When growing your family doesn’t end up how you wished it would be, there can be disappointment, especially after miscarriage, stillbirth or babyloss of any kind. In this episode we’ll talk all about how to deal with these feelings so you can bond with your baby and enjoy the life in front of you.
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Hello and welcome. I have a great topic for you today, and this comes up a lot, so I really wanted to talk about gender disappointment today.
I wanna be sensitive to anyone who does not see the world in terms of binary genders. I will be kinda generalizing today, and I hope that everyone will feel welcome to this conversation and that it is helpful for you. So please apply these concepts to your own life experience. The dictionary. Defines gender disappointment as a feeling of depression or anxiety experienced by an expectant parent when the sex of the baby does not match his or her preference.
So yes, gender disappointment is in the dictionary. It’s a real thing. But I really like this definition cuz it goes right along with what I teach. A feeling of depression or anxiety experienced by an expectant parent when the sex of the baby does not match his or her preference. We think that these feelings are coming from the gender, but they’re actually coming from our preference, which is our thoughts.
Which is totally okay, but it’s something to be aware of. So today we’re gonna talk about both sides of this experience, and I’m gonna show you how to allow for the disappointment and move through it to find peace. I’m also gonna show you how awareness and managing your mind around what your family looks like is also going to give you all your power back so you can enjoy your life because that’s what we really want.
I recently heard a, a coach friend use the term. Favorite self and favorite life instead of living our best life or our being our best self. And I am totally using that term for now on. So in your favorite life, you probably want to embrace all that you are given and find peace with the rest. That’s my favorite way to live.
Let’s start by talking about your emotions. Emotions are not a problem. Emotions or feelings start in the brain and they move into our body, but very often we think they just happen. So I want you to slow things down and just let yourself feel them. As a human, you are able to feel so many emotions, but we don’t really like the negative ones, and so we do all kinds of things to avoid them.
In the case of gender disappointment, you may try to talk yourself out of your feelings. You’ll eat whatever you are craving and you’ll avoid thinking about it and stay busy, but the feelings don’t just go away. We need to feel them, and most people have no idea how to do this. Luckily for you, I have an entire episode that talks about feeling your feelings.
It’s one of my first episodes, so you can go and listen to that for an in-depth look. But here, I will just tell you a few tricks. Feeling your feelings doesn’t mean you have to stop what you are doing, that you need complete silence or that you have to spend a ton of time. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you follow my process either.
I. What you want to do is first notice the feeling. Take just a little bit of time to feel it in your body. Where is it? What is happening? Try to describe it as a color. Describe its motion, its weight, its temperature. Next name it. What is the emotion? So often we don’t have the words, but you can look up emotion wheels online and that might really help you try to really pinpoint the emotion.
Then acknowledge it. Say to yourself, I see you disappointment. Don’t fight it. It’s okay to be disappointed. Now. Just sit with it. That looks different for everyone, but for me it means I still continue on with my day. I know that emotion is there and I bring it with me. I have compassion for it. I know that it’s a part of me and that’s okay.
You may wanna journal to talk to someone you trust. You may wanna find a quiet place and just sink into the emotion. I know it seems like this will be the beginning of a damn bursting, but it will actually be the opposite. Fighting our emotions intensifies them. Allowing lets us move forward. Notice what happens as you do this, be open to letting the feelings stay or go.
There’s no rush, but you’ll find yourself able to move forward much sooner when you feel your feelings. For many people, they will feel bad for being disappointed. Don’t do that. Your feelings are valid. You do not need to add a layer of guilt on top of what you’re already experiencing. Don’t tell yourself that you should just be happy and over the moon excited, or that your baby deserves better.
You are a human experiencing life. It’s okay to feel how you feel. Tell yourself what you would tell your closest friend. It’s totally understandable to be feeling this way. You are a great mom and you love this baby and they love you, and nothing is going to change that. Now that you’ve given space for your feelings, you’ll be ready to look at your thoughts.
Our thoughts create our feelings. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of them, so we can choose them consciously instead of unconsciously. The easiest way to find these thoughts is to do what I call a thought download. You just get a piece of paper or a journal and you start writing. Don’t stop, don’t judge.
Just write everything out. Then you’ll have lots to work with. But I usually just pick one thought at a time that is painful and start there. Some of the thoughts. That can create disappointment are that you won’t have the life you dreamed of. You won’t have the relationship you dreamed of. You’re afraid you’ll never get them ever.
This gender will be harder to bond with. People will think it’s a replacement or I wanted the other gender. Right? That could be the only reason you’re disappointed is cuz you wanted the other gender. I thought for sure it was the other gender. This is one when you had an idea, maybe you had a dream or something, told you this was a certain gender and it’s the other one.
I know I’ve been super wrong a lot of times. Um, oh, my guess is with my living kids and my, all of them, you might be thinking my partner is getting what they want and I am not. Right. That’s gonna create disappointment. Uh, sometimes you think it will be easier or think it’ll be harder if the gender is the same or different.
Now that sentence is kind of complicated, but let me put it this way. You might think it’s easier if you have the same gender as your baby who died, or you might think it would be easier if you had a different gender or vice versa, right? You might think it’s harder. If the baby’s the same gender, because I’ve just seen it both ways, and this just shows again how our circumstances or the facts of our lives are not what creates our feelings and our experience.
It’s what we think about them that does. Remember that dictionary definition? It’s our preference, right? It’s, it’s the way we’re thinking and projecting out into our future that’s gonna create that disappointment. So what has come up for you? Like you’re here listening to a podcast about gender disappointment.
I wish I could just talk to you one on one. So I am, I just want you to think about your family and any disappointment you felt about how it is turning out. Now, this could be related to your loss or not, right? People have gender disappointment without a loss, so there may be other factors that influence the way you are thinking, such as if you had a nursery set up or you had items for your baby, and now you won’t get to use them.
Or maybe you will get to use them, but you feel like they belong to your baby who died. And so it’s feeling really unsettling to you. Uh, I, I remember when I did our nursery, so my living daughter was in it and I purposely did a gender neutral room, and then we had Lauren and we thought we were having a girl.
So we had a lot of things and. Then my rainbow babies were boys or my baby that I had right after Lauren was boy. And so, yeah, it’s just, you never know what’s gonna happen and so you just have to watch what you’re thinking. Maybe you had been been disappointed in your previous pregnancy about the gender, and then that baby died.
Have you thought about that? So in this case, you’re bringing all that guilt into this pregnancy, along with any thoughts about the new baby’s gender? You know, it can get complicated a little bit, so you, you gotta take some time and break this down. I really, really encourage you to break this down. A lot of people have a hard time separating the pregnancies in their mind, especially if the gender and the timeline are similar.
And I think that happens a lot for us. Uh, lost moms because, You’re, you’re in the zone and it, I don’t know, it’s funny how many stories you hear of people who have things that just line up, um, in a really amazing way. Now, sometimes you might wanna just avoid this whole thing and wait until the baby is born to find out, and that can be a good way to make managing your mind around the gender easier if you do it on purpose.
And if you like your reasons. But if you are doing it as a way to avoid disappointment or negative feelings, I really don’t recommend that you do that. And I especially wanna encourage you if you are thinking about not finding out the gender because you don’t think you can handle it, you are wrong. You can totally do this.
You can prepare for this baby and you can work through your feelings, but it isn’t always easy to do alone. If you need more support, I’d love to show you how to take away that pain, disappointment, and guilt so you can bond with this unique little human. And even if you are afraid, you’ll be disappointed.
Which you aren’t even pregnant or you don’t know the gender yet, now is a great time to get your mind straight and be totally prepared for whatever happens. Just go to smooth stones coaching.com and you’ll see a button right there to sign up for a consult call, and you can get on Zoom with me and we will talk about it and get you some peace.
And I would really encourage you, I have a lot of clients who come to me before they’re pregnant, after loss, and. When you’re not right in the middle of it, sometimes it’s so much easier to work through that. But if you are in the middle of it, I’ve totally got you too. Let’s, let’s get you some help. Okay.
Just come and talk to me because actually a lot of our worries here are about the future, how we think we’ll feel, how we think our life will be, what we think we are missing out on. And it’s important to catch yourself when you are doing that because you just can’t know. Your brain does a really good job of making it seem really terrible in the future, but what if it’s gonna be amazing?
What if you can have the exact relationship with your child you want, regardless of their gender? What if you focus on creating that in your life? What would be different? It’s funny because I had four living girls first, and then Lauren who died. So I got all the comments about girls. But every one of them is an individual and they are so different from each other.
And I consider myself more of kind of an all around person. And so we do sports and outdoors and all kinds of things, and so do my girls. And both of my rainbow babies are boys and they are a whole lot of fun too, and they are so unique and they grew up with all these big sisters. So they are pretty well-rounded too.
Of course, there’s a greater discussion about nature versus nurture and societal gender roles, but I am not going to go into that. But it really might be interesting for you to do it. When you think about the future and the things you wanna do with your children, what do you see and why is it important to you?
All right. Some things that I can just off the top of my head think of are, you know, helping your daughter pick out a wedding dress. Yeah. Just watching your son do what his dad does, or maybe you have a family business you’d hope that a son would carry on or a farm, or, You know, there’s, there’s so many things and we, we think about that experience and we feel like we’re gonna miss out on it.
Now, back to my family. When we found out we were having a boy, you can guess all the comments we heard. Not that we hadn’t heard a lot with all of those girls, but you can imagine the things people said to us. Most of it, we’d let slide off our backs. Not a huge deal, although I did have to remind many people who asked if my husband was just so excited to finally have a boy that he did, in fact, like his daughters.
But maybe you are feeling gender disappointment and the people around you don’t seem to understand. They say things that can come across as invalidating. And of course there’s a part where. Quote unquote, you should just be grateful you are having a healthy baby and they give you advice on how to deal with what you’re experiencing, which is usually some form of that.
You should stop experiencing it, right? Stop being disappointed. You should just be grateful. It’s fine. So what do you do then? I wanna offer to you that what other people say can’t hurt you. Not unless you let it. People can’t invalidate you. Only your thoughts can do that. People don’t have to change what they are saying.
You can change the way you are thinking about their words. Humans say a lot of things, and that’s okay. I choose to believe they have the best intentions or that they have no clue what they’re saying. And also that sometimes they’re a hundred percent right and I just might not want to hear it. I talk a lot about taking care of your emotional energy, and I think it’s very important, especially during pregnancy after loss, to not spend a lot of your energy on things like comments people make.
You really can just smile and nod and let it go, or you can feel those feelings come up and allow yourself to process through them like I described to a four. But what I don’t think is useful is to dwell on them or be angry or frustrated for a long period of time. You can choose to love people even with all the crazy things they say, and you can choose to not be around people who continue to say things you don’t like, but not because they’re making you feel a certain way, but because you want to take care of you and your mental health.
A couple last thoughts on gender disappointment. Some people worry that it will take time to warm up to the idea of the gender, but I think that’s totally okay. Don’t beat yourself up for that. Even if it takes until after baby is born, even if sometimes you still have those little twinges, when something reminds you, it’s okay.
But if you are thinking you’re never gonna warm up to this, I would really question that thought because those cute little babies do have a way of stealing mama’s heart. So again, don’t spend a lot of time worrying that you won’t warm up to the idea. Believe that you will ent trust yourself. If this is your last baby and you know it for sure, it seems like there is a finality and a loss there.
You can feel like you’re losing out on an experience you were supposed to have, and now there’s no hope that you will have it. I’m gonna get a tiny bit woo woo here, but I truly believe this will be helpful first. You can’t lose out on an experience you were supposed to have. The universe won’t let that happen.
You are having the exact experience you’re supposed to have. It was never going to go a different way. It was always this and this is happening for you. If your heart has a place for a relationship or an experience, open up to the universe bringing it to you. It may be a daughter or son-in-law. It may be a grandchild.
It may be a child who comes into your life in a completely different way. Keep your eyes open and trust. It’s absolutely okay to grieve what you envisioned for your future, but know that it was a story you made up in your head, which is what we all do, but it was never going to be true. The present is the truth.
The present is what you have. Be in it, embrace it, and see what happens. You don’t know what you don’t know. You could be completely wrong about what raising these kiddos will be like and don’t think that you have to fill. The needs you feel with children. Perhaps there are other paths you are supposed to take and other ways to create what you want.
You just can’t see them yet. And my last piece of advice for you, who is disappointed now or who is worried that you will be believe in love? A mother’s love is the most powerful thing in the world. You may not feel bonded to this baby because you’re resisting it. It feels scary, but love isn’t scary.
Love is amazing. Let yourself feel it just like you let yourself feel. The negative emotions ease into loving this baby. Something I love to do is to have my clients. Put one hand on their belly and one hand on their heart, and just breathe quietly and let themselves feel love. Talk to the baby. Listen, you can rub your belly.
If you aren’t pregnant now, you can still do this exercise. Feel the love for a future child. It’s a beautiful, powerful thing. So if you are struggling with gender disappointment, feel those feelings. Don’t judge them or avoid them. Watch your thoughts. Notice the story you were telling about your future life based on some XY chromosomes.
Be open to an amazing experience with this unique child and let yourself love. I haven’t found a mama yet who doesn’t want to love her child wholeheartedly, even if she’s scared. You can do this. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, and I’ll talk to you next time.