This is an anonymous guest post submission.
“We don’t care as long as the babies are safe and healthy.”
How many times have I heard some variation of that statement? I know I said something similar probably dozens of times before we found out the gender of our baby. Expectant moms and dads may be willing to say what they are hoping for, but after the gender has been revealed, I’ve never once heard someone admit out loud that they are or were disappointed. It’s too taboo. What a terrible person you must be to find out the gender of your child and wish it was something else, right? Surely no good mother would ever want more than just a healthy, happy child.
I’ll admit I harbored some disappointment about learning I was going to be the mother of a boy. Does that make me cringe to type? Yes. Do I still struggle with the idea that I’m a horrible mother for ever having those thoughts? Absolutely. Do I still feel disappointed? Not so much, but I have moments where I catch myself feeling that way. Will I love my son any less because he was not a girl? Absolutely, without a doubt, no–he’ll make my world go round.
From early in our pregnancy, I knew I wanted a little girl. I grew up surrounded by brothers, whom I love dearly, but because of them, I knew all the craziness of boys. I know that houses with boys in the first two or three slots are always crazy active and rambunctious. There is wrestling and play fighting that sometimes turns into real fighting that has to be stopped. Forts and dirt and bugs are what fill their playtime. I spent my life in a boy’s world, especially since we lived outside of town, and I always longed for a sister. So, right away, my heart was set on a girl. I wanted tea parties and rounds of dress up and little girls who snuck into Mommy’s make-up drawer. I wanted a house that was little bit calmer, but could still have fun and occasionally be ornery. I wanted to have once in my life where girls were the majority instead of the minority: where farts were gross, not hilarious; where a trip to the spa, not a baseball game, was a special treat; where someone would want to grow up to be like mommy, not like daddy.
I only had a few dreams about my pregnancy, but they were always dreams of a precious little girl, with dark brown hair and bright blue eyes, like my mom. Everyone around us was convinced that we were having a girl, though I had never voiced my girl preference to anyone. DH and I also both thought it would be a girl and easily chose names for the little miss that would surely be entering our life. She would carry the middle names of both her grandmothers. I planned a nursery in my head for a little girl, full of white, grey, and yellow, because she would be her mama’s sunshine. I could envision being a mom to a daughter. I could see how I would be able to relate to her. I could imagine the things we would do to bond, both when she was little and when she was grown. I thought of my relationship with my mom and how close we are: I wanted that with my child.
At 18 weeks, the ultrasound technician said she would see if she could tell the gender. There were three white lines, which typically means a girl, but the area was also somewhat distended, more like a boy would look at that stage. This could mean that we were having a boy or it could just be that my pregnancy hormones were making a little girl have a bit of swelling. The tech said it was too close of a call and wasn’t willing to even make a guess, but she was sure that at our next ultrasound it would be much more clear. I didn’t think anything of it. I knew there was a chance of a boy, but I really just felt confident that it would be clear next time that she was a she.
At our anatomy scan, the technician said we were definitely having a boy. DH and I were honestly both shocked, but I put on my big girl pants and said how happy I was and that I was totally a-okay with having a boy. We took a picture of the little boy outfit we had bought and sent it to our parents to let them know a grandson was on the way.
DH knew I had secretly been hoping for a girl, and he asked me several times if I was okay with it being a boy. I assured him over and over that I was completely happy, that I wasn’t disappointed, and that I just wanted our baby to be strong and healthy. I even had myself almost convinced that I was really 100% fine with the gender. I wanted so badly to not have any nagging sense of disappointment. After all, I was blessed to have a healthy baby on the way. Others would kill to have a baby, and here I was feeling disappointed just because ours wasn’t a girl. Could I be more ungrateful? What would people think of me if they knew how I really felt? Would they think that I didn’t deserve to be given the gift of this baby if I couldn’t even fully appreciate what I had?
For weeks, I never said anything about it. I told myself and everyone else that I was 100% thrilled to be having my little man. One night, DH did something very boy-ish, and I spontaneously had a meltdown. I couldn’t even begin to understand why I was reacting with such passion over something so minor, until I heard myself telling him that he had to remember that just because we would have a house with more boys, didn’t mean he could forget that I’m a girl and that he would have to teach our son to treat his mom like a lady, since I would be the only one in the house. Suddenly, I was spewing out how all I had wanted was girls, how I was always the only girl surrounded by boys, and how I was the worst mother to ever exist because I was disappointed that my boy wasn’t a girl. In the midst of my crying and yelling, DH remained calm and collected. He let me vent, and then proceeded to tell me that we would absolutely have a girl, whether it was biologically or by adoption, that he knew he needed to do a better job of treating me like a girl and not a brother, and that it was completely okay to be a little bit disappointed as long as I didn’t let it affect how much I loved our son when he was born or how I treated him. Then, he let me wallow in self-pity in a bubble bath while he brought me refills of hot tea and tread very carefully to avoid inciting anymore crazy outbursts. :)
Post-meltdown, I began to give myself permission to feel this way. I let myself google “gender disappointment” and discovered that I wasn’t the only mom out there who had ever felt disappointment. Many people for a variety of reasons feel disappointment over learning the gender of their child. I think a lot of it for me is that I just couldn’t picture myself as a mom to a little boy. I couldn’t imagine how I would relate to him or what we could do together as he grew up. I had nightmares about him getting hurt because boys tend to do more dangerous things than girls. I just couldn’t see myself feeling connected to a little boy.
Time has passed, and I’m more than ready for my baby boy to get here so I can snuggle him in person. In some ways, I still don’t feel as “connected” to him as I felt to my hypothetical girl, but I’m getting a better and stronger vision of what it will look like for me to be a mommy to a son. It took forever to decide how to decorate a nursery because I just couldn’t imagine it being for boy. We waffle all the time on name choice. A lot of it is that I feel like I don’t really “know” him yet, so how can I name him? I know that once I have him in my arms, I won’t be able to even imagine my life without my boy. I know he will melt me.
Being a little bit disappointed in the gender of your child doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person or that you don’t deserve this baby. It means you’re human. We all have hopes that take root in our heart, that grow and shape our visions of life; when those hopes don’t come to fruition, it’s normal to have some disappointment, to mourn the loss of that particular dream.
I don’t love my boy any less because he isn’t a girl. When he’s born and I have him in my arms, I have zero doubt that I will fall completely in love with him and that I wouldn’t trade him for a million girls. Someday, I’ll get my little girl, and I’ll love her just as much as I love her brother. But, that’s just not my life quite yet. I’m at peace with that now.
If you find yourself feeling a little disappointed, don’t be so hard on yourself and do talk to your SO or a friend who loves you no matter what. They have a way of making you feel better about all those things that we beat ourselves up over. There are several online articles and resources that will help you realize, you’re not alone in feeling this way. Here are two articles to start with:
Did you have your heart set on one gender or the other for your child?