Why We Had High Hopes
So here I am, 20 weeks pregnant. I’m reminiscing about my first pregnancy. I was young. They didn’t have the tests 7 years ago that they have today to find out the gender sooner.I never experienced gender disappointment because I had no expectations. Still, I did have hopes that it was a boy. Low and behold, my 100% denial worked! We had a boy.
Fast forward 7-ish years later. I am pregnant with high hopes of having a boy. If I did, I could use some clothes again, I already know what it’s like, my son would more likely connect with a boy despite the large age difference. I just couldn’t imagine parenting a girl. I feel like I was supposed to raise boys.
We didn’t know the gender yet despite having the non-invasive prenatal testing done around 12 weeks because I had the one doctor who doesn’t reveal the gender with that testing unless you are over the age of 35. So while all my friends are finding out at 12 weeks, I have 8 more weeks till I found out! We had 8 weeks longer to hope for a gender. 8 week longer to think of a nursery theme and a name. And 8 weeks longer to hope for a specific gender.
The Truth About Gender Disappointment
And then we found out…we were having a girl. My heart was broken. I legitimately cried for 3 hours after. I will explain why I was crying in the next section. But for now, before people get judgy, let’s admit a few things:
- Most families have an expectation of what gender they want.
This is completely normal behavior and doesn’t make anyone a bad person. How many dads can you think of that hoped for a boy, just to end up having a girl? Men actual experience greater gender disappointment (in my opinion), and they are not excluded from benefiting from this post. I encourage each partner to read and/or go through this healing process together.
- I completely understand that there are families who would be over the moon with either.
Some pregnancy journey’s are so long and difficult that by the time that couple finally becomes pregnant, they literally are so relieved to have a successful pregnancy that gender doesn’t matter.
I am very thankful and blessed that I did not have any trouble conceiving the first time (hello surprise 21 year old pregnancy) and tried for 5 months with our second. This means I wasn’t used to any other disappointments in my pregnancies. I’ll explain why this matter below.
- It is 100% normal to be disappointed about the gender of your baby not being what you hoped.
There is nothing psychologically wrong with you. You are not a bad person. You are not going to be a bad parent just because you wanted a particular gender. And you will love this baby despite the gender.
Why I was Initially Upset
Yes you read right. I cried for about 3 hours after I found out. Yes I was initially upset. But then I got more upset about my disappointment. I thought I was a terrible person for being upset about the gender reveal. All I could think was that there are probably thousands of families who had been trying for years and gone through hell on earth to even get pregnant. And here I am; crying because the gender wasn’t what I had hoped.
My hormones overtook my whole body as my grandmother badgered me about being disappointed. This made me more upset and feeling terrible about my feelings. Then my son was sad because I was sad, so he thought he was supposed to be upset about the gender (those feelings have changed now). And then my poor husband looking at me like he can’t do anything to make me feel better made me feel even worse.
How I Supported Myself
So here are the actual steps I took to handle my gender disappointment.
- I admitted all of the truths about gender disappointment stated in the previous section.
Like I mentioned before. Those feelings are all true and normal. You are not mentally unbalanced, selfish, or wrong for thinking anything mentioned in “The Truth About Gender Disappointment” section.
Some women are lucky enough to have not had many struggles in their health or pregnancy journey. But that doesn’t mean that their feelings aren’t validated. They simply haven’t gone through the same struggles; and that’s ok! Do not undermine or put other women down for how they feel about this. It is only going to make the situation worse to hide how you really feel about the situation.
Because I was honest and really processed this, I was able to come to terms within a couple of days. It may take you longer; but being honest with yourself is the first step.
- I thought about the real reasons I was hoping for a boy.
Was it really the clothes? My son is 7. There is no way the baby could wear any clothes for years. We haven’t kept any except for 4-5T and up. Was it the sibling connection? My sister and I do not talk and we were the same gender and 2 years apart. Same gender and close age does not mean a close relationship.
Was it because my first was a boy? Would I feel different if my first had been a girl? My next door neighbor is pregnant at the same time as I am (literally due the day before me). She is having a girl. Knowing she was having a girl made me feel better (and worse). She is very stylish and already has about 10 headbands with bows. She is a previous fitness instructor. Needless to say intimidating. However, I know if I need anything that I could ask her.
Was it the gender stereotype of girls nowadays? I don’t do (and never did as a child) the whole girly-girl, dolls, dress up with bows, Barbies, My Little Pony, etc. While I love femininity and yes, my favorite color is blush pink. But I also have always loved video games since our first N64 in elementary school. Playing first person shooters, collecting Pokemon cards, and later learning to hunt with a compound bow. I drink whisky (when I’m not pregnant) and truly hate wine. I work in the construction industry when I am not blogging.
- Clear the idea of gender stereotypes
The above thought process led me to this realization. I never gave my son cars and boy stuff. I gave him learning and building toys growing up. Why can’t I do the same for this little girl? Who said I have to put a million coordinating headbands on her head? Where is the rule that you have to french braid hair and make her fancy everyday in order to a girl mom (I don’t even know how to french braid)?
Why did I assume all of these gender expectations when I am a huge woman’s rights activist? Everything I thought against I subconsciously still assumed in my head when I found out the gender.
My son loves art. And until a couple of months ago, his favorite colors were pink and blue. He is very emotional. Very clingy and cuddly. He loves his stuffies and even learned to sew a pillow that we made together. He loves crafts like latch hook and doing melty beads. He loves LEGO and building with his hands. He wants to be a mechanical engineer and loves coding. Why on earth did I think that this baby girl couldn’t grow up similar?
I can’t say it enough. Get rid of gender stereotypes.
- Start thinking of names and a nursery theme.
If you read my other post, The Ultimate Trimester Checklist, then you already thought of this. However; you may also be like me and chose a name and theme for only the gender you want (this is why I mention in my checklist to think about both genders).
Again, if you only thought about the gender you wanted, now is the time to research some names and themes. I recommend doing this after you have had the initial time to process and soothe your nerves. This will help your emotion climb back upward in a positive direction.
Obviously, I need a new theme and new name. For some reason, the vintage navy blue airplane theme just didn’t seem right to me anymore. I wanted to save that for if we did have another baby (that was a boy).
We are still deciding on names (almost final on Lilly Xandra May Housley); but the more I saw different names, the more my nerves calmed down. I wasn’t dreading having a girl and I was more at peace by finding names I liked.
We also decided on a nursery color scheme of navy blue (to match the rest of our home) and blush pink. My son was so excited to hear that because he hoped those would be her favorite colors, just like him. I also liked it because it’s a theme that should be able to last over the years. It’s not a character, animal, or something else that could be a momentary trend. You can see our inspiration in the photo above.
- Think about the day you deliver your baby.
I remember everything from the day of delivery with my first. EVERYTHING. The pain, the lack of sleep, even the terrible hospital food. I can honestly say with 100% certainty that I never thought about the fact that I had a boy (until they came for the circumcision). Back then, I wasn’t focused so much on his gender, but more about how to properly take care of him after his circumcision.
Your body, full of hormones, emotions, and probably exhaustion will not be thinking about the gender of the baby in your arms. There will be plenty of love inducing hormones soaring through your body to build that special one-of-a-kind motherly bond. You will be trying to breastfeed (or formula feed) your baby to make sure they are taken care of. Everyone will be so tired from the delivery of that baby. Even if you have a C-section, you are going to be feeling the same hormones and love for your baby.
Be 100% confident that on that day in the hospital, gender is going to be the last thing that matters.
We Are All In This Together
So there you have it! I know there are many parents out there who feel the same. I have spoken to many dads who had girls for their first child too. They still tell me they wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Definitely share this with your partner if they are the ones who need support, and be there for them as much as you can.
What are some other ways that some of you have coped with gender disappointment?