real life

My wife's crying over having a fourth girl - what do I tell her?

Is it ridiculous to be upset about the gender mix of your kids? This mum says yes, but you’ll get over it…

As the unwanted third daughter in my family, I found this Facebook status update on Babyhintsandtips a little hard to face:

We found out yesterday we are expecting our 4th girl. I couldn’t be happier, but my wife is quite inconsolable at the moment as she was really hoping for a son. I would love to hear thoughts from anyone out there that have all of one gender and if you felt disappointed and what did you do to get over it. Would appreciate some stories or advice on how to cheer the wife up.

Thankfully the comments this man received didn’t include any judgements. Yes, she should be grateful she can even fall pregnant. Some childless women would be happy to have four girls. But feelings of disappointment over your baby’s gender are normal. Many people want to experience all that life has to offer and that includes both sons and daughters.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to have this happen. Other times, we are not.

The comments included:

“I have 2 kids, I was lucky enough to get one of each but just wanted to say with a caring loving partner like yourself, I’m sure she’ll get through it (actually made my night seeing a caring man msg a page for advice on how to cheer up his wife).”

“You can’t do much, nothing you say will really help her. I have 2 boys and am expecting my third. Have wanted a girl from the start. After the second and third time, finding out the gender, it was tough. There are days of crying, you see the opposite sex clothes and end up crying, it makes you think of what you might be missing out on. It will take time. She will eventually be happy and start planning for the baby.”

I was 16 when I found out I was the unwanted third girl in my family. I was looking through our family photo album and said to my dad, who I had always been really close to, “Why are you holding me in all my baby photos?” My dad said, “Because your mother thought you were a boy and when you came out a girl she was upset and so was her family, so I took care of you.”

Wait, what?

It took me years to talk to my mum about this and it turned out to be a little more complicated than my father led me to believe. My mother always knew that my dad wouldn’t want to stop having kids until she delivered to him his Italian son. She fell pregnant with me just five months after having my sister and already had a four-year-old girl as well.

My birth was complicated. I was breech and she had to endure a rather brutal c-section to give birth to me. When she found out I was a girl and she’d have to go through childbirth all over again she was deranged with grief, buoyed by raging horomones, post-op pain and fatigue.

It took her eight years to try again and my little brother, the emperor, was born.

It’s okay, my sisters and I worshipped him too.

When I started trying for a family everyone hoped I’d have a girl. I was already stepmother to two boys. “A girl would be so nice,” multiple well-meaning family and friends said to me. I was offended by their sentiments. I was defensive of my yet-to-be-conceived baby. After my own experience as the at first unwanted and later treasured third daughter, I knew I’d be equally happy with a boy or a girl.

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I found out the sex while I was pregnant so I could let everyone down gently. I was having a boy. I was ecstatic. I was told, “Don’t worry, you might have a girl next time.” When I fell pregnant again I found out I was having another boy and was ecstatic. Brothers! “Oh well, maybe the ultrasound was wrong. It might still be a girl,” one thoughtless relative said. I pulled out the ultrasound photo I had asked for, showed them a close up of the yet-to-be-birthed penis and that silenced them.

When I fell pregnant the third time nobody dared to say, “I hope you are having a girl” because I had absolutely forbid it. My mum was so nervous that I might be having another boy that she couldn’t come to the ultrasound. I found out I was having a girl, and I was delighted, but would have been just as happy with a boy.

Feelings of disappointment over gender are normal but they fade, if not before the baby is born then moments after you look into their little face. You will end up with exactly the family you are meant to have, as I did, and as this couple has.

So to this husband I say: Tell her gender doesn't matter.

Tell her she'll be happy she has four daughter's when she's older.

Tell her this one, her baby girl, may turn out to be her favourite.

Tell her boys smell.

Tell her that her feelings are normal and to cry is she wants, but to turn the corner and embrace this child.

Their fourth daughter is on her way whether she likes it or not and she just wants to be loved.

What advice would you give to this husband who is consoling his distraught wife? Did you ever want children of a particular gender?

Want more? Try this:

I was three months pregnant when I saw this Post-It note on the fridge…

The things I’ve learned from raising three boys.

It's not so bad when you have children of the same gender. CLICK THROUGH to see these famous brothers and sisters:

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