The Boy/Girl Bummer: How to Deal with Gender Disappointment

Have you found yourself a little flat since finding out your baby’s gender? Many Mums-to-be will quietly admit to hoping for one gender yet delivering another.

It’s perfectly natural to have a preference but unfortunately, life can have other plans for us! What’s a mum to do when she’s experiencing gender disappointment?

Mother Nature doesn’t give a damn what you’re hoping for when she’s allocating those X and Y-chromosomes. This can often result in an expecting mummy feeling sorely disappointed when she learns that the cheeky little boy clone of her husband or the wardrobe brimming with pink is not to be. Gender disappointment is a very real thing. Here are our tips for coming to terms with it…

Own it! Don’t feel guilty – acknowledge your feelings
It goes without saying the most important thing is that your baby is healthy and happy. You know this. We know this. That doesn’t mean you’re not feeling a bit crushed. You were probably bonding to the idea of your preferred gender, and now you’ve learnt that your little bundle isn’t going to meet those expectations. From here you have a whole new reality to get your head around. Don’t bury those feelings out of guilt. The key to moving on is to acknowledge your disappointment for what it is. This is a stage and it will pass. But realising your feelings is where to start.

Communicate: Tell your partner how you feel
Whether or not he was also hoping for a particular gender, your partner will be an important support for you as you struggle to accept the news. Tell him you’re disappointed, and tell him why you’re disappointed. Dealing internally with these thoughts is one thing, but being able to give them a voice with someone who loves and supports you is important to the healing process. Remember to think of how he could be feeling too.

Don’t do denial: Don’t hope that it’s a mistake
Well-meaning friends may enthusiastically tell you of a half-cousin or former colleague who was told they were having a boy and ended up being surprised in the birthing suite by the words ‘It’s a girl!’ Mistakes can happen when determining an unborn baby’s gender, but it’s rare. A mistake is definitely not worth pinning your hopes on, it will only bring fresh feelings of disappointment when your baby is born. Don’t spend the second half of your pregnancy itching for another scan ‘just to make sure’. Don’t Google ultrasound error margins. Accepting the situation as early as possible is the key to moving on.

Imagine what’s ahead: Visualise your new life with your little one
Now you know your baby’s gender, it’s time to stop wistfully dreaming and start imagining a realistic vision. Come up with names, and speak your favourites out loud, imagine your red-cheeked boy running up to you as you call him inside for dinner. Buy a few outfits for bub, and run your fingers over those tiny, pristine dresses, envisioning your little girl wearing them. Also remember, boys can have fun playing with dolls, and girls can enjoy a good romp in a puddle of mud, so you don’t have to necessarily let go of every fantasy you were holding for your child.

Trust yourself: Believe that you are going to love this baby
Most women find that their gender disappointment quickly disappears once bub comes along and they’re able to bond with a physical, tangible baby. Whether they’re a boy or girl, all babies behave pretty much the same as each other at the start, giving you plenty of time to fall in love with your little one before their gender becomes part of their identity. The moment that screaming bundle hits your chest we’re quite sure you’ll feel a whole new rush of emotions!

The lead-up to bub’s birth should be a time of joy and hope, but gender disappointment can really rock the emotional boat. Luckily, despite the initial shock that this can cause, those feelings of disappointment do have a way of resolving themselves over time. We wish you luck for the birth of your little one. You’ll be amazed just how much you can love something you didn’t even know you wanted!

If you believe you are depressed or you need additional help to process your pre-baby feelings, don’t hesitate to enlist a therapist or other trained professional. Sorting these feelings now will enable a more positive and less impacted delivery down the track.

Avatar of Klara Donovan

Klara is a Perth Mum with a background in finance and admin. When she's not crunching numbers or typing up a storm, she is running around after her one-year-old son, buying too many recipe magazines, wrangling two crazy dogs, cooking eggs on toast, singing at church, and calling her husband every 15 minutes to ask when he thinks he will be coming home from work. She is trying to be the best Mum she can be, and hopes to inspire others in her venture!

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