While reviewing Tuesday’s blog post about International Women’s Day, it occurred to me how happy I am to have my amazing, feisty daughter. I am excited to be pushing these initiatives today, to provide for her generation a better tomorrow for women. I am not only excited to guide Allison and aid her individual growth; but also am excited to see who she will become. I look forward to a future of strong female leaders in a society that takes care of mothers the way they deserve to be cared for.
But it wasn’t always this way. From the moment I was pregnant, I tried to deny I was pregnant with a girl. I was so brutally sick, depressed and anxious. I wasn’t ready to accept I could parent a girl. People would ask and excitedly say, “One of each!” I would fill with dread. I was perfectly happy to raise two little boys and their older bonus sister on the weekends. I already had a girl and I had the luxury of sharing the role model responsibility with her biological mother.
My family was undergoing a lot of external stress when we found out we were pregnant with a girl. I luckily had read that girls withstand stress in the womb better, so I clung to that as a good thing. At least my baby would be more resilient. This was quickly counteracted with “WHO THINKS LIKE THIS?” screaming through my thoughts. Calmly followed by, “You, you do, because it’s all you have to hold on to right now.” My prenatal depression fed me lies. Told me I wouldn’t be a good mom to a girl. That I wouldn’t know what I was doing. My disappointment fed into my guilt and the whole thing escalated beyond my control. So I kept life moving, but underneath, I was an anxious, depressed kettle, ready to explode.
After International Women’s Day, and my epiphany that maybe this wasn’t an individual thing, maybe, like perinatal distress, there are more moms experiencing this disappointment, fear and guilt. So, I did what most moms would do, I turned to Google to find out. I was blown away by how prevalent this issue appeared on mom blogs and discussion boards. Notice the 282,000 google results!
I am linking a few that hit my heart hard:
Gender Disappointment – Tips For Coping With Gender Disappointment
SECRETLY SAD: OVERCOMING GENDER DISAPPOINTMENT
It’s a Boy, and It’s Okay to Be Disappointed
I am glad other parents are speaking out about this issue! It’s always nice to see that you’re not alone. I attempted to access some scholarly articles, and the one I found that linked gender disappointment as a risk factor was based on a cohort of women in rural Tamil Nadu, India. Interestingly enough, that study found that disappointment in having a girl was the concern for these mothers; while according to my completely unscientific review of the Internet, the western world seems to covet little girls. I found this personally interesting. The other studies I found on Google Scholar required paid memberships to access or a student ID. In my motherly opinion, I feel strongly that gender disappointment in the USA has to be tied to unrealistic expectations in American parenting (a subject I feel very soap boxy about, so let’s catch up another time). I would love to see more research and a transparent examination of gender disappointment; why it happens, how to help reduce the occurrence, and how to cope with it.
Realizing how much I love being a strong woman, made me realize how excited I am to raise a strong woman. Yes, it made me twinge with guilt for not embracing my daughter earlier, but also made me realize that I have embraced her fully. For this I am beyond grateful. She is my driving force and when (if) she has babies, postpartum life in America will be vastly different. This mama is making sure of it.
So tell me, did you experience mixed feelings when you found out the gender of your baby?
Reflecting on the rain,
Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the