To pass on the family name, Jiang Fugui was determined to keep trying for a son despite the state's one-child policy.
He succeeded on his second attempt but at the cost of his job, a year's pay and peace of mind.
Jiang, 36, had been a rising star in Qingyang, a rustic county in the eastern province of Anhui. With a good education behind him, he was chosen to help run his small silk factory and was given membership in the prestigious Communist Youth League.
Like millions of Chinese, however, Jiang's family plans clashed with state population goals, and he lost badly in the process.
"Everyone calls my son 'little treasure' because he cost so much," he joked in an interview. Jiang, an only son himself, said he felt parental pressure to keep alive his lineage. After fathering a daughter, he decided to try again for a boy. Finally, his wife became pregnant in October 1982.
As his factory's vice director, Jiang should have helped to enforce the state's limit of one child per couple. Instead, he was violating it, and he drew the rancor of his superiors.
The Jiangs were urged to have the pregnancy aborted. Cornered at home and at work, they were lectured dozens of times. They were exhorted to act as good examples for the community. They were threatened with fines for refusing. Even factory workers badgered them.
"It was a lot of pressure," recalled Jiang, a moon-faced man who sports a wispy goatee. "I couldn't sleep or eat. It was the same for my wife."
Jiang nonetheless stood his ground, claiming his wife's health was too frail to survive an abortion. But everyone else knew he was simply covering up his desire for a son.
"He knew his parents would not rest until they carried a grandson in their arms," explained Song Yueying, a birth control activist.
A son finally was born to Jiang in August 1983, but what should have been a happy occasion turned into a nightmare.
Jiang was fired from his job, stripped of league membership, censured in a circular sent all over the county and forced to pay back $180 -- equal to his annual salary -- in benefits he had received earlier for having a single child.
His wife, who also worked at the silk factory, was placed on probation and deprived of a pay raise given to other employes.
"As a factory official, Jiang should have taken the lead in birth control," said county Family Planning Chief Wu Zemin. "We had no other choice but to teach him a lesson for others to see."
After two jobless months in which he was depressed and financially strapped, Jiang was hired as a part-time technician at a cement factory.
Last May, he made a humiliating self-criticism before the silk factory bosses. In unusually lenient treatment toward a birth control violator, he was rehired as a temporary worker. But he labors without fringe benefits at just three-quarters of his old salary.
With their income slashed and careers clouded, Jiang and his wife barely can support their two children and Jiang's parents who live with them in a tiny brick house.
Chatting with a reporter, Jiang was asked if having a son was worth all the trouble.
"I shouldn't have done it," he replied.
A few seconds later, his solemn face cracked a smile. "I love my son, however," he said.