WITH improvements in technology, couples are now able to answer one of the most frequently asked questions from friends and family who simply cannot wait until the baby is born — are you having a boy or a girl?
This has created room for a new tradition — the gender reveal party — which is intricately woven in many couples' pregnancy journeys. And thanks to social media, we have been able to witness some of the funniest and most creative gender reveals across the world.
Less talked about though, is the obvious look of disappointment that is seen on the faces of some parents following the announcements. This feeling, often characterised by profound sadness or frustration, is described as gender disappointment — a preference of one gender over another, or when the baby's gender does not match what the parents were imagining.
Experts say that this is more common than reported, especially since out of shame and guilt many parents don't say it out loud.
We asked parents who experienced some amount of disappointment when they learned their children's gender to share their experiences.
Michael, 40, firefighter:
I am the father of three girls and I was disappointed all three times, no lie. The last baby, I remember peeping on my wife at the hospital and seeing the pink thing and hissed my teeth. I didn't go back until a few days later when things calmed down with me.
Amilia, 42, engineer:
I was disappointed about my first child being a girl because for one, the man who I was pregnant for already had five girls and desperately wanted a son, and secondly, he wasn't mine to keep. A son would have guaranteed so much for me, and so finding out it was another girl made him distant and rendered me basically supportless.
Tanice, 30, marketing strategist:
I guess you could classify it as gender disappointment, but really what happened is that I was told and assured by sonographers that I was having a girl. The idea grew on me and I prepared for a girl. When I gave birth to my son I was hysterical. I cried — it was agonising. I checked the genitals so many times, disappointed that I would need to flip my life around, undo and redo so many things, and it got in the way of me even bonding with him. It was annoying how chill my husband was and even that made me angry. I am now over it and my little man and I are inseparable.
Mark, 32, mechanic:
Last year I was happy to get off the gelding truck. My girl was pregnant and you know I always imagined getting a son as my first child. Her belly looked like a boy belly and based on the symptoms when I read the predictions, everything was saying boy. I started buying things for my little G. When we did the first ultrasound they couldn't tell the gender because they couldn't see the genitals. Further into the pregnancy when they did the other ultrasound they said it was a girl. Jah know, it did cut mi vibes, really mash up mi meds, but when mi really look inna it sometime after I just had to be grateful. A child is a child. I didn't get the boy I wanted, but when that baby was born she gave me the best feeling inside. I love her to death.
Michelle, 36, attorney-at-law:
I have always wanted a miniature version of myself. When I got pregnant two years ago I was sure I'd get a girl because the universe always seemed to listen to me. Almost six months into my pregnancy, I realised that it hadn't this time — and I was to give birth to a boy. I panicked. All I could think of were the stereotypical boy characteristics and the fact that I'd have to do a complete makeover for the things I had planned for “her”. I bawled; it was painful coming to grips with it, and a reminder of what a hypocrite I had been for saying I would be happy no matter my child's sex. I dedicated the next few months to loving him, hoping he wouldn't sense my disappointment and praying he would never have to know. Apparently I did a poor job bribing the universe, and at almost two I can say that I have never felt more love for or from another human being.