It was about this time last year when we found out that the thing that kept kicking Jennifer from the inside out was going to be a female life-form. I have to admit that I was at a loss the day that we discovered this fact. For me, the issue was that I had no idea what I would do with a little girl. The irony here is that you pretty much raise boys and girls the same until maybe the last year of high school, so it was a stupid thing to get hung up on.

Still, I was pretty convinced that we had a boy on the way, and we already had a good tough name picked out for him. Yes, Baby Strong-O was going to be the kid that other kids would always be nice to on the playground for fear of a good beating. But it was not to be. The day we found out I immediately called Schaff and we proceeded to start drinking heavily at the good old Odessa on the Lower East Side.

After a couple of hours, having a girl didn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore. It turned out that girls are better than boys, but I think most of us realize this at some point in our lives. It’s just something that you have to relearn time and again. I came to appreciate that my baby girl will be strong like bear and easily as tough.

But you can’t forget that there is a softer side to having a baby girl. I spent the next couple of months torturing Jennifer by playing Enya songs over and over again while providing a voiceover: Jennifer’s pregnant … she’s having a baby …. a tiny little baby …. she’s having a little girl… she’s pregnant… it’s special…

In retrospect this was a dangerous game to play with a pregnant woman. All those extra hormones gave her the strength of 10 pregnant women, and I was just lucky that she was more interested in grilled-cheese sandwiches than chasing me down.

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10 Responses to XX

  1. schaff says:

    I hadn’t heard the Enya story before, but it fits with my notion of the MacNeill/Egan home life.

    MacNeill and I used to work together at an eighth-floor office in Chelsea, and the angle looking down from the windows left us with a just about a perfect isometric view. So wasn’t it inevitable that he gathered us around the windows one day and played the soundtrack from the video game -Sim City-?

    Also, MacNeill gets drunk on like one beer.

  2. FrumDad says:

    We didn’t know ’till Rachel was born. And I have to admit, I *had* sort of wanted a boy, but it took me about three seconds to fall helplessly, unbearably, completely in love. I think there’s something particularly wonderful about the father-first-daughter connection, a sweetness, that I don’t know I would have with a son. I don’t know that I would have cried (quite so much) at the birth of a son.

    And of course, there’s the abject terror of having absolutely no idea whatsoever how to be a father to a daughter. I was a son, I had only brothers, and I never got to know my mother’s father. So I’m pretty much wingin’ it.

    Which is exhillirating and beautiful.

    And of course there’s the bonus that I get to kill any boy older than, oh, 15 who ever even looks at her funny. I’m already giving the fish-eye to the little boys on the block.

    On that note, Ogden Nash has something to say about that.


    PS: I’m spending more time commenting your blog than posting to mine. Bad BenMac! Bad, bad!

  3. benmac says:

    You just hit the nail on the head. When you find out in the delivery room, it wouldn’t matter if they handed you a baby platypus. It’s such an emotionally overwhelming situation that you have no choice but to fall immediately in love with the tiny, squirming creature that has just been thrust in your arms. I’m sure this is hard-coded evolutionary behavior.

    When you find out in advance, it’s a much more abstract concept. They don’t hand you a baby – they hand you an ultrasound. You don’t have that same immediate, physical, visceral imprint. Instead you gain possession of the idea of having a baby girl (or boy). And then you get several months to worry it.

    And yes, I’m also looking forward to meeting boys at the front door with a baseball bat slung over my shoulder.

    That’s a great poem. thanks-

  4. hannah says:

    Can’t help but chime in here – we didn’t find out the sex and I secretly wanted a girl the whole time. So, I convinced myself and everyone else that it was a boy. Even strangers on the street (including a guy w/only his head sticking out of a manhole and a panhandler in front of a greengrocer) would say “that’s a boy, you know!” But, alas, they were wrong. When they said it was a girl it was extra happy for me. Josh, on the other hand, was really shocked and said it took him a few minutes to, well, adjust to the idea.

    As far as the boys chasing our little girls thing goes, it is such an icky thougt that we’ve always hoped that Sophie would be a lesbian. We used to call her our little lesbian baby. And one of her grandma’s was a lesbian, so if you believe in the genetic thing, which we don’t . .. Anyway, she hangs out w/our lesbian friends a lot and we read her PC books about kids w/2 mommies, but she seems to be straight. Either that or a lipstick lesbian – hard to tell at two, but she’s a girly girl for sure. Naturally, we’re disappointed, but as open-minded parents, we will lover her unconditionally regardless of her sexual preference.
    Hannah (mom of Sophie, the apparent straight girl)

  5. Erika says:

    As a woman, when I found out I was having a son my first thought was “I don’t know what to do with a boy.” So I guess before we have the little bundles we believe that we can only relate to a gender-identical version of ourselves. How quickly we learn otherwise. Although I am secretly happy not to have to tell Jackson all about the changes in his body; his father can handle that.

    On the lesbian theme: A very good friend and I were pregnant at the same time and we both knew we were having boys. When someone made the comment that is was too bad that I was not having a girl so they could get married, our immediate reaction was “they can still get married.” Now even my mother jokes that if Sammy makes enough money Jackson will marry him.

  6. DEE says:

    Appreciate your platypus reference, on behalf of your Melbourne readers! But would consider trading in my xx and xy babies for koalas at times. Koalas are renowned for sleeping up to 20 hrs/day!! 🙂

  7. fred says:

    I appreciate the tip: although I don’t plan on having any babies for the next four or five years or so, when I do, I will definitely send out the man in my life for several beers with Schaffer to rediscover the primacy of girls. 🙂

  8. Having known Ben for a few years (and spent too much time not being in contact), I thought I’d chime in with some family wisdom on the subject of boys interested in daughters. Having a family of over 18 cousins, all males of our family have embarked on a fifteen year research project into the best ways of dealing with potential suitors. In order or success, they are….

    3.) Detailing your time in Prison
    2.) Detailing your time as an International Assassin
    1.) Greet the boy warmly, before going back to sharpening your axe in the living room.

    Said suitor will no doubt question your inmate time, or the possibility that you have traveled the world pulling a Jean Reno, but no one ever questions a good, sturdy axe. You have a few years yet, Ben. But a trip to Home Depot is never wasted.

  9. Serena Solis says:

    Dear google,
    yes a baby platpus is called a googles.1 is a googels.

  10. Serena Solis says:

    you’re cool!!!!!!