So you are waiting in the bathroom, staring at the strip. No, it’s not a pregnancy test; you already know you are pregnant. It’s a gender prediction test. It’s not as accurate as gender selection techniques, but still — you just have to know. You tell everyone that all you really want is for the baby to be healthy. But if you are being honest, you know that you have a preference. You look at the test again … wrong color. You are in shock.
Many women experience intense grief when they learn that the child they are carrying is not the gender for which they were hoping. Known as gender disappointment, these feelings can make for a lonely and difficult pregnancy for moms-to-be. Unfortunately, most women don’t talk about their feelings openly —and may even fake being happy — fearing that people will judge them harshly for not being grateful for what they have.
Most moms forget these feelings when they hold their new baby in their arms, even the ones who secretly hoped that the sonogram was wrong. But the weeks between the sonogram and delivery can be tough for women who are struggling to deal with their emotions.
Here are some ideas for coping with gender disappointment:
- Allow yourself to feel sad. Women judge themselves for feeling anything other than joy when they find out they are having a healthy baby boy when they wanted a girl, or vice versa. Realize that it’s okay to feel sad. There is no right or wrong way to react; they are just feelings. Letting go of the fantasy you have created can be healthy for you. By working through your feelings now before the stress of new motherhood sets in, you could be paving the way for a smoother postpartum period for you and your child.
- Talk to your partner and other loved ones about your feelings. Bottling up your emotions and hiding them from those you care about won’t help you heal from your disappointment. By sharing your feelings with people you trust, you can better understand them yourself. Also, your loved ones may have words of wisdom or comfort that will help you come to terms with your disappointment and help you on the road to healing.
- Write a letter to the child you didn’t have. Describe in the letter how you honestly feel about your loss with as much detail as you want. Then you can let it go in a way that gives you closure, like burning it or putting the message in a bottle in the ocean.
- Get some professional help. If you are having a hard time healing your heartbreak on your own, reach out to a professional who specializes in pregnancy and postnatal issues. Their training makes them uniquely qualified to help you move through the stages of grief you may be feeling.
Gender disappointment has very little official literature available for women who suffer from it. Pregnancy and parenting sites have forums on the Web for people to share their stories. If possible, share your stories and let other know that you would be willing to talk to them about their feelings. The support from “someone who knows” could be exactly what another woman needs to move forward.
Elovson, Andrea. “Secretly Sad: Overcoming Gender Disappointment.” Babyzone.com. Web. 15 November 2012.
Winder, Kelly. “Gender Disappointment: Feeling Disappointed About the Gender of Your Baby.” 2012. Web. 15 November 2012.