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'I broke down crying for hours.' The baby disappointment that no one talks about.

Let me start by prefacing this with, yes, there is fertility privilege involved in being able to conceive a baby and inherent privilege in having a healthy baby. So if either of these things trigger you, please consider this your trigger warning.

I want to discuss the baby disappointment that no-one talks about. The whispered and hushed things we can't say to anyone except our absolute closest; the hidden shame of feeling anything except gratitude and joy about an impending baby arrival. I am talking about gender disappointment.

We as a society need to start talking about the very real feelings that many women experience when it comes to gender disappointment. There is a sliding scale of disappointment, from a couple of weeks to adjust to the other end of the scale, where people consider a termination because of consequential mental health issues. This is a hidden topic in society that many women will face to some degree, however, it is something that people stay silent on.

Watch: How to be a woman in 2023. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

All I have ever wanted in life is a daughter; to have that mother and daughter connection (after a difficult mother-daughter relationship with my mother). I long to impart my womanly wisdom onto the next generation of females and share my experience of being a woman with my daughter. It wasn't the pink, or the dolls or the cute girl clothes that made me want this so badly, it was that enduring relationship and connection between a mother and her daughter.


When I was pregnant with my first child and heard the words "congratulations it's a boy," after our NIPT test results, I broke down crying for hours. The rest of the pregnancy, I was devastated and couldn't understand why this had happened to me. It made me feel completely disengaged from my pregnancy and I didn't feel the joy that others felt when discussing their pregnancy due to my disappointment.

When my baby was placed on my chest, these disappointed feelings evaporated immediately, the moment I saw this sweet, innocent creature that was mine to love and take care of. Perhaps this was the universe saying that maybe you can find happiness in unexpected places, in ways you never thought possible.

As my son grew, I loved him more and more, however the feelings of longing and the need to have a daughter intensified. The hole in my heart grew and I knew I needed to complete my family. What kept me going was the hope that one day, I would have my daughter.

We decided to try for our second and threw everything into tracking, researching supposed gender swaying methods, anything we could try to do to influence the outcome of having a daughter. Quickly, I fell pregnant again.

Surely, this time we would have our longed for daughter. Surely, all the months of preparation would culminate in what we had hoped for. Everything felt different this pregnancy and hope bloomed in my heart. 


Fast forward to the 12 week NIPT tests. Once again I heard, "congratulations it's a boy." Time froze. My stomach dropped. I couldn't breathe. This wasn't supposed to happen. Not again. The familiar feelings of loss, sadness, grief and disappointment overwhelmed me. 

Yes, I am grateful I am able to get pregnant and yes I am grateful that the baby is healthy (as far as I know). But that doesn't negate my feelings of loss and grief for the daughter I will not have and the experiences I will miss out on because of that. 

I have friends going through IVF who have told me they feel triggered when people announce pregnancies. I too feel triggered finding out friends and family are expecting girls. My IVF friends tell me they feel sadness when they see babies and toddlers out and about. I also feel sadness when I see families with little girls. My IVF friends tell me they ask themselves what they have done wrong in life to be in that situation; they question why it is happening to them.

I completely empathise. What people suffering gender disappointment and fertility issues have in common is the genuine pain of wanting something more than anything in the world and then watching others around you have what you desire most.

Admittedly, a baby's birth gender does not dictate a person's self-identified gender and the individual might not conform to gender stereotypes and will be their own person. However, we also need to acknowledge that there is a difference between raising boys and girls and the differences of interpersonal relationships that each gender has with their mother. Ultimately, the heart wants what the heart wants.


Listen to The Baby Bubble where the hosts talk about gender disappointment and how to deal with it. Post continues below.

We need to start this dialogue to acknowledge there are many women who experience disappointment when they learn their baby's gender and many women feel alone and unseen when they feel these 'taboo' emotions. This is a silent shame that women carry around, an unspoken grief, a loss of the idealised family you had longed for and dreamed about.

I wrote this article for women experiencing gender disappointment. Your grief, hopes, dreams and needs are valid. You may think you are alone in the way you feel, but know that there are others out there who feel as deeply as you do and that you are not alone.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering, contact PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia. You can find their website here or call their helpline – 1300 726 306. 

Or reach out to The Gidget Foundation on 1300 851 758. You can find out more about their 24/7 support app, here.

Feature Image: Getty.

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