Shortly before my third year of law school, Lindsey and I learned that I had at least one Michael Phelps in the group (I make this reference only for Lindsey’s sake. The other night I told her that now that Michael Phelps has supplanted Mark Spitz as the greatest gold medal Olympian in a single Olympics, in popular culture we will refer to sperm that actually succeed in their purpose as the “Michael Phelps of the group” instead of the “Mark Spitz of the group”). Forgive my unseemly metaphor. Anyway, we learned that Lindsey was pregnant as I prepared for the third of three exhausting years of law school. Other than feeling overwhelmed by the weight of responsibility that I would soon assume, I began, as any prospective first-time father would, to envision myself roughhousing, throwing a football, and hitting a ball off a tee with my son in the back yard. It never even occurred to me that my first child might actually be a girl instead of a boy.
Lindsey quickly gave me the prospective first-time mother’s perspective. She began talking of pink dresses, cute hair-dos, and sweet sixteen birthdays for our daughter. I was naturally quite dismissive of Lindsey’s first-child-a-girl pipe dream. After all, it seemed only fitting that I, who would love nothing more than to settle even the smallest conflict with a wrestling match, would sire an heir to my legacy of machismo. Imagine how I must have felt then, when the ultrasound technician stared into my expression of incredulity and slowly repeated the news – “Yes, it’s clearly a girl.”
I will freely admit it – I was a little disappointed that my dreams of backyard brawls and downstairs donnybrooks with my oldest child, a son, had been shattered. I was glad that Lindsey and I elected to learn the gender of our child so that I could prepare myself mentally for pink receiving blankets and everything else that goes along with welcoming a little girl to the family. I want to make clear my feelings on this point – Just because I was disappointed that my first child would not be a son, I had no mind to withhold any affection from my daughter. I was truly excited that I would be a father, irrespective of the gender of my first child… I just had really hoped that the first one would have a Y chromosome!!!
Fast forward nearly two years to the present, and I am thrilled with the level of enjoyment and satisfaction I have experienced as father of a first-child daughter. God must have known that if he was going to send me a girl, he should send me the most persistent, fearless, and durable available. My daughter Annabelle possesses each of those attributes in abundance, and constantly provides me with precisely the type of enjoyment I thought possible only with a son! We chase each other. We tackle each other. We bowl together (she is the pin, and if my wife’s sister-in-law is reading this, no, I do not use a real bowling ball). We jump over each other. She chokes me with my neckties when I get home from work. My favorite part of all is that she has an insatiable appetite for adventure. Lindsey has scolded me for tossing Annabelle in the air too high on a number of occasions, but as soon as I place Annabelle back on terra firma, she immediately demands to be thrown again! It’s fabulous!
As I look back on my wife’s and my initial conversations after we learned that we would soon be parents, I realize that the oft hoped for, but rarely achieved “best of both worlds” situation ultimately materialized. Annabelle does have pink dresses aplenty. It just so happens that while she is wearing them, she frequently soars through the air, runs through the sprinklers, or gets grass stains on them!