The reveal

What’s it gonna be? Blue or pink?

From the moment I announced that I was expecting my fourth child, friends and strangers alike have asked the inevitable question every pregnant woman finds herself answering over and over again: “Are you finding out what you’re having?”
“I never have,” was my consistent reply.
It’s true. Unlike most women (at least the ones I know), I chose to wait until each of my first three children made their grand entrances into the world to find out whether I’d have a son or a daughter. And each time, my OB shouted out “It’s a boy!”
Part of me always wanted a girl. There’s a line from the song “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire that goes, “Can’t you understand/that I want a daughter while I’m still young?/I want to hold her hand and show her some beauty before the damage is done./But if it’s too much to ask/if it’s too much to ask/send me a son.” All I ever wanted was a healthy baby, but I couldn’t help but wonder what it might be like to have a little girl.
All of my prom dresses hang in the back of Collin and Frank’s closet, just in case I had a daughter who liked to play dress-up (or wanted to wear something vintage to a high school dance). I’d held on to my wrought iron bed and some of my favorite books and my American Girl doll (Felicity) because I wanted to relive a few slices of my childhood vicariously through my own little girl. I wanted someone to get pedicures with me and watch the kind of movies where nothing blows up. I wanted to shop for a First Communion dress and help plan her wedding and hold her baby one day. I wanted to raise a young lady who wasn’t the damsel in distress, but a benevolent force who would improve every corner of the world she touches – just by being her strong, sweet self.
My best friend Melissa has two amazing little girls. They’re spunky and, even though they love princesses, they’re not your typical “girly-girls.” (Two-year-old Nora’s favorite color is blue and four-year-old Stella is a huge Darth Vader fan.) The boys adore the girls and treat them like sisters. I know that if I ever had a little girl, Collin, Frank, and Leo would protect her, play with her, and pester her, just as big brothers should.
In December, while we were visiting Melissa and the girls, I told Melissa that I was going to break tradition and find out what I was having. It was hard to explain why, though.
When it comes down to it, I suppose it’s about preparation and planning. In general, I’m not much of a planner. I tend to make loose plans and graciously accept the twists and turns God sends my way as an opportunity to hone my on-the-spot problem-solving skills and discover the great plans He has in store for me, rather than the ones I orchestrate for myself.
On the other hand, having a large family calls for a little bit more organization on my part. I will always accept what God sends my way, but I think He’d like for me to be prepared, as well. Adding a fourth child means rearranging bedrooms and having all the clothing, blankets, and other essentials ready for his or her big arrival. Since I consider myself a pro at this now, I have a good idea of what my newborn will require to be safe, comfortable, and content(-ish) in the early days of his or her life. I’ve acquired a massive amount of stuff for little boys over the years, but I couldn’t help but wonder…what would happen if I had a little girl?
She’d wear the green, yellow, and white gender-neutral attire her brothers wore in their early days, and I supposed she and Leo would share a jungle-themed room. I didn’t want to drown her in pink. Or did I?

Melissa and just-born Collin (in his gender-neutral sheep sleeper.)
I asked myself if I really needed to wait for the OB to tell me I had a son or a daughter in the harried moments before the baby is placed on my chest. Wouldn’t I be equally surprised if I found out sooner rather than later? It’s not like I had a say in the matter. God had already chosen whether I was having a boy or a girl. My job was to accept the gift with open arms. But, there wasn’t any harm in peeking, right?
 “And here’s the best part,” I told Melissa. “You’re going to reveal it at our St. Patrick’s Day party.” Her blue-green eyes widened and she let out one of her enthusiastic signature laughs.
Fast forward a few months and Patrick and I are having our sonogram done by the same woman who gave us a peek at Collin, Frank, and Leo when they were the size of a banana. “You don’t want to find out what you’re having, right?” she asked. Patrick and I looked at each other. “Actually, we do,” I explained, “but not today.” She told us to look away and wrote our baby’s gender on a small piece of paper which she promptly sealed in an envelope, which Melissa picked up a few days later. Our fate was in her hands.
Our St. Patrick’s Day party is one of the highlights of our year. All of our friends and family gather to celebrate our Irish heritage (actual or adopted for the day). It fell on Melissa’s birthday this year, and I’m honored that she chose to celebrate by preparing a special surprise for us. Only Melissa, her husband, Mark, and another of our closest friends, Bob, knew about our secret plan. When just about everyone arrived, I gave Melissa the nod. Bob cued up the video camera on his phone as Melissa and the girls entered the room with an enormous box decorated to look like a leprechaun’s hat.
“We swore we’d never do this, but we’ve decided to find out what we’re having!” I told everyone. Patrick and I pulled the tape on the top of the box and…four pink balloons came flying out! The entire room cheered. I jumped up and down. Patrick’s grandmother shed tears of joy. Leo was just happy to have a balloon (but I’m not quite sure how happy he’s going to be to have a baby sister).

Since then, I’ve been preparing for my little girl’s arrival. The day after the St. Patrick’s Day party, my mom and I picked out a gorgeous bohemian-inspired, elephant-themed bedding set for her room.
We moved all three of the boys to one bedroom. (They love it!) I bought the baby a few irresistible dresses and, of course, headbands to match.

Meanwhile, I gave most of the boys’ baby clothes to a former student who is having a little boy. Patrick and I settled on a name we love. (You’ll find out next time!). I even booked her baptism.   
I like new experiences, and I’m glad I decided to find out my baby’s gender this time around. I’m generally a person who enjoys mystery, even ambiguity, but I have found that this time it’s easier to imagine what life is going to be like when she (isn’t that nice to say?) gets here. There will be hair to be braided and jewelry to be collected and Irish dances to be performed and so many aspects of her personality to be discovered. And when she arrives, we’ll be ready for her.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.