I feel (again) like I should stop following the comment section on BabyCentre and just read What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Today I read a post from a mom desperately seeking advice:
“I am having another boy… and I’m so disappointed that I’m considering an abortion.”
One person responded that this seems like a bad April Fool’s joke. The reply to that was ‘be sensitive and support this mom, this is supposed to be a safe space.’
Trying to be balanced, while also staying real, I replied:
“I agree that this should be a safe, supportive place.
And it should also be safe for those who have had losses or struggled to get pregnant. It can be very difficult to hear that someone is considering aborting a pregnancy due to the gender/sex of their child (which is illegal in Canada I believe). I have no judgement for this mom and her struggle, nor for the other mother who is pointing out that this post could be triggering for some; having hopes and fears related to the life you see for yourself and your future child is normal, but I think it’s possible to see multiple sides of this issue with sensitivity and compassion. People’s advice to get support from a doctor and seek some relief from the depression she is experiencing is the most helpful and likely to help the initial poster to feel she is able to make a decision.”
What I didn’t say was: I have some questions – Do you consider how you will feel if you do keep this child and know that you publicly professed that you considered terminating the pregnancy? I would never advocate bottling up your feelings and not exploring your true emotions, but I also can’t help but project myself into the future and think ‘what will I do when I look at my child and consider these thoughts?’ When I say, I have no judgment, I mean: I don’t think you are a bad person. I will not tell another person what to do with their own body. But I do think there are some underlying questions and assumptions that need to be asked. It’s also really hard to post something so polarizing and expect only supportive, affirming replies.
There is a part of me that wants to ask: should you be having more kids, if the reason you want them depends on something so tied to fate and chance? When you get pregnant you KNOW it’s a fifty-fifty shot you will get one gender or the other (not considering intersex children). And you DON’T want another boy enough that you’d end a pregnancy to avoid that outcome? I can’t say that I understand that. It seems to imply that you believe there is something so inherent about what is between a child’s legs that their whole life and experience will be shaped by the assumptions around what gender means. All boys and all girls are different. Vastly. You could get any kind of ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ and your child, raised according to whatever gender you believe fits them, could transition as they grow up. Will your love hinge on their ability to fulfill a gender role you have built for them? Does your conception of having a ‘girl’ have such rigid expectations that you feel a boy-child could not fill the space you’ve built in your mind for them? What is it about having a girl that you think will be absent in your current situation? Other than a body part? Is your plan for her so wildly different that you will not experience joy in parenting the other? I would assume (I know the danger here) that you plan to raise a child who is loved, building their confidence, laughing and crying through the joy and struggles of their discovering and as they stumble. None of what I envision is prescribed by what colour or sports society thinks they should enjoy. I know enough people to KNOW that there are as many types of men and women as there are stars in the sky. I don’t know what I will get, but I hope that, starlike, they are bright and that they will fill me with wonder.
I do have preferences. Obviously. I am attracted to women. I married a woman. And I hope for a little girl, and a boy, too, maybe one day. But if I found out I was having a healthy baby that would trump any fear or trepidation that I have about raising a child. I think my desire to have a girl is more about my own comfort. I know I can raise a strong, independent, feminist daughter. I am less sure that I will be able to impart the wisdom I have to share to a male child… but I will sure try. I think it’s harder to raise a good man, in many ways, than it is to raise a woman; it is hard to be a woman. But the bar for ‘goodness’ in men is embarrassingly low right now and my standards are high. My comfort and confidence are tied to my own preconceptions about gender and what it will mean for my offspring.
First and foremost, I don’t want it to be the most important thing about them. I want a child who is thoughtful, kind, critical, brave, empathetic and who trusts their intuition. My love will not be gender-dependent. I have to at least offer myself the same compassion that I will afford my child, as they learn and grown, knowing that we will not be perfect. I will also not be doing this alone.
I am so interested in your thoughts about your (future) child’s sex and your future hopes. Please share and also, please know that my passion may seem judgement-laden, heavy and convinced, but it’s more about the doubts I have experienced (that I will be good enough at this) that bristle when I see and hear other people who don’t seem to consider, as they question of ‘if they should have child X’ that maybe there are other questions they could ask: like why do I want to have this child? And what do I really believe about gender that makes me think one experience will be so different that I would forgo it altogether, rather than embrace a healthy child, irrespective of the chromosomes they happen to bear?
I have deliberately left out details of this mom’s story, to maintain privacy. Thank you for respecting that.