But I really wanted a girl/boy!

Do you want a boy instead of a girl? Or feel that girls are “much easier babies”? How do you deal with your “choice”?


When pregnant UK journalist Esther Walker wrote a controversial 2012 article titled “It’s taboo to admit it, but I wish my unborn baby wasn’t a beastly boy!” in the Daily Mail, she opened a can of worms most mums would rather keep shut.

          Walker, who also has a daughter, wrote candidly about her disappointment upon discovering her second child was a boy — dubbing it “the dreaded gender”.

          Ask any pregnant woman if she wants a girl or boy and, chances are, she’ll say she’s happy either way, as long as her baby’s healthy. But is this really the truth? Privately, she may be longing for a first son to carry on the family name, or a daughter to fill her home with glittery, girlie shoes. Yet, to admit any kind of preference over gender seems to go against the very nature of motherhood.

Boys to “carry the name”

Historically, boys have been the most popular choice, with Henry VIII’s infamous quest for a male heir ending with numerous wives ousted from the tempestuous monarch’s bed (often without a head). But, according to a recent Netmums survey, this trend has reversed, with 45 per cent of mothers secretly wishing to give birth to a daughter, and only 22 per cent hoping to have a boy. The remaining 33 per cent said they didn’t mind their baby’s gender.

          When Katherine Lee, 29, mum to 6-month-old Jack, found that she was having a boy at her 20-week scan, she was so disappointed, she cried. “I’m one of three sisters and was so sure I was having a girl,” she explains. “We’d chosen a name and even started collecting pink clothes, so it was a shock — I felt I’d lost my dream of a daughter. I felt so embarrassed in front of the sonographer, so I pretended they were happy tears.”

          To anyone who has struggled with
or gone through more serious parenting problems, this debate may sound superficial and divisive — yet another war pitting parents against each other. But discovering your baby’s gender can prompt all sorts of unexpected emotions.

          Reasons for being upset range from women wanting to “dress up” a baby girl, to believing they would “bond and understand” girls better. Other studies suggest couples with two girls are the happiest family unit, with less noise, fighting and a greater openness.

          Of course, there are also those who prefer boys. When Devi Ratnam, 30, mum to Tara, 8 weeks, and Diya, 2, discovered that her third child would be another girl, she was disappointed. “My hubby was delighted — I was the one who wanted a son. I’d grown up with a brother and loved all the sporty fun we’d had, so I wanted the same for my daughters.”

          Psychologist and parenting expert Claire Halsey notes that most parents keep quiet about their gender hopes for fear of being judged. “But it’s normal to have a preference, which will be affected by your own experiences.” Your husband’s perspective will have an impact, too, along with how you imagine your relationship might work with either gender.

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