“And you wanted to know the gender?” The sonographer asked coolly, an afterthought, as she finished calculating every inch of Nugget and I replied with a faux-casual “Aha”, the only air my seized-up breath could push out, held in expectancy. It was always a given we would find out the sex, pregnancy itself was enough of a surprise that we didn’t need anymore!
From the earliest days I had felt, very strongly, that Nugget was a girl, a powerful “mothers’ instinct”, I guess, based on nothing tangible, except that everybody had confirmed it. “You’re definitely having a girl,” as if by a window into the womb everyone had that piece of insider knowledge. I even had a name – Aurora – that had come to me, as if chosen by something much larger. But I also had a logical head, realising that I couldn’t get too attached to this fabrication, however physical it might feel.
It seemed to me that men, having relished their time in the spot light, were slowly becoming obsolete, that boys had stopped being born. We need them less and less now. My friend, convinced she was having a boy found out she was having a girl, as did another friend, and within the couple of weeks before this scan my opinion started to do a slow 180. How many girls could really be born before someone had a boy?
I hadn’t revealed my change in opinion to Clifford, who was still entirely set on the fact that Nugget must be a girl, so now there was a bet on, if only for minimal pocket change. My friend, who is only a week or so ahead of me, said that the nurse had told her to take a few laps around the hospital grounds, in order to get the baby in a position to be able to tell the gender. However, there was no such need with Nugget. “You see those two round things, here and here,” the sonographer pointed to the black and white shapes on the screen, “those are the little bum cheeks. And this thing dangling between them, that tells you what you want to know!” Nugget was presenting his manhood proudly for us all to bear witness.
Clifford left the hospital radiating from ear to ear, the words “my son” departing from his grinning jaw on every twentieth step. He would have been ecstatic if Nugget was a girl, and in pretty much every aspect it wouldn’t really have mattered – he would still have taken her skating, introduced her to motorbikes, played football with her and enjoyed taking her down the pub. Even though he likes to think he’s going to be the type of parent who enforces the law (where I feel discussion and intelligent compromise might be more useful) I’m sure a girl would have looped him round her little finger so fast he’d be doing backspins. Deep down I know he wanted, or at least he thought he wanted, a son.
I don’t feel differently either way, except that as soon as I knew Nugget was a boy everything shifted vividly into high focus. Clifford as a kid looks a bit like my bother as a kid (weirdly) which is obviously similar of what I looked like as a kid. They say in the end people want to procreate with others who have the same genes as they do. We are all from the white gold, blue aryan angelic persuasion. Very suddenly I could picture Nugget and even what he might be like, what he might become.
That evening we met in the pub with my mum, dad, brother and Clifford’s mum, dad, sister and sisters’ husband, because the two families had not yet met. We had wanted to tell them the news of the pregnancy in person but it had ended up being done over the phone. And everyone had needed a bit of time to swallow and make sense of our news before getting fully excited, including us. Now seemed like a good time to get everyone together for a drink and a curry.
Once the initial introductions had been made and everyone had a beverage clutched inside their paws, I looked at Clifford to make the announcement.
He pointed his own drink happily towards our parents, “You’re going to have a grandson.”