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Back to Kathleen Donohoe's Blog
The Second Story
on 30 October 2009 21:10PM
My heart beat slowly. From its pace, the doctor said I was probably a boy. In 1972, women weren’t awake when their babies were born and there were no ultrasounds. My mother argued when the nurse told her she’d had her second girl. No, she’d said, adding that now she never had to do this again.
Our first baby is due in February. In February, we will find out if it is a boy or a girl. Several people have asked the pink and blue question. Don’t you want to decorate? Don’t you want to receive the right gifts? Now you’re stuck with either yellow or green. But actually only green because I don’t care for yellow. Green, all shades, is perfectly fine with me. But color is less important than content. Possibly, we’ll go literary. If I have to look at cute animals, I’d prefer they be cute animals with character. Like Peter Rabbit who will never forget his fright in the MacGregor’s Garden. Or Winnie-the-Pooh who is always kind but somehow not naïve and Wilbur, prostrate with grief for Charlotte, a good friend and a good writer.
Recently I had my second trimester sonogram, which is the one where the gender can be confirmed if the baby cooperates. I told the tech before she began that I didn’t want to know.
She peered at me over the tops her glasses and an expression came and went quickly, not of annoyance so much as resignation. This just wasn’t going to be a simple as it might be.
“I’ll tell you when to look away,” she said and then more sternly, “but I’m not responsible if you figure it out by yourself.”
How many parents-to-be had spotted a penis or noticed a lack of one and yelled at her?
I said I understood and took off my glasses. She showed me the baby’s head, face, stomach, kidneys, arms, legs and heart.
“Your baby,” the tech said as he or she was rolling over and hiding his or her heart, “is very active.”
I didn’t figure it out. Sometimes, it was like looking at the moon. I turned away when she said to and took home three pictures, profile shots. The baby appears to have my chin. I thought perhaps I was imagining it but then my mother e-mailed me after we sent my parents the pictures.
“That baby has the Perry chin,” she wrote.
I got my chin from her and she got it from her father, Jack Perry. My grandfather called it an English chin, though the relative of his who sailed to America from Liverpool was named Reardon. He liked to annoy my grandmother, Edna (McNally) Perry.
Others have admired our willpower in waiting. It’s great you want to be surprised, I’ve heard more than once. Yet the surprise isn’t quite the reason, though I like surprises well enough, such as gifts under the Christmas tree that were never on my list. A cool day in the middle of August. Venturing out in a Manhattan monsoon to attend a birthday party/blind date at a wine bar in Greenwich Village called the Bourgeois Pig, arriving soaked, but three years later, marrying the guy and having his baby (though not in that order).
No, being surprised isn’t really it. Not entirely. And knowing a baby’s gender is, of course, knowing only one single thing. But in waiting there is this, the second story.
The boy in whose place I exist would have been called Brian Christopher, a bequest from his older sister. He would not have been a junior, as I am, though girls are not given the suffix. Would he have been a fast runner, voracious reader, writer? Probably—he would have grown taller than 5’3”. Red hair instead of brown? Brown eyes instead of blue?
In a sense, by not knowing, this pregnancy as a nine-month story, perhaps a novel with parallel narratives, a book whose poems keep rearranging. At its end will be a child with black hair or brown or possibly red, blue eyes or green, a birthday in February or possibly March, a reader or musician or both or neither, a baseball fan or not, a dog person or cat person, Jack or Deirdre or William or Lily…
P.S. My parents did have another baby. My sister, Elizabeth, was born 15 months after me.
Updated on 06 November 2009 03:11AM
McKai (S. L. Kincaid)
at 11/24/2009 9:20:34 PM
My children were both surprises...still are surprising me.. :^) Best Wishes from all of your readers..... McKai:^)
at 11/5/2009 5:20:33 PM
Best wishes and may God Bless you and your family. I was like Linda.....I did not care what I had as long as the baby was healthy. I was blessed with 2 girls first and then 6 years later I was blessed with a son. His room was done in the old fashioned style of Peter Rabbit!!
at 10/30/2009 9:37:18 PM
Congratulations! The baby is a gift with a life and spirit all its own. When I was pregnant, my doctor told me I had an 85% chance of having a girl....guess what....my son made his appearance into this world not on the date they predicted but when he was ready.....All I prayed for was a healthy baby. It really didn't matter whether or not it was male or female. I would have been happy with red hair and green eyes like mine but he came with auburn hair and brown eyes.
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