I remember my older son’s 20 week ultrasound like it was yesterday. The first image my husband, David, and I saw was our baby’s heart: four perfect chambers, beating. The only word I could think of then - and now - was “miraculous.” I was in awe that this perfect little being was growing inside of me, and anxious to find out if the heart belonged to a boy or girl.
When the technician told us it was a boy, I don’t remember exactly what I thought. I had told myself the chances for a boy were pretty strong. On my husband’s side, it seems the boys tend to arrive first. And I was intrigued at the idea of a boy, even though I came from a family chock-full of girls. I have an older sister, and grew up in the same town as my Hill cousins – five of us, all girls. I had visions of sharing my love of "Little House on the Prairie" with a brown haired, brown-eyed girl just like me, who’d want to wear that same prairie gear for dress-up. I also had visions of sharing my love of Legos and cooking with my children, images that didn’t involve a dress or braids.
Let me be VERY clear: neither I nor my husband had a preference for our first born. We wanted one thing, and one thing only: a healthy baby. We were blessed with not one, but, ultimately, two healthy babies. Two healthy, beautiful baby boys. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love being the mother of two boys. Would I love being the mother of a little girl? Of course! Do I want or need to have a girl? No. And not just because I readily admit to a healthy dose of fear and trepidation at the thought of the tween and teen years. It’s because this is who I was meant to be. Our boys are the family we were meant to have.
When we found out another baby was on the way, everyone started to weigh in. There was talk of how “lucky” we’d be to have a girl… how we must be “hoping” for a girl... how we “needed” a girl to make our family complete. Complete for whom?
I was a well-established Boy Mom at this point, head-over-heels in love with my now nearly 3-year-old little man. True, I often wished he would sit still at a restaurant like my friends’ daughters, but never once did I wish he’d been born a girl. In fact, I started to wonder what I would do with a girl. Funny how you adapt to what the universe gives you. Funny how the universe seems to know just what you need.
What we needed was a healthy baby.
When we learned our second bundle would be a boy, I admit I was silently relieved. “This I can do,” I thought. “I know boys.”
Yet strangers – and some people close to us - had a much different reaction.
“Another boy (insert shock/ pity/ confusion here)?! So, when will you go for a third?”
“You/ your husband must want/ need a girl.”
“But you have to have a girl!”
Some days, it was all I could do to not let loose on someone. We “have to have” a girl? Our family won’t be “complete” without a girl? “Clearly,” I thought, “you people need to work on your priorities.” And, by the way, are you planning to help us with the three kids you are convinced we need??
There was one person, however, who surprised me with her response. I was well into my third trimester when I met this mother of four boys. I proudly revealed I was having another boy. She knew all too well what the response to that answer could be like – remember, she has four kids of the same sex! Her response was beautiful.
“I don’t know what it’s like to have girls,” she said. “But I do believe that having four boys helped me to look at them as individuals, rather than chalking up their behavior to their sex.”
I’d never thought about it that way, yet it made perfect sense to me. In fact, it inspires me even now to really look at my boys as individuals.
The second time around, I appreciated even more how lucky we were with our older son, Weston. He was an easy pregnancy, a long but successful delivery, and a healthy, strong baby. As friends began to share their stories of miscarriages, complications, and tragedies, it was more important than ever that the second time around, our luck hold out. The sex of this baby didn’t matter. The success of this baby did.
And we did get lucky a second time. Sawyer Steven arrived on March 23, 2010. We are thankful for our healthy boys every single day. And we are blissfully whole, as my husband remarked not long after Sawyer arrived. He looked at me, holding our newborn son, and said, “Now it feels like our family is complete.”
He was right.
Weekend TODAY co-anchor Erica Hill lives in New York with her husband and two sons.