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“I don’t want a boy” – The secret shame of gender preference

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I met a girl in the park on a lunch-break walk one day during my first pregnancy. I was feeling the wrath of the hormones and was wrapped up in a straining coat. She made some friendly small talk. ‘When are you due? Is it your first? Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?’

‘I don’t want a boy’. My mood stripped me of the ability to spit out a socially acceptable response. Her eyes widened and I held my breath in shock. We chatted awkwardly and parted ways. How dare I want a girl, when so many people don’t even get a baby at all?

A quick

SelfishMother.com
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Internet search reveals anonymous forum threads on the ‘secret shame’ of gender preference. Sonographers and midwives will admit they’ve seen tears shed over gender reveals.

I have friends who have lost babies. So, of course, a healthy baby is what we yearn for above all else. However, this means that any hint of gender preference feels ‘selfish and shameful’.

As a Psychotherapist I wanted to understand why I had this aching desire for a girl. Many of my close male family relationships have been somewhat dysfunctional. I think I had a

SelfishMother.com
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deep-seated fear that if I were to have a son, there would be a painful disconnection and that when he grew old enough, he’d reject me too. In addition, my relationship with my mum has been positive.

I realised that I had assumed that a daughter would enjoy the same things I did. But when glancing back at my childhood, my sister played ‘army’ with my brother, whilst I played with dolls and covered the carpet with glitter glue. Perhaps my heart yearned for a mini-me, but no girl would replicate the relationship I had with my mum.

I went for my

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scan to be told we were having a boy! I stuck on a smile, you know the one where your eyes don’t quite get the memo? Slowly, my disappointment ebbed away and I began to daydream again, with a boy in place of the girl I’d longed for. By the time I swept Oscar out of the birthing pool, the sense of disappointment was a shameful memory.

The second time around, crippling morning sickness led everyone to proclaim ‘it must be a girl this time’. However, back in the sonographer’s room we were told otherwise. I grinned at the joy of another healthy

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baby, but on arriving at a friend’s house, she gave me a huge hug and my eyes welled up. I may never have a daughter.

So now I have my two boys and my house is littered with miniature drills and footballs. I thought I knew what I wanted, but I got what I needed. These budding relationships have been healing in ways they will never understand

If you have a gender preference, consider the assumptions or fears that you might be harbouring as it helps so much to acknowledge them. Sometimes it’s necessary to have a grieving process. This is okay and

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it is healthy! We can live out a life in our mind, projecting ourselves ahead to certain scenarios, painting an elaborate picture coloured with a desire to relive a past we loved, or a wish to do something differently to our own childhood experience.

Gender disappointment often fades at first sight of your baby, or as bonding deepens. But if there are continuing feelings, it might just be that you need to do a little more exploration of the root cause of these feelings in order to break free from that unnecessary feeling of guilt.

Before I finish,

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I want to highlight that gender preference is normal. It’s the taboo that balloons it into a guilty secret. We all have our stories, histories and reasons, and some of them just take a little more making sense of than others. You’re not bad or mad you’re normal.

And you know what the funny thing is? As I write this, I’m currently pregnant with a girl! I was fully expecting to be a mum of boys. That’s my comfort zone now! I’m heading into unknown territory!

 

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- 29 May 19

I met a girl in the park on a lunch-break walk one day during my first pregnancy. I was feeling the wrath of the hormones and was wrapped up in a straining coat. She made some friendly small talk. ‘When are you due? Is it your first? Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?’

‘I don’t want a boy’. My mood stripped me of the ability to spit out a socially acceptable response. Her eyes widened and I held my breath in shock. We chatted awkwardly and parted ways. How dare I want a girl, when so many people don’t even get a baby at all?

A quick Internet search reveals anonymous forum threads on the ‘secret shame’ of gender preference. Sonographers and midwives will admit they’ve seen tears shed over gender reveals.

I have friends who have lost babies. So, of course, a healthy baby is what we yearn for above all else. However, this means that any hint of gender preference feels ‘selfish and shameful’.

As a Psychotherapist I wanted to understand why I had this aching desire for a girl. Many of my close male family relationships have been somewhat dysfunctional. I think I had a deep-seated fear that if I were to have a son, there would be a painful disconnection and that when he grew old enough, he’d reject me too. In addition, my relationship with my mum has been positive.

I realised that I had assumed that a daughter would enjoy the same things I did. But when glancing back at my childhood, my sister played ‘army’ with my brother, whilst I played with dolls and covered the carpet with glitter glue. Perhaps my heart yearned for a mini-me, but no girl would replicate the relationship I had with my mum.

I went for my scan to be told we were having a boy! I stuck on a smile, you know the one where your eyes don’t quite get the memo? Slowly, my disappointment ebbed away and I began to daydream again, with a boy in place of the girl I’d longed for. By the time I swept Oscar out of the birthing pool, the sense of disappointment was a shameful memory.

The second time around, crippling morning sickness led everyone to proclaim ‘it must be a girl this time’. However, back in the sonographer’s room we were told otherwise. I grinned at the joy of another healthy baby, but on arriving at a friend’s house, she gave me a huge hug and my eyes welled up. I may never have a daughter.

So now I have my two boys and my house is littered with miniature drills and footballs. I thought I knew what I wanted, but I got what I needed. These budding relationships have been healing in ways they will never understand

If you have a gender preference, consider the assumptions or fears that you might be harbouring as it helps so much to acknowledge them. Sometimes it’s necessary to have a grieving process. This is okay and it is healthy! We can live out a life in our mind, projecting ourselves ahead to certain scenarios, painting an elaborate picture coloured with a desire to relive a past we loved, or a wish to do something differently to our own childhood experience.

Gender disappointment often fades at first sight of your baby, or as bonding deepens. But if there are continuing feelings, it might just be that you need to do a little more exploration of the root cause of these feelings in order to break free from that unnecessary feeling of guilt.

Before I finish, I want to highlight that gender preference is normal. It’s the taboo that balloons it into a guilty secret. We all have our stories, histories and reasons, and some of them just take a little more making sense of than others. You’re not bad or mad you’re normal.

And you know what the funny thing is? As I write this, I’m currently pregnant with a girl! I was fully expecting to be a mum of boys. That’s my comfort zone now! I’m heading into unknown territory!

 

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