An Heir and a Spare


The image on the black and white screen was easy to identify. Legs, rear, and most definitely not the umbilical cord. “Oh, it’s a boy!” I said with gusto. The technician, a kind, middle-aged mother of three boys herself, compassionately smiled and said sweetly, “You wanted a girl.” I looked at her and said honestly, “A few people will be disappointed and a girl would have been great, but I am really happy to have another boy. It’s like getting a million dollar raise with this one!”  The tech stood to go get the doctor and said, “Well, now you can have a third to go for that girl!” Her head bobbed away over the curtain and I said definitively, “Nope!”

Asking a woman who isn’t even into her third trimester if she’ll try for a third is like asking a freshly minted high school graduate about plans for a doctorate thesis. It’s not unlike asking a college sophomore when she’ll land herself a man, get married, and have the first baby…and then which color scheme she wants for the nursery.  It may happen one day and be a wonderful experience when it does, but easy does it.

I am amazed at how many people have just flippantly dismissed this unborn wild child to dream of another opportunity to buy bows and a wedding dress. I think the idea of two superheroes flying around the backyard in their capes or two pirates dueling to the death with safe pool noodles in a padded room, far away from anything breakable sounds darling. I just get to buy adorable bows and dresses for the other little girls in my life. I will be concerned enough about walking barefoot on Lego booby-traps in the night—omitting the Barbie heel spikes of death is just fine.

I can list dozens of advantages to having two boys right now, but I’ll spare you.  I think the winning quote goes to my mother, for “Now I have built-in pall bearers!” God Bless Texas. There are just as many advantages to having a girl. It’s just fascinating to me that the greater population feels that everyone should have one of each to be happy. At my first pregnancy I was highly encouraged to have a boy to help preserve the family name that would die off without a son. In fact, the morning after my wedding, my husband’s grandmother sat beside me and asked, “When can I expect grandchildren from you?” I was taken aback, as her 6 grandkids were all in the wedding.  A discussion of deployments, potential infertility issues, and desire to be married for a while first occurred. “Well, don’t wait too long! I’m not going to be around forever!” she warned. Four years later I called the matriarch to announce that I would be producing a male heir to her line. She was overjoyed and on still calls him the “heir apparent” on occasion. Thus, I have a Princess Diana complex. Now I have even produced an “heir and a spare”, as Diana used to say with William and Harry in tow.


With this in mind, I’d like to recreate the scene.  I have a precocious toddler, an expanding belly, and a calendar countdown with question marks covering three weeks in November. Once again I will be wondering who will arrive first– my newborn son or my husband from deployment.  My past 72 hours has been a blur of calls from doctors, nurses, and appointment lines, trying desperately to be seen for additional screens and testing for some “concerns we have from original test results that indicate genetic problems.”  It’s very hard to prepare for the unknown. After a weekend spent in prayer and a remarkable amount of quiet, I was finally taken back to have a doctor take a look at this baby.

Now the doctor came in and shook my hand, taking his time to thoughtfully explain every step, marker, possibility, and what he saw. He looked relieved as I said, “We can skip the termination talk. This baby is going to be loved and kept regardless of the outcome.”   Every measurement was normal; the motor skills were off the charts. “Oh look, the hand movement is a good sign! Rapid finger movement is a great indicator of brain and motor function.” I looked at the screen and watched a tiny hand mold into a thumbs up. Gig ‘em, Buddy. As I watched this baby do Olympic pool laps and make things challenging for the poor doctor trying to measure various moving parts, I was overjoyed.  We were prepared to welcome a specially blessed, differently-abled child. I have been abundantly blessed by people who have lived life with a “new normal”. Notice that the majority of the time Jesus spends doing ‘great miracles’, He is healing the sick and curing physical impairments like blindness, lameness, leprosy, bleeding- and even death.  When the religious leaders asked why a man had been born blind, Jesus answered that it was not by anyone’s fault, but so that He could be glorified. Still, indications of a lovely, healthy baby are worthy of a happy dance and prayers of thanksgiving.  


So as strangers and friends smile to hide disappointment that I am expecting another boy, I am amused. I walked into Maternal Fetal Medicine with questions, concerns, and hopes. I walked out with every indication of a healthy, highly active son who can already throw a “gig em”.  I’ve decided my pregnancy mantra is NOT “If at first I don’t meet your expectations, try, try again.” I am quite happy being the princess with an heir and a spare. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to introduce myself to the ER nurse and request my own parking spot at the hospital.


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