Recently I have had two patients, both of whom got pregnant easily, who were so upset that they were having the opposite of what they had hoped for that both told me that they had briefly considered terminating their pregnancies. In both cases, they had wanted a girl but had found out it was a boy. One of them asked how soon after she had her son she could try again for a girl. And the other planned to stop breastfeeding as soon as she could so she could try for a girl.
With both patients, we had some soul-searching conversations about what it meant to them to have a daughter. Both women were very close to their own mothers, and both were married to men who didn’t have much of a relationship with their mothers. So it was pretty easy to see where my patients were coming from. But when we spoke about the expectations they would have for their daughters, and the vulnerable position they would be in if in fact their daughters weren’t interested in being super close to their moms, their attitudes began to change. They also needed to confront their dismissal of the possibility of them being close to their sons.
At my daughter’s soccer game yesterday, I was listening to the other moms discussing their children. Each one was complaining about her daughter—her attitude, her sloppiness, her disregard for others, her addiction to her phone, her prioritizing of her friends over family. Not one talked about how close she was to her daughter, how much she reveled in those heart to heart conversations.
For those women who are close to their mothers, I do understand how much they want the same for themselves. And maybe for women who don’t have that, they want to experience a close mother/daughter connection sometime in their lives. However, we can’t deliver baby girls with the expectation that they have a role to fill. Conversely, we aren’t being fair to boys to assume that they can’t be close to their moms. I am actually seeing a couple now specifically because the wife resents how much time the husband spends talking with his mom, and it drives the wife crazy that he wants his mom to come on vacations with them.
The fact is, becoming a parent means having expectations of our children which were shaped by our own parents, our life experiences, our relationship with our partner, and our hopes for the future. While you might at first be unhappy with new baby’s gender, the gender of our child does not dictate the relationship one will have with them. Boys can be affectionate and girls can be aloof. The quality of the relationship and the satisfaction you will get from it will be determined by so many factors, only one of which is the gender of your child.