“Wow, I’m sorry.”
“Aw, were you trying for a girl?”
“There’s always next time!”
These are a few comments I received when announcing I was pregnant with my fourth child, my fourth boy. I’m sure these people were well-intended, kind people. Maybe they were trying to relate, trying to ease my hormonal waterfall of emotions. Believe me; I was devastated. I longed for a daughter. I had spent years dreaming of names, of lace, of ruffles, of pink nurseries and headbands. I was mad, too. I didn’t understand why God wouldn’t give me my heart’s desire; a daughter. Maybe I wasn’t good enough to mother a daughter. Maybe I was too messed up to take on a teenage girl.
For two months I would cry every time I went into Target or another store that sold girls clothing. I promised myself I wouldn’t look at them. I would try and not even think about all those tiny pink onesies calling my name. I tried not to imagine a baby swaddled in a floral muslin wrap instead of one covered in trucks and cars. Tried not to linger at the purple crib sheets and soft lace curtains. Nope, I wouldn’t even go over there. My emotional state couldn’t take it. I’d text my husband saying I was losing it in Target, again.
Friends would post pictures of their precious girls, and I would love it but hate it at the same time. I would envy the sweet headbands and bracelets. The dainty dresses with ruffled diaper covers made my throat tighten up. Instead, I had bins and bins of hand me downs from my older three boys to sort through. Blue, green, the occasional yellow or red. Polo shirts, jeans, button down plaid, t-shirts with dump trucks, pjs with brown stripes and monkeys. Blue baby blankets, car seat covers…even my stroller screamed “I’m a boy mom!”
Then there was the guilt.
The overwhelming, suffocating guilt.
“All that matters is if he’s healthy.”
“You’re so blessed to have four babies.”
“At least you can have children; many women can’t.”
Yes, it’s true. I should be thrilled, elated, overwhelmed with gratefulness to God for the blessing of a baby.
But I wasn’t. I wanted a girl.
The pain and disappointment lessened as my due date got closer. I accepted the fact that I would have four boys. Googled cute newborn pictures to take, purchased special things for him, chose a verse, a name. I was OK. When he was born, I loved him immediately. I wasn’t disappointed when I met him. He was my child; my husband’s son. He was precious, perfect.
What I’ve learned is all that disappointment and pain was okay. I am not weird or a “bad mom,” or shallow. I am normal. Not all women have a longing for a daughter. Many women have a longing for a son, and feel disappointment when they hear, “It’s another girl!” And that’s okay too. What we need to accept is that we HAVE longings; we have desires and disappointments. It’s okay. We can talk about it, write about it. We can express our sadness and not judge another mom when they say, “I really wanted a daughter.” And now we know how to relate to that other mom; we know what not to say, what TO say.
I realize there are harder things in life, much harder things. Things I hope I never have to understand. For a time I was ashamed of the way I felt. Then I realized, my pain was real and I didn’t need to apologize for it.
So to you who is struggling with disappointment. It’s okay. It’s normal. Cry over those ruffly dresses or those blue polo shirts. Tell your husband or your best friend how you can’t go to Target for paper towels, it’s too hard right now. Order a special monogrammed sign for that baby’s room, or buy a coming home outfit, an embroidered blanket. Plan something new for that baby; a shower (even if it’s your 4th, 5th, 10th baby), a maternity shoot, brand new crib bedding (even though your current items are still acceptable). Splurge a little; get a pedicure, a new book, a pretty maternity shirt that you’ll only wear twice. These things seem silly, but they’re things you’d probably do for your first baby, or your first baby of a different gender. You celebrate them. So celebrate this little one. Force yourself to. Pretty soon the excitement will follow.
Then the moment will come and you’ll fall in love again. Blue or pink; you’ll fall in love with that precious one wrapped in your arms.
But for now, it’s okay to be sad. It’s really okay.