When we found out we were having another baby and giving our two boys a sibling, the reaction of most people was predictable.
“Of course you must want a girl after two boys.”
And while their hearts were in the right place, it annoyed me to no end.
It may have been my pregnancy addled brain but I took it to mean that I mustn’t be satisfied with my boys. That they were somehow lacking. At no point prior to that pregnancy had I thought “well this is great, but it would be better if we had a girl”.
We had a miscarriage between our first two children and our younger son was our rainbow baby. Due to a bleed in early pregnancy all we genuinely cared about at the 20 week scan was that everything was OK. We hadn’t even told our sons we were having a baby until after that scan.
Some mums claim to have “mother’s intuition” when it comes to the gender of their baby. I’m sceptical. Let’s face it, they have a 50% chance of being right either way. Despite the old wives tales pointing to us having a girl (craving sweet things, all day sickness, looking and feeling like crap) I was still convinced I was carrying another boy.
We thankfully got the words every expectant parent wants to hear.
“Everything looks fine”.
The relief! And after asking us whether we wanted to know the gender, we were informed we were having a girl.
I was shocked, having been so convinced I was giving the boys another brother. To be honest I felt mixed emotions. Baby number 3 was always going to be our last baby. I’d convinced myself that much that we were having another boy, that a small part of me was grieving for the baby boy I thought I was carrying. My days of having baby boys was over. It might sound silly, but it took some getting used to.
But I did get used to it and after what felt like the world’s longest pregnancy, our little Anna Rose was born.
Having only had experience of boys I thought perhaps Anna would be different.
The boys were born 16 days and 10 days past their due date. Perhaps A would be born on time?
Silly mummy. 4 days over due.
My boys hated sleep. In fact at 8 and 6 they still do. Perhaps A would be a sleeper.
Silly mummy. She was, and still is, the worse sleeper of the three.
Well at least I’ll have another female in the house. We’ll be best friends!
Now I know she’s only 2 but to be frank I feel she’s merely tolerating my existence. And that’s on a good day. Other, more soul destroying days, I get the feeling she just doesn’t like me. (I get it. I’m an acquired taste.)
Anna is not your typical little girl. She’s not a fan of dresses. She’s not one for dolls and playing nicely.
Nope, our girl likes dinosaurs, trains, dogs and rather bizarrely, chickens. She likes running, jumping in puddles and playing with mud. She’s headstrong and stubborn and needs to be heard.
She looks like butter wouldn’t melt but at times she’s just plain exhausting. After a particularly trying “no mummy” filled day, my husband has actually come home from work to find me in tears and mumbling “she’s trying to break me”.
But of course by this point she’s sleepy from her bath, in her pyjamas, clapping with excitement because Daddy is home and running to him with open arms like a little blue eyed angel.
He didn’t get to witness the hour of hell prior to that where I got drenched trying to give her a bath, before wrestling her into her pyjamas and simultaneously shouting to the boys to stop trying to kill each other. By the time my husband comes home at 7pm the kids are doing a fantastic impression of well behaved children while his wife has a slightly deranged look in her eye.
But I have to begrudgingly admit that she’s not all bad. I say begrudgingly because I spent last night on a poo hunt in her bedroom because she’d taken her nappy off and hidden the poo under her bed, so I’m currently not her biggest fan.
(I wish I was kidding. The smell is permanently stained in my nostrils. I shall never feel clean again.)
But as I said she isn’t all bad. I admire her tenacity and bravery. Our girl is as tough as old boots. Whatever the boys are doing – football, rugby, cartwheels, rolling down hills – Anna wants to do too. This inevitably ends badly but she brushes herself off and tries again.
She will not be pushed about by her brothers. If it’s her toy she lets them know. Actually even if it isn’t her toy, she will let it be known that she wants it!
Saying that, she does adore her brothers and they’re pretty fond of her too (when she’s not destroying their Lego creations.) She has a similar love for her cousins and becomes excited when someone mentions their names.
She loves animals and is unusually gentle with them for a 2 year old.
Most importantly she has empathy. She hates seeing anyone cry, even if she is the reason for the tears.
“Oh no! Ben cry!”
Yes Anna, that’s because you threw your shoe at his head.
She comforts without needing to be prompted. In fact it’s one of the few times she’ll give out hugs. I have to pretend to cry to get a cuddle off my own daughter!
But at bedtime when I’ve read her a story and sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star a hundred times she pulls my head down and tickles my face with her blanket. The blanket is disgusting and despite being washed on a regular basis is fit for the bin, but the thought is there. It’s her way of being affectionate.
I’m learning to pick my battles. If she wants to wear a batman outfit with Christmas socks in the middle of July, does it matter? If she wants to play rugby with the boys, or jump in puddles or do a rolypoly in the middle of Asda, does it really matter?
I’m proud that she has that spirit. And as exhausting and frustrating it is to battle with her now, I know that strength of spirit will see her through when she’s older. She’ll be able to stand up for what she believes in. Make sure her voice is heard.
Perhaps she’s more like me than I care to admit!