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Maternal desires Emotional Wellness

Maternal desires

Many expectant women long for their babies to be a certain sex—and that’s OK.

“Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?” It’s a common question asked of moms-to-be, and we all know the standard response: “It doesn’t matter to me, as long as it’s healthy!” I said it myself a zillion times during my second pregnancy. But if I’m being honest, I had a preference. And I suspect that many of you do too.

The honest truth
First things first: There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’d prefer a boy over a girl, or vice versa. However, for many moms-to-be, it’s almost taboo to say such a thing out loud. “One hundred percent and unapologetically, I wanted a baby girl,” shares Blair Bland, mom of one from Frisco, Texas. “I got a little ‘mom-shamed’ from some other moms who made me feel terrible for wanting a girl, as if I shouldn’t have a preference and should just hope for a healthy, happy baby.” Of course, we all want our babies to be happy and healthy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also want them to be a girl—or a boy.

In my case, I knew that my second baby would most likely be my last baby, and because I already had a daughter, I wanted a boy so badly I could taste it. But I was ashamed to openly admit it, particularly because I had a close friend who was dealing with infertility. It made me feel selfish to admit that I had any sort of preference at all when I was lucky enough to be blessed with a baby while she was struggling to conceive.

“I’d love a boy, but I’d be happy with another girl too,” became my go-to reply when people asked about my baby-to-be. I’m sure I was telling the truth—I don’t doubt that I would’ve fallen equally in love with another girl—but I sure was relieved when the doctor circled the telltale stump in my sonogram picture and announced, “It’s a boy!”

Family planning
While my case is not an unusual one—plenty of moms report wanting a child of a certain sex only because they already have one (or more) of the other—there are many reasons that parents might have a specific longing. Moms often have visions in their heads of what the perfect family looks like, and somewhat unsurprisingly, a boy as the eldest child of the family is a frequent wish.

“I envisioned myself having a little boy first to be a protective big brother to his younger sister,” says Natalie Holland of Chicago. “I had it all planned out.” (The powers that be had other plans for Natalie, though—she is currently expecting her second daughter.) Cassy Neeley of North Salt Lake, Utah, a mother to three girls, had the same yearning. “I really wanted my future kids to grow up having an older brother,” she shares. “I am the oldest of five, and I always wished for an older brother.”

Some moms wish to skip the boy train altogether, though, often because they just don’t feel that they could connect with a boy the way they would with a girl. “I wouldn’t know what to do with a boy!” says Tosha Kocka, soon-to-be mom of one from Santa Clarita, California. “I come from a family of all girls … and dressing a boy wouldn’t be as much fun either.” The allure of hair bows and tiny sparkly shoes sways more than one mom to hope for a future filled with plenty of pink—although others would prefer to avoid those female factors and embrace all things boy. It’s also not unusual for moms to be partial to delivering a daddy’s girl or a mama’s boy.

Reality check
I can promise that you’re going to fall madly in love with your new addition even if he or she isn’t housing the chromosome set you envisioned during your nine-month stint. Although for some moms, that burst of motherly love doesn’t always come right away.

“With my first [pregnancy] I wanted a boy, but by my third, I really wanted a boy,” says Neeley. “I was completely fine [upon finding out I was having a girl] the first two times; the third time, I cried from the minute I found out, all the way home from the doctor’s office. It took me about three months to accept that I was going to have another baby girl.” The story ends well, though: “I love my sweet baby girl more than anything,” assures Neeley. “To think that at one point I was sad she was a girl …”

A lot of moms-to-be with a strong sex preference find out their baby’s sex while they’re still pregnant, as Neeley did, so they have time to get used to the idea of having the opposite of what they wanted (should that be the case) before the little one arrives. However, the flip side of that plan works better for other moms: “I [wanted] a delivery room surprise,” says Kimberly Fiscus, mom of two in Athens, Georgia, “and part of the reason was that I couldn’t bear the thought of [my baby] being a boy. I knew that if I found out in the delivery room when they placed that sweet baby on my chest, I would love him no matter what.”

Motherly love
“In the end, when that baby is born, what you wanted doesn’t even matter anymore,” explains Holland. “I wouldn’t change my daughter for a million boys.” And her sentiment is shared by all the moms I spoke to for this article—and every mom I’ve ever known. Sure, you might wonder how things would have been different had your baby been the other sex, but you’ll love your newborn for exactly who he or she is. The sight of that tiny baby will erase any feelings of discontent and replace them with feelings of pure joy.

Being disappointed that you aren’t having the opportunity to parent your preferred sex isn’t the same as being disappointed in your baby—it’s OK to admit that you were hoping for the opposite outcome. It doesn’t mean, however, that you’re going to love this little man (or woman) any less. In fact, with a little time, it might mean that you love your child all the more.

The shame game
Let’s skip the embarrassment and guilt that’s poured upon us if we dare admit we have an affinity for pink or blue. There’s nothing wrong with having a preference. And if you think you’re alone in your partiality, think again—just search “choosing baby’s gender” on the book section at, and you’ll be introduced to several tomes that claim to tell you precisely how to conceive the boy or girl of your choice.

Also, keep in mind that even if you do end up with the boy or girl of your dreams, life isn’t always as you envision it. Many moms reported looking forward to female offspring for a future filled with mother/daughter pedicures and shopping trips, but my sweet girl would much rather be on the soccer field than in the mall. In fact, she is highly opposed to anything that can be described as “girly.” Our kids are who they are, and while we guide them on their paths, delivering a child of a certain sex doesn’t guarantee trucks or tiaras are in our future. Parenting is a gamble, but what we get is always what we need—whether we can acknowledge that initially or not.