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In a discussion earlier this month, captiolhillmom posted the following question:

"How do fathers typically react when they are told during the ultrasound that there is a girl on the way? My husband just shut down. Looked numb. It made me furious and I suppose that is unfair, but it seemed like after the technician said 'labia' he just wasn't interested. I suppose I should blame myself for having the expectation that he would express happiness rather than shock. Very quiet car ride home....

I should follow up that my husband and daughter are now very close and loving. So a father's first reaction is not at all an indication of how things will be down the road! He could have certainly been a more supportive partner during my pregnancy but he has been just as involved in parenting her as I am. But future daddies, please consider how you will respond to news of gender and consider what will not piss off your partner. Thanks!"

Gender disappointment isn't all that uncommon -- and it isn't just for dads. Plenty of moms hope for girls and get boys or hope for boys and get girls. Gender disappointment support forums even exist on several sites, including and

I certainly was one who felt initial disappointment, particularly with my second son. My pregnancies were so polar opposite that I was sure that baby No. 2 would be the girl I'd always dreamed of having, that daughter who'd grow up and chat with me about boys, her friends, her dreams, just as I had with my mom.

So, when that 20-week ultrasound showed that the second was a boy, I was in shock. Over the weeks, I became grateful that I'd had the ultrasound and had time to absorb the simple fact that there'd be two boys running around the house and that I'd be known as Mom Of Boys. By the time he was born, I couldn't have been more thrilled or more dedicated to my son. And now, when people -- still -- ask when I'll be trying for a girl, I look at them like they're crazy. I've hit my limit with two.

Did you experience gender disappointment when you first learned what you were having?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  December 30, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Babies
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When I was pregnant with my twins I was sure that one would be a boy. My husband's family has tons of b/g twins, inculding his father and aunt. While I knew that fraternal twins aren't carried through paternal genes, I was still convinced. When I was 34 weeks they told me they were both girls and I was disappointed. We already had 2 girls (and have since had one more) and I was really looking forward to having a boy. I wanted to play with trains and decorate something with blue instead of pink fairy princesses. I also kept finding little boy outfits that I loved. Once they were born I felt differently. I am so glad that my girls have each other and we do play with trains. A few of them are old enough to be done with glittery pink everything and I almost miss it:) People always ask if we will keep trying for a boy and my response now is "We've found a good thing and stuck with it!" I am at my limit and hopefully I will have a few nephews to dress in cute boy outfits some day.

Posted by: thosewilsongirls | December 30, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

When I was pregnant with our third, people kept asking me what I really wanted (we already had a girl and a boy, so I guess people figured I would tell them which gender I preferred). I KNEW it was a boy from very early on (sometime in the first trimester) since the pregnancy felt identical to when I was pregnant with my son and my pregnancy with my daughter had felt different (and I had guessed she was a girl in the first trimester as well). Since I was convinced it was a boy (and I turned out right) it was irrelevant what I wanted and so I never gave it any thought. When people asked me that question I would say, "I know it's a boy, so it doesn't matter what I want" many would try and press me for an answer. Perhaps I am unique, but a child of mine is a child of mine, regardless of gender. I always despised pink until my daughter was born and now I am happy to wear pink and buy dolls and princesses, since it makes her happy. I am very happy to be the kind of person I am since it sounds rough to have preferences (at least during the pregnancy).

Posted by: cqjudge | December 30, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

When I found out I was having a boy, I started sobbing and could not stop. The nurse thought that I was upset that the baby wasn't a girl and was trying to comfort me. All I could get out between the great heaving sobs was "S-s-s-so H-h-h-happy..." I was terrified of having a girl and was desperate to have a boy. DH would love to try for a girl, but I am so done (and still so do not want a girl - god bless you Mrs. Wilson!). One sweet and wonderful little boy is all I need!

Posted by: VaLGaL | December 30, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I was never fixated on gender. With three miscarriages in the mix, and high-risk, bad pregnancies, just having two healthy kids was, quite literally, all that I hoped for. We didn't even look with the first. It just seemed like the whole process was so medicalized, and I wanted one part of it to be that magical surprise without doctors or medicines or machines.

That said, we did look with the second. And when they told me it was a boy, I burst into tears of happiness. I still don't quite know why. I think partly because I knew the second miscarriage was a boy, and I thought the first M/C was a girl; since our first baby had been a girl, having a boy felt like we were completing the circle, getting back to where we should have been in the first place. And partly because, before all the hoopla started, my "ideal" was to have two kids, the first a girl, the second a boy. Over the next few years, that seemed both impossible and unimportant. And then suddenly, 6 years after the first miscarriage, it all came boomeranging back; that picture in my head of what I wanted, the picture I had completely written off, was suddenly here and very real. I was getting exactly what I had hoped for, back when I was still naive enough to hope for trivial things like gender and birth order. It was that sense of completeness, of closing the circle, of moving past a really hard time. Of realizing that maybe we were exactly where we were supposed to be.

Posted by: laura33 | December 30, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

"back when I was still naive enough to hope for trivial things like gender and birth order."

Posted by: laura33 | December 30, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Copy that. There are no guarantees in life.

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 30, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

In never crossed my mind for a second that my first child would be anything other than a girl. I love, love, love girls. I had a girl, who I just adore (about 95% of the time). This pregnancy is completely different, and the baby's movements are completely different, so either I'm having a boy or a completely different girl.

We didn't find out the gender with either, though we tried unsuccessfully with the first. My husband really wanted to know the gender at this 20wk u/s, but I had veto power. I know he wants a boy this time, but I also know he's fine either way. I'm happy either way. I love the thought of my daughter having a sister and me having another little girl, but raising a boy also seems interesting, though completely foreign. We'll see in 6 or so weeks!

Posted by: atb2 | December 30, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Having family and friends with multiple miscarriages, children with disabilities and struggling with infertility, I was just hoping for a healthy baby. Sometimes it helps to keep it in perspective (and I say that as someone who doesn't always do that but tried to do so in this instance).

The thing I found maddening were the people who would say "are you sad", "I'm sorry" or "maybe you'll get a boy next time" when I told them I was having a girl. Seriously, with the %$#%#$ is wrong with people? In addition to being rude, that sort of gender preference for a boy that used to be so strong (and maybe still is) blows my mind.

Posted by: liledjen4901 | December 30, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

I suppose the reaction to the first ultrasound was stunned amazement. You see, there were two fetuses.

We later found out the sexes, but by the time I knew that it was twins, it didn't matter if it was BB, BG, or GG (two boys for the record).


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 30, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Our first two pregnancies were planned, and we didn't care to find out the genders, so we waited. The first was a girl, and everyone was happy. The second pregnancy was so different from the first, I was positive it was a boy. When the doctor said, "it's a girl!" I asked him to double check, just to make sure. And all was well in our home. Then the surprise pregnancy happened, and we figured, "what the heck," and asked for the gender at the mid-term ultrasound. I though my husband was going to twist my foot off when we found out it was a boy.

All in all, we couldn't be happier, and my girls never were into dolls and princesses.

I think my mother-in-law was the happiest we had a boy, because of the "carrying on the family name" thing, but that was the least of my worries.

Posted by: pamsdds | December 30, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

We're expecting twins and had 'the ultrasound' about two weeks ago. We both really want BG - husband's second choice was GG and mine was BB. It was GG and I was so disappointed. I've got 4 sisters and there are so few boys in our family and for whatever reason I was dead set on having at least one boy. I cried a lot the first two days afterwards. But since then, I've adjusted and am looking forward to the girls.

FWIW, I too ran the fertility gaunlet but I don't feel a bit guilty about my reaction. It is what it is. You just have to sort through it.

Posted by: danielle514 | December 30, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I think clamming up is a typical reaction for a guy when he sees the concrete impending evidence of his fatherhood before him, whether the being he helped create is a girl or a boy. Some men get quiet when they think and it shouldn't be a reflection of their level of acceptance of the sex of the baby.

If I knew how many times I was going to get asked the question, "Are you excited?", and my enthusiasm to answering was going to be the gauge of my willingness to be a involved dad, I would have boned up on my double back hand-spring somersault with half twist before announcing that Ms Weasel was pregnant. It would have saved me a lot of time trying to convince others that I was planning on being a decent father.

Personally, I was afraid of having boys because there are a lot of boy things like throwing a football, hitting a baseball, and sports in general, that I can't share with them. And yes, It hurts a little when I say no to my 6 year old son when he wants to play catch.

I found out the secret of Being a good father to girls, especially when they get to be teenagers is easy, conceptually speaking. All I need to do is be there, listen, keep my mouth shut, and be willing to hand over my hard earned cash.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | December 30, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

The commenters above display a great sense of perspective and balance, on the whole. The original question, on the other hand, is one that always makes me see red. It's based on two assumptions I disagree with: that there are all kinds of huge differences between genders, AND that parents are going to be the kind of shallow jerks who'd dismiss the "wrong" gender rather than be thankful for the great gift of a healthy child.

I understand parents who have specific dreams of things they want to share with their children. I don't understand parents who think they're barred from these things if their kid turns out a different gender from what they imagined. One of the best dads I know, who always dreamed of teaching his sons to play hockey, faced with four daughters and no sons, shrugged and enrolled them in hockey. Not all of them loved it but one turned out to be an amazing player and is on a hockey scholarship now, thanks to her dad's great coaching and her own dedication and skill. If he'd been hung up on her gender they would both have missed out.

My own dad taught me how to use a camera. My mom taught my brother to cook. You work with your kids' natural abilities and preferences, whatever those turn out to be... having a particular gender is no guarantee your kid will be anything like what you expect. I can see most of the parents understand this very well... I wonder about the kind of person who'd ask this type of question of a parent in the first place, though.

Posted by: pollyesther1 | December 30, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

My husband wanted 5 kids and I said that 2 was my limit, but *might* be talked into a 3rd if the first two were the same gender. He was thrilled with his first daughter and when daughter #2 arrived he happily announced that now we can have a 3rd. I did agree to a 3rd and am glad we found out ahead of time that it was another girl since my hubby was crushed and this gave him much needed adjustment time. He was always a good dad, but when the oldest gave softball a try in 1st grade he suddenly became super-dad and has coached most of his daughters' various sports teams over the years, often several during the same season! All 3 girls are atheletic and outdoorsy and he enjoys every minute with them. Since we have nephews who are "problem children" he no longer has "son envy."

I never really had a preference so would have been happy as long as I had healthy kids. I continue to be amazed by the rude questions from strangers about the make-up of my family, but that's their problem, not mine.

Posted by: momof3g | December 30, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

As an only daughter of an only daughter (and knowing this child is going to be our only child)I was hoping this baby was a girl. We found out yesterday it is a boy. I was disappointed for a mere second, and then all of that vanished away as I looked at our son on the ultrasound monitor. I couldn't be happier now.

Posted by: annwhite1 | December 30, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I kind of wanted a boy first, because I think my temperment is better suited to boys, but would have been happy regardless. My dad and husband's mom wanted girls; Dad, probably because he had 2 girls and a boy, and had a grandson already, and his mom because she swears their whole family is dominated by men.

I think my son is a joy, even though he's a loud, smart, bossy little thing. But, he's almost 3, so some of that will probably tone down a bit as he gets older. I hope so anyway!

Posted by: Mazarin | December 30, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

My husband is the only son of a father whose sister never had children, so, as archaic as it seems, he was keen to "pass on" the family name to a son of his own. We were both happy when the amnio came back and we found out our first was a boy.

Since I have a pretty terrible relationship with my mom I have always been scared to have a daughter of my own -- afraid that I'd try too hard to redeem myself, only to repeat the same mistakes. I confess I was relieved when we found out our second was also a boy. I grew up with two brothers and I get the boy thing.

But now that we have an "heir and a spare", I do feel a slight sense of loss, that I'm missing out on the experience of having a daughter...and I feel this loss most keenly on behalf of my husband. I think he would have been a great father to a daughter.

Posted by: coloradomom | December 30, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I never made a secret of the fact that I wanted a daughter, and I'll admit that the moment I found out my first was a girl still ranks as one of the happiest of my life.

Going into this pregnancy, I was really hoping for a boy, since we know this is our last child (like others on her, we experienced a few losses and ultimately had to turn to IVF to get pregnant again). Just as much as I'd wanted a daughter, DH has always wanted a son. So we were both a little disappointed at first that this baby's a girl too. But then I started thinking about sisters and how special that bond is. And all of the clothes and gear and toys we won't have to buy. And about just how darn much I enjoy my daughter. And now, I can't say I'm disappointed anymore.

Bottom line, I'm only about 1.5 months away from holding the second child that we never thought we'd get to have. She's healthy. Regardless of her sex, I feel like I've won the lottery.

Posted by: newsahm | December 30, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Do adoptive parents have "gender disappointment"?

Posted by: jezebel3 | December 30, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm biased and admit it. I wanted a boy for our first child and we got one. I have always felt it to be better if the oldest child in the family was a boy. My wife did too, however. She feels that they are easier to raise than girls are. I'm not sure but we have another chance to find out as my wife is pregnant again. Given that we are both older, we'll be happy as long as she/he is healthy.

Posted by: Dadat39 | December 30, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Back in the 60's when my parents were having me and my siblings, nobody knew the baby's gender until the birth. Mother and Daddy still joke about his first words following the birth of their last child, and the only boy after three daughters: "You're kidding!"

I *really* didn't care what gender with any of my pregnancies, but DH wanted girls every time.

I'd spent 10 years trying to get pregnant, so when it finally happened, all that mattered to me was having a healthy baby. I wouldn't let the US tech tell us the gender with the first one. I wanted the surprise at the birth.

Five years later, I was just as thrilled with the second "miracle" pregnancy. Now our first child wouldn't be an only child. This time I was willing to let DH know the gender at the US, and if he had any disappointment over a second boy, it either didn't show, or I just don't remember it anymore.

We thought we were in for a 3rd "lightning strike" in the spring/summer of '01, but within a week of learning I was pregnant, I'd miscarried. I've always thought of that one as the little girl DH wanted, but we never had, and think of her with a girl's name.

Posted by: SueMc | December 30, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

My husband was beaming when he found out our first was a little girl! (he was also giddy when she just looked like a gummy bear at the first ultrasound) I was shocked (but happy) because I was convinced it would be a boy. Honestly, I could never decide what I "wanted" her to be and was happy it was out of my control :) Now we can't wait to meet her in a few months!

Posted by: jrjumper | December 30, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I didn't find out either of my kids' genders during the ultrasounds...I'm a bit of a diehard traditionalist on that one. My husband and everybody else was a bit miffed that I refused to know, but I hold firm to the conviction that finding out in advance is like opening a Christmas present in July...cheating. Besides, ultrasounds can and do goof (I should know, it happened to not one, but three of my friends!), so I'd just as soon wait and find out at birth since there are so few true surprises left in this world today.

That having been said, my second pregnancy was vastly different in symptomology than my first one. The first trimester was nothing but morning sickness (24 hours a day for two months straight!), I was carrying that baby lower (to the point where people swore I looked like I was carrying twins even in the second trimester!), the baby was a lot more active, and even the heart rate was different than my first daughter, which led everybody to say I was having a boy this time around. Needless to say, baby #2 turned out to be another girl! I am definitely not complaining...I don't know much about raising boys, so that would've been weird for me. Besides, it gave me a chance to use the clothes I'd saved after my older daughter outgrew them again! Now all I have to do is raise them to watch out for "walking groins" when they grow up, and make sure those same "walking groins" stay as far away from our daughters as possible! I tease my husband that having two daughters is karmic payback for his having been a teenage male at one point in his life. Shoe, meet the other foot! He doesn't mind in the slightest...those girls have him wrapped around their fingers! Besides, they can just as easily be tomboys as girly girls! In this day and age, it's a good thing.

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | December 30, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

We just had our 20 wk U/S yesterday for our second. My DH openly wanted another girl, and though I wanted a boy, with this economy and our finances taking a beating, the idea of two girls appealed to my fiscally responsible side.

We found out we're having a boy, and DH shocked me by how happy a reaction he has had. I think it wasn't until the tech said it that he realized how great having a little boy could be. We also think it might be easier on the kids being G/B since they will be so close in age (14.5 months), and sibling rivalry might be lessened if they aren't directly competing as same-sex siblings tend to do. I guess we'll find out!

Posted by: foreoki12 | December 31, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Neither my husband nor I had a preferance with our first child, a boy, although I have always been more comfortable with the idea of having a son. Now we are expecting our second and both of us still did not have a preference. The frugal side of me figured if it were a boy we would be set with clothes and knowledge of diaper change issues. However there was definitely a part of me that hoped it would be a girl for something new and different.
I am not one to like a lot of pink but when we found out this pregnancy was a girl I went out and collected quite a few pink things in preparation for her arrival. My husband has 3 brothers and so seemed very happy to be able to tell his mother we were expecting a girl.
What struck me funniest was on the drive home from the u/s he was the one to realize, "Now we have to save for a wedding."
Bottom line, we are very lucky to have a wonderful healthy son and a so far healthy pregnancy expecting a girl. I guess I say that becuase I realize how many couples out there may not have the chance to have a prefered gender.

Posted by: firemom35 | December 31, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I think with the first, we both wanted a girl. When it was a boy, we were actually shocked - given that everyone kept telling me we were goign to have a girl (we didn't find out until the birth). With the second, I think we were both hoping for the 'one of each' - and we couldn't wait, so we found out at the was a boy.
Which was good, actually. Now I'm so happy, they are wonderful - and having been a teenage girl, I'm glad I won't be having any.
My friend had two girls, and was thinking of a third - and I told her I'd adopt a boy (I'm one of three girls). She didn't, and had a third girl. My sisters and I were much further apart in age, I don't know if that makes it better or worse, but I'm glad I won't be living in that household! My boys are so sweet.

I think that we all have pictures in our head as to how things should be. There is nothing wrong with having a 'mourning' period to realize that what you might have thought (which might not be what you *want* just what you think was going to be). So having time to realize things will be different isn't a bad thing - it's a good thing, in the long run, to realize your feelings and deal with them, then to move on.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 31, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

When I became pregnant with our first child, my ob/gyn insisted on a chorionic villi sampling. The test revealed that I was carrying a girl. The doctor said that maternal contamination never occurred with CVS so I prepared for a girl - pink bonnets, pink clothes, etc. When I delivered the baby, the doctor announced, "It's a boy!" I countered with the following, "No, it's a girl." The doctor finally shoved HIS genitalia into my face before I accepted the fact. My doctor demanded that IVF re-examine the results from the CVS test. On rare, rare occasions, maternal contamination CAN occur. The person who read the slides only looked at a few of them. Needless to say, my husband was thrilled and I had to make a very quick mental adjustment! I love my son very much and he has grown into a very nice young adult!

Posted by: valady2 | January 2, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Va lady - Thanks for the chuckle. I had a mental image of the doctor pulling down his trousers in the delivery room!


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 2, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

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