I have made no secret that in my first two pregnancies, I very much wanted daughters. It wasn’t that I didn’t want a boy, I just really, really wanted a girl. And when I had Madeline, and then Annabel, I was happy…and not surprised. I’d quietly felt very certain that they were both girls, and I had a feeling that I’d only know what it was like to parent the fairer sex.
Enter this pregnancy. This time, I have no certainty at all…if anything, maybe a vague leaning towards boy for absolutely no discernible reason. But most importantly, I’m really excited about the possibility of either sex. If it’s a girl, great! I am totally set. I can reuse all the clothes we already have! I am familiar with a girl’s anatomy! I’ll get to braid another head of hair!
If it’s a boy, awesome! And a little terrifying because I know nothing about boys! But it would be amazing to have a son and do…son-type things with him! I can buy new baby clothes without guilt! I will be able to inflict my absurd love of bowl-haircuts on him! Exclamation points!
A boy would also create the type of sibling relationship for Annie that Mike and I both enjoyed. We both grew up with a sibling of the opposite sex. Their age difference might prevent them from being in the same classes or playing on the same sports teams like Kyle and I did, but it won’t prevent them from creating pretend lands, or staying up late into the night whispering. I get excited thinking about Annie growing up with a brother.
But sometimes, if I’m honest…sometimes I get sad when I think about her growing up without a sister experience. You certainly don’t need one to grow up happily – I didn’t have a sister and my childhood was great. But she does have a sister, and in fleeting moments I wonder if having a younger sister would somehow take a bit of the sting out of not growing up with her older one. That somehow she’d be able to imagine what it would be like to have Madeline around because she’d have this other sister relationship.
There are two things I know for certain: she is going to love her younger sibling, boy or girl; and she’s always going to wonder what life would have been like with an older sister. Maybe she won’t mourn the missing relationship the way I, an adult, think I would in that position. Maybe for her it will be more of an abstract general curiosity. I guess in the end, I just want to wrap her in a cocoon and prevent her from ever being sad or hurt, even though I know that’s impossible. There will be so many things in her life that will be out of my control.
Like if she has a brother, or another sister.
When I was pregnant with my daughter I also made it clear I really wanted a girl. I grew up with a little sister so when we started trying for #2, I really wanted another girl. Then I had a miscarriage and I just wanted to be pregnant again.
Baby #2 is here now and even thought it took me some getting used to, I wouldn’t trade my little man for anything. My daughter loves her little brother (even though she’s been peed on a few times) and it’s so sweet to watch them together.
I think Annie is going to be an amazing big sister. And I can’t wait until you announce baby boy or girl
I just remembered a dream as I was reading this! (apparently, I dream about reading your blog! LOL)
You had announced that you were having a boy and you’d gotten a bunch of comments from people who were disappointed and wanted you to have a girl. It upset you to the point where you revised your post and left a note on the bottom that said something like — “It was just an announcement. I wasn’t seeking readers’ opinions.”
That’s all I remember.
As for a boy vs. girl bit….
I’ll admit I totally cannot see you with a baby boy. I see you as a family with all girls. But perhaps that’s only because I’ve only ever known you to have girls!
Personally, I grew up in Annie’s position, missing an older sister, and I ended up with a younger brother. No more sisters. I’ve always longed for a sister relationship, especially as an adult. It’s a point of great bitterness for me, as I feel like I *should* have a sister and all that goes along with that. But I don’t.
So personally, I would totally want a sister for Annie, so she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on something she *should* have had.
But that’s just projection. Annie’s feelings will be all her own; there’s no telling how she’ll feel years down the road.
But I do totally think it’s wonderful that you’re giving it a final go, as I imagine that it could be quite difficult to be an only child once your parents are gone….only to realize that you should have had a sibling to walk with you through life. (Again, that’s just projection based on my own experiences….unfortunately, I can’t step outside myself!)
But on the flip side, if this is your final child, so I can totally understand how you might really want a boy, since you have two daughters!
Whatever the gender, I just hope s/he is happy and healthy!
How much longer until you find out?? (You *are* going to find out, yes? Oh, the suspense would kill us! LOL)
Question: Is the Acrobat your in-utero name for baby??
Like Binkie for Annie?
Did Maddie have an in-utero nickname?
Yes, that’s what we’ve taken to calling the baby due to his/her propensity to do flips during ultrasounds! We called Maddie “Spud.”
Oh, that’s cute! Spud.
Acrobat is cute too! If the name fits!
My brother’s little girl is nicknamed “Batty” (acrobat –> bat –> batty) as she too was quite acrobatic in utero and then, when she emerged, it was instantaneously clear that she got my brother’s very prominent stick-out ears! Bat ears, if you will. LOL (They’ve since been pinned to spare her the awfulness of getting teased — Bummer, as I thought they were so cute! And don’t get me started on cosmetic surgeries for kids! )
The “Batty” nickname has stuck though. I think it’s absolutely adorable!
Do you drop their in utero nicknames when they’re born? I’m a creature of habit, I’m not sure I could! Especially something so adorable as Spud or Binky!
I know what you mean about wanting to protect our kids from being sad or hurt-i so much wish that we could do that too. Xo
I grew up as an only child, but when I was a teenager I discovered (by sneaking a peek at my birth certificate for the first time) that I was a twin. I had a twin sister who was stillborn.
Annie will be okay. She will definitely mourn, miss her sister, and may feel like she has to live her life for two. But she will be okay.
I think part of how Annie grows up visualizing her “missing sister”, as your title put it (and I do love that phraseology), is how you and Mike frame the experience for her. I grew up in an extremely close extended family that, when I was born, was already missing members–my grandfather, a few great-aunts and -uncles, that sort of thing–but despite the closeness of everyone in that family, I never grew up viewing it as a loss. I mean, I do sometimes still wonder what it’d be like to know my grandfather, but it certainly isn’t a sore spot.
Of course, this is nothing compared to having a sibling you’ve never met, and that’s an experience I don’t pretend to understand. But I think the fact that you celebrate Maddie in so many ways is so vital to the way Annie will understand her sister in later years. I actually first stumbled on your blog around the time you announced you were pregnant with Annie, and one of the marked differences between that Heather and this one is the way you frame Maddie’s life and death, and the way you celebrate the days you had with her in so many small ways. I think Annie will grow up understanding her sister that way: as a person who was loved and lost, but remembered incredibly warmly through her March, through cream puffs, and through all the other small ways you honor Maddie’s life.
In short, I think Annie will be fine with whatever sibling she gets, because either way, she will also love and honor Maddie the way the rest of you do.
Indeed, missing a sibling is a bit different from a missing aunt or grandparent.
I grew up with a missing older sister, along with missing grandparents and an uncle and the experience was very different. I think the main difference involves the more prominent role a sibling plays in your life — they have a very significant daily impact throughout your life, whereas that’s generally not the case for most grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.
The impact is much greater, especially because there’s the expectation that your sibling will be with you for your entire life more or less (whereas with your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc, the general expectation is that you will eventually lose them in adulthood at some point.)
So unfortunately, based on my experiences and the experiences of a few friends who have a similar situation, it’s virtually impossible to frame the loss in a way that makes you feel like you’re not missing out. I’m sure Mike and Heather are constantly telling Annie how wonderful Maddie was…so you can’t help but feel that you missed out on her wonderfulness! If your parents fail to discuss a missing sibling, you might not feel such a pronounced absence…but you’d miss out on “knowing” the missing child through those who knew her.
I guess my point is that it’s a suckey situation, no matter how you frame it.
No, and I understand that my missing relative does not amount to a sibling, and I acknowledge that. I guess my point was just that, as with any missing family member–sibling or otherwise–the way a child understands it is colored greatly by the way the parents display it. I was actually complimenting Heather greatly on the fact that she and Mike’s attitude towards Maddie is so celebratory and positive; a family friend lost a young child about six or seven years ago, and frame it in a very different, notably less positive light. I understand that nothing can replace that, and that it is a serious absence.
But I think how the parents handle and explain that absence is the lynchpin (so to speak) in the way the child grows up understanding it. If it is handled throughout a child’s life as a profound loss from which that family will never recover and is treated only as grief, I think a kid (like those children of the family friend I spoke of ) will feel so much more of the pronounced absence you spoke of, like a dark cloud over the family. But I think if the life of the missing child is celebrated more, and discussed in a light that is more . . . balanced, let’s say (because I am not arguing one should excise the grief from the experience, not at all), there is a better chance for the living child(ren) to do the same.
Heather and Mike do a phenomenal job of balancing their grief with the bright things about Maddie’s life, and I think that will make all the difference for Annie. It’s a “sucky” situation, but I think it will be less sucky because of the hard work her parents put into making it less sucky.
Ah, I see what you’re saying….like a situation where the deceased child becomes an unspeakable topic, where you’re afraid to discuss it or discuss the child only in terms of the loss.
It’s so sad to think that it still pans out like this for many families, like your friend’s (especially in a culture where “talking therapy” is so commonplace and accepted and recommended. That wasn’t the case 30, 40, 50+ years ago.)
But then again, I know how profoundly it affects the parents and unfortunately, some may take years, even decades to get to the point where they can discuss the actual person — not just the loss.
And in those situation, there’s the extra suckeyness of having a perpetually hurting parent –and you can’t ever do anything to fix that hurt or even ease it a little bit (as can occur when you talk about it — I know many find a small amount comfort in talking. But if you’re the type of person who doesn’t, then you don’t even have that little tiny emotional band-aid.) I know for myself and a couple friends in the same situation, our parents’ grief has had a profound impact on our lives. Not all bad, but an impact nevertheless. And there’s no faulting anyone here….we’re all human and we all grieve in our own ways. You can’t help it if your grief has an impact on others. You do what you need to do to get through each day.
But indeed, it’s a no win situation, but you’re right — some situations are definitely worse than others.
My older sister and I grew up without knowing our older brother and I have to say, it does hurt but I can tell you, I longing and hurt for him doesn’t even pale to our mom’s profound hurt. We wonder all the time what he would be like, who he would look like. etc. It’s weird for me to think of him b/c had he lived, I wouldn’t be here b/c my parent ever only wanted 2 kids. Sometimes, I feel guilty that I’m here and he’s not. I do have to let you though….when I first became ill, my best friend took my to a psychic. I was floored when she told me not only was my brother my soulmate and guardian angel but that he and I spent a lot of time in Heaven together before I came down. She also told me my brother was now surrounded and LOVES my 5 babies that were called to Heaven way too soon. That brought me solace and I hope my post brings you some too.
I’ll echo most of what the posters above already said — I doubt Annie will “mourn” the fact that she didn’t grow up with Maddie. She’ll be curious, maybe a little sad sometimes, but mostly it’ll be in sadness for you and Mike as she grows into adulthood. I remember Mike saying something once about how he wanted Annie to “love” Maddie, and a few commenters said something about not expecting too much of Annie as far as what emotions she’ll feel. It’s certainly a missing piece of your family, and I’m not downplaying it at all. But, I’m not sure she will actively hurt over the fact that she didn’t grow up with Maddie/a sister (if new Babe is a boy).
BTW…I totally called this little one as a boy on the post you said you were pregnant!! I’m so, so very happy that this pregnancy and baby are progressing well.
I’m biased because my daughter is 4.5 years old and my son is 18 months and I can’t tell you how awesome it is. They already play together all the time and while she is dramatic and… ah hem… vocal about everything, he is so mellow and easy-going. She’s the teacher and he’s the willing student. They are so different and it’s really fun to have one of each. Having another girl would be great too, of course, but I don’t think either would have a profound effect on Annie’s thoughts and feelings about Maddie. It is so hard not being able to protect our kids from sadness, but feeling is what makes us human, even though it is hugely unfair sometimes. Annie is an amazing little girl who is lucky to have Maddie and her new sibling. Excited for you and this new little person, girl or boy!
Your post made me think of this article I read recently, thought you might get a chuckle or two out of it:
Kristen McD says:
I have an 8yo boy, a 4yo girl, and a 9mo boy. The 9mo was an ENORMOUS surprise – and as soon as I recovered from my shock (and truth, dismay) I prayed that he would be a boy. I love my daughter SO MUCH but our relationship is different than the one I have with my sons. I would do anything for her, give anything to her. I love her with my whole heart. She is made of magic, truly. But a baby boy. OMG. Having both, I knew what I would maybe-just-a-little-bit prefer… and oh. I was over the moon when we found out he was a he. Just. Baby boys.
I do feel a little sad for my girl, not having a sister. My little sister is my favourite person (tied for first, anyway) and I sometimes wish my daughter could experience the sister relationship. But for ME, two boys and a girl is just perfect.
Stephanie Morgenstern says:
I think you are having a girl! If you are looking at your ultrasounds (and I know you are!) then I think you would know if you were having a boy by now. It’s harder to be sure early when you have a girl, but for as many ultrasounds as I think you’ve probably had already, you would see that unmistakable extra body part by now. So I am sticking with girl. XOXO
I have a son/ daughter 3 yrs apart. Son being older. They both have a great relationship. They both wanted a brother/sister as they got older. They just made do with best friends.
I grew up with an older brother and a younger sister. We were/are very close.
I think you’re having a boy.
Acrobat = boy
but I’d love Annie to have a sister too
Best to you!
Heather – funny, I desperately wanted girls too, and I got two of them. I have a sister, as well as two brothers, and my relationship with my sister is certainly so meaningful to me – I feel like she’s my soul mate. This makes me understand why your friendship with Jackie was so very special to you, because she was probably like a sister to you and maybe the one you longed for. Since you’ve had two girls already, your chances of having another is likely. And if you believe at all in the Chinese Gender Charts – and you conceived between April and November at 32 years of age – you’re having a girl! It was right for me both times! I know boys are also fab, but another little girl would be amazing too! : )
I felt *exactly* like you stated “If it’s a boy, awesome! And a little terrifying because I know nothing about boys! But it would be amazing to have a son and do…son-type things ” when I was pregnant with my 2nd child…and I had a boy I LOVE having a son..even though I was terrified at first. My daughter and I have a great relationship, but my son and I have a relationship like I have never experienced before in my lifetime. It is really cool. However, no matter what the gender is, your baby will be incredible
When my first SIL was pregnant, I wanted a niece because I had no idea of what to do with a nephew. Well, it didn’t take me long to figure out that my nephew’s bright and curious personality is what makes him lovable, not his boy parts.
My second SIL was determined to have two girls. She got her wish the first time – and learned to love her son as well.
And hey, now you have hyperemesis gravidarum in common with the Duchess of Cambridge! Hope you feel better soon.
Something else to keep in mind, coming from someone who has many siblings, is that personality can trump gender in shaping the dynamic of sibling relationships. Annie might have a brother that’s just like her, or a sister that is totally different. Or she might have a little brother whose temperament really reminds you of Maddie, and you can tell her about that.
What you said, Molly.
Or better yet, here is in a nutshell the conversation I had with my mom about it recently (we talked about ifs, mind you, #2 is not on the horizon yet):
Mom: “Do you think [munchkin] would prefer a sister or brother?”
Me: “Dunno. I think she’ll be happy either way, when and if it happens”
Mom: “When you were growing up, I always wished I could have had one more girl. I felt sad about you not growing up with a sister”
Me: “Really? I liked being the only girl. Made me feel special.”
Mom: “Well, I was one of four sisters, and I loved it growing up”
Me: “But you also had plenty of times you didn’t like having sisters. You’ve even said so. Besides, I was a tomboy, so I don’t think I would have even known what to do with a sister.”
Mom: “But sometimes I wonder if that was because you grew up with an older brother you idolized”
Me: “Maybe. But maybe only having a brother suited me perfectly, you never know.”
call me crazy but I have a theory. The family gets whatever they need. It’s not meant to sound rude. my SIL really really wanted a child. My BIL was like “eh okay” I am convinced this is the reason why they had a boy the first time. So the dad could really bond with the son. If she had a girl the first time around I am not sure there would be a second child who just happens to be a girl.
I people may say oh no he would have fallen in love with the daughter right away but it just feels like this is the way it works.
I could be wrong. And again this isn’t meant to sound mean or anything I can’t put it into words. I am just a believer in the family gets what they need. And since I am still at all time low with my faith this is a big theory for me.
I am first of all glad to realize Annie and Acrobat will have one year of high school together! Ah, the bond of driving to school together…
Anyway! In Annie’s case, she has her cousin Michaela who is just a tad older than her and older boy cousins. Even if they aren’t neighbors, technology will make it seem like they are. Girl cousins are so so important. My cousin who is a little older than I has impacted me greatly.
I totally had a dream that you announced you were having a boy! Someone posted that they had the same dream which I found a little crazy coincidental so like maybe its an actual premonition. Except I had a dream I read it on twitter.
I had such a similar experience when I had my youngest. My daughter had also lost her sister so as much as I wanted her to have a sister I was also a little worried about whether I could handle having another girl after losing one. We ultimately had a boy and, of course, I wouldn’t change him for the world but still think often about what it would be like for her to have that sister that she does not have.
I wish so much that Annie could experience having an older sister and that you and Mike could experience the two of them growing up together. I’m so sorry it is not that way….
On another note, though I RARELY admit it, I was pretty desperate for a girl with both pregnancies, and I have two amazing little boys. I had NO idea his fun boys could be, and how much they simply ADORE their mommy! Having a boy is simply wonderful in every way. Truly! Not to say that girls are anything but awesome also, but boys are all I know. And I couldn’t love my little guys more. In fact, IF we have any more, I really, really would want more boys. I don’t think I would know the first thing to do with a girl! Ha ha. Also I am very girly, and with two boys already, I would probably have a tomboy if I did have a girl, and I would be mad about not getting to do the princess and tutu thing.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that you will be surprised with how things will just fall into place. If you have a third girl, what a blessing. And if you have a boy, you will be in awe. Either way, your loving Annie will adore “her” baby and be such a good little helper when he or she arrives! I think when it comes to gender, mommies have what they are meant to have. I never pictured myself as a mom to boys, and now I can’t imagine anything else, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Also, I am willing to bet the acrobat is a boy. It just looks like one in your ultrasounds! And I’ve seen lots of boy-part ultrasound pics, so I know what I’m talking about!!
So happy for you all, and sending lots of love your way. Hope you are feeling ok.
Whether it be a little sister or brother for Annie,,,or a sonor daughter for you and Mike,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,that little one is going to be part of a truly WONDERFUL family!!!!!!!!!!!!
As a person who lost a sibling before they were born, I can tell you my brother was more of an abstract curiosity to me. He was my only brother and I often wondered what it would be like to have a brother.
The only pictures my mom has of him were after he died (he was 2 days old and I guess they frowned on taking pictures of critically ill babies then, or my dad just was too preoccupied with his condition to think of it). When I first remember seeing the pictures as a child and my mom told me who he was, I cried. I still feel sad for my mother when his birthday and day he died comes around. I was devestated to learn what my dad went through trying to save my brother (my dad won’t talk about it and I didn’t find out till I was 18 from a relative).
As for my brother, I love him. I regret not getting to grow up with him. I teach my children about him, but as far as grieving him or being overwhelmingly sad he wasn’t here.. Not really.
I know Annie will just love to have a partner in crime.. No matter what. I will say there is an ultrasound technique used by some at about the age of your last ultrasound where you look for horizontal lines for girl, slanted for boy. I couldn’t find the website that discussed this in depth and I did see on the last ultrasound pic what looked like the lines, but because I’m not an ultrasound tech, I am reluctant to say what I think.
I couldn’t for the life of me remember the site I spent every waking moment on when I was pregnant with my 2nd and praying for a girl (it was a boy and he is awesome!) So a google search led me to this blog:
which had a link to the website I couldn’t remember:
Interesting reading at least.. Sorry for rambling on!!
I grew up with just my one sister who died 5 years ago. There’s a 7 year age difference between us (I’m younger) so we didn’t really get along or hang out until she went off to college. I idolized her my whole life, even as an adult. She was my best friend. Losing her devastated me in ways I can’t even express through words.
It has been hard because now I am the only keeper of our memories. When I unexpectedly became pregnant with my 3rd child, I wished for a girl. I already have a girl and a boy and I really wanted my daughter to have a sister. I also wanted to give the baby my sister’s name. I was a little crushed when I found out we were having another boy, mourning the loss of what I had thought could be a possibility.
Maybe a small part of me is still sad that my girl will never know what a sister relationship is. I hope that she will find a friend to love as much as a sister, like you and Jackie. In the meantime, though, my girl is very, very happy with her 2 little brothers and my new baby boy is the most darling little thing. It’s funny, he looks just like my daughter as a baby. My middle son is a mini me of his dad so it has been really neat to essentially see my girl again as a baby, but it’s her little brother instead.