I want to talk about something that not many do. This is something that people feel ashamed for voicing out loud, something that is ushered into the shadows. Something I myself have been through and I know I’m not alone.
When I fell pregnant with Wren, I was distraught. I’ve spoken quite candidly about this previously and it’s not something I am ashamed of. Her arrival came, at what seemed at the time, as a really bad time. In reality, her timing was perfect (aren’t all babies’?) but at the time, I was blindsided.
Our lives were set up and ready for a baby. We had been together a while, we were engaged, planning our wedding, buying a house and we had 2 practice babies (dogs)….we ticked all the boxes.
But I wasn’t ready. You can read more about my journey to accepting the pregnancy here, but today I want to talk about gender disappointment.
Because I struggled to come to terms with the pregnancy, pretty much for the entire duration of my pregnancy, I wanted to find out the gender of our baby to help me bond better. Although, I am not sure it actually did that but it did allow me to go shopping and buy clothes, to think of names so maybe it really did help…on some level.
After Wren though, when we fell pregnant a second time, I had no desire to find out this baby’s gender. I was staunchly opposed to it in fact.
I felt that it was our only remaining surprise; we already knew what having a baby was like…. (hahhhhhh let’s all laugh together at my assumption at the time that all babies are the same!).
I had a strong feeling that our second baby would be a boy, and he was. Unfortunately our little boy never made it home with us. Instead, he is buried under a beautiful native grass tree in my Mum’s backyard. Lovingly buried by his father, when our little man Tommy was just 20 weeks along. You can read more about our journey with Tommy here.
After we’d picked up the pieces of our lives from the loss of Tommy, and tried to conceive again for a third time – I was even moreso opposed to finding out the gender. But, for very different reasons.
In the wake of losing Tommy, I became fixated on doing everything I could to make life emotionally easier for me. I avoided people who I might have to have difficult conversations with, places that reminded me of certain times of my life and pregnancy and made smaller decisions daily to keep my mind sane.
One of these decisions was to not find out the gender of our baby. I felt that, if I were to find out the gender and it were to be a girl, that I would be crushed. Disappointed. Shaken.
In my mind, this third pregnancy of ours was potentially (and still is) our last baby. The thought of losing our only boy, with no chance to have another, completely broke me up inside.
It wasn’t that I had been pining for a boy prior to us losing Tommy, and it certainly wasn’t that I was trying to replace Tommy, it was more that I felt a deep sadness for the loss of opportunity life had been so close to handing us.
The opportunity for my husband to raise a son. For my daughter to have a brother. For me to use the name I had grown so fond of.
My reasons were small. But they were also huge and they weighed heavy on my heart.
I thought to myself, if I find out the gender now and it happens to be a girl, I WILL feel disappointed. On some level. For some reason.
But it wasn’t the disappointment I was worried about. It was the guilt of feeling disappointed that I knew was sure to follow that really deterred me from finding out.
Guilt is such a funny emotion to work through, sometimes, in the wake of losing Tommy, I would feel guilty for the most random of things that I knew were outside of my control. But you can’t escape guilt, you can throw logic at it all you like…it doesn’t make a difference. Guilt can’t be reasoned with. It cloaks you in its darkness and you feel it deep within your stomach.
So we declined to find out the gender.
We would find out moments after birth.
Surprisingly, not knowing the gender didn’t bother me. I didn’t think much of it, it bothered many others in my life…the least it would effect them the more it seemed to bother them it seemed…but that’s a story for another day.
When we finally got to meet our third baby and find out the gender, yes, there was still disappointment….but there was no guilt.
I didn’t get the boy I had been hoping for. I got a beautiful little girl. I was shocked, I made Bryant check her gender twice. I have the moment he did so caught in a photograph.
It took me a while to grapple with my feelings on having another girl, yes I was sad, I felt like I had failed, I felt that I would never get my little boy – but all of these feelings were dulled by the joy of the baby girl I was holding in my arms.
Over time, I came to realise that us having another girl was a blessing. Aside from all babies being absolute blessings, her presence in my life spoke to me that she was not a replacement for Tommy, she was a baby in her own right. Her own person.
And that thought healed me beyond measure. Because, whilst I say we have lost Tommy, we haven’t really. We HAVE our little boy. We had our little boy. I held our little boy inside of me, albeit for only 20 short weeks…he still was. He still is.
We can be so hard on ourselves, and definitely so on each other – gender disappointment is a real thing and it is nothing to be ashamed of, because until you know someone else’s journey, until you have walked their entire lives in their shoes then you cannot possibly reason away their feelings.
No one can invalidate your emotions. It is okay to want a girl just because you want a girl, it is okay to want a boy for your husband and it is okay to be sad if that doesn’t eventuate for you.