Gender disappointment and Birth Disappointment
In the taboo ABCs of postpartum D is for disappointment.
Disappointment can come a lot of ways when it comes to being a new mom. And we’re actually going to back this up and even talk about what disappointment can look like in pregnancy. This can impact our confidence and more specifically, our self judgment and criticism as new moms. Moms may feel sad about the outcome of something but those feelings can cause shame.We’re talking about gender disappointment, medical disappointment, and birth disappointment.
Maybe it’s just not being ready to be a mom yet.
Maybe it’s the disappointment of how something has gone differently than the way you anticipated.
The struggle I see here is that we don’t often feel okay to have joy and disappointment coexisting with gratitude. Many new moms have this feeling of grief and disappointment over how something has gone.
Gender disappointment is one that is common one that I experienced myself. I always picture myself as a boy mom. And so when my second turned out to be a girl, for a while, I was disappointed. I couldn’t imagine what that would look like. It wasn’t what I had envisioned for myself. I was excited to have her. I love her to pieces now, but I did feel a little bit of that gender disappointment.
Whether it’s at a gender reveal party, or whether you wait to find the gender of your baby at birth, you can feel this disappointment, probably because you pictured it one way and it turns out to be another. If you really wanted a boy and find out you are having a girl of if you wanted a girl and found out you are having a boy, you can feel sad.
You also may experience disappointment with something medical, maybe you’re in the NICU with your baby. Maybe there was something that became unexpected about your baby, and you’re just feeling this disappointment about things not being the way you pictured. When I gave birth again to my daughter, my first week was spent in the NICU and that is not how I envisioned it, I was disappointed. I was disappointed that there were medical complexities. I was scared, I was nervous. And I was also just feeling this loss of how I envisioned things.
Related: Being a heart mom
Disappointed in Birth Plan Not Happening
You may also experience disappointment about the way your birth went. Perhaps you had a birth experience that was way different than you anticipated. Maybe you planned for a certain way of birth, maybe you had your birth plan, maybe you had everything prepared.
And then it went differently. I hear this often from clients who planned a vaginal delivery had a belly birth (csection). I also hear this from women who planned unmedicated birth and end up with an epidural or other medical interventions. If you feel like your birth plan failed, you can be disappointed by the birth and your birth story.
Related: Hospital Unmedicated Birth Story
How to Address Disappointment in Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum
So I want to talk about a few ways that we can address disappointment: whether it’s gender disappointment, birth disappointment, medical disappointment, or just circumstantial disappointment. I want to give you three tips on how to handle disappointment, whatever kind you might be facing.
Get it out
One is to find a safe space to get it out of your head, maybe you’ve been carrying this thought and feeling guilty about it or not having a place to put it. This might be trusting in your partner or a good friend or a therapist. And if that doesn’t feel comfortable to you, that’s okay, you can write it out in a private place or find some way to get it from here (your head), out there so that it’s not just swirling around in your brain anymore. So that first step is to find a place to get it out.
2. Make peace with your disappointment and gratitude
Your second step is to tell yourself that it’s okay to have disappointment and gratitude and thankfulness. At the same time, you can be both disappointed and grateful for how things are. Give yourself the space to have both of those experiences at the same time.
3. What is possible because of the disappointment?
And third, I want you to ask yourself, what is possible because of the disappointment. So anytime we are disappointed it’s because something came or is that we didn’t expect so give yourself the space to consider this- write it out or talk about what is able to be because of the disappointment that you faced.
Disappointment is probably more common than you thing. Gender disappointment, circumstantial disappointment, birth, disappointment, all of these things happen because we picture in our head the way things are going to go. We are dreamers and have a vision and maybe sometimes that’s wrapped up in a little anxiety. We have an idea of how we think things will go, how we want them to go and how they should go. And so it’s natural and okay for you to have some disappointment when things don’t match up with the way you want them to. Give it some space. Give it a name. Identify the things that you can feel at the same time and then realize what is and what has come out of that unexpected disappointed experience.
Related: More than a mom
If you need a place to process the changes of new motherhood, a place to say the hard things and connect authentically with others, check out Postpartum Together Small groups. I help women just like you find peace and empowerment in the season after having a baby. I want you to be a confident, connected momma too.