Changing the Baby by Sandra Arnold

The nurse held the baby up for her to see. “You have a fine boy Mrs Harris!"

She turned her head away and wept. Years of football matches and muddy knees stretched in front of her. Toy trains and trucks. Snotty noses and spiky hair. She’d dreamed of dolls and dresses.

“Well, you know what they say, Mrs Harris, A daughter’s a daughter until she’s a wife, but a son is a son all of his life."

Yes, but the version she’d heard was the other way round. And she’d been so sure it would be a girl when she chose the name.

“Well, at least your husband will be pleased. Men like having sons. And the name you’ve chosen can be changed to a boy’s name just by altering one letter."

At first she did it only once or twice, but when complete strangers complimented her on her pretty baby she did it more often. Unfortunately, Ralph was at the front door one day when she pushed the pram back down the path and when he saw his son he asked her what the hell she thought she was playing at and did she want Frank growing up to be a cross-dresser, or worse? He wasn’t particularly soothed by her assurance that she’d made the dress for his sister’s baby girl and she just wanted to see what it looked like on.

When Francis announced at the age of 21 that he was going to marry Sam, she offered to make the wedding dress. Nope, he said. It would be a registry office affair. Sam was pregnant.

At the wedding Sam’s mother commented that she really hoped the baby would be a boy. Boys were so much easier. Her husband had kept his Hornby train set all these years and had already brought it out to polish it up.

At the hospital Sam’s parents were looking flustered and fidgety. That meant it must be a girl, she whispered to Ralph, even though Francis had refused to tell them the results of the scans and when he rang to say the baby was born he said 'it’. Her heart soared when she looked at the tiny being in Samantha’s arms, then plummeted when she saw the grey blanket it was cocooned in. So... had they picked a name?



They were not going to assign a gender at this tender age, explained Sam, hence the gender neutral name. They would not use gender specific pronouns. Their child would play with gender neutral toys and wear gender neutral clothing and colours. In time, added Francis, the child could make its own decision which gender, if any, it wanted to identify with. This was a win- win all round, yes?


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