The most common question, the obvious question- for me the most dreaded question. Our next ultrasound is less than a week away, I have 6 days left of blissful gender-neutrality. I don't want to imply that Matt and I don't want to know the sex of our baby. We are aware that we can wait until June to see junior's privates debut with the rest of her. The issue for me is that I am excited to know at all who is living inside of me, that for some reason, I am having trouble conceiving of just plain "baby" without a sex assignment. I am mad at myself for my greedy mindset. I wonder if maybe I could feel more kicks I would be satisfied. I wonder if we agreed more readily on names then just plain "Baby Ruiner" would be enough for me. But deep down I know, to my chagrin, that I really want to know if this baby is a boy or a girl.
Sex and gender are loaded concepts for me (and I believe that they should be for everyone until the world is a beige place where all people are considered humans first and foremost and gender slots are a thing of the past). As a feminist I have traveled the long road from that first inkling that somehow, this game of life just isn't fair. I reacted at first by wanting GI Joes, tagging along with my younger brother on outside adventures. I attended both an all girls high school and an all women's college and matured into a more complex understanding of gender. The more I see the more I change and the more I fear for my child.
That I hope to raise Ruiner in a household (if not a world) free of Trucks for Boys and Dolls for Girls, absent the whole "Little Man" thing (it turns my stomach, please refrain unless you call baby girls "Little Women" with equal frequency) and away from toy stores that sell pink Lincoln Logs (REALLY?) goes without saying. I know that my husband and I care enough about our babe and our planet to allow as much freedom as we can into our home. But HOW do I keep other people in check? There really are people out there who are terribly concerned with notions of gender in much the opposite way as am I. A mother of one infant at the daycare center where I worked was always worried people would think her daughter was a boy. She was 6 months old! I mean, beyond knowing where to wipe off the baby poop, how could it possibly matter to anyone if this baby was a girl or a boy? It just seems to.
Even worse, they want it to matter to me. I am always surprised, if not a little offended when people ask "are you hoping for one or the other?" Uh, no. No way? How could I? "oh dear little baby growing peacefully atop my ever-shrinking bladder, please be a boy so you will be strong and bold, rough and want to be in the army and be good at math and start fights that you always win and eventually get a job on Wall Street and make a lot of money to support a family". Or "little Runinette, I hope with all my heart that you have a vagina so that you can learn to be docile and pink from day one. That you will dutifully wait in your father's home with your father's name until a handsome man consents to marry you, steal your identity and make you a mother. Please learn to quilt and never swear, you precious flower." So when I find out next week that this isn't the baby I ordered I express disappointment? "I know, I know, you just want it healthy" is what people laugh and say. Well, yeah, seriously, we do. Every day forever. So if Ruiner comes out with boy parts and Ruinette tendencies, so be it. If the little homie comes out with ambiguous genitalia will we love it any less, will we decide right away that we want a girl? a boy? For every person who has struggled with issues involving gender, I can't imagine how de-humanizing it must feel to at some point realize how much of your identity is made up by your gender assignment. I think about it daily, hourly even. "He wouldn't have said that to me if I were a man". I wonder how trans individuals deal with not only the judgement, fear, hatred and confusion hurled at them but also consider how it is being seen by others as another gender. I ask Matt all the time what pending parenthood feels like without a baby in you. I question question question and I feel like I'm fighting a global battle to re-arrange people's personal notions in my tiny corner of the world as often as I can (not that I'm a crusader, more that I will call you out on your ignorance and talk your ear off until see that glimmer of understanding: A Person's a Person No Matter How anything).
So here I am, an embarrassed mother to-be, super curious to know if I'm carrying a boy or a girl. Because somehow I do care. Maybe I just want to name it. Maybe I want to stop saying "it". Perhaps I should spend this next week referring to the fetus as "Zee". I don't know. The world has to change one person at a time. Well I'll tell you, as someone incubating the next generation, that is so much easier said than done.