Gender Disappointment: Is it Normal? Why Am I Feeling It?

Gender Disappointment: Is it Normal? Why Am I Feeling It?

Yesterday marked one year since we had our 20 week scan and found out we were having a baby boy. Up until this point, I had no idea what we were having but deep down, I really wanted a girl. When the sonographer told us it was a boy, I held back tears. How terrible is that? Here was a medical professional telling me I had a healthy baby boy and I was feeling upset. I later learned that this is called gender disappointment.

Is Gender Disappointment normal?

I asked some of my friends if they had ever felt the same way and it turns out it is more common than you think. I was told stories of how they were convinced it would be one sex to be told it was another and stories of how they dreamed of having a little girl after multiple boys. Of course, all the women I spoke to told me how ridiculous they felt now, a year later, with their gorgeous healthy babies who they are so grateful for.

I think a gender disappointment can come from the fear of the unknown. Fear that you will struggle to raise a child of a certain sex. Maybe, you grew up with only brothers and prefer hanging out with guys. It can feel so bewildering to wonder how on earth you will cope with a baby girl. What will you talk about, what games will you play?

Guilt is the secondary emotion that comes with gender disappointment. All the women I spoke to talked about feeling horrendous that they’d dared to be disappointed when they were carrying a healthy baby. We need to be careful that these emotions don’t turn into perinatal depression and that’s why I think its important to talk about it.

Gender disappointment is quite common among women who are pregnant. This post aims to examine why women feel it and how to get over it.

Why don’t we talk about it?

Gender disappointment is not something that is openly discussed and it doesn’t surprise me. So many couples struggle with infertility or have experienced miscarriages and still births. It feels pretty disrespectful to say that you are disappointed that you are having a girl when really you wanted a boy. After all, aren’t you extremely lucky to be carrying a baby at all? However, gender disappointment is a valid emotion and it is normal to experience  it, especially if you’ve spent weeks dreaming about the beautiful pink theme that you have planned for your nursery. Talking about it will help, whether that’s with your Mum, partner or even your GP. Bottling up emotions and feelings never helped anybody.

When will it pass?

For most women I spoke to, it passed pretty quickly. For some women it lasted a few weeks; for some up until birth. But, once that baby was placed in their arms, any negative emotion they may have felt disappeared. Don’t forget nature is on your side. When you go into labour, your body will start releasing something called oxytocin which is the ‘bonding hormone’. This is why we feel such a rush of love when our babies are placed in our arms, no matter what the sex.

My story

Although I was so disappointed when I found out I was carrying a boy, I didn’t let it show and didn’t tell anybody. As the weeks wore on, I got more and more used to the idea. I started going out to look at baby boy clothes and toys. I watched films and started relating more to the mother-son relationships.

At around 27 weeks, I had to go for a growth scan because my fundal height was measuring small. While I was in the room, the sonographer told me the baby was hiccupping. I’d felt these little spasms in my belly before, but hadn’t realised what they were. I suddenly felt a rush of love and was so excited to have my little boy.

Looking back to my 20 week scan, the sonographer had struggled to show us our baby on the screen because he was so curled up in my pelvis and the whole thing had felt rushed. In addition to this, she had hit my stomach quite hard, multiple times as she tried to get the baby to move.  Not exactly helping the negative emotions I was already feeling.

This third scan had been a much nicer experience: she had taken her time measuring his body parts and let me watch the screen as she did so. I was also alone in the room for this scan (my husband was in work) and it felt so nice to be able to bond with my baby boy alone.

 

I believe my feeling of gender disappointment had come from not really understanding how I would be able to bond with a son. I am an only child and didn’t really hang around with boys as a child. I suppose I was looking forward to having a girl so I could do her hair and teach her about make up. As a friend said to me, it’s more likely you will want your baby to be the same sex as you. Typically, men want little boys and women want little girls. What’s crazy though, is that I am more interested in stereotypical male gender things than female ones. I love football, going down the pub and drinking pint (or I did) and I’m crap at doing hair and make up!

If I have another baby, I won’t be bothered about what the sex is. I understand now that having a boy doesn’t automatically mean they’ll be into male stereotypical things and the same goes for having a girl. I initially wanted a girl so we could share beauty tips, but technically I could have a girl and she could hate anything associated with the female gender! We can’t forget that just because we give birth to one sex, it doesnt necessarily mean that they will choose to identify with traditional gender roles.

Did you feel gender disappointment when you were pregnant? How did you cope with it?




Gender disappointment is a very real emotion for so many women and can manifest itself during pregnancy or at birth. This is my story of gender disappointment and how I overcame it. #genderdisappointment

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18 Comments

  1. kris
    11th January 2017 / 7:58 am

    I can honestly say that I was never bothered about the gender of my babys. Would I like a girl, of course but its not the end of the world for me

  2. Anonymous
    11th January 2017 / 10:05 am

    I thought I was carrying a boy even only had a boys name and had my gorgeous little girl Mummy to Dex little did I know that I would never carry another pregnancy to full term 🙁

  3. 11th January 2017 / 10:20 am

    I was devastated when I found out my first was a girl, I so wanted to give my husband a boy as he already had a girl from a previous relationship.
    By the second child I was terrified I was going to have a boy … what would I do with a boy, I knew how to care for a girl, but a boy!
    Silly now I know.
    Point to note: Hubby doesn’t make boys, but her sure does make beautiful girls.

  4. 11th January 2017 / 10:24 am

    This was such an open and honest post and really helpful for others who may feel the same way. I’ve had three children – first a boy, second a girl, so when I was pregnant with my third everyone assumed I didn’t mind which I had. But deep down I had wanted another girl. When I found out it was a boy I felt upset and sad as this would be our last baby so no more girls for me. Of course it only lasted a little while and I then got excited for our baby boy who is now 3 months old and amazing. My brother and his wife have a baby in a few weeks time and it’s a girl – I’m very excited to have my very first niece! x

  5. 11th January 2017 / 10:54 am

    Although I’m happy that I now have two girls when I found out my second was a girl I was slightly disappointed but more because I had convinced myself we were having a boy! I think I would probably feel slightly disheartened if we were to have a third girl but I love them all the same once they are here 🙂 ox

  6. 11th January 2017 / 11:11 am

    Can totally understand this, I think a lot of my family members felt like this when I was having another boy after Noah and even John has worried if we try for another I’d be upset if it wasn’t a girl.

    Emily x

  7. Lynne
    11th January 2017 / 2:12 pm

    I suppose when I think about it I have thought once finding out ‘oh I hope it’s a….’ but that passed once seeing them on screen. I do know people who have struggled massively but as a whole it’s just not talked about openly.

  8. 11th January 2017 / 2:42 pm

    We didn’t find out the gender of our baby as we thought as long as baby was healthy and happy that’s all that mattered, thing is, deep down I’ve always wanted a girl! I still do tbh. As you say, once baby was born, I had asked my partner and I got that rush of indescribable love. It was amazing. Yes I’d have to adjust, I didn’t really like many of the boys clothes and toys etc but since having him, I could shop forever, we play together and he gives me the most amazing cuddles! He’s such a mummies boy and I wouldn’t have it any other way 💙 xx

  9. 11th January 2017 / 4:41 pm

    I am a mum of 3 boys and I would lie if I said I have not felt Gender Disappointment. All my brothers and sisters have a boy and a girl. When I was pregnant with my first It didn’t seem to matter so much, but with my 2nd I felt it! I remember everyone telling me “It’s a girl” so of course I worked my self up and when the sonographer said Boy I cried. I felt incredibly sad I felt this way and I hated it! When I had my third I kept telling my self I would love a girl but it’s a boy. When I was told boy I wasn’t surprised. I wouldn’t change them all for the world! but if I was told my next child would be a girl I would be 9 months pregnant by now!

  10. 12th January 2017 / 10:07 pm

    I think gender disappointment is a huge thing, especially when it’s not your first baby. I can totally understand it! I think I was lucky in that I have a brother and a sister, I felt like I would be more at ease with a girl just because I can relate to growing up as a girl more but I really wasn’t bothered. In a way, I’m glad we didn’t find out what we were having because I think there was no opportunity for me to feel disappointed either way – he was already in my arms at that point!!

    Great post though, it’s not something that’s discussed enough and it’s a very real issue!

  11. 13th January 2017 / 2:33 am

    Lovely read! A reality for many I am sure! I was never concerned before, but now that we are awaiting out 5th and the other 4 are old enough to understand. I was a little worried, I wont lie! All of them wanted a boy, to the point that I was told to give the baby back if it was a girl (I have 2 boys and 2 girls already) … So you can imagine my relief when I we were told we were expecting a boy! Shew… Not sure how I would of dealt with that one.. More for the kids than myself. I would be over the moon with either gender. Thank you for linking up with #globalblogging

  12. 15th January 2017 / 4:45 pm

    There is nothing wrong with having a preference. I don’t think a preference is the same as a disappointment. I think it’s very rare to feel actual disappointment about the gender of a baby. I think it’s just a preference being blown out of proporiton by those sneaky pregnancy hormones. When I was pregnant I used to cry about the dumbest things. I even knew I was being unreasonable while it was happening but couldn’t stop. I just kept trying to remind myeself that I wouldn’t be pregnant forever and I would go back to being a somewhat normal person with appropriate emotional responses to daily occurences. #SundayBest

  13. 15th January 2017 / 5:47 pm

    This is a great post, I think it’s a very normal feeling to have and there’s no shame in admitting it. I have two boys and they are certainly not stereotypical boys just as two girls may not have been stereotypical to their gender either. #SundayBest xx

  14. 15th January 2017 / 8:45 pm

    Thank you 🙂

  15. 15th January 2017 / 8:53 pm

    It isn’t that rare, which is why I decided to write about it. Thanks for your comment.

  16. 21st January 2017 / 10:30 pm

    This is a great post and such an important subject. I blogged about gender disappointment myself nearly 4 years ago now and to this day that post receives hits every day from people who have googled it, and I get emails from upset pregnant women who feel theyre not allowed to speak about how theyre feeling because people will think theyre horrible or ungrateful – it’s so unfair, Pregnancy hormones make these emotions very hard and women feeling this way need to be allowed to talk about it without being made to feel worse.
    Well done for speaking up!
    Thank you for joining us at #SundayBest – hope to see you again tomorrow! xx

  17. 22nd January 2017 / 11:20 am

    Yes I can totally relate and have a post about this coming up soon! I was convinced I was having another boy and always saw myself with three boys so being told I am having a girl took me some time to get my head around. Thank you for linking up to #SundayBest x

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