Coping With Gender Disappointment

by Emma Longden

I remember the moment I found out the sex of my third baby vividly. I already had a boy and a girl, so everybody assumed I wasn’t that bothered about what I was carrying this time around.

I let them believe it, it was easier than admitting that I desperately wanted another baby girl. I had always wanted two girls, even from a young age. Although I have a sister myself, there is a seven-year age gap, and we didn’t grow up in the same home, so we didn’t become close until we were both adults. I dreamed of the day my little girl would have a baby sister of her own, and I loved the idea of dressing them up in matching outfits until they were too old to demand I stop.

These thoughts were all rushing around my head as the monographer prepared themselves, rubbing the gel on my belly and getting ready to reassure us that everything was ok with our baby, before asking if we would like to know the gender. I didn’t hesitate in saying yes. Not knowing would have me on edge for the rest of the pregnancy, and I have always preferred to be prepared.

I had found out the sex with both of my older children, and I loved being told whether they were a boy or a girl. This time felt different though. We had already had a discussion about whether we were likely to try in the future for any more children, and had pretty much come to the decision that this third baby would complete our family for us. This was ultimately my final shot at having two girls.

I think you can tell from the title of the post that the baby was not a girl. As the sonographer smiled at us and let us know we would be welcoming a baby boy into the family, I felt absolutely awful that my first emotion was disappointment. I felt like the worst mother for even allowing myself to feel upset when minutes before I had been elated to find out that everything was ok with our baby, that he was healthy and developing as he should.

I plastered a smile on my face, and tried to feel the joy that my husband so clearly felt. On the journey home, I tried desperately to come to terms with the fact I would be having another boy. I loved my eldest son, and having a boy was actually a lot easier in some ways.

I knew I couldn’t speak to anybody about how I felt, as I could already hear their reasoning, that I already had a boy and a girl, and that as long as baby is healthy, that’s all that matters (and of course, I agree, and did even then but I was struggling with an internal battle). One of the hardest things about experiencing gender disappointment is how taboo it is. You are judging yourself, so you don’t want to admit to others how you feel and risk being judged by them too.

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I didn’t even want to admit to my husband how I felt. I was worried he would think I was abnormal for not being overjoyed, but he knows me well and could see I was struggling. Opening up to him really helped. He was able to remind me of all the positives about raising boys, and he listened to me as I shed some tears about the additional girl we would likely never have, the sister we wouldn’t give to the children.

In time, I came to terms with the fact I was having a baby boy. We decided on his name, and we had an additional 4D scan so that I could enhance my bond with him before he was born. When I held him in my arms for the first time, every doubt or regret about not having a girl was swept away. I felt the rush of love and pure joy that I so wanted to feel in that scan room all those months before.

Maybe it was a mistake to find out the gender in advance. Perhaps if I hadn’t found out before meeting my gorgeous little boy, I wouldn’t have ever wanted anything different than what I got. I can’t know for sure.

What I do know is that I still feel a little pang when I see a friend or somebody I follow on social media with their brand new baby girl. I still feel, at times, a little regret that I won’t have another daughter, but ultimately, I know that the love I have for all three of my children is so strong, regardless of their gender, and I am so, so grateful that I get to be their mum.


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Written by

Emma Longden

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Emma-Louise lives in the seaside town of Bournemouth with her husband Ed and three children Cameron (8), Carly (6) and Benjamin (2). A freelance blogger and social media manager, Emma-Louise writes about her life and everything in it, including beauty, style, travel and motherhood. With a history of mental illness, Emma-Louise also covers mental health issues, including her own experiences with both depression and anxiety, including both antenatal and postnatal depression.

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