Having a baby/ becoming a family with a baby clarifies the competing discourses and discursive influences that shape human behavior. One is gender– I find that my daughter is pressed, oddly early (hours/ days/ weeks/ months old) into a gender identity. Her hospital bracelet is “her first piece of jewelry.” At the pediatrician’s office, the doctor coos to her “aren’t you a pretty girl?” She is mostly “cute” and “gorgeous” to relatives (hopefully if I had a son, he would be too?). Her large size, energy, sturdiness, and motor skills are not commented on so much– perhaps these are harder to appreciate in any baby? Or, these are not qualities that matter in a female baby.

I also notice the gendering of my husband, and assumptions about his involvement, competence, and role as a parent.  There is a push to paint him as other than deeply invested, a full collaborator and equal co-parent, and a partner in figuring out how to care for the new person in our family.

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