Before Christmas I was contacted by a journalist who was writing an article about gender disappointment, and whether more women in particular are disappointed to only have children of one gender. She had decided to get in touch with me after seeing my comment on this video by Chloe from Sorry About The Mess.
I don’t know if this newspaper article is every going to see the light of day, and even if it does I doubt it will have much more than a couple of sentences from what I said, so I thought I would like to share my thoughts about having two boys here too.
It’s hard to admit you are disappointed in the gender of your child, you worry people will think you are saying you are disappointed in your child themselves, or that somehow you won’t love them as much because they aren’t the gender you hoped for, which isn’t the case at all. I think there are some people who are genuinely happy with whatever gender their children might be but I would imagine there are quite a lot of people who have an idea of gender they would like before they conceive, but then don’t like to admit they are disappointed if the gender isn’t what they wanted.
Since I was a little girl I always wanted two children, a boy and then a girl two years apart. My brother is exactly two years older than me (our birthdays are the next day to each other) and we have always had a great relationship and I think that’s what made me want the same for my family. When we had a boy, and then conceived again so that there would be two years and a month between them it was like the it was all going to plan, so when we found out the second pregnancy was a boy as well that was the end of the plan as I had always pictured it.
I was happy and excited when I found out I was expecting a boy in my first pregnancy. Before our 20 week scan the second time I had tried to prepare myself for the fact it might be another boy. I can’t actually remember clearly what I said when the sonographer told us it was another boy, I think I might have just said ‘oh’. I remember sitting in the waiting room after and being very quiet, my husband asked me if I was OK and I couldn’t explain to him how disappointed I was. It probably didn’t help that we also found out at the same scan that I had a low-lying placenta which meant I might need to have a C-section, so I was a whole mess of emotions. (As it turned out my placenta moved and I got the home birth I wanted but I didn’t know that at the time).
I talked to my husband about it, and he always supported me even though he didn’t feel the same way. He would have liked a girl too, and he knew that it had been important to me. But he is more pragmatic than me and so when he found out it was another boy he just accepted it because he knew it was something he couldn’t change. I did try to be open with other friends and family, and didn’t make a secret of the fact I would have liked a girl but it wasn’t something I talked about in depth to anyone other than my husband.
I hated when people asked me if we knew the gender. I found it difficult to tell people and would always say ‘it’s another boy’ and feel like I had to apologise for the fact we were having two boys. I’m sure that was only in my mind, but it felt like I had let people down somehow by having two boys.
As my pregnancy went on I did come to accept we were having a boy but I still felt sad, almost mourned for the baby girl we would never have. I think part of wanting a girl is just that a mother and daughter will always have a different relationship to a mother and son. I have a great relationship with my mum, we talk a lot, we do things like going shopping together, and I just couldn’t imagine having a relationship like that with a son.
The other part is more vacuous I suppose (if that’s the right word) – things like I’ll never get to dress a girl, I went to dancing classes for my whole childhood and even though I know boys can dance it’s not the same as taking a daughter in a cute tutu to ballet classes. And lastly, as I mentioned before I have a great relationship with my brother, and although I hope my boys will have that with each other too, it won’t be the same as a brother / sister relationship.
After Gabe was born I found it very difficult to bond with him in the beginning. A lot of that was just to do with the fact he was a second child, he upset the status quo we had established with our family of three over the previous two years. He also had reflux (just like his brother before him) which meant feeding was difficult, he cried a lot, and he didn’t sleep. They were the main factors but it didn’t help that he wasn’t the girl I had always planned for.
I only ever wanted two children, and even though we have two boys, there is no way I would be tempted to have another child and ‘try for a girl’. I think I would be even more upset if we had three boys, and that wouldn’t be fair on them or me. Plus, I would have to deal with all the comments from people who would undoubtedly be asking if we were trying for a girl too.
Gabe is now nearly two and a half and I am still sad that I will never have a daughter. That doesn’t mean I don’t love him, or I would change him for anything. I don’t think about it as much as I used to when I was pregnant and when he was first born. But I do think about it sometimes, and I don’t think I will ever really stop wondering what it would be like to have a daughter, and feeling sad that I’ll never get to find out.
But I’m not disappointed in my boys. How could I be disappointed with these two?
If you are reading this and have also experienced gender disappointment, or perhaps you’re pregnant and are hoping your child is going to be a specific gender then I just wanted to share my experience, to let you know that it’s OK to feel this way, that it doesn’t mean you love your children any less, and it is just something that you have to find your own way of living with.
If you have felt gender disappointment, or you had a plan that didn’t quite work out the way you hoped I’d love to here about your experience so do leave me a comment.