My subtle cure for gender disappointment...
As we’re all nearing (or have passed) that time, the time of pink or blue, I just wanted to share my personal experience for those of you who may be suffering from this very real preference flu. Gender disappointment is such a controversial topic, and I know it upsets people in different ways. But for those who worry about this, or maybe just need a little insight, here’s my story.
My husband and I were desperate for a girl. I was, however, pretty sure I was pregnant with a boy from just 7 weeks. Every time I’d say “he”, my husband would correct with “she”. And eventually, it made me excited to have a little girl. It was becoming so clear in my mind that I had convinced myself against my intuition. My symptoms lined up with girl, my dreams were consistently girl-girl-girl, and my Amazon wishlist became a little frillier. When it was time for the results of our NIPT test, at 16 weeks, I was losing my mind in anticipation. The nurse finally called me and told me everything tested low risk for chromosomal anomaly. I was so grateful! She asked me if I wanted to know the gender, to which I replied with a very enthusiastic “Yes, please!” Then she said it. I can still hear it, clear as day, in her hyper-toned, thick accent.
“Y’all will be having a little... boy!”
My heart sank, and everything went blank for a millisecond. I think I even bleeped out the word “boy” so that it was silent in my mind, yet I heard it with my heart. I immediately called my husband and I said, “We are having a - finish my sentence...” He said “girl” and I told him no. Right away I heard him say, “I’m sorry.” I told him it was okay and that I just needed a minute as tears flooded my eyes.
It’s a horrible feeling, to actually experience gender disappointment. Because while you feel such genuine devastation, you are fully aware of how ridiculous it is to feel that way. So there I was, swallowed up into the belly of the wale, swimming in grief and disappointment in myself for being so shallow. I cried all night in response to those feelings, both sad that I wouldn’t meet my June (the name we had chosen for a girl), and angry with myself for not being able to quickly move on with the happiness of knowing that I was going to be a mother for the first time.
We had our reveal the following day. My husband and I had planned a gentle reveal for family and close friends. It was Halloween-themed, just as I had wanted. We took a white jack-o-lantern and placed a smoke bomb inside. As I picked the blue smoke bomb out of the set and readied everything, I realized that the whole time I had planned this, even before knowing the gender, the smoke had always been blue in my mind. Even my subconscious knew my baby was a boy before I could.
We took everything to my mother-in-law’s house and spent a few hours playing with the kiddos (my stepson and nephew), while everyone avoided the topic of gender. They knew my husband and I had the answer, but no one wanted to ruin the surprise. With two small boys on their side, my husband’s family were all pretty desperate for a girl. I even found an adorable, pink onesie that my sister-in-law had picked out in the event that the reveal showed pink. My mother-in-law was playing with a pink bow on a Halloween mask, saying she would wear it if we were having a girl. These things broke my heart even further, but I was remaining excited for my father to arrive. With a consistent count of nine girls and no boys in my family, I knew my father would be over the moon for this record breaking baby boy.
The reveal went exactly as I imagined, with many smiles and passive comments from the in-laws about more boys. My father was beyond happy. He started planning outfits and outings on the spot! He loves my stepson, yet I can imagine having a baby boy around was still very new to him, so he was racing with ideas. But as my heart sank further throughout the day, I just became more drained and could barely eat. We celebrated to the best of our ability and then went home.
The next morning, I was convinced I wouldn’t get out of bed. I was exhausted, and the disappointment had turned into a strange emptiness. I kept bullying myself for having such unnecessary feelings, berating my ridiculous notions of gender. I was having a healthy baby, yet I couldn’t get over this one, trivial thing. I remained in bed, while my husband and stepson had breakfast. Then my baby boy stirred, and I once again felt his little wiggles. The sensation felt different then, because knowing the gender made him more of a person to me. He was well beyond being cells, well beyond just being a fetus. He was a baby, an actual baby. My baby. And the thought pushed me out of bed.
I spent the rest of the morning, and early afternoon, aiding my stepson who was carving a pumpkin. His dexterity is still not refined, so he was having a lot of trouble with our flimsy carving tools. I coached him through his frustration and he eventually completed the task. My husband thanked me for my patience and told me I was a good mom. The experience lifted my heart a little, and reminded me just how much I care for the boy I already have.
After we dropped my stepson off for a night with his mother, my husband asked me what I wanted to do for the rest of the afternoon. We had been avoiding exposure to baby clothes and items until we were more sure this little one was well on its way. My instincts told me it was time, and I knew I needed the exposure to help me adjust to having a boy. So we went browsing at the mall, stopping in the various baby sections and stores. I intentionally avoided looking at most of the girl stuff, because I needed to focus on my own rehabilitation. It was a bit of an idle practice at first, but we kept moving.
We made our last stop at Babies R Us. That is when things really started sinking in. We did a mock registry together, even going as far as to pick out sheets and changing table covers. I think it was one blanket in particular that really sealed the deal. It was a plush tiger blanket which lays out into the shape of a tiger. On the packaging, there was a photo of a baby with dark hair, belly down in the blanket. I started tearing up. I looked at my husband and said, “We’re having a baby boy.” He knew I meant it differently that time, that I spoke it differently. It wasn’t sad or bitter; it was an elated realization. We are having a perfect, wonderful, healthy baby, who happens to be a boy. After all the anxiety involved in conception, after all the worry of waiting through the first trimester, after all the ups and downs, we are having a baby. My sweet husband wrapped his arm around me, pushing through his own initial feelings of disappointment, and simply said, “Yes, we are.”
We looked around more and I came to the very blunt realization that I actually prefer a lot of the boy designs. And more than that, after being surrounded by the very idea of a baby, I really just can’t wait to have this little guy in my arms. I can’t wait to touch his little feet and hands. I can’t wait to meet him and know him and watch him grow.
Today I feel so much better overall. I’m even able to be excited for others when they find out they’re having a girl. I don’t know if the small stings will return from time to time, but I know I’m going to be an awesome boy mom. I have never considered myself very traditional, and one of my best friends is trans, and they would probably beat me over the head for having any thought, in any direction, about gender. Let me say that I was very shocked to find out I felt so strongly at all. And for anyone else who experiences this, I know it’s exactly that - a shock.
But I promise you that the shock fades. Have faith in yourself, and know that you know how to love your baby. This is a very emotional, hormonal, turbulent time. It’s perfectly normal to spaz out over any part of it. And in the end, you’ll know how to iron things out. I promise. You’re a mother, after all, and there’s nothing more powerful than that.
I’m so happy to say that our baby Calvin is due April 11, 2018. ❤️