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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

ttc | pregnancy | birth after loss > Sex of subsequent child

I know there have been threads on this topic, but I'm looking for people to tell me it's going to be all right. We lost our baby boy in May, and I just found out we are having a girl. I have a two-yr-old living boy, and I was so excited to raise two little boys: pillow forts, bunk beds, little partners in crime. I know I should be thrilled to be pregnant again, and of course I am hoping for a healthy pregnancy, but I feel like I am grieving all over again. I was hoping that even though I lost Luke, I may still have the experience of mothering two boys. I'm sad for
my son, who doesn't understand what he lost, but may someday wish he had a little brother that we may now never give him. I'm worried that I won't bond with this girl, and she won't be mothered the way she should be.

I'm looking for anyone who had this same reaction to their subsequent child's sex, but was still so happy once they met them. And will I always feel envy and sadness every time I see two little brothers close in age? I was hoping this pregnancy would at least make that part go away.
December 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
Hi Abby, I'm so sorry for the loss of your precious Luke.

I had a living 2 year old daughter when we lost our baby Shelby. Our subsequent rainbows were both boys. I love my boys beyond measure, they are their own little people and fit wonderfully with our family but yes, almost 5 years out from our loss, I still feel a pang when I see people with two daughters close in age. I still feel sad that my daughter doesn't get the little sister she longed for.

In my experience....... a rainbow makes the part where you long for another baby go away. But it never heals the hole in your heart that the baby you lost left. It does get easier to manage..... or maybe we just get busier? But time definitely dulls the ache. I still get unexpected triggers that surprise me but the day to day is easier.

Thinking of you, x
December 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterShelby's Mum
Hi Abby

I have the opposite! I lost my darling second son, and I'm expecting another little boy. I was not thrilled, because I am afraid I will always look at him and think of Pedro. So I was hoping for another girl, since my oldest really wanted a sister.
But trully, I will never know if, I was now having a girl, if I would feel content...

My aunt lost my first cousin, and she was a girl... and after that she had three boys... But with the last one she was in denial untill he was born, saying the doctors might be wrong.

I think that we are never truly happy because we wish for the one that we lost, but listening to Shelby's mum, I do think that time will allow us to treat this new baby as its own self instead of a replacement.
On a positive note, big brothers may bemore affectionate with their little younger sisters and less prone to jeaulosy! :)
December 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMarta
Hello Abby, I think what your are feeling is a "normal" reaction - as normal as anything in a pregnancy after loss can be. I was looking forward to having two girls - giggling together, sharing secrets, doing each other's hair - and now I have a boy and his big sister. She is quite vocal about her disappointment. To her, her brother is nice enough, but totally boyishly annoying and just not the sister she had pined for, and was so excited to get. But then, she adores him, really. And he loves her. They play, they fight, they hug and kiss .. and I will never know what it would have been like, would she be here. Some sisters don't get on. Some do. Some girls are super close to their brothers, especially later in life. We dream up a perfect world, but would it have been like that? She died four years ago, her brother is two, and I have stopped thinking about the gender thing by now, but it took this long. If I could go back in time and change him to be a girl - I wouldn't. But the word "sisters" will always sting a little. But it is not as bad as it used to be. It is not what you would have chosen, but bigger brother, younger sister is a wonderful combination, I think. I am sure they will love each other to bits.
December 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCee
Hi Abby,
I think you and I have some things in common, I lost our second child (a boy) in April at full term. We also have a son who just turned 3. I am currently 17 weeks pregnant and I am thrilled to be pregnant again of course, but have a lot of worry about when we find out the gender (we find out in 2 weeks). I actually never saw myself raising girls and with both of my previous pregnancies I just knew they were boys and I was right. I was thrilled with the idea of raising 2 boys and I miss my son terribly. Like I said before I am so excited to be pregnant and ultimately all I want is to bring a healthy baby home, BUT I am fearful of how I may feel if this one is a girl. I have a very strong feeling that it is a girl. I just never saw us having a girl and I think I will feel very similar to how you are feeling now. I know this doesn't help you at all, but perhaps if nothing else I can be a friend, listening ear and quite possibly someone in the exact situation you are in if I find out I am in fact having a girl. I suspect that when your sweet girl is born you will be full of love and joy, but yes, you will always wonder what life would be like with your two boys, that will never go away. I also suspect and hope that there will come a time where you can't imagine life without your baby girl and your love will erase any doubts you have now. That being said, you are absolutely entitled to feel however you do and I really do think your feelings are totally normal. Take care Momma.
December 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMother of boys
All - Thanks for your responses. It is good to hear from people who have had this same dilemma, but ultimately feel they are good parents to their subsequent children, despite the sex, and that this part will get better. Part of the sadness is that while my older son will always know he had a brother who died, I was hoping that for him, it would be a hypothetical that may never bear an "alternate reality" for him. If we could have given him a brother, albeit a few months after when Luke was supposed to be here, maybe there would never be a longing. I think it's hard to look at a younger sister and think that life would be the exact same if he had a brother instead. Does this make sense?

Marta- It's always interesting to hear from someone who had the "opposite" desire. I have seen this from others on this forum, and I know it is common, and I keep trying to put myself in that mindset (maybe convince myself having a different sex is a good thing?).

Something that I keep trying to come back to is that before I had kids, I always wanted girls. Now... I feel like every step of this whole process just takes me farther from Luke and from what I was "supposed" to have (if I can even think of it this way). The first step was finding out he had a (typically) fatal diagnosis, then there was the delivery (these were obviously the worst two parts). Then there are all the other little decisions and events- my body resuming its "normal" course after the pregnancy; deciding to try for another; starting the prenatals (I cried the first time I took one of these after we decided to try again); the positive pregnancy test.... and now this. Another declaration that my life will be entirely different. Again, I know the "forest" is a healthy baby, and I am grateful that we seem to be on that track so far, and hopeful that it continues.

Mother of two boys- Good luck with the ultrasound. Feel free to post again when you find out, especially if you are looking for someone in the same boat. If it's any consolation, I am certainly in better shape than I was a few days ago. And you never know... 50/50 it's another boy (my "gut" instincts have been right twice on sex, and wrong once... I was convinced my first son was a girl).
December 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
Hi Abby,

Sorry for the late reply, it's been a challenging few days.

I'm sorry for the renewed grief. It's so darn hard.

We lost our daughter Maia as you know. First child. When I was expecting her I didn't care about the sex, was happy either way. Then, they said it's a girl and I dreamed for the remainder of the pregnancy of raising a baby girl. Of the bond between us. Of her and her daddy being best pals. Of hopefully, potentially, having later another girl and thus she'd experience having another girl to grow up with, talk, learn, share experiences and a bond so very different to what I have with my brother. When she died, I lost her and so many other things...

I knew whatever the sex of her sibling it'd be hard. I'd grieve for the sisters that could never be or the girly clothes that should be used but were still brand new...would people see her as a replacement if she was a girl? Would they forget Maia? And if it's a boy, could I love him like I love his sister? How on earth do I raise a boy after spending months planning for a girl? We never could find a boy's name....

When they told us her sibling was a boy...it was hard. I had read the threads here and other websites. I had prepared myself as much as I could. But it still hit me hard. I grieved yet another loss, the loss of my imaginary sisters, and raising a girl.

However, I think within two weeks we found a name we liked. I think the two major scares I had in the third trimester really made me bond with my boy-- I was so very afraid of losing him. The insane amount of scans and non stress tests helped me bond. I'm not recommending this route but it was what helped me. Seeing him. Hearing his heart beating away. Recording his every kick. I still couldn't imagine raising a boy but if there's one thing I learned from Maia is to live in the moment. And so even now I have no clue what I'm doing but I'm doing it. And loving it.

I was afraid of the moment of truth, when he came out. Would he look like his sister?? When he was finally placed on my chest I was soooooooooo relieved, and sooooo in love with him. I know not everyone bonds straight away but I had already established a bond in the third trimester and feeling his warm body on mine was absolute bliss. I missed his sister and continue to miss her so very much but the love was and is there, every second of every day. Just like the pain. It's difficult to explain to the non bereaved. But absolute joy and heartbreak live together now.

Long story short... Yes, I've been 'sort of' there and you will be fine. You will see the other, positive side of having a baby so very different from Luke. But do allow yourself time and space to grieve this new loss before trying to let the joy in. You will love this baby, because she's your baby.

Sending love
December 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaby
Hi Abby,
Me again.....well we found out today. It IS a girl as I had thought. There was no shock or anything because in my heart I already knew. I know that the ultimate goal is a healthy baby I get to bring home and I will be so so blessed if that is the case. Also we already have a name we love (we had it picked before we knew the gender of our other boys) but.......I am devastated about not having another little boy. I know another boy would never ever replace the son we lost, but my dreams and visions of having two little boys are gone....the boxes of clothes from my first son that I lovingly unpacked in my angel's room and then had to tearfully put away will have to be sold or given away. I don't even think I am sad about the clothes, just what they represent. Feel like we are going through a loss all over again.
How are you feeling?
January 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMother of boys
Hi everyone, I have been in very similar emotional spaces, but with the reverse situation. I have an older son and lost our daughter two years ago (when she was a few days old due to birth trauma). I hadn't realised how much I yearned for another girl until we learned we were expecting a boy. I was devastated and it reawakened my grief in a horrific way. This was last spring. It was very difficult, especially because my husband didn't understand. I had always dreamed of mothering a daughter & was undone by our loss, as we all were. I got therapy and got through it. Our son was born a few months ago and is lovely. I wish I could say that was the end of it. But sometimes I get tired of pretending that just because there is a new baby everything is "better". I probably miss our daughter more than ever. And I hate to admit that I still sometimes which the new baby could be a girl, even though I do love him. I cannot have any more children and although there are other ways to expand a family, my husband is not open to them. So this is it. In a way it was good for me to read of those of you learning for two sons. & I am sure you have your own complex emotions in response to my post. I wish I could say it all goes away at some point, but I am not sure it ever does. I feel as though some of my darkest moments have been after learning the gender of the new baby and even since he has been born (not necessarily because of gender, but just realising how much we missed with our daughter (everything)). I wish I had more encouraging words, but I do not. I am also not in the greatest place this week & hope to be better after some sleep (if that is ever possible).
January 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJane
Hi Everyone- Sorry for the delay in response.

Mother of Boys- Wow you have a really good instinct. I didn't really even know on this one, I just assumed the chips would fall not in my favor. I am hanging in there. I'm really trying not to think about the pregnancy at all, which is surprisingly helping right now. I just have no idea what it's going to feel like (if all goes well and baby arrives healthy) so I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. How is the news sinking in for you? I will say that when I really think about the reality of the situation I do find myself getting pretty upset again, so I try to stay away from it.

Jane- I think it's so telling that many of us seem to just want what we lost; or at least a semblance of it. A few months after Luke died I remember walking through Babies R Us (I think I had to get something for my older son) and stopping at a little dress and wondering if this would make me lose it if my baby had been a girl. In the weeks after we lost Luke, and even still, I have much stronger of a reaction to little boy babies than girls, and certainly little brothers as opposed to a boy and a girl. I completely understand where you are coming from, so I won't try to talk you out of your longing for a baby girl, but I could go on and on about how wonderful two little boys will be.

Thanks everyone for the responses. It helps to have company during all this, although I wish none of us had to be here.
January 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
Hi Abby,
It's been about a week since we found out we are having a girl and I can honestly say I am doing better. I have done a lot of talking about it with my husband and my therapist. I can understand why you are pushing away your feelings right now, but it might be good when you are ready to try and work through them and process them. You do want to be able to bond with this baby. I am so scared I won't because she isn't a "he" but I am trying to allow myself to have those moments of excitement over bringing a baby home (as scary as that thought is - sometimes I feel wrong for letting myself feel excited). And I am trying to process and also acknowledge my feeling of loss over not having another son. I am really hoping to work out these feelings as much as I can before my little girl arrives. I want to be ready and able to love her the way she deserves. It helps that my son is so excited and he is so sweet with the little girls at daycare. I know he will love his little sister so much. Take care of yourself and honor your feelings. It's ok to feel the way you do. Hang in there and keep in touch!
January 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMother of boys
Another thought for you Abby.....if you think of a name it may help with the bonding and excitement. I know it did for me :)
January 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMother of boys
Hi Abby, We lost our little boy Ivan in April and now found out we are expecting a girl. Having had fertility issues before I am of course more hopeful about life again now that we are expecting. We haven't got any children yet. I can't lie I was feeling a pang of pain bout not having a little boy again. For me it was the desperate desire deep down in an irrational place to bring my darling back somehow. Expecting a girl forced me to realise once again that it can never be him again. It hurts so bad as I am still deep in my grief. I have however decided to actively bond with my little girl, his little sister, and choosing names and looking at her scan images is making this a bit easier. I understand where you are coming from tho. Very much so.
January 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi