Gender Disappointment: A Common Occurrence
I remember getting pregnant and the thought of “it’s gonna be a girl” popping in my head right away. I just KNEW I would have a girl. Everyone in my family had a girl first, and most importantly, I really, really wanted one. I wanted to be able to do the ribbons and dresses thing, and all the girly things I had planned in my head.
I was lucky, it was a girl. For some moms, including a personal friend who went through four sons before finally giving up her dream of a girl, the disappointment of not getting the gender one wished for can be devastating. I know that most parents are expected to express satisfactions as long as the baby’s healthy, but gender disappointment is very common. According to this article, the depression sets in more for moms who wish for a girl and gets a boy.
Feeling the Guilt
I remember being chastised by more than one person for expressing my desire for a girl. And I know many other moms who hide their preference for the gender so as to avoid that judgment from other people. I know I learned to censor my comments after a while.
Joyce Venis, a psychiatrist nurse working with moms who suffer from gender disappointment is quoted as saying: “Just because a woman has a gender preference does not mean she is a bad mother or that she doesn’t want the child”, and that, “They have the right to want the certain sex,” she said.
And it’s true. You can’t help what you feel sometimes, but it doesn’t mean that you will not love your child. Giving up the dream of a girl is giving up the picture you had of what your family would be like. It’s giving up the dreams of dresses, and ballet, and mother-daughter bonding.
A mother does go through a type of mourning. For moms, the simple acknowledgment that their feelings are normal and that the knowledge they are not alone can be validating.
Dealing With The Disappointment
So now that you’ve received the news, how do you get over it? How do you prepare yourself for the miraculous birth of a healthy child, instead of obsessing over your loss?
- If you are already fixated on having a specific gender, try to find out the baby’s gender beforehand so you can deal with the disappointment before the baby’s birth.
- Don’t repress your feelings. Acknowledge your feelings to yourself first. Then speak withe a trusted friend or family member, aside for your spouse, who you know will be supportive and non-judgmental.
- Realize that for most moms, your feelings will subside with time. Joy will replace the initial grief you felt in a few months time, and especially once your baby comes into the world.
- Seek medical attention if you need it. For a lot of moms, postpartum depression can be a real and debilitating condition. Don’t feel guilty for any feelings you think aren’t appropriate after giving birth. You could be suffering from this very common condition, facilitated by a swing in hormones and not a product of your mind.
- There are even some steps that can be taken before conception to scientifically predetermine the sex of your child.
Last not but least, it bears repeating that your initial disappointment is normal and valid and that you need not feel an overwhelming sense of guilt about how you feel.