“The ultrasound technician asked me, ‘Alright, are you ready?’
I asked, with sheer excitement, ‘Is it a boy?!’
She shook her head. ‘Nope.’
‘It’s a girl?’ I was hoping I misunderstood her.
‘Yes,’ she said.
My heart sank.
I was 16 weeks pregnant with my second child. I was already a mama to a beautiful little man and had hoped to add more boys to our little family. My dream fell apart right in front of my eyes.
On the way home from the gender reveal ultrasound, I cried and I cried hard. It wasn’t a pretty sight and I was thankful that my husband and I took separate vehicles since he had gotten off of work to meet me there. At my OB appointment a week later, our doctor confirmed the gender of our baby and yup… it was still a girl. I guess I was holding on to some slender chance that the ultrasound tech was simply mistaken before.
I know what you are thinking.
‘Wow, she must be very shallow to have only cared about the gender of her unborn baby.’
‘She should just be happy to have a healthy baby!’
‘How selfish! Some women dream of simply getting pregnant and she is worried about gender!?’
And you are right. A healthy baby is certainly the most important thing to hope and be grateful for. However, to understand why I was so disappointed, you will have to understand my childhood.
Growing up, I was never close to my mother. In fact, we couldn’t have been further apart and we still are not close to this day. I didn’t have that mother-daughter relationship that most have. I remember always being so envious of my friends and their mothers.
When my mother remarried and had a son with my stepfather, things changed between us. Well into my teens, she taunted me about my weight and my physical features so much that I developed an eating disorder at age 14. I remember binging and purging, bringing my meals up to my room so she couldn’t see me eat my food. I was terrified of her verbal abuse. I was called disgusting, degrading names and lived a lot of my teenage years in fear of her. On top of all that, she would hit whenever she fell into one of her raging fits.
I was afraid of having a little girl of my own because of my mother. Because of her, I failed to maintain close friendships with females for the entirety of my life, always gravitating towards men. I felt it would be impossible to have a successful relationship with a daughter and I didn’t even know where to begin.
To add to this, I was not a ‘girly girl’ by any means. I was plagued with doubt for my own ability and potential to be a good mother to a baby girl. I was afraid of living that same vicious cycle over and over again. One day, I remember going to therapy and mentioning my feelings to my therapist. Soon after, I was told that the gender disappointment I was suffering from ultimately stemmed from my childhood PTSD. It all started to make more sense to me, and I knew I couldn’t be alone.
So, I decided to open up about it publicly. On one hand, I was met by a ton of support. I had so many messages in my inbox from women who had experienced gender disappointment as well but felt too ashamed to talk about it. They had felt they were alone and that they would be judged for speaking up about their feelings regarding their unborn babies. And they’re not wrong to think that. My open dialogue was met with much criticism as well.
Many women said some nasty things in return to my honesty regarding my disappointment. They told me that I should just be happy to have a healthy baby and that I was selfish. One mother who couldn’t have children told me that I should just be thankful to be pregnant. That this was petty because there are moms out there who would do anything to just have a healthy child, or even have a kid at all.
I get it. I realize those who may be struggling with infertility may feel like my gender disappointment was a slap in the face, but it shouldn’t be. As women, we all have our own dreams, hopes, and feelings that shouldn’t take away from another woman’s. Our emotions can, and should, coexist in peaceful harmony.
When I first found out about my little girl, I tried to hide my disappointment.
But it only ended up making me feel worse. Opening up about my pain has made it so much easier to accept the reality that I didn’t get what I had in mind. In doing so, I have also realized that I am not alone in this and that Gender Disappointment is a REAL THING and happens DAILY.
According to reports, as many as 1 in 5 women express at least some disappointment about the sex of the child they are carrying. This is something that is rarely talked about because women are SO afraid to open up in fear due to fear of judgement. This contributes to more feelings of sadness, loneliness, and isolation and I want to END IT!
Being a little bit disappointed in the gender of your child doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person or that you don’t deserve this baby. It means you’re human. We all have hopes that take root in our heart, that grow and shape our visions of life; when those hopes don’t come to fruition, it’s normal to have some disappointment, to mourn the loss of that particular dream.
I remember opening up to my doctor about my feelings of sadness and she told me to look at it this way: I would finally get to have the mother-daughter relationship that I had always wanted. I had never thought of it that way. Today, my little girl is three years old and I can attest to that. I finally feel complete.
When I gave birth to her, my doctor placed her in my arms. I remember all of those disappointed feelings being washed away in an instant moment. All I could see was a beautiful, healthy baby girl and that was all I cared about.
If you are going through gender disappointment, you are not alone. This topic is still so very taboo and nobody ever talks about it. Please talk to someone because the long months ahead until you have your baby can be very isolating and lonely. Sometimes, I cry thinking about how I was barely able to bond with her in the womb because I was so disappointed. I feel so guilty to not have seen her for what she was: a blessing. But there’s no need to dwell on the guilt and unchangeable corners of the mind. Our feelings are legitimate and they need to be validated.
Talk to your partner, a best friend, or family member. Please know that when you meet your baby, there’s no other option for you but to LOVE THEM. You will not be able to imagine the other gender you had once wanted. I swear!
Someone once told me during my pregnancy, ‘You do not get what you want. You get what you need.’ My little girl was everything I needed and more.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sia Cooper of Diary of a Fit Mommy. You can follow her journey on Instagram here and Facebook here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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