Dealing with gender disappointment

As of now, I’m about 23 weeks pregnant, past the point when most women have gotten ultrasounds and found out if they are having a boy or a girl.

A few people have asked me if I know if I know what I’m having, and have been surprised that I said I don’t know because I try to avoid ultrasounds.  In this day and age, that’s become increasingly uncommon!  Why I have concerns about ultrasounds is a topic for another post; I did have one with my first two children (before it ever occurred to me to question standard obstetrical procedures), and then again with my eighth (when I was well-educated about obstetrical practices and their alternatives).

With my eighth pregnancy, it was the only time that I found out what I was having in advance.  At that point, I was five months pregnant when we were told by our midwife that there was a strong likelihood we were having twins.  Even though she said she couldn’t be sure, there was still disappointment when one month later we learned there was only one baby.  So much so, that knowing many of us were hoping for a girl (since we had four boys and three girls at that time), I wanted everyone to be emotionally prepared in case it was a boy.  I had an ultrasound to determine with certainty that there was only one baby (though my midwife was positive at that point), and what it was – and it was a boy!  I did miss the feeling of surprise of finding out at the actual birth, but it felt like the right thing to do in that situation – we all had time to shift gears mentally and look forward to our baby boy.

With this pregnancy and the boy:girl ratio at 6:3, there’s definitely a preference on almost everyone’s part to even things up a little!  At the beginning I was really hoping for a girl and was convincing myself that all the signs were there for a girl.  But it’s more likely that we’re having another boy (based on looking at the objective facts in addition to all the old wives’ tales! – though I can’t be positive).  The first night when I was honest with myself about the likelihood of a boy, I honestly felt sad.  You can say it’s silly or superficial, but that’s how I felt.  My youngest girl will be almost 12 when this baby is born, and I’d love to have another daughter.

But however shallow it seems, I think that experiencing minor to severe gender disappointment isn’t an uncommon feeling for many pregnant women when they find out what they’re having.  Along with the disappointment there’s often a feeling of guilt – we all know the most important thing is a healthy baby, so, we tell ourselves, how dare we be anything but happy regardless of what we’re having?

In my opinion, it’s important to allow ourselves to feel the disappointment without any self-criticism, which makes it possible to  then go on to embrace what the reality is.  It doesn’t matter that your dream of pink or blue may seem immature or selfish or downright wrong to others.  You’re entitled to your emotions, and when you allow yourself to feel your feelings, you can move through them and on to a positive place in your mind.  And from there you can move to a place of genuine appreciation for what you have.

Something else that helped after that point was focusing on what we’ll have instead of what we won’t have – there’s nothing cuter about a baby girl than a baby boy, really!  Every baby has its own sweetness, and every baby is a special blessing.  Dd15 commented that it will be so cute to have a group of little boys running around, and thinking about the sweetness of all of our boys was helpful, too. :)

How do I feel about having a boy at this point?  It took about three days to let go of residual feelings of disappointment about not having a girl.  But at this point, I’m one hundred percent at peace with the idea.  More than at peace – I’m really looking forward to our newest baby’s arrival!


15 thoughts on “Dealing with gender disappointment

  1. Baruch Hashem! With our ratio of 5:1, I completely understand your feelings — all of them! From the disappointment in the gender to the disappointment in myself. But I found out that once I held my bundle in my arms, I just saw beautiful (and healthy) baby, and that was what mattered.

    With #5, I was very disappointed it was a boy, and this stayed until I saw a friend bending over her little girl who was the same age. I was so jealous until I got closer and realizes that her daughter had Downs Syndrome. It was a real wake up call that I was not seeing the brachas that Hashem gave me, and was instead looking at things that did not matter. While little girls are cute, healthy children are wonderful, no matter what gender.

    Good Shabbos!

    1. Nechama, your comments are so on target!

      And though you may have preferred a girl, your only daughter told mine that she was very happy you had a boy – so she got to stay the only girl in the family! :)

      1. My daughter is lovely. I would have loved to have a little girl to name after my grandmother. #5 is named after her father. It will be what it will be.

  2. How do you “know” it’s a boy if you don’t really know? What (besides old wives tales) makes you so sure? I am really curious because, I know people who have thought they knew what they were having based on ultrasounds, find out later in the pregnancy or at the birth that the gender is different than what they had been told. What are the “objective facts”? I found out the gender with my first two, but not my most recent baby and for some reason I really thought we were having a boy. I was so worked up about having a boy, i can’t say i wasn’t disappointed when I saw she was a she. I know it was petty, but it was how i felt. One year later and she is an absolute joy and I am completely in love!

      1. That is really interesting. i have never even heard of this. Is there a website you can recommend that I can learn more about this, or a book?

  3. I also understand wanting another girl we have 3 girls and 5 boys and my youngest dd is 15. And I love the surprise of learning the gender at the birth, I never found out with any of them. I also agree that once you have that baby you will be so filled with love and joy and probably not think to much about the gender. My youngest ( he is already 3) has down syndrome and that too was a surprise at the birth…..I still felt the same love and joy the minute I held him in my arms and we bonded right away. I know we all pray for healthy babies, but I feel blessed and think my baby is healthy even though he has down syndrome. Yes is delayed but he is very healthy and a joy that we never knew we wanted. At his upsher my husband said that he cried when he realized that he had down syndrome…..and that is his only regret!!!! He said they should have been tears of joy!!! He was ignorant and didn’t know better.
    Our family feels blessed by having been given the zechut to raise him, my kids are better people because of him. I know that having a child with special needs can be challenging and health issues are heartbreaking and I don’t wish that for anyone. I have learned not to assume anything and not judge. A mother with a child with down syndrome might be so happy and proud of her little bundle :)

    1. Gilla, for some reason I’ve done a lot of reading about DS recently, and again and again seen parents saying the exact same kind of thing that you’re saying. It’s been very eye opening since the general societal association that we tend to have isn’t like this.

      Would you be interested in writing a guest post and sharing about your experience in raising a child who has DS?

    2. I just want to say that your son, Gilla, was the first person my kids had ever met with DS. He is so special and is such a bright light, that though we haven’t seen him much, they still talk about him. However, what I find interesting is my kids never said anything about him being different, they just thought he was really cute. I am not sure where i heard this, but I heard that Hashem created people with DS with a pure neshoma and I truly think that is true.

  4. I know the feeling. With 3 boys and no girls I’m really hoping this next one is a boy…we don’t find out ahead of time either, though I do have the basic screening u/s. (We found out by accident with DS#2 and after that decided we liked it better when we didn’t know.)

  5. I think there is less to get over with gender disappointment when the baby is right there in front of you. I have never found out what I was having and I also avoid routine ultrasounds.
    I had in my head before I got married I would have boy, boy, girl, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, and then we’d see…

    Well. First was a boy.
    Second was a boy.
    Third was a girl.
    Fourth was a girl.

    Hashem was listening, wasn’t he? During labor with my fifth (erev Shabbos of a short Friday) I was kind of worried how my husband would pull off having a shalom zochor following my homebirth.

    I got another girl. There goes my desired pattern. But I don’t love her any less and I don’t think I was really disappointed at all! The only issue is that we had to come up with a name very, very quickly 😀

    1. I also had a mental pattern. We always had equal boys and girls until no. 8, and when no. 9 was also a boy, we kind of joked and said that our next three will be girls to even things up! Now it’s been almost three years of saying that…and it’s time to let go of that and start thinking about a new pattern!

      I’m actually really happy about the idea of a boy, but I had to let go of my vision of a girl in order to get to that place.

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