Today, Ryan gets up at 6:30. I hear his alarm, but I have no intention of waking. I roll over and let it fade into the back of my consciousness. I barely feel his lips brush my forehead, but it makes me smile. He sits there for a moment, then sets off down the hall to get ready for work. My face hasn’t seen a lick of makeup in 48 hours, my nose is rubbed raw from a steady barrage of tissues – a futile attempt at combating seasonal allergies, and I’m wearing the only thing that fits comfortably these days – Ryan’s oversized Special Olympics Game Day t-shirt. Even by a low standard, nothing about me registers as attractive. What’s more, I’m sure my constant nose-blowing and barking seal cough interrupted his sleep several times throughout the night. Still, the first thing he does after shutting off his alarm is cross to my side of the bed to kiss my forehead. I think about that kind of love. No pressure to impress or perform. Completely undeserved. It’s easy to stand up next to your best friend without a hair out of place wearing the only couture gown you’ll ever own as he vows to love you forever. That day will always feel magical. But somehow this Wednesday morning feels almost as magical. And if it’s possible, I feel even more loved.
As we sleepily pulled out of the driveway this morning – me in my pajamas and Ryan in his preppy professor duds, we discovered a slew of packages littering our front walk from the street clear up to the porch. We stopped the car to discover the most thoughtful Valentine’s Day surprise. A dozen friends from across the country each sent little Hudson James their favorite childhood books with personal inscriptions from the sender. Blame the pregnancy hormones, but I really just can’t handle how sweet it is.
I wish I could say I wanted a boy all along, but I didn’t. I don’t like guns, or cowboys, or smelly body odor. I’m definitely not one of those reasonable people that says, “I don’t care what we have so long as they’re healthy.” (As though the rest of us would readily sacrifice health for gender selection.) Nope, I dreamed of having a girl. We picked out a name, I bought a baby girl dress, and I pictured the two of us baking together on cold December days.
So here I am with warm jelly slathered on my belly staring up at a flat screen ultrasound monitor waiting to hear three words, “It’s a girl.” Of course the anatomy is the last part of the visit, so I have to wait. I’m uncharacteristically patient, especially for a pregnant lady who doesn’t have any patience to begin with. While I wait, I watch the most beautiful little baby twist and turn in front of me. The four images she prints off at the end will be poured over again and again, so I soak in the real live movements while I can. Where 14 weeks ago there was nothing, I now see brain hemispheres and chambers of a tiny heart. I see fingers and toes wiggle and stretch. I could stare at this screen all day. Then, I see it.
The ultrasound tech smiles, “Looks like you’re having a…”
“A boy?” I interrupt.
“A boy,” she confirms.
I’d like to say that all of the girl stuff went out the window, that I’m over the moon, or that part of me knew it all along. Truthfully, my heart sinks. The technician hands me a few black and white screenshots, and it’s over.
I’m so in love with this little guy, boy parts and all, that crying doesn’t feel right. I send Ryan a text message with the news and start my car. My mind floods with thoughts of who he’ll be when he grows up. Will he take after his dad and be a gifted speaker? Will he be like his mom and kill it at Scrabble? He could be the president or a pastor. He could write screenplays or cure diseases.
So maybe we don’t bond over wedding dresses or wingbacks…maybe instead we have impassioned theological discussions. He’ll probably hang back on pedicure days, but maybe he’ll be the one who finally beats me at Words with Friends. I’ll be that mom at golf tournaments, and he and Ryan will probably start a men’s fashion blog together where they banter over hair products and English spread collar shirts. I know it’s not what I had in mind, but turns out God had a different plan, and maybe it’s better than mine anyway.