Showing posts with label Gender Disappointment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gender Disappointment. Show all posts

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Thoughts on Gender Disappointment

If I didn‘t talk about this, I would feel like a liar. 

Why Write Such a Triggering Article?

One reason why I got into mom blogging is because of an honest video created by the delightful Emily Norris on Youtube. She had initially put out a gender disappointment video on her channel where she discussed the known sex of her third and final child. She unpacked her feelings and did not sugarcoat the periods of emotional adjustment that a mother or a parent can go through when it is time to say goodbye to a future that will never be. It was genuine and it helped me at the time to process my feelings and get over the initial shock.

Emily was grieving the potential little girl that she was most likely not going to have based on the dynamics of her family and her lifestyle. She, like many other moms, might not get the family she imagined all that time. I then watched other videos on the same subject. Some varied from frustrated boy moms who would go through any measures to remedy their family balance deficit to those that adjusted to their reality and just cared about a  healthy baby. 

It were these stories that got me through a tough time so I wanted to pay it forward and possibly do likewise for someone else.


It is 2020. Views, research, and modern mores on gender and biological sex have shifted to be less rigid and more supportive of lived experiences instead of assigned roles. And as a disclaimer, I am using the term "Gender Disappointment" in order to make this article easier to find at the expense of accuracy and a lengthy probability explanation for the child's sex and the child's gender. For those interested in the breakdown between biological sex and gender in our society and how young children can be supported on their journey, please refer to Coursera courses (like this one) that are free and were created by experts in their field.  

My Story

I really wanted my first child to be a little girl. I knew what girls were like because I was one myself. I knew the ins and out of hormones and growing up, and I could almost anticipate what my child might experience. It was familiar and I was looking forward to reliving my favorite parts of my childhood. 

Most importantly, I wanted to share baking with her the way my grandmother shared with me. I still remember the times that we baked and I wanted my child to have the same relationship to this inevitable activity in my home. I figured, you had to be a little girl to fully fall in love with baking.

After trying to conceive did not yield the most efficient results. I was hoping for a child of any sex and gender. I thought that the monthly disappointment of still not being pregnant eroded this initial hope for a baby girl. I was ready to go to all sorts of sports tournaments if it meant I got the honor and the privilege of being a parent. While nature and nurture are always debated, at the time I anticipated boys to contain testosterone and energy requiring steady physical activity. On the other hand, I imagined girls would have less need for physical activity and would use their imaginations instead for pretend play involving tea parties, baking, and lots of dressing up.

And then I got pregnant. I was hopeful that it was a girl and when I was told that it looked like I was having a little boy, my dreams of what my family was going to be like just burst. I felt like my world was shaken up. I had an older brother, and while he was a decent human being, I always thought that an older sister to a brother would be better based on the experiences of my friends and acquaintances as well as my own lived experience. I’m sure there are gentle souls out there, but from testimonies and lived experiences that I have, these gentle souls are outnumbered by accounts of broken bones and permanent injuries partially created by big brothers. 

That Mom Guilt

Now the mom guilt for my feelings felt really hard to bear. Nausea hit me hard, and I was not used to being sick every day. I had trouble completing my demanding tasks at work as well as taking care of myself. Looking back, I am surprised I was not more depressed than I was or that I had not taken more time away from work.  

I would sometimes find that I thought my pregnancy and the child I was carrying was just a place holder. And then the feelings of guilt would sink in. My child did not have a choice of having a specific body or human experiences. My child did not have a choice in making me sick with nausea. Even if my child "chose me" to be his mother, which I do believe, I doubt this part of the package was chosen. 

This was the routine before my nausea went away. I would eat something, throw up, resent my child’s sex and potential gender, then cry because I felt the guilt, and finally swear that the child would never get the sense of being a placeholder. Then, I would walk out of the bathroom stall motivated to never let my child suspect that I was holding onto these feelings.

Arrival of My Baby Boy 

"I want to be honest that you end up bonding with and loving any real child faster than any idea of a child that you thought up in your mind over the nine months of pregnancy." 


The baby arrived, and at first it did not matter. I want to be honest that you end up bonding with and loving any real child faster than any child that you thought up in your mind over the nine months of pregnancy. He had the personality of the eldest child. He was the center of my world. For the first months he was a cute newborn. Independent of cultural gender. He refused to nap, loved to touch things, wasn’t afraid of new places, and loved balls and balloons. Those were his favorite things when he became verbal. Balloons were his first favorite, and he called me a balloon.

Even as I write this, I am thankful that I had this experience and the honor and the privilege in my life to be called a "balloon" by my baby boy.

No theoretical child in my mind can match the loving, high pitched, assignment of “balloon.” There is a good chance you will love and bond with your child and you will sign up for anything gladly. Hours of energy expelled at back to back baseball games instead of baking? DONE. I then felt like I could have many, many boys. They were delightful so far. My eldest is now in the toddler years and it is a bit rough and I see energy  in my child that my mother swears was always absent from my childhood experience. And that's okay.

He keeps me on my toes and I was one active toddler mom, until...

The Second Pregnancy

I then became pregnant with my second child. My husband was hoping for a girl, in part because he probably wanted to stop having kids. We could then have the stereotypical nuclear family, perfectly balanced and not too crowded.

I once again had this theoretical child in my mind. All ready to go. My mom skills were going to get sharpened for girl things. I was going to have the family that I always envisioned. 

Well, that did not happen either. 

I got the disappointing news through a blood test result. It's very impersonal to read your test results late at night in arial style print.

It said, "A male fetus was detected."

I was very disappointed and mourned my theoretical child once again. The sad feelings came back. One boy was tolerable, but two sounded like a nightmare. Broken bones, mud, bugs, high adrenaline sports, love for dangerous activities. I wanted none of that. None. 

I once again felt guilty. Here I was further enraged by the previous mom-shaming attitudes of the internet. The smug trolls willing to tell parents to be happy and just want  a healthy baby were repulsive to me. People need to learn to read the cyberspace room. Everyone is entitled to their feelings or at least to the processing of their feelings.  

It was okay that I was mourning the loss of a future that I thought I had within reach. Those feelings were valid and are still valid.

My second boy was difficult to bond with at first, he was like a sleeping potato. And then he started laughing and smiling. This alone melted my heart and I once again thought that I could have another child, another boy even. I could have a dozen boys and be forever happy because they were or would be my precious babies. 

Before his birth, I went through the same exact storm of disappointment. My past experience had not prepared me for this almost exact experience. And I will tell you why. 


And Now

I never envisioned having a cap on having children based on the health of my body or the contents of my bank account or the blowback from my local culture. It was confusing to get these odd and probably unintended comments such as “one of each” since one of my children took after my husband and my other child took after me. 

I even went through some light research into the costs of medically swaying for a girl at some point in the future, but as it stands now, the growth of my family is greatly limited by my reality. It is expensive and it is the type of commitment that requires a series of medical procedures. Sheer probability sounds so much easier. And it might be a great future route, but as my life is turning out now, I am excited to recover from postpartum and enjoy my time with my two kids.

There is a difference between biological sex and gender, not just a distinction. And there is an even bigger difference between biological sex or gender and the actual character and personality of the child. My two children can play and do whatever they want as long a they are kind and safe. If that means gymnastics or soccer instead of baking and painting, then I get it. I will buy the cleats and yell loudly in the stands. 

I still mourn moments that I have missed and might miss forever. Talking to other boy moms, I learned that a lot of times, boys end up bonding more with their dads and getting advice from their dads on topics that they would not dream of talking to you about. I realized that thus far, I had as gender neutral of an experience as I could have given the ages of my kids and their initial spikes in energy. 

I know mourning of the moments will only get worse with age as I see more of my friends become parents and embrace stereotypically girly kid activities that are not compatible with the high energy that my two little ones have, regardless of gender. There will likely be less playing with doll houses, having tea parties, making sand castles, having pretend spa days, getting manicures, doing hair, and playing dress up. And there is nothing wrong with embracing everything about your children while also leaving the "what could have been parts" behind, mourning or not included.

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