Today’s guest post comes from Lisa Rumsey Harris, who has been working on two big projects this Fall: baby girl number #3, due January 28, and the release of her first novel, The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume (available now on amazon). In between, she teaches writing classes at BYU, does laundry, french braids hair, stops fights, loses her sanity, and rarely cooks. Check out her world at www.treasureblume.com and www.facebook.com/treasure blume.
As I walk out of the school with my two daughters, a friend who works there stops us. “It’s the big day today, right?” she asks. Without waiting for an answer, she pats my belly and says, “We all have our fingers crossed for Griffin!” I pause, looking down at my daughters, and say, “We will be happy either way.” And I mean it.
I’ve checked the girls out of school so they can be with us at the ultra sound. They have been bewildered by all the attention their mom’s belly has attracted. I’ve been asked every day for the past month if we know what we’re having. I joke as I get in the car that we should publish the results in the ward newsletter. Griffin doesn’t answer. Instead, he checks the mirrors, and backs out. The girls buckle their seat belts, and Griffin pulls out of the parking lot.
As I lay on the table, I can’t see the screen, but I can see my girls. My only reference for what’s going on is the doctor’s narration and their faces. Sela, my almost-twelve-year old is absorbed. She loves medical dramas, and learning about how things work. The shadowy images of her new sibling are clearly fascinating. Sasha, my eight-year- old, looks bored. She’s already told me she doesn’t like babies anyway, and since she hasn’t been the superstar of this episode, she’s barely interested. Griffin’s face is too far away. I can’t tell what he is thinking.
The baby is squirming, seeming to fight against the pressure of the ultra sound probe. The doctor tells me he is examining the cord. Then he measures the heart and the brain, pausing to point out other points of interest as he goes: “That’s an arm right there. You can even count all five fingers on the hand.” It’s like my family is going on a sight-seeing trip without me.
Finally he gets to the big reveal. “Do you want to know?” he asks. I hold my breath as Sela shouts “yes!” He pushes deeper on my belly. “It looks like you guys are specialists,” he says. “It’s a girl.”
I feel differently than I thought I would. I don’t know what to say. So instead, I start to cry. It’s my go-to reaction these days. My girls are happy: more pink and bows and barbies. I still can’t see Griffin’s face, so I don’t know what he’s thinking. He says something to the doctor, but I don’t know what.
With the doctor’s help, I sit up, wipe the gel off my stomach, and wiggle off the table. I go to the front desk and make a return appointment. It’s almost like I’m on autopilot.
In the car, I look out the window, needing time to sort out how I feel. I have always thought this baby was a girl. From the beginning. From before her conception. Suddenly I remember a conversation with Griffin when we were dating. “I come from a family of all girls,” I said. “And so does my mom. I’m the third daughter of the third daughter.” “That’s interesting,” he said. “No,” I said. “You don’t get it. If we get married, we’ll probably have all girls.” He responded with a line from Napoleon Dynamite. “Like anyone can even know that,” he said. But I knew it then.
If I always knew, why do I feel so deflated? My first thought is that it’s a good thing that Griffin isn’t Henry the 8th. I would have been beheaded. I catch my husband’s eye, and he smiles at me. I look away. I feel like I’ve failed him. My second thought is that we probably don’t need to announce this in the ward newsletter after all.
I think about my friend, Erica of the five boys. She named number five Henry (Kenneth Branagh fans unite! Henry the 5th was a much better guy than Henry the 8th ). She told me, “I almost clawed the compassionate service leader’s eyes out this week when she said with a sigh, ‘Well, I’m just sorry you didn’t get a girl.’ I told her that sometimes mothers are just lucky enough to specialize in boys.” The memory makes me laugh. Erica and I have the same doctor. He must have revealed the news to her the same way that he revealed it to us.
With the girls there, we don’t really discuss it. We stop by the grocery store, eat dinner, then work on homework. It’s only after the girls are in bed that I approach the subject.
“So how do you feel about this?” I ask him.
He grimaces, “I wish everybody hadn’t made such a big deal out of this. It’s starting to annoy me.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Well, it isn’t about me, for one thing,” he says. “And I always knew it was a girl.”
“Really?” I ask. “Or are you just saying that?”
He pauses and comes over to take my hand. “No. I knew. I knew when we found out we were pregnant. I knew it was a girl, and I knew what her name would be.”
At this point, I’m crying again. He says the name, the name that we both know is her name. He hugs me. Then he looks me in the eye. “After all we’ve been through to have her, how could I possibly be disappointed?”
And as he says it, I remember. It’s silly to think I could have forgotten. All the years of trying and disbelief. All the books I bought, and friends I talked to. All the discussions about whether we should try in-vitro or maybe adopt. The visit to the doctor where he told us that there was no medical reason for our infertility. The horrible day in November when we thought I was pregnant, but I wasn’t. The realization that we should be really grateful for the two beautiful children we had, because we had no idea that we would be facing infertility later. And then the miracle day last May when I told him, after peeing on 20 sticks, that I thought I was pregnant. How neither of us really believed it until we heard the baby’s heartbeat. How we both knew: this baby was a miracle. That day, I told him that I felt like Hannah, who also prayed for a child, and received a miracle. How could I have forgotten all that in this moment?
“What about your brothers? “ I ask. “You’ll be the only one of your brothers not to have a son.” He takes my hand. “Honestly, I think I’m the only one of my brothers who could do this. I’ve been thinking that it takes something different to be a father to daughters.” And I think of him holding newborn Sela, wrapped in a pink blanket, carefully sticking bows in her hair with petroleum jelly. I think of the day that Sasha wore new sparkly socks, and she was so eager to show him. Without any prompting from me, he noticed and said, ‘Wow, what beautiful socks, Sasha!” I think of him patiently looking at American girl dolls, and brushing the girls’ hair for church. I think of him at dance recitals, jostling other dads in the front row, digital camera in hand. I think of him standing in line for hours at Disneyland, just to meet the princesses. I think of all the times when I was young women’s president that he gave priesthood blessings to the girls in our ward who didn’t have fathers that could. I feel the baby kick. And I know that he is right.
“But what about the ward?” I ask.
He smiles. “We’ll tell them what the doctor told us. We’re specialists,” he says.