• Niamh O'Reilly

Gender Disappointment is Real and Valid...


Five years ago if you’d told me that I’d spend an afternoon picking wildflowers with my four year old son, I’d of thought me winning the lotto was a more likely scenario!


In fact, the whole idea of me not only being a mum of two little boys, but being delighted with myself about it, was never an image I had conjured up in my head. I always imagined I’d have girls. I mean, it wasn’t even a question on my mind. It was a given. Simple as.


I can remember the day of my 20 week scan on the little dude in summer 2016. I held my breath the entire time until the sonograher went through all her checks and concluded everything was well. And so to the gender.


‘It’s a boy,’ she proclaimed and went on to point out his bits and pieces. In truth I couldn’t ever make head nor tail of the scans, but nodded along enthusiastically whenever something of note was pointed out to me.


‘Oh yes, brilliant!’ I’d say, when in reality it all looked like an incomprehensible blur to me.


That day I remember feeling a pang of disappointment on being told I was having a boy and of course immediately I berated myself, scolded myself, told myself I was incredibly ungrateful for even allowing that emotion to enter my head for a nanosecond.


Did I not know how many couples would give their right arm to be told they were having a healthy baby boy??? You spoiled, unworthy, ungrateful cow!!!

And so I pushed that tinge of disappointment down for fear of even verbalising it.

But you know what I’ve learned, two boys in? Well LOTS actually, but here’s just two pearls of absolute sagely wisdom for you


First, gender disappointment is both real and valid. Yes, it’s completely fine to feel a sense of deflation over the baby’s gender, if it wasn’t what you were expecting. It tends to pass as quickly as it arrives and it doesn’t mean you won’t love your baby or that you are not grateful to be pregnant or that you’re kicking other couples who are currently struggling with fertility in the gut.


It’s just you, legitimately having feelings which are as valid as anyone else’s. Feel them, allow them to surface and work themselves out because in my experience, pushing them down is not helpful. In fact, we need to normalise the idea of gender disappointment and stop punishing women who verbalise this emotion.


‘How dare you have a remotely negative emotion, you ungrateful woman!!’

Yes I felt a moment of disappointment, but as time went on, I got my head around the fact that I was having a boy, and even began to feel excited and ‘got on board with blue,’ as I called it!


Yes how gender ‘stereotypie’ of me!


Which brings me to point two. Gender is honestly not as important as you first think it’s going to be and is in fact, completely secondary to the absolutely bonkers love you will have for your kids.


What I quickly learned is that they are your children first and their gender second.

When I first heard I was having a boy I panicked. I knew nothing about boys, especially little boys who always seemed like walking volcanos of unpredictable energy that I had NOTHING in common with! I was scared. I let my mind play out every gender stereotype in the book and I began to think that having a boy meant missing out on hugs, affection and closeness.


Four years and two boys later, I realise all of those preconceptions were rubbish!


Yes, my boys are tornadoes of destruction, who are always moving, running, jumping, singing, shouting. They are veritable energiser fucking bunnies! My house is destroyed, yadda, yadda, yadda, but as much as they live up to the clichés, they have also smashed my once limited knowledge and small minded assumptions about boys. Because as nuts as they are, the hugs are immense and surprisingly often. There’s kisses and cuddles and closeness and an indescribable bond I didn’t know could exist.


We can be on the floor playing trains, making fart jokes one minute and spending an hour picking wildflowers on a perfect May afternoon the next.


Children will surprise you in all sorts of ways. But what I’ve found most surprising is just how much I fucking love them, no matter what they do or who they are.

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