Biting into pastel-coloured cake pops, our friends cheered as the vibrant blue sponge appeared inside. ‘A boy!’ I grinned to my husband Daniel, then 30. It was January 2014, and we were having a gender-reveal party for our second child, due that April. We already had a boy, Grant, then three, and I couldn’t wait for him to have a little brother. ‘I’ll have a house full of boys, I’m outnumbered!’ I laughed. But, secretly, I couldn’t wait.
As my bump grew, I daydreamed about the future, my two sons playing sports together, squabbling over whose turn it was on the computer. Grant would have a best friend for life with his brother. ‘Maybe they’ll be each other’s best man one day,’ I smiled to Daniel. It was all so exciting.
Our son Easton arrived in April 2014. ‘Congratulations, a beautiful baby boy,’ smiled the midwife, putting the tiny bundle in my arms. We were overjoyed as we took him home.
I thought I knew what was to come, having been through it with Grant. Yet as Easton grew, he shunned the toy trucks and train set that his brother had loved. Instead, he liked to put bows on his teddy bears, and no matter how many action figures Grant placed in his hand, Easton discarded them.
Starting nursery, aged two, the moment he laid eyes on a doll’s house, he rushed over to play with it. So for Easton’s third birthday, in April 2017, Daniel and I bought him a doll.
‘That’s a girl’s toy,’ scoffed Grant. But Easton was elated and couldn’t stop cuddling it. Daniel and I just thought it was a phase Easton was going through. ‘He’ll grow out of it,’ Daniel laughed. Only, he didn’t.
‘Dress!’ he wailed one morning as I wrestled him into dungarees. So, to make him happy, a friend offered to leave one of her daughter’s summer dresses at the house. Red and white, with patterned hearts across it, Easton loved it and wore it all the time. So, in the end, I went out and bought him a few of his own. ‘Pretty,’ he’d smile, slipping his feet into my high heels. I didn’t let him wear dresses outside the house, though, because I worried about him being bullied.
Then, one morning in April 2018, I was getting Easton, then four, into the shower.
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