I remember the day of her birth.
Placed on my belly, the warm, moist form looked up at me brightly then started crawling toward my breast making sucking sounds - before I even said hello.
I scooped her into my arms and moved the umbilical cord to have a look.
Then I looked again.
Then I looked AGAIN.
The bossy midwife who I didn't like called across the room
"WELL? What have you got?"
I ignored her and turned to Beloved.
"we got a girl."
In amongst the high of birth, the indescribable love that was washing through me toward her and the praise and thanksgiving to God for this precious soul in my arms there was sheer, unabated, TERROR.
What are you THINKING Lord?
This isn't the plan.
Sons, I was going to have all sons.
Boys are resilient, out there, EASY!
I can do boys.
I can tell what boys are thinking, most of the time.
They don't play games with people's heads.
Boys always, on some level, think their Mum is brilliant.
Girls - well they seem to learn different at some stage.
Everything is navy blue and red Lord, EVERYTHING.
I don't think I even have a pink blanket.
I have been referring to this child as "he" for months and months.
I've scarred her for life already I'm sure.
What to I know about girls????
I don't even know about being a woman myself.
I have screwed that up royally,
along with my marriage and everything else you have given me.
So I looked around from under the warm sheet, flung over me and my newborn amid the birthing fluids.
I saw my husband, a man who I loved with the greatest passion,
a man who I had been separated from in terms of address
for almost the entire pregnancy,
a man who I had been separated from on deeper levels for much, much longer.
The look on his face was - joy, amazement, and a million other things.
The shock numbed me at first I think. I had been so sure that she was a boy. Terrified of the alternative.
We didn't find out our baby's gender during the scan, possibly because I was afraid to find out in retrospect.
I had never been totally comfortable with being a woman. I never had a desire to be a man or was confused about my gender or anything like that, but the mantle didn't sit easy. To be a role model to a little girl seemed completely beyond my capabilities.
Beloved and I were trying to piece together the broken shards of our marriage and the little one I held in my arms was the only thing to make me truly, deeply, happy for a very long time. Possibly the only thing to make me truly happy ever at that stage. And I was DETERMINED to do the best I could. Stubborn is one thing I CAN do well, so I set my jaw stepped out.
Over the months and years that followed there was an amazing journey for me. A journey of motherhood, yes, but a whole different journey meshed with the first, but at the same time completely separate.
The journey of becoming a woman.
A journey I am yet to complete.