Pregnant and ‘girl crazy’

Carolyn Hax
Columnist July 11, 2011

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

I am six months pregnant with my first child and I DESPERATELY want a girl. I’m not sure why, exactly — I have great relationships with my father/brothers/nephews/husband — but the desire is so strong I’m a little concerned. I’ve insisted on not finding out the baby’s gender. I’m claiming I want to be surprised, but really it’s because I’ll be devastated if it’s a boy.

If it is a boy, how do I handle the disappointment and avoid being unfair to an innocent little baby? I’m hoping that once my real-live baby is in front of me, I won’t care what it is. Does this happen?

Girl Crazy

You mean not caring what the sex is once you behold your newborn child? Sure. It’s also normal for parents to have some degree of preference.

But I don’t think your desperation, or your suspense, is healthy for you or the baby. Instead of counting on oxytocin to wipe out your boy misgivings, please consider finding out the sex now, so you can prepare yourself before the baby comes out.

And if you learn it’s a boy, also consider saying out loud what you’re feeling, to someone safe, since speaking it so often reduces a huge fear into a more manageable one.

I’m not trying to guilt-trip you by saying this, but imagine you’re a newborn and your mother isn’t thrilled to see you. You owe it to the little person to will your heart open to a boy. Yes, seeing your little baby will help naturally, but I still think addressing this now is the better course than a birthday surprise.

I can also throw in, anecdotally and not at all objectively, and therefore quite uselessly, that boys are a hoot. I even came around on the clothes. Boy stuff is much cuter.

Re: Girl crazy:

I’m pregnant with a boy, having had a bit of a preference for a daughter and even a strong dream about having a daughter. I was really glad to find out at the ultrasound, because my husband and I went through a weekend of laughing off all the stereotypes about raising a boy. We also told people, and their excitement and encouragement helped fuel my excitement and longing to see our son.

And, there’s time now. Time for me to contemplate what, if anything, changes now that I know I’m having a boy, time to seek advice from friends who have boys, time to think about all the qualities I love in my husband that he might pass on, time to think of our little boy by name . . . it’s a really sweet time of anticipation right now.

Anonymous

Well said, thank you.

Even if Girl Crazy learns it’s a girl, that’s not necessarily cause for celebration (or even “phew”). Wanting something so so badly suggests there’s a vivid mental image of what she wants her child to be, and even if she has a girl, that girl could have a personality or tastes that bear absolutely no resemblance to the girl she has in mind. Being a good parent means being the parent your kid needs, period. You don’t know what that looks like until you get to know your kids.

Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com.

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