posted: October 3, 2015, 6:06 am
By Jamie Lincow, Ph.D.
For each of my three pregnancies, my husband and I didn’t want to know the sex of the baby. Each time I gave birth to another baby boy, we were surprised.
After my first two sons were born, I knew that my family was not complete- not because I felt like I was missing a daughter, but because I knew that someone was missing.
Like many families with children of the same sex, I fielded many questions about “going for the third” and “trying for that girl.” I had always wanted a big family, and having another baby (boy or girl) was a given. As soon as I got pregnant with baby number three I was bombarded with the awkward question:
“Are you hoping for a girl?”
I didn’t know how to answer. On one hand, a little girl would be a new and exciting change from the boy clothes and toys that dominated my home. But on the other hand, another healthy, little boy would be a blessing.
I always put a smile on my face and answered with the same response: “We are hoping for a healthy baby- and we will keep whatever we get!”
After a few months of pregnancy I grew tired of strangers, friends, and family members congratulating me with one breath and then telling me how they hoped I was carrying a girl in the next. A few people even asked what I would do if this third baby were to come out male.
What would I do? I would love it!
The comments and questions made me anxious. My baby’s gender was totally out of my control. I knew in my heart that, whatever the gender, I was hoping for a healthy child, yet the unsolicited comments kept me full of doubt and despair. I started to wonder if the birth of a third baby boy would be a letdown to everyone. I wondered if people would see me as a failure. I knew better, but I played and replayed in my head how people would react to the news of the birth of another boy.
All the while I remained confident I would love any baby that came out of me.
When I gave birth for the third time, it was I who shouted “it’s a boy!” I was so proud. I didn’t care how anyone would react upon hearing the news- I was over the moon with my newest, perfect little gift. But, after the initial “congratulations” and “best wishes,” the comments came back, full force. One comment came in while I was still in the delivery room:
“Are you going to have a fourth and try for that girl?”
I couldn’t believe that someone was already questioning my future when I had a miraculous little boy right here in my present. Weeks later, I was still shocked as the comments rolled in. Friends and family members questioned one another about my state of mind, my reaction to a third boy, and speculated about my reproductive future. Why were people were so concerned about the gender of my children, and about my future choices, when I was trying to enjoy and settle in with my new (huge) family?
Even total strangers had their say. A woman at Costco saw the two big brothers in front of the stroller, peeked in and said “I sure hope that’s a girl!” When I responded with “it’s a healthy baby boy,” she realized her blunder and crept through the aisle sheepishly. Why did she think that a baby girl in the stroller would have been better than my beautiful little son?
Why did strangers care about the gender of my children?
How could I continue to respond to these ignorant, insensitive comments without using obscenities? Mindless comments have continued to haunt me over the past months, and I’ve come to realize people just don’t think before they talk.
When I think about it, I realize people are projecting their own insecurities about stereotypical gender roles upon me and my children. They place too much stock in the gender of the child and how that child is supposed to act rather than the child’s health or individual characteristics.We need to know that each child is an individual (regardless of gender) and each family is different. Having a family with children of both genders does not equal perfection.
I have three beautiful, little men that continue to amaze me each day. Will we try for a fourth child? Maybe. Maybe not. Until then, I’ll just let the smiles from my three little princes shield me from the insensitive comments, and brighten my path each day.