It was something I never heard talked about. I didn’t even know it could happen until I experienced it myself. There’s a stigma about it. I’ve seen so many women looked down upon for admitting they felt this way. As if you can’t love your child but also be disappointed that they aren’t the gender you might have dreamed of.
I struggled with gender disappointment three times, and I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone if you go through this!
I always knew I wanted a baby girl. From the second those two lines appeared, I imagined it all. The bows, the cute outfits, doing her hair, and having a special bond. When I found out my firstborn was that girl, I was over the moon.
Right around her first birthday, we decided it was time to give her a sibling. I immediately started dreaming of a sister for her.
Growing up with an older sister, who was only a year and a half older than me, was the absolute best. To this day, she’s still my best friend, and I wanted to give my daughter that same bond with her sibling. I knew my husband wanted a boy, so I told myself I would be happy with either gender. We couldn’t wait for my anatomy scan, so at 16 weeks we went for a gender ultrasound at a local boutique.
She looked up with a huge smile and said “congratulations, it’s a boy!”
I’m not going to lie; my heart sank a little. I was a little surprised I felt that way. I never told anybody about it because I was ashamed. We tried so hard for this baby, I even had a miscarriage before he was conceived. I should have been nothing but excited for a healthy little boy. The sadness quickly turned to excitement, but when he was born I knew he wouldn’t be our last baby. My daughter needed a sister.
When I got pregnant with our third baby, I decided I didn’t want to find out the gender. Then, while sitting in the waiting room for my anatomy ultrasound I changed my mind. We got the gender put into an envelope and opened it after the kids went to bed.
I looked at the ultrasound and there were the words “I’m a boy!”
Then it hit me, this flood of disappointment. I felt ashamed. Once again, I had a healthy baby. I should have been so excited, but instead I was sad. I knew I would never have another little girl. It took longer this time, but eventually the excitement set in. My boys were going to be 2 years apart. They were going to have that bond my sister and I had growing up. Our family was complete, and watching all three kids have an amazing bond was everything I hoped for.
And then one Friday afternoon, two lines appeared. Surprise! Another baby.
This time, we didn’t find out the gender. I was scared of being told it was another boy. I knew, without a doubt, I would have gender disappointment again.
The morning leading up to my fourth c-section was a blur, but I remember finding out the gender so clearly. My husband looked at me, chuckled a bit, and said “it’s a boy!” And then he let out his first little cry. This time was a easier, looking at his precious little face. I was so excited. Of course, there was a moment of sadness, but he was perfect and I was in love.
I am so lucky to have four healthy children. I am so grateful to have both a girl and a boy. But I will always wonder what it would have been like to give my daughter a sister. I love my kids. I love that I had 3 boys in a row, all in 4 years. My daughter adores her brothers.
My family is perfect, but I still experienced gender disappointment.
That doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids, and that definitely doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful. It means I am human, and my dreams weren’t completely fulfilled.
Just know, mama, you are not alone. Gender disappointment is real and it’s okay. Take your time and give yourself permission to be sad. Don’t be scared to feel your emotions. At the end of the day, you will love your baby, no matter their gender.