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In the good news department, all is well. The Level II ultrasound, which was different from the standard ultrasound in that it took three hours and included genetic counseling (during which we learned that the spouse and I arenít related, which wasnít something weíd ever considered in the first place but is, I guess, good to know), offered no evidence that the baby-to-be has an identifiable birth defect. Which is a relief, really. While we were mentally geared-up to deal with whatever happened to come our way, it was nice to not have to deal with anything other than a frazzled doctor who assured us that there were no signs of Downs Syndrome on our films. When we pointed out that Downs wasnít a concern, according to the blood tests, and that we were there for a different reason, she seamlessly sequed into assurances that she could see no signs of spina bifda either. Sometimes, I have little faith in the medical profession. I suspect the feeling is mutual. 

In the Surprising News department, the Level II ultrasound showed that this baby-to-be is different from the previous one in at least one way. Itís visible in half-a-dozen shots. Normally, I am spectacularly bad at interpreting those grainy black and white images that float across the monitor. What looks like a foot to me turns out to be a skull. What looks like an alien hamster turns out to be a child. But the fuzzy blob that looked undeniably like a penis turned out to be a penis. If I were more astute, I could make some observation about the ability of men to always assert their penis-obsessed man-ness, even in utero. But the recent daylight savings time change evilness has left me feeling as fuzzy as one of those prenatal pictures. Biting cultural commentary will have to wait until I can pry my eyes open again, which will be just in time to turn the clocks back. Dammit.

The whole penis thing isnít bad news, per se, just kind of stunning. I had a hunch that this one was a boy, and itís always nice to have oneís hunches proved. With number one, I was just as convinced that she was a girl, which also turned out to be accurate. Iíd like to say that weíre going to try for three out of three, in order to get some real statistical data, but this current oven-bun will be the last. If there are to be any more children in the house, I refuse to be the one responsible for their gestating. Itís too much work and that last month is both cruel and unusual punishment.

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Still, seeing the wee unit on the screen and having the hunch confirmed has left me in a quandary. Iím not quite as psyched about a boy as I was about a girl. This could be because he will be the second child and Iím not quite as psyched about much of anything in general because Iím so worn out. It also could be because everyone else seem to be more psyched about the fact that this will be a son for my husband, like that was really all he wanted in his life and he had been previously disappointed by the girl. I donít recall that there was quite as much attaboying of my spouse when we announced the Divaís sex. Are we still at a point when sons are more valuable somehow than daughters? Sometimes itís sad how slowly the world changes.

The Hub, however, seems to be just as perplexed by the whole boy thing as I am. Going into the ultrasound, he was good with whatever gender we got. Coming out, he remained the same. There were no whoops of joy about a boy, nor were their lamentations that it wasnít another girl. He is as constant as the moon, my spouse, and itís one of the reasons why I love him so. (An aside: despite this adoration, I am forcing the whole circumcision decision squarely onto his shoulders. Frankly, I could go either way. I can see both arguments and donít want to be the one who decides between them. Let them who are born with foreskins make the call, in my opinion. My knowledge of the subject is decidedly second hand.)

Something about a boy just makes me feel so unprepared, somehow, like this infant will be completely different from the one that came before it. Intellectually, I know thatís not the case. Emotionally, Iím just not sure what to do with a boy. Yes, I know the basics Ė you diaper one end (keeping a diaper ready to cover the fire hose, which is what everyone keeps reminding me), you feed one end and you love the whole thing. That I can do. But itís the other stuff that concerns me. I canít make convincing truck noises. I donít especially like things with wheels or that are dirty/slimy/slippery. While I can throw a damn fine pretend tea party Ė Martha envies me on this Ė I donít know Thomas the Tank Engine from all of his creepy train friends. Iíll pick it up, Iím sure, but right now I just feel so ill prepared.

And, yes, I know that Iím being stereotypical, that children are largely genderless until society imposes its mores upon them. I believed that, too, until I actually had a child. There is something hardwired in there, something that makes her more verbal and interested in co-operative play (and, lord help us, everything pink) than the boys her age. Whether that be pure nature, pure nurture or a messy combination of both, the difference does exist. Friends of mine who have at least one of each assures me that this is true for them as well. But, knowing that, it doesnít mean that the differences make one gender somehow inferior. We are just different, even on a biological level. Excuse me for a moment. I feel a chorus of Helen Reddyís ďI Am WomanĒ coming on.

I am assured that there are perks to boys, ones that the mother of a soon-to-be three-year-old Diva can truly appreciate. Boys, generally, donít scream like enraged banshees when you wash their hair, nor do they have quite as heightened a sense of drama, where the most trivial matters become an opportunity for swooning and pouting. Again, I speak in general terms. Each individual kid is different. I know. But I can say that it will be nice to not have to deal with a three-year-old Diva ever again. These last few weeks have been a test of endurance, one that leaves me ready to scream in the freezer by the end of the day. Overnight, I became the enemy, the Man who is trying to keep the Diva down. Everything that I suggest and/or attempt is to be thwarted, with ear-piercing screams if time allows. The only recourse lately has been to make her stay in her room until she can calm down. It works, but feels awfully Draconian, like the next step should be thumb-screws. Which arenít a bad idea, come to think of it. Maybe I should look into installing a rack.

Most of the time, however, she is a delight, so much so that Iím a little melancholy about not having another little girl. Last weekend, I boxed up all of her old clothes to make room in her closet for all of her other crap, which had been stored in cunning piles on the floor. I didnít expect the packing and sorting to hit me like a fist, a body blow from the knowledge that a little girl of mine will never wear those cute sundresses or floral pants again. It all went to good homes, granted, but it made me cry from the nostalgia of past cuteness. Or maybe the tears were due to my intense dislike of appliquťd trucks and the color blue, which seems to be what my future holds.
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About the Author:
Adrienne Martini has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper and pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. She is a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse and recently picked up an AAN award for feature writing. During the day, she fields freelance gigs and crams knowledge into the heads of college students in Upstate New York. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy, and wife to Scott.



 

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