Many expectant moms these days are anxious to find out if they are having a boy or girl as early as possible, and we can now thanks to technology. Ultrasounds can usually identify male or female parts by 16 weeks, and you can guess even earlier if you use the angle of the dangle method from a 13 week ultrasound. The new technology of the Harmony test can determine the X and Y chromosomes from as early as 10 weeks with accuracy– amazing!
I’m a planner myself. I wish I could know each baby’s sex as soon as I see those two pink lines! But, my husband has always liked the idea of being surprised until birth. Our first two kids I was not willing to give up my knowing and planning. With three, four, and now five we agreed to wait.
However, we never have followed through.
Something about getting to the ultrasound and seeing our baby’s sweet face, we cave in. By we, I mean my husband– the one who always wants to wait and I gladly agree to end my torture of waiting.
This baby is decidedly our last (no one believes us anymore– I’m not sure I believe us anymore) so we thought for sure we’d stick to our guns and not find out. My husband was adamant to be surprised since this has always been a desire of his. I had a birth photographer all lined up ready to capture our reactions. However, I still spent the first half of my pregnancy obsessively thinking about if the baby inside me was a boy or girl, especially as others were finding out in my birth groups. I was comparing every heartbeat range, every craving, the morning sickness level, dreams, and the kicking activity compared to my others. Everything pointed to a boy and, honestly, I desperately wanted a boy for our family of three girls and one boy. My son wanted a brother and I wanted that for him. I’ve felt a boy is missing in our family for years and I just knew this was it!
As second trimester zoomed by and everyone else around me had made their gender announcements so that it wasn’t such a hot topic, I felt better about not knowing. However, I was still very certain that our baby was a boy and if I thought about my reaction to another girl– well, I didn’t even want to think about it. I didn’t want to talk girl names either. How would I react after birth– on camera?
As our 3D ultrasound date approached at 26 weeks, I tried to ignore my strong desires for a boy and focus on the baby itself. I found peace with not knowing and genuinely excited for that moment after birth as a once in a lifetime thing to experience. I couldn’t wait to see some chubby cheeks and get a glimpse at our newest addition’s face. Still, I gazed at our baby’s face on screen hoping it looked like a boy face. When the technician asked if we wanted to know if baby was a boy or a girl, my husband spoke up and said, “Let’s find out. I think it’s a girl and you need to know, Leah.”
As I laid on that table he gently stroked the top of my head as we found out together: He was right. It’s a girl and I did need to know. I needed to prepare my heart. I cried for a week, if I’m being truthful here. In all my pregnancies I have never felt gender disappointment, but this time I did. I cried for the dreams that were wrong during my pregnancy. I cried for my son not having a brother. I cried for the vision of our family having the boy I felt was missing. I cried not because this baby was a girl, but because of all the emotions and hopes I had wrapped up in an imaginary boy.
I wasn’t shy to talk about how I felt publicly. I believe being transparent is a huge part of motherhood– so that we can relate and encourage one another. I shared my shock and sadness in a blog post, in my groups of friends, and on Facebook. As a result, I was comforted by other moms who shared their own disheartening expectations with their babies– but that they too overcame it and couldn’t imagine their family any other way now.
As each tear fell and the days passed, the weight lifted and acceptance entered. We are having our fourth girl. That’s a fact. My husband gave me pep talks, telling me that I am a great mother of girls and that must be why we are having another one. Not to say I’m not a good “boy mom” to my son, but simply that I seem to thrive more in parenting our girls. It comes more naturally to me to nourish their souls in ways we both connect on because we have similar interests and emotions. That boost of confidence helped me embrace this little girl even more, because deep down I knew this was the child meant for our family.
I’m now 35 weeks and becoming giddy with the thought of labor being around the corner and meeting this little one who has taken me on a roller coaster ride of emotions this entire pregnancy. Everything about this pregnancy has been a surprise. So while I may not of had the surprise moment after birth like we planned, she certainly has given us many surprises leading up to it!
Gender disappointment is very real, whether we want to admit it or not. Maybe some cannot understand why or how that could be possible– isn’t a healthy baby all that matters? In many ways, yes. Eventually we will get to that conclusion too, but until then we cannot push aside and ignore our true feelings. We feel what we feel, so let’s own that. Talking about our hopes, yearnings, along with our emotional setback that come with our expectations not being met helps us to process and move forward into a positive bonding relationship with the child that is chosen for us.
Most of all, I want this baby girl to know it wasn’t about her existence that I was disappointed in– never. It was my own expectations and coming to term with a change of pathways. Regardless of my initial feelings, she is beyond loved and has a whole crowd of big sisters and one brother excited to meet her soon.