Ask The Bee: Gender Bender

Dear Jule,

I need help. I’m pregnant (Amazing. Miracle. All of the things.) and I just found out it’s a boy today and I can’t help but feeling REALLY sad about it ? Everyone kept telling me it was a girl (mainly because I’ve been so sick) so I kind of got that in my head and started imagining a daughter and our future shopping and bopping around. All of the silly things. And now that is all dashed. I know I’ll have tons of new things to get excited for and it will be amazing but I can’t help but feeling sad right now. The baby is healthy which is THE MOST important thing (goes without saying????). Anyways, you have two amazing sons. Did u feel this way at all? Any words of wisdom. I feel like an awful person. Xo

Dear Gender Bender,

It takes a set of balls to grow a human being but it takes a bigger set to admit that you’ve been thrown a curve ball and that you don’t know what to do with it.

As you write to me (and I am honored that you have) feeling like you’re spilling your deepest darkest secret, for whatever my opinion is worth, I don’t think you are an awful person at all.

You are mildly (or perhaps even deeply) disappointed that what all of your friends have been whispering into your little ear was never happening in reality. It was decided long before your friends came up with this notion that you were having a girl because you were super sick. Sidenote, with both of my pregnancies, for three months straight, on a daily basis I popped blood vessels all over my face from vomiting so hard. Cut to the next scene. There are little nutsacks all over my house.

An awful person would only be focusing on pink satin bows, the decor of the nursery, and would not be tuned in enough to recognize as you yourself just said, “The baby is healthy which is the MOST important thing (goes without saying).” You my friend are far from an awful person; you are an authentic person having an insecure moment, and you are busy creating a human being who you do not yet know.

I have a bunch to say to you. Is that ok? Some of it is my own experience that I pass to you like a baton, some of it has been passed to me by others who I have loved, trusted and admired. This letter is my baby gift to you. And remember the most important gifts you cannot register for. Except maybe a white noise machine and the perfect swaddle (and those you can find on my Amazon shop AND I talk about both in an upcoming collaboration with ‘The Skinny Confidential’ on her blog, wink wink).

Everything you are feeling right now IS NORMAL. Because guess what? In motherhood there IS NO NORMAL. Throw normal out the fucking window. It no longer exists darling girl AND you will spend the rest of your life quietly comparing notes and trying desperately to keep your eyes on your own paper. The paper being YOUR children and YOUR own experience with said children.

Do I think you should bitch to someone with a sick child that you are disappointed that you won’t be throwing shiny black patent leather Mary Janes on your little boy for your first family photo shoot? Uh nope! That would be insensitive and make you an asshole. But can you rightfully feel thrown off and intimidated that there is a penis growing inside of you and that you have zero idea what the hell to do with it once it arrives? Uh yep!

As for the pink bows, the frothy white dresses and the shopping till you drop with your daughter that you are NOT having, that image is a bunch of bullshit sold to your imagination and should be dismissed immediately. I mean it. Here’s the truth. You have approximately 3-5 years to shop for that little girl until chances are, and if you’re doing something right, that little girl starts to develop her own sense of style, her own opinions and her own interests. Chances are, most of them will not align with yours.

My husband Barry (Bazz) and I have attended oodles of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs where we literally have no idea where to look or where to direct our eyes, we are in such shock at how these mini harlots are dressed. Their poor fathers trail behind them helplessly looking exhausted and dejected from the argument over modesty that they clearly lost on their way out the door that evening with their darling little girl.

What you think you’re going to get is rarely the case in life. That is the only thing you can really count on. I have girlfriends whose little girls were swathed from head to toe in pink and now refuse to run a brush through their tangled hair, and girlfriends who insisted on gender neutral themed nurseries, toys, and books who now have daughters who will only wear pink, on top of glitter, on top of sparkly fuchsia unicorns, wearing tutus. YOU CAN’T PLAN. WELCOME TO MOTHERHOOD! Feel your feelings, honor them quietly, pat your belly, and write to me if it makes you feel better. Just know that there is a soul, a being, with a temperament and a personality already in place, and it is your responsibility to welcome them to the party. You are the hostess.

Here’s what I also know….

When I found out that Madden (our first born) was a boy, I cried. I found out quite by accident (our furniture store knew the gender of the baby, we did not, and they slipped one day). I will never forget walking up our long driveway after going to the mailbox and opening up a receipt from the store for our crib with “Osherow Boy” scribbled in ink at the bottom. Tears rolled down my swollen face and in the heat of late July, deep into my 9th month of pregnancy I trekked up that long steep driveway, and my Michael Kors metallic gold ‘Birkenstock like’ sandals broke and popped off my fat AF feet, adding insult to injury. I was fat, I was hot, I was shoeless, and I was having a boy. Shit. Now what?

And then I got excited. I truly did. I made a decision to get excited and to be the best mommy to this little boy that I possibly could be.

I chose his layette with care and joy, I drove our painters to drink excessively I’m sure for THE perfectly custom blended navy paint for his nursery. And when at age 3 he sobbed on the soccer field begging us to take him home, I almost ripped a vein out of my husband’s neck to remove him immediately and get his tiny, overheated body, limp from crying, safely into his car seat. Not long after that we handed him a guitar. An electric guitar. And we embraced all that is Madden Sawyer Osherow.

When Madden was nearly two we did it all over again. This time a planned gender reveal dinner at La Cremaillere in the woods of Bedford, NY. We handed the maître d’ a sealed envelope and when it came time for dessert, the pastry chef emerged from the kitchen presenting us with a large white immaculate plate. “It’s a Boy!” was written in the fanciest of scripts in chocolate around the edge of a Napoleon the size of my pregnant belly.

Barry had worn a pale pink dress shirt and a pale pink silk tie with soft yellow elephants on it. I will never forget the look of surprise and slight sadness on his handsome face. He was convinced we were having a girl. To this day it is my favorite tie that he wears. It is a reminder that we plan and G-d laughs. It is a tangible nod to my next best gift. Our Dexie Doodle. And THIS kid plays soccer like he was born to.

For ME, there has never been a moment where I have wished for a daughter. Our sons pour so much love into me that I have never felt a longing or that I have lacked in anything. I have always been made to feel like a queen in my own home. I love being the only female and I love that for the most part, these mini men, along with their father and Norman our smallest and furriest son, place me on a pedestal. I eat my boys up and in return I have been very lucky that they smother me with love, like honey over a warm biscuit.

And, by the way, I knock on wood 100 times a day and I know that the winds could shift at any given moment. I take nothing for granted. While we both know you are far from a horrible person, we also know you are looking for the proverbial slap across the face. Brace yourself, here it comes. When I was 9 months pregnant with Madden, one of my dearest girlfriends lost her baby girl Rebecca at just 9 days old. I will never forget holding my friend who had just lost her child and not being able to get close enough to her because my very pregnant belly stood in the way of hugging her tight. Let me tell you, in that moment, what color your nursery is doesn’t f*cking matter. This is not a lecture. This is a reminder of what you already know.

Throw every preconceived notion out the window and wrap your head around this… you are the most important person in this baby’s life. His biggest cheerleader. His fiercest protector. His softest place. Dexie is now 11 years old.  And last week after being home sick from school for three days, and single handedly derailing my entire week, he climbed into bed with me, nuzzled into my neck, and said “Thank you for taking care of me, mommy.” That crusty-nosed moment was the best moment of my week.

I’m envious of you. You’re about to start everything that I am starting to look back on.

I thank G-d everyday that my job is not yet finished with my boys. That they still need me.

Yours is just beginning. Pat your belly with love from me

Xx Bee

Leave a Comment

7 Comments

  1. Kathy wrote:

    Beautiful and so helpful to even those of us who have older children — a reminder of what our job is, why it’s so important, and how fulfilling it is. Thank you, Jule.

    Posted 2.13.20 Reply
  2. Sarah wrote:

    I absolutely love this! I am also having my second boy (in a couple of weeks!!) and when I found out I was pregnant with another boy I cried. I didn’t want to see ungrateful, but I had always dreamt of those girly dates to American girl and pedicures with my mini me. I’m now really excited about two little boys to mother and love forever! Thank you for this beautiful article ❤️

    Posted 2.13.20 Reply
  3. debby bennett wrote:

    How beautiful Julianne. I am sooooo proud of you. You write such wonderful things. Never knew you did this. It just popped up on my email. Very surprised and pleased. Funny thing, after Jason was born and I got pregnant with Elizabeth, I was disappointed it was a girl. Was so used to having a boy but of course, that all chanaged when she came.
    Keep up the good work. I love you.
    Aunt Debby

    Posted 2.13.20 Reply
  4. rebecca lefkowitz wrote:

    Wow! As the mother of three delicious boys you just put to paper (or screen) so many of my thoughts on having boys. You did so in your eloquent, hysterical, engaging BEE way that so many of us enjoy! My boys are 19, 16 and 12 and although they are extremely different from each other they give the best hugs and love to cuddle still, most of the time. Their interests and personalities vary tremendously but they have great respect for us and each other and love spending time as a family. Thank you for writing this!

    Posted 2.13.20 Reply
  5. David's Wife wrote:

    Blown away by your response to Gender Bender. So perfectly said. I too am a mother of 2 boys and have NEVER looked back on not having a daughter. Well maybe 1x a year when I want to go to NYC, have lunch at Bergdorf’s and then see the Christmas tree, go skating and have tea at the Plaza–otherwise I’m good. Want to join me next year? 😉

    Posted 2.13.20 Reply
  6. Tracy wrote:

    I remember every single one of these moments. What chair you were sitting in when we all heard the store screwed up. I think there were muffins involved. And putting my first picture of Dexie in a drawer to see if I got it right at the anatomy scan. The dinner reveal. Those boys have become 2 of the menschiest benches ever because of their mama. And to whoever snags tgem… BOY are they luckiest too! Beautiful memories and beautiful boys. By the way, the other perk is that girl furniture doesn’t go well in either of their rooms <3

    Posted 2.14.20 Reply
  7. Jody wrote:

    I have finally sat down to read this without my girls interrupting me ….Wow. <3 Yes to all of these heart-grabbing thoughts Jule! Love your heart so much. Your precious boys! What a great mom you are to them. This was so beautiful.
    I am a mama to 3 girls. I never thought I would have girls. I thought I’d have all boys and maybe one girl (i used to dream of 6 kids!! hahahaahahahahaha!!!:) ) I never did find out what I was having with my first 2— other than a ‘baby’ (as my husband would say)! I really was happy with whatever the outcome, I just wanted a healthy bub….I just really didn’t think God would give me girls because I could relate better with boys/men in my life….Ha! As you say God laughs–and daily i’m floored by His sense of humour! But at baby #3 I decided to find out in case I could get rid of rubbermaid stacks of girl stuff! That pregnancy was so different and I was certain the result would come back "boy". Not so! I was shocked. I had a moment of sadness and moved on. I kept my rubbermaids…I knew this was my last baby. My husband was thrilled. He always said he wanted 4 girls. His fourth girl is me now! 😉
    What you say about throwing preconceived ideas out the window, just relaxing and letting them be is so true….I sit back and don’t plan much at all…thankful my family never did that with me…and it is so interesting seeing them grow into who they are…not who I expect them to be…different passions, different views on justice in the house 🙂 and different styles!! They all want long hair but hate brushing it!! Gahhhhhh…..Best of all they all have a bit of their mama’s wild, non-conformist spirit 😉 and just their breathing makes it an awesome, hair raising ride! Thanks for this reminder for me even now that the time I still have with them is precious. So often I’ve wished the time away out of exhaustion and anger….and need to embrace the joy and love more. They still need me. <3

    Posted 2.18.20 Reply