Pink or Blue, Part Two

gender-revealAlmost three years ago, I wrote a blog post about the silly futility of trying to predict the gender of a not-yet-born baby without the benefits of modern technology. We were getting close to time to find out whether we were having a blue or a pink, and I made a vague sort of guess that he (because it was a he, we’d find out later) was a boy because I couldn’t come up with any boy names that I loved. By that logic, we’re definitely cooking up a girl this time — I’m ready to name a boy but can’t settle on any girl names! Still, that’s hardly any way to figure it out, so tomorrow — hopefully — we’ll find out the new-fangled way.

In the meantime, though, I thought I’d go back to that 2012 blog post and try out some of the same gender predictors to see what they had to say this time around. Last time, I took 8 online gender prediction quizzes. Four said I was going to have a boy, and four said I was going to have a girl. How do we do this time around?

So as you can see… totally conclusive! Fifty/fifty, just like last time!

Obviously, I need a tiebreaker. Fortunately, the Me of three years ago planned for this occasion and wrote her very own gender prediction quiz based on highly unscientific nonsense (sample question: How many freckles are on your right hand?). I just took it and got the following result:

Your result: Girl!

You are going to have a child of the anatomically feminine persuasion.
Start stocking up on baseball bats, shotguns, and other devices to repel unwanted suitors.

There you have it, friends. Gotham is scientifically proven to be a girl. Or something.

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I guess we’ll see what the fancy schmancy machine has to say about that in the near future.

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The Matriarchal Woman Grimaces

I guess you would call me a feminist. I mean, I’m sure there are people who easily out-feminist me, at least in their own minds. I don’t buy into the man-disparaging model of feminism, or the battle cry to all women to shuck off the trappings of wifedom and motherhood and take over the world. I prefer to believe that a woman should have the right to be whatever it is that she wants to be, whether that’s a CEO or a stay-at-home mom, a sergeant or an unshaven Santa Fe artist, a perpetual singleton or a wife and mother of a dozen kids.

My particular flavor of feminism is matriarchal in nature. I come from a female-dominated family, my father outnumbered 3:1. The only grandparent I knew, growing up, was my mom’s mom. I’ve always felt a deeper connection to my mom’s family line, not only because I knew the relatives on that side of the family better but because genetically I seem to “be from that end of the gene pool” (as opposed to my sister, who looks and seems more related to our paternal relatives). Then some of the stories (books, movies, etc.) that have contributed to my personal mythology underlined the natural matrilineal sense of family and self that I’d developed.

Thinking back to my educational years — as far back as first grade, and through college — I’ve always had more male friends than female, and gotten along better with guys. I grew up thinking I was quite boy-like, and perhaps I was; I liked playing with blocks more than dolls, preferred playing Cowboys and Indians or Army Guys to tea parties, and always wanted the next biggest electronics set (like a chemistry set, only with transistors) for Christmas.


I know now that I’m not a “masculine” woman, that there is more to one’s gender identity than what sort of toys one likes to play with. (Silly example: I totally shop like a woman, while my sister is the manliest shopper — go to specific store in pursuit of specific item and get out as quickly as possible — I know.) I’m just me, with my own quirks and things that stimulate my imagination.

And I’m married to a guy who, like me, doesn’t camp out on the far end of the gender stereotype spectrum. He likes sports and action movies and muscle cars. He also knows what an empire-waist dress is, watches cooking and fashion reality shows (even when I’m not watching), and prefers pink cocktails. The game “Battle of the Sexes” is not intended for us — we both know way too much about the opposite category. We are well matched.

The point of all this? Why is the matriarchal woman grimacing? Why is she telling Facebook that she’s having a feminist outrage moment and then getting even more irritated when a male friend jokingly says that it’s just because of my pregnancy hormones and that he’ll offer my husband safe harbor until I stop being crazy?

(Well, maybe anyone would be irritated about that.)

It’s this whole “we’re having a boy” thing. And NOT, let me be clear, that Batman Kermie Lazerbeak is going to be a boy. Nope; I’m talking about the reactions we’re getting from people.

Don’t get me wrong. Everyone is being perfectly nice. Standard niceties and genuine sentiments of happiness for us and our bundle of joy. And I am not offended by or at anyone.

But I’m getting a little bristly about the unending refrain of two related comments:

“Ryan must be so proud/happy to be having a son!”

I find myself bothered by the idea that Ryan would be especially pleased to be expecting a son, that he would prefer a son to a daughter. I know for a fact that Ryan would have been delighted regardless of what that ultrasound revealed between Kermie’s legs. Is that a peculiarity of my wonderful husband whose sense of self-worth isn’t tied up in his machismo? Maybe. Maybe the vast majority of men do prefer sons to daughters. I don’t really believe it, though, at least not looking at the men in my peer group. And it bothers my little feminist heart (and, I daresay, his little feminist heart) that so many people automatically jump to that conclusion.

“It’s so wonderful that the Baker family will carry on!”

And it’s my matriarchal heart that revolts against this one. Uhm, I’m sorry, but the Hoffman family (or the Brokaws, the Stringers, the Grahams — any of those families whose names I don’t have but whose blood I always will) didn’t die out just because I don’t have a penis. Something about saying that the Baker family will carry on makes it sound like it’s some sort of competition that Ryan won and I lost — and I categorically reject that. Kermie is going to be a Hoffman/Brokaw/Stringer/Graham/etc. every bit as much as he is going to be a Baker (Thompson/Peck/Quade/etc.). Not only that, but I reject the idea that name = family. Juliet Capulet knew that a name was just a name, and a rose by any other name smells as sweet.

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And of course, I know perfectly well that no one said either of those things with the intent of making the statements that I’ve taken from them. It just seems to me that it shines a spotlight on a varnish of unconscious chauvinism in the whole baby/pregnancy culture that I hadn’t previously realized existed. I’ve been teaching literary criticism to my upperclassmen, and I’ve told them that when you engage in lit crit you’re becoming an author of an entirely new reading of the text that may not be what the original author intended at all.

And I know I’m engaging (indulging) in a feminist literary criticism interpretation that may border on a hysteria. I reserve that right.

After all, crazy pregnancy hormones and whatnot. 😉

Uncollected Thoughts

How am I feeling today?

Grateful

My current class has some discipline and staying-on-task issues. At the beginning of the period I had to gently reprimand/redirect them for acting like hooligans. Just a little while ago I got them started on some work time for an assignment, and then — as I often must do with this class — added the instructions to Stay On Task, Don’t Wander the Room Chatting, and No Dealing Drugs In My Classroom. (Okay, I didn’t say that last bit, but I thought it.) And then, I followed up these instructions by saying, “I have a headache and I’m not in the mood to yell at you, so just don’t do it, okay? If you do, I’m going to throw things at you. Probably used kleenex.”

Lo and behold: twenty minutes of near-silent work time. Wow. Apparently the secret to classroom management is the threat of snot!

Headachey

For the third day in a row, I have a headache. I theorize that this is coming from some sort of released/aggravated tension in my back; about a week ago, we had a free massage clinic and the therapist did an amazing job on my screwed-up left shoulder, but ever since then it has been tender and I’ve been having headaches that seem to creep up my neck and into my forehead. I hope it is just something muscular and not anything worrisome; I know there are some pregnancy issues that have recurring headaches as a symptom, but in honesty these headaches are nuthin’ compared to the skull-splitters I’m used to. It’s just that I’m being stubborn about not taking pain medication, so I’m feeling it more.

Serpentine

I just walked past one of the biology classrooms, where the teacher keeps a pretty red corn snake in an aquarium by the door. He (how do they know if a snake is a boy or a girl, I wonder?) has a toilet paper roll in there, and is currently double-threaded through the roll so that all you see are two snake-loops on either side. It’s pretty funny. I wonder if he thinks no one can see him because he can’t see us? Also: where’s my hiding tube?

Mopey

It has been rainy the past couple of days (although as I type this, bright yellow sunshine is pouring through my windows, so perhaps it has stopped!) and my mood has been reflecting the weather. I’m not sure why I’ve been mopey. Part of it may be the time of the school year; the end of the first semester and beginning of the second are rough. Maybe I’m getting a cold, or maybe it’s the headaches. I think part of it is maybe a sort of loneliness; I want to “play baby” but everyone — myself included — is really too busy right now. It bums me out when R — who is frantically trying to survive his first year of full-time teaching while graduating from grad school — doesn’t have the time to talk about the stuff that I end up posting here, or when I get no comments, or when I don’t see any adults for a few days at work. Maybe there’s some sort of physic energy hanging over early December, left over from last year. As happy as I am now, as glad as I am that things have worked out for the best, it can’t be forgotten that my world came crashing down on this day twelve months ago.

Regressive

This time of year, I like to read junk. By “junk,” I mean genre fiction, preferably in a nice long series, and usually in the urban fantasy or paranormal romance categories. This year I’ve really gone over the edge; I’m actually re-reading a series. Worse, I’m re-reading a series that I know I won’t like the ending of (well, it’s not over yet, but I don’t see it changing tracks anytime soon). I basically never re-read books, so I guess I’m in a profound state of mental laziness! It is a cozy sort of feeling, though, to read something familiar and know how things turn out. And this series is one that I tend to tear through, plugging very little into long-term memory, so it’s almost like reading it for the first time.

Proud

I am married to someone who has his master’s degree. Pretty spiffy, huh.

Aggravated

“So I have this student,” begins every teacher’s dramatic story of teenage escapades. This one is a doooooozy but would definitely take its own blog entry; plus, I’m not entirely sure that I’d feel comfortable posting it publicly, even with censored details. Let’s just leave it at this collection of images for now:

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Really!?!

shooting yourself in the foot

You have got to be kidding me

Picard gets two because I just love the idea of him getting up in this kid’s face. Maybe that would be some authority he would respect.

Ridiculous

Tomorrow, assuming all goes well, Baby Baker’s gender will be revealed to us. I don’t know why this scares (not the right word, but I don’t know what is) me; this is the most anxious I’ve been about this pregnancy, with the exception of those scared-to-death moments before the emergency ultrasound we had after the bleeding.

Part of it is that I don’t know how (when, etc.) to share the news, and I haven’t really had any input in that. And for some reason, I find making pregnancy-related announcements to be the single most awkward thing EVER. I had to absolutely steel myself to tell people we were expecting! I’ve never had stage fright; I’ve never had nerves before a recital or a speech or anything else like that. But something about saying, “We’re pregnant” or “It’s a _________” makes me feel like I imagine most people feel when that spotlight surrounds them. It’s… embarrassing. Maybe a lot of people feel that way, and that’s why so many people do their announcing on Facebook and via text message these days!

All I know is that, when I envision walking into [my parents’ house]/[my friends’ classrooms]/[etc.] and sharing the results… my throat closes up. I can’t even formulate a sentence. The whole idea makes me want to curl up inside a toilet paper tube and pretend that no one can see me.

I have become ridiculous.

Another part of it might be that I might be hoping for a particular result. If I could choose — if I could have called up Storks R Us and picked pink or blue — I know which I would have chosen. And no, I’m not saying, because I don’t want someone (or this blog!) telling Shenanigans one day that I wanted a baby of the opposite gender instead! The thing is, I want This Baby, regardless of plumbing, and I want This Baby’s little brothers and sisters. God willing, I’ll have one or more of each eventually, if I don’t have any more significant trouble conceiving. So boy or girl, I’m going to be happy. But part of me worries that I… won’t be…? Won’t be quite as happy with one answer as I would have been with the other? So part of my anxiety is the fear of feeling disappointed, and with that the sense of self-disgust that I would feel at being disappointed about such a wonderful thing! It’s like, “Damnit, I didn’t want a brand new red car, I wanted it to be blue.”

Like I said. Ridiculous.

Thirty-One

Today is the last day that I will be 31. This is actually kind of funny, because up until about two weeks ago, I had spent the entirety of this year quite certain that I was already 32. In fact, even as I type this, I begin to doubt my math all over again. Check for me… I was born in December 1980. It’s still 2012, right?

I feel as though I have pretty much “aged out” of birthdays. Is that something that happens when you turn 30? I just sort of don’t care about it anymore. I mean, I’m going to wear a cute outfit (sparkly, I think), and I deliberately scheduled the ultrasound on that day, and it’s not like I want to pretend it isn’t happening or anything. And I’m no longer particularly unhappy about aging, especially now that it turns out I’m a year younger than I thought I was; my only real concern with aging is that I thought I would have had started having kids by now, so I’m behind my personal schedule. Which means, I can’t wait as long between kids as I once thought I would.

Tired

I think it’s time to wrap this up and get ready to go home…

Pink or Blue (and What to Do)

boy or girlAssuming the little one isn’t too modest or squirmy, we may know whether to expect a boy or a girl as soon as next Thursday evening. I am simultaneously eager and nervous to find out; I suppose that makes it a perfect opportunity to correctly use the word “anxious.”

Ryan has his suspicions, but I haven’t ever felt any strong sense of gender. Some days I think in terms of masculine pronouns, and some days they’re feminine. Lately I’ve been visualizing a male baby only because I’ve been trying so hard to come up with boy names that I love — which is funny, because I feel as though I may have fallen out of love with my girl names, so I’m basically just a big mental mess in that regard. I’m not worried. It’ll all figure itself out. I have a hard time knowing what it would be like to raise a boy; I was never really around little boys growing up. As a result, when I think about the next few years, I tend to think in terms of a little girl, simply because my imagination knows how to fill in those blanks. I know I will be happy either way, especially if I eventually have at least one of each.

I know that there are ways that we could find out the gender earlier. There are blood tests your doctor can give you, urine tests you can buy, and independent ultrasound clinics you can patronize. But we haven’t really felt the urge to hurry it all that much. Now, if Shenanigan keeps his/her little legs crossed and refuses to let us know, we might consider an alternative option — we’d really like to know ahead of time! But for now, anyway, the appointed time is fine.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that I haven’t asked Dr. Google. And, as might be predicted, it was very helpful. According to Baby2See’s baby gender predictor, it’s a boy. According to BabyMed’s Gender Prediction Quiz, it is a girl. The AskManisha predictor says the baby will be a boy. According to THIS Chinese Gender Chart, it will be a girl… but according to this Chinese Baby Gender Prediction, it will be a boyBabyZone’s Gender Predictor thinks it’s a girl, too, but I express skepticism that the only contributing factors are my birthdate and the month of conception. The Mayan gender prediction method says it’s a boy, because the year of conception and my age are not both odd or even. If they were both odd, or both even, it would be a girl. The one at Childbirth.org concludes that it is a girl, but then confuses the matter with the following explanation:

You are carrying the extra weight out front, so it’s a boy.
The hair on your legs is not growing any faster during your preganacy, so it’s a girl.
Boys are carried low. You are going to have a boy.
Sleeping in a bed with your pillow to the south indicates that you will be having a girl.
Your feet are not colder than they were before pregnancy. You are having a girl.
You refuse to eat the heel of a loaf of bread. You are having a girl.
Dad-to-be is gaining weight right along with Mom-to-be, which means that you’ll have a boy.
The maternal grandmother doesn’t have gray hair (dyed or natural), so a girl will be born.
You had morning sickness early in pregnancy, so you are expecting a girl.
You are looking particularly good during pregnancy. Therefore, it must be a boy, because girls steal their mother’s looks.
Your chest development has not been very dramatic during pregnancy. You should expect a boy.
Since the sum of the mother’s age at conception and the number of the month of conception is an odd number, it will be a girl.
You have a craving for salty or sour foods, which means that it is a boy.
Your nose hasn’t changed during pregnancy, which indicates a girl.
You have been craving meats or cheeses, so it is a boy.
Your baby’s heart rate is 140 or more beats per minute, so it’s a girl.

Having taken these tests and seen what their results were based on, I felt pretty confident in my own ability to create a gender prediction computer model. So I invite you — even if you’re not currently pregnant, BECAUSE IT IS THAT GOOD — to take my own Highly Accurate Scientific Gender Prediction Tool.

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So? What do you think?

Silliness aside, I am feeling a little bit uncertain as to what to do after we find out. I think Ryan is in shout-it-from-the-rooftops mode. I know my students are anxious to know (they’ve been bugging me about gender ever since they found out we were expecting). And I certainly plan to make the gender known to the world before the baby arrives, although I am leaning toward keeping final name choices to ourselves.

gender-reveal cake: a cute ideaBut… do I want to do it right away? Do I want to go straight to Facebook and announce pink or blue? Do I want to have, as one of my very charming students suggested, a Pinterest-worthy gender reveal party? Stage a cute (or disgustingly cutesy) photo reveal? Bake blue or pink cupcakes and share them during our department prep period?

Do I immediately want to share the news?

I don’t know.

(In all actuality, the ultrasound is on my birthday and I don’t really plan to go straight home and plan elaborate gender reveal mechanisms, so it’s either going to be a simple “It’s a _____!” or it’s going to have to wait for a couple of days. Oh, and I’m not really at all sure that “Pinterest-worthy” is in my repertoire.)

Part of me wants to relish the secret for a little while, give us time to absorb this new bit of information and whatnot. Part of me knows I’m going to be ridiculously excited and eager to share.

Part of me wants to take me by the shoulders and say, “You are being ridiculous. Why are you thinking about all of this so much?” But it’s not like I’m stressed out about it. I am, despite all of the hemming and hawing I post here, enjoying myself immensely….

And I will almost certainly be blurting out the ultrasound results very shortly afterward. It’s just that, a week out… I’m not sure.