I will be the first to admit that I experienced mild gender disappointment when I found out Storm was a girl. I had my heart set on a baby boy. Before I found out the gender while I was still pregnant, I was having distinct dreams of a dark haired baby boy reaching out his arms for me to hold him. I hadn’t even bothered looking for girl names, I picked out the perfect boy name which would be after my grandfather and Mortal Kombat. I found the most amazing color scheme completely inspired by the, at the time, new 2DS that I was determined to make the man in the paint department at Home Depot match. Then I went to my 20 week ultrasound.
My fiance, Chris, and I went into the appointment with little doubt of the result. We had the upmost confidence that we were having a boy. My family is full of girls, so they also thought it was time for a boy. At the ultrasound, Storm looked perfect, absolutely everything was fine, and even though we opted for the first trimester health screenings and they were normal, I still had tremendous relief seeing that my baby was healthy. The excitement I had for the confirmation of my little boy had to be put on hold because the ultrasound technician couldn’t tell the gender because Storm had her legs crossed. The technician told me to go to the bathroom and we would try again in 5 minutes.
Who I thought was my little boy and I had a serious talk in that bathroom. I peed, shook up my belly, and said “You better open those little legs.” Shake. “Mommy needs to know.” Shake. “I don’t feel you uncrossing your legs.” Shake. “Please don’t be an asshole.” Shake. Then I washed my hands, pulled my festive blue shirt back over my already swollen belly I wore to celebrate the news of my boy, and went back into the room where the technician and Chris were waiting for me.
I reclined back and felt the cold jelly the technician squeezed above my belly button. Chris took my hand and almost instantly the technician said, “See those 3 little lines? It’s a girl!” My heart sank. The dream of my little boy reaching for me was shattered. In the parking lot Chris hugged me and said, “At least she is healthy. That’s all that matters.” and that was when the guilt set in.
Why was I being so selfish? There are so many couples who would do anything for a healthy baby regardless of gender, and there I was sulking over having a girl. We didn’t even have to try and we were surprisingly blessed with a baby. Am I already a bad mom because I’m borderline distraught over having a girl?
As it turns out, the feelings I had were completely normal. Many women experience gender disappointment. It was nearly unmanageable at first. I felt so prepared for my boy that it felt like returning back to square one with the news of a girl.
Fast forward 1 month after that 20 week ultrasound, and I was ecstatic about my Stormy baby. We picked a name, I found my new color scheme for the nursery, and I couldn’t wait to meet her.
For other mothers though, the acceptance of the less preferred gender isn’t as easy as it was for me. Parents go through loss when they receive unwanted news at that 20 week scan. They endure an entire grieving process as if their son or daughter has essentially died. The hopes for a bond and relationship with the preferred gender is officially deceased for that particular pregnancy. When gender disappointment is that intense, the stress has the potential to be harmful for both the mother and the baby. If the disappointment lingers after the baby is born, it can be incredibly damaging. It can cause mothers not to bond with their babies and not provide the care that a baby needs. Once the child is old enough, they will recognize that they are not valued the way they deserve to be.
My message to anyone who is/has experienced gender disappointment: it’s okay. It doesn’t make you an unfit parent. The best advice that I can give is to embrace the adventure. No matter the gender, hair color, or race, that baby will change your life and show you that you had no fraction of an idea what love was before they arrived.
My baby girl that I begged would be a boy is the single best thing to ever happen to me. I wouldn’t trade her for any of the baby boys in the world.