Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

I clutched the giant black balloon between my palms, the open safety pin pinched between two fingers.

Blue.

My husband had his phone up, recording.

Please be blue.

I glanced over at my two year-old son, practically perfect in every way, an absolute delight, my favorite thing, a wonder and a miracle and a genius, despite his autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. I want another one, just like him. I want him to have a brother, to give him that special relationship I had with my own sisters.

“Are you ready?” my husband asked.

“Yes!” I said nervously, trying with sheer will to make the confetti and balloons that would soon spill into the ether be the color of blueberries, of the sky, of little boy clothes.

I took a moment to rest my hand on my womb where the new little one is growing, my mind running over the names we had tossed around so far. Asher. Toby. Wolff. (OK, that last one was rejected outright by my husband, but I was still holding onto hope that he’d come around.)

“OK! Three . . . two . . . one!” my husband counted.

I tossed the balloon in the air and readied the pin underneath it. It descended, brushed the point, and exploded.

Pink everywhere.

My mind simultaneously refused to process the color, while it raced ahead toward all the implications of pink balloons:

Oh, no. I hope she doesn’t inherit my eating disorder.

Oh, no. What if she has my self-esteem problems?

Oh, no. We’re going to have to have the menstruation talk.

Oh, no. I don’t know how to play with a girl.

I looked at my husband with wide eyes. He smiled, still recording, and a part of my forebrain realized this digital record would be the beginning of my daughter’s legacy, and I had better respond appropriately.

“I KNEW it was going to be a girl,” I managed. Because I had. Despite the ferocity of my desire for blue, or perhaps because of it, I had suspected all along. As had my family. As had my friends. Why? Who knows? But they were right, just as I had known they would be.

I attempted to mask my disappointment, unable to say anything other than, ironically, “Oh, boy,” as the reality set in. A girl. A little girl.

My son, intrigued by the mess that had just been made on the floor, came over to investigate. He picked up one of the pink balloons and threw it in the air, eliciting a cheer from my husband and me.

“Buddy, you’re going to have a SISTER!” we cried.

Utterly unaffected and his attention span maxed out, he continued to play with the detritus of the big announcement as the sentence we’d just uttered echoed around my head.

A sister.

A little sister. My son would have a little sister, and I would have a girl. I was growing a daughter. It felt so foreign that I could hardly grasp the concept.

“Wow,” I said to my husband, who had stopped recording by this point. “A girl. Wow.”

“Are you happy?” he asked.

I was trying to process my emotions at the moment, as I honestly didn’t know what I was feeling. My mind went back to a few moments prior: “You’re going to have a sister!”

And suddenly . . . it felt right.

I had a moment of clarity, you see, where I saw my family in the future. Really saw it. And what I saw made sense. It was my husband and me, our big boy, our little girl, together. She might have the same struggles with mental health as I do, and I might bungle the menstruation talk, but she would be mine. And, all of a sudden, I wanted her. Exactly as she is, as she will be. In that sudden Eureka moment that was motherhood fiercely claiming its young, I wanted her more than a little brother, because she is what we are getting, and we are lucky.

So, my advice on masking disappointment at your gender reveal? Don’t. Feel it. Process it. Have a moment to recognize that you had wanted one thing, and it didn’t come to pass . . . and that’s OK. Because, no matter how long it takes, it will eventually become very clear: you are having the baby you were meant to have, and your family is going to look exactly the way it’s supposed to look. No matter what happens, there is going to be love, and growth, and life.

Even now, it still feels a bit surreal. We are slowly acquiring pink onesies and little tulle skirts and tiny shirts that say “Feminist” and, at times, it seems strange. And then I picture my little girl in my arms, my son’s little sister, my husband’s only daughter, and all seems right with the world again.

We are having a little girl because we are fortunate, and blessed, and I’m starting to get excited about who she’ll be, what she’ll teach me, the relationship we’ll have. I might have been disappointed at the big reveal, but now . . . I know, if I could go back, I would still want that balloon to pop in a flurry of pink.

Because, now, I can’t imagine life without our daughter.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Shannon Frost Greenstein

Shannon Frost Greenstein resides in Philadelphia with her husband and son, who keep things from descending into cat-lady territory. She comes up when you Google her.

Moms Take a Hard Look in the Mirror When Our Girls Become Tweens

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mother and tween daughter reading

We all know about mean girls. They’re in the movies we go to see, the television shows we watch, and the books we read. These fictional divas are usually exaggerated versions of the real thing: troubled cheerleaders with a couple of sidekicks following in their faux-fabulous footsteps. The truth about mean girls is more complex. Sometimes, they aren’t kids you would expect to be mean at all: the quiet girls, sweet and innocent. Maybe she’s your kid. Maybe she’s mine. As our daughters approach their teen years, we can’t help but reflect on our own. The turmoil. The heartbreak. The...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love is the Best Medicine

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child lying on couch under blankets, color photo

When my kids are sick, I watch them sleep and see every age they have ever been at once. The sleepless nights with a fussy toddler, the too-hot cheeks of a baby against my own skin, the clean-up duty with my husband at 3 a.m., every restless moment floods my thoughts. I can almost feel the rocking—so much rocking—and hear myself singing the same lullaby until my voice became nothing but a whisper. I can still smell the pink antibiotics in a tiny syringe. Although my babies are now six and nine years old, the minute that fever spikes, they...

Keep Reading

Here’s to the Saturday Mornings

In: Living, Motherhood
Baby in bouncer next to mama with coffee cup, color photo

Here’s to the Saturday mornings—the part of the week that kind of marks the seasons of our lives. I’ve had so many types of Saturdays, each just a glimpse of what life holds at the time. There were Saturdays spent sleeping in and putting off chores after a long week of school. And some Saturdays waking up on the floor in a friend’s living room after talking and prank calling all night. I’ve spent many Saturday mornings walking through superstitious pre-game routines on the way to the gym, eating just enough breakfast to fuel me for the game, but not...

Keep Reading

From a Veteran Special Needs Mom: Don’t Lose Hope

In: Living, Motherhood, Teen
Woman making heart symbol with hands

When my son was newly diagnosed with autism, I was reading everything—the good, the bad, and the ugly. So much so that to this day, I can barely handle reading anything on the subject because I overdosed so badly on it. I went through a grieving process as all families do. Grieving my expectations, hopes, and dreams. It was during this time that all hell broke loose. My child, like a lot of other people who experience autism, has a lot of other psychological and medical issues that interact with his autism. The combination of all those things led to...

Keep Reading

Right Now I’m a Mom Who’s Not Ready to Let Go

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hugging, color photo

We’re doing it. We’re applying, touring, and submitting pre-school applications. It feels a lot like my college application days, and there’s this image in my mind of how fast that day will come with my sweet girl once she enters the school doors. It’s a bizarre place to be because if I’m honest, I know it’s time to let her go, but my heart is screaming, “I’m not ready yet!” She’s four now though. Four years have flown by, and I don’t know how it happened. She can put her own clothes on and take herself to the bathroom. She...

Keep Reading

They’re Amazing Grandparents but They Were Great Parents First

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Grown woman with her parents

My parents are phenomenal grandparents. They are without a doubt my children’s favorite people. They show up to babysit with activities ready. They pick up the kids from daycare and go straight to the ice cream shop. They are the first ones to get on the floor and play cars or dress up when requested. They read the best bedtime stories and spend the extra few minutes tucking in tiny toes and kissing chubby cheeks. They’ve never missed an opportunity to spoil their grandbabies with too many toys and lots of love. But before they were the world’s best grandparents,...

Keep Reading

Raising a Teenager Is a Long Walk through a Tunnel

In: Motherhood, Teen
Two people walking down tunnel, color photo

So much parenting advice asks us to envision bridges as a metaphor for finding the path forward–bridges we need to create now during these tumultuous teen years to build connection with our kids and pave the way for a brighter future when they are adults. Bridges that override the lonely chasms created by chaos and tension. Bridges that link us together from one season of family life to another—from the island of childhood to that of adulthood. Bridges are regal, durable, and confident. They touch the sky with grandeur. They are exciting and powerful. When we ride over a bridge,...

Keep Reading

This is the Bittersweet Goodbye to the Baby Years

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Little girl pushing toddler brother in baby swing, color photo

Last August, I had my last baby. Oof. Even typing those words makes my heart ache. There’s something so final, so sad, so unreal about acknowledging the end of having babies. Maybe it’s because I’m the type of person who likes to keep all the doors open. I love possibilities. I hate goodbyes. And this, my friends, feels like a very hard goodbye. When I think about being done having kids, it feels like a goodbye to the baby years. For six years now, all I’ve known is the baby years. And while the baby years can drain me and...

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know Anxiety until I Knew Grief

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood
Woman crouched on ground by waterfront

If you had known me for the first 45 years of my life, you would say I was an extrovert. I loved going places, meeting new people, and striking up conversations with all ages. I talk a lot, often sharing too much in the way of being transparent. It’s been said that I have never met a stranger. Yes, I will admit, I am that woman you see in the grocery store line starting up conversations with the people around me. A few years ago, my life started changing, and I struggled with becoming introverted. Though I had once loved...

Keep Reading

Each Child You Raise is Unique

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three little boys under a blanket, black-and-white photo

The hardest part about raising children? Well, there’s a lot, but to me, one major thing is that they are all completely different than one another. Nothing is the same. Like anything. Ever. Your first comes and you basically grow up with them, you learn through your mistakes as well as your triumphs. They go to all the parties with you, restaurants, sporting events, traveling—they just fit into your life. You learn the dos and don’ts, but your life doesn’t change as much as you thought. You start to think Wow! This was easy, let’s have another. RELATED: Isn’t Parenting...

Keep Reading