Thursday, 4 February 2010

Think pink (blue too?)

I've posted a couple of times recently about wanting another baby.  There are all sorts of reasons I want another baby, but the eagle-eyed reader will have spotted that none of them is because I want one of those exotic, foreign creatures.... a boy.

And that's because I don't.  I mean it's not as though I'd mind a boy, I've got three girls after all and a change is as good as a rest (apparently, at the moment I can't think of much that'd be as good as a rest, but that may be one for another day), but I'm not craving a boy.  The possibility that this hypothetical child might be a boy has absolutely nothing to do with why I want it.  In fact, if I'm honest, I'd sort of rather another girl. I know girls. I've got piles of pink baby clothes.  And can you imagine being the younger brother of three girls?  It's hardly fair to do that to a child is it?!

I've never really cared about the gender of any of my children.  We didn't know what L was, and I sort of thought she was a boy, but when she arrived she was L, and I loved her.  And we knew what A&S were from very early on (we had about a million scans) so I never really thought of them as anything other than girls, and that was good news because apparently identical boys are harder work (not in the teenage years, but we'll cross that bridge in due course).

But apparently there are women who don't feel like that: there is an article in today's Times (it's a work day, I get to read the paper at lunchtime!), and a programme on Channel 4 tonight, about women who want a girl - and apparently it's more often a girl - so badly that they have a psychological condition: gender disappointment. 

And this got me thinking (and not just about the propensity of the modern medical profession to put a label on everything).  Why girls?  Why don't people (apparently) crave boys?  It can't, surely, be because they think girls are all about the pink and the dressing up, can it? What then happens if they get a tomboy?  And really, if you think like that, surely you shouldn't have a baby, you should have a doll.   And isn't it interesting, in a world in which there are countries in which "a girl baby isn't a child" that in this country that may be changing, and girls are becoming the more "desirable" sex?

And I also wondered if maybe more people do care about the gender of their child than actually let on.  I certainly felt while pregnant that it was important not to express a preference:  possibly because I didn't have one, and possibly because I didn't want to be disappointed if I didn't get what I wanted.  I certainly did feel an (entirely self-imposed) pressure to produce a grandson for my mother-in-law (now grandmother to six girls).  Yet I knew she didn't care. So why did I feel I it mattered?

And I wonder.  Should we care? Did (do) you care? And does it really matter anyway?  Aren't they all just their own people, and don't we love them for that?

Picture courtesy of Thank you


  1. I was sure Babygirl was a boy (we'd tried Strettles ..) but obviously she wasn't - yes I'd have like one of each and yes we'll probably go for no3 and try for a boy but hey, a healthy happy baby is my preference (that said my sil was desperate for a girl for no3 ... and didn't get it and was a bit narked that I had girls ...)

  2. Really good post. I hadn't really thought that it was more people wanting girls than boys but now I can see that's probably true - at least from my experience and others I know (so, limited). I have seen a few people on internet forums craving boys but less so. Like you say,when in some countries it's totally different, like China, it puts it all into perspective.

  3. Well, yes, in answer to your last two questions, but we are imperfect human beings, and imperfect parents, and some people really do want one or the other. Perhaps it would be healthier if we were all able to admit it, without any stigma.

    When I had 2 boys and was expecting my 3rd, I really didn't mind what the 3rd would be. In fact, like you, I thought it would make sense and be easier to have another boy. My bro-in-law and sis-in-law had 3 boys, slightly older than ours, and it just seemed like a fun family. I thought it would be great. But I was on the receiving end of so many comments assuming I'd be wanting a girl. It really annoyed me - especially as people would feel free to say these things in front of my sons. By the end of the 9 months, I'd got into the way of thinking that I really DID want another boy, just to prove everyone wrong. Something about supporting the underdog too, since another boy seemed to be very much an underdog.

    But she was a girl, and although it took a few days to get used to the idea, I was thrilled. And now I LOVE having a daughter.

    I was fed up with my f-i-l, who made no secret of the fact that he was thrilled to have a grand-daughter at last. You shouldn't use sentences like "pleased it's not another disappointment" in the presence of a woman 24 hours after she's given birth. You really shouldn't.

  4. As someone who is umming and ahhing about another, I'm already annoyed by the number of people who assume that I'd want a girl. I know boys, I'm already in the wrestling, football, train zone. I don't have many pink anythings. If we did have another baby and it was a girl, that would be great, but I'd be ever so thrilled to have another boy. I always worry for these parents who are so desperate to have a particular gender. What if the girl isn't a girly girl? Or the boy doesn't do boy stuff?

  5. I have a boy and a girl and people assume that because I have one of each I won't want to have any more children now. Not true!

    But I did want a girl first time. I wanted to give my mother a granddaughter and I wanted to be able to use my grandmother's name as a middle name (very silly reasons!). And also I just liked the thought of having a daughter.

    With my second I felt I'd be equally happy with a boy or a girl. In some ways I thought another girl would be nice as I liked the idea of two sisters being close friends. But of course now I love having a boy and feel very lucky that I do.

    In the end I think you just love your children whatever they are - even if you had your heart set on one gender and the other came out, as soon as you saw that little face you wouldn't want any other baby!

  6. I thought I'd given birth to an elephant when she made her appearance into the world. I couldn't have cared what gender she was, so long as she was healthy. There are pro's and cons of both girls and boys. I'll never know what it's like to have a boy, but it sure is good to have a girl.

    CJ xx

  7. Perhaps there's a tendency for women to want a girl and for men to want a boy. That way we can 'relive' our own childhoods, and perhaps have more of the 'mini-me' thing going on. Also it's sometimes more difficult to relate to the experiences of the opposite sex, because they're 'different' - I certainly can't relate to the love of football which my 2 boys are showing signs of developing. Having said that, when I was expecting my first child, my husband wanted a girl, whereas I didn't mind.

  8. It's a strange one. i didn't care either way when pregnant with both of ours. what i wanted was happy healthy human of some sort. when the boy came along (second) people started saying all kinds of weird things, the most annoying and puzzling of them being 'I bet your husband is happy to have a boy.' I don't think he could have given two figs which one it was, and yet so many people assumed that he would want a son. All very odd and quite insulting to the first born really, as though she wasn't good enough, being only a girl and all.

    I think if you care to the point that it becomes an illness or a 'condition' about then perhaps it's not really a child, a small independent person, that you really want. If you can't let go enough to realise you can't control the gender what other child rearing problems are you going to encounter when it starts walking, talking and expressing opinions that don't go along with yours. And I shudder to think of the physcoligical damage to the child for the ever present disappointment if it comes out the 'wrong' sex.

  9. To be honest, I wanted a boy - I'm such a tomboy myself that having a boy felt very natural... but I had a girl! I am delighted to have a daughter and can't imagine things being any other way.
    My partner's parents now have 2 grandaughters, so if (when!) I have another baby I will feel under pressure to produce a grandson for them.

  10. Firstly I wanted a healthy baby and secondly a large family but...I know I probably would have kept going if no girls appeared. I do know someone who was obsessed with having a girl, even though she already had one. Her behaviour annoyed me a bit.
    BTW- my best friend has a boy after three girls, it is an experience but one they love! ;0) x

  11. Muddling along - interesting that you tried to control it - I think that's what you're saying, although I don't know what "strettles" is and google's not helping. Were you disappointed when it didn't work? How did it affect your bonding with her?

    Deer Baby - interesting that your annecdotal evidence backs up the wanting girls thing - the only person I knew like this was someone when I was a child - they had seven girls and kept trying for a boy so disproving my point entirely!

    Iota/BiB - I totally agree! I'd forgotten about that when I was writing this post, but people keep saying to me "Oh, so you'll be trying for a boy next" or "Oh, B must want a boy"... and it drives me loopy! Maybe that's another reason why I'd sort of rather a girl! Oh, and I'd have punched Iota's fil (and blamed it on the hormones!)

    Solveig - I don't know if you watched the programme (I did and felt huge sympathy for the women involved, while totally not getting it, if you see what I mean) but the thing that I found enormously reassuring was that the woman with four boys who got pregnant naturally, although devastated when she found out it was a boy, was clearly delighted with him once he arrived. As you say, how can you not love that new person?

    CJ - elephant??? I thought she was an alien, but never an elephant. I am wincing in imaginary sympathy!

    Jude - that's an interesting point and not one I'd considered. I suppose I do find it easier to relate to the stuff they like, but then I'm not a particularly girly girl and nor are they yet. Quite how I'll cope when they develop an interest in fashion or make up (or football for that matter) I'm not sure. Interestingly too, I think B is very glad to have a girl, and certainly doesn't seem to be keen for a boy.

    Heather - it's definitely true that people seem to expect that a man will want a boy. I've sort of assumed it comes down to some sort of medieval passing on the name thing (you need a boy to inherit the Dukedom etc - this problem is clearly, with my girls, causing me sleepless nights!) B puts it rather nicely - he says he's always wanted to live with four beautiful women! I totally agree with you too about the independence point. I learned pretty early that trying to control who my children were was doomed to failure, and maybe their gender is the first example of that!

    Make do Mum - if you do have another girl, let me put your parents-in-law in touch with mine! With six so far (and a 50:50 chance of another one in April - not mine clearly!) they're good with the granddaughters!

    Chic Mama - What was it about girls? Do you think you'd have felt the same if you'd had all girls and no boys? Is it about "balance" or girls? I'd love to know...

  12. Great post! I love watching my kids run around with naked bums too. (Except of course when they are pooping on the floor. That part not so good.)


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