Gender Disappointment: Apparently, It's a Thing

Gender Disappointment: Apparently, It’s A Thing

Gender Disappointment: Apparently, It's a Thing

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As my husband and I begin to consider having a second child, I’m flooded with memories of my first pregnancy; memories that have not been recalled since the birth of our child. You don’t have time to think about that crap, and for the most part, I didn’t want to.

In my world, being pregnant is not a time of joy and wonderment. I threw-up every single day for 9 months, and vomiting was just the focal point of a myriad of pregnancy-related shitastrophies. Lots of women experience much worse and much less worse. My experience was my own, and by my own volition I deem pregnancy to be bullshit. But I’ll tell you what, as I’ve become hyper-cathartic about pregnancy, it’s not the puke, not the back pain, and not the incontinence that I’m worrying about. It’s the unwarranted and unwelcome commentary from strangers and acquaintances.

Who cares what people say, you’re thinking. Tell that to a pregnant woman. No matter her race, religion, orientation, or socioeconomic background, do not fuck around with her.

There are an infinite amount of listicles pertaining to this topic. It’s all become very cliche as of late. Don’t comment on her eating habits, don’t comment on her cankles, and definitely don’t comment on her weight. Frankly, people who make these comments are socially inept. I’d expect that every pregnant woman is somewhat ready to deal with this sort of bullying. I thought I was ready, but then I realized that the bullying is more far-reaching than could ever be expected.

During my first go-around, I was fully prepared in what to expect during pregnancy and childbirth. Not possible, you say. It is totally possible. I was a Mommy & Me instructor. I had no choice but to hear about how Christy shit herself for the last month of pregnancy, how Molly ate herself to gestational diabetes, and how Monica was in labor for an entire week. You name it, I heard it, and I soaked it all up like a sponge.

While I was prepared to shit my pants, I was left wholly unprepared for one thing: gender disappointment. Not my own disappointment, not even that of my husband, but the disappointment of others.

Realistically, most parents just want a healthy baby. They may express preference to a certain gender, but it’s generally harmless in nature. Dads may express preference for a boy so they can do “man things.” A mom of three boys may understandably hopes for the fourth child to be a girl. Totally harmless. What I didn’t realize is that our society has yet to emerge from the 16th century when it comes to the gender of the firstborn child.

My husband and I had to try for 6 months before we got pregnant. When we finally did, we were so overjoyed that a gender preference was unthinkable. Fast forward several weeks and we were about to pop a balloon that would reveal pink or blue confetti. As my husband and I stood in a pink confetti explosion we were both brought to tears. We, along with our families, were so ridiculously excited.

Once we started to share the news with friends and colleagues, we were finding that not everyone shared in our excitement. Did you want a girl? Is your husband disappointed? And there was one particular exchange that lives in infamy.

At the time of our gender reveal, I worked with a particularly pretentious, and seemingly perfect, southern belle. She made endlessly stupid comments about everything. So I don’t know why I would’ve expected any different on this occasion. When I walked in the door of my workplace after the gender reveal, there she sat with a perplexed look on her face.

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It’s a girl! It’s a girl! Gary and I are so excited!

I saw it on Facebook! Congratulations! BUT…is Gary really excited? How did he take the news?

Um, I don’t know what you mean.

Well, when we were about to find out what our first was, my husband prayed to God that he would be content with the result of the ultrasound. He was so afraid of feeling resentment if we were to have a girl before having a boy. Thank God it ended up being a boy.

Um, we’re both just happy to be having a baby. We didn’t care what it was.

Oh ok! So happy for you both!

She could tell that I wanted to drop-kick her stupid mouth. Were my husband and I supposed to feel inadequate? Should our sweet girl be made to feel illegitimate because she was wrongfully first in birth order?

I read an article recently that said that having feelings of gender disappointment toward your soon-to-be-born child are not wrong to have, and that those feelings should be validated. Well, I disagree. Your feelings should not be validated. The only thing that should be validated is that you’re an asshole.

Perhaps I’m not being realistic. In fact, we live in a world where female feticide is still prevalent…the thought of which induces me to nauseation. This all just really bothers me, guys! So many people struggle with infertility, miscarriage, and the astronomical costs of adoption. Amidst these profound and difficult circumstances, how could anyone feel shame toward something so obsolete as their child’s gender or project that shame onto other expectant parents?

I inherently do not understand gender disappointment just as I don’t understand gay discrimination. I don’t understand it even a little bit. If that comes off as “holier than thou,” then so be it. I am holier than thou because I’m not a dick and you are.