Coping With Gender Disappointment


I’m just going to say it. Finding out the sex of your baby and then finding out it’s not the sex you were hoping for sucks, it sucks big time. In fact, hearing the words “as long as it’s healthy” may make you want to punch the mouth it came from.

I get it, we are supposed to be happy with a healthy baby, but when we really want a girl or boy and we find out it’s the opposite, there needs to be some type of grieving allowed. Sure us preggo’s are hormonal and sensitive, but these feelings are real and need to be respected and validated.

When I was pregnant with my first I very secretly wanted a girl (you know, afraid of saying anything other than “as long as it’s healthy”). We went to see a specialist for the nuchal screening and she told me I had a little boy growing in there. I had no idea they could tell you so early and was shocked, shocked at finding out and shocked that it wasn’t my sweet baby girl, but a rowdy, maniac boy in there. I was also scared because I had no idea what to do with a boy. I’m pretty mellow, love to cook, and not super athletic — needless to say, I was terrified of doing all things boy-related. I was able to move on relatively quick and appreciate what this little guy was going to bring to my life. We picked a name and talked to him. My sister bought me super cute boy shoes. It was going to be wonderful and I was actually excited about my baby boy.

Cut to the 20 week ultrasound, same specialist. The doctor told me ‘oops, looks like it’s actually a girl’. WHAT?! I was really upset and so flustered. I wasn’t convinced and told them to show me again, and again, and again. Three lines, nothing protruding, no question, it WAS a girl. What about my boy, what about the cars we would race and the train tracks we would build? What a whirlwind of emotions, I had really wanted a girl, but let go of that and bonded with my boy, now he’s gone?  I was a mess.  I was so sad, so heartbroken, but I kept those feelings to myself for fear of sounding ungrateful. I mean, I was having a healthy baby girl, exactly what I originally wanted. What was wrong with me?

I remember calling my mom and she told me that she had bonded with her first grandson and was grieving at the news of a girl, but at the same time getting really excited for her first granddaughter. Then I opened up to her and cried and just let it all out. It felt so good and was really helpful to have someone there who understood and made it OK and to validate my own feelings and allow myself the space to grieve.

With my second, I waited until I could clearly tell what the sex was on the ultra sound until I was convinced and there it was, the ‘three’ legs. My boy. I was totally freaked out again since not only am I a girly girl, but I have a girl so I get it already and now I won’t be giving my daughter a sister. That time I knew the drill and gave myself the space I needed to come to terms with having a son. By the time he was born I was feeling so excited for this new adventure and when he was placed in my arms I fell completely and madly in love.

For my third, I really would have been fine with either, but kind of wanted another boy. At that early ultrasound the same specialist said girl, but I wasn’t completely convinced and refused to bond with one sex or the other, it was just a bond with my baby. Last week we had 20 week ultra sound and sure enough, it’s a boy.  I nearly jumped off the table with excitement. My daughter, not so much, she really wanted a baby sister and not ‘another terrorizer’. I explained to her that it was probably a good thing that it’s a boy because if it were a girl, she would take her favorite feather headband and dress and destroy them. This cured her sadness immediately.

My husband had bonded with the thought of a daughter as well, so I gave him the space and support he needed for coming to terms with no more girls.

It’s good to know that I’m not alone in these feelings, that it’s not just pregnant women either, my daughter and husband had to deal with this as well.

If you find yourself feeling sad about gender disappointment, it’s normal and it’s ok.  Give yourself the opportunity to grieve and work through these feelings. Talk to your husband or mom or girlfriends (with kids!) for support. If you are feeling particularly low and sad for an extended period of time, talk to your doctor or therapist.

Chances are once the baby is born your heart will expand with each moment that passes and you will love and be amazed by the love for your little boy or girl.

Read more from Macki on Being Pregnant or the Family Kitchen

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