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I had felt it was a boy from early on, long before the
ultrasound confirmed the presence of his boy parts. And yet, even as I saw my
husband's happiness, I felt an ache.
When we find out we aren't having the daughter or son we've
dreamt of, it hurts.
It feels irreverent, taboo even, to say we're disappointed
with our baby's sex. We're not supposed to dare wish for more than a healthy
child. We're supposed to feel fortunate to be having a child at all, when so
many people deal with infertility.
But the grief is real. It's the death of the dream of the
family we'd imagined. It's important to feel it, and to know we're not the only
one who has ever felt this way.
Expressing our sadness can help make room for what usually happens next.
Recently, I chatted with some other moms about the
disappointment—and even fear—that can arrive when we find out the sex of the
baby we're expecting.
Katherine, a mom of three told me, "We had two girls and
both desperately wanted a boy. We didn't learn the gender until the baby was
born. My husband videotaped in the delivery room and the disappointment on my
face and in my voice is so obvious."
Another mom, Brooke, shared, "When we found out that we were
having a boy, both of us had to work through some major shifts in attitude. I think
being lesbian moms provided some added baggage. I had never SEEN a penis in
real life before—how would I help another human take care of one?"
A third mom, who had a toddler son and desperately hoped for
a daughter during her second pregnancy, got the news of her baby's sex while
sitting in an airport alone on the way to a friend's wedding. Her doctor called
and asked if she wanted to know. "I said 'sure,' and she said, 'The baby is
male. It's a boy.' I got off the phone and buckets of tears poured down my face
as I sat facing the window looking at the planes taking off."
While sometimes very difficult, expressing our sadness can
help make room for what usually happens next:
We fall in love with the baby we get.
Katherine, whose third daughter is now 22, told me, "That
girl number three? She brings so much laughter and positive energy to our
family, and I can't imagine life without her."
Brooke shared, "For me, once I made an emotional connection
with the fact that he would be MY SON, that helped ease the fear and
As for me? That little bundle of bones and blood I glimpsed
on the ultrasound is now 6. He's funny and creative and stubborn. He loves
music, Tae Kwon Do and dancing, he and is ridiculously handsome.
If I could've seen that
boy that September morning on the ultrasound, I would've felt differently. (I
also would've been outrageously uncomfortable as he now weighs over 50 pounds.)
The truth is, we don't get to choose our children. The sex
of a baby in utero is no guarantee of the gender they'll identify with nor anything else about their personality. They arrive fully
themselves, separate from whatever our own dreams for them are. We fall in love
with them anyways.
But before we do? It's OK to make space by shedding a few