Baby Blues – Dealing with Gender Disappointment

Dealing with gender disappointmentToday I am 32 weeks and 2 days pregnant. Less than eight weeks away from giving birth to a live human being! Needless to say I am pretty nervous and I admit I don’t feel totally prepared. I am sure all new moms feel the same, but part of me feels a little guilty that over the past few months I have not been as excited about my little bundle of joy as I should be. Since my 19 week ultrasound, I believe I have been suffering from what is called “gender disappointment”: a common yet under discussed issue that some women go through when finding out they won’t be having the baby they had always imagined.

I’ll start from the beginning: The day I found out I was pregnant. It was a hot day in June, so humid that there were torrential downpours outside making it dangerous to drive. But I was desperate to get my home pregnancy test, so I drove over to my local Walmart and sat in my car for 15 minutes until the rain subsided a bit for me to go inside.

When I got home, I peed on the stick, and with a shaky hand left it face down on the bathroom counter and shut the door. Ten minutes later, I begged my husband, Eric, to go and check the results. The test was easy enough to understand: it would either say “Yes” or “No.” I let him go inside the bathroom first and with a shocked look on his face said, “It’s a yes!”

I guess Eric and I were both taken by surprise, but secretly I was super excited, more excited than Eric was. We had been debating for a while on the right time to start a family and with my persistence and persuasion, I convinced him there was no time like the present. I had read several articles about conception and how it sometimes takes a while for couples to actually get pregnant, so I wanted to get a head start, assuming we would be pregnant by Christmas time. They say one in five couples will be successful on the first try, so I guess we beat the odds there or I attribute it to beginner’s luck! Although I was shocked and nervous, I felt it was meant to be and everything was how it should be.

The months preceding the pregnancy, I did a lot of research on conception. Not just on how to conceive successfully, but how to conceive the gender of your choice. From reading about the different sex positions, to the timing of intercourse, and even studying the Chinese gender calendar, I became obsessed with gender conception research, to carefully plan the perfect family I had always imagined. For me, that always meant having a little girl to call my own. She would be my best friend, my confidant, my little princess.

Throughout the summer, I was constantly nauseous and craving pastries and sweets. Even though I felt like crap, I was happy knowing that these two symptoms indicated a little girl was likely in my belly (according to the old wives tales I kept reading about). People would ask me if I had a preference for gender and I would sheepishly reply with the cliché phrase “As long as it’s healthy.”. I couldn’t let people know that I was really hoping for a baby girl, even though I was almost positive it was anyway.

As summer was coming to an end, I became impatient with waiting for my mid-pregnancy ultrasound a.k.a. the gender reveal ultrasound. The mid-pregnancy ultrasound is really to check up on how well the baby is developing and to identify if there are any causes for concern. Of course I was thrilled to learn that the baby was developing normally without any health concerns, but I was most curious about the gender. I was almost positive that we were having a girl, so much so that we already had her name picked out and nursery theme decided. My assumptions were based on multiple factors including the amount of females in both mine and Eric’s families. I have one sister, zero brothers, seven female cousins and one male cousin and Eric has two sisters and no brothers. I was also very confident in my conception planning. I had done everything the websites had said regarding the right positions and timing of intercourse. So on that sunny day in September when the sonographer asked me if I wanted to know the gender, I quickly answered yes with a smile on my face. I couldn’t wait for her to confirm that inside was our sweet baby girl!

So you can just imagine the look on my face when she brought Eric into the room and showed us all the baby’s body parts including its head, its legs, its arms, its stomach and its penis?! “In my opinion, it’s a boy,” the sonographer said in a very serious tone as she pointed to a turtle like image on the screen. I was in so much shock I couldn’t say a word. My mouth was dry and all I wanted to do was go home. In my head I wondered why she said, “In my opinion.” I was hopeful that maybe there was a good chance she was wrong, maybe she was looking at an umbilical cord or a swollen labia? The baby in my belly most certainly could not be a boy.

After we left the hospital, Eric seemed very happy. He was so convinced we were having a girl after all my analysis the months prior about all my confirmed “girl-like” symptoms and old wives tales theories. He seemed to be a bit relieved and more excited than I had seen him before. It was me who was secretly upset, but I couldn’t tell a soul. It sounds so silly and ridiculous, but at that moment, I felt like my baby had died. The baby that I had been dreaming of anyway. There would be no ballet lessons, no hair braiding, no mother-daughter spa days and no Barbie doll collecting. Instead, my life would be filled with cars and trucks, dirt and mud and superheroes and comic books; a world that I was very unfamiliar with. Since I am such a girly-girl type, I feared that I would not be able to connect and have a strong bond with my son.

The weeks following the ultrasound, I noticed a drop in my excitement about the pregnancy. I stopped writing in my pregnancy journal, I stopped taking my weekly belly photos, and I stopped writing in my pregnancy blog. I just felt numb. I was also convinced that the sonographer was wrong in her gender diagnosis. I was determined to go back for a paid 3D ultrasound a bit further along into my pregnancy to confirm the results. “It can’t be true,” I kept thinking to myself.

A boy! What would I do with a boy? I felt terrible. There are many people in the world who are not even capable of having children, or have babies with chronic health problems and here I was with a beautiful, healthy baby boy growing inside of me and I could not be grateful. There was no telling anyone my true feelings of disappointment for fear of looking like a terrible mother who didn’t deserve to have a child.

I went on my days with a smile on my face acting as if a baby boy was what I had wanted the whole time. It was hard to keep a smile on my face, especially when I had many rude and unsolicited comments from people such as “Oh no, a boy? You’re screwed!” or “Aren’t you sad that you aren’t having a girl?” I couldn’t believe some things people had to say, but it made me angry. After all, it’s not like you get to choose, so why would people say such mean things? They made me realize that, maybe a lot of us are living in a superficial world of gender stereotyping. Who says that having a girl will automatically mean they will like the colour pink or princesses? And why can’t boys enjoy tea parties with their mom or dance classes too? If anything, these negative comments gave me ammunition to fight these stereotypes. I was happy to be having a child at all, and I was determined to prove to myself that having a little boy would be just as much fun as having a daughter.

To help deal with my emotions, I researched this phenomena of gender disappointment and was relieved to find that it is more of a common issue than people realize. It just isn’t really talked about because what woman (or man for that matter) would ever want to admit to such shameful feelings? I found comfort in knowing that I was not alone in my messed up feelings of sadness. It was reassuring to read about other women who initially felt the same way as me, but got over it as soon as their sons were born.

I am still a little sad that I am not having a girl, but I have learned to accept what God has given me and I am looking at the positives. Having a boy will also be fun. It will be different than what I had planned or imagined, but I am looking forward to raising a little man. I try not to focus on my stereotypical gender thoughts and think of my baby as just a gender neutral human being. He will be my world. And even though I am entering unfamiliar territory with a boy, I know I will learn how to engage with my son in a special way that I never thought possible.

As I am getting closer to my due date, I am getting more excited to meet my little man. From picking nursery décor and deciding on names, it makes everything seem very real. I’ve learned that you can’t always control things in life, no matter how hard you try, but you can control your behaviour and your attitude and just embrace what God gives you. I know that the day my baby arrives, all my worries and fears will be pushed aside and I will immediately fall in love. My life will change, maybe not in the way I had originally imagined, but in a wonderful, beautiful way nonetheless.

Belly Rubbing Buddha

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So, everyone is having babies and I’m still looking for The One. I am reading some Teal Scott to help me awaken the feminine within, all the while growling and humming. I meditate, imagining myself on top of a mountain and wondering why some guys won’t answer my texts.

Going through some baby blues at age 25 is perfectly understandable. I am taking care of things like learning skills, maturing, learning how to love. There is a dire primitive force at work, so much that I went and purchased a fertility soap a while back, which I still keep hidden in a drawer. Somehow I am scared I might get impregnated in my sleep by the Holy Spirit, and ideas like that gain momentum when I am watching a Jean-Luc Godard movie.  If I was looking for a sign, then there it is.

The time is ripe and/or will never really be. A lot of girls my age are putting off baby plans well in their lovely thirties, once they’ve eluded amassing the necessary economic confidence of a steady job and a cleared debt.

I, however, have been off the pill for a while now. That decision came along with my soaring disdain for Western medicine and the realization that sex is very sacred to me, so I have adopted a very self-loving, spiritual and chaste sexuality. I may have found a way to pin my social awkwardness on that choice, patriarchally speaking. I felt a lot of frustration against the traditional idea of partnership: the cataloguing of preferences and easy replacement of one another, especially when I caught myself objectifying the men I claimed to love. When I did end up falling in love, in the ideal land of no expectations, it ended up messy, unrequited and obsessive.

In my case, embodying the idea of the feminine had to do with somewhat distinguishing myself from my male counterparts. In conversations I had with some of them, their distinction between sex and love was physically significant, whereas in my romantic melodramatic perspective, I don’t consider them as two different subjects. I wish not to stereotype male and female, as we are all carrying a very dual gender within ourselves, but I find myself before a mystery I can easily compare to the spiritual enigma of faith, and that is where I discover the polarity at play.  I now feel a pressing need not to compete with the male energy, if only for the sake of creation. The idea is to perform a yin tai chi act on the matter. It is not about counteracting yang’s play, which tires faster and entices more of that opposing force (even so within ourselves!). Instead, yin ‘allows’ the energy and lets it subside, looking gracious and clever.

This newfound attitude towards the feminine springs every part of me into wanting to make a baby with the man I love, and go with it as a wonderful addition rather than as a load of responsibilities.  Whatever way we find to align ourselves with our inner femme, it is nice to take notice of the importance of woman and the unconditional love she harvests.

So here I am, looking at this curvaceous soap, vibing with the moon and all the new moms surrounding me, and I can’t help but notice how beautiful and powerful we women are, even if on a more subtle level, as male entity is traditionally transpiring a more ‘provider’ and material orientation, whereas motherhood comes full with strength and intuition. It is funny to witness men pace and wonder how to be useful, but then again, they are packed with light and cheerfulness.

On my part, the need to work from home and to raise my own kids is intensifying, with a tingling look out the window to see hubby chopping wood or scrambling to build our sustainable haven. I would be creating that dream with a man, but it would be nice to have him take care of the ‘big’ stuff and be a great cook, while I am busy giving excruciatingly amazing life.

Carolina Longo is a 25-years-old Montreal native.  She enjoys the works of André Breton, Jean Cocteau, William Blake, Max Ernst as well as Rumi and Binaural Beats on a rainy day. She crafts clothes and wings while listening to Terence McKenna and plays drums to release.

J’ai peur

1st Halloween

I love Halloween. I dress up every year. I haven’t always gone all out in the costume department–and it was my parents who took care of it for my first few years–but, as sure as Chucky is a creepy doll, I mark the occasion with a masquerade.

For my first experience of the door-to-door ritual North America calls “trick-or-treating,” I was dressed as an angel. I was two years old. My friend Katie, who was my next door neighbour, was dressed as a clown. That was 32 years ago. Thirty-two. Years. As a little girl, before puberty and after most of my baby teeth had been replaced with the permanent choppers, I had a real obsession with dressing up as a gyspy. Who knew little me was so clairvoyant. When applying for my latest apartment, I was forced to look back at my residential history. It appears I’ve moved a lot. I’ve been restless, I suppose. Or perhaps I seem more transient because of the people to whom I compare myself.

Katie is a single mother to a son and works as a law clerk. Joanne has a son too; and a daughter, a husband, a dog, a cat, a nice teaching job, and a mortgage. Joanna isn’t married and doesn’t have any kids; however she works with children, as an instructor therapist. She’s getting her masters and she does yoga. Sarah is a high school teacher with an accountant husband, two children, and has a third one incubating. It’s not often we ladies “hang out” anymore, but we come together for the big stuff; the important stuff; the happy stuff; and absolutely the sad stuff. We catch up on what’s new. Laugh about that time when that happened and, she said this, and we wore that.

We were together a few weeks ago and for a moment, it was like we were teenagers again: full of hope and ideas and laughter. But then the conversation shifted. The topics were not on my life resume. Conversation obstacles galore! Child birth: nope, haven’t done that or actually witnessed a live birth. Not pregnant. Nothing relevant to say there. Next: curriculums. I’m not a teacher and it’s been 12 years since I took a course of any kind. Dietary concerns: not so much. I have dietary preferences. I can eat as much cheese as I want to. And then the conversation shifted to the reason we were all together: losing our parents. We were at a funeral. Joanne lost her mother to the dirty bastard that is cancer.

Only two of us have both parents. One of us has had the misfortune of losing a father and then a step father. We’re not getting any younger; which means our parents are getting even older. And those of us who aren’t parents yet? Maybe we won’t become parents at all.

When did I get old? Or, rather, when did I get stuck in this weird zone where my 20’s seem like a distant, fuzzy dream? When did the idea of dealing with a hangover become more unbearable than child birth without drugs? When did I become the person who worries about taking care of my parents–and why does it scare the shit out of me?

I’m terrified that I won’t have a family of my own–and I just decided I want one! The proverbial Everyone tells 20-somethings You that You have LOTS of time to decide on something like becoming a parent. But you don’t. You really don’t. You get to your 30’s and all of the sudden–tick. It’s the–tick, tick–biological clock that is tick tick TICKING (yes, that’s a My Cousin Vinnie reference, thank you Marisa Tomei). What about my health; sure I can take care of myself, but… Joanne’s mom was only 57. I say only 57, but then I turn around and say 34 is old. It’s a perplexing time. I’m afraid to die and I’m weighed down by life. I don’t have the career I always thought I’d have (let alone the income). I haven’t traveled as much as youngster me had planned to. My bucket list has a load of empty checkboxes, including the “get married to someone who is in love with me completely and whom I’m in love with fully and completely as well.”

I have a friend Angela who has been married for 10 years. I was the maid of honour at her wedding. We talk a fair bit and I know she has some of the same fears and concerns about her own life as I do about mine. However, I totally have a “grass is always greener” envy going on when I look at her. She and her husband Mike are like fictional characters Lily and Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. They’re amazing together. To me, while, sure, she could do lots of things starting now and becoming future Angela, to me she has something to be so proud of: that relationship she has with her husband. And, just like Ted from that damn TV show, I want that. I want what I think they have. And I’m petrified I’ll screw it up.

I’m dating someone right now, you see. He’s wonderful. I want to marry him and spend the rest of my life with him. I’ve never been so sure of anything. And what comes with this clarity? Fear. BIG FAT FEAR.

I love Halloween. It’s this day where you can dress up and be someone else. Be someone fictional and legendary. Be someone ghoulish and creepy. Be someone magical. Halloween is magical. When I’m someone else, the next day, when I go back to being just me, I’m not diappointed, as my ramblings might suggest I would be. I’m relieved. I look in the mirror and there is familiarity the day after Halloween. It’s me. And I’m alive. And I’m not so bad (I have some pretty darn good friends who I would not have if I were such a fuckup). And I have a whole bag of tiny chocolate bars.

Trellawny works in advertising, loves cooking, and is in a long-distance (but totally awesome) relationship. Names of her friends have been changed in this post due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter.