My sister, pregnant with her third child, says the question she’s getting asked most is: “Are you hoping for a girl this time?” She has two boys already, and the presumption seems to be that she will want a daughter. I’ve spoken with many women about this over the years and, in my limited research, it seems that most women “long” for a girl.
When a friend of mine, mum to two boys already, fell pregnant with her third baby she decided to find out the baby’s sex at her 20 week scan because she really hoped for a girl. She confesses she felt a little disappointed when the scan revealed a third boy was on his way, and said, “I never thought I’d be a soccer mum,” when she announced her baby’s sex.
Such a response is termed “gender disappointment” and it is surprisingly common. There are many reasons women may experience it to varying degrees such as:
- They feel they’ll be unable to connect to a particular gender. Maybe the expectant mum was a real ‘girly girl’ herself as a child and wants to recreate her own experiences.
- They have several children of the same gender already. Some mothers of one-gender families may grieve the loss of the baby they wished they had. For others it is simply about having a parental change.
- Pressure from family members to fulfil the need for a specific gender.
Gender disappointment is one of the many apparently ‘controversial’ parenting topics, which is often treated similarly to post-natal depression. It is rarely discussed openly. This could partly be out of sensitivity to others. For women who are struggling to conceive and experiencing profound disappointment , it’s understandable they would have little empathy for those suffering ‘gender disappointment’.
Do women want daughters?
The shame associated with feelings of gender disappointment means that sufferers find comfort in online forums, connecting with each other over their stories. And usually it’s women who are mourning the daughter that had hoped for.
I think it’s OK to have a preference for one sex over the other. It doesn’t mean that you’ll love your baby less. Gender disappointment has nothing to do with the fierce love you have for your child – it’s about missing one you don’t. .And it doesn’t mean that you won’t be an amazing mother to your child.
If you are hoping for one sex over another, I think it’s a good idea to find out the sex before the birth to give you time to adjust. If the result is not what you were hoping for allow yourself the space to mourn what won’t be. And remember, the most important outcome of childbirth is a healthy mother and a healthy baby.
My Obstetrician told me that around 50 % of his patients find out the sex of their unborn child. I chose not to, preferring to keep it a surprise each time. There are so few surprises in life and although I was curious, I enjoyed the “guessing game” and preserving the mystery until the final moment.
That said, my intuition strongly indicated I was having girls so I was not the least bit surprised each time. I had always pictured myself with girls so that to have a son would have been a bit of a shock. I am one of five daughters and I always imagined myself surrounded by daughters, much like my mum.
My sister is not hoping for a girl over a boy, and she has chosen to keep the sex a surprise for the birth. For her, it’s not about ‘wanting’ or ‘yearning’ for either sex. “I am totally comfortable with the idea of a boy, or a girl! Therefore, excited at both prospects,” she says.
Economically it will save her a bucket load of money if she has another boy. And, she’s in the boy “zone” now so another little fella will just slip in nicely.
But, a girl would be delightful, and – a change. And I just happen to have boxes of girls clothes packed up waiting for a home, if I can bear to part with them.
Did you yearn for one sex over the other? Did you find out your baby’s sex in advance or keep it a surprise? I find this a fascinating topic so I’d love to hear your comments.