Disappointed about your baby’s gender—and feeling bad about it? Dealing with gender disappointment during your pregnancy can be a hard. Here’s how to cope.
A girl. That was what I was hoping this pregnancy would reveal. I already had a boy and thought it’d be awesome for him to have a little sister. I wished so much that the sonogram would reveal that one of the twins would be a girl. And when they were both boys, I ended up dealing with gender disappointment I didn’t know I’d feel.
Gender disappointment isn’t as strange as you might think. I know so many people who really wanted one gender but got the other. Others who pursued crazy ways to conceive a preferred gender, and still others who’ve had to adjust to their new reality.
It’s common for people feel some gender disappointment to varying degrees. Unfortunately, we don’t always acknowledge our emotions, or we feel guilty about them.
We tell ourselves to get over it. That at least the baby is healthy, or that we shouldn’t complain when other people struggle to have even one child.
So when I learned I was carrying two boys (with no plans to have any more kids), I had to adjust my expectations.
Dealing with gender disappointment during your pregnancy
Dealing with gender disappointment is difficult, especially since a baby’s gender seems so petty compared to everything else. After all, we’d rather our babies are healthy, or that we can conceive at all, or carry to full term. Feeling disappointed about a baby’s gender doesn’t seem to warrant attention.
So we feel guilty about it, or bury it beneath, afraid to appear superficial. Except, like with any emotion, it’s healthier to accept and deal with it than push it away. If you can relate, don’t worry — dealing with gender disappointment is possible with honesty, time and the tips below:
Accept—don’t bury—your emotions.
Perhaps the biggest pitfall with gender disappointment is denying the truth of your emotions. After all, people say, “So long as the baby is healthy,” implying that any other concern is trivial.
And while it may seem petty to fuss about a baby’s gender, we all have dreams of what our future with our kids will be. Long before you even had kids, you imagined yourself as a family. Or of holding your child in your arms—things that have yet to exist other than in your mind.
So when reality hits, you’re left dealing with a loss, not of a child but of the dreams you had.
Acknowledge your feelings for what they are. They’re emotions that happen to everyone and nothing to feel bad about. Talk to someone about how you had longed for a girl (or vice versa). Write your thoughts in a journal (this is my favorite one—affiliate link). Don’t keep the emotions buried inside, waiting to percolate later as resentment or frustration.
It’s okay to admit that you wanted another gender. No one’s going to see how you’re going to mess up your kids because they knew you wanted a boy when you instead got a girl.
Your child is an individual.
We all have notions of what our kids will be like, based on their genders. And sometimes we assume they’ll fill their roles simply because they’re a boy or girl. You may have fantasized about dressing your little girl in cute clothes, or taking your little guy to sports games, both typical stereotypes of girls and boys.
But you may find that your child may not fit that gender role to begin with. Rather than trying to fit him into your interests and hobbies, be open to his own. Your little boy could care less about sports and would rather dive into art, and your little girl pulls off her frilly clothes and prefers t-shirts and sweat pants.
Besides, many of the interests you imagine doing with your child may not even rely on gender at all. Who says you can’t take your little girl to sports games, or dress your little guy in hip, stylish clothes?
We all meet our children for the first time, regardless of their sex. Your child being a boy doesn’t mean he’ll fulfill assumptions you may have had about raising boys, and vice versa for girls.
Instead leading with your images of who your child will be, treat him as an individual. You’ll appreciate his unique traits rather than what you assume he should be.
Consider the perks of your child’s gender.
Once you’ve accepted the disappointment you feel about the turn of events, think about the many perks your child’s gender gives you.
It didn’t take me long to get over gender disappointment when I realized the benefits of hand-me-downs! I saved boxes of clothes and gear from my eldest, and was giddy when I realized how much we’d save from not having to buy too many items.
And since my twins were both boys, so much of what they have can be interchangeable, from clothes to toys.
Remind yourself that everything has pros and cons, including raising boys vs girls. You’ll see that having the opposite gender will turn out just as fine.
You’ll love your child no matter what.
Every mom I’ve spoken with who felt any sense of gender disappointment, even those felt it throughout their whole pregnancy, admitted it all disappeared the minute they met their baby come delivery day.
Everything will turn out fine. You’re welcoming your new child into the world, regardless of his or her gender. As real and valid as your emotions are, rest assured they won’t plague you all through your child’s lifetime.
Because when you hold your baby in your arms, you will long forget how you even considered gender at all. Boy or girl, your child is yours, no matter what.
To help you prepare for the baby and get through your pregnancy, get my Baby Prep Workbook for tips and worksheets:
Tell me in the comments: What are your biggest surprises with gender disappointment?