Sometimes, things in life just don’t work out. Many mothers (…and fathers too) hope to have a girl over a boy or vice versa. Often times though, mothers like you and me find out we’ll be having a son and not a daughter.
In many cases, this leads to what’s officially coined ‘gender disappointment’ in which parents may suffer varying degrees of sadness or maybe even depression over their baby’s gender.
Many mothers have expressed disappointment they will have a boy rather than a girl. Desires to go shopping together in the future, talk ‘girl stuff’ or plan their daughter’s wedding are suddenly smashed when it’s learned a boy will be born instead. One mother became concerned she wouldn’t be able to relate to her son since she had little knowledge or interest in sports, action figures and so on.
Not only can a mother or father feel a sense of loss from their own feelings, outside pressures from expectant grandparents and their preferences can lead to gender disappointment and depression too.
Feelings like this are completely normal and nothing to feel bad about…unfortunately, many mothers do feel guilty about having these feelings, which is never a good thing.
Harboring these feelings and not discussing them with your spouse, midwife or therapist can cause much damage down the road. Anger or disappointment toward the child, lack of interest in the child or an exacerbation of postpartum depression can ensue.
How do I as a parent who desired a particular gender child deal with these feelings?
Director of Nursing at Princeton Family Care Assoicates in Princeton, New Jersey, Joyce A. Venis, RNC, explains to her patients “…that feelings are not right or wrong, good or bad, they are just feelings. And you are entitled to those feelings. It’s what you do with them that really counts.”
One of the best ways, and first steps to dealing with gender disappointment is to admit your feelings to someone you trust – your spouse, friend, midwife or some other medical professional. Doing so early on greatly reduces the chances of complications down the road.
“Husbands and partners should encourage [the mother] to talk about her feelings and to listen,” Venis suggests. “Let her say things like ‘I won’t be able to play Barbies with him’ or ‘The clothes for boys out there are just terrible.’ Don’t interrupt and say things like ‘But they have such nice things in the boys’ department at Macy’s.’ It isn’t the same, and this is just denying her feelings.”
To avoid these feelings of disappointment, depression and isolation, Dr. Ruth Wilf, a certified nurse midwife at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia suggests mothers forego learning about their baby’s sex through an ultrasound. But if you do go ahead and learn the baby’s gender, the period between finding out and birth can be a good time to work through any emotions.
In the end though, most mothers’ feelings of disappointment greatly subside after their child is born.
Dr. Wilf explains “Once the child is born, you will fall in love with the individual baby and then the sex doesn’t matter as much because little boys and little girls all have varying attributes. After a while, you can’t imagine that you could have any other baby than this baby.”
Therefore, if you have feelings of disappointment on the gender of your baby, don’t feel bad about yourself. Be honest about your feelings and find support with loved ones and medical professionals.
Midwives at Gainesville’s All About Women provide this kind of crucial support. Some of us are mothers too and can personally relate to many experiences. When visiting our Gainesville office for your pregnancy care, please feel free to discuss any feelings like this and how to deal with them.