I thought long and hard about writing this post as I know it will hugely divide opinion but if someone who feels how I did happens to stumble across this and take any comfort from it then that’s good enough reason for me to put this out there.
Can I firstly start by saying I know I am so unbelievably lucky to have two beautiful, healthy children and I am fully aware that it isn’t something to be taken for granted but equally, pregnancy is a completely and utterly bizarre time in anyone’s life and can leave us feeling ways that we never imagined we would (F YOU HORMONES). No one should be made to feel ashamed of how they feel, especially if it’s an unexpected reaction to a situation.
Did you know that gender disappointment is an actual real life thing? Well neither did I until I fell pregnant with Woody. My whole life I always imagined having two babies. They would both be beautiful baby girls with long flowing locks, a penchant for princesses and ponies and a wonderful sisterly bond. Coming from a family of girls I never imagined it any other way. I was absolutely ecstatic when at twenty weeks the sonographer confirmed my dreams were coming true and that Nora was a baby girl. We spent months deliberating over her name, stock piling beautiful girlie outfits and preening her tiny but perfectly formed ditsy print nursery. It was perfect.
When I discovered I was pregnant for a second time we were over the moon. Again, I spent hours imaging what my second baby girl would be like, what would we call her, would she be like Nora? I couldn’t bare the anticipation and booked us in for an early gender scan at sixteen weeks. I had that all to familiar over anxious feeling as I laid on the bed in the sonographer’s room, eagerly awaiting the image of our baby to flicker on screen, a squirt of freezing cold jelly and just like that, there it was, as clear as day, our second baby was a boy. ‘Congratulations! One of each, you are SO lucky!’ Chirped the woman in reception as she eagerly handed me a tiny blue paper bag containing snaps of our baby boy. I tried desperately hard to blink back the tears and choke back my disappointment. I didn’t want a boy, my dreams had been shattered. Now, I know to most people that was an utterly ridiculous reaction and how could I be disappointed to be having a perfectly healthy baby, but the disappointment ate away at me each time I was congratulated. Call me dramatic but I felt like I was mourning for a baby girl that didn’t even exist. My ideal family dynamic had been flipped on it’s head and I really didn’t know how to cope with it. The scan photos stayed tucked away in their baby blue bag and I cried as I browsed the boys section on Zara, all of which was made all the more worse by Nora asking if we could swap the baby boy for a sister. This feeling of genuine disappointment was all consuming for weeks to come, I would find myself bursting into tears over everything and anything. I’d take Nora to dance class and be upset that this wouldn’t be a journey we would make again, I rifled through the bags of tiny Nora clothes I’d hoarded, devastated that I wouldn’t have another little pink bundle to fill them with.
Google became my confident as I spent hours searching to see the percentage of incorrect gender scans and to see if anyone else felt the way I did or if I really was a crazy hormone fuelled bitch. I came across several articles and discovered the phrase gender disappointment and a whole load of other ladies all seeking answers for their secret sadness. The way I felt really was a genuine and valid feeling and not one that I should be ashamed of. I remember phoning my Mam that evening and finally admitting my aching disappointment. I sobbed and sobbed, the kind of sobbing you do when you’re a kid that cries so much you forget what the reason was. I sobbed because I felt so guilty that I was being so selfish when some people would give anything to be in my position. I knew it was unreasonable but this feeling was all consuming. My Mam promised me I wouldn’t feel this way once I met ‘him’ but I couldn’t wholly believe her. I tentatively broached the subject with many of my friends, loads of which admitted to feeling exactly how I did, I really wasn’t alone. It honestly took me weeks of reasoning with myself and hundreds of conversations with very supportive family and friends to bring myself to accept that our baby was going to be a boy wether I liked it or not. I avoided all blue clothing and didn’t even begin to discuss boys names until we approached due date.
True to form, every reassuring thing people said to me came true. After an amazing labour and delivery, I clapped eyes on my baby boy and fell in love instantly. He is so much more wonderful than I could have ever imagined and my heart could burst when I think about him. I worried I couldn’t love a boy like I love Nora, I worried I wouldn’t know what to do with a boy, how could I be a boy Mama. But in reality, gender doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference. He is Woody, my wonderful baby boy and now I can’t imagine having two girls. I’m genuinely excited for all of the boy based adventures we have to come and if I was ever lucky enough to have another baby I can honestly say I wouldn’t care if it was pink or blue.
If you feel like I did, please know you are not alone. You are not selfish or ridiculous or ungrateful. Do not feel guilty, it is a completely normal and very common reaction. Who wouldn’t be disappointed if their dreams didn’t come true or if life didn’t pan out the way they had imagined. Don’t forget, hormones are insane and can turn the best of us into completely unreasonable, crazy beasts. Cry, talk to people about it, let them reassure you, be angry if you need to be, but just know once you hold your baby in your arms and look at what you’ve created, you could never, ever be disappointed.