Dealing with gender disappointment in pregnancy
How I dealt with gender disappointment during pregnancy when finding out I was having a boy.
We were convinced it was a girl. We wanted a girl. We even had chosen a girl’s name while we were still engaged—long before a baby was on the scene. So when the sonographer told us “it’s a boy” it came as a huge surprise.
But the bigger surprise was how much disappointment came with hearing those three little words.
I was shocked by it in fact.
I genuinely thought I’d be happy either way.
But I wasn’t. I was sad.
(Ok, I was actually happy and sad – you get it, right?)
My husband squeezed my hand. Though I may have been hiding it from everyone else, he could read the look on my face. And he probably knew me better than I even knew myself.
It wasn’t just that the news caught us by surprise; the deeper issue was that I was ashamed at my sadness.
The guilt of feeling the way I did came crashing in immediately.
Experiencing gender disappointment made me feel like a failure as a mother.
I was desperate that my baby would feel no sense of rejection over his life from us, even stemming from his time in the womb, and so the fact that I dealt with these emotions made me feel like a failure before he was even in my arms.
But over the next few days the news began to sink in.
I’m having a boy.
I always wanted a boy. It’s just that I always imagined having a girl first.
I had looked forward to tea parties, playing dress-up, dolls, and shopping excursions – all the things my little girl self enjoyed, and all the things I imagined my grown-up self to love all over again with a little girl in tow. (And even that is a little silly, considering not all girls like that kind of stuff. I’m learning these gender stereotypes don’t actually do our boys or girls any favors.)
But as that boy news sunk in—as I gave up my ideas of little cardigans and leg warmers and cute Mary Jane shoes—I began to get excited about having a boy.
So excited that by the time he was born, having a girl was the farthest thing from my radar.
And so excited, even, that when we found out our second pregnancy was also a boy, I was over-the-moon about being a mom to brothers.
Now that I have two boys on the outside (and another one on the way!!!) I’m realizing more and more what a privilege it is to be a mom to boys.
This world is in desperate need of more “good men”. We’ve heard it a thousand times… and it’s true.
I have the privilege—the responsibility—to raise good men. And that’s a wonderful thing.
As much as I’d still love a girl to call our own, I’m also now aware of the part I can play in shaping history by raising wonderful boys to be men. (I love that.)
I’m a “boy mom” and proud to be one.
(And for the record, I still get to have tea parties, play dolls, and play dress up sometimes. Yay!)
Are you dealing with gender disappointment in pregnancy?
Maybe you have experienced gender disappointment, too. Or perhaps you’re experiencing it now. My best advice to you is to not let the guilt of your feelings consume you.
- Find someone you trust with whom you can confide.
- If you are a spiritual person, you can also take your concerns to God and ask him to help you process your big emotions.
- Find tools that help you deal with your guilt and shame, and battle those things with vulnerability and self-acceptance.
- Realize that you may be grieving the loss of a dream, and allow yourself to walk through the process of accepting that reality.
- If you find your emotions extreme and suspect you might be battling depression over this issue, please seek professional help. There is no shame in seeking help, there is only hope—the hope of healing and wholeness that will positively affect your own heart and bring health to the way you relate to your baby and your family.
- Give yourself some grace. Please remember: you are pregnant! Hormonal! Dealing with mood swings! Everything probably seems a little bit more amplified because of that… so give yourself some grace and allow for some time to let the dust settle.
You are not alone.
As you will see from the stories of gender disappointment all throughout the comment threads below, gender disappointment in pregnancy is not an unusual thing to grapple with. You are not alone.
Dear friends, did you experience gender disappointment with your babies? Did it make you feel guilty or ashamed? How did you work through your emotions?