Gender disappointment is very real.
and no, it doesn't make you a bad parent.
I had my gender reveal on Thursday. I could've cried when the confetti turned out to be blue and it wasn't excitement or joy I was experiencing.
Over the following four days, I've proceeded to hold in how I felt and battled with the notions that I was a bad mum and that I wasn't deserving of a baby when so many others would struggle with fertility and so on and so forth.
It wasn't until today that I recently learnt about 'gender dissapointment' which is commonly recognised amongst many a parenting website and more.
Whilst seemingly controversial, gender disappointment is exactly that. It's feelings of dissapointment after finding out that the gender of the baby is infact the opposite of what you were hoping for.
For example, finding out you're expecting a boy when you would've loved a girl.
The first thing I want to say here is that feeling like this does NOT make you a bad parent.
It's actually incredibly common for one parent (or both) to feel disappointed with the outcome particularly with their still being such strong gender stereotypes prevalent in todays society and I'll explain this a little further in depth as I get on but it's important to note that more often than not, there are underlying reasons as to why you may feel disappointed with the news.
The first thing I recommend you do, is take a look at the following questions and maybe make a few notes.
1. Ask yourself 'why?'
First up is the most obvious one. Why did I feel like that?
For me, it was because I grew up with all boys. I had no sisters, and it was a household of mum, dad and my four brothers so childhood for me as a girl was an incredibly lonely one. I had this ideology that if I had a girl, it would mean finally being able to play dress up or go to 'tea' with a dainty little china set like I used to with stuffed animals.
So to find out we were having a boy, I was naturally disappointed at the thought of having to sit back and watch as my partner teaches my son how to play football.
However, I'm aware that as previously mentioned this falls heavily on the stereotypes that are still prevalent in todays society.
I don't claim to be 'woke' by any means BUT i'd like to have thought that I was a little better than that.
Not only did I then have an answer for my disappointment, but a cause to better myself as a parent before the baby was inflicted with unnecessary gender stereotypes and gender based pressures.
It's been a great opportunity for me and my partner to take a look at how we'll parent our child as a team.
2. Communicate with someone.
In no shorter than three days, I'd gone into an abyss of feeling not only like the worst mum in the world, but the worst person too. I found myself having a miniature breakdown on the phone to my mum about how awful I felt for feeling the way I did when there are so many out there that struggle to conceive, or feeling like an awful mum for doubting my ability to parent a boy.
I can't stress this enough but It's so important to communicate these feelings with someone you trust, someone you know that isn't going to place judgement in a time where it's not needed.
Whether it's your midwife, your mum, your partner, your dad, your brother, sister, best friend or whoever, just make sure you communicate with someone that's going to place no judgement.
Having had a conversation with someone I trust about why I felt the way I did, I now feel at ease and incredibly excited at the prospect of having a healthy baby boy, which at the end of the day is what counts.
3. Remind yourself that it's normal.
As best you can, don't go down the rabbit hole of 'am I a bad parent for feeling this way' because I can assure you that it's more normal than you think.
It's entirely normal to have this idea of how your relationship with your child will be, and to further think about how they'll grow up and naturally, with any pregnancy, you'll favour one gender over another.
I wanted a girl, and my partner wanted a boy and we both had different ideas of how that would look for us. I was picturing dress up, whilst he was picturing football and that's just the nature of who we are as people rather than parents.
Granted there's an element of gender stereotyping in there as well, which allowed us as future parents to address things like 'what if they want to learn ballet as a boy' or 'what if our little girl likes dinosaurs'. It gave us a great opportunity as parents to grow and further fight gender stereotypes between us.
4. Milestones over experiences is key.
A friend taught me this trick when I was struggingly with intrusive thoughts and it's been a great help since.
Remind yourself of important milestones over the experiences you can have as there'll be plenty of opportunities for experiences, but milestones only happen once.
Instead of thinking about what you can do with a boy or girl, think about their first steps or their first words whether they be mama or dada.
This has without a doubt helped me regain a sense of positivity and guilt free living with regard to how I initially felt in those moments.
5. Forgive yourself.
Most importantly, forgive yourself for feeling disappointed albeit temporarily. If it's a feeling that lingers then there's something deeper to it, and it's important to follow the above points until you're in a position in which you're comfortable and content knowing that you have a healthy baby on the way of whom you'll love unconditionally because at the end of the day, that's what really matters.