Other than the baby, we have three kids. They are all very different. BCat is sarcastic, but BigD doesn’t really get jokes. BCat is shy, but D2 loves talking to grownups, even if he doesn’t know them. This is how the mail man, the Wegmans cashier, and maybe three waitresses knew MDL was pregnant before any of our friends and family. BigD loves to play in the mud, but D2 would change his clothes four times a day if he decided they were too dirty.
They are even different in their similarities. They all love to build, but each has a different preferred medium. BCat is always making some sort of airplane out of Legos. BigD likes to build sound systems out of cardboard, and if they were real he would have all the parts to function, too. D2 likes hammering nails into things, whether or not it’s actually making something.
They all like music, but have talents in different areas. BCat played the cello for a while, and was very good for that length of time. Unfortunately, anxiety got in the way and we had to stop lessons, but I’m hoping for an eventual return. BigD loves percussion, although he can’t carry a tune in a bucket. He has had very little formal training, but he can read rhythms very well. D2 loves his guitar, even if he doesn’t like to practice his lesson material.
They have some pretty big similarities, too. They all love to run around and be outside, and they are all complete wimps if it’s too cold. They all love to eat, although it’s mostly tacos, pizza, and Chinese food. All three of them are very, very stubborn.
I don’t know what the new baby is going to be like. Circumstances will start this kid out with a lot of differences from the older three: different dad, different extended family, different hometown, different educational beginning.
The baby also gets a different assigned sex at birth. According to our ultrasound last week, the baby is a girl.
I don’t want any of these things to mean she is treated differently than the other kids.
Yes, technically BCat, BigD, and D2 are my step kids, but our lives don’t function that way. They were very little when I came into their lives, and since their bio dad ditched for two y
ears (only to mysteriously return recently, but that’s another post), I’ve effectively been their father for quite some time. No, I don’t have any legal rights to them, but that’s only because children can only currently have two legal parents, and their bio dad isn’t going to give them up.
We are one family. Two grownups, four kids, two cats, and hopefully a dog or two when we get our own house. Origins have nothing to do with it.
And neither does gender.
We spent a very long time being “the family with three boys,” which is a concept that makes people in general pretty horrified. “Ohhh that must be so hard for you! Don’t you wish you had a girl? How do you deal with all the trucks, guns, and rocket ships???!!!” Now I’m expecting a good bit of “Aren’t you so glad to get relief from all the tractors, wrestling, and motorcycles?! Now you can go out and buy dolls, ponies, and pink Legos!!!!!!”
As a feminist, and as a trans person, I don’t want to deal with all this bullshit. We already have pink Legos. All the kids fight over who gets to use them. BigD is already in love with dance music. D2 is already as vain and fashion conscious as a high school girl. While I’m not going to declare any of the kids gay right now, I would not expect the baby to have the first boyfriend in the family. Things are not going to be that different.
While I am not trying to go all Baby X on the poor thing, I don’t see any need to have the baby constrained by all these gendered expectations. Seeing the baby’s ovaries on the ultrasound does not give any insight into her likes and dislikes, temperament, or personality.
I understand that I am more sensitive to gendered interactions than most people, and not everybody sees the way they treat others as gendered. But it is real, and the social pressure is real. No matter what I do, someone, somewhere, is going to try to get my daughter to act like a lady, whether or not what she is doing is socially appropriate for her age. Someone else will want to know why I would let her wear that, no matter what it is. Someone else will try to get her to settle down with a nice man, without taking into consideration her sexual orientation or her views on settling down at that point in her life.
These are not big examples. These are everyday judgments that I am certain will happen all the time, no matter what kind of person she turns out to be. While I have no idea who that person is, I know she doesn’t need that.
But there are some things I can tell you about her already. All her organs are inside her body. This isn’t something anybody ever asks when they hear you got an ultrasound, but it’s pretty important. We got to see her brain, her intestines, and all four chambers of her heart, and it was really cool. Unfortunately, they didn’t print us a picture of that, apparently most parents don’t want it. She showed us all her fingers and toes, too, ten of each.
She is very active, and we can already tell she’s going to be a real wiggler. She swam her way around the entire uterus in the 15 minutes we were at the appointment, and as soon as MDL could feel the baby move, we realized she never stops.
She loves Chinese food, like her older siblings, and she loves fish, unlike them. She will start dancing if she even hears you talk about sushi.
She loves music. She dances to most kinds of music, and will sometimes only quiet down with a lullaby.
I’m sure she’ll be just as stubborn as the rest of us, too.