Getting through disappointment with the sex of your child

Disappointment about your baby’s sex isn’t a topic that appears at the forefront of literature about pregnancy and childbirth, but for anyone who’s experienced it, it can be a major part of pregnancy. Maybe the topic isn’t discussed because people feel guilty for being in any way disappointed about their child. Denying the feelings doesn’t help, though, and knowing that you’re not alone can help you come to terms not just with the disappointment, but the complicated feelings you think you shouldn’t have.

I know all this because I experienced it myself. I have a lovely girl and three precious boys. Long before I was pregnant with our fourth child, I knew I wanted a second daughter. I have a sister and I wanted my daughter to have a sister as well.

My ultrasound at 13 weeks came with the sonographer’s “90 percent” certainty that we were going to have a third boy and I began to adjust my vision of what our family was going to look like. I couldn’t quite let go of that 10 percent hope. And, yes, I felt incredibly guilty that a part of me wanted something different than the baby that was in my belly.

What made my experience even trickier was that my daughter desperately wanted a sister as well and she wasn’t as subtle about hiding her feelings of disappointment. Every time she got annoyed with her brothers, she’d proclaim, often in tears, “This is why I don’t want another brother!”

I was in the odd position of helping her work through feelings that I myself hadn’t worked through. We brought all the children to the 20-week ultrasound and I hoped that my daughter seeing the baby on the ultrasound screen would help her feel happier about the baby. No such luck. We got definitive “boy” news and, while I was somewhat relieved to not have cling to a 10 percent chance anymore, it was a bitter pill for her.

Interestingly, I think being forced to vocalize the positive as I helped my daughter through her disappointment also helped me address my own. Hearing myself say things like, “Our baby is part of our family. He can’t help that he’s a boy! He deserves our love” and “Just you wait. You’ll fall in love with him as soon as you see him” was a way to grapple with feelings that I could barely bring myself to acknowledge.

I’m sure I don’t even need to say that I loved my baby, boy or not, before he was born. But as soon as he was born, all the inner whispers of wishing he had maybe been a girl utterly evaporated. I fell head over heels in love with him and, instantly, couldn’t imagine our family without him. I’m happy to report that my daughter experienced the same as soon as she held her baby brother. She told me repeatedly, “Mommy, I love him so much. Mommy, I don’t care that he’s a boy.” Me neither, baby girl. He’s exactly what we were missing.

About the author:
Shifrah lives in Tallahasse, FL with her husband, four children, two cats, and dog. In the midst of mothering and writing, she enjoys reading, lifestyle photography, sewing, going to the beach, and documenting it all in pocket scrapbooks. She drinks her coffee black.

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