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Archive for December, 2008

Nine and a half years ago, I headed into the doctor’s office. I was 20 weeks pregnant, and I was scheduled for the mid-pregnancy ultrasound that has become a rite of passage for all new moms.

My husband and I definitely wanted this ultrasound to confirm the gender of our baby. Strolling into the room, I was supremely confident in my knowledge that I was pregnant with a girl – so confident that I had already named my baby “Emma” – that’s how secure I was in my knowledge.

Why not? I came from a house full of sisters; the first of my sisters to have babies had a house full of girls. Girls were all around me.

And, most persuasive of all, the gender of this baby had been predicted by my husband’s grandmother while on her deathbed – two months before I got pregnant. When a person so close to leaving this life predicts a future event, the words take on greater weight than all the wishes in the world.

My mother-in-law was also convinced it was a girl, and so was I. My Emma was active; at night I would dream of all the things I would do with my daughter in years to come.

So when the ultrasound tech pointed to the screen and said, “Look, there’s the pee-pee,” I had a minor mini-meltdown. (And yes, this medical professional used the word “pee-pee” to point out the penis.)

My visions of a future with my darling Emma had been tossed out the window. I was having a boy.

My first emotion was panic – what did boys read? Do? Play with? I’d grown up in a house full of girls who liked reading and Barbies and jewelry. How would I ever know how to properly take care of a boy?

My son, my firstborn, turned nine the other day and his life has brought so much joy to mine that I have to laugh at my initial panic. My life with him does not include Barbies or jewelry, though reading is something we share together. As the mother of a son, my life includes a battalion of super heroes, the magic of Harry Potter and hundreds of tiny Legos that are used to build complex Star Wars spacecraft.

What I learned during that 20 week ultrasound was the first lesson of parenting: things rarely proceed according to plan. And as the years have passed, I’ve also learned how much joy can come when life takes an unexpected turn. Because of my son, I’ve learned the absolute joy of having a boy in the house.

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Nine years ago today, I was unknowingly on the brink of a move to a new nation. In just two weeks, my first baby was due. According to the schedule, my baby was supposed to be born in the dawn of a new year, a new century, and new millennium.

My baby had other ideas, however, and I went into labor nine years ago today. As is common with the first pregnancy, this labor was long – 23 hours long – and painful – even with the epidural, the pain was excruciating. At one point near the end, I made the decision that I would stop the delivery process. That I would remain pregnant for the rest of my life seemed a logical solution to the situation I was faced with.

Luckily, my doctor, an experienced obstetrician, a mother herself, ignored my plea to stop the process and calmly continued the work of bringing this baby into the world. Instead of being born in the first week of the new millennium, my son, with his penchant for doing things his way, was born late in the evening as the sun set on the 20th century. What I remember of that day was not the pain, but the joy. Holding my son for the first time was one of the most joyful moments of life.

So tomorrow, I celebrate not only my son’s ninth birthday, but my ninth anniversary as an inhabitant of Sippy Cup Nation – also known as parenthood.

And today, I begin a blog that focuses on issues of parenting, attempting for myself to map out the strange, magical, wondrous, unchcarted territory known as parenting.

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