“It’s a girl!” exclaimed the doctor with a smile as she pointed to the sepia toned lump on the monitor screen. I smiled too, shifting uncomfortably as she continued to press the cold transducer over my swollen stomach. Flash forward. My husband gripped my hand tightly as we walked out of the office, photos in hand.
A girl. I was going to have a girl.
The gender reveal party came and went with congrats, hugs, and tears of joy. Baby showers were held, corny games were played, and soon, diapers, bottles, and hoards of pink clothing began piling up in what would soon become the nursery. I refused to paint her room pink, to put her in a gender stereotyped room. Flash forward. We finally decided on light grey walls with teal polka-dotted accents.
Happy. Everyone was so happy.
As my stomach grew larger, I made more frequent trips to the bathroom. Pickles dipped in peanut butter became my new favorite food, and my husband was making constant late night trips to Walmart in an attempt to feed my crazy cravings. During the day I would sit on the porch looking out across the yard, watching as my neighbor’s daughters played tea party with their dolls and teddy bears. Flash forward. My mind began to wonder. My heart started to worry.
A girl. I was having a girl.
While preparations were being made, the due date drew nearer. Everyone was excited. Everyone was ready. Yet my mind still wondered. As my belly grew larger, my fear grew stronger. I was going to have a little girl. A girl! But what does that mean? What makes a girl, well…a girl? Flashback. Twelve year old me stands in front of a mirror staring down at my flat chest, hoping that at any moment breasts will magically appear. A single tear slips from my dark brown eyes and slides down my acne scarred face.
What makes a girl, well….a girl?
Is it her love of pink? Her well manicured nails? Her perfect hair? Or is it simply the fact that she was assigned a girl from birth? These questions plagued my mind as I began to remember my own childhood and what it was like to grow up as a girl. Flashback. Seven year old me stares down at my pretty blue church dress. It’s stained with red mud and dirt from a long afternoon spent making mud pies and rolling down hills. My furious mother looks at me sternly and says, “playing in the mud is not ladylike.” I avoid her eyes and stare shamefully at my dirt encrusted white shoes.
I never had been a very girly girl.
Growing up with two brothers had made me tough. I wrestled with them, played cowboys and Indians with them, and was never afraid to get dirty. My hair was usually chopped short and tied back away from my mud streaked face. My mother tried so desperately to instill in me her love of pink and all things girly, but my tom-boyish behavior continued all the way up until middle school. Flashback. I’m running to the girls bathroom, tears threatening to spill from the corners of my eyes, as a group of older girls chants at me from behind. “Tomboy, tomboy, you’re an ugly tomboy!” As I step into the stall, the hot tears begin to fall.
Middle school changes people.
It was a tough three years. My confidence in myself quickly faded, and I began to retreat away from the harsh reality known as middle school. I grew out my hair, painted my nails, and tried everything in my power to fit in with other girls. I started to talk like them, dress like them, act like them, until I had lost all sense of who I truly was. Flashback. Fourteen year old me stands looking in the mirror, makeup of all sorts spread awkwardly across the counter. In my mind, a soundtrack of insults begins to play. “Only filthy girls get pimples.” “Do you ever even wash your face?” “You look so gross!” “Thank God I don’t have acne.” The bright red acne scars soon disappear as I begin to smother my face with concealer for the first time.
I had so many worries.
Here I was, nine months pregnant and nearing the day in which I would meet my little girl for the first time. I wanted to be excited, I truly did. But I was so afraid, afraid of what she would have to go through, afraid of the bullies, the tears, and the heartache she would have to face. How would she be able to handle all of it? How could I help her in a world that was so cruel, in a society that rates women based on their beauty? I worried and I worried until…
I peer down at the sleepy-eyed little girl cradled tenderly in my arms. Her eyes sparkle and, for the first time in a long time, I feel truly happy. She wraps her tiny little hand around my pale finger and lets out a small sigh.
“You’re beautiful,” I whisper as she drifts off to sleep. “You’re so beautiful.”