Finding out that we were expecting two new tiny additions to our family has been such a joy, I didn’t expect it to matter what ‘flavour’ they came in. After all, half of the time our sons are mistaken for daughters and one of them is currently obsessed with his cat-shaped hair clips, which he brings to us in order to have his fringe clipped back and to have us sing that ‘Zaza has a cat in his hair’. It turns out that there is not much difference between raising a little boy and a little girl.
I’ve never raised a little girl but I expect that it’s much the same the other way round. When I remember my sister as a child I think of her dangling one-handed from trees like a money, taking prizes in Sports Day despite being the smallest, raising an ant farm. All things considered, the sex organs don’t mean much when they’re young. And there’s no guarantee that what you get at birth is even what you’ll still have when they turn eighteen anyway.
Yet somehow it mattered. Somehow I cared what I was carrying this time round.
After the twins were born, the first twins, I had a vision of our family. I saw us with a little girl born next, little Hermione, and then a curly-haired final son stomping after us in yellow wellies. I’m not sure why. Does everybody imagine future families for themselves?
Then during the IVF I could imagine a third boy, the curly-haired son come a little early. Peregrine. In my mind he was a little like a smaller version of Lysander, in looks at least. His personality was all his own.
I have loved raising boys, the sixteen months of it that I have experienced so far. My tiny chaps are dynamic and funny, full of character. They are engaging and endearing and even as small as they are, they love fiercely. Another boy would be a treasure.
But after the IVF was all over, clutching a remarkably clear image of our hatching blastocysts, all that I could picture were girls. The blastosisters. A pair of boys followed by a pair of girls, perfectly symmetrical. It seemed almost too lovely to be possible but nonetheless, I fell hard for the idea. From that moment on, and certainly once two tiny heartbeats were seen flickering on the ultrasound screen, the babies in my daydreams have been girls.
This time around, Kirsty and I had a deal. If it were one baby we wouldn’t find out the sex at all. If it were two babies, or more than two babies, we would find out the sex. My preference had been to have a surprise this time round because I thought that it might be easier, if there was a risk of disappointment, to get over that disappointment with two gorgeous armfuls of newborn. Kirsty felt the opposite: she would rather adjust to a different reality before the birth, so that the moment of meeting the babies would not be marred by any element of loss. I could see her point. Meeting the twins was such a ghastly experience last time round, for me at least, because the birth had been so traumatic; this time, I’m deeply invested in it being if not perfect then pretty darn close.
So as soon as the second baby flashed up on our very first ultrasound it was decided that we would be finding out. As a matter of fact, the clever babies actually gave us a little clue in the twelve-week ultrasound with extremely clear nub shots – clearly, they wanted us to be able to plan names in advance!
We had a private ultrasound two weeks ago at 16+4 weeks. Kirsty and the twins came with us and it was actually a the first time that she had seen the babies on screen as previously we had opted not to take our rambunctious toddlers in to the NHS environment. It was wonderful to share our new additions with our little family and Sasha especially seemed riveted as the microhumans on the screen danced about. Having seen the nubs on the 12-week scan we thought we had a good idea as to what these babies were and I could tell that Kirsty too was scrutinising their little faces, trying to work out whether their looks aligned with the sex that we had in mind for them – although we both know, of course, that it doesn’t work like that! 16-week gestation babies look a little bit like adorable tiny aliens, even mine.
And yes, we found out for certain what we are having. We couldn’t be more pleased to share our news in typically elaborate ‘Goblin Child’ style with a little photoshoot and a video, that we are having two little….
Did you guess right? We are delighted and so excited; brimming with love for these tiny people already.