Gender disappointment // How I really feel about having two boys

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.

Toby, Gabe and me in front of the Christmas tree

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.

Me with my youngest son Gabe

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?

Me and my two boys - my feelings on gender disappointment

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.

22 thoughts on “Gender disappointment // How I really feel about having two boys

  1. I could have written this post. I feel awful for feeling this way too. I love my two boys SO much, but you’re right in saying that a mother and son relationship just isn’t the same as a mother and her daughters. We’ve always pondered about three children, but I don’t know how realistic it is. Also, if we had another son, I’m pretty sure I’d be very upset. Oh the dilemma!!!! Xx

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one 🙂 I never wanted more than two children but I think with two boys already I’d be scared to have a third, even it I did want another baby. I hope you figure out what will be best for you x

  2. I have one of each and yet I do understand this, because I never wanted a girl. I knew Toby was a boy without finding out at the scan, but with Pops I didn’t feel the same and I needed to find out in order to prepare myself.

    I hated it when people said “Oh perfect, one of each!” – partly because it’s sad to assume that a family can only be perfect with one of each, but also because I felt judged if I said that I’d always wanted boys.

    I worship Martha and wouldn’t change her for the world, but even nearly 2 years after her birth I still feel scared about raising a girl!xx

    1. It’s true, that a lot of people seem to think that one of each is the ideal. And although that’s what I wanted I can totally understand why other people might want something else. I’m sure you’ll do a great job of bringing up Martha though, and Toby too of course. I bet he’ll carry on being a brilliant big brother as they grow up.

  3. While I was happy with whatever we got, and I kind of knew it would be a boy given both sides of the family there’s only 2 girls on either side out of about 15 kids, a girl would have been so much easier in some ways. Boys are fab and N especially is, but being a farming family, it’s just assumed he’ll be a farmer (and he does love it so mych). A girl wouldn’t have had that expectation, and it would be easier to persuade a girl to leave the farm, get away, experience something different, get qualifications and love a more normal life. I’m worried that N will turn into his dad and tbh that’s not great as there would be so much he would miss out on jncluding normal family life. I’m with you on the dancing thing too. I loved ballet and still dance now, it would have been lovely to get the chance to experience that with a daughter. But I wasn’t really disappointed not having a girl, more sad for N and the potential that he might miss out on if he’s not willing or allowed to go out and experience different things outside the farm before deciding that’s what he wants to do.

    1. That’s a really interesting perspective – I guess everyone has their own reasons for wanting a particular gender. I hope N manages to find whatever makes him happy, whether that’s on the farm or not.

  4. This was interesting as I was always a very ” I’d want a girl, I wouldn’t know what to do with a boy” person. Weird because I’m a staunch feminist and reality I probably wouldn’t do anything different with a girl than a boy. I think it comes down to being an only child and being a girl, so having a vey particularly type of relationship with my own mum. Something changed though when I became pregnant with Small Boy. I just somehow knew he was a boy. We couldn’t even think of any girls names! When it was confirmed on the ultrasound I was just so delighted. He is everything I was meant to have and we have such a special bond. If he want’s to play with a doll or go to a dance class when he’s older, that’s fine. If he wants to play rugby or with trucks, that’s fine too. If I were to have another, I’d want a boy. It’s all shifted. I can understand though if you have a picture of what you want, it must be difficult to adjust, and there is a social expectation to want one of each.

  5. I can relate to feeling like history may repeat itself. I’m the eldest of three girls and have gone on to have two girls myself. I’m really pleased I’ve got two girls but chose not to find out their gender till they were born. After my diagnosis and having to inject insulin everyday I was thankful we all survived. I watched a vlog once where the vloggers sent an outfit to the others child so they got a chance to dress a different gender. #bloggerclubuk

  6. I totally understand why people feel like this. I’m a really girly girl, and come from a family of girls, so I guess it’s natural that my preference first time around was for a girl. I just couldn’t picture myself with a boy at all. But once I had Max I realised how little it matters – I loved everything about him and wouldn’t have ever wished he was a girl. Second time around I was much more laid back – I thought a girl would have been lovely for me, but I thought it would probably be better for Max to have a brother. I’m very happy with my two boys, but equally, I know that we will be stopping at 2, so there is a part of me that is sad that I’ll never know what it’s like to have a girl. I think it’s more about the relationship once they’re grown up to be honest – I’m very close to my parents, but my husband has never been inclined to ring or meet up with his. I think girls are just better at that! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  7. I always dreamed of having a girl growing up, I had chosen the name Alice for my daughter when I was young. When I fell pregnant and we went to find out the gender I couldn’t wait and whilst I said I didn’t mind, I secretly craved a girl. We went on to have Alice and I was delighted. When we fell pregnant again, my thoughts on it really don’t make any sense!! I desperately wanted a sister for Alice, as growing up I longed for a sister. But then I also knew that we wouldn’t have any more children and so this would mean I would never know a sons love. I still think about that now. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  8. I totally relate to this, being a mum of girls a big part of me wonders what it would be like to have a boy and if circumstances were different I would have loved to have had a boy too but i know we are not having anymore and so I agree that you can’t help thinking about it. I can’t imagine my girls not having a sister but really i would have loved a brother too x #SharingTheBlogLove

  9. This is a great post! It’s really nice to see the honesty in how you was feeling. You’re not supposed to have feelings of disappointment based on the gender, but people do, and that’s ok. I know my wife would’ve been disappointed had we had a boy and not a girl.

  10. Wow such an honest post, and one that I’m sure will bring comfort to lots of other people feeling this way. Growing up, I always liked the idea of having one of each but when our first child was a daughter, I really wanted our second one to be a daughter too (which she was) – I was worried that I wouldn’t know how to relate to a boy. I do think hubby would have liked a boy, so they could do the whole football-training/DIY thing (yes I know girls can do this too but currently our girls are not interested in the slightest). #sharingthebloglove

  11. This is so beautifully written and so honest. I think gender disappointment is much more widespread than it appears, especially as I think many people feeling guilty if they admit to it. I have two girls and second time around, I was happy with either gender, although I am pretty certain that I would have been desperate for a girl if my eldest had been a boy. I also struggled to bond second time around although I think like you it was partly due to how a second child changed our family dynamics, and partly due to having PND. #sharingthebloglove

  12. My cousin has 3 boys and everyone keeps asking when she will try for a girl as she is such a girly girl herself. I wanted a girl first time, boy 2nd and girl 3rd so I never got what I wanted but I was never truly disappointed as there were reasons for me wanting it that way but they didn’t really matter #sharingthebloglove

  13. I found out today that I’ll be having another boy. I’ve cried so much in secret as I really hoped it would be a girl and I know I won’t be trying to get pregnant again. I feel so so sad that I’ll never have a mother daughter relationship. I’ll never be the mother of the bride or hold my daughter hand when she’s pregnant. In my culture girls are valued so much as they are said to be the ones that remember to check on you in old age and /or in sickness while boys just happily go off and start their families and forget all about you. I have 4 sisters and no brothers and I just imagine that was my mother trying to conceive a boy. I’m happy my first son Gabriel will have a play mate and there’s only going to be 2 years between them and I know I’ll soon get over the disappointment but for now I can’t help but feel sad even though I’ve just been told that I’m having a healthy boy.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you’re so upset. I struggled for a long time with this and I do still wonder sometimes what it would be like to have a girl. It does get easier though – my boys are 7 and 5 now and honestly I can’t imagine what life would be like if Gabe had been a girl. They have a brilliant relationship, and I’m sure your boys will too.

    2. Snap! Exactly all the same thoughts & sadness I’ll never get to do with my own little girl. Even to pass down family jewellery. Second boy due later this year, I’m really struggling with it mentally. Feel so selfish especially when I learnt a friend sadly miscarried her second recently. I’m from a single parent family & have the most beautiful close relationship with my mum. I’ll love this baby to pieces & he will have a super big brother but inside I’ll never stop yearning for a baby girl.

  14. Thanks for your honesty. I’ve struggled with this for so long – always wanted to raise a son as my husband is one of the sweetest person in the world and I want the joy of raising a son just like him. I love our daughter and will know the gender of the next one soon but I can’t help but wonder how I’ll cope if we learn it’s a girl again knowing it’s the last time we will want to be pregnant! There’s also so much family and societal pressure to have one of each that you just succumb to it!

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