Blue Is Pretty, Too: Gender Disappointment and Grief

What happens when you grieve the loss of someone who never even existed? This is what it's like to have gender disappointment and grief.

Grief is impossible. It’s excruciating. One minute, life can feel okay as you begin to make peace with your world being forever incomplete. You start to find joy in the little things. You learn that every moment is to be cherished. Then the pain returns, as quickly as it came on the first time. Sadness swallows you up and engulfs every breath. The guilt, remorse, and anger creep back in.

The world is not okay. You are not okay. But what happens if the person you loved most, the one you lost, never even existed?

I used to think that I had no experience with REAL grief. Sure, I had lost people, but I had never lost those closest to me. I didn’t know what it was like to lose a parent, a sibling, or a spouse. I didn’t know what it felt like to deliver a baby that wasn’t breathing. I had never experienced the devastation of watching my child take his or her last breath. My grief shouldn’t count. It’s not REAL grief.

What I’ve learned about grief, though, is this: Any grief, regardless of circumstance, is REAL.

It’s agonizing. It’s heart wrenching. It’s paralyzing. It’s earth-shattering.

I’ve always dreamt of having a daughter. I fantasized about the pink bows, sheets and nursery walls. I imagined the shopping trips, mani/pedi outings, and the hair braiding. I thought about our heartfelt conversations, her first kiss, first love, and first heartbreak. I imagined the tears we would both shed as she found the perfect wedding dress. I pictured the look on my husband’s face as he walked our baby girl down the aisle. I dreamt of the moment she would become a mom and finally know the depth of my love for her.

The grief came after our third son was born. My pregnancies were debilitating from having severe hyperemesis, and because I had become significantly depressed and suicidal during my third pregnancy, we had decided that it was in our family’s best interest for this to be our last pregnancy.

The grief didn’t come right away. I’m not sure if it was due to shock or denial, but it took about three weeks for my emotions to catch up with what had happened. For me to realize what had been lost. My precious baby girl that I had dreamt of for nearly thirty years was gone. The pink bows, cute dresses and sparkly shoes, the daddy/daughter dances, the intimate conversations, the shopping sprees, the phone calls, the wedding bells, the moment she became a mom. It was all just taken away from me.

I will never forget the pain and devastation of the next few months. I had lost the one person I had cherished most. The sadness was complicated by relentless guilt. How could I feel so sad with a newborn baby boy nestled in my arms? Family and friends didn’t understand.

You just weren’t meant to have a girl.

People I trusted and turned to for comfort left me feeling alone, confused and ashamed.

You have three healthy boys; think of all the people who desperately want children and don’t have ANY.

I learned that my grief was not acceptable grief. That I shouldn’t be sad. That I had no right to be angry. That I should be rejoicing with my three, healthy sons.

So I stopped reaching out. I put on a smile and swallowed the tears. I pretended not to feel the knot in my stomach or the lump in my throat as I shopped for the perfect gift for your new baby girl. I tried to ignore the punch in the gut that I felt every time I saw another friend post, “It’s a GIRL!” on my Facebook news feed. I slowly, silently, and shamefully retreated into a solitude of despair.

I used to get so mad when strangers would approach me in the grocery store. “THREE boys! Are you trying for your girl?” How do I explain to them that I just lost my girl?

But just like so many other things in life, grief comes in waves. Life used to be excruciating and now it almost feels normal again. My youngest boy is almost two, and after nearly two years, those strangers in the grocery stores, the ones with the ignorant comments, don’t bother me as much. Their words don’t sting quite like they used to.

So to the moms of all boys who are grieving the loss of their daughter: It’s okay. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to grieve. You are NOT alone.

And to the moms of all boys who LOVE having all boys: I believe you. And I’m happy that you love having all boys.

And to the friends and family who said I just wasn’t meant to have a girl: You were right. But it still hurts.

And to the people who have told me that having boys is better than not having kids: I love you. I know you can’t possibly understand.

And to the strangers in the grocery store: I forgive you.

People often say to me, “You know, there’s a special place in Heaven for moms of all boys!” And I believe it. I know that there’s a special place in Heaven for this mommy of all boys. It’s right next to them. AND right next to my baby girl. Heaven is where our family will finally be complete.

But until then, I get to see little pieces of Heaven every day. The sparkle that each of my boys has in their eyes when they look at me and call me “Mommy” is Heaven right here on Earth. Because boys need their mommies just as much as girls do. And you know what?

Blue is pretty, too.