American mum, I have already gotten some personalized stuff. Hubby really wanted a girl, so I am glad he has time to get used to the idea of a boy before the birth.

Rose said...

Oh yes, IF certainly prepares you for parenthood in the "thought I had it all worked out but how wrong could I have been" department. I'm happy you're happy about the preganacy, Sara; happiness is not something that happens often when you are in the throes of infertility.
As for pink and blue, my mother always made sure my brother and I had none of this pink/blue influence when we were small, then when we were young teenagers and moved house he asked for his room to be painted blue with a dartboard on the back of his door, and I wanted mine pink with flowers...
A healthy baby is all you need, the rest is gravy. I can't tell you how hopeful your story makes me feel.

Anonymous said...

Pregnancy is a whole new world, isn't it?

Because our son was conceived quickly once we started ART, I did feel some disappointment to find out we would have a boy. We found out around 18 weeks at the level II ultrasound. Of course I got over it very quickly after he was born, and these days, I'm with you in that the genders don't matter at all. Healthy is the goal!

And in spite of knowing his gender, we couldn't settle on a name either. It took me being on the verge of being discharged from the hospital for my husband to say 'why don't we call him _____?', as we would have had to file a legal name change later if we had left the hospital not having given him a name.

Sarah said...

i was the same way in the beginning about thiking i'd do adoption and being totally decided against ivf. my hubs also was keen on continuing the genetic line. funny how these things change you in ways you thought were so unchangeable.

i have two friends who recently found out their gender at delivery. i don't think i can do it, i'm too much of a planner, but they are both so delighted with their choice. i have another friend who found out she's carrying a girl and wishes she had waited for the surprise.

Baby Blues said...

I would want to know the gender. Just as much as I want to know if I'll get pregnant. I'm really just praying for a healthy baby someday.

OHN said...

Hi Sara--I found you through a comment you made (I think at Watson's blog but since I read waaaay to many I can't be sure :)

Anyway...congrats! It is a little surreal reading someones blogs from beginning to current in a matter of minutes and see them go from infertile struggles to pregnant. Blogging makes it all seem like it took no time at all..and I know you certainly don't feel that way! Just wanted to say hi and hope you are feeling well. I am adding you to my ever growing list of blogs :)

Twisted Ovaries said...

We don't want to know. We really don't. Because we had a CVS on one of our twins, we will be finding out the results on that one (it's unavoidable, it's on the lab report), but the other one we're perfectly happy to wonder about.

So I getcha'. We're not going to know either (or at least, we won't know one of them!)