I never hoped I would have a daughter. I simply assumed I would.
Being the oldest of four sisters myself, I somewhat assumed after one got pregnant, one naturally had a baby girl.
I had two boys. Two gorgeous, live, healthy, beautifully crazy and loving boys that are pure joy. When I got pregnant the third time, I now assumed I would have another boy.
My baby was a girl. A girl! With absolute certainty the little 12 week old fetus was a girl. Because her condition, the one that made her life be oh so very short, was a chromosomal condition that only affected girls. But at that point, it was just a theory, a possibility, a scary suspicion that I pushed aside for a little bit of time. Long enough to hold on so very tight to the biggest surprise, to the shining gift that I was mom to a girl.
And then Luna died.
I cried for her and hurt for her and learned how to live without holding her hand.
A year later I got pregnant again. This time, in my heart of hearts, I really, really wanted a girl.
I had been offered, you see, this amazing gift: the possibility to love another woman in my family with my whole heart. The chance to be “us girls”. When we went out to lunch, we would get up and go to the ladies’ room together. Maybe her hair would look a little like my hair and we would hold hands and tell stories and sing together and have little pouch purses that we would sew. I would get to love her in all the ways that I had been less loved. The female family line would continue from me to her. I would be her person, we would talk in a language that was ours. We’d be the girls.
I didn’t really want that until Luna. She was my gift, my girl, my promise. And then Luna died so soon, and she took with her so many little scenarios, so many Gilmore Girls moments.
Being pregnant again, the hope for a girl became so strong. It made me feel so guilty. So very, very ungrateful and guilty. Conditional love for a new little baby. I wished I didn’t want a girl. But in the dark of night, when the kids were asleep, I whispered to my husband that I secretly hoped for a girl. I know, he said. I felt a little less guilty, if just for a little while.
My fourth baby, blood tests confirmed, was a boy. The kids jumped for joy; they just wanted a sibling that would hopefully stay. I mourned silently, inside, gently.
I came to terms with the fact that I had a girl already. Maybe not in the way I had hoped, but I have a daughter. That is the continuity of my female family line. She is my girl and I am her mamá and this is our life together, even if I don’t know what her hair would have looked like in braids.
And my son, that beautiful little baby that was born gently into my arms, is our joy. I cannot for one minute imagine what life would be like if he was anything but the beautiful little guy that he is.
Through loss, hope and guilty wishes, I have come to the greatest gift a mother could have: the realization that I love my children for who they are. I now feel that my love is unconditional. I love them exactly for themselves. Whatever that self is, I am their mamá and they are my kids.
(*) Note: this is written from a binary gender view, and I apologize for the lack of inclusion of a larger understanding of gender as a non-binary continuum. I write in this view not out of disrespect or exclusion, but solely because it represents the feelings I was experiencing at the time. I mean to reflect upon my personal feelings, not to exclude a more comprehensive understanding of gender. I do apologize for the simplified view of gender that I am thus portraying.
My situation is so much like yours, it’s scary… I don’t have the best relationship with my mom, and somehow, when I got pregnant with our first child, a son, that I would be a mom of boys. I was honestly okay with that. Our son was born healthy; a few years later, I got pregnant again. Never imagined it would be a girl, but there she was, obviously a girl. It took some time to get used to the fact, but I truly did fall in love with her. About a day and a half before her scheduled c-section, she was stillborn. Still to this day, more than 6 years later, we don’t know why or how. We got pregnant again about a year after Honour died. I assumed it would be a girl, but our last son was born a few months later. I have more or less accepted that my only girl is in my heart, not my house. But seeing mixed sex households still, and I suspect always will, hurt. <>
Oh Tawnya… we were at my kids’ school today, and all these little girl were leaving a ballet class, skipping and running in their leotards, laughing with their parents… my heart twinged. Then I felt a little silly about that, invalidating my feelings, I’m not sure why. Thank you for your comment, thank you for getting how I feel.
This post really spoke to my heart. I’m struggling with gender disappointment as well. I’ve always wanted a girl. I wanted a girl so badly, I didn’t believe I’d ever have one. I just wanted it too much. When I got pregnant with our first child I assumed it would be a boy (also to prepare myself to not be disappointed and honestly felt okay with it), but of course I was over the moon when i found out we were having a girl! She passed away hours after birth due to a heart condition we had known of for the last trimester. I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant with my rainbow and have to admit I was devastated, angry, sad, disappointed when the doctor told us we were expecting a boy. I bawled my eyes out for weeks and still am sometimes. I had the girl I had been dreaming of all my life, only to be taken away. Of course I feel guilty, of course I wish it didn’t matter to me if it was a boy or a girl, but I’m still struggling to except and love my baby. I can’t even feel happy about meeting him soon. What a horrible mother. I’m so scared of what’s going to happen once he is born. Were either of you still struggling after giving birth?
Anna, thank you for sharing. It’s so hard to talk about this without feeling tremendously guilty, I feel. To be completely honest, I was scared that I wouldn’t love him as much once he was born too. And the minute he was in my arms, I never dreamed that he could be anything but the person he was. Not for a millisecond. I wouldn’t trade my daughter for all the live babies in the world, cause even though she died and that hurts like anything, I love HER. I don’t love a generic girl, I love Luna, my daughter. And I wouldn’t trade my son (any of them) for the most amazing live daughter either. There is a part of me that feels the loss of Luna but also the loss of a daughter, of a female in my family that I can love unconditionally, maybe even a little girl I can love and take care of they way I wish I had been. And I will miss out on many things by not being mom to a girl who lives. But somehow that is completely separate from my boys. And being a mom to boys is AWESOME. PAL is tricky… the only way I found to get through it is to actually just go right through and feel all the weird confusing scary things. To feel the sadness and the disappointment and the fear. Because, hopefully, most probably, on the other side, is just your baby. And part of that disappointment that he’s not a girl is also that he is not your first daughter. And no, he could never be her. But somehow, afterwards, I realised I could be mom to all of my kids. And I could love them all and there was room and love for all. You’re not a horrible mother, far from it. You’re a mom who lost what no mother ever should, and you are so brave to welcome life again. You are going to be fine, you’re a loving mom, this is just a lot.
This fit my situation to a tea. When I got pregnant the first time I wanted it to be a boy. Mommas little boy. We were over the moon when we found out that it was a boy. We named him after my husbands father whom he was very close with and we kept that a secret till he was born. We lost our son, James, at 32 weeks due to a rare maternal illness (acute fatty liver of pregnancy). We became pregnant shortly after and I just assumed it was a boy. In a way I needed it to be a boy. That way the nursery didn’t have to change much, and for so many other reasons. At our 20 week ultrasound we found out we were having a girl. My husband was over the moon but I was secretly disappointed and felt soooo guilty.
That was 11 years ago. My daughter, my rainbow and my miracle was by far the best thing that could have happened. She is the only living child that I have had and will ever have.
I think about the desire to have that little boy but I had by boy just didn’t turn out how we had planned