Two of my girlfriends found out the sex of their babies this week. One wanted a girl and is having her second boy. The other wanted a boy is having her third girl. This is the last pregnancy for both.
Both cried. Both expressed frustration, guilt, sadness, and regret.
All I could say is, “I know. I know. Believe me, I know.”
Wanting one sex and getting another - especially more than once - is a lonely experience. Almost without exception, husbands don’t really understand. They want to fix it or talk you out of it. At one point, I think Nicholas tried some form of scared straight.
That did not work.
Often, well-meaning friends and family say things that only make you feel worse. “A healthy baby is most important!” “A boy will love his mother forever.” “Girls are drama!” People want to make you feel better. However, I’m here to tell you.
That does not work either.
It is so hard to make someone understand. My experience with Griffin is pretty unique so it’s difficult to separate how I felt when I found out he was a boy with how I found out. However, with Amos, I remember the wave of emotions that swept over me the second the tech announced it was a boy. It was like I was celebrating and grieving all at the same time.
I loved this little boy immediately. I did not feel one ounce of anger or frustration with having another boy. I felt sadness and despair at NOT having a girl, if that makes any sense. I knew I was MAYBE going to have one more trip around the bend, but that seemed eons away as I laid on that table. In that moment, I was celebrating being the mother of another little boy, while grieving the fact I might never be a mother of a daughter.
The emotions aren’t as strong as they were that day. However, I still struggle every time a friend announces she’s pregnant with a little girl or my Facebook feed fills with little pink bows and tutus.
Advice for anyone dealing with gender disappointment
So, for all of you crying through ultrasounds or touching little pink or blue sleepers with longing, here’s my advice.
- Feel what you feel and don’t feel bad about it. Trying to run from or bury emotions never works. Ever. You can’t talk yourself out of feeling sad, unless it’s on a therapist’s couch.
- Find a friend who understands. Heck, you all have my email address (and Leslie's). I’m turning into quite the go-to-girl on this subject. I know you still love the little baby in your belly and that you are thankful it’s healthy. However, I also know that you have to mourn the son or daughter you might not ever have.
Advice for talking to someone dealing with gender disappointment
If you’ve never felt these emotions (especially if you don’t have a uterus to begin with!), here’s some tips on what to say and NOT say.
- Don’t try to convince the person the gender they are having is actually better. It’s not a competition and they wouldn’t believe you even if it was.
- Don’t say anything about the health of the baby. Trust me, she already feels guilty enough about having a healthy baby and feeling this way.
- DO be empathetic and kind. Repeat after me. “I know you are really upset. I can’t promise I’ve felt the same way but I’m here to listen if you ever need to talk.”
In a way, gender disappointment is a good introduction to motherhood generally. It’s harder than you imagined but an understanding girlfriend usually helps.
~ Sarah Stewart Holland