Just When We Thought We Were Having a Girl
In the final month before our baby arrives, our amazingly generous families threw us two lovely little baby showers, and despite our interest in gender-neutral colors for our daughter, our house has quickly gotten filled up with neon pink, glitter, tulle, and sparkle. So now we’ve got more girl clothing than we know what to do with. And you’re welcome to have as much of it as you’d like.
Because we are having a boy.
Every great story needs a plot twist, right? So let me set this up for you. In July, we were contacted by our adoption agency with a possible placement. We were told the baby was a healthy baby girl, in prenatal care, local in our New Jersey area, and that Bio Mom had picked us out of all the waiting families.
I had always thought I’d want a baby boy, if we’re being completely honest. My whole life, despite being an openly gay hockey goalie, someone who prides himself on defying expectations, I had allowed myself to get wrapped up in the gender-conforming culture of “Well, if he’s a boy we can take him to Devils games, and maybe he could be a goalie.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “If we have a boy, I can teach him all about the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania.”
In preparation for a possible placement, we started considering names. The only names that were coming to my mind were girl names, even after 20 years of daydreaming about being the father of a son. We’d walk through Babies “R" Us, and I’d find my eyes settling on tiny onesies with frilly skirts. When we discussed a possible placement, Dom would say “the baby” and I’d catch the “s” of “she” slipping past my lips before I could stop it. I think my heart was telling me that I could actually be a good father to a baby girl.
When the agency called and told us we were being matched with the birth mother of a baby girl, I knew I had arrived at a place where I was just as excited about her arrival as I would have been with a baby boy. I knew I could do this.
Suddenly the excitement and enthusiasm for Devils games and Ladder Matches gave way to visions of Princess Parties at Disney World and watching Dom’s grandmother braid our daughter’s hair, and I was all in.
Dom and I talked about not disclosing the gender to anyone, keeping it a secret until the baby came home. How the hell do other couples do that? When friends tell me secrets, they’re locked in a vault. When it’s our own information, I’m a babbler, always have been.
But we assumed that people liked to buy gendered clothing, and keeping the baby’s sex a secret from our families was going to be difficult. We knew we would live in constant fear and paranoia of using the wrong pronoun. Once, Dom accidentally used the word “he” in a conversation with our friend Tina, even though it was the wrong gender. Dom immediately tried to dial it back, but it only looked more suspicious. It’s like when my sister would try to convince us that she hadn’t farted on the couch by trying to recreate the noise that had just bubbled up from under her. It didn’t work for Lauren, and it didn’t work for us. So we proudly announced that we were having a baby girl.
Two baby showers later, we were stocked up with everything. An adorable Christmas dress, clothes all the way up to 2 years old, tiny baby Uggs, New Jersey Devils headbands. Our families spared no expense when it came to giving us the best baby showers they could put together.
This past Sunday, knowing the baby could come at any time, we devoted one of our last remaining free weekend days to getting the nursery finished. We de-tagged all of the clothing, washed it, sorted it into drawers and hangers and storage bins. We were ready for our daughter to come home.
And then on Wednesday, in my last week as a 30-year old, I found myself thinking, “I don’t have a single gray hair!” Luckily, I got a text message from Bio Mom immediately after her sonogram and check-up. It started this way:
I thought something was wrong, but there wasn’t. Bio Mom shared that the fun thing about sonograms is that sometimes a baby turns a certain way, and things that were previously not visible suddenly become clear. A shadow moves and you get a clearer picture of your daughter’s face.
Or, you know, her penis.
I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I could, but I couldn’t. We had known (but alas, hadn’t really Known, with a capital K) that the baby was a girl. The agency had told us so. Bio Mom had told us so. But in some ways the most real part of it was that we had told ourselves so.
Now, I want to say something here. If the worst news we received from a sonogram was that our healthy 7-pound baby was a boy and not a girl, then we are beyond lucky and grateful.
But there’s a hard reset for us to hit now. We’ve had four months to get ready for a baby girl, physically and emotionally. And now we’ll have a handful of days scattered at the end of October to get ready for the baby we were supposed to have, the son to a Daddy and a Papa. The puzzle piece still fits, it’s just blue instead of pink.
But first came the stuff, the things over which we still maintained a modicum of control. So we rebounded from the phone call with Bio Mom and hit the nursery hard. Because we had taken the tags off of nearly every item of clothing, we were in a pickle. We put everything we thought had come from Babies “R" Us into a giant IKEA bag, and piled into the car. We got there, went to the customer service counter just 90 minutes prior to closing, and explained the situation. And let me tell you, I give Babies “R" Us a little bit of gruff for not providing Dad-focused classes in addition to the breast-feeding and Mommy-centric classes that they offer. But the two women behind the counter of the Babies “R” Us in East Brunswick, New Jersey were beyond incredible. They looked up the individual SKU numbers from the sewn-in tags on every single item. And they gave us $300 in store credit, to then go explore the other half of the store, the one with fewer sparkles and more dinosaurs, less glitter and more trucks. And we are so grateful to those two gals, truly.
We peeled out of Babies “R" Us, pointed the car to Dom’s parents, and told our immediate family. It is so ludicrous that everyone just laughed. As in, “Of course this happened to you guys.”
So this is what happens when you find out that your Tilly ... has a willy. You take a moment to breathe, you smile, you hug your husband. And then you get back to work. Because pee-pee or no pee-pee, this baby is on his way. And he’s coming home in a matter of days.
With October 31 on the horizon, it looks like our son is already familiar with both treats and tricks, and it looks like we’ll be bringing our little Devil home right around Halloween.