Does the gender of your baby really matter?

“I really wanted a boy,” my mother said of her first pregnancy. We were sitting side by side at a faux Japanese restaurant where food is prepared at an enormous grill in the middle of the table. A handsome Korean twirled his spatula in the air. “And I had a boy.” My mother looked pleased. In one deft movement, the chef squirted teriyaki sauce on the tofu on the grill.

“Then I really wanted a boy,” my mother laughed. The chef added a heaping portion of white spaghetti to the tofu. “And I had another boy.”

The chef flipped the tofu dish onto my plate and shot a mass of oil onto the grill. At a nearby table I heard the squeal of delighted customers. Their chef was hurling shrimp directly into their open mouths. Although there was space for ten others, the rest of our table was empty.

“Then,” my mother continued, “I REALLY wanted a boy.”

Something in the way she said this—her emphasis on the word really and her forced exuberance perhaps—made me suspect she wasn’t really telling the truth.

I looked down at the tofu and spaghetti on my plate. This restaurant had been my mother’s idea. “And I had a boy!” she exclaimed.

Okay, boys are great. I like boys. I’ve always liked boys. But does anyone really want three of the same gender in a row?

“Then,” my mother paused for a moment and pointed at me, “I really wanted a girl.” Her voice was full of remembering how much she wanted me to be a girl. “And I had you.”

When I was pregnant for the first time, I really wanted a healthy baby. Forget counting fingers and toes. If some of those were missing, I knew I wouldn’t care. The bigger issues worried me: mental retardation, crippling physical ailments, heart problems, cerebral palsy. Abortion was out of the question and I knew I would try to love any baby we had, but I secretly feared I would not be a good parent to a baby with special needs.

I didn’t want a boy or a girl per se, I wanted a living breathing baby. Even though I was young and healthy and strong I was terrified something would go wrong. We kept a journal to the baby (we called it Dear Chickpea) and every time I wrote an entry I worried that the baby might die before he was old enough to read about the love we felt for him.

Like some Jewish people, I was too superstitious to have a baby shower or to buy anything in advance except one tiny outfit. No crib. No changing table. No clothes.

So when I was eight and a half months pregnant and the doctor looked at my small measurements and ordered an immediate sonogram, I panicked. She mumbled something about wanting to rule out “inter-uterine growth retardation.” Then she clicked her pen closed and walked out of the room.

The sonogram confirmed that the baby was fine but my nerves were raw. Then, ten days before my due date and more than three weeks before I expected her—I was sure my firstborn would be late—I was flying home on my bicycle over jagged potholes and terrific bumps and my water broke. Twenty-two hours later my oldest daughter was born.

When it was clear that she was strong and healthy I finally had the luxury of admitting that I had been lying to myself. I had waited my whole life to have a daughter! I was so happy she was a girl! Even though I never admitted it out loud to anyone, I had really wanted a girl baby all along.

Readers, do you think the gender of your baby matters? If you have children, did you want a boy or a girl when you had your first child and beyond? If you don’t have children, do you want to have sons or daughters?

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19 thoughts on “Does the gender of your baby really matter?”

  1. I wanted a girl for my first also. Like you, I felt like I had waited my whole life to have a daughter. And from the beginning, I was sure it was a girl And it was a girl and I was thrilled. With our second, I didn’t care either way. From the beginning I was sure it was a boy and it was a boy and I was thrilled.

    But I think that I would have been happy either way with either one of them. Having a healthy baby was more important than gender.

  2. A very,very sensitive topic with me. I wanted to get pregnant so badly and it wound up taking nearly 2 years. I was fine with whatever the sex of the baby was. Then, when I conceived unexpectedly when my first son was just 10 months old, I wanted nothing more than a girl. I had a scare during my pregnancy and had to have amnio. I swore it wouldn’t matter what sex it was as long as it was healthy. When I found out it was healthy, I was so relieved…but then I found out it was another boy, and that relief changed to sadness. I wanted to kick myself for feeling disappointed at a moment like that, but that’s how badly I wanted a daughter. Sadly a subsequent illness took away my options to have any more children. But the love I feel from my 2 boys is enough to fill me up on a daily basis (although I must admit I would have loved to have a daughter, still now.)
    .-= Sheryl´s last blog ..How To Cope With Stress =-.

  3. I always wanted a girl when my kids were little. Ironically, now that my two boys are teens and I’m watching parents of girls struggle with attitude, I feel quite content with boys. It seems as though they’re definitely easier during the teen years!
    .-= Kris Bordessa´s last blog ..Local Knowledge =-.

  4. Love how a pothole broke your water! A four mile walk and 6 cupcakes broke mine:) I wanted a girl largely because of the amazing relationship my mother and I have. I was convinced I was having a boy. Convinced! And then, at the sonogram, they said girl. It was thrilling.

    PS – I too measured small and they did the sonogram. The stress from that started me down a path of stress related high blood pressure and preterm contractions that I think could’ve and should’ve been avoided. If you ask my mother, through all four of her pregnancies, she was small too. It turns out I have a long torso just like mom. The baby wasn’t small, she was 8.5 pounds, and when she was born, the doctors yelled in unison, Wow!
    .-= Almost Slowfood´s last blog ..Tasty Side- Potato- Bacon and Garlic Scape Hash =-.

  5. When I was a little girl I always thought I’d have a daughter. I even saved my china tea cups in a box packed away for the daughter I was sure I’d have one day. And then I had two boys. When I was pregnant with the first, and found out it was a boy, I was really confused. Everyone in my family had girls first. But my pregnancy was in danger in the third trimester and all I wanted was for him to be born, safely, and when I finally had him in my arms, I fell so deeply in love. I threw myself into all that it entailed to mother a boy. I think society is hard on little boys (and on girls, too, in a different way), and so I felt a strong protective urge.

    I actually ended up having two girls after those two boys (the tea cups had been brought out long before for the boys), and the experience of having four children so unique and different from one another has blasted a lot of my preconceived notions out of the water. My first son is most like me in so many ways – out of the four, he seems most similar. My life feels very full and rich now and so busy I hardly have time to think about anything, but I do have moments where I remember being a mother of just one, then two boys, and the adventures I had with these small little ones, and I feel horribly nostalgic for that time.
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Gather- pleat- smock- and sew =-.

  6. I have 2 boys, and am expecting my 3rd… and everyone and their dog has told me that it’s so “sad” I’m not having a girl. 😛 I’m over the moon that I’m having another boy. (We’ve decided that 3 will be our stopping point.)

    My mum and I have an amazing relationship – NOW. But I put her through hell to get where we are now, and to be honest, the way depression and anxiety run in my family, I honestly don’t believe that I could handle the hormones and the consequences of those hormones when they start raging in the adolescent/teen years.

    I have a wonderful niece who is the same age as my (currently) youngest son, and I’m looking forward to spending girly time with her – and having a somewhat “removed” relationship with her: it will be easier for Auntie to deal with the temper and hormonal rages than it will be for mum and dad.

    My boys are everything to me, and no way would I trade either of them for a girl – not for ANYTHING in the world.

    And yes, during EACH pregnancy, I REALLY wanted a boy. 🙂 I told myself that I wanted a healthy baby, and that I’d be happy with either, but the relief during the ultrasounds that told us what we were having was immeasurable. (We weren’t “told” with this one or the last – dh and I both spotted it before the techs did!)

  7. It really didn’t matter with the first one – I was happy with whatever I got, which turned out to be a boy.

    With the second one, I could *say that it really didn’t matter, but because I already had a boy, unconsciously maybe I wanted a girl. And that’s what I got!

    So basically, I really lucked out in that I got both a boy and a girl. They’ve both been a joy to raise, each in their own way. And I’m great friends with both of them. That’s not always the popular parenting philosophy, but it works in our case.

    A friend of mine – her mom had 12 boys all in a row, then a girl. As I recall the story, her mom said she was going to keep trying til she got a girl. I don’t know if I’d have been that committed.
    .-= Jane Boursaw´s last blog ..YouTube Sensation Fred Gets His Own Movie =-.

  8. I wanted my first child to be a girl, and I think that part of the reason for that is because I’m a girl. I’ve always liked being a girl and a woman, and have always felt somewhat superior to men. (Not really, but on some level, yes.) I’ve always felt just a tiny bit bad for them because they’re not girls. I thought it would be fun to share the world with another girl, and that perhaps we’d have more in common. My first child is a girl, and now that I’m expecting a second baby, I don’t really care. I’d like a boy, because it would be fun to experience both genders, but I’d be happy with a girl. (We like to wait to find out what the baby is.) Once they’re here, you just fall in love with the individual, and all of the other stuff disappears.

  9. I really wanted a boy first. Why? I thought he would introduce his friends to his (future) sister. (Ha-ha!) My son was born but never did any introductions. I really hoped for a girl after that. I had one. My third child was also a girl, which was again what I wanted. Strangely enough, I feel closer to my son than to my daughters. I think the main thing, especially today in this toxic world of ours, is that a baby be normal. If I were starting a family again, that would be what I would wish for.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Outer-Cape Biking Question from Jackie =-.

  10. For my first, the gender didn’t matter to me whatsoever. For my next, I don’t think I’ll care either- if I have a son, I’ll have one of each. If I have another daughter, I won’t have to convince my husband we need to have a 3rd child because he’ll want to try to have a boy, and I know I’ll be more than happy to have a huge family if we need to keep trying for a boy 🙂

    In my pregnancy, I opted out of all of the standard screenings. I’m a special ed teacher and know I would love my child for who he/she is, regardless of abilities. My hope for a healthy child meant one who was alive and without life-threatening illness. After losing a pregnancy, that was all I wanted. She’s snoozing in my arms as I write this, healthy as can be 🙂
    .-= Mama Em´s last blog ..Alternative Birth Center Benefits =-.

  11. Growing up, I wanted seven daughters. I was expecting a girl first- my mom even sent girl clothes to my shower. When the baby was a boy, I was surprised and my mom made comments like “What are we going to do with a boy?” The next time I had a girl and I was so excited! Then I had three more boys. I cried after the ultrasound of my last baby- it was the only ultrasound I had to determine the gender, but I really needed to know. Then I pulled myself together, and became 100% happy about my healthy baby boy.

    I grieve the girl names I didn’t get to use, the hand-me-downs from my daughter given away to friends instead of used on her sister. I would have liked to have had another daughter. But I’m not sure why!!! My daughter isn’t better behaved or smarter or anything. I love all my kids, regardless of gender. Is it the clothes? The names? Or is it that I’m a woman and have some strange inherent desire for daughters?

    The comments that people made when I told them we were expecting (another!) a boy were just laden with prejudice against boys. One woman told me, “I can’t believe it, another boy. I would kill myself.” People usually looked right at my daughter and said, “Are you disappointed you won’t be having a sister?” I couldn’t believe it!! So she says she is disappointed but I am fairly certain she’s been made to believe that’s true. She plays with her brothers and loves them and is annoyed by them, just the same as if they were girls.

    And now that I have had my fourth son, I can honestly say that I am not sad in any way that he was a boy…he is just Devon, my child whom I love. I love my boys!! (even if they do pretend to shoot me on their way to time out…it’s actually more tolerable than my daughter whining and crying on her way to time out!)

  12. I still remember the nurse’s aide wheeling me out of the hospital after I had my third daughter and saying sweetly, “Well, maybe you’ll have better luck next time.” Here I was holding my sweet little baby girl, mouth open in shock. I had similar comments, sadly, through all three pregnancies. Things like, “Is your husband disappointed?” “Are you going to try for a boy next time?” As my kids learned in kindergarten, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” Sure, I know that’s really downplaying the point, but I’m just glad I didn’t have a magic wand to craft what I thought would be the perfect family makeup. Mother nature knows best. I love my girls–all three of them. And hey, the dog’s a boy.
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..

  13. I would have been happy with either–and I knew going into it that I was probably only ever going to have one. But I will say that when the doc told me it was a girl, I cried tears of joy. I sort of wanted a girl more than a boy. Who knows why, really? My daughter is a tom boy–and probably has a gender identity disorder. This doesn’t bother me. Once you have your baby, you love your baby no matter the sex, no matter the oddities, no matter what.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..How to Take Criticism =-.

  14. Oh, I wanted a girl! And I got one! Then, I wanted ANOTHER girl and I got her, too! I was afraid to try again because I was worried the odds would catch up with me and I’d have a boy. All that new equipment to learn my way around, dontcha know!

  15. I was afraid to have a daughter, since I had such an awful, painful relationship with my own mother. But our firstborn, a daughter, is one of the greatest joys of my life — along with our son. I have to admit, it’s lovely to have one of each.
    .-= Ruth Pennebaker´s last blog ..Breast Cancer Journals- Part 5 =-.

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