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.