4 years ago, I was standing on a tube platform with DH when my phone rang.
It was the mother of one of DD1’s school friends, checking whether my DD would be attending her DD’s party. I was at that vague stage of pregnancy where you feel like your brain needs oiling, and the invite had completely passed me by.
I apologised and explained,’ Sorry. My brain is mush. I’m pregnant’ (Again)
‘Mmm, okay. Just a bit nauseous really.’ ( I didn’t ever do vomiting)
’12 weeks. I’m just heading in for a scan today.’
‘The Fetal Medicine Centre. Oh, you went there too?’
I’d been to the Centre before with my last 2 pregnancies at 11-13 weeks to have my risk for Down’s Syndrome estimated. They had an advanced method of screening for this disorder then, I think it may be standard these days.
Until the other mother asked ‘So, are you going to find out what you are having?’, the aim of the day’s scan had been to assess my risk of having a baby with congenital disorders as at 37, I was considered an older mother.
My immediate thought was What was she on about? I was only 12 weeks! I had found out the sex of the DD’s at 20 weeks and was prepared to do the same with this pregnancy. I hadn’t dreamed you could find out earlier.
But it turned out it’s not hard to get an ‘idea’ at 12 weeks. An experienced ultrasonographer can predict the sex of your baby at 12 weeks gestation, and get it right about 70% of the time. It’s unlikely that an NHS practitioner will even take a look but if you are having a private scan, it seems most of them will have a go.
Suddenly the day’s focus shifted slightly.
On the tube, on the way to Harley Street, my mind was whirling. Should we try to find out? I talked to DH about it and he was keen. I resolved I would ask the person doing the scan if they would try. After three girls , I was convinced this one was a girl too. The pregnancy felt no different at this stage. Later on I would reflect that the severe Antenatal Depression I’d experienced carrying the girls never kicked in with DS.
When the time came, I almost chickened out. I’d had bloods taken and that was being analysed as I was scanned. The scan showed our baby to be healthy and it looked to have a low risk of Down’s. The ultrasonographer didn’t offer to check the sex, we had to ask, but when we did, she didn’t blink an eye.
I was quite relaxed about it as I *knew* I was having a girl, just as I had *known* I was having a boy the previous three times. Perhaps this should have told me something? But when she began to out the relevant parts of my baby’s anatomy I started paying attention.
‘What we are looking for is 3 lines. If they are parallel, it’s probably a girl, but here we have one perpendicular so your baby is most likely a boy.’
It took a couple of seconds for it to sink in. A boy? I was having a boy? The 4th girl I had imagined for our family suddenly evaporated, just like that, and in her place was an unknown quantity. What did I know about boys? OMG, I had a penis growing inside me!!!!
I got a bit tearful at this point, and the rest of the appointment went by in a blur. The scan and blood results were good, so the chances of having a healthy baby were high, but all I could think of was the male child growing inside me.
After that I calmed down, and when my 20 week scan confirmed the presence of male genitalia, I managed not to cry.
Friends and family all assumed I was thrilled, but I wasn’t. Mainly I was worried and a little disappointed. DH was very pleased I think; he was looking forward to having another male in the house.
Of course, now DS is 3-and-a-half I wouldn’t give him back for anything. He’s funny, loving, stubborn and opinionated, just like his sisters. Except for his Thomas Obsession and an insistence on standing up to wee, I really haven’t noticed too much difference between the genders but then, my girls aren’t that girlie and DS is partial to a bit of pink glitter.
But part of me is haunted by the idea of that fourth daughter, and sometimes, when I have a moment, I find myself wondering what a family of 4 girls might have been like.