It all started, when a recent client had a Facebook post up, in search for newborn photo props. I remember I had a bag of adorable headbands....somewhere.
This is a topic, that is rarely spoken upon. It is almost taboo - because how could you be disappointed about your own child's gender, when they are healthy. I wonder, though, how many other mothers, or even fathers, having this tugging feeling on their hearts. I know I do - and I never ever talk about it. Are you wondering, yet, what the topic is?
It is real, yes. Haven't heard of such a thing? I don't doubt that. Not many people have. Why would someone openly and honestly just state 'No, actually, I wish I had a girl instead'? How shallow, does it sound, and unloving as a parent? I know what most people are thinking - how could anyone ever think such things? I have, for years, and will continue to battle with it for potentially the rest of my life. Opening up and being raw and honest, is putting me in a very vulnerable state - but I needed to get it off my chest not knowing if other families are experiencing this. Actually, I know they are. I have been approached on multiple occasions, asking me about Gender Disappointment and if I had ever experienced it.
Being a mom to 3 boys - the comments almost always are:
'Are you going to keep trying, till you get that girl?'
'Aww man - another one?!'
'Don't you wish you had a girl?'
'No - we aren't. But thank you for being concerned about our sex life'
'Yes - another one. It's like somehow you think we can control our child's gender'
'Yes - I do. I desperately with all my heart and soul wish I had a daughter to call my own'
Of course, all everyone wants is to be able to, first of all - get pregnant. Second of all - carry a healthy baby to term. Of course. But that does not take away from the sting. One of the biggest questions asked, to pregnant woman is, 'Do you want a girl or a boy?' Often times, women will say they do not care, yes, but just as often you will hear a choice. And instantly - the judgement starts.
'Well you should just be happy that you got pregnant'
'It doesn't matter, right? As long as they are healthy'
When I got pregnant, with my first, I wanted a boy, and when we found out he in fact was, a boy - I was over the moon. When the second, came along, I had my boy so naturally was more drawn towards wanting a girl - who doesn't want that million dollar family? Being in Canada, you had to wait till your 20 week ultrasound to find out. We just so happened to be in Las Vegas, on vacation, around 16 weeks. We found a place down there to get a 3D ultrasound, to find out earlier. I remember waking up, that morning, and feeling sick to my stomach. I already knew what they were going to tell me. After the appointment, and out of sight of the tech, I broke down. I was angry. I was disappointed. I was devastated. I felt robbed and cheated, at my chance of having a daughter in that moment. As time went on, I grew to like the idea of two sons, and the fun bond they would have growing up. And, to this day, I love that boy with all of my heart and always will.
The twang, though, has never gone away. I do not wish I did not have that son - do not get those two confused. I would not give him up for any daughter. I don't think any parent wants to trade a gender for a gender. The big misconception, with Gender Disappointment is the what if's.
'What would my life look like, if I had a daughter?'
'Would she want to dance? Or play football, like her brothers?'
'Have long brown hair like me? Her dads beautiful hazel eyes?'
When we started trying, for another, I still had that hope in my heart that maybe one day I would have a girl. I got pregnant, and within days had a miscarriage and lost that baby - 2 weeks before our wedding. I woke up, that morning, knowing something was wrong. As soon as it set in, what was happening - my gut and heart instantly went to - 'it's a girl and this was my only chance at a daughter'. To this day, I cannot shake that feeling. Be it a coping mechanism, or not - my gut was right the other times.
Along came child number 4 - and can you take a guess at what that sweet baby was? I went into that ultrasound, already knowing what he was. I told the tech and, shocked, he confirmed it. I didn't feel anything. Maybe numb, was the right feeling? I knew, with each consecutive pregnancy, my chances were getting slimmer and slimmer. Statistic wise, and - well my husband came from 3 boys. As did his dad. And his dad before him. It would have to be a major fluke, with nature greatly on my side, to get that daughter I always dreamed of.
I try my best, not to feel guilty over my feelings that surround this. As I already said, it is not my children themselves, that bring on the Gender Disappointment feelings - it is the mourning of something that will never be. I believe that all feelings are valid, and it is up to ourselves to process those as best we can. Sometimes, it takes days, other times - years. I am not ungrateful for being fortunate enough to carry healthy, term, thriving children - so please, do not think that.
As women, from an early age, we all (mostly) envision how our life will look. Our prince charming of a husband, the wedding, our children - the white picket fence home. We play to these roles, and let our imaginations run as wild and free as they can. But, the truth is, life is not like that. Our imaginations, needs and wants are not always correct and going to work out how we want. Disappointment, in life, happens on many levels and it not just on what our child's gender may be. It is an emotion and feeling, that sometimes feels gross, and uncomfortable.
And it is okay, to feel that.
It is okay, to wish you had something you didn't - because let's face, everyone wishes they had something others have. It's human nature.
It's okay to love your current children, while mourning the child you will never have.
Do not let anyone ever tell you that your feelings are not valid. Ever. Whatever it is you are feeling, is okay and normal, and you will work through those feelings at your own pace. If you find you are struggling - reach out. You are not alone. There is always someone out there going through something similar to you.
Please, when you see someone with all one gender - actually any children at all - do not assume what they want. Maybe we are trying for that other gender, maybe we aren't - but that is our families choice.
Kayla is a mom to three sons, wife, and doula. She works within the Shuswap/Okanagan Region providing mothers and their families with a whealth of knowledge and support in all things fertility, pregnancy, birth and beyond.