Rockabye Hope

Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of!

Snips and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of!

What the heck are “snips”? Sounds like what’s leftover after the barber cuts hair.  Snails?  Ew!  And the dog’s tails?  As a child, this poem made me squirm.  When I grew older, I heard another one:

A son is a son until he takes a wife.  But a daughter is your daughter for the rest of her life.

Really?  Sons equal desertion?  And there’s the famous “Boys will be boys.”  Often said to justify inappropriate or violent behavior.

All these unfortunate rhymes (prophecies?) disturbed and saddened me.  You see, I was already blessed with a son, whom I adored.  But back in my twenties, I watched my mother lament that I was the only sibling who ever kept in touch with her.  My brothers gave her the equivalent of an over-the-shoulder nonchalant wave, “See ya! It’s been fun!” after college and poof…..were gone.  I vowed to maintain a close relationship with my own little guy so history would not repeat itself.

Three years later I was pregnant again and (not admitting to anyone how much I was hoping for a girl this time) was ecstatic to be told that I was carrying twins.  A boy and a girl!  The doctors were certain. How wonderful!  Another boy so my son would have a brother (and a playmate!) and now a daughter so I could experience motherhood from the other side of the coin.  Like any mother, I began to fantasize and make preparations.

Fast-forward to delivery day.  “Congratulations!  It’s a boy!”  Long pause.  And finally one brave nurse ventured,  “And…it’s another boy.”  The silence was as sterile as the droning of the metal hospital equipment.  Nobody understood the loss I felt.  She had been real in my head and heart.  Her name was Cassandra.  And now she was gone. It felt like a death. The death of a long-time dream.  What was wrong with me?  Why couldn’t I be happy with what I had?

“We are done having children,” my husband said adamantly.  That was that.  No more chances. His words sucked oxygen from air.  And then to seal his decision, he promptly made an appointment for a vasectomy the day of the twin births.  I heard a door slowly close with a creak, then slam itself shut, and finally deadbolt, echoing the finality of the verdict.

After that I was deemed “severely postpartum” and promptly drugged out of my mind with Prozac.

My mother came over to our home while I was still in the maternity ward to systematically dismantle the pink parts of the decorated nursery.  She returned all the delicate, lacy dresses and hair bows to the boutiques and discreetly replaced them with yet more overalls and Lil’ Slugger pants.  Welcome Home! Friends preached that I should just be happy that my sons were healthy.  “You ungrateful bitch,” I thought I heard them whisper when I turned around.  “Some people cannot have any children at all.”  This was true.

I did everything a new mother does (nursed, sang lullabies, cuddled them) but still I couldn’t shake it.  I was judged and condemned for not loving my little boys. Which was not it, not at all.  Nobody got it.  Nobody got me.  I was alone with my thoughts and the pictures in my head of how things were supposed to be.  Expectations.  Expectations kill reality.  I would rid myself of them all.  Never look forward to the future, lest I be disappointed.  Stay in the present moment.  That’s the only thing they say we have, right?

Five years passed.  And then it came to me.  I had a little girl.  I really did!  She was already here, just waiting for me.  All I had to do was locate her. I would adopt.  International adoption gave me back my hope.  Adoption held the tiny silver key that just might open a window of opportunity where that door had been shut.  A door that I thought had come completely off its hinges, along with my sanity, a long time ago.

And finally there could be some acceptance, compassion and understanding. But it had to come from me as I bestowed it on all four of my little blessings – three sons and a daughter.

Little Miss Menopause at Once Upon Your Prime

116 thoughts on “Rockabye Hope

  1. Very interesting read. I have often thought about how I would feel if I had had 2 girls or 2 boys. I have one of each but have neighbors on both sides of me that each have 3 boys with their last child being born quite a few years after the 2nd child in both families. My daughter is the only girl in the neighborhood so they doted on her when she was younger and still at the age of 12 buy her girly things on her birthday or a cute dress if they see it. But in their families, I see 3 very different loving boys and how fulfilled their lives are with their sons even as they are reaching their teen years and one is heading off to college. I know the one woman secretly longed for a girl but the other woman I truly believe would have not been good with a girl based on her personality. Things happen for a reason and it appears yours was to give your daughter a wonderful life.

  2. Hi, wonderful story here and I’m so pleased that it had a happy ending. When you were talking about how the people didn’t understand and how “Nobody got it. Nobody got me.” it reminded me of a quote from the book ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ in which Atticus says to Scout,

    “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.”

    We read this amazing book at school and those words in particular have stayed with me because they are so true. It is so easy to judge people without really trying to understand them and their point of view.
    I am adopted and when I was five my family adopted my sister. I remember being told that I would soon be getting a sister and I remember going to the foster home to collect her. I my five year old mind that was how people got children, you just went and collected them from a big house and took them home. Obviously now I know it’s not like that… It’s something to do with a Stork carrying a bag I think…
    Thank you for sharing your story, all the best for you and your family.

    • Really giggling at that description of your siblings. Gender balance is a fascinating subject and “gender disappointment” is one that is buried/steeped in tons of guilt. I hope my writing this piece lifted that heavy lid a tad. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story! My late mother-in-law had four boys. The third passed away at 6 months old. She never got over him until she had my husband. When we got married, I was 18, she told me she finally had a daughter. 🙂

  4. I’m so glad you finally got your daughter. Having been blessed with 3 girls of my own, I know how special daughters are. During each pregnancy, my husband never once said he wished for a son – he always just said he wanted the baby to be healthy. It was years after the 3rd child was born that he finally admitted that he had secretly hoped the last one would be a boy. Oh well – as we all know, it’s not the mother who determines the sex of the fetus, and he loves every one of our daughters.

  5. “And finally there could be some acceptance, compassion and understanding. But it had to come from me as I bestowed it on all four of my little blessings – three sons and a daughter”—–I love this part.
    All the love we ever want in life comes from the satisfaction of bestowing the same gift on others.

    So glad to read from you again Stephanei 🙂

    • Thank you my dear – – I have been traveling and then while we were gone, we had the loss of a beloved pet and oh just a zillion other things, but this topic called to me and Diana was kind enough to include me in her explorations. Miss you! Visiting soon….

  6. This was skillfully told–a genuine joy to read. Cheers for the adoption!

    I know a woman who missed the girl, and whose husband would not consider adoption. Later her boys turned out to have severe congenital illnesses. Sad all around…

  7. It looks like we had the same nursery rhyme on our minds 🙂 Check out my latest post. I can’t imagine your experience. My daughter is a twin from a boy/girl set. The entire experience itself was like a roller coaster ride…and then to find out two boys! I also have an older son, so I so looked forward to the birth of my daughter. I am ecstatic for you that you have found your daughter through adoption. She is lucky to be part of your family!!!

  8. We never know the extent of someone’s pain. It’s wonderful that your healing began with creating family for someone else. Your family and all your hearts have grown in this.

  9. I remember my excitement when I found out I was having my second born – a daughter. I almost screamed with joy when the doctor told me. So I can totally understand your feelings. Its amazing how you finally found your daughter. Goes to show if you truly want something from the core of your heart, it comes to you. God bless your family:)

  10. Stephanie and Diana, Loved this piece. Stephanie, this is a different tone of your voice that I haven’t heard yet. Really felt you in my gut. So honest and vulnerable. For some reason I thought you have six kids- not sure why. Four sounds like a great number 🙂 definitely plenty. Thank you for sharing. I am sure there are a lot of women who can relate. Diana, looks like you are up to your experimenting with new work and exposing wonderful writers on your blog.

    • Hi Diahann! So nice to see you here! Wanted to clarify that I do have six kids, but since this piece was written with Diana’s topic in mind, I delved into “a past tense” when I was “minus my last two munchkins!” They came after my divorce and subsequent remarriage. But altogether now – – I have four boys and two girls. And would you believe that when I strolled around with my daughter mentioned in this article (Korean born) along with my 2nd infant daughter, some people had the audacity to come up and say, “Congratulations – – you finally got a REAL daughter!” An Unbelievable thing to say around anyone, let alone with my first daughter right there, (age five) listening! But that’s another story. Thanks for commenting. Btw, I wrote just one other more serious piece called, “Who Was She?” I think you commented back then that it was refreshing to hear “that side of me.” I should take more risks on my blog. But as I told Diana – – it’s much safer to write humor and when you make a statement, you can tell people, “I was only joking!” if it doesn’t go over well. I need to take a deep breath and make the jump (like you and Holistic Wayfarer do!) so I will finally learn that life goes on if people should vehemently disagree with you.

      • I remember that piece very well. It was excellent. There was a different texture to this one though. I think it’s because you wrote in the first person. It created a visceral experience for me as if I was the “I”.

      • ““Congratulations – – you finally got a REAL daughter!”

        What the —? Oh gosh. !!!

        Diahann has been one of my most loyal supporters. =) I know she is a wonderful contributor on other discussion boards, too.

      • Diana, sweet of you to say. And as I’m sure you know, your work is on a whole unique level of its own. I’m waiting for you to turn official publisher or surprise us all in some other unexpected way.

  11. God works in mysterious ways…If you had given birth to a baby girl, you would never have adopted.. AND how your heart would have known and ached without her…She had to wait for her 3 brothers to be born to make her family complete!

    • No truer words. It was a time when I really felt alone and misunderstood but now I understand so much more of life – – but I never want to understand G-d’s mysterious ways…’s just beautiful left alone….isn’t it? Thank you for your comment.

  12. Reblogged this on Once Upon Your Prime. . . and commented:

    Most of you know that I don’t normally venture beyond my own funny bones when I post here. But today I delved back into my memory (and heart) to recall a painful period when I felt very alone/misunderstood. This was inspired by the wonderful writer Holistic Wayfarer who had the kindness to invite me to participate in a guest posting session on her blog about a time in our life when we felt like we didn’t belong. Writing humorously affords me the safety net to say, “Just kidding!” if I sense reader disapproval. But I’ve decided that “He Who Laughs Last Lacks Life/Love/Lushness” so I took the chance of self-exposure. If this subject interests anyone, my novel was inspired by these true life events. You can simply click on the “Novel” link at the top of my blog. And thank you again to “A Holistic Journey” for making this possible during a crazy time when I’ve been traveling out of state, and dealing with a million other things. She offered me the chance for a cooling catharsis. Write on my friends – – promise to visit all soon!

  13. Wonderful piece. And I can relate. We had a biological boy already, but had felt the pull towards an international child. We were thinking girl and even had a name for her – Nadira. We went to several countries, took countless courses, paid lots of cash, took lots of time out to to it all…then I got arrested for something I did in one of my alcoholic states (I had lots of those states!). So that put the adoption on the skids. My wife and I were separated for half a year until I got sober and we reconciled. For some reason we still wanted to adopt. Seeing that international was closed for us, we took a shot in the dark for local. We went to a convention of sorts for children looking to be adopted, and we found HIM – our little boy. We only applied for him and him alone (which is odd for people to do). We eventually got him and he’s ours for good now.

    We did want a girl, but we know in our journey for this child, that it was meant to be for him to enter our lives and us into his. It was ordained, so we were able to put away the idea of a girl. We have two nieces, so when we want our girlie fix, we see them. It’s a wonderful thing, and so congrats to you on your own journey. What a joy to find these things open up once with think there are no others ways.

    Blessings to you and your family 🙂


    • Thank you, Paul. That’s quite a story of your own. I am so touched that people have commented so kindly to this post of mine and have also shared their own background stories when it comes to the subject matter. Congratulations on your completed family and surrendering to what life has in store turns out to be a large key, doesn’t it?
      take care,

    • Wow, Paul. Good to know more. How wonderful that we’re not done for in our mistakes. Love it, that you went on to be able to adopt. I know both your boys have been blessed with so much love from their dad.

  14. Being told I was having a boy – and on the scan it was VERY DEFINITELY a boy – was the scariest thing. I was elated at his perfect heart beating on the screen…but having grown up with one sister and already having had 3 girls I was terrified and a bit gutted. I’d grown a willie, FFS! I was going to have to deal with fountains, not puddles. And what if he grew up to be like my husband? I’d be responsible for breeding another self-centred arsehole to inflict on the next generation of women.
    But everyone would say boys are more loving than girls. Ok, everyone with boys would say that. Yeah, but they have less clothes options, are more trouble at school, they CLIMB stuff and I’d have to stand on a football sideline on cold wet weekend mornings or have to learn about baffling cartoon characters. Excuse my lack of enthusiasm.
    Even though I already had a whole heap of pink and girlie I still had gender disappointment. And you thought YOU were selfish!
    But Noodles is adorable and I love him to pieces. Yes, he can be a sod in a way that only boys can be and my heart is in my throat for much of the day as he hurls himself around. But I’m going to do my best not to raise him to be a self-centred arsehole. The clothes thing is still disappointing though.
    In the UK little boys are made of SLUGS and snails and puppy dogs’ tails. It’s no better than ‘snips’ though, is it? I trod on a slug in my bare feet this morning. I’d rather tread on bits of hair.
    Mind you, being made of ‘sugar and spice’ can get a little sickly too. I think the author of the poem wasn’t a big fan of kids either way round, to be honest.
    I’ve really missed your posts, Steph. I hope everything’s ok. I love your honesty and openness in this post. No one should feel guilty for their feelings and posting yours will possibly help someone from sinking because their own feelings are dismissed as selfish or invalid.

  15. Stephanie, unbelievable. I too have three sons and a daughter, and had to talk myself out of upset as I expected (with no doctor’s help) that my third child would be a girl. Have you seen the fantastic blurb in The Mother’s Almanac about mothers of three sons? If not, go find it, it’s awesome! Great post!

  16. Very moving story. For many it is difficult to understand what another goes through or what is felt during a situation like this one. Perhaps they do not want to experience those types of emotions and therefore urge the person to “get over it” so they themselves do not have to experience it. What ever the reason I appreciate you sharing your story and the emotional fountain. You are an exceptional writer.

  17. Atticus Finch got it right. Unless you have spent some time walking around in someone else’s skin how can you possibly know how they feel. The fact you longed for a girl didn’t mean that you don’t adore and love your sweet boys. It simply meant that you longed for a girl. The artical in Elle bothered me then as it does now and was extremely inaccurate and unfair. You are a wonderful mother and your children – both genders – would agree with all of their hearts.

  18. Thank you, Diana for hosting Stephanie. It delights me to no end to see her writing here.

    Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing this story. When you write your humour pieces, you crack me up completely and we always manage to find one syllable or two of connective cyber tissue (to steal from Joanne Sisco, another kindred spirit.)

    Here, you make my heart full. I am moved by your generosity and courage. You have mentioned more than once about your fear of backlash. My initial, naive response is, “who in the world would judge negatively?” Key word here is naive. Of course it happens. We read about it all the time. And in spite of that, you clicked the publish button.

    Here’s my wish. I wish that you keep some of that feeling that allowed you to click that button. The world needs to read more goodness like this.

    Wonderful to hear from you, Steph. So sorry to hear about the loss of your pet. Take good care.


    • Hi Maggie Mae! (Are you gonna ever tell me you hate that Rod Stewart song??!) You’re such a dear one and quite honestly, I feel like you have secret insight into my psyche! Well, since you asked who in the world would judge me negatively? Here’s a bit of backstory. After my book came out (a FICTIONAL novel based on seeds of truth about wanting a daughter) I got a call from Elle Magazine, wanting to interview me. Long story short, their reporter wrote a scathing, HORRIFICALLY false article on me (you may find it online by searching for “Girl Crazy – – Women who suffer from Gender Disappointment” but my lawyers made sure almost all sites that reblogged it were pulled.) Unfortunately, it still came out in print and it was too late to kill it. After that, I learned what slander can do to a person and became quite gun shy about writing about serious topics – – hence my fallback humor blog. You can read one woman’s version of what happened to me here (Note: I don’t know her and she still got some things incorrect but at least she was trying to defend me.)

      Thanks, as always Maggie – – for the level of support you provide to me and your sweetness. I wish we could meet in person!

      • Oh wow. I read both pieces. It hurts. I’m so sorry, Steph, that you were exposed to that.

        I wish we could meet, too, and I’d give you the BIGGEST hug.


  19. I feel the emotion of the day of your twins’ birthday: the pile of birth day + v-appointment day + no-girl-birth day = overwhelming emotion. You got me thinking that guilt is from unorthodox disappointment. Only unkind people make any disappointment “unorthodox”. Just because I want something doesn’t mean that everyone else should cherish having it. I admire your experience of getting what you wanted from someone else who was able to give it.

    You remind me of the enormous fear that I felt during my first pregnancy. I had only wondered if we were ready to be parents, and BOOM! it happened! Like you with your sons, I felt the guilt of not being sure that I wanted what I got (a successful conception) while my closest friend lost yet another batch of fertilized eggs.

    You remind me of when I prayed my heart out for my second child, and the pain of the few months that passed before he came to life. You also remind me that our deepest longings precede great gifts. I hope you will develop a deep longing to share more of your serious stuff. I have not seen a single vehement word from one WordPresser to another. If one shows up at one of your posts, I’m sure that many will rise in your defense. Then you can gleefully hit the Delete button to clear that troll’s nonsense.

    • Hi Grace! You are just such a beloved, treasured soul. It’s amazing how you leave hilarious, witty remarks on my humor pieces and then come up with such profundity when commenting on this. You blow me away–and I am honored you impart the time and energy. Seems that you related to this in ways I didn’t even conceive of when writing it but now it’s clear as day for me once you expounded. Thank you Grace for being so utterly YOU.

      • The back story of this piece of yours is haunting me.

        You reminded me that when I used to receive calls from reporters who were asking for interviews regarding recent events, I told most of them that no one was available. I learned, like you, that most of them seemed to have already written their biased articles, and wanted to put words into someone’s mouth to complete their sensational stories.

        A year ago, I gave my daughter a subscription to Elle magazine. Is there any reason why I should not cancel it? Did Elle do anything honest or compassionate in response to your case? Do you know of a more ethical magazine?

    • To their credit, Elle magazine pulled the article off their online website within one day of hearing from me. Just me. Didn’t take a lawyer for that part. But it was already completely out there in print from their hundreds of thousands of subscriptions to all the newstands/bookstores. They printed some little retraction at some point at the insistence of my lawyer. But the damage had been done. And great damage it was. The idiot talk show radio hosts (super huge and popular in LA where I live) ripped me to shreds on their hour long show and kept saying I should have my children removed by child protective services! i was devastated. The whole thing was a dream turned nightmare. I had been so excited for this reporter to give me a good review on my novel. And then it turned into this. Months afterwards, I got a call from the producer of 20/20 who said Barbra Walters was doing a segment on Women who are desperate to have daughters and wanted to fly me to NYC for the interview. By this time, I was far too gunshy and didn’t believe her when she said the matter would be handled with great sensitivity. Writing this piece for Holistic Wayfarer is the first time since that I’ve delved back into the story. Whew! Thanks Grace, for caring enough to come back and comment.

      • I am glad that you are coming out of hiding, and sharing your experience. You have a potent story here, from the thrill of national media spotlights on your first self-published novel, to the nationally-broadcasted distortion of your own experience, including the fright of Child Protective Services. Congratulations on reaching Elle in a way that they were moved to take immediate action. I wonder what effect this has had on Barrett’s career. Is she continuing to be an inspiration for Rita Skeeter of the Harry Potter books?

      • Rita Skeeter!! Ah yes, perfect. Thank you, Grace. It was all a serious of strange domino effects, I think. Not likely to ever happen again. But I did tell you it culminated in Barbara Walter’s producers contacting me, right? That’s mentioned on my FAQ page, I think. Well, back to life as usual. Excitement passed me by when I was in my 40’s. Now it’s just colostomies and Craisins from hereon in. Don’t ask me where the latter came from!

  20. What an incredibly lovely and deep post from you. I am impressed as heck! And to turn your disappointment into a double hit like that is just the best thing I can think of.. I know that sort of disappointment you felt and I know it almost felled you, but you rose up and cut your own swathe to where you wanted to be and just look at you now!

    • Aww, thank you ever so kindly. I am COMPLETELY enjoying your blog right now and bonking myself on the head for falling so far behind. I just literally thought you hadn’t been posting all this time. I can see where WP’s Reader really has it’s flaws. Thank you again!

      • Thank you kind lady! And fear not….I have had same situation on my end with the Reader just not doing what I told it to! Alas…..humans are dependent on machines, but can never let them run things without supervision…. 🙂

  21. “My mother came over to our home while I was still in the maternity ward to systematically dismantle the pink parts of the decorated nursery.”

    How thoughtful. It was already difficult for you. Then to go home to face the “pink parts”?
    I am glad that the ‘hole’ in your heart has been filled. 🙂

  22. As a mum of two grown boys (men!) and a 21 year old daughter, I can certainly resonate with much of what you share here. I always assumed I would have all boys. Out of 7 grandchildren from me and my brother, all are boys, except for my daughter. I was shocked rigid when I found out I was having girl. What do I do with a girl? Yikes! It was a wonderful surprise 🙂
    What hits me the hardest though is what you share in your paragraph beginning,’We are done having children…’ The finality of those words from your husband to you struck my heart as with cold steel. I don’t know anything about your family background, having only just met you here, and a pleasure to do so I might add, but my now ex-husband, the father of my three children, told me after I had my first son that we weren’t having any more kids and it shattered me. I won’t go into the whole story here as to what happened but I was devastated.So, I am thrilled and so happy to keep on reading and find out, with much relief, that you went on to enjoy the blessings of your daughter and to find the contentment, fulfillment and joy in the love of your beautiful sons and daughter, the family life that you craved.
    Also, I’ve heard that saying about sons too but I refuse to buy into it as I can’t bear to think about it. I’m very close to my boys (as with my daughter) and I have to hope and pray that the kind of wives they will one day have will embrace and be embraced by our family and that none of my kids wave goodbye over their shoulder as in ‘see ya!’.
    Yet, it is my Aspie daughter who wants to move back to America but not without me!! We live in the UK, I’m a Brit, my kids are dual with an American father, we moved back here in 2003 after my divorce.
    Ahh…all part of life’s rich pattern!!
    Finally, just as an aside and you might be interested in this, the nursery rhyme goes like this for us Brits…
    instead of ‘snips and snails’ we say ‘frogs and snails’. I wonder what snips are too?
    Thank you for sharing your powerful story so openly and honestly, I love the style of your writing and the way you are able to convey your moments of pain so powerfully yet also to bring the reader to such a satisfying conclusion. Inspirational.
    Bless you and your family… Sherri 🙂

    • Wow, what insightful comment! And frogs?! Double blech!! 😉 Anyhow, Thank you so much for giving your time with this extensive comment. You zeroed in on the most emotional paragraph for me. Someone else taking the power and control away completely and deciding MY fate. I am so sorry you experienced that as well. You have to be in that boat to experience how seasick it makes you! Anyhow, the pleasure is all mine that our paths have crossed. Your father/daughter tale struck so many chords for me–amazing writing. I shall me commenting more in depth. Thank you again.

      • Yes…that’s it…’someone else taking the power and control away completely and deciding MY fate.’ You know, I did actually feel seasick reading that paragraph…being in that boat…just awful. I’ve never come across somebody writing about this before and so it did really strike me, for you, and then for myself and those memories, but which, thank goodness, are firmly in the past and we obviously both went on to complete our families 🙂
        I look forward to your further comments Stephanie…thank you so …

      • Ah – the sense of powerlessness.

        Your pain and persistence ended up giving LIFE, a wonderful life, to a girl who also found herself entirely helpless in straits that would’ve stigmatized her through no fault of her own.

        It’s interesting because the line that a daughter is for life (but not a son) is actually also a common traditional Korean saying. I was surprised to hear it in English, though I’m not very Korean in many ways. Sad. I guess the way the aphorism has survived in different cultures across the ocean only proves itself.

        My husband and son will do anything I ask. They are among the sweetest. Having said that, my hubby happens not to really know how to please with thoughtful, creative gifts (largely bc of his own difficult upbringing) and TEACH HIS SON how to do that. Naturally, at seven, my boy won’t know to go out of his way for Mom on special occasions unless it’s modeled. This past Mother’s Day, I asked for nothing and got nothing. Sounds a bit harsh – and pitiful – but I enjoyed my Mother’s Day lunch. Didn’t need anything else. I couldn’t help, though, glance back later that day and think, “I’m going to end up in a nursing home.”

    • Thanks, you! And this was with several different doctors and sonogram technicians on three separate occasions. (with twins they take lots of looks just to make sure) But anyhow, each time they would say “and this is Baby B and here are her girl parts.” Afterwards, one of my “friends” had the nerve to bring a baby tee-shirt to the hospital for “baby B” that said, “I was supposed to be a girl!” Well, I can laugh now. Thanks for coming here!

  23. My husband wanted a girl first, and I obliged, followed by a son and then he called it quits to having more. I wasn’t quite ready for a second child when I fell pregnant again and found it difficult at first to bond, but I did eventually. I don’t think anyone noticed as I went through all the right motions. Probably over-compensated for my guilt since. Thanks for sharing your moving story and I’m glad your husband didn’t obstruct your wish to adopt.

    • Hi Christine–your comment has been one of the most challenging for me to respond to! Bonding. Isn’t that a whole other guilt-ridden topic?? It’s just assumed that mothers WILL bond with a babe-in-arms. I am going to quietly whisper here that I also had some difficulty with that issue too. It’s very taboo, I think, so “shhhhhh.” But when a child screams incessantly, arches his back and pushes away from you like you’re repugnant day after day, it’s extraordinarily difficult to get those bonding hormones to kick in. Maybe Diane would consider a future series on guilt. I wouldn’t know how to pick what to write about! I feel I spend endless amounts of precious time in the guilt/remorse/compensation cycle. Especially since I am twice divorced. There is do much guilt washing over me daily. Ah….the beauty of a wasted, useless but very real emotion….thank you for triggering something in me I’ve been meaning to address for a long time now. Sheesh, can we go back to silly wordplay, puns and changing the lyrics to “Be Our Guest” now?!? 😉 thank you agsin–I so value you.

    • Ps. Man that comment was fraught with typos… Sorry–I think that’s what heightened emotion does to me. Wanted to address your last topic. He did try to thwart the adoption, (ever see the movie Juno and watch how the husband seemingly goes along with the process but not really? He gets passive/aggressive.) My husband dragged his feet writing his essay for the home study (I eventually wrote it for him!) Ate junk food which made him dangerously over the weight restriction Koreans have for adoptive parents, and in general wasn’t enthusiastic. We eventually divorced as you know from reading my blog. That could have been the start of our downward spiral. Wow! I just had a field day with your one innocent comment, didn’t I???

      • Yes, Stephanie, I did set off something there – but better out than in! No, haven’t seen that movie, but I can imagine it from what you describe about your husband’s reaction. Fortunately my baby wasn’t refusing me, thank goodness, probably the opposite, so I had no valid excuse for lack of empathy. That would be so awful for you, and I’m so sorry for stirring it all up for you. I’m so glad you got your daughter. Many thanks for sharing. ❤

  24. Hi Stephanie! I’ve noticed your comments on other blogs and enjoy your perspective. This piece is very, I guess, “raw”. It gets right down to where the real personal emotions- with no explanation – drive us. I would go so far as to say it is very un politically correct. I actually read it through a number of times, the first only shortly after it was posted. I had to ponder it for a few days in order to do some research and adjust my perspective to make the best of what you’ve written. I really enjoy Shawn Mullins “Lullabye” – “She’s seen her share of devils…” ; “She can’t let go and she can’t relax” A tribute to the quintessential search for self. Much like your desire for a daughter. We tend to categorize certain subjects into areas where we “accept” and areas where we “strive” and yet each of those areas are different for different folks. It is generally accepted that children’s gender falls under the “accept” category. It obviously does not for you. And yet there is no way of expressing that without sounding ungrateful. It may be an essential, unexplainable part of your psyche and you can’t mention it publicly without being censored for your thoughts. Quite a pickle.

    With this post you have opened a door that many want to keep shut. And in the process, you have made yourself vulnerable to criticism. Your strength and forthrightness is admirable. From the comments that have been made, it seems as if you have struck a chord with other women who have felt similar emotions and feared to express themselves. The sense of loss you communicated when you saw any chance of a daughter disappearing was palpable. Then the realization that you could adopt reopened that door. Your joy and sense of fulfillment filled the narrative. And the continuation and expansion of that joy as the years passed says so, so clearly that your diving emotions were exactly right for you. The true test of the rightness of any action is time.

    Your writing makes another facet of humanity crystal clear – following our heart is the best way to achieve fulfillment, even when others disapprove. “’I ain’t so sure about this place…It seems everybody’s got a plan.’” Plans are only fulfilling when they are an extension of the heart. Plans made from logic alone may work but will not lead to satisfaction. This is somewhat heretical in our society as it leads to an unpredictability that is frowned upon. Much like the assembly line, the structure imposed upon us, the social pressures from friends, at work, from relatives, often dictate that we follow a course that is logical and explainable – not qualities that are embraced by the heart or soul. It makes people feel more comfortable knowing you will behave in a way they understand. They will admire those who think outside the box, as long as those individuals are kept at a distance (i.e. artists, composers, etc.) and even then only when others approve first.

    So, all that to say, I admire your bravery in not only following your heart to have a daughter but also in writing this down and posting it publicly. Your strength of character and determination to follow your heart shine through clearly in your writing and provide an example for others. Thank you Stephanie for sharing with us and thanks also to Diana for opening and enabling this discussion. And now you can honestly sing your daughters to sleep with: “Everything’s gonna be alright, Rockabye, Rockabye, Rockabye.”

    • Hi Paul! I tried to find your own blog but there was no link? What a really insightful, potent comment you took the time to compose! I want you to know that I took it straight to heart (also reread it several times over the course of a few days!) and “the true test of the rightness of any action is time” really reverberated inside of me!! You have no idea how many actions I thought were great instincts at the time and later became “What was I thinking??” moments!! But of course….not the things this post dealt with. And you are so right when you say that children’s gender falls under the “accept” category. And it probably would have, had I not been told several times that “he” would be a “she.” I feel like that was a real set-up for my personality type. Since then, I have learned to temper my expectations and to realize there are NEVER any guarantees, even when someone tells you they are 100% sure of something. They are not! Thank you for taking the time, energy and space to leave me such a thoughtfull comment!

      • “Since then, I have learned to temper my expectations and to realize there are NEVER any guarantees, even when someone tells you they are 100% sure of something.”

        This rings of great wisdom.

  25. I have three so s and was convinced my youngest was a girl. Obviously not and I can say there wasn’t a feeling of loss for a while. My eldest has two girls so I’m having my daughters vicariously even if in Nannie not Mummy 🙂 you don’t always get what you want, at least not in quite the way you expect 🙂

  26. I love your serious writing, and always resonates with me. Interesting, the timing. I was out with my sisters and mum (no boys in the family) – one of my sisters has only sons. We spoke about the very same quote. Anyway… our mum and dad desperately wanted a son. The third child (me), was unplanned and unexpected, yet they harboured a hope that it was their chance to have a boy. Disappointment is all they received when I popped out. I never saw it as a ‘death’ but it was for them. I only discovered this recently, because I wasn’t raised to feel like a disappointment, if you were to ask my sisters, they’d say I was their favourite. But still… if I’m to be honest… no… I don’t understand that level of disappointment… If my mum could read this (can’t read English) – she’d relate 100%
    I love your post mostly your honesty. I know I’ll be thinking about this one for a while…

    • I can’t thank you enough for making a comment like this. I have a lot of trepidation posting my serious stuff. First of all, I feel really vulnerable, second of all – – I feel like it will turn off most of my readers who feel like my blog is light and a break from the seriousness of life and third of all, it triggers myself sometimes deeper into the feelings than I am ready to delve. But support like yours lets me know that I am on the right track. Very interesting to hear about your family. Does the sister with only sons desire a daughter? Re your own parents – – it’s so sonderful that they raised you without letting their feelings seep in. You always leave me heartfelt comments. Thank you again.

  27. Stephanie, this is such a remarkable piece of writing. Thank you for sharing such a deeply personal and moving story. When I was reading it I felt like I was there with you and felt so bad especially during the postpartum bit (experienced it with my first son). I can’t imagine how that must have felt for you and for your mom (bless her heart) to go prepare your home by clearing out your lovely little “girly things” was sad and final.

    I have 3 sons (never wanted a girl) and I didn’t think about it until it happened when I was carrying my 3rd son. There were several sonongrams and other testing that indicated he might have some serious issues. The doctor wanted to do amniocentesis to which I said “no.” He told me that this test would allow me to make an informed decision on whether to abort in case the baby had a severe condition. My point was if I’m saying “no” that means I wouldn’t abort regardless the outcome. Thank God I didn’t let them bully me into a decision I would have regretted. My son had to be in the NICU for a couple of days but then he was fine and has thrived ever since.

    • Stephanae – – forgive my delay in responding to yet another insightful comment of yours. The BlogHer conference was exhausting. I am so thankful you stuck to your guns and didn’t do the amnio. They finally discarded that invasive procedure these days, from what I hear. But they really subjected us through a lot of emotional/physical trauma with that stuff. As an aside, my grown sons (like I’m sure yours are) are very close to me and I think so much has to do with the way you raise them and their own personality innate traits, rather than gender. I cannot believe that I was so disturbed by that saying about boys forgetting about family when they get married. Thank you as usual for taking the time to read my more serious stuff. You’re so supportive!

      • Never a need to apologize Stephanie. I really enjoyed reading this post and it’s great to see this side of you. And yes I have to agree with you about how we raise our kids as to how they will respond to us or shall I say with us when they get older. I had sort of a combative period with my oldest son when he was in his late teens but amazingly after his time in the service he came back a different person and he seeks my advice.

      • I was taken aback reading your draft, Stephanie, because I’d known that quote as a Korean saying. I don’t consider myself very Korean or ethnically traditional but it admittedly concerned me that even Americans found boys to grow up ungrateful kids. Glad to hear otherwise from the both of you!

  28. Thanks for sharing your story. I have some idea of what it’s like to expect so much, then be disappointed. I’m glad you were able to finally get a daughter through adoption. As someone living with a genetic disorder, I might eventually turn to adoption as there is a 50/50 chance I could pass on my disorder to offspring.

    • Hello there and thank you for the thoughtful comment. Adoption is really still a stigmatized alternative to meeting people’s needs, but I can personally say it was every bit as miraculous as giving birth. Really appreciate you taking the time to read my guest post. Diana has so many lovely followers!

      • I once watched a National Geographic documentary about Americans traveling to China to adopt. I especially remember the emotional reactions of the parents when they were finally introduced to their new adopted children, so I believe you when you say it was as miraculous as giving birth. As far as opinions towards adoption go, I can only say that there are so many parentless children out there, so to take in a child who is not your own flesh and blood and give him or her a real home is an act of exceeding virtue.

      • One of the most touching things about adoption I’ve heard and seen came from a homeschool mom last year. She is just so in love with her big (soon teen) son, riddled with learning disabilities and issues as one who was a crack baby. She and her husband barely slept those first few years because his brain didn’t know how. She believes women who conceive aren’t the only ones who’re fated to be mothers. She believes she was chosen as definingly. I have profound respect for foster and adoptive mothers. Am so glad you got to share your grief and sorrows with us, S. (And no more thanks!)

    • I’ve been bowled over by the show of love from people who adopt – esp children from China. There is a deeply moving youtube of an American couple that adopted a deaf girl from there. She had surgery in the States – the name of the implanted device escapes me this very tired morning – and went on to live a productive, joyful life filled with love. I still remember the scenes vividly. You could tell they adored her. The thing is, she would’ve just sat in an orphanage among hundreds in a soundless world, and never learn language or all the concepts that make up life, if they hadn’t rescued her bc there is a critical window of lang developmt for the surgery. The mother mentioned that the girl was going to grow up to be a strong woman, assured of the love of her father. Just amazing, what people can do for one another.

      • It sure is. When we looked into International Adoption, we were so very grateful that Korea uses Foster Mommies (those women are saints!) because the orphanage system (like the one in China) really lacks a great deal comparatively.

      • If you can manage the time, can you share briefly (summarize) the difference? I know Korea does or at least 30 yrs ago did have orphanages. I’m surprised K would use foster parents. These are…Korean or nonnative?

      • We looked into China and Russia (my husband at the time was Russian) when we first began this process – – and China out and out refused us for having “too many children.” We had three boys then. But they had (and think still do) large, crowded orphanages. Russia was showing high incidence of FAS in their stats, which frightened us. Orphanage system there, as well. Korea in 1997 (and when I flew to Seoul) used only foster mothers (Korean) who were the most amazing women I’ve ever met. I believe they were volunteers, but I brought soooooo many gifts. An entire suitcase full. I kept in touch with her thru the years, sending photos, (she got many new assignments after my daughter but always seemed to fondly remember us) She was around 50 with an adult daughter of her own, and married. They sent us photos (before we were given permission to travel there) of all of them constantly holding her and the FM carrying her on her back with this ingenius blanket system! I would send little outfits, and they would take photos of her wearing them and send them back to me! It was something I could treasure while I waited for her Visa to be approved and all the red-tape stuff to go through. I also sent her a photo of my face (a close-up) and wouldn’t you know that when I first arrived and laid eyes on my new little daughter, she reached her little hand out to me and smiled in recognition!! The FM had been showing her that picture, saying “Mama, Mama” over and over. It was A TRUE MIRACLE!! Oh see….don’t get me started talking about all this – – I never stop!

      • Getting chills. Omg how beautiful she showed her your pic as she did for J to recognize you. You meant the FM gave you the gifts? Not the other way around. This is the first time I’m hearing of Korean FMs. So very interesting. Precisely bc Koreans so stigmatized (at least did) kids who weren’t theirs by blood (if they were somehow under your roof) or sUFfered the stigma if they were caring for kids who were not theirs.

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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