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February 20, 2017

When I found out I was going to have a son, I was thrilled ... and a little nervous!

Parenting Katie's Baby
022117_katiesbaby_kg Ryan Gagnon /for PhillyVoice

One year ago, Katie found out she was going to have a son.

One year ago, I found out that I was carrying a boy. I will never forget the moment when I told my husband that he was going to have a son. We were both ecstatic.

When I was 12 weeks pregnant, I chose to have a noninvasive prenatal screening because I was 34 years old and wanted to know my baby’s risk for genetic disorders. A bonus of the Panorama blood test was that I would be able to find out the sex of my baby about two months before the ultrasound could tell it. When the nurse told me over the phone that our baby was a healthy boy, I could not stop crying tears of joy. I would have been just as happy if told that I was going to have a girl. It was just a relief to know that our child was well.

Even though I was already so thrilled to be expecting, knowing that I was going to have a son made the pregnancy even more exciting for me. The conversation about names was no longer abstract. I dreamed about the day I would meet our baby boy. My husband started watching videos of fathers teaching their sons how to fish and mountain bike. It was a joyous time in my pregnancy.

I felt pretty confident about becoming a mother. As the oldest of three girls and one of the oldest of 32 first cousins, I had a lot of experience with baby-sitting and child care. I knew how to change diapers, feed, burp and soothe a baby. But most of my experience was with little girls. Once I knew I was going to have a son, I started to wonder: What do I know about raising a little boy? Would it be that much different than having a girl? How would I ensure that I was doing everything he needed to develop into an amazing man like his daddy? I started to feel some nerves and pressure about being prepared to be the mother of a son, so like most things in my pregnancy, I started reading and researching.

I thought that it was just a stereotype that boys are rough-and-tumble, gun-loving, thrill-seeking little men. But it turns out many of these traits are associated with little boys for real reasons. Boys go to the emergency room more often than girls because they are more fearless, overestimate their physical abilities and love a little danger.

Boys do not listen as well as girls. Considering the selective hearing that seems to plague my husband and father, this did not come as a great surprise to me, but the scientific research behind it is concrete. The area of a girl’s brain that handles verbal processing develops sooner than a boy's, and a girl’s hearing picks up speech patterns better. Sons frequently love guns and gun play because it helps them process some of their emotions.

As someone who enjoys shooting skeet, I know that girls can like guns, too. But boys are drawn to gun play more than girls, and as long as it is done in a safe, educational and responsible way, there is no harm in encouraging it. Only time will tell what kind of person Killian will develop into, but understanding some of the differences about boys is helpful to me as his mama in developing strategies on how to best care for and teach him.

My husband is an incredible man. He is everything I ever wanted and could ever hope for in a partner. Our son is so lucky to have this role model in his life as his father. If I am ever unsure about how to parent Killian, I am going to look to my husband for guidance and advice. After all, he is a man and a pretty awesome, successful one at that.

When I found out I was going to have a son, I hoped that he would be just like his daddy. Whether or not Killian is like his father or chooses a different path in life, I will love and support him unconditionally and always do my very best for him. Being Killian’s mother is the greatest blessing of my life. I am so grateful for my beautiful baby boy.

Share stories about your sons or tips for mothers with boys in the comments section below or tweet me @ThePhillyVoice and @KathleenEGagnon.

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