Gender Reveal | Meet Our Baby!
My striking and courtly grandmother was the first and only child in her family. After she married my tall, brainy grandfather she had a son, but he died suddenly at 10 days old. Shortly after, she was pregnant again. My mother was born, and was the living eldest in her family of six. Three girls and one boy and two parents. Though my mother was sure I was a boy (and my nickname was "Baby Moses"), she delightfully found out her first child was a daughter.
My childhood was spent far more in imaginary settings than in reality. I was endlessly playing games and making up families and stories. Dollhouse, Barbie and invisible friends were my favorite activities. My imaginary family consisted of me as the mom, and my four daughters (dad had died in war.) I had one Ken doll, but he mostly just sat in the kitchen while the ladies kept busy preparing for the ball or searching for the missing bunny rabbit! Though I was athletic, I was a girls-girl to the bone.
And my mom and I were a team. Just like she and her mom. Grandma (Bacca, to me) and mom had the sweetest, best friend, mother-daughter relationship. Bacca had an envious relationship with all her daughters - and all her daughters had first-born daughters (in fact, my two aunts only ever had daughters!). But I always thought of my mom the way she thought of her mom. I had friends who wished they had an older brother. I never did. I loved being the oldest, and I loved being mom's pal. We would take the latest baby with us on weekend shopping trips. I, and just I, went with her when she found Bacca was dying. We flew cross-country while she was nine months pregnant, and while we were in the hospital parking lot, Bacca died. We got off the elevator and were told the news by mom's sisters. And I was there. Not my dad, not all the other kids, and now not even her mom.
I'd take the baby so mom could sleep. Mom never missed my games, mom taught me how to cook and loved to let me learn, mom tried to help me with fashion and I refused to heed her advice. Mom went to Chicago with me before my first big trip "alone" after highschool. Mom and I get ourselves into the most ridiculous debacles, and we're so similar: messy, unorganized, big-hearted creatives... we are full of ideas, love to relax and make things beautiful, but usually do things the hard way. I spent a week in the hospital with mom nearly a year ago. She was the first person I called when I got engaged, the only family member waiting up for me when we got home that night, and the most excited about wedding planning. I had two must-haves for the wedding: to marry Caleb, and for mom to be there. The day I found out I was pregnant, I ran upstairs to find my mom and tell her... literally ten minutes after Caleb and I found out ourselves. Mom came with us to the gender reveal ultrasound yesterday, and we're planning on her being there for the birth (we both need her.) And that's just how it is.
In my mind, I always, mmm, wanted? No, I can't even say wanted... I think assumed. In my mind, I always assumed that my first born and I would continue on what Bacca and mom, and mom and I shared. It just seemed natural and how it would be.
When Caleb and I started planning our futures together, we both agreed we had a gut instinct that our first born would be a girl. I was surprised when he said that, actually. I thought he'd predict a son first. But he was oddly convinced we'd be a family of three: dad, mom and little lady.
After we actually found out we were expecting, we never even talked about "Do you think it's a boy? Or a girl?" it just was a girl. All along. We have a list of names we love, but one of the girl names especially seemed to fit this baby and we unintentionally started calling her that name. When we announced at church that we were having a girl, a dear older man who has spoken into our lives through prayer and vision from the Lord, had a distinct picture of our daughter, and the phrase immediately associated with her was "what a joy! what a joy!" I cried during his prayer for her - his prayer of not just being a joy to those around her, but having a deep and unnatural sense of God's joy. Marked by stone-strong joy.
As the weeks went on, I thought it'd be fun to do all those little tests. The Chinese gender calendar. The string-and-needle-test. The cravings test. The "way you're carrying" test. Girl. Girl. Girl. Girl. I had strangers stop me out in public and tell me I was having a girl, because of such-and-such trait or quality I apparently had. I had a few friends tell me "I don't know, you're awfully confident, but I have a feeling it might be a boy. Just because you're so sure it's a girl. Little boy is going to prove you wrong!" I'd honestly try to imagine what they would be like.
What if this baby is a boy? Wow. It never really crossed my mind. And I couldn't even begin to grasp that. What if Little Clementine Joy Girl is... a he? Trying to imagine that felt like trying to imagine Little Clementine Joy Girl being a fox, or butterfly. I really want boys... in fact! I'd love to have six boys after this first girl! But, that's just not who was in me right now. Between dreams, memories, desires, predictions, and plain ol' gut instinct, Caleb and I have always known she's our "she."
After basketball a few days ago, I was talking to one of the moms and she asked if I knew what we were having yet. I responded, like I always do, "We haven't had the ultrasound yet, but I know it's a girl." We talked for a few minutes about when she was pregnant with her first baby, and how she knew it was a girl. "Actually, before I even got married I knew, and felt like I had it on my heart from the Lord, that I was going to have three daughters. And I knew my first three were girls. I couldn't really explain it, but I just knew." I got a little misty, and felt heart-tugs "Yes! She knows what I'm experiencing!" (Oh, and she ended up having five daughters!) Before Behr Kless was born, "we all" knew he was a boy. Becca "knew" for years before she was even pregnant, and had even bought baby boy things! (Though, to be fair, I think she had one or two girl things... just in case.) The first Kless baby was always "he" in my heart and mind. We could never have fully imagined or prepared for Behr, but in the ways that we could, he was exactly "who" we were all picturing. I know my mom often didn't have a strong feeling one way or another (and she waited to find out what it was when she gave birth), but I've been sure. 100% sure. Just as much as I knew Caleb was "the one" for me, I knew this baby as a girl. I would have been more shocked to find out the baby was a boy, then to find out it was twins or triplets. In my heart of hearts, deep down deep, for maybe no rational reason. I would probably even get a little offended when people would "tell me" I might be wrong ;) But, how could they know and feel what I knew and felt? They couldn't. And that's okay.
I couldn't sleep much the night before last, and I was counting the hours until we got to go see Baby Love's face. It took forever - like waiting for the boy you like to text you back. But, time never stands still. It always moves forward. And it was finally time to (hopefully!) get the medical proof of what we've known in our hearts.
Without further ado, our baby:
Yup. I was dead wrong.
When I saw that blue paint, I think I lost my breath. The only thing that even comes close to comparing my shock was the feeling I had when Caleb proposed: SHOCK. I was very happy when Caleb proposed - very! But at first, what I immediately felt? Shock. Surprise - but, like, more astonishment. Lightning bolt, this does not feel like my own life, I think I'm going to open my eyes in a few seconds and wake up, WHAAAAT?!?! My response to proposal shock was instant and hard tears. Turns out that was my response for Baby Boy, too ;) I cried the whole drive. And kept saying "I'm shocked. I'm just so shocked. I feel dizzy. And like this isn't really life. I'm shocked. There is NO WAY."
Then the shock turned into sadness. Hear me out on this. I was not (am not?) sad that we're having a boy, but rather, I was emotional that it wasn't a girl. Literally decades of hope, imagination and instinct were proven wrong ;) And it felt like I was missing someone. The firstborn daughter I thought I not only had but who I also knew ("better than anyone else!") was "gone." Yes, yes, I know she was never there. But in my heart she was.
Caleb sees he's never seen me this emotional. I had to go coach practice and was shaking when I arrived at the gym, trying to play it cool and not burst into tears in the middle of explaining 70-overload and breaking half-court traps. Throughout practice I'd feel the little twists and spins of my baby inside. My mind kicked into auto-pilot "Hey girlie! I love to feel you!" Then I'd remember. Right. No. Buddy! Hey... little... guy. I love to feel you, too! Er, YOU. Not "too." Just you. I love to feel you.
After practice we road over to Target to get the goods for our "sweet treat announcement." I cried all through the aisles. I little boy jumped out of the popcorn section and said "wa-la!" Caleb laughed and whispered to me "We're going to have a little guy like that!" as we passed him. I cried more. Praise Jesus irrational crying is pretty much the most normal part of being pregnant. It's just what happens when you feel anything, and it makes it very very hard to know what you feel. "Are you sad?" "I don't know! I don't think so!" Caleb was perfect and told me that it was totally alright to be disappointed, it didn't make me a bad mom or mean that I didn't love my son. It just meant I was really taken off guard, so crying is normal.
After we told my family, my mom and I just sat there, dumbfounded. The best way I can describe it would be if someone came up to me and handed me smooth, grey, brick-sized stone and told me "This is your pet puppy!" I'd be like "Um, no. It's not a puppy. It's a... rock." "No, no! It's not a rock! It's a dog!" And then, all of a sudden, the rock starts wagging a tail and jumping around and licking my arms and it's somehow definitely a dog. Even though - THAT GUY HANDED ME A ROCK?! HOW DID IT TURN INTO AN ANIMAL?! It basically felt bizarre. "No, it's not a boy. It's a girl." "Well, actually, it is a boy." "No way." "Yes way." "Oh wow, I guess you're right. It is a boy. Wow. How'd that happen?!" ;)
So now, almost 24 hours later, I've settled into the idea and reality of my son a little more. When I feel baby doing his flip-turns, I think "Aw! He's getting some morning exercise in!" I have looked at his sonogram pictures dozens and dozens of times. His full lips, his rosy nose, his jaw just like daddy's. His super long legs, like grandpa and Caleb. His huge ribcage, just like me. His perfect set of man-shoulders and boyish, lifted chest. His big feet - and big self! He's already measuring larger than his due date ;) He does look like a little boy. Caleb even said so before we knew. He looks like Caleb.
I read Numbers 13 and 14, with my boy in mind. "Caleb quieted the people... 'The land, which we passed through is an exceedingly good land. The LORD delights in us, and He will bring us into this land and give it to us!... do not fear the people of the land. The Lord is with us; do not fear them.' ... Then the Lord said 'Caleb has a different spirit, and has followed me fully." Known for his loyalty, devotion, his companionship. For his incredible power of observation, for his fearlessness despite all odds, his whole-heartedness and sureness of God.
Oh crazy surprise boy, we did not "decide" to have you or make you. God did, centuries ago. He planned you, and then He made you. And He made you you. A boy. A firstborn boy. A stubborn boy ;) Our boy. I don't know much about you yet. You're a flipper and spinner, not a kicker (I don't know what that means for real life, though. I'm done with my instincts!). You refuse to wake up if you're still sleepy. Goodness, you had me laughing at the ultrasound. There is no way you were actually staying asleep with all the poking and prodding. At first you were making crying faces and had your mouth wide open "yelling." But then you "flipped" into a ball, with your long legs STRAIGHT over your head so we couldn't "get in" and see you very well. You held that position perfectly still for almost an hour, with the occasional good hard kick when the probe got too close to you. We, obviously, think you are very cute and look kind of like a kitten in some of the 4D images. The tech was pretty impressed too (and she TOTALLY is not impressed with all the other babies she sees), "Wow, you have a very cute one. Such a cutie." Psh. Yeah. That's my kid. My son.
You'll be the big brother to the rest of our children. When they think "family" they'll think of you. Both dad and I are the oldest in our big families (your family!) and we can confirm: having little brothers and sisters is the best. You'll get to know them before they know you. You get to be the hero in their eyes, and the boss. (Muahha.) You get to love on them, and see how much fun it is to bless the little guys.
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Oh man, you're gonna do all sorts of things to make us smile and shake our heads and thank God you came into this world. If you're affectionate like your ol' man, I wouldn't be surprised if you're a bit of a flirt. Don't worry - we get it. Kissing is a blast.
Ah! This is so much fun! I hope you come up with some crazy costumes. And think you're Butch Cassidy or a snake or, like my brothers, an entire sports team all wrapped up in one-person (including referees and coaching staff.)
You're welcome to be as adventurous and curious as you want. There's only one rule: you can't die. Okay? I already love you too much. You have to wait until you're a fat old man. (Also! I'm a cool mom - I'll let you adventure barefooted. I love being barefoot.)
Speaking of old men, we're going to teach you to be a gentleman. "Gentle" and "man" are a fantastic pair of words to combine. Your father is both of those. Be like him, okay? Deal?! You're already going to be the best old chap, I can tell.
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I have a lifetime of words to tell you. I won't bore these poor blog readers here with it all. But as I wrap up this post - this post I never thought I would be writing - you're doing some great somersaults in me. Even the process of putting this post together has given me such a vision for being mama to a little boy, mama to you. So now I'm crying unshocked, unsad, un-missing-"someone"-else tears. I'm crying happy tears. I'm so happy you're you and not who I thought you were. I've never been more pleased to be more wrong.
You have five great-grandparents, four grandparents, 18 (including Joel in heaven) aunts and uncles, and two splendidly in love parents waiting for you. Grow grow grow, and we await the day we formally welcome you to your family.