Expert says that gender disappointment is a common psychological experience among soon-to-be-parents; however, it is more common among new mums.
Expectant mums commonly claim that they only wish to give birth to a healthy baby. This is what they tell themselves and their loved ones after revealing their pregnancy. However, women usually have a preference for having a male or female, regardless of whether she admits it or not.
We are now in the era where gender-reveal parties and showing off baby bumps on Instagram are trends. However, having a boy rather than a girl, or vice versa, makes some hopeful parents sad or disappointed. People label it gender disappointment whenever expecting parents experience this scenario.
In this article, you’ll read:
- Gender Disappointment Among New and Soon-To-Be Mums
- A Few Things You Should Know About Gender Disappointment
- How to Deal With Gender Disappointment
Gender Disappointment Among New and Soon-To-Be Mums
The term gender disappointment describes feelings of sadness and disappointment. Most of the time, this scenario also includes feelings of guilt and shame. Some parents experience this once they learn that their baby’s sex is not what they hoped.
If you’re an expecting parent, you may experience this if you fantasized about raising a baby of a certain sex. At times, you may be aware of your preference until you discover your baby’s sex. It could be through ultrasound, amniocentesis testing, or even once your baby is born.
“You’re Not What I Wanted”
A 27-year-old mum experienced gender disappointment after giving birth to her baby girl. She felt a mix of confusion and sadness as she held her newborn for the first time.
Before giving birth, she hoped to raise a boy as her firstborn. The mum spent years daydreaming about her ideal family with her partner: two boys and then a girl.
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After giving birth, she described her feelings as a severe case of gender disappointment. Though anonymously, this mum shared her story to encourage parents to seek professional help.
She hopes to see fewer parents with a similar experience. For her, it is not harmful to ask for help and seek professional advice when experiencing gender disappointment.
“I Wish It Was a Girl”
Meanwhile, a 32-year-old first-time mum was hoping for a firstborn daughter. She also recalled growing up in a predominantly female household. She never thought of raising a son because she only knew about growing up with girls in the house.
“Also, I’m a dancer, so everyone including my family was like, ‘If you have a girl you can have a dancer’, “ shared the mum.
However, she found out during a blood test that she was carrying a boy. She then experienced gender disappointment as she constantly wished for her unborn baby to be a girl.
My In-Laws Wanted a Boy
On a famous Reddit thread, a mum shared a heartbreaking story about her in-laws’ case of gender disappointment. Her husband’s family hoped for a male as the first grandchild. With this, they can honour the memory of the husband’s father who passed due to cancer. Unfortunately, things turned sour when it was time to learn the baby’s sex.
The expecting mum didn’t mind knowing that her firstborn will be a girl. However, her husband was devastated by the result and turned emotional. This then caused a series of fights between the expecting parents. She also walked out of a baby shower that they prepared for her because they kept hoping she gives birth to a boy.
To make matters worse, her husband refuses to take her side. He also hopes that his wife gives birth to a son instead of the expected baby girl.
Gender vs Sex
Gender disappointment refers to feelings of disappointment or grief when the biological sex of a baby does not align with what the parents expect. While we often use the term gender to denote a boy or a girl, the more accurate term to use is sex.
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Keep in mind that you cannot technically determine a child’s gender. It is because gender is the socially constructed roles, behaviour, expressions, and identities of girls, boys, and gender-diverse people. Gender is a social construct and a person’s innermost concept of self.
Meanwhile, sex is assigned at birth based on biological and physiological characteristics. It is commonly categorised as female or male. However, there is a variation in the biological attributes that comprise sex and how those attributes are expressed.
How to Deal With Gender Disappointment
When you experience feeling disappointed with the sex of your future child, you must know how to address these feelings. Here are a few things you can do:
- Find a safe person you can share this with. It would be best to speak to someone unrelated to get an unbiased, emotionally detached sounding board.
- Evaluate and assess your reaction and feelings. It is essential to ensure that disappointment is not impeding your life and that you seek medical help if necessary.
- Allow yourself to work through it. Keep in mind that expectations will not always match reality.
If you find that your feelings of disappointment prevent you from bonding with your baby, it would be best to speak with a therapist or counsellor.