I had a strong feeling my first child would be a girl. It runs in the family. My mother and all four of my sisters had girls first. Of course I would be the same.
Hubby also insisted he wanted only daughters. As the second of two boys, he had begged his parents for a baby sister, but to no avail. He would make up for it by having a brood of girls–at one point, he wanted five. And I was on board.
So when we did our first round of IVF, which included pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS), we were both a bit taken aback when we discovered that the one healthy embryo we had was 46XY. A boy. We transferred another along with it, one for which we had no genetic information (probably because it was too poor-quality). But we were able to talk ourselves into believing we’d still have that girl. The mystery embryo would be a girl. Fraternal twins, we’d say, and the girl could still be born first. It would all work out (mostly) as we’d envisioned.
Except it didn’t. Neither of those embryos stuck. And afterward, you bet I beat myself up, wondering if that boy-embryo knew it wasn’t quite as wanted as a girl would have been. If our desire for a girl somehow trumped our desire for a baby. Period.
It was a dark time. And we didn’t know when or if we’d get to try again. Those embryos, which I’d dubbed Baby Boy and the Mystery, might have been our only shot at a family, and they were both gone now.
But we did get another chance. Hubby’s family gave us a generous gift. Another round of injections and another egg retrieval later, and we transferred three day-3 embryos, this time with no genetic screening. We’d have to wait until 18 weeks 5 days into the resulting pregnancy to find out the sex of the baby, but I had that strong feeling. That girl feeling.
And it was right. We would have a girl first, just like the women in my family before me. I would carry on the tradition.
Who knows why? Why this was the embryo that stuck. Maybe it took my uterus a couple of tries to figure out how to make a home for this little life. Maybe that previous, perfect embryo just wasn’t strong enough, despite having the right genetic make-up. It’s not fate, not meant-to-be, regardless of family history. It’s all just dumb luck. It could have just as easily turned out that none of our embryos–of the five that were transferred–would have stuck around. I don’t like to think about it, but it came down to a roll of the dice that baby girl is here at all.
We are so, so fortunate that things worked out in our favor, but it doesn’t happen that way for everyone. I am very aware that we are among the lucky ones. That girl or boy doesn’t really matter. That what’s important is that she survived implantation, pregnancy, birth. That she’s healthy a whole year later. We don’t take these things for granted. Because they’re not granted to everyone. The whims of the universe are fickle and unfair.