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“From early in our pregnancy, my heart was set on a girl.  I wanted tea parties and rounds of dress up and little girls who snuck into mummy’s make-up drawer.  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 football game, was a special treat; where someone would want to grow up to be like mummy, not like daddy.”

Although similar hopes for a particular gender may be harboured by many parents during pregnancy, it’s not every day you hear these dreams expressed out loud. In fact, this quote itself was posted anonymously by the author presumably due to some underlying shame.

Surely no good parent would ever want more than just a healthy, happy child? Even less common is for expectant parents to admit that they are actually disappointed by the gender of their baby if he or she doesn’t fit with their dreams. Stricken with thoughts such as “I’m so ungrateful”, “What will people think?”, and “I’m a terrible person”, most are careful to keep their feelings to themselves.

But when disappointment about the gender of your baby occurs it can be very intense and spiral into depression if unattended to. Here are four steps to coping with your disappointment.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. “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. I wanted so badly to not have any nagging sense of disappointment.” Like this mother, you may feel like convincing yourself and everyone around you that you aren’t disappointed. This is a natural reaction if you have mental rules such as “If I’m disappointed then I’m a terrible person”. However, avoiding or trying to change your feelings may paradoxically have the opposite effect. Your true feelings may continue to nag you and get stronger until you pay attention to them.
  2. Examine your feelings. “I grew up surrounded by brothers, whom I love dearly, but I always longed for a sister.” Think about what significance the gender you hoped for has for you. Although not often thought about, our childhood family’s dynamic can have a real impact on the hopes we have for our own future families. Even if you have no personal preference for a boy or girl, external pressure to produce one or the other can also cause feelings of loss, disappointment, and depression. For example, you may be highly vulnerable to your parents’ preferences for a grandchild of a particular sex.
  3. Separate your feelings. “I don’t love my boy any less because he isn’t a girl.” It is possible to have disappointment about not having a particular gender coexist with love for the baby you will have. They are not mutually exclusive. Your disappointment about the loss of one dream doesn’t have to impact on the relationship you will have with your real child when you separate your feelings for each event. Similarly, you can be both disappointed and grateful, both disappointed and happy. Human emotions are not black and white.
  4. Be kind to yourself. Being disappointed when you lose something meaningful doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person. This is a normal human experience. It is ok to mourn the loss of your dream. Adding additional layers of guilt and shame to your already painful experience is not necessary.

If your disappointment is turning into more difficult feelings such as overwhelming anger, hopelessness and/or resentment toward your child, it is also ok to seek professional help to process your feelings.

 

Have you ever had feelings of gender disappointment? SHARE with us in the comments below.

Main image source: Shutterstock

  • I can totally relate to this article – I’m a mom of 3 boys. I’ll be honest, I was crushed when I heard “it’s a boy” for the 3rd time. I’m adopted & have always wanted that mother-daughter bond, something I’ve never experienced with my birth mother or my adopted mother. It’s taken me months to come to terms with it, & honestly there are days I still struggle. I love my boys immensely but my heart will always ache for a girl. I’m only human.

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  • i was just happy to have healthy kids and it was exciting to find out the gender

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  • I was just happy to have children. I’m so sorry that this person has had to go through this. Hopefully she gets some help to get past this. I don’t think she is a mean person. It’s probably more to do with her dreams and expectations. Maybe she wanted to relive how she wanted to be treated when she was a toddler.

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  • I never had feelings of gender disappointment. After 4 years of trying to get pregnant, I was happy to deliver a healthy baby. My disappointment is more of having only had one child. I know many Mums who are parents of one gender and they get to the point where they couldn’t imagine having a girl (when they have 3 or 4 boys) or vice versa. They get used to one and have commented they wouldn’t know what to do with a child of the opposite gender!

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  • No I never had any feelings of gender disappointment. I married late and had several miscarriages before I had my first child when I was 40 years. Happy to have children at all, they’re a miracle and a blessing from God to me.

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  • I have 3 beautiful boys, and when I found out my 3rd was a boy I was so disappointed, not because I wasn’t going to love him or I didn’t want more boys. It was more the fact that every boy I had was decreasing the chance of having a girl.
    As a kid I always wanted to be a mum and I never even though about having children of the same gender…I though my dream of 2 boys and 2 girls was quite reasonable lol

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  • I agree that a child is a blessing, a miracle.

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  • This would be a very valid thing to deal with but ultimately a child is a blessing

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  • I never really worried what I would have and in my day there weren’t any scans so you could find out! I had already had a boy with my first husband who had passed away, and my second husband desperately wanted a boy of his own. After two girls he had just about given up, and along came his boy. The strange thing was, he seemed more aligned to his girls than either of the boys, so it was a forlorn hope for him really.
    I just loved them all, still do and know I am loved in return.

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  • I was convinced I was having a girl for number 3. My first child is a girl and she was a baptism by fire. I dreamed of having the girl I had spent my pregnancy hoping for but never got. When I found out I was having another boy, I was devastated. I couldn’t get past it at all. I cried, I wrote about it in my mothers forum. Everyone told me that all I needed was a healthy child. I went online and did some shopping for my soon to be born son and that seemed to break the spell. I wouldn’t change it for the world – I got the most precocious little man. When I fell pregnant with a surprise 4th, I didn’t worry one way or the other. The pain of that initially was very real, but it passed.

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  • I know when I was pregnant for the first time I really wanted a Boy as I thought it would be lovely to start my family with a Boy so any girls I may have in the future would have a Big Brother. I had a girl. I was happy.
    When I became pregnant for the 2nd time I figured that this time I would like a boy as i already had a girl. Again i had a little girl. Again i was happy.
    My third pregnancy and i knew this would be my last as it was a huge push with my husband to have this baby… so this simply had to be my boy. I went for a scan and the guy told me he thought it was a boy but there was an issue. It seemed that he couldnt find my babies kidneys. I was told that I had to wait a full 2 weeks before they would scan again but if the baby was found to have no kidneys then there was no way it would survive. It was that point that was a huge slap in the face and I said loud and clear “I dont care what sex this baby is…all I care about is that it has kidneys”……the two weeks took forever but finally I was sent for another scan and the guy that did my scan was so very lovely. He asked how many kids I already had and what sex they were and he said “I guess you would like a Boy then?”…I looked him straight in the eye and spoke the honest truth and said “I really dont care as long as this baby has kidneys” The scan found that my baby did in deed have kidneys and it was a little girl. I was over the moon with happiness.

    We all have different roads in life but I think in the end we have the children that we are supposed to have. Im so glad now that I had 3 girls. My girls are now grown and they have always been very close. They have never had fights and they are each others best friends. They tell me that they are glad they never had a brother and I feel now that if I had had a son that he would have been left out of their close bond. its just perfect as it is.

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  • I keep seeing comments on this story, \”I never had these feelings\”, \”be grateful\” ect. Sometimes its not easy. I am a mum to four beautiful boys. I am extremely grateful and when I mourn not having the girl I long for so very much, I have no wish to replace any of the children that I have. I mourn for the additional girl that I want so much that I will now never have. That feeling will never go away. I know exactly what my mil missed out on being a mum to four boys also, and know that I will also miss out on the things that only a mother and daughter have, i.e. childbirth.

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  • In that respect I think it is a good thing that you know the baby’s sex in advance. It gives you a chance to process your thoughts and emotions so you are prepared when your baby arrives. It also gives you an opportunity to seek counselling before your newborn arrives and you are sleep deprived.

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  • :( don’t be disappointed in the beautiful life you have created

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  • I always wanted a girl and I had a girl. But, if I had a boy, I wouldn’t have been disappointed at all. For me it was a gift finally being able to have a child, so the sex of the child wouldn’t have mattered that much.

    Reply

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