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What if you’re disappointed when your baby’s sex is revealed?


Kipgodi - Shutterstock

Claire de Campeau - published on 07/05/21

Here's how to accept and bond with your baby.

The anatomy scan ultrasound is a moment that parents wait for with great anticipation: It removes any concern about possible health problems and allows parents to hear their child’s heartbeat. It’s also possible, during this examination, to ask the ultrasound technician about the sex of the baby.

While the main assurance couples look for is that their child be healthy, even when all looks to be well, they may be disappointed about the sex of their child. This can also happen at birth, if the parents didn’t find out the sex of their child beforehand. 

Few parents allow themselves to express their disappointment about the sex of their baby, but these disappointments are not rare. Maud, a midwife, says, “Disappointments are easily detected: there’s silence in the room, parents exchange embarrassed looks, and some shyly express their disappointment, but it is very guilt-inducing.”

Maud sees it every day during her work: Parents feel guilty for not being fully joyful at the announcement of having a boy or a girl when they hoped for the opposite. “I think the sentence I heard the most was, ‘As long as he’s healthy, that’s the main thing!’”

The midwife insists, however, that parents have a right to be disappointed. “I think you have to take the time to be disappointed in order to move on. This disappointment passes, obviously; you just have to give yourself the time and the right to experience it.” 

Accepting a possible disappointment

When the parents’ imagination has projected a future with a boy or a girl, due to a presentiment, persistent desire, or misdiagnosis at the first ultrasound, it’s difficult for them to go back and modify their initial dreams. However, it’s an essential step towards acceptance and then joy.

Caroline, a mother we spoke to, was afraid that her baby would “feel her disappointment” about the sex of her second child, and probably repressed it. With her third, the disappointment was more clearly accepted. Today she says she has realized that she’s a fulfilled mother of four boys.

According to psychologist Fanny Bert, “You can be surprised to feel this disappointment, even to the point of considering yourself a bad parent. Sometimes, people reject this feeling and don’t want to admit it to themselves. This eventually causes a difficulty in creating a bond with the child.”

Having many children of the same sex 

“Disappointments are more common when parents already have two children of the same sex, for example, and the third is the same sex again,” explains Maud. In spite of the practical advantages of passing on clothes and the experience acquired with the older children, many parents of several children hope to experience parenthood with children of both sexes, well aware that the relationship is a little different. They’re curious to live another, different part of motherhood and fatherhood. 

However, many parents of several children of the same sex can testify that what really matters is the joy of having children—without denying that not having a child of the other sex may be a small cross they’ll always bear.

Time for acceptance and joy

Finding a person to talk to about your feelings can help you move forward, see all the good sides of the situation, put things into perspective, and not keep your sadness buried. Talking with your own parents can be helpful, or with friends who are dealing well with a similar situation and can help you find ways to enjoy all the benefits of having several boys or girls. And you never know: Maybe you’ll have another child later who will help even the count!

Prayer is also important and helpful. Laying down your pain opens your arms to receive the grace you need to overcome your sorrows.

Accept your feelings without feeling like a bad parent. Yes, you had different expectations or hopes. While your child’s sex is far from the most important thing about them, your imagination may have built what you consider an ideal future, which you now know will not exist.

Sharing your experience with other parents—online, if you find it easier when you remain anonymous—can also help you overcome your disappointment, sublimate it and finally welcome your child with total joy!

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