What Happens When You Experience Gender Disappointment?


A man and woman holding a gender reveal cake.I know I’m not the only mom in the universe who is a self-diagnosed control freak. If I were to wager a bet, I would presume there are more control freak moms out there than not. But honestly, I tend to raise the bar on both the control and the freak.

I plan. I prepare. I have it all set in my mind to happen in a certain way at a particular time. When my plans melt away to mush, I occasionally break down and then pick myself back up off the floor slowly and surely. 

So, after I had my daughter, I planned and prepared. I knew that I would be having a boy the second time around. I don’t even think I put a second thought into place. It was just the way it was going to be. I knew I wanted two children, no more, no less. I knew I wanted one of each. I knew that I wanted to wait three-four years between them. Then, when birth control failed me like no other, and I became pregnant with my second child 28 months after my first child’s birth, I was forced to experience an episode of said aforementioned meltdown. 
But I handled it. I accepted the nine, no, ten months of no wine. (It’s ten months. Why do we allow the world to be so underhanded as not to count every momentous day we spend pregnant? It’s TEN MONTHS!). I budgeted for baby number two, scheduled my doctors’ appointments accordingly, and cold-turkeyed off of my beloved medications that seemed to be on track finally and working perfectly in keeping my anxiety at bay.
Now, as someone under 30 at the time, I had to wait out the gender reveal the old-fashioned way. Apparently, for expectant mothers OVER 30, a blood test 6-10 weeks in tells all, but alas, not for my 29-year-old body. I had to do it old school. If you Google it, it says gender can be determined with an anatomy scan at 15 weeks. However, if you visit my OBGYN, you get tortured into waiting five more weeks, just in case, so they know for sure, and because that’s when they can schedule you…because of life.
Alas, I waited. And then, on D-Day, I showed up, ready to see my baby boy. You know, it wasn’t even so much that I had planned for it to happen this way. There was an actual reason I was so intent on it being a boy in the first place. My fiance, Henry (one of FIVE children, yeah, no), is Henry III. So, apparently, it is unacceptable for any man to NOT pass the family name down with an additional roman number at the end of his name. And because my pregnancy with my daughter had not been so easy, and the second one was already difficult in many ways, I knew this was him…Henry IV. He was in there; he was healthy. He looked like his dad; this would be my final pregnancy, my final child, my final LABOR… It was all certain.
And then the ultrasound technician turned my world in reverse. Girl. It was a girl. As if that mere moment she uttered the word was not truly traumatizing enough, in the sense that any idea of Henry IV being in my belly was destroyed in a single moment, my unknowing significant other mutters the worst possible thing he could have. “Are you 100% sure it’s a girl?” Really! Really? Really.
I stomached up the courage to nod my head and force a smile. I thanked the tech, rubbed the jelly off my own jelly and kept my head down, memorizing my feet. I bit my lip, sucked in just enough oxygen to keep me from turning blue, and headed to the car with my entourage in silent tow.
Once inside my car, free from the judgment of any medical staff at my doctor’s office and out of earshot of innocent bystanders, I cried. No, I think it would be more accurate to say I sobbed.

It all came flooding out, and I had no control over anything, not my tears, not my mood, not my anxiety, and certainly not the gender of the baby inside my belly. 

I will share the following candid thoughts I processed with you in a moment of true, unadulterated honesty. I beg you to do all you can to withhold judgment, to do your best to relate to me in my moment of despair. In this extreme time frame in my life, I had no say in how I felt. It’s scary and sad to think that, but I know it’s true because otherwise, I would have never allowed myself to process those feelings in a million years.
I didn’t just cry. I felt a loss. It was as if there had been a male child in my womb, and I had lost him. I had initially created his existence as far back as my journey postpartum with my first daughter when I began ridding our home of anything pink or girly in anticipation of our eventual next male child.
I had given him a name. The name was where the desire stemmed from, as I have already shared. And all of that built up to this boy that was not inside of me, that had never been inside me and ceased to exist. For the first time in my entire “mom life,” I didn’t even want to be a mom.
The sadness I was experiencing was debilitating. It rendered me void of that maternal joy and glow. I truly, and honestly, sadly did not want to be pregnant anymore. I got home and lay in bed for hours. Those hours felt like days. I remember it was a Saturday, and I was so grateful that I didn’t have any expectation of facing the outside world because, quite frankly, I didn’t want to. I wanted to cry and mourn my baby boy. 

In between the crying, sleeping, sobbing, and Netflix binge of God knows what trash, I Googled. I came onto blog and article after blog and article about something called “gender disappointment.” There was a name to it. It was a real thing. I wasn’t insane. However, more importantly, I wasn’t alone.

Knowing other moms-to-be out there had experienced this same reaction and emotion made me not feel like the terrible human being I thought I was.
It made me realize that I am prone to human ERROR as a human, including errors made only in judgment. I knew what I was feeling was wrong, but I didn’t expect it to have happened to anyone else. Why had I never heard about it? Why was this not something I read about during my first pregnancy when I memorized the chapters of “What to Expect…”
Had I known I wasn’t alone, I may have dealt with it better. And so, just knowing that I was not the first mom to face disappointment because of the gender of my baby to be, I was able to swallow the sadness and accept the way I was feeling at face value, no more, no less.
When I woke up the Sunday morning after having had my Saturday to myself, I sat in bed quietly as I rubbed my tummy and thought quietly about my future while my significant other slept beside me. I was one of two girls. I now had a little sister for my daughter to grow up with, just like I had. She would have a best friend less than two years younger than she was, someone to play with, joke with, challenge dad and mom with. She could teach her how to do everything. They could go to Girl Scouts together. They could wear matching outfits and hair bows. They could have a bond like the one I share with my little sister, maybe even stronger. 

Because I allowed myself that Saturday to mourn my son, I allowed myself the time to heal and grow from the disappointment and the experience of being unable to control one of the most important factors of my life.

I allowed myself the time to grow comfortable and, more importantly, energetically excited for the new bundle of joy I had to plan for. I had plenty of shopping to do. I had names to think about and research. And I had a gender reveal announcement to plan to surprise everyone who, just like me, couldn’t have ever expected the unexpected.
I would not trade my daughter for any baby boy in the world. I wouldn’t change a single thing about her. From the moment I first set eyes on her, I loved her with every inch of my being and soul (even if her fast arrival did prevent an epidural). And I haven’t gone a single day since that sad Saturday feeling anything but pure euphoria and love for her.
Regardless of the worry and concern I had, I may subconsciously render some resentment toward her after her birth or after my Sad-urday. I never have, and I know now that I never will. I experienced a short-lived bout of gender disappointment, no different from any other woman ever has or ever will. I sometimes wonder if anyone I know has experienced the same thing. We always talk about our baby experiences and baby stories. We talk about the labor – how and where it happened, did it hurt, who was there. We swap tales of the first time our babies took their first steps and said their first words. But nowhere is there a forum or an acceptable place to stand up and say. I sobbed like a baby when I fdiscoveredI wasn’t getting what I “wanted” and what I thought I  “needed.” 

As hard as it was, this experience taught me that having these feelings didn’t make me a bad mom. It made me human.


  1. I experienced this with my first and third. My first because I was afraid of raising a girl. The third because we had two girls already. But you are right, God has plans for us and gives us what we need not necessarily what we think we want!

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