Excited to announce the gender of our little one!

When I saw my OB’s number pop up on my caller ID, my heart fluttered.

I knew it was one of the nurse practitioners calling to share the results from a recent blood test I took to determine Baby Tarpley’s gender.

I excused myself from the video conference call I was on and picked up the phone.

“Are you ready for the fun news?” the nurse practitioner asked.


“What do you think it is?”

“Well, Troy would really like to have a boy, and I’d really like to have a girl. And something tells me it’s a girl.”

“You would be right! Mother’s instinct.”

“It is?!!! We’re going to have a girl!!”

A few screams, squeals, and shrieks later, I returned to my conference call, hardly able to keep my composure.


I was tempted to call Troy with the news. I ultimately decided to wait and tell him in person, though, and hoped I could keep it a secret long enough to surprise him. During my lunch break, I went to Publix and told the baker I had just found out my baby’s gender and wanted to surprise my husband with a sweet treat. The baker said, “Now I have goosebumps!” and then shared the news with two other bakers. Pretty soon, I had three bakers thinking of how they could help. Given the time constraints, we decided on a simple approach: decorate a small cheesecake with “It’s a girl!” in pink frosting, surrounded by pink roses. (So girly, I know, but I couldn’t help but love it!)

I called the restaurant where Troy and I were planning to eat on Friday night and asked if they could keep the cake for the afternoon and serve it to us after dinner. The same girl I talked with and who I gave the cake to ended up being our waitress later that evening.

It was hard not telling Troy when he came home from work. It helped, though, that he didn’t know the nurse would be calling me earlier in the day. I had gotten the blood work done in July, and we had been anxiously awaiting the results for weeks. Family had been asking if we had found out the gender yet, and we kept wondering when we’d finally be able to give them an answer. During dinner, the gender conversation naturally came up, but I somehow managed to pretend that I hadn’t heard anything.

At Alesia, one of our favorite restaurants in St. Pete.

Once dinner ended, I could see the waitress getting the cake out of the refrigerator and putting it on a plate. My heart pounding, I quickly told Troy I had some news to share with him. I got my phone out as the waitress set down the cake. Unable to stop smiling, Troy let out a lot of “wows!” and “holy cows!” It made me so happy to see him happy, to know that gender wouldn’t ever alter our love for our little baby. For as much as Troy wanted a boy, I could tell he would be just as content with a girl.

“Knowing you wanted a girl makes me even happier that it’s a girl,” he told me.

Troy and I quickly realized that there’s something truly special about finding out your baby’s gender. It has already made us feel closer to our little one, who we can now start calling her a “she” instead of an “it.” We can now call her by her name — Madeline. (We’ve had this name picked out for months, but still haven’t figured out if we’ll spell it Madeline or Madelyn. I like the “Y” because it’s different and more reflective of the way we want to pronounce her name, but as someone whose name is often misspelled, I hesitate to subject our little girl to that. We still have plenty of time to figure it out!)

I had a feeling all along that it would be a girl. Maybe because I’ve always pictured having a girl (well, two or three girls, actually!) Having lost my mom when I was 11, I’ve wanted to carry on the mother-daughter relationship that I cherished as a child and wished I had later in life. I want to be the mom who can live to see all the milestones that my own mother never got to experience — graduations, first jobs, weddings. And I want to pass on lessons that my mother and grandmothers taught me — about gender stereotypes, ambition, and beauty.

Even though I’ll want to dress our girl in pretty bows and dresses when she’s young, I’ll also want to teach her that she can grow up to be whatever she wants to be — an engineer, a biologist, a writer, a professor, a CEO. I’ll want to show her that beauty comes in all different forms and isn’t defined by a number on a scale. I’ll want to remind her every day that she is unconditionally loved.

My grandma with Madeline the doll.
My grandma with Madeline the doll.

Throughout my pregnancy, I picked up on hints that the baby inside me was a girl. When Troy and I visited my maternal grandma on July 24 (what would have been my mom’s 59th birthday), we told her that she was going to have a new great grandchild. After we shared the news, I had an urge to go upstairs to my mom’s old room. (My grandma still lives in the same house where my mom was raised.) I hadn’t been up there in years. When I walked over to my mom’s old bed, I saw a Madeline doll. I sat on the bed and held it tight, thinking back to the time when my mom bought me a Madeline doll years ago. I don’t know where that doll is now; it’s likely camping out in a box with other long-lost toys in my dad’s attic.

“Look what I found,” I said, showing Troy and my grandma the Madeline doll. “I’m going to count this as a sign that we’re going to have our own Madeline…”

“I bought that years ago,” said my grandma, a doll-lover. “I’ve always liked that little red-haired doll.”

My grandma propped Madeline on her lap, took an admiring look at her, then told me she wanted me to have her. When I got back home to Florida, I put the doll in what will soon be our baby’s nursery.

Friday night, after finding out the gender, I brought Madeline the doll downstairs and took a photo with her, me, Troy, and Clara the cat. I thought about all the changes that are about to happen in our lives, and the reality that Troy and I will soon be holding a real Madeline (or Madelyn?) in our arms.

We can’t wait for that special day to arrive.

Clara looks skeptical, but I think she’ll like her baby sister…

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Poynter.org. Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at mjtenore@gmail.com.

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