I genuinely always saw myself as having a boy. When I discovered I was pregnant, my husband and I were already calling our little tiny speck of pre-born child “he” and even referred to him (jokingly) as “Mutumbo”. I pictured how my husband would play football with our son and how our son would be rough-and-tumble dirty and clean up into an adorable suit and bowtie.

The week of our gender ultrasound came, and we both had about a second in the car and another second in the room when the tech squirted the goop onto my stomach when we both felt a flutter of doubt, but we both admitted we’d be floored if it was a girl.

Boy, were we floored.

I was absolutely shocked. I have no idea why, since I’m one of three girls and it’s a 50-50 shot statistically. I just never thought I’d have a girl, and I wanted a boy.

Overwhelming disappointment followed by an overpowering guilt hit me hard, and I fought back tears. Tears of guilt and disappointment, yes—but I realized soon, as I sat there fighting emotion and trying to be grateful and happy about this healthy wonderful child, that I also felt loss.

Now, to be clear, this seems ridiculous and almost horrible to say, since so many moms out there have experienced true loss. I myself have had a miscarriage. But I couldn’t help it. I felt this pit of loss that overtook me. I felt almost robbed. I was not going to have that son I was picturing and dreaming of, the son I had even named. Granted, it wasn’t a “real” name, but we spoke of him as if he were real, as if he were going to be born and raised as our very real son.

Now he was suddenly not there anymore.

I struggled to be grateful, and the guilt and anger overwhelmed me for weeks. Why couldn’t I just be happy? My pregnancy was easy, my baby girl was healthy, my family was supportive. How awful am I that I just couldn’t be grateful and excited about this beautiful blessing?

Answer: I needed to mourn. I realized I felt loss, and I needed to mourn it. I did so privately, guiltily. But I did. I allowed myself to think about all the what ifs and accept that they weren’t going to happen. As soon as I did this, I realized these little think tank sessions soon began ending in Google searches for girl names, imagining soccer practices, and even sketches of girl names with flowers, hearts, and ballet shoes. My baby shower soon arrived, and baby clothes covered in pink ribbon and huge poofy dresses we’re rained upon me, and I got excited. My confidence grew as I thought about how much more comfortable I was going to be raising a girl, because, well, I was a girl!

By the time she was born, all thought of doubt and disappointment vanished. (Well, almost; I’ll admit I checked her bum, just in case. Definitely a girl!)

I was and am in love. This little girl has been my life’s joy from the start. She was a great sleeper and eater. She looks great in her pink dresses and a girly wardrobe, as well as her plaid button-down and sweatpants. She is so girly, but still that rough-and-tumble kid I had pictured my child would be. She’s hard-headed and stubborn. She’s loves her pink tutu and her soccer practices. I cannot wait to see who she becomes.

A few years later, I became pregnant again. Again, I hoped for a boy. Early on, I passed out due to low blood sugar, and the ultrasound tech checked on the baby at the hospital. She told us it was likely a boy, stating she’d be very surprised if our little was a girl. We celebrated and we’re ecstatic to have our little boy.

A few weeks later, the official ultrasound revealed we were having a baby girl.

I again felt a loss. This time, though, I allowed myself to feel the disappointment, and the sadness quickly was replaced with excitement as I thought about how my girls would love being sisters. What a blessing they would live with to have this relationship in their lives.

I was right.

These girls are adore each other and it’s the most amazing, beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. They follow each other everywhere, giggle, laugh, cuddle, hug, play, argue, run, and care for each other all day long. My world is a pink explosion, and this “boy mom” loves it.

Now, off to ballet . . . 

Ashley Yarbrough

Ashley Yarbrough is a mother of two energetic girls, a wife, a secondary English teacher, and a grad student. Writing and gardening are what keeps her sane amid the beautiful chaos that is motherhood!