Sea Glass

I lay there on the paper sheet as she squeezed the warm gel onto my ever-expanding stomach.

I lay there and I prayed…please let this baby be healthy.

I lay there and I prayed…please let this baby be a girl.

The slurping and squishing of the gel, the gray screen, and the endless chatter of the sonographer did little to crowd out my silent prayers.

Photo, squish, photo, squoosh.

Please…another girl…please…a sister for Katie. Let her have a sister…the sister that I never had.

Then came the words that we had prayed we’d hear…the baby looks beautiful.

Then, the words that I had prayed we wouldn’t…what a sweet little guy.

A boy.

Please no…please let her be wrong.

The chatter, the congratulations, the crinkle of the scratchy paper towels did little to mute my sorrow.

I smeared at the gel…a boy.

I hastily dressed…not a girl.

I looked at Craig…

And I cried.

In all of my dreams, I never envisioned a son.
I never wanted a son.

My dreams held another baby girl… a sister for Katie.

I cried and I grieved for my hopes of another daughter.
And I truly hated myself for being ungrateful for this healthy baby.

This boy.

This gift.

I shopped for him, I filled his closet with sky blue and khaki and chocolate brown.

And I came to accept all that we had been given.

And, of course, I loved him from the moment that I saw him…I had never doubted that I would.

But, in the quiet moments during those middle of the night feedings in his room, my heart softened.

In the soft morning light, as he melted into me, my heart expanded.

With each smile, each hug, each mischievous giggle, my heart has stretched further than I ever dreamed it would.

Like sharp, broken glass, tumbled by the ocean current, my love for him smoothed and softened.

Sea glass.

I cannot imagine another day of my life without him in it.

My love for him, like sea glass.

My treasured boy has taught me that sometimes, out of disappointment, comes immeasurable joy.

Unexpected and endless joy.

I have a son…a beautiful, perfect, irreplaceable son.

And he is exactly what I needed.

My Matthew.

I’m writing about gender disappointment over on Babble today. I would love it if you came by.


  1. Unexpected and endless joy …
    and your next one – NO finding out!
    So few surprises in life these days …
    You have one of each …. wait until they cry out 'Its a Boy' or 'Its a Girl'
    or maybe one of each ;)

  2. This is exactly how I felt when I found out Scooby was a boy. I wanted a girl. In fact, it took 3 ultrasounds to convince me that he was a boy. Now? I wouldn't trade him for a million girls. This explains that so beautifully.

  3. Tracie

    So beautiful. Our children are exactly what we most want (even if we don't know it right away!)

  4. @2bKate

    I so wanted a boy and cried when they told me the gender but I'm so very happy I have Ava I wouldn't change it :)

  5. Melody~

    OMDear Thank YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    So beautifully said!

  6. Kir

    Nic, your words were just perfect, the way all of feel about wanting something and getting something else…but then realizing the gift of that 'other choice' is what makes our hearts sing. Wow!!!

    This is a gorgeous post my friend. And Matthew…wow what a GIFT he is!

  7. Jen Has A Pen

    So sweet. And honest. I always figured I'd want a daughter, but the more little boys I'm around, the more I realize how incredibly affectionate and appreciative they are. They are the cuddly ones in my life, making my gender preference disappear. Are Matthew and Katie different in that way? He's the snuggler? Or is he rough and tumble? From the photos of Katie, she has the sweetest, gentlest eyes and I imagine both of your kids to be those bendy-types; the ones that just fold and bend into you whenever you want or need it. :-)

  8. tracy

    I never wanted a boy because i think I was scared of them – how could I mother a boy properly when I wasn't one? Would it be fair to him. Strange feelings. Things I never expressed. Thank you for doing it here. Every one of my friends with boys says there is truly no greater joy then their little men. They do say there is something special about those boys and their mama's.

  9. Megan-Best of Fates

    What a beautiful analogy. And I think all women are scared of having little boys – they're so different, there's always the fear of not understanding them!

  10. John

    Beautiful post.

    When we were doing the ultrasounds & all of that fun stuff for the first biological (we already had CJ by this stage), we didn't want to admit that we both wanted a girl . . . one of each sounded about right (although my wife will be quick to tell you that she thinks every girl needs a sister . . . I tell her "we're done having kids"). The first ultrasound was too early to determine the sex. The second ultrasound, the kid sat at the bottom of the uterus with the umbilical cord between his/her legs. No amount of poking or prodding would get the kid to move.

    We had a third ultrasound. My wife is quite short, and the pregnancy was quite advanced. In short, we didn't think we'd have room-enough to see. The ultrasound technician started, warned us that we might not be able to know . . . but the little girl had one foot in each hand, showing off for us.

    She's still not modest in the least.

  11. madwomanbehindtheblog

    Oh my beautiful Nichole. How I love this as you know.
    But let me say something about your writing: You write as if there is only you and your lover or your child is reading your words. You write with such intimacy that draws us in and make us hold our breath, waiting to read the next word. Your writing ALWAYS immediately brings a tear or a smile or both. This is what I love about you. You are both incredibly vulnerable and brave and honest.

    Okay, now give me more pics of those gorgeous children of yours!

  12. JaimesStory

    This touches me so deeply because I felt exactly the same when pregnant with my son. And now…well, how could I have ever thought I couldn't mother a boy? How could I have ever thought that Freddie wasn't the perfect extension of our family? I love him like I've never loved anything or anyone. He is beautiful and I can't imagine what my life would be without him.

    Thank you for this.

  13. As always, stunning. You're always so honest and courageous in your writing. Love.

  14. Me too! My third was a surprise and I didn't want him at all. "At least we'll get a sister for Natalie"…No sister…a little brother and of course, I wouldn't change a thing. We're so blessed. Boys are awesome, aren't they?

  15. thisismynewmoon

    Beautiful post. Your honesty is beautiful.

  16. Cheryl @ Mommypants

    I am so glad you know the love of a little boy. There's nothing quite like it.


  17. So, so tough. Both to write (I'm sure) and to read. Especially as the Mom to one perfect son.

    But, I understand too. I spent my entire pregnancy hoping for a girl but telling myself I was having a boy so I wouldn't be disappointed. We never found out the gender because I was scared of my reaction if we found out he was a boy. I was worried that my pregnant friend would have a girl and I would be jealous.

    Now, I can't imagine life without a boy. I feel bad for those Moms of girls because their child couldn't possibly be as awesome as mine.. right?!

    Thank you for sharing, Nichole!

  18. temysmom

    Oh yes… I truly believe we get the child who is meant just for us. When I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd daughter, I was hysterical. I didn't want a third child, much less another girl. I couldn't imagine what I was going to do with this other kid. Well, it's taken me a long time to realize that as difficult a child as she turned out to be, our family just would not have been complete without her. I love having three daughters – it was definitely meant to be.

  19. I did not find out the gender of either of my babies before their births. I thought my first was a girl. Believed it to be true so much that when they placed the squawking boy on my chest I thought they had the wrong baby…

    But then? As I walked around town with my newborn son, I thought, "EVERYONE wants a boy. Those new mothers with their girls are jealous." To be clear, I didn't think this meanly. Just as fact. Who WOULDN'T want a boy?

    When my daughter was born, I looked into her face and it was like looking at myself. Then, as my son and I strolled with her around town, I thought, "EVERYONE wants a girl. Those new mothers with their boys are jealous."

    I know it's not possible to have it both ways. But that's how I felt.

    Of course, I was very hormonal. And I'm always a little insane.

    But that's the truth.

    I LOVED your honesty here, Nichole. The things we mothers think but don't say.
    Truth can be beautiful. And here, it is especially so.

  20. As a mother of three girls I was hoping for a boy at some point, for The Agronomist. I figured he'd know what to do with him. But instead I have three girls and it is good. Not better, just good.

  21. galitbreen

    This is so gorgeous Nichole! Beautiful, poetic, heartfelt. All that I've learned to look forward to here!

    And I understand this- vividly. After mothering girls, I had no idea that boys could take up so much space in my heart; No idea whatsoever.

    I adore your heart, and that you share it.


  22. Efloraross

    I totally get this, but I was the opposite. I wanted a boy. We found out very early on in the pregnancy we were having a girl, thanks to genetic testing in the 1st trimester (CVS). So I had plenty of time to get used to the idea. I hated all the pink, frilly stuff people gave us, but loved my daughter from day one. And now? I cannot imagine having a boy. ;)

    I loved your analogy of the sea glass. So clever and beautiful!

  23. Jessica

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Exactly why I love each and everything you write. I could have never imagined myself the mother of boys but now I could never imagine myself not.

  24. Almost 21 years ago, I was sure that my first was a girl. That was in the days of sparse if any ultrasounds. I was sent for one because they thought I might have twins. They couldn't tell me the sex so I was sure it was a girl. I knew back then I would be moving to a country with mandatory draft for boys and I was praying I was not going to have to deal with the army in 18 years.

    It was a boy. When he was born, I asked if the doctor was sure. It took me a few moments to get over the shock and come to terms with the fact that in 18 years I was going to have a soldier.

    And then my second was another boy( think that was God laughing at me)

    So now, 21 years later I have a soldier, another soon to be soldier, a daughter, another son and a little girl. I have been blessed with each one and their uniqueness, even if it wasn't what I expected. (I come from a family of 3 girls)

  25. Beautiful. Really. This is so important to share, because so many women (and men!) feel sick over how sad they are when they find out they are having a gender different than they wanted. We need to get the message out that this is normal, there is a grieving process, and the love isn't necessarily tainted by that first disappointment.

  26. Bod for tea

    Beautiful post Nichole, beautiful, brave and honest. Your word craft is so inspiring.

  27. Tonya

    I knew and wanted a boy the minute I found out I was pregnant with Lucas.

    This is honest, beautiful and courageous post.

    Just think how different your life would be with two girls.

    What are you hoping for the next time around?

  28. Sea glass… wow, what a beautiful way to think about it. This got me all choked up. Am a fairly new reader and loving your blog!

  29. Lori

    Transformative magic.

    I love that.

  30. sugarbowlmix

    I admire your honesty! I imagine I would have had a similar experience had my second been a boy. I always wanted 2 girls. But I have to say having 2 girls is HARD. The competition, the comparisons, the envy. The girl drama. Somehow I wasn't prepared for that.

  31. I burst into tears when they told me I was having a boy. I think it was a blend of disappointment that it wasn't a girl and excitement at knowing that we were having a boy. My poor husband was just rubbing my arm and squeezing my hand. I think he didn't know what to do since he knew I wanted a girl so bad. It wasn't because I didn't want a girl, but because I thought I would never get a girl and would have all boys. But here I am with the sweetest little boy, a girl and another girl on the way!

  32. MamaRobinJ

    I commented on your Babble post (wanted a girl, got a boy, cried, loved him, couldn't imagine different now, etc.). But this is beautiful – what an amazing way to express how your love for him grew.

  33. JDaniel4's Mom

    This is amazing! I love your sea glass analogy. I love having my little boy. He seems to helping me to mold, change and grow as he does.

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