Your birth mother chose not to know your biological sex before you were born. Your Papa and I saw no need to know either - you would be who you would be, and all our planning up to that point had been for any outcome. But your mother thought you were a boy. Something in the way you were carried in the womb, something about the way you behaved.
Your Papa and I thought the same thing, independently of one another. We only confessed these feelings on the long, windy drive up to Fargo for your birth. We hadn't kept these feelings to ourselves because of disappointment, or excitement. Again, it just seemed a thing that didn't matter. It was a mere footnote to the experience.
All the hospital staff thought you would be a boy as well. When referring to you, still inside your mother, it was always 'he' and 'him' and 'that boy'. Some of it they attributed to your stubbornness; your mother ended up being in labor for over 24 hours. Some of it I imagine was the unfair way our society appends a male identity to the gender unknown. The anonymous male pronoun that seeps into our discourse despite our more enlightened wishes. And some of it may have been that strange feeling that had goaded your mother, your father and I to think that we would be having a little boy.
As the delivery loomed, I tried out the phrases 'my son' and 'my daughter' on my tongue. No longer this future child, but a very quickly approaching reality. Neither one sounded better than the other - in fact, they both thrilled and terrified me with their realness. Someday perhaps you will chastise me for being so caught up in the gender binary, and tell me that 'my child' should have remained more real, more honest and more important than an engendered title. Forgive your poor, simple father, for I had and still have no intention of limiting you based on your biological sex, but there was still a rush to soon know if you would be 'he' or 'she'.
You were born at 1:23 am. Your Papa and I were not in the room, but asleep in our own hospital bed down the hall. A knock awoke us, and there was your birth grandmother, who had driven for hours from Montana just to be with you and your mother for this event. We had just met that day - hours beforehand, honestly - and she had just left the delivery room to come to tell us. "It's a girl," she said.
And I wept, and I smiled. The breath was gone from me, and I embraced your Papa so hard. A daughter had come to us. She was here.
Out Here in the Rain
- To my daughter on the twelfth day