Girl or Boy: Do You Have a Preference?

Is it wrong to want one or the other?

Pregnancy Ultrasound
Getty Images/Tim Hale

We all want a healthy baby. There is no question about that, so it's rarely even spoken as a question, just an assumption. The real questions start to come when you discuss the sex of your baby.

Do You Want a Girl or a Boy?

That is certainly a loaded question. Some would argue that we all have a preference, even if we don't admit it. Others openly say that only sometimes does the preference surface, for example if you already have a boy and this time you'd like a girl or vice versa.

Is it ever a problem to desire one sex over another?

The mother of four boys might say that her desire to have a baby girl overrides the reality that the statistics are against her. Will her desire for a baby girl impact her relationship with her sons? For most of us the answer is no. We simply grieve the loss of the dream of the sex we had hoped for and move on.

Though there are some women and their partners who actually experience more than a passing depression over the sex of their baby. For these people, counseling to explore their feelings is a must, even if they feel that it does not effect their relationship with their child. The feelings will come out, even if in small ways. There are also couples who choose to do sex selection techniques to ensure the sex of their next baby, like MicroSort®, Shettles Method, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), etc.

Finding Out Before Birth

The case for finding out the sex of your baby before birth is largely based on claims of prenatal bonding, selection of a name and preparation for a new baby.

Some mothers feel that it would be easier to deal with a less than ideal sex or even an outright disappointment prior to the birth of their baby. So that knowing ahead of time actually allows them to work through their grieving process during the pregnancy, rather than in the immediate postpartum period.

Though ultrasound is not perfect. Heck, even genetic testing has its limits. Mistakes are made and hearts are unnecessarily broken, even if just for a little while. Let's not forget the expense that could happen if the baby turns out to be of the opposite sex. This can lead to a different depression after bonding with your baby boy or girl, only to find out that your baby is the opposite sex.

You might also be interested in: Coping with Gender Disappointment.

Waiting to Find Out

Waiting to find out the gender of your baby at birth also has advantages. First of all there are no mistakes made. No names picked out and labeled. No rooms are painted. And no gender specific clothing purchased.

Families and moms who chose to wait say that even if they have a strong preference for a girl or a boy, waiting is beneficial for them. One mother explains it as being caught up in the moment.

"I really, really wanted a baby girl. When they handed my son to me and said, 'It's a boy!' I just cried, he was perfect and I was very happy. I didn't even think about a girl at that moment." Later she admits to thinking about the differences in her previous preferences, but says that it wasn't really a factor and did not cause depression. The hormones of labor and birth can help with that, though not always.

What If Your Baby Isn't the "Right" Sex?

That's a tough question. The first part of the problem is going to be admitting that your baby is different from what you expected or desired. Today's society, despite everything it claims about being supportive and pressuring women to have preferences, is not very forgiving when you hold a healthy infant and claim to be sad because it's not a girl or a boy. This can lead to many women not admitting that they are disappointed. Bottling these feelings up can lead to even more disastrous results, including full swing depression.

Find a friend or a counselor, talk to them about your preference. Being able to say, "Hey, I love my baby, but I'm still disappointed." is good for you. It is not impossible be happy that you have a healthy baby and be disappointed.

Being disappointed doesn't mean not loving your baby or being a bad mother.

It means that you had an attachment to a dream of something specific and the end result is great, but different than how you had imagined it to be. This doesn't make you ungrateful. It makes you a realist.

Take the time to grieve the loss. Acknowledge that it is the loss of something special to you. This will help you heal and move forward. Love your baby and talk it out with someone who will listen without belittling your feelings. The majority of women find that within a few weeks they laugh and can't imagine that they ever wanted something other than what they got, it just takes a bit of time to realize the gift they have.

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