So, yesterday Saleh and I went to the doctor, had our first big ultrasound, and got the lovely news that our little Wilderness Explorer is a…
Indeed, we are the proud parents of a future disciple of Ellie Fredricksen and Hello Kitty (that is, if she’s anything like her mother). And she is a beautiful girl, if I do say so myself. We saw her little arms, her little legs, the top of her little head, her little tummy. And we could see her moving, too, especially as the ultrasound tech pushed my tummy around with the transducer, trying to get a good look at Simsim’s (well, I guess technically we should call her Simsimah now, but it just feels weird. She’ll stay Simsim for now) girl parts. Simsim did not like this at all. We could see her kicking her little legs furiously in protest. She’s a tough little lady!
Everyone in the family seems pretty happy that we have a little girl on the way, especially my sister-in-law. She has been rooting for a baby girl since she found out I was pregnant. (“Our family is all boys,” she said.) After Saleh dropped me off back at home and headed back to work (and went out for lunch with his coworkers to celebrate his daughter on the way), I sat and had lunch with my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law.
“Did you see her nunu?” my sister-in-law asked anxiously. Then, “You need to learn these words now. ‘Nunu’ is a cute way to say ‘girl parts.’ ‘Dudu’ is the same, but for boy parts.”
“Good to know,” I said. Then, “No, we didn’t see her nunu, exactly…but we could definitely see that there was no dudu.”
“Ohhhhh,” she said, nodding knowingly.
In true Saudi male form, Saleh had a mild freakout upon learning the news that he has a child with a nunu on the way. He had been rooting desperately for a boy. Although he’s very happy that we have a healthy, perfect baby girl, he had his hopes pinned on a boy because, as he put it, “Boys are easier.” (Although I’m pretty sure my–American–dad, who also had a mild freakout in 1983 upon learning he was the father of a child with a nunu, would disagree with him on that one.)
“I don’t know anything about girls,” he moaned. “And I know will spend the rest of my life worrying about my baby girl. I will worry all the time. And baby girls aren’t close to their daddies like they are to their mommies. She will grow up and get married and leave us.”
We had a long discussion about why A) he knows more about girls than he thinks, B) we’re both going to spend the rest of our lives worrying about our babies, no matter what sex they are C) baby girls can absolutely be as close to their daddies as they are to their mommies–it all depends on how involved the daddy wants to be and D) (okay, I blew up a little on this one) so it’s fine for me to grow up and leave my parents a half a world away but our daughter can’t grow up to make her own choices and live her life wherever she sees fit? Do you think I left my parents because I’m a flaky girl and I don’t love them as much as my brother does? Well, do you? DO YOU?
Ah, the hormones are in full rage.
Despite this reassurance, Saleh held out hope for an hour or so that the ultrasound was wrong, and that we would discover on the delivery day that Simsim was actually a boy all along, a boy who was somehow hiding his dudu from us. Then I told my mom about this, and she replied, “Tell Saleh that we don’t want that. We don’t want him to have a dudu so tiny we can’t see it. If the baby has a dudu, we want him to really have a dudu.”
Good point, Mom.
So, resigned to the idea that Simsim is indeed the proud owner of a nunu (because, I guess, a nunu is preferable to a tiny dudu), Saleh decided we needed to do some shopping.
Until I laid out everything like this, I didn’t realize that so many of our purchases were food-related. But come on, how can you pass up a receiving blanket that has a piece of cheesecake on it? But what sort of (delicious) subliminal messages will we be sending Simsim by wrapping her in a cheesecake blanket? I remember once, before we were married, Saleh and I had a discussion about what our children might be when they grow up. I mentioned that I would be fine if our daughter wanted to be a ballerina. Saleh replied that he wasn’t worried about having to deal with how he would feel if she decided to become a ballerina when she grew up. When I asked why, he replied, “Her parents’ genes.” I guess he has a point. I can’t see the next Alessandra Ferri being wrapped in a blanket that celebrates the wonder of cheesecake. A prima ballerina could never ever truly know the wonder of cheesecake the way Mr. Mostafa and I do.
But by God, Simsim, if you become a ballerina, you can bet I will be at every single one of your performances, cheering you on. And afterward, we’ll go out for cheesecake, ballerina rules be damned. I don’t care if you’re destined to be the greatest ballerina in the world; you’re still a Hunter/Mostafa.
Anyway, Saleh picked out the little cupcake jumpsuit and the pink tiger bib. He also found a little yellow onesie that said “I love Daddy” that he desperately wanted to buy, but the only size they had was preemie. (It was really cute how excited he got about it. It’s like he’s not quite sure Simsim will love him as much as she will love me, because she’s not a boy, and, as he put it, “You’ll be her best friend for life. That’s what moms and daughters do. And especially here, I can’t do as many things with her as I can with a boy. I can’t take her to the mosque with me when she gets older. I can’t take her to gatherings of my friends.” But when he saw that onesie, his eyes lit up and got a little teary, as if to say, “It’s possible! She does love me!”) According to Simsim’s ultrasound measurements, she is right on track, growth-wise. So if she arrives around the time she should, God willing, she won’t fit into anything designed for a preemie. So we left the onesie behind, despite it being the only thing we could find in the store that said something like “I love Daddy.” But in the States, you can’t chuck a pacifier in a children’s clothing store without hitting some jumper that proclaims how much this little one loves her mommy or daddy. So I called Mom and asked her to be on the lookout for outfits for Simsim that proclaimed her devotion to her dad. She promised she’d arrive in May with a suitcase full.
Of course, now that Mr. Mostafa is in full daddy-to-a-daughter mode, we trying to figure out a name for her.
Before we found out that Simsim was a girl, we had a girl name picked out, a name that we loved. And then, once we learned that she actually was a girl, things got real. And now we’re not sure what her name will be, because as much as we love the name that we’ve chosen, we’re not sure how that name will fit in Saudi Arabia. And I’m not even sure that that name fits her.
See, naming babies in Saudi Arabia can be a tricky business, especially when compared to the States. In the U.S., you can name your kid pretty much whatever you want. In Saudi Arabia, there are restrictions. When you go to register your kid’s name, it can be rejected for pretty much any reason–not Arabic-sounding enough, not a nice meaning, too Western. So you have to choose a name that has a chance of being approved, or resign yourself to the idea that if your kid has dual citizenship (as ours will) he or she will have your chosen name on his or her American (or whatever) passport and a Saudi-approved name that comes as close to your chosen name as you possibly can on his or her Saudi passport.
Secondly, we both want a name that sounds good in each of our native languages. We want a name that won’t invite too much ridicule on either side of the globe. Every time Saleh floats a suggestion for an Arabic name, I say it out loud in my brother’s down-home Ozarks accent, and if it sounds utterly ridiculous, it gets nixed.
And an odd discovery we’ve made is that many names that I find cute in English sound like Arabic stripper names to Saleh (Me: “What about Lucy? Lucy is a cute name.” Saleh: “Why don’t we just ship her off to belly dancer school in Egypt as soon as you pop her out?”), and many Arabic names that he finds cute sound like English stripper names to me (Saleh: “What about Luluah?” Me: “Oh yeah, that totally sounds like a diplomat’s name. More like a stripper for diplomats. I can hear it now–‘Las Vegas, let’s give it up for the lovely, luscious Luluah!'”).
Thirdly, once a Saudi baby comes along, the baby’s dad will be known amongst his friends as “Abu [baby’s name here]” (abu means “father of”). (And technically, the mother will be known as “Umm [baby’s name here],” and of course, umm means “mother of.” But honestly, I’m not worried so much about that, because I’m not Saudi. I expect most people will just keep on calling me Nicole or Nikki.) So Saleh wants a name that won’t invite ridicule from his friends, since he won’t be known as Saleh much anymore. (This parental title that will be formed with the eldest child’s first name is, by the way, called a kunya in Arabic.)
Oh, well. Despite not really having a name chosen yet, we are over the moon about Simsim and her nunu. And by the time she arrives in May (or possibly early June), I know we will have found the perfect name for her, a name that just clicks when say it as I go about my day, chatting with her and singing to her, as well as when Saleh talks to her intently through my tummy.
We can’t wait to meet her.