Right from the beginning I knew she’d be a girl.
I don’t know if it was instinct or intuition or fact of nature but I have always known that my first baby would be a girl. My mom and sisters knew it too. Any child of mine is going to have to learn fast to love white and floral on a tea cup, so maybe this is for the best.
Still, though, I could not stop the excited, nervous tears from falling during our twenty-week ultrasound last month, watching our little baby suck her thumb, point, kick, and arch her beautiful spine. And it was confirmed that yes, this was a little girl, I asked our specialist to check it again and again while Andrew squeezed my hand.
Afterward, we went to our favorite brewery to celebrate, and after we toasted with beer and sparkling water, Andrew said he didn’t know much about being a dad to an oldest girl; that he hoped he would be a good one.
I am the second child of my family, with the world’s best older sister. When I picture this daughter down the road as an older sibling, I hope she has the same steadiness, loyalty, and thoughtfulness that Laura does. And when I picture Andrew as a dad to a girl, I can’t help but think of my own dad, who raised three.
I think of the time my mom left for the UK to visit her dad in the hospital, and for a week, my dad did our hair. I remember the pinched feeling around my scalp where he had tugged the pony tail too tight, and going to the bathroom to pull it loose when he wasn’t looking. I think of Sundays after church when we stood around the island and watched him make omelettes for lunch. I think of breakfast dates, long conversations that were mainly one-sided, of the way he understood that here was a girl who had so much to say when she felt like she was worth listening to. I think of him taking us to England individually, of my spending hours picking out a traveling outfit, of driving around in his car singing along to Diana Kroll. I think of him, patiently and kindly, raising three girls to believe they could do anything, that the only restrictions they would encounter in life were the restrictions they placed on themselves.
And then I look across the table at Andrew: the best listener I know. Andrew, who understands so well that I hate to be interrupted, that I will shut down when I feel like the person I am talking with is distracted. Andrew, who makes sure that I wake up each morning not to the buzzing of an alarm clock, but to a cup of tea and breakfast on the stove. Andrew, who has kept me from giving up on my dreams a thousand times and will a thousand more before they come into fruition. Andrew, who carries my grocery bags and pushes me out of my comfort zone, who makes me back up my opinions with facts before he’ll take them as a valid argument, who since the day of our ultrasound has proudly pulled out his phone and shown pictures of our baby’s feet and fingers to anyone who will look.
I don’t know what our baby’s personality will be like, who she will look like, what she will like to eat or sing or wear. I don’t know what subjects she’ll be good at in school, what career she’ll have, what kind of attitude she’ll develop in middle school. I find myself stopping in the middle of banal tasks, thinking about sharing them with this little girl. I can’t wait to watch her taste her first summer watermelon and take a picture of the sweet red juice smeared across her face and chin. I can’t wait to help her make her first pie, to teach her to roll out the crust and eat the sugary scraps. I can’t wait to teach her to ski and to read and the best way to eat an oreo. I can’t wait to do all these things with her, but I understand these may not be the things she needs or wants. She may be completely different from me, maybe even completely different than either of my sisters.
My dad raised three girls with incredibly different needs and personalities, and he did it so well. As different and as widespread as our personalities are, I think what we each needed in a dad was someone who loved and listened to us for exactly who we were. I got that, and am endlessly thankful. I look at Andrew and know our daughter, no matter her what personality, will get exactly the same thing.
**Photos by Matt Genders Photography