In all my pregnancies up to this point I have never felt such a strong preference for a specific gender to welcome into our family, but this time I did. I was so sure this was a boy for our family, a brother for my one son. I had even gotten rid of all our girly baby clothes — yet I was so wrong. We are welcoming our fourth girl.
Here's what helped me move forward from gender disappointment to excitement:
It's okay to cry
I gotta be honest — I cried for a week. I had a whole range of emotions, from sadness to guilt to even a little anger. I felt angry that I felt so strongly in my “momma intuition” this baby was a boy, and yet I was wrong. I felt sad for my son not having the brother he's wanted for years. I felt guilt for feeling sad about her being a girl. It was a whirlwind of a week, full of tears and questions, but as each tear fell so did the negativity I felt. So let it out, momma.
Talk about it
One thing I learned many years ago when I placed my first in an open adoption at sixteen years old was to not bottle up the emotions and pretend everything is okay when it isn't. It's okay to not be okay, even now. Even when people may not understand because “at least you can get pregnant” or “at least have a healthy baby.” Which, yes, is very true, but it isn't exactly helpful in the moments of our shock and sadness. I found it really helpful to talk about how I felt, not just in private with my husband or family members, but more publicly with friends, in my writing, or Facebook posts as well.
Find others who can relate
As a result of sharing my feelings, my momma friends wrapped their virtual arms around me and told me their own experiences of gender disappointment. It helps to know you aren't alone, and even better when you hear stories of hope that they overcame it. There are also support groups online you can seek out where many are right there with you emotionally.
Let go of the guilt
I felt guilt for feeling disappointed when I didn't want to be — I mean who wants to feel that when we should be excited? However, I came to realize it wasn't that I was upset that this baby is a girl. No, because I love all my girls and I knew I would love this one just as much. It was because I had all my dreams and hopes set in how I envisioned our family being completed. An imaginary baby boy had wrapped my heart up and I didn't want to think of any other options — until I had to. I let go of the guilt for feeling the way I felt, which allowed me to talk about it even more, and was able to move on by letting go of those dreams that weren't to be.
Accept the facts
There is no getting around the fact that your baby is your baby, and it is what it is. Here's where the truth of “at least baby is healthy” can be a tad more helpful. You are pregnant — that's a gift. It also helped my husband put into perspective for me my strengths as a mother. We have three girls at home currently, and I am a great mother to them. It doesn't mean I'm not a great mom to my one boy, but maybe we have been given four girls because I have been given this task to raise strong little women to launch into the world one day. I like the sound of that!
Do whatever you need to get excited
To get over my gender disappointment, I needed to shop. I had gotten rid of all my girl clothes anyway, so it was necessity, but the process of picking out new girly clothes made it a good step towards excitement in welcoming our fourth girl. Maybe for you, decorating the nursery will help. Perhaps using your artistic and crafty talents, like painting a picture to hang in the nursery, sewing a burp cloth, or crocheting a blanket, will help. Do whatever you need to do to focus on the little one growing inside you for who he or she is and begin bonding even deeper.
Eventually acceptance will come, and one day we will not be able to picture our family any different than the children we were gifted with. Until then, keep pressing on, momma. Process your feelings, give yourself some grace, and know that you aren't alone.