Mum-to-be's reaction to sex of unborn child sparks gender disappointment debate

A dad-to-be has gone online to ask if his wife’s gender disappointment is normal? [Photo: Getty]
A dad-to-be has gone online to ask if his wife’s gender disappointment is normal? [Photo: Getty]

Most mums-to-me who don’t know the sex of their baby won’t admit to having a preference in gender, as long as their newborn is healthy.

But one pregnant woman has been left devastated by the news she’s having a boy instead of the baby girl she hoped for.

The woman’s husband took to Reddit’s “Am I the A**hole?” forum, for some advice about his wife’s reaction to the gender news and to ask whether it was normal to be disappointed by the sex of your baby.

He explained that his wife had “made it very clear from before she was pregnant that she really wanted a daughter”, even making “the odd joke about ‘sending it back’ if it was a boy.”

When the couple did fall pregnant, the woman began “crying with excitement” ahead of their 20-week scan “as she had a feeling it was a girl.” However, the parents-to-be found out they are expecting a baby boy, which caused the woman to burst into tears.

Fast forward a month and the mum-to-be still “cries whenever someone mentions the baby” as well as “refuses to do anything with the nursery and won’t discuss anything pregnancy related.”

The original poster claims his wife’s behaviour is a “massive overreaction”, telling her “she needs to come to terms with this because this isn’t going to change.”

But his wife was unhappy with his response, claiming he isn’t being supportive.

The husband went online to ask others whether he was in the wrong to question his wife’s response, before concluding his post: “I love the baby beyond words and am just upset she doesn’t seem to anymore.”

And others were quick to offer their opinions on the thorny topic.

Some agreed with the poster that the wife’s response was over-the-top.

“This actually really bothers me,” one user wrote. “I get it, people have preferences on the sex of their unborn baby. I think that’s pretty natural. HOWEVER, it deeply disturbs me when people obsess over the sex and put a lot of weight into it.

“A parent’s job is to love and support their child unconditionally for who they are as a person,” the user continued. “When parents obsess over the sex and act out like this when they don’t get what they want, that’s a terrible sign regarding their expectations as a parent.”

“She’s being ridiculous and needs to start helping you out or just accept it,” another agreed. “It’s been a month, it’s not like someone died. She is bringing life to the world, she is caring your and her greatest happiness in life and I can absolutely see how annoyed you would be by her actions. Pregnancy hormones or not, this baby is happening and she better accept that she’s having a boy fast.”

But other users pointed out that gender disappointment could have a real impact on mental health.

“Gender disappointment is real. Many pregnant women get it. I got it myself,” one woman wrote.

“From here on, you need to support her and show your excitement. Remember, pregnant women are highly hormonal right now. You need to have an open communication with her, more so once the baby is born. You’re the one who’ll have to observe if this develops into PPD.”

“Gender disappointment is real and does not necessarily make her an asshole. Women have so many changes happening with their bodies on top of all the hormonal changes they don’t always act logically,” another agreed.

“There’s also the fact that, in her mind, she may have essentially lost her daughter. She thought it was a girl and obviously never entertained that it could be a boy. She’s mourning the baby she thought she was carrying and needs to learn to bond with what may feel like a whole new baby.”

Is gender disappointment a thing? [Photo: Getty]
Is gender disappointment a thing? [Photo: Getty]

And others still could see both viewpoints.

“It is real. But at some point, you realise your living, breathing child is a human being and their sex does not determine how much love you give it,” one user commented. “That’s where the understandable-disappointment/asshole tipping point takes over, I think.”

How gender disappointment affects British mums

Turns out gender disappointment is totally a thing. In fact a recent survey revealed that a quarter of mums in the UK admit to feeling ‘disappointed’ if their child is the wrong gender ie not the baby girl or boy they wanted.

The poll, of 2,189 British mums by parenting site, also found that for 3% of mums this so-called gender disappointment affected their ability to bond with their child long-term.

This feeling of disappointment means two in five mums (41%) say they tried for second child to get the ‘right’ sex, while just over a fifth (26%) tried for a third and one in 10 going for four or more children. A further 6% would even consider flying abroad for gender selection IVF, which is currently illegal in the UK.

Four out of five mums questioned (80%) said they believe it’s normal to have a preference on the gender of your child and only 18% of mums claimed to feel ‘guilty’ for wanting their favoured gender.

Despite that, parents believe it is still taboo to talk about their true feelings about the sex of their baby, with the report revealing over a third (36%) didn’t tell anyone they had a gender preference, and under half (48%) confided in their partner. Only a third (33%) admitted their feelings to their own family.

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