Expectant mothers around the world prefer sons over daughters often because daughters are considered a “disappointment,” a financial burden, and for various other, often deep- rooted cultural reasons. Unwanted daughters is still a sad reality in many developing countries around the world where women’s rights are still lacking or non-existent.
Women in developed countries also experience “gender disappointment,” but for starkly different reasons. In the US, where women’s rights are the envy of women across the globe, having a daughter does not come with the negative cultural implications or financial burdens as is found in some other countries. Gender preference among American parents is split based on gender with women preferring daughters and men preferring sons. A report in Reproductive Medicine Online found that 70% of mothers who opted to choose their baby’s gender opted for girls. This article gives some more information about why many parents prefer a daughter.
When those two lines appeared on the test that would forever change my life, I too hoped for a little girl who would wear bows and coordinate outfits with me. Pregnancy was not ideal for me, hyperemesis and depression forced me to quit my job. My one hope was that it would all be “worth it” on the day of the ultrasound when I would find out I would have a daughter.
That day arrived…“It’s a boy!” was not what I wanted to hear. I was devastated. The tears began rolling and the anger began festering inside. When I arrived home I literally punched a hole in the wall (I am not kidding). My husband was devastated by my extreme reaction. He could not understand my disappointment. Honestly, I couldn’t exactly understand it entirely myself.
As 1 of 5 children, the only girl, I knew what it was like to be around smelly boys and to clean up urine on the floor from poorly aimed attempts to reach the toilet. I saw my mom devastated by the choices of my brothers daily. I also had an absent father during most of my childhood. I saw men as, well, a disappointment.
Boys leave their mothers to marry someone else. They break the rules and break their momma’s hearts. They don’t take care of their parents as they age. They move on, and don’t look back.
As the only girl, I assumed I was an expert on these matters.
I tried explaining these feelings to my husband, but he was beyond thrilled to be a father no matter the gender. Others just kept saying, “All that matters is a healthy baby,” or “You can always try for a girl later!” During my pregnancy my constant illness and worsening depression made it obvious to me another pregnancy was unlikely, so this was it: I was having a boy. This stark reality was a punch in the gut and made a difficult pregnancy even more daunting.
After my child was born I still struggled with saying “this is my son.” Rather, I would only describe him by name. I loved him, I was proud of him, but I couldn’t say the word “son.” As I struggled with postpartum depression, the burgeoning guilt of my disappointment at having a son continued to grow, especially as people around me announced they were having girls.
I knew how I felt was not right. I felt downright pathetic about my disappointment and jealousy.
Despite all that, I remember I would stare at his precious face and feel overwhelming love for him, but I couldn’t shake the grievous disappointment at not having a daughter. I would see little girl’s dresses and cry. The girl’s section at department stores offered a plethora of clothing to choose from, while there would be a third less to explore in the boy’s section. Seeing my friend’s little girls would just stab my heart. When someone would say, “You have to try for a girl, they are just so special!” I secretly wanted to lash out at them.
You may be thinking, “How can she put these words on paper?!” I get it. This is not something I am proud of, so judge away! I wish I could go back in time and find joy in those early days. That time is gone, but what I do have is now. Now, I watch my 6 year old son run around playing superman while jumping off the couch. Now, I laugh as he demands to wear a spider-man costume into stores. Now, I smile while rolling my eyes at his arguments as to why he shouldn’t have to take a shower.
I find a never ending joy unlike any I ever knew existed when he utters the words,
“I love you, momma.”
I love him, I adore him. I always have.
We are open to life, but it is unlikely I will have another child at this point. I probably won’t have that “mini-me.” Thankfully, I can say: that is okay with me. I have all I need and my heart is beyond full. Seeing my husband be such an amazing father and husband has helped me see that sons are capable of much more than I ever realized before.
Writing these thoughts on paper is a bit overwhelming. I anticipate judgment. I do wonder, what if my son reads this one day? How will that affect him? Should I just stuff these thoughts deep in the recesses of my brain rather than share? I am not proud of my story, but I am blessed I grew beyond those moments and feelings. I can say this: God gave me exactly what I needed. I NEED that little boy and always will. I thank God for trusting me with such a precious gift, the perfect gift; my preference is him, my sweet son.