The camp was an amazing, intense week, which reminded me that actually, I can organise things, I can run a team, and I can build yoga and quiet time into even the busiest of days, and that I have a beautiful support network. The camp is also near where Z's ashes are, so I was able to visit her everyday, which I loved. But I'm exhausted from the 7am-11pm days and from coming home to big fights with El Prima and a chaotic house with 7 members of El Prima's family staying over - including in our bedroom. I mean, I'm taking the fact that they now come to stay as a lovely acceptance of our relationship (at last) but seven people as well as the four of us who already live there in a three bedroom house with only one couch and very little living space is very difficult!
El Prima's eldest daughter has also come to stay - very welcome after a long absence, and she's actually been the most helpful and thoughtful of all the guests. The rest of the family have now headed home, and we've got our house back, but there's nothing like in-laws to put a strain on things. (There were also some unintentionally hilarious moments - El Prima's older sister seeing that I was pregnant and asking in a semi-scandalised voice, "Does your father know?" I thought she was quite restrained, given that she's suggested on previous occasions that she could find a husband in Lebanon for me.)
In Adzuki news, everything went well on our 20 week scan. For the benefit of my dad, and anyone else who doesn't want to know Adzuki's sex, here is a little spoiler alert image so that you have to scroll down to find out. Just imagine some "oooooh-wah-ooooooooh" thinking music like they had on the 1980s Australian TV gameshow Perfect Match...
Image (and context, should you wish to brush up on your 1980s antipodean game show trivia) from here.
Okay, ...................................... drumroll........................................
He's a boy!
We had quite a hilarious ultrasound operator. First, she asked, "Is there anything you'd like to know about this baby?" And while I was temped to reel off a long list starting with, "where does this baby stand on the middle east crisis / circumcision debates / global warming?" and constantly punctuated with "will we get to bring this baby home living and breathing?", what we actually said was, "yes, can we find out the sex?"
To which she replied, "Well, there's the scrotum!"
I'll leave the visuals up to your imagination, but let's just say there wasn't really any room for confusion on that issue. I responded in quite bad mother fashion by immediately bursting into tears. Distraught, sad tears, I'm ashamed to say.
Let me try to explain this. We are so delighted. We are so bloody lucky to be in this position, with a healthy looking Adzuki kicking around my insides. But one of the reasons I wanted to find out the sex despite being a big believer in surprises and non-gender specific baby clothing was that I knew that I was somehow imagining a little sister for Z, and that I had invested a huge amount of energy into the idea of having a living daughter. I knew I needed time to work through all the emotions tied to having either a boy or a girl. I had been so convinced I was having a boy when I was pregnant with Haloumi / Z, and was so fond of that idea, that I really associated finding out she was a girl with first seeing her face - and that amazing surprise of seeing your own baby for the first time. Having a daughter was this amazing surprise gift from Z, that I didn't even know how much I wanted, even if she couldn't live. I know none of this really makes sense, but I guess when you know so little about your own child, you hang onto the small bits of info that you have got, and her sex was one of those things. And despite me knowing intellectually that Adzuki has always been a different baby to Z, that Z is irreplaceable - gone forever as the baby that we knew her - knowing that he's a boy is a clear confirmation that no, she's not coming back.
And poor little boys - they have so much crap to deal with in this world (I know, little girls too). But all those stereotypes about sport, and being tough and preferring trains / cars / mechanical un-empathetic shit.... I know that's not the whole picture for little boys, and I'm glad that we have such a beautiful diversity of gorgeous men in our lives - from my dad and brother, to El Prima's nephews, darling poet / engineer / loving dad friends and husbands / partners of friends and all our beloved gay boyfriends, including Z and Adzuki's donor. But just knowing opens up a whole new field of worry for Adzuki, and how he might navigate this messed up world.
The day after the scan was new years eve, and the kind of hot, dry day where just walking from the house to the car made you feel like every bit of moisture was being baked out of you. El Prima and I braved the late afternoon heat to visit the local pool for its last half an hour of evening opening. I did backstroke under the dry blue sky and wept into the chlorine. When I looked up again, the clouds had re-formed, and directly in my line of vision was the cloud shape of a new baby's face. Here he is, this tiny boy, completely dependent on me, and all I can do is weep because he's not a girl. I know this sounds very flaky, but I think that was Z and Adzuki, conspiring to rearrange the water atoms in the sky to remind me of who it is here in my belly - my beautiful little son.
(Z's day on 27 December deserves its own post and is next in line, but suffice to say that I now think it is pretty significant that one of the songs I chose for her play list (we hadn't had the scan yet at that stage) was "Here comes the Sun".)