Finding out the gender of your unborn child can be a really exciting experience. Whether it’s through early gender scans or antenatal appointments in the later stages of pregnancy, revealing your baby’s gender can be a really helpful way to help parents plan for their new arrival, educate older siblings and even help select some name choices in preparation.
But what if the gender comes as a shock? Is it normal to feel disappointed when your baby’s gender is different to what you expected? Is it wrong to crave for a little girl after having previously given birth to three boys? Does it make you a bad person for wishing your babies gender was different?
Whilst of course you want a healthy baby, it’s also very common to even secretly be wishing for a baby of a particular sex. So called ‘gender disappointment’ is incredibly common but the good news is, it is usually fairly short lived and absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.
Here are some tips for coping with gender disappointment:
- Recognise it – First up, as with many emotional challenges, the first step is to recognise that it exists in the first place. Be honest with yourself and look to confide in your partner or a trusted friend and talk about your feelings. You may find the simple act of letting yourself be honest, cry and share your emotions with others incredibly cathartic, and help ground some of your less rational concerns about your baby’s gender.
- Gender norms – Chances are, your longing for a particular gender is based on your preconceived gender norms – quite often outdated or generalised assumptions about what it means to be a particular sex. Try and understand the reasons why you wanted a particular gender before reminding yourself that gender is simply a pronoun. The reality is, male or female, their personality traits, behaviours, likes and dislikes are relatively fluid and are impacted far more by their upbringing and life experiences than their birth gender alone. Try and focus less on the traditional stereotypes of footballers vs princesses, monster trucks vs ballerinas, and instead focus on raising your baby in a way that works for you.
- Familiarity – Many females feel more comfortable with the prospect of a daughter simply because it is a familiar territory. We know what to expect with a girl because we were one, and therefore boys come with new and different challenges to the ones we have previously experienced. You may also have own fears or concerns from your own upbringing and worry that history will repeat itself. If this really worries you, try and spend time with friends who have babies of the alternative gender and increase your familiarity and exposure. You’ll quickly realise that every baby is different and comes with their own unique personalities.
- Have faith – Remember, these emotions won’t last forever. When you finally meet your baby, many of these feelings generally go away and you will still experience the closeness and love you’ve been longing for.
Gender disappointment may not be commonly talked about, but trust me, you aren’t the first person to feel like this and you certainly won’t be the last. Stay positive and use the time and knowledge to adjust and prepare for your baby – they’ll be here before you know it.