Although most people do not talk about it openly, gender disappointment is very real and it is also something that deeply disturbs many women to the point of affecting their connection with their baby.
Basically, gender disappointment has to do with the feelings that arise when a mother expects to get a baby of a particular gender but ends up getting they gender they did not want or expect.
As mothers, we are sometimes fixated on getting children of a particular gender for reasons such as the need to fulfill family obligations especially in African settings and already having children or a particular gender.
Other reasons include being unable to connect with children of a particular gender or if they were abused as a child and being afraid of offending women who do not have children or those that do not have a particular gender.
In an interview with Afromum, Ms. Beatrice Mwadime says that she already had two boys and really wanted a girl because she felt outnumbered and overwhelmed by the testosterone in her house. She was desperate to immortalize her mother by using both of her names for her daughter. As luck would have it, she got a baby boy and she spent months unable to connect with her new baby.
I did not share my feelings with anyone for fear of being judged wrongly. Although It took some time, I gradually and consciously tried my best at trying to bond with her each day. I still wished I had a girl but I have made tremendous steps in bonding with my son so far. I know I will accept him fully one day.
According to Psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman, LCSW, “The reaction to gender disappointment runs the gamut from a strong experience of loss and denial to feelings of sadness and disappointment. These negative emotions may stay with a woman throughout the pregnancy and even well after the child’s birth and beyond or they may come to a quick halt when she is presented with her perfect new baby or as she bonds with him or her and gets to know the wonderful little person he or she is.”
Unknown to Beatrice, gender disappointment is fairly common it’s just that many people are not willing to talk about it. If you had experienced such emotions you should also not be ashamed and the following tips can help you cope,
- Do not censor your feelings and neither should you deny anything of the emotions that will come to the fore. It is quite ok to feel depressed, guilty, disappointed or angry. You can only start working through your feelings if you admit them to yourself.
- Confide in someone about your feelings and you may be surprised to learn that you are not the only one going through this. Your husband, family members, friends and health professionals can really help you in this.
- Once you have known the gender of the baby you are carrying, you should start buying clothes of the gender that you do not like. This will help you get used to the fact that you will be getting a baby of that gender.
- Just as with other situations in life, allow time to heal you. Remember, you have just had your baby and you will also be facing sleep deprivation, hormones, emotional roller coaster and having to adjust your lifestyle. So take one day at a time and try to enjoy the few moments of bliss you can find.
- If your baby has not yet come you can spend time decorating their nursery in the colors of the gender that you did not want in the first place.
- Gender disappointment feelings come and go all the time and they can be triggered by various factors and if this happens, you should not be hard on yourself.
- You should also be willing to discuss those feelings with other women going through the same problem. Helping other people go through the same issue can help to uplift your feelings as well. Parenting websites can help you deal with the feelings as well.
- Trust in your ability to love and also realize that the feelings you have are not going to last forever. Some women often blame themselves and do not trust themselves to love their bundle of joy after their initial feelings. Do not give in to those feelings and know that you are going to do a beautiful job of loving and raising your child.
- According to research, gender disappointment tends to fade away very fast and for some women, it can fade away as soon as they meet their baby while for others it may take some time. Hold on to the fact that it will go away after some time and work towards it.