Gender Disappointment isn’t something many men talk about but it is an issue, as I found out. It’s strange, as something women seem to talk about a lot! I have friends who have really been upset when they found out the sex of their baby but gender disappointment in dads seems like a bit of a taboo. It shouldn’t be either! A Dad or partner is just as likely to be disappointed by the gender top their baby and may suffer with depression, anxiety even or guilt, as Mothers do.
I think many men can be forgotten sometimes when it comes to pregnancy, birth, antenatal and postnatal care. My husband suffered with birth anxiety; a strong worry that something could happen to me but struggled to talk about it. He didn’t tell me until after the birth of our second child and I felt awful for not knowing and I should have. Men should feel able to talk about their worries when their partners are pregnant, so male gender disappointment should be normal too, as it is for the person carrying the child!
You feel terrible for these thoughts, however. Guilt. You know you are lucky to be having a child so who cares what the sex is? But you DO! You want to push those thoughts away but they come creeping back. But we are human. Of course we are so grateful for the little bundle we are carrying but you can’t help wanting what you want. You have an image in your mind and it is pretty hard to shake it. I knew I wanted two little girls and I was so lucky to have them.
Gender Disappointment in Dads
I quite often let my hubby loose on my blog and it is just almost a year since we found out our little Piglet was a girl, after going for a private gender scan. I didn’t realise until recently my husband’s feeling at this time but he kindly agreed to post for me. I’m hoping others may relate to his gender disappointment as a father.
Over to my husband who tells us about gender disappointment for Dads.
In the world of mummy blogging, there are phrases that describes situations that are “a thing”, many of which I am still learning, generally due to my wife’s voice box being a constant stream of consciousness!!
“Gender disappointment” is apparently a thing, and the name sounds absolutely horrendous, but it is a thing nonetheless and I can assure you gender disappointment in dads is a thing too.
I’ve been gently coaxed to write my gender disappointment “story” for close to a year now, and I’ve finally caved. The thing is though, I’d like to turn this into something much more profound (for me).
When Sarah said she was pregnant for the second time, I couldn’t help visualise the future. A flight of fancy as to what things will be like, part of which was gender. We already had a girl, so you can imagine my thoughts.
After going for a private gender scan, the visions akin to the YouTube video above were not to be. We went to Ikea without the gremlin and as we sat down in the cafe I had some time to reflect, with a stunningly cheap cinnamon roll and coffee.
My version of Henry VIII’s proud birth announcement of “I have a son!” was not going to happen.
I’m generally a strong believer of if you picture it, you can make it happen but this is not always the case when trying for a particular sex when having baby!! Nature isn’t that easy to mess with is it? So this was a big thing for me. Wowsers. Another girl. I didn’t bank on that.
But why was I feeling annoyed and irritated? Quite honestly I was gutted to not be having a boy. Am I the male gender-reveal version of a bridezilla? No, because I hid it very well. Sarah didn’t pick up on it, and I’d never kill her high of the joy of getting a second girl. She was buzzing! So why was I not?
Dealing with Gender Disappointment
After about ten minutes I had actually realised quite a few things. Why did I want a son? Ultimately because I wanted to have someone to follow in my footsteps; to have a protege. Oooh shit, can I admit that?
This thinking is bad thinking, for a number of reasons.
1) How much do you want your child to be like you?
2) How much do you want to control what path your child takes in life?
3) Why should gender be a thing here?
I’m a nerd and proud of it! I’m full on into building stuff, electronics, gadgets AND I work in IT. I love to learn and always want to know exactly how something works!
I want my children to be just like that and have a deep understanding of things, which will always land them in good stead. But for some ridiculous reason a thought it only applied to the less-fairer sex. I was being massively sexist, something I couldn’t bear to happen to my girls as they take their path in life. On a scale of one to ten on wrongness, I was an eleven and it was time to seriously correct my thinking.
Of course I will expose my girls to the nerdy things in life. I will certainly make sure they don’t let any gender-bias thinking slow them down. If my girls want to dress entirely in pink and tutus they will, conversely if they want an engineers boiler suit, then they’ll bloody well have those too. If they don’t care too hoots for my interests, that won’t bother me either. I’ll let them follow their own path; something where gender makes not a scrap of difference.
You can’t have children for them to be just like you. Gender shouldn’t and won’t make a difference to their niche in life and it’s our role as a parent to make sure that it doesn’t.
I love my girls. I’m a father of girls and I wouldn’t change for the world; well I may regret saying this when they hit their teens!!!
This has been re-published recently and we have been very lucky to have a third baby who was a boy! To be honest I wasn’t sure, after having two girls, which to me now sounds crazy. Once he was born, I knew it didn’t matter at all. I loved him so much and my husband has been thrilled to have a little boy. A little mini-me for him!
So important to share this and good to read about it from a male perspective! Funny he should mention Henry VIII who was so desperate for a son that he divorced and beheaded his wives to get one and yet we ended up with one of the strongest and most well known monarchs in history – a woman!
Great post Chris and it’s hard for dad’s because of course they all want a son. We had Oliver, and of course lost him and so Paul’s resigned to just turning Pops into tomboy and she’ll have to help him rebuild an old MK1 Golf when she’s older which is something he dreams of..ye a bit of a nerd too!! Thanks for joining us for #marvmondays x
I love this and good on you Chris for admitting it. I have two girls, and if I’m honest I had gender disappointment. My husband loved the idea of two girls, where as I always wanted a boy. Coming out of the scan I cried so hard and he couldn’t understand it. He didn’t realise that my “dream life” has just come crashing down.
I got over it when I spoke to him. After I thought about all the amazing things they could do together and how close they will be.
Now, I love it!
Anyway, really great post!
I love his point of view on this. I know my husband desperately wanted (and got) a son, I think part of it is a comfort of knowing what that would be like and the other part wanting to have a ‘mini-me’. Thanks for getting Chris to share!! x
Ps. That fairy photo is ADORABLE!
Great – honest post. I think I definitely know a few people who have had the ‘gender disappointment’ experience, though they might not like to admit it x
This was a brave post to share, as for some reason there are a lot of people out there who have a downer on those who experience anything but sheer joy at the gender of their child. I’m having my 3rd boy, and will admit to having to make peace with never having a daughter. It was quite tough for me and I still feel pangs of sadness at things I’ll never get to experience. I love my boys and love being the mum of boys, and as a feminist I don’t ascribe to the girls vs boys stuff. But I know my boys will never let me put them in a pretty dress, French plait their hair and take them to ballet class…and part of me always wanted that. Sometimes it just helps to know I’m not the only one to have some conflict on hearing th gender of their baby, so thank you for sharing..
Such an interesting read. I actually went through a similar thing last year when I found out baby number 2 was a boy. I obviously wouldn’t change him for the world now but I was so gutted. I blogged about it an got a bit of stick for being so gender stereotypical! Well done for sharing, I think Dad’s often get forgotten about when it comes to feelings!
Love this post Chris, Incredibly honest mate I have 4 daughters and 1 son so I do understand what you you are saying about a son following in your footsteps. The interesting thing is my son is very unlikely to be anything like me and my daughters definitely are more like me. Great honest read mate. Well done to you both on the mumsnet blog of the day
Reading this from a male perspective is great, I love that you have written this (and allowed him to, haha!) What an interesting read. Xx #MarvMondays
Thank you Chris for sharing. We have two girls and I must admit I was a bit sad for my hubby that he didn’t have a boy to throw a rugby ball around with. I needn’t of worried, the girls love throwing a rugby ball around and clambering all over him at swimming, Totally agree with you that their interests will,be their interests and we are here to support them with that, #MarvMondays
A really honest post and thanks to Chris for being so open about it. I can understand how you either parent could feel disappointment about their unborn child’s gender. It’s a strange time when the baby is in utero – they are a person but they aren’t someone you ‘know’, especially a father who doesn’t feel the continual wriggling and kicking. It’s so easy to project your own thoughts onto an unborn child. But then they arrive and they become as unique individual. I completely agree with Chris’ points that gender doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. But we are all coming from a generation where we will still subjected to stereotypes so we unconsciously stereotype ourselves! #MarvMondays
I have never once considered the disappointment that my husband may have felt, now I realize that may have been selfish. #MarvMondays
This was great to read from a fathers perspective. I never even thought of Dad’s having gender disappointment! Thank you for sharing #MarvMondays
Oh I love that you let Chris take over your Blog. My hubby always wanted a son so he was of course overjoyed when our first waa born but when we found out our second was also a boy he said he was gutted because he wanted a girl too!xx #marvmondays
I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with you here. You were not being massively sexist, and it’s ok to think like that. It’s also ok to admit to thinking like that. I personally think your thoughts and feelings were justified but it’s also good that it turned around for you!
Thank you for sharing your story chis. It’s 4 in the morning and I have my “big scan” in a couple of days. We already have a 2 year old daughter who both ador and I am genuinely concerned for my partner because I know how badly he wants a son. So reading this from a males point of view is so comforting and I can’t wait to share this with him. At a reasonable time in the lol.
aw how did it go? My husband was fine in the end and we ended up having a third! Got a boy!! Lots of luck x
We had our third girl. She’s gorgeous but, after 6 months i still long for a son. I’ve never had the experience of growing up with a father and I have longed for a son since i can remember. I have experienced despair and even anger of not having the opportunity of having a son. I understand that i have no control over my genes but, I still feel the pain of disappointment.
It must be really hard if you desire it so much. My husband and I did go on to have a son! he is now 18 months old, so may happen for you!