Coping With Gender Disappointment – Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine

Disclaimer: Throughout this article, we use common terms like “gender expression” and “gender failure.” However, we recognize and understand the difference between the biological sex assigned to a person at birth and the social construction of gender.

We’ve all watched videos on social media or witnessed a grand gender reveal in person. Balloons stuffed with pink or blue confetti, cakes with strawberry or blueberry filling, or other cute schticks that offer parents a visual unveiling and allow outsiders a chance to witness the appearance of surprise and happiness on the parents’ faces. These big announcements always seem so happy and celebratory—leaving parents who experience the frustration of discovering whether their new baby will be a boy or a girl feeling isolated and guilty.

As with many things in parenting, there are certain expectations when we find out the gender of our baby. We are meant to be excited and grateful because a baby is a baby, right? There will soon be a little bundle of snuggles in your arms, so who cares if it’s a boy or a girl? Well, some of us actually do care, and even though society doesn’t think we should have hopes and desires for a particular gender, some of us do, and when that dream isn’t fulfilled, it can be very disappointing.

What is the Gender of Frustration?

Sexual failure is “the feeling of sadness when a parent’s strong desire for a child of a particular gender is not fulfilled.” There are various reasons this can happen. For example, for parents in some culturesbetter to have a baby boy or for a boy to be the firstborn, while for others, it just comes down to personal preference. Frustration has been linked to gender postpartum depression, which shows how influential a child’s sexuality can be for a family. In some cases, parents undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) are given the option to gender selectionwhich allows them to avoid gender frustration altogether.

Personally, I want daughters. That’s not to say I don’t think little boys are the sweetest things or that I’m immune to the allure of a toddler dressed like a dapper little gentleman (eek—so cute! ), but I always have a natural. , excessive desire among female mothers. I feel out of my control. Because of this, during both of my pregnancies, I had to mentally prepare myself for the news that we were having a boy; I’m convinced that in doing so, it probably hurts more if it’s true.

I was lucky to have two little girls, but not all stories end like mine. Lindsey Konchara licensed graduate social worker and mother of two, also likes daughters, who he said specifically why she chooses not to make gender disclosures. When she found out her second child was a boy, she felt a sharp pang of disappointment and was glad she had processed those first feelings in private. As a mental health provider and advocate for honest conversations about motherhood, Konchar is open about her story and offers advice on navigating feelings of gender frustration.

How to Cope with and Move On From Sex Frustration

“It’s normal to be disappointed when you find out the gender of your baby,” Konchar assures. Some reactions she says you may experience include fear, sadness, and even loneliness.

“[A] the surprising reaction to sexual failure is grief,” she says. “It’s perfectly normal to take time to grieve the loss of the life you once dreamed of having.”

Konchar acknowledges that parents are under societal pressure to “only care about having a ‘happy and healthy’ baby,” resulting in an additional layer of guilt on top of feelings of gender frustration. “But here’s the deal,” he said, “We care more [just having a happy and healthy baby]so do not separate yourself from sorrow.”

He said that it was expected especially true for parents struggling with fertility. “Fertility is a delicate subject … so when you have a baby in your belly, it’s easy to minimize your own emotions and think, ‘Well, I’m going to have a baby, so I should just be happy.’ ” In this case, he said, it is important to remember that there is room for both. “It’s not an either/or situation; it’s a both/and situation. I’m really happy to be having a baby and I’m really disappointed that my daughter won’t have a sister.’ ‘I’m thankful to have another child and I wish I had the chance to raise a son.’ ‘I’m so glad we’re expecting and I feel disappointed that it’s a guy.’”

After honoring your feelings, Konchar says a good way to cope with negative emotions and move forward is by talking about what you’re going through. “Talk about it with your partner, a trusted friend who has no shame, your mother, who won’t judge you. Explain your feelings of disappointment.”

She also emphasizes the importance of giving yourself time to process your baby’s gender. “Often we feel frustrated with sex because we’ve built this imaginary dream life in our heads, and now we’re not living that dream,” she says, adding, “That dream isn’t formed in a matter of minutes, and facing the reality of gender failure will also take time.”

Can sexual failure be avoided?

If you have a strong gender preference, you probably won’t be able to completely avoid feelings of disappointment, but Konchar says there are things you can do to prepare and protect yourself as much as possible.

  • Skip the gender reveal party. You don’t want to hide your disappointment if you find out you have a child of your unwanted gender in front of family and friends.
  • Be transparent with your partner. Konchar said she was open about her desires with her husband from the beginning, so when they found out they were having a boy, she “knew how to support” him.
  • Opt for early gender testing (if possible). If you have the option of early genetic testing or the financial means for a voluntary gender test (either a blood test or elective ultrasound), that will give you more time to cope and process your new reality than if you wait for the standard. 20-week anatomy scan.

Once the baby arrives, you’ll likely forget all about your initial wishes and expectations and fall head over heels in love with your tiny little bundle of joy regardless of their assigned gender. And remember that gender is a state of mind, and your child can identify as either gender or neither. But when expecting a baby, gender frustration is something that many parents experience, and it’s important that we talk about it more often. These feelings are real and valid, so give yourself the space to grieve and cope however you need to.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button