Patricia van Liemt is a radio host, writer and mother of Maria (12) and Phaedra (9). Every Friday she writes accurate, honest, funny and above all recognizable columns about her life and motherhood.
A colleague is pregnant with her first child. When I asked her if she knew what it was, tears welled up in her eyes. “Aren’t you happy?” I asked her carefully. “Well, it’s a boy,” she replied softly. “And he’s healthy so I shouldn’t be ‘not happy’.”
take a breath
“I totally get you,” I said. And I thought I saw a weight lift off her shoulders. What followed was an honest and open conversation about her disappointment. She was grieving: the idea of not having a girl needed a place.
Twelve years ago something similar happened to me. Because when I was pregnant after five years, six rounds of IUI and three rounds of IVF, I also had to swallow when the sonographer said I was going to have a son. I was 16 weeks pregnant and the woman was a heavyweight, a true pro at ultrasound. At least that’s what I assumed.
When I had the 20-week ultrasound four weeks later, there was an ultrasound that had just finished student. In the intervening four weeks, I had barely finished buying the entire boys’ section of Zara. Yes, I had to get used to the fact that I was going to have a son, but after all the uncertainty about whether I would get pregnant at all, I was content. I even wanted to give birth to a three-tailed kangaroo for that matter.
Full of self-confidence, the young woman asked if we wanted to know what the gender would be. My husband and I looked at each other with a small smile. Like: ‘We’ve known that for a long time, madam, but bring on your young knowledge.’
“Congratulations! You’re having a girl!”
Tears of joy
I will never forget what happened then. I burst into tears. Of happiness. An emotion I didn’t know was there. From the bottom of my toes I was so happy to have a girl. The opposite happened to my husband: he was dead white. He never had a son. I took his hand and I understood his disappointment. You understand that the young sonographer needed some updating, because she was lost with these over-emotional parents-to-be in her room.
Look, in the end you are happy with a healthy child and everything finds its way, but my story still does well at parties.
Give a place
A week later, I asked my colleague how she was doing. “Super good,” she said. She was intensely happy with a son, she just had to give it a place and that is everyone’s right.
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