I like routines. Like a young child, I find comfort in knowing what to expect and don't do well with last minute changes of plan. Yet, and the irony is not lost on me, the unpredictable nature of spending all day, every day with children and their own internal schedules is something with which I struggle. For that reason, I really cling to my evening rituals.
There's nothing particularly interesting about my evening routine. Once the girls are in bed, I putter until my chores (dishes, laundry, etc...) are done. Then I sit on the couch and read or watch a little TV or pull my sewing machine out. When I'm tired, I head upstairs, brush my teeth, check on the girls, and then read in bed until I fall asleep. My husband and I are often doing the same things in parallel.
Last night, however, I stayed up late watching crappy, reality TV. (Hey, I'm not proud.) By the time I got to bed my husband was already asleep. This left me in quite a quandary. I was afraid to check on the babies because they are such light sleepers that about 50% of the time they wake up when I go in. (When my husband and I are both awake, it's not a problem. I nurse them and then we play with them for about 10 minutes before putting them back down.) Not wanting to wake my husband, I skipped the baby check. Then, knowing that the light would bother him, I also skipped my reading.
And, of course, I could NOT fall asleep. Somehow, in all that wide-awake thinking, I ended up in the memory of discovering that I was carrying twin girls. For those of you who know me personally, you will likely remember that I said we did not know what we were having. Well, we did know and finding out was such a traumatic experience for me that I was in a lot of denial about actually knowing.
Here's the thing. I felt that just because I could find something out before nature intends didn't necessarily mean that I should. There are so few truly wonderful surprises in life that I wanted the sex of my children to be unknown until I was meant to find out. I had been VERY CLEAR to everyone who had any involvement in my pregnancy that we absolutely did not want to know. So, after we discovered we had twins and my departing midwife dropped off my medical records at my home, I didn't think anything of looking through the file.
Well, there it was: Baby A is female. Baby B is female. I burst into tears. The sex of the babies was absolutely irrelevant in assessing their health and the documentation of that fact made me angry. Even if the documentation was "standard practice," I felt betrayed that my midwife had been so careless in passing the records on to me instead of mailing them to my new practitioner directly. Plus, there was the disappointment of knowing that there was not a boy growing inside me. It was a disappointment that lingered with me throughout the remainder of the pregnancy (even though I didn't fully believe it until I birthed both babies). Of course, the disappointment led to guilt because I didn't think I actually wanted two girls and then I felt even worse.
The thing is if I had not known the sex of the babies, I would not have had more than one moment of disappointment. One feels differently when the baby is physically in the world but I had three months of anger and disappointment at my surprise being stolen. To cope with those feelings, I went into a place of deep denial. The ultrasound couldn't be correct. Even after the second test and the stupid technician kept slipping and referring to the babies as "she," I still couldn't go there. That's why we did not, in fact, have a second girl's name picked out. No girl's name other than Eliya (which, ironically, is derived from Eliyahou, the Hebrew version of Elijah) appealed to me. In retrospect, it is pretty clear to me that by finding two girl's names, I would have implicitly accepted my knowledge of their sex. Clearly, that was something I wasn't able to do at the time.
Lying in bed, I felt angry all over again. It was a strange emotion since I adore both of my Turtles and could not imagine having a boy in the mix. Jude and Ellie are infinitely perfect in their girl bodies and having a house with three sisters feels right in so many ways. I came to realize that the anger is because my wishes weren't respected. The casual nature of the whole debacle led me to feel dismissed and overly sensitive. That's what still makes me bristle.. not my beautiful girls.
This leads me to wonder if anything like this has ever happened to you. Did you find out the sex of your babies in advance? Why? If you didn't, why not?