I want to talk to you about something that I think a lot of women feel, but rarely talk about – gender disappointment. I’m done feeling guilty or embarrassed about the disappointment that I felt and I want other women to understand that it can be a normal part of pregnancy and birth. When I experienced gender disappointment, I didn’t think it was common and I was scared to talk to others about it because of fear of judgement, but here we are!
My Gender Disappointment Story – Why I wanted a girl instead of a boy
I was very close to my grandmother, living with her as a baby and seeing her every single day as a child. My mum was her full time carer and we lived only 5 minutes away. Gran loved her children – but I think she took a special delight in her grandchildren. Once she started getting great-grandchildren, she was very very happy indeed… but she did have one wish, another baby girl in the family. She was never disappointed with her boys, but at the time of her death she had six great-grand sons and still no girls in the family. When I found out I was pregnant, we were up to 9 boys in that generation and still no girls.
I did the NIFTY – which stands for Non Invasive Fetal TrisomY test privately (£450!) as I was in the higher risk category for a baby suffering from Down’s Syndrome and being prepared was important to my husband and I. It came with a free gender test, advertised at 99% accurate, allowing us to find out the gender at just 12 weeks, when an ultrasound still couldn’t say. I ummed and ahh’ed over it but I finally said go on then, I’ve paid enough for the bloody thing let’s get our moneys worth! They told me over the phone – it was a little girl and I was overjoyed.
I instantly thought of my grandmother and how happy she would be, and I knew 100% that I was going to name my little girl after her and that her name would live on. I loved the idea of having a little girl and having the first girl in the family too. My mum was so happy, as a little granddaughter was what she wanted. My husband on the other hand as a little disappointed; but we talked it over and his main reasons were he was looking forward to going camping, doing scouts and teaching him his skills (engineering/DIY). We came to the conclusion there was zero reason a girl couldn’t do all these things, and even if we had a boy, maybe he wouldn’t enjoy doing the things his dad wanted to do with him – you certainly never know what they’re going to enjoy. We certainly weren’t going to force any gender stereotypes on our child so there was no reason to be disappointed, right?
I fell in love with my little girl and talked to her constantly, calling her by the name we’d agreed on and I really feel like I bonded with her during the early stages of pregnancy.
Then came the 20 week scan – I was a bundle of absolute nerves. I was so sure something would be wrong. It’d already been a tough pregnancy and we were high risk for a whole host of issues (although the NIFTY actually came back with very good odds for trisomy disorders). Everything was perfect. Beautiful. No issues at all.
“Oh,” we said, just as we were almost done. “Can you double check the sex for us? We’ve done the NIFTY but you might as well confirm.”
“See here,” the tech pointed, “that’s his penis. Congratulations, it’s a boy!”
We had managed to beat the odds somehow and be part of the 1% who have an incorrect gender result from the NIFTY test. I will be brutally honest – I cried on the way home in the car. I called my mum straight away and I could just tell how disappointed she was. I felt like I’d failed and disappointed the people who mattered most to me, even though now I realize that’s very illogical, at the time, I was crazy emotional.
I think if I’d found out it was going to be a boy from the start, I would have been emotionally fine, but it almost felt like I was grieving the loss of something incredibly important to me, and it really brought home how much my grandmother’s death had affected me and how upset I was at her not getting to meet my child. Then of course I felt a tremendous amount of guilt – after trying to conceive for almost a decade, I felt I was betraying myself, and others who weren’t so lucky, for feeling disappointment when I knew I was incredibly lucky. Talk about a conflicting mix of emotions.
How to Overcome Gender Disappointment
I love my little boy with all my heart, but it’s okay to feel a bit disappointed or shocked when you find out the gender. It’s okay to want something. It’s okay to process things, to have hopes and dreams that change, and it’s okay to admit that feeling, to talk to other people about it, to feel a pang for things that we don’t have. Being disappointed when you find out the gender doesn’t mean you love them any less.
I would have loved my little girl – but my boy is just perfect.
If you enjoyed this post please follow me to keep up to date, and I’d love to hear your opinion if you leave a comment. Did you have a gender preference and if you ended up with something different, how did you feel about it? Did your partner feel the same way as you?