Monday, January 3, 2011


The Penguin is a boy. He’s been named for over two years now, since he’s getting the name Hudson would have gotten if she’d been a boy: Jackson Edward, named for his two grandfathers (just as Hudson was named after her two grandmothers).

As soon as the ultrasound tech pointed out the relevant parts, I laughed and said, “That’s what everyone’s hunch has been.” I was trying hard not to let on to anyone, the tech, Ed (who knew anyway, since he reached for my hand immediately), maybe even myself, the letdown I felt in that instant. I took some deep breaths as I lay on the table and let one little tear fall out of the corner of my eye.

I was not the least bit surprised it’s a boy—I’ve been telling myself it was since the beginning of the pregnancy, with the symptoms feeling so different than with Hudson. And I’d been telling myself it was a boy because I’d been trying to prepare myself emotionally for what I knew would be at least some disappointment.

But as I sat there and muddled through the disappointment, I tried to figure out what was really behind it. Was I really sad just because I was having a boy instead of a girl or was there something else involved, too? Within a few minutes, as the news sank in, I was already feeling better, excited even, about having a boy. Because I realized, with a renewed sadness right on top of the excitement (story of my life, remember?), that I was grieving not just the lost opportunity for another girl this pregnancy (although I am grieving that—I so miss mothering a daughter and still want to have another one in the future), but the fantasy of somehow being able to re-experience something of Hudson in this new baby. Maybe what I really wanted was to keep some remnants of Hudson’s presence in our lives as part of this baby’s existence—to reuse Hudson’s clothes and keep around some of her more “girly” gear, rather than have to pack it all away for another few years, or possibly forever, as if she had just disappeared, or worse, never existed. But I know that we will experience something of Hudson in this little boy, no matter what clothes he is wearing or what things he plays with—she will be part of him, just like she is part of us, just like she would have been part of a little girl, too. From that perspective, it was much easier to start thinking about how much fun we’ll have with a little boy, and how much he’ll learn from his big sister, even though she isn’t here with him physically.

And then I thought some more and realized that what I was grieving most (and still am, and will forever) is what should have been. A girl and a boy. Maybe a third down the road, but one of each to enjoy for now. A bossy but loving big sister and a willful but adoring little brother. So many of our friends have, or will soon have, an older daughter and a younger son. And we’ll have that, too, but we’ll have to live forever with the hole where the big sister should be. Just as I flinch every time I see a little girl around Hudson’s age right now, so too will I flinch every time I see a girl and her little brother, doing all those things that Hudson should be doing with her own.  Thinking about that is when I really started to fight back the tears. 

And the more I thought about it later today, the more I realized that on top of all that, finding out the Penguin’s sex just took this pregnancy one step closer to a real baby, thereby forcing me one step closer to accepting this new reality. We are having a second child without our first being here with us. We are having a little brother for Hudson, but we don’t have his big sister. We’ll go through the infant stages all over again but we won’t have a toddler keeping us busy on the other end. We’ll have one car seat again instead of two, a single stroller instead of a double. How can that be? Where is our little girl? Where did our life as we knew it disappear to? I still don’t understand it, no matter how hard I try.

So at the end of the day, I am still sad, so sad, for all that we have lost. But I am content, and even excited, for what we are going to gain. I think that’s always as good as I can hope for.

Little Hudson. Little Jackson. Neither of you are here with us now, but both of you are so very, very loved.


  1. I've been thinking about you all day. Waiting to hear what you were having and the confirmation that everything was fine. It has been my One Good Thing as I told 2 people they had terminal cancer while myself mourning the loss of 4 family members since October with a 5th recently put on hospice care. I've thought of you and known that if you can get through the loss of your beautiful baby, I can get through my own losses that while great in number had all led full lives into adulthood. I'm so very happy you got healthy news today and will continue to wish and think and hope for you until you are holding the wonderful boy in your arms and after.

  2. Oh, Mandy...such a place to be, with all your conflicting emotions! I know all about's what I do when I see a family of four with an older brother/younger sister, no matter what their ages. At Thanksgiving we went out to eat with Jerry's oldest son, Craig, wife Joy, and two children---Lauren, me, Jerry---and I very emphatically told the hostess we needed a table for 8. I was so sure that we were eight---because, of course, that's what we SHOULD have been. Lauren, Jerry and I have not managed to go out to eat by ourselves at all yet, nor have we been able to sit at our own kitchen table---we just can't deal with the empty space.

    So I feel for you...but at the same time, I envy you this wonderful new life. Jackson will miss out on having a big sister as you and Ed will miss out on seeing them grow together... but in spite of that there will be so much joy, and the prospect of one day a younger sister or brother. It for sure does NOT make this OK...nothing, no number of children, could ever do that...but it will bring you great joy, a child-rhythm to your days, and laughter in your hearts.


  3. Oh, Mandy -- I am so happy for you and Ed -- and everything you say makes so much sense. (((hugs))) And, oh my heavens -- you wrote about 'experiencing something of Hudson' in your little 2nd daughter (who is now 30 y/o) and my first and only little boy (who is my youngest and is 10 yrs old - and has a twin sister) are/were so amazingly alike -- girl/boy........20 years difference in ages.....SO MUCH ALIKE -- right down to colic and reflux. You will likely experience your beautiful Hudson so very much in your little boy.....and I know that is not how it should be -- Hudson should be right there physically with you....she will always be in your heart. (((hugs))) and prayers -- such a time of mixed emotions. Mariann

  4. I recently found your blog and have been following it. I have cried many times for you and your family just reading your posts. I pray for peace and comfort for you and your family. I want you to know that we lived with God before we came into this world and that we can live with him again as eternal families after we die. Hudson and little Jackson are together right now and she is preparing him to come into this world and telling him how wonderful his parents are!

  5. Ahh Mandy, there is always good and bad mixed. Try to focus on the good. You are blessed to have a wondeful husband and now a beautiful child on the way. LOVE this time in your life there is a lot of good in it.

  6. Aww Mandy and Ed, I am so happy for you two, despite the sadness you feel for sweet Hudson. Like Dana said, I also believe that Hudson and Baby Jackson are together right now and she is preparing him to come into this world. Jackson is so lucky to have such loving parents to care for him. And Mandy, I am sure you are going to be able to re-experience something of Hudson in this baby...Hudson and Jackson are eternally connected, and I am positive you will feel this connection when you meet your sweet baby boy. Much love to you both. xoxo

  7. Mandy, I am sure that moment when everyone's hunch was confirmed was a complicated one for you, and your feelings make perfect sense. You will see Hudson in baby Jackson, I am sure. I wish so much you could see her with him. Much love to you.

  8. I write through tears because I understand so much of what you are saying here. All of the things in life that 'should-be', but are irrevocably 'not'. I know how hard it must have been in the US room. I remember when I had my first child- long before I ever knew a thing about complications, miscarriages, stillbirth or the death of a child. Believe it or not- back then I actually said I would have only one child. My how time has changed. When I learned C1 was a boy I actually cried when I left the office. I was mourning for the loss of the ability to parent a daughter- to have all of the things that a mother-daughter relationship encompasses.
    Soon after I fell in love with my boy- and when the pregnancy ended up becoming critical for me, all that I cared about was that he survived. It is like that when we become mothers.
    The minute I first saw him, I knew everything had changed. I loved him more than I had ever loved anything on this earth- more than myself.
    Time has passed since those moments almost 6 years ago, and today I find myself the mother of three boys and one daughter. The fact that my youngest boy is with me in my heart, and not in my arms brings me a pain that only a fellow bereaved mother could ever truly come close to understanding.
    The point of all of this is to say that I understand the emotions that likely surrounded you in that US room. And I want you to know that it is completely OK to fell them. Life is full of unknown paths and uncharted territory. Of pain, heartache, joy and love. It breaks us with uncertainty and it lifts us with beauty. I know that you will be a beautiful mother to both of your children. Your daughter and your son began their lives knowing only love.
    In the end Hudson has taken it with her on her journey, and you son is growing strong in it as he begins his own- a different journey- but a beautiful one just the same.
    You never know what the future holds for you as a parent.. and I have a feeling there are still other souls waiting to meet you as well. I think Hudson knows them already, and that she is smiling with the cheeky little secret that only she is privy to right now.
    Love to you mamma....

  9. I keep thinking about Hudson's room and Jackson's room and I'm wondering if you could have them share it for awhile, like lots of siblings share rooms. so you don't have to think of Jackson's arrival as making you pack all of Hudson's things away. She'll still have part of the closet and drawers in the dresser and her elmo will still be sitting someplace special. And Jackson will be able to use so many of Hudsons things, they'll still be so alive in your life. Her blankets and hats and socks and toys. She'll be keeping him warm and happy from wherever she is. Erika

  10. I relate to how much you loved mothering a daughter, and how you could feel disappointed to learn that the Penguin is a boy. We did not find out the sex of our baby until she was born, and everyone told me I was having a boy. Although I was uncomfortable admitting it while I was pregnant, because I didn't want to be so greedy as to ask God for anything more than a healthy baby, I really did want a girl. I have had a very special relationship with my own mother, and I wanted to experience the other side of it.

    When I was pregnant, and I imagined that my unborn child was a boy, I thought about how much he would be like his dad, and I knew that it would be beautiful getting to know my husband in a new way, through mothering his son. I also reminded myself how close my mother and my brother are. They have a relationship that is just as special as my relationship with my mom is. She always says that mothers can be just as close to their sons as they are to their daughters. She says it's about the quality of the relationship, not the gender of the child. Mandy, the way you describe Hudson and your relationship with her leaves me with no doubt in my mind that your experience mothering Jackson will be powerful, meaningful, and every bit as fulfilling. It will also be unique, and you will learn more about yourself as you get to know him and discover how best to parent him. Think about how much you learned from Hudson, and how that has prepared you to give Jackson a wonderful life.

  11. Mandy, thanks for writing this post. I'm always in awe of the way you so clearly articulate your feelings and the honesty with which you do so. I have similar feelings to you in that I long for my next child to be the same sex as the child I lost. I'm glad you wrote this because as I was reading it I realized I want to have another boy because I feel like he would be a window into what it might have been like to raise Naveen in a clearer way than a girl would be. Just like you feel that a girl would be more of a direct connection to Hudson. I think it's okay to feel these things, and it's okay to be disappointed. I have no doubt you will be a fabulous mom to Jackson, and he will thrill you in new ways that you can't even begin to imagine.

  12. Oh Mandy. Like Stacey I am in awe of how you have articulated your feelings about Penguin's gender so clearly and honestly. I love the names that you and Ed have chosen and it seems somehow beautiful to me that those names would have been Hudson's had she been a boy.
    I've just received the same news and experienced many of the same emotions, although I could never have written about them so beautifully. Part of me was so sure that I would have another daughter.
    I wish that you had your big girl and your little boy. I truly do. Hudson would have been such a lovely big sister, I just know it. I'm sorry that Jackson will not get to meet her in person but I know that he will know all about her and get to know her as so many of us who read here have. xo

  13. It is possible, I am finding, to feel all of these conflicting emotions at once. I am so happy, even a bit relieved, that the baby I am carrying is a girl. But I am, if possible, more brokenhearted than ever by the loss of her brother. I won't ever raise a boy, this is our last baby, and while I am thrilled to think of my two girls growing up as sisters, I find myself watching little boys with tears in my eyes. That happened to me a lot in the first months after our son died, but not so much lately ... until now, when I know for sure that there will not ever be another little boy in this house. It's a loss, even though his sister is undeniably a gift.

    I am so sorry that you have so much to process. I cannot tell you how much I wish that the only thing you were processing right now was upcoming sibling rivalry and navigating pregnancy while caring for your sweet girl.