What if your baby is a girl, but you wanted a boy? Or vice versa?
March 22, 2010 4:33 PM   Subscribe

How do people cope when the sex of their baby isn't the one they were hoping for? What if you were hoping for a girl, but got a boy instead? Or vice versa? What if you have a definite preference? Should you just not have children?

Right now I don't have kids, but kids has come up. I am hoping for a girl because I have heard that girls are less "wild" than boys and I am by nature a quieter person, even though I know that babies, by nature, will rock one's world in a very loud way. But I was just wondering if anyone else has encountered this in themselves, a definite preference for one sex over the other, and how they coped once their baby was born, if that baby was born of the undesired sex. I know that it is politically incorrect to profess a preference for one sex or the other, but I was hoping that someone who has gone through this might be able to offer me some advice, because I can foresee that at some point in my life, this may possibly present a kind of complication, and I have been thinking a lot about it lately. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (53 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I have heard that girls are less "wild" than boys

So says Joan Jett and Patti Smith.

I'm not sure why you're obsessing about this, but I don't think you can say that girls are less wild than boys. It may be true in some cultures and some demographics but it's not a universal rule of human experience.
posted by dfriedman at 4:38 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

My husband and I both had a mild preference for a boy and had convinced ourselves we were having a boy. We were both a little thrown at the mid term ultrasound to find out we were having a girl. Having a lot of time to get used to that idea was probably helpful but at the end of the day - once the baby arrives - it matters much less than you'd think. My daughter is much "wilder" than a lot of her boy friends. Having been around a ton of under 5's lately - my experience does not confirm that that "wildness" is gender linked.
posted by Wolfie at 4:45 PM on March 22, 2010

You reflect on what's good about both sexes. Girls aren't necessarily easier. A lot of women I know relate some very crazy things they did as youths.
posted by anniecat at 4:46 PM on March 22, 2010

My husband and I were together for 13 years before having our son. For all those years, we said we wanted one child, and we wanted that child to be a girl. Katherine, to be precise.

At the 20wk mark we found out it would be a boy. We gave eachother wry smiles, and I cried a little. Then we went right out and bought a blue sweater, because after trying for 3 years to have any child, we didn't care anymore if it was a boy or girl.

And now we have two kids. And the girl is a loud-mouthed diva.
posted by saffry at 4:46 PM on March 22, 2010 [6 favorites]

I think most people just try again if they really want one sex and don't get it the first time out. Of course, you hear stories about couples who are having their third or fourth baby in the hopes that it will be the opposite sex of the other kids.

Sex doesn't determine how "wild" a child will be - that is based on individual personality and upbringing. Try not to get all hung up on the sex, particularly when your preference is based on such a nebulous and second-hand information. There are plenty of people who say they prefer boys because they feel girls are "more work" (I think this is code for teenage girl drama and the challenge of keeping them not-knocked-up).

I do understand where are you coming from, to some extent. I really wanted a girl, for reasons I can't even explain or understand well. I did have a girl, and I've been pretty happy with that.
posted by jeoc at 4:50 PM on March 22, 2010

I wanted all boys for a stupid reason that was not girl-negative. I got a boy and a girl. Three days after the girl was born, I was totally in love with her, just as much as I was with my son.

The boy has for 90% of the time been quieter and easier to raise than the girl. In fact, post age 2, I remember only one blow-out when he was about 13. I mean, just one major argument. With the girl, it's been a lot of care and attention and tantrums, and just this morning she was nearly in tears telling me how awful she looked in jeans. (Of course, the problem with quiet boy is he dropped out of uni and hasn't been able to get a job.)

Know what? They both have taught me so much; are wonderful, interesting, fascinating people in their own rights; are not one way or another so much because of their genders as their personalities, and experiences.

When you get one gender or the other, it guarantees nothing, not even the gender of the child, certainly not the behaviour or your relationship with them. So drop your prejudices first, about boys and girls, and then rethink whether you want to spend a lot of time with a pooing crying machine. If you do, well, have kids. Otherwise, borrow 'em, and be an awesome relative.
posted by b33j at 4:50 PM on March 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

If my experience is anything to go by, then I wouldn't worry too much about this. Gender preferences (as you've expressed them) have a lot to do with your choosing your favorite between two imaginary children-- in your case, one quiet/female and one loud/male. But when the baby arrives, it becomes virtually impossible to compare all those imaginary kids you might have had with the real live baby in your arms.

With that said, when the time comes, you might want to opt to find out the sex of the baby instead of waiting to be surprised-- it helps to give yourself a little time to adjust.
posted by Bardolph at 4:52 PM on March 22, 2010 [15 favorites]

I like what Bardolph said about imaginary children. I have two boys and a girl, and my partner and I joke that, at 2, our daughter is the equivalent of 5 of her oldest brother, or 2 of the second one. She is the most active, the most agile, the most persistent, the most get-into-stuff-ist of the three. Your real kid, male, female, or other, will be a mix of things: active in some ways, quiet in others. Easy to manage and deal with in some ways, hard in others.

That said, I initially wanted a third boy because it turns out I like boys, and I felt like I know how to raise boys. Having a girl felt like entering a whole new unfamiliar world...again. But, really, every baby/child is a whole new unfamiliar world, because they are so different from each other, and her wonderfulness more than makes up for me not having the three-boy stairstep I thought I would be so happy with.
posted by not that girl at 4:57 PM on March 22, 2010

And this previously, too: I've just found out that the child I'm having is a girl. I think being a girl sucks.

In any case, my bet is that you will love your child because of who they are as an individual, not because of their gender. Gender falls away quickly as a focus point once you have your actual child to get to know.
posted by cocoagirl at 4:58 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm all about recommending books today -- I'm right in the middle of "Pink Brain, Blue Brain" and it is fascinating! I think it could both put your mind at ease and also reinforce what everyone is saying here: it's a crapshoot. Kids are a potent mix of genes, hormones, cultural baggage, innate traits and learned behavior. It's really amazing to me that people are allowed to conduct these grand science experiments in their own homes without a license!
posted by amanda at 5:06 PM on March 22, 2010

saffry: "We gave eachother wry smiles, and I cried a little. Then we went right out and bought a blue sweater, because after trying for 3 years to have any child, we didn't care anymore if it was a boy or girl."

This is right on the money. You need to find out in advance, and then you will just come to terms with it as you go through the rest of your pregnancy. It may be a little sad, and a little tough at times, but once the baby is born you will forget all about your preferences and your regrets and love him (or her -- keep in mind, you have a 50% change of getting what you want, and those are pretty good odds!)
posted by Rock Steady at 5:07 PM on March 22, 2010

This reminds me of this thread about a short married couple who were wondering if they should refrain from having kids because the kids would probably be short and it's supposedly worse to be short than to be tall. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to refrain from having kids because they might turn out to have one specific trait that's less than ideal (even aside from whether tallness and femaleness are ideal). There are so many different ways people can be disappointing from someone's perspective (either yours or the kid's or society's or whatever); you can assume that any kid you'll have will disappoint someone, somehow. You're just focusing on gender because it's one of the easiest things to think about before someone is born. And I'm not sure why you put so much weight on your own preferences; shouldn't you care more about whether your potential child has a good life?
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:08 PM on March 22, 2010

I think a potential parent needs to be able to accept the idea that their future child--no matter how perfect--may very well fail to conform to expectations and march to the beat of a different drummer on a lot of levels. Their personality and temperament may be radically different from yours, regardless of gender. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances.
posted by drlith at 5:10 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

I am several times more wild than my star-student, straight-As, likes-to-chill-at-home brother.
posted by Xany at 5:11 PM on March 22, 2010

I was hoping for a girl for my first child, and felt much like you did about it. My baby turned out to be a boy.

After the initial shock (back then we found out the sex of a child when we actually gave birth to it) it took me an infinitesimal time to realize that my boy was exactly what I wanted.

The point is this: until you actually have your own child, you can only imagine a generic baby boy or baby girl, and it's only human to have a preference. Once your very own baby is born, none of that matters one whit. Because now you have met your very own baby, and there is no other baby like YOUR baby in the whole wide world. YOUR specific, wonderful, perfect child. That is who he or she is, gender included.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:14 PM on March 22, 2010 [8 favorites]

Sure, girls seem less wild but wild, in my toddler at least, = personality.

We're having a ton of fun.
posted by k8t at 5:14 PM on March 22, 2010

PS I have had one boy and two girls, and my experience is girls are harder to raise! My boy was actually pretty mellow.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:15 PM on March 22, 2010

it becomes virtually impossible to compare all those imaginary kids you might have had with the real live baby in your arms.

I had a very strong gender preference for mysecond child, and I got what I wanted. However, she was nothing at all like I expected. She took a lot of getting used to.

Remember that your love for your child grows with the child, it does not wear off.
posted by SLC Mom at 5:21 PM on March 22, 2010

That boys are more wild is a myth. Back in the "boys will be boys" age, wild behaviors were condoned/allowed in boys, strictly forbidden in girls.
posted by Neekee at 5:27 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes there is a lot of individual difference, but small boys tend (not categorically!) to be more physically active than girls. This is not culture; this is biology.

But, the difference isn't all that large, and you may end up with an unusually quiet boy or an unusually hyper girl. And, girls tend to be more complicated when they get older. Us guys are usually pretty simple. :)

And, finally, no matter what sex child you have, it won't matter the minute you look upon his/her face.
posted by zachawry at 5:32 PM on March 22, 2010

I guess I can't make this a blanket statement, but really, for most people, nothing that you think will matter ends up mattering. It's your baby, and whether it's a boy or a girl, or has a tail, or Down Syndrome, or extra toes, it is still by far the cutest, smartest, sweetest, most wonderful child that every existed in the entire history of the world! And you can't imagine how you ever thought your life was happy before this amazing baby came to be, and you can't imagine how people without children can ever be happy, and oh, ISN'T HE/SHE WONDERFUL?!? Kiss, kiss, kiss, cuddle, cuddle, cuddle!

Then the terrible twos set in.

But by that time you're totally hooked.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:43 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think one thing you can do is promise yourself - and your future child - that if your feared sense of disappointment turns out to be the reality, you won't just ignore it and hope it goes away on its own.

While it's true that most parents "love what they're given", we don't make it easy for those who don't to admit it and seek help. Having a concrete plan to deal with the possibility of something we fear becoming a reality can often help diminish our apprehension about it - and especially our apprehension about being "stuck" in a situation to the detriment of all involved.
posted by Lolie at 5:44 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

All people, all babies are different. There is no standard behavioral pattern along gender lines. If you are as you say "a quieter person," chances are your child will be too.

it won't matter the minute you look upon his/her face

posted by archivist at 5:44 PM on March 22, 2010

My sister, who is a bit of a control freak, wanted a girl. Well, she got a girl who screamed for the first year and has caused her parents a lot of headaches in the 20+ years since. Some years later they had a boy, and he's been near perfect.

I do confess I was a bit disappointed when I had my third son and last child, but only for a few minutes.

Whatever you have you will love.
posted by mareli at 5:58 PM on March 22, 2010

I completely agree with the advice that you should find out early. If you have a strong preference, it is much better to have some time to adjust to reality that you're having a boy instead, rather than having the initial shock and disappointment at the time of delivery.

I always pictured myself as the father of girls, probably because of the very difficult relationship I have with my not-so-wonderful father. It was hard for me to picture fathers and sons loving each other. I remember the day before we found out the sex of our first child, I had a little talk with the baby. I had come to feel that a lot of the problems I had with my father were because I wasn't what he was expecting or wanted (not because of my sex so much as my temperament and interests). I realized that I was in danger of repeating that dynamic with my kid, by feeling that there was something wrong or insufficient with the child just because the genetic dice made him a boy. So I made a pledge to my kid that whatever sex they turned out to be, I would love them and be excited to learn what their gifts and interests were as they grew.

But I still was a little extra when we found out it was a girl.

I thought I was over my pro-girl preferences until we went to the ultrasound appointment with our second kid, and found out he was a boy. That hit me much harder than I would have ever expected. My wife was in shock. She was one of four sisters and felt like she just had no idea what to do with a male child. But I thought it was important to celebrate just like we had with Aletheia, so we had went out to dinner, just like we did the day we knew she was a girl. But it was a much quieter celebration.

Most people say when the kid is born, you love that kid so much that you just don't care what sex it is anymore. My guess is that for 80% of people that's true. It was true for me. Aidan arrived and I was just overwhelmed with the desire to hold and protect our new little guy. But for my wife, it was a longer process. I think she still felt conflicted about his boyhood up until he was about four or five months old.

He just had his first birthday, and we love having a boy. Well, that's not exactly accurate. We don't love having a boy; we love having Aidan. And I really like the idea of being the kind of father to him that I wished I had had as a boy. Sometimes we just look at each other and say "Remember when we wanted a second girl? Why in the world did we think that would be better?"

Like folks have said, be cautious of stereotypes. My daughter is always running around, screaming, jumping, making random noises. She is non-stop energy. Aidan so far is calm, quiet, unflappable, and just happy to be around.

One recommendation. You might want to look at the stories collected in "It's a Boy! Women Writers on Raising Sons", edited by Mefi's own mothershock. My wife read through it and some of the essays were very helpful when she was processing her own feelings. Also, the similarly titled It's a Boy!: Your Son's Development from Birth to Age 18 deals frankly with the disappointment many people feel when they get the news their baby is a son, some reasons for it, and how to respond to those feelings in a healthy way.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:16 PM on March 22, 2010 [8 favorites]

Perspectives. Perspectives.

First, you're, literally, counting chickens.

Second, that trope about just hoping for "a healthy baby"? Holy yes.

Should you ever find yourself pregnant, the hope for a specific gender diminishes until the worry about health subsides.

Admittedly, we had a slight preference for a girl, and happily got one (completely understanding the crapshoot from the get-go) - and I spent more time about wondering how that baby was going to get out of me, and were we going to be okay, than I did about whether or not I'd ever remember to point the wee-wee down when diapering.

And then she had a slight problem with her heart at birth, and nothing else mattered.

Now, six years later, my mother used to curse/wish upon me that I'd have "ten kids just like me". And I now have one kid who is ten times like me.

You get who you get, and you don't get upset.
(If you have a girl, that comes up in Pinkalicious - which we read sometimes, in between wicked tantrums, digging bugs out of the garden, rescuing hurt pigeons and returning lost dogs to their homes, and doing ten million things that are KID specific, and Little Pea specific, and locally specific and peculiarly to her self-ly specific.)

How do you cope? You love the individual. How do you have a preference for someone you've never met?

You have, or don't have a child not because you have a vision of who you want, but because you have a desire to find out who they're going to be.
posted by peagood at 6:16 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Our boys were maniacs when they were younger but mellowed out by the end of high school. Our girls were little angels when they were younger then maniacs as they moved through their hormonal teenage years. Happily they all turned out to be wonderful adults. My advice would be just to enjoy what ever kind of kid you get...more likely than not they will turn out to be their individual self and nothing like you planned, which can turn out to be a grea thing.
posted by MsKim at 6:17 PM on March 22, 2010

I imagine back before sonograms there were quite a few moments of disappointment (more or less concealed). It doesn't matter if it's politically correct, unless you adopt, you don't get a say in the matter (and probably not even then, correct me if I'm wrong).

The thing about getting to be a parent is that it's ALL about them. The child. Not you. It's not at all about what you want. The only thing it's about is whether or not you equipped to raise a human being. They don't ask to be born..

I know a woman who was convinced one way about the sex of her child only to find out at four months that she was wrong. This was probaly less a premonition on her part than hoping for a particualr gender. They (all) wound up happy (the family) anyway.
posted by marimeko at 6:19 PM on March 22, 2010

Should you just not have children?

If you are not ready to accept a child that is very very different than what you are anticipating then you should not have children.

Many parents are fond of the "Oh it all just doesn't matter once you have them" narrative, but that is not a guaranteed outcome by any means. Know yourself and your limitations before you throw this particular set of dice.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:26 PM on March 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

If gender is vitally important, there's medical science or adoption.

But in general, I agree with those who say that you'll love the particular kid, gender or not, loud or quiet.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:08 PM on March 22, 2010

i'd like to throw in that lots of people often decide what gender they want to be later in life, and it has nothing to do with their biological sex, what their parents wanted, or whether you gave them a pink or blue sweater to begin with.

in fact, they might even come to resent that pink/blue sweater. love them no matter what, no matter their gender, as it really is subject to change. thankfully! :)
posted by crawfo at 7:20 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am several times more wild than my star-student, straight-As, likes-to-chill-at-home brother.
posted by Xany at 8:11 PM on March 22 [+] [!]


You might have a boy; you might have a girl; whichever it is will be the most perfect tiny person ever in the history of reproduction to you.
posted by Maisie at 7:48 PM on March 22, 2010

I don't know if it's helpful to you, but comics author Kelly Sue DeConnick describes her feelings around finding out that she was to have a girl and not a boy in this excellent ComicsAlliance interview. I found it very interesting; maybe it will help you to know that this is something mothers go through?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:00 PM on March 22, 2010

I'm not sure if I know exactly what you mean by "wild," but I'll go against the general trend here and support the notion that there is a difference in physicality, very generally speaking, between boys and girls -- that left to their own devices, for instance at a large play space, the boys tend to engage in more intensely physical behavior than the girls. Of course, I've seen individual girls who are more physical than individual boys, but in the main, it does seem to be that the children climbing on top of the railings and jumping off are predominantly (not all!) boys, and the ones doing puzzles at tables are predominantly (not all!) girls.

The interesting thing is that a more physical child is not at all necessarily a more difficult child, even for a quiet homebody-type such as yourself (and myself)! I have a very physical boy who literally runs from one end of the room to the other, over and over, for fun ("look how fast I'm goin' now! super-bear runs very fast!"), and who can't get over the fact that his sister doesn't want to wrestle with him like his boy cousins do. But he's so much "easier" than his little sister, who is willful and easily frustrated, who complains a lot more than him, who cries when she gets even the tiniest bit hurt, who demands one specific book that's at the other end of the house and screams "NO!" over and over if you try to read her something else. (She's also super-loving and seriously adorable, in case it just sounded like I don't love her to the moon and back.) In fact, I'd say that in terms of temperament, he's mellower, even though they pretty much reflect gender stereotypes on which of them is more physical.

So anyway, this is all just to say that even if the gender stereotype you outline has some basis in reality (again, depending on what exactly is meant by "wild"), it's very hard to predict how those tendencies will end up affecting you, as a parent.
posted by palliser at 8:11 PM on March 22, 2010

Anecdote time!

I am not a parent. I am, however, a big sister, who's parents decided to have another child when I was in the middle of my obnoxious teen years. I remember thinking that the only way I could possibly be excited about this new addition to our family was if I could finally have a baby sister. When my parents found out they were having another boy, I actually cried I was so disappointed. (I didn't let anyone see me cry, because I at least knew I was being a selfish brat). But then he was born and I can't imagine loving him any more than I do just because he was born female.
posted by inertia at 8:15 PM on March 22, 2010

You might have a girl, a boy, twins. Your child may have autism, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or other health problems. Your child may be pretty, musically gifted, good at math, or not. Some girls are easier to raise; some girls are holy terrors. We still raise boys and girls differently, with different expectations, but they are more alike than different.

You see your new baby, with the perfect, crisp features, the incredibly delicate fingers and the plump toes, and you are grateful for your baby's health, and terrified of anything bad ever happening to him or her.

Have a baby because babies are amazing, toddlers are funny, children are amazing individuals, and they need good parents to love them.
posted by theora55 at 8:24 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

You have to be prepared to love the child you get. And be prepared that your child will be very much his/her own person and not a tiny cute little extension of yourself. We have one child. We love him more than life itself but he is not the child I expected. He has serious health issues that will have long term implications for him. When I was pregnant I wondered if he would be a boy or a girl, and went back and forth on which would be better. Now, I look back and think how incredibly naive and dumb that was. He is himself, he is my child and I love him so desperately and just wish that I could make him healthy.

Seriously. Forget about this gender issue and ask yourself if you can love whatever child you get, whether he/she has 6 fingers on each hand, a genetic issue, a disability, whatever. If you feel you can love and care for any child you are lucky enough to have, then you should have a baby.
posted by Kangaroo at 8:25 PM on March 22, 2010

I agree with most of the comments above so I'll just add one different thought. Not only is each child different but parents come to the job with different temperments as well. Same combinations make it easier for the parent to be in synch with their child, other combinations require the parents to learn new skills and go outside of their comfort zone to be the parent that their child needs. If you are lucky, you get a child who is easy (for you) to parent. If not, then a good parents figures out how to be the parent their child needs, rather than the parent that they had imagined themselves to be.

On the other hand, nurture matters as well. My sister-in-law thought it was natural for children to argue loudly. I grew up in a family where people were expected to be polite no matter what they thought. So, no surprise that her kids were very noisy when they played and mine tended to deal with their difference more quietly. So, as a parent, you naturally encourage behavior you like and discourage behavior that you dislike. I'm not talking about major good/bad stuff but whether you encourage sports, music, reading or art, your kids will respond to what you respond to. Of course, your kids will have their own natural inclinations. (We somehow ended up with one nephew who is a terrific athlete in a family of klutzes.) So there is a give and take between you (and your spouse) and the child that shapes your family.
posted by metahawk at 8:49 PM on March 22, 2010

In some regions, gendercide is an option if you find out you are carrying a girl. Check out the skewed male to female ratios in China and India.

You will also find some of the world's highest female suicide rates for women of childbearing age. The theory is that the regret, guilt, and shame from the gendercides is enough to cause mothers to take their own life.

And of course, should you not have male heirs, your spouse may feel free to divorce you to get a son (eg, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon).

Learning to cope with baby gender preference is not all sunshine and lollipops, as the posters above might have you believe.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:58 PM on March 22, 2010

Gender Disappointment.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:02 PM on March 22, 2010

I was convinced I was having a girl and had my mind and heart set in that direction. Went in for the mid-term ultrasound, it was a boy. And I immediately burst into tears of joy because I discovered I'd wanted a boy all along. (Except what I'd actually wanted all along was my baby, whatever gender s/he turned out to be!)

The only time I even think about it is when I'm looking at SQUEEEEE! Adorable baby girl clothes! But I can always buy those for OTHER baby girls I know. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:04 PM on March 22, 2010

Geez, crazycanuck. I think the advice given above is far more closely tied to the "I'd prefer a quiet little girl" type of gender preference expressed by the OP than are your examples of gendercide in highly culturally specific circumstances and 16th-century succession crises.
posted by palliser at 9:06 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I agree with the people who have said that if the concept that your child is not going to be everything you hope and assume they will be is a problem, don't do it. Children are a wild crapshoot - my daughter is so much more than anything I'd expected. She had dark hair. She slept. She stopped sleeping. She's more physical than verbal. She has huge hands and feet and is tall. She's still a baby and everything is so different to anything I could have even contemplated. You cannot live out YOUR hopes and dreams on a child without doing damage to both of you. Your child may be disabled. Your child may be the 'wrong' gender. Your child may like the 'wrong' things. Your child may have different values. You need to be okay with that to give your child the best chance to become a stable human being.

(also, generalist stereotypes based on hearsay are a really bad method of family planning)
posted by geek anachronism at 12:14 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

It depends how important this is to you.

Rather than conceiving the traditional way, you could chose to have a female embryo (the product of your egg and your partner's sperm) implanted. This would be very expensive, but it would guarantee you that your child had the sex that you wanted.

Another option is sex-selective termination, where you terminate the pregnancy if it is not the sex that you want.

Lastly, you could consider talking with a counsellor about your strong preference, to see if you are able to let go of your desire for your child to be a certain sex.
posted by Oceanesque at 1:00 AM on March 23, 2010

My first pregnancy, I REALLY wanted a girl simply because I didn't think I could relate to a boy - pulling wings off of bugs, playing with trucks and g.i. joes, etc. We did not find out the gender ahead of time, and when he was born he was a boy and I loved him right away (to my surprise) and I never thought twice about the fact that he wasn't a girl. For our second, we did find out the gender, and since I wanted another little darling boy just like my first, so the disappointment that he was a boy lasted about 2 seconds. My third is a girl, and while I am overjoyed about the experience of raising a girl, she is also a little stinkerpot and has been more difficult to raise than the boys in several ways. But children are all different, and NEVER what you expect, regardless of gender.
posted by molasses at 5:31 AM on March 23, 2010

Another aspect to consider is that when parents get what they "want," in terms of gender, it's often worse for the parent-child relationship than getting what they didn't want. This is because they think the child is now going to fulfill all their expectations of parenthood, and they feel betrayed when the child is completely different from their expectations (because all children are completely different from parental expectations, even if they turn out to have a single trait the parents wanted).

Really, I think I'd rather be your unexpected boy, that you very early on realize you must reconcile yourself to, because it's not his "fault" he's a boy, than be your wild girl, or your quiet-but-highly-demanding girl, or your girl-with-a-lot-of-ear-infections-who-disturbs-your-sleep-for-the-first-18-months-of-life, or etc. With her, the evidence of fate's betrayal would unfold over the course of months, even years, and might interfere with bonding more than the other situation.
posted by palliser at 5:48 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

My friend is like you. She's obessed with having a girl to the point of genetic IVF selection and she's not infertile. As someone who did go through IVF for infertility, this pisses me off. I understand the preconcpetion that boys are wild and girls are frilly, calm little angels. Not necessarily true. It's how to treat/raise the child and how you encourage them and get their interests. I have a son and at first I thought we would have a daugther and was getting keen on the idea. But you know what? My preconceptions of a girl is yea as a baby they may be frilly, gentle souls, but then the teenage years hit and holy drama, insecure, smart mouth times. See? Preconception that may or may not be true depending on the child and how she is raised.

It's natural to lean towards a gender so don't beat yourself up about it. You could adopt if you want a particular gender. But you could also have an open mind, have a child, and just be overjoyed that he or she is healthy, here, and yours. None of the gender assumptions will matter then.

Now excuse me, I have to get my little wild man who is climbing up on a box and giggling frantically while picking his nose. See? Wild boy and I LOVE him for being him.

It's ok and you'll love whomever you have (if that is your decision).
posted by stormpooper at 5:49 AM on March 23, 2010

Oh and by the way, as a woman, I did nothing but hang out with boys, jumped down from the highest branches, all while wearing a dress. I was frilly yet a wild tom boy. Ya think my parents were thrilled with me doing those things? Nope. But I also played with Barbies and hugged the crap out of my baby doll. You could also wind up getting the best of both worlds in a girl.
posted by stormpooper at 5:50 AM on March 23, 2010

Quick datapoint: I am one of 7 children. Among us 7 there are 5 boys and 2 girls. In terms of how "difficult" it was for my parents to raise us at any particular point in life, I think we run the whole spectrum. I (a male) was apparently a nightmare child for the first couple years of my life, and again between the ages of 10-12. Some of my brothers were extremely contented and cooperative around the same time. Of my two sisters, one has generally been sassy, obnoxious, rebellious, and difficult for much of her young life. The other, not so much.

The point: Don't think that knowing the sex of your baby is tantamount to knowing what the child-rearing experience will be like. Children differ. A LOT.
posted by Vorteks at 7:23 AM on March 23, 2010

I am late to the game here and didn't read what I am sure are great answers. I will tell you my really-not-PC experience. I am one of 2 daughters and the few friends/family members I have that have kids all have girls. I love those little girls. Accordingly, when I got pregnant at 39, I pictured myself being a mom to a little girl and given my "advanced" age, preferred the idea of a mellow little girl over a rambunctious boy.

12 weeks into the pregnancy, the CVS testing showed no chromosomal abnormalities (YAY!) and that I was having a son. I cried. Seriously. My vision of myself as a mom was to a little girl, not a boy. Yes, I was thrilled our baby was healthy, but I cried for the little girl I wasn't going to have. Months and months into my pregnancy, I tried to get my arms around having a little boy, but I was really having to force it. How the hell do you raise a little boy? I seriously struggled and fortunately, I could talk about it with my tremendously understanding husband without him thinking I was going to be a horrible, unloving mom to his son.

Everytime I went shopping for our soon to be born son, I was disappointed that I was not in the "OMG, SO ADORABLE!! girl-clothes section and in the boring boy clothes section instead (although i have since grown to appreciate the cost savings associated with this). There were many feelings like this throughout my pregnancy. This feeling of (albeit dissipating) disappointment, I am ashamed to say, continued through to the day my son was born.

And then he was born. And then the-most-wonderful-of-all-babies-ever-born-in-this-entire-world was born! My son is a miracle. My son is a joy. My son is everything I have ever wanted in a child. I can't explain the instant change in my feeling. Since he has been born I have never, ever secretly wished he was my dughter instead. I have no desire to try for another child so I can have a baby girl. In fact if we do try for another, I would probably now have a preference for another son. Go figure :)

He is 7 months old now. As I am typing this, he is squealing with delight and my heart sings every time at that beautiful sound. My son makes me laugh countless times a day. And there are moments when my eyes swell with tears looking at the pure beauty of this child who is my son.
posted by murrey at 7:38 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

letting go of myths about gender (boys are "wild" girls are not ... it was the reverse among my siblings!) is an excellent place to start. children are people, small versions who should not be limited by stereotypes of what is expected of them because of their gender.

feel blessed you have a choice at all to have children. there are plenty of folks, like me, who would love to have a child or children, either gender, but can't. being a good parent means you'll love and respect your children for who they are and what they bring to this world, not be limited by what you wish them to be.
posted by kuppajava at 8:22 AM on March 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

It seems as if almost everybody I know got the opposite gender of child to the one they were hoping for and they were all delighted.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 7:59 PM on March 31, 2010

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