I grew up in a somewhat traditional Chinese household where it’s no big secret: Chinese parents prefer to have baby boys. After all, sons carry the family name, which ensures the continuation of the bloodline. Daughters, on the other hand, will eventually be married off to another family. Sons are also tasked with taking over and maintain the family business. It’s simply one of those general truths in our society.

When I got married, I felt the pressure that this societal truth brought about. My husband was the only son among three siblings. I really had no way of controlling what our baby’s gender was going to be, but I knew I would feel at fault if I could not deliver a baby boy. Imagine my relief when I did. Exaggerated as it might sound, I felt as if I had completed one of my life’s missions.

Three years later, we were ready for another child. We wanted another boy. I have seen firsthand how difficult it is to be an only son in a Chinese family. I did not want the pressure of the clan’s whole future to rest on our son’s shoulders. I wanted him to have a brother who would help him with whatever legacy would be left with him. I remember that fateful day we went for an ultrasound. The doctor said, “Congratulations, you’re going to have a baby girl this time!”

I should have been happy. My baby was in excellent health! But I felt my world crumble. I feared that we might become like those couples who would have one baby after another just to have a boy. That was definitely not in our plans. My husband fell silent when I told him that we were having a girl. We looked and acted so depressed and out of sorts that our parents lectured us on how we should be thankful and happy that we were being blessed with another child.

When our daughter Keirra was born, she was afflicted with Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS). Her lungs were not yet fully developed, and she had to breathe through tubes attached to a ventilator. I never prayed as fervently as I did during those days. Keirra had to stay at the Neonatal ICU after I was discharged. I visited her every single day. Through God’s grace, Keirra made a full recovery, and the doctors assured us that she would grow up to be a healthy, normal child.

Keirra is now three. She is a sweet, loving, and happy child. My husband and I agree that having both a son and a daughter gives our family balance and that we are truly fortunate for having been blessed with such wonderful children. Although we’re still hoping for another son, we have learned to be perfectly content with what God has given us. Boy or girl, it doesn’t matter. We will gladly accept whatever He is willing to give us someday.

(First published in the April 2008 issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines’ “Blessings” section as "Of Sons and Daughters." Photo by Stefan Lins via Flickr Creative Commons; used for illustrative purposes only.)

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