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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 > Emotional over gender

Hello out there,

I am feeling so emotional and frankly disappointed and heartbroken after finding out yesterday I am pregnant with a boy. We lost our 2nd girl Nora (we have a living daughter) last year to a placental abruption. I always wanted girls, having grown up with a sister who is my best friend. When we were pregnant with Nora I was ok with the idea having a boy (we didn't know her gender) because I know it's 50/50 and we already had one girl. Then I did have another beautiful girl and she died and left us forever broken hearted. Now the idea and emotional baggage of having a boy is so incredibly complicated. I know another girl wouldn't have replaced Nora and I always would have longed for her and wondered what our lives would have been like if she had lived, but now there's not even a new version of that "image" to try to hold onto. My first will never have a little sister, I'll never refer to "my girls", I'll feel jealous and sad every time I see two sisters together. And my biggest fear is that I won't know how to love a little boy. That I'll project all of my sadness and grief onto him for not being the girl I lost, something he absolutely doesn't deserve. And on top of it, I feel so deeply awful and guilty for having these feelings, like I'm the worst mother in the world!! All I should want at this point is to have a living, healthy child after what we've been through. But I can't help all of this bubbling up and I'm so afraid of putting this heavy burden on him. All I can hope is that if/when I see him, I will fall madly in love with him like I did when I saw my girls. I'm just so scared that I won't.

Wondering if anyone else out there has struggled with these thoughts or how parenting has felt after going through this roller coaster. Thank you for listening, it helps to know there are people who may understand these feelings in this new, isolating world I live in.

Many thanks,
Nora's Mom
March 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNora's mom
Nora's mom, I'm sorry you are struggling with this, And for the loss of your precious Nora.

I lost my second girl too. And have since had 2 rainbow boys. I was relieved to be pregnant with a boy after Shelby died. I wanted everything about my rainbow pregnancy to be different. I was worried I wouldn't be able to separate Shelby and the new baby if the gender was the we are different in this sense.

But after my son was born, I vividly remember going to the library and seeing a lady with a toddler daughter and a pink bundle in a pram and I lost it. I would never have my precious girls together. My oldest would not have a sister.

Can I assure you, your love for your son won't be affected by this. You will adore this little boy and he will fit into your family perfectly. But I totally understand how the thought of the loss of the relationship between your two girls adds another level of sadness to your story.

Thinking of you,
March 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShelby's Mum
Nora's mum, I could have written your post three years ago. Every single word of it. I hear you and feel for you.

I just tucked my son into bed, my little curly haired man with his roaring laughter and boundless energy, and I can tell you this: I love him to bits. His big sister loves him just as much. Despite the gender difference and the big age gap, there is a bond between them that makes me think (hope, wish) that they will always be close.

Yes, I still wish she had a little sister. So does she. Seing sisters interact always stings, at least a little. I think it always will. But I think I have managed to totally disconnect this from my feelings for my son. To be honest, that didn't happen instantaneously with his birth, but it didn't take too long. If I think about it now, I could not imagine my daughter without her little brother. I think of three kids who should be here with me. We would never ever have tried for a third had she lived, I think. But I love the thought that he would have been our happy "oops"!

Try not to beat yourself up about what you are feeling. I promise you will love your son, deeply and unconditionally.
March 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCee
I feel the same. We lost our son in December and I am 8 weeks pregnant. We have two daughters and desperately want another son. We want a second chance at having a son. Another son would never replace the son we lost but it would be more familiar to him. I know that a healthy child is all that matters and that if we have a girl we will love that baby but it will be another loss so to speak that we will have to work through. I imagine in the long run whatever we are blessed with will be perfect for us but right now in my grief journey I want another boy.
March 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenise
Oh Nora's Mom, I was exactly where you are, minus having a living daughter. I have an older boy and was thrilled to be expecting a daughter. I had always wanted a girl and we were overwhelmed with joy at the prospect of our daughter. She was sadly with us for only a few days, but is in our hearts forever. Just as your Nora will be. When I found out that I was expecting a boy, I was actually devastated. I really struggled with being disappointed over his gender and, like you, didn't know whether I could love another son. I was in a terrible place for some time but then tried to work through it. I'll admit that it was not immediate for me, but now I cannot imagine another outcome. Though I of course still wish every day our daughter were alive and with her brothers, but now I am so so very grateful for my baby boy. I loved him immediately, but still was grieving not having a girl, especially when I learned that I cannot have more children. I struggled with that. But I now love my amazing, lovely littlest man more than I knew was possible. And have even had moments of thinking that if we were to have another child somehow, it should be a boy. Much as I will always yearn for a daughter, I have wondered whether maybe one of my tasks in this lifetime is to raise good boys to be good men. I also at some point was able to find some peace in the idea of choosing to be grateful for what we have, rather than focusing on what we lost or cannot have. This all said, it was not easy to get to this place. It took time, intentional work, and - to some extent - releasing the emotions. I understood even as I felt the gender disappointment that it actually wasn't about the sweet baby in my belly but about my unending grief over the death of our daughter. Knowing that does not make it any easier. Know that you are understood. I'll hold you in my heart today and during your journey. I hope that you'll be able to find peace with this new child. And little boys love their mamas in a very special way. May you also soon find joy in that. Sending strength!
March 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJane
i think its important to recognize that grieving the loss of a dream, a gender, a potential future,
is totally normal, healthy, expected, and nothing to feel shame or guilt about...

when you lost your baby, you lost dreams and expectations...
this is not very different. please don't belittle these feelings, because of course you would have them- its normal.

there was a time, during our last pregnancy attempt, that i thought we were having a boy.
the definitiveness that this was our last baby, and we would never get the chance to parent a girl,
it came down on me hard. dresses. pinks. curls in bows... i am not even a very "girly" woman, but when you know there will be no girl, all of the sudden those dresses and frilly pinks and princess stuff seem utterly wanted and absolutely unattainable. a dream lost. this is something to grieve. it triggers other layers and aspects of loss, being parents who have had their babies die. very confusing.

but no need to feel guilty about it. it has absolutely nothing to do with your subsequent baby... you will love them regardless of their gender. it is tempting to morph it all together, but there is no need to hide from this 'gender grief'. its real, so you may as well address it head on and feel the feelings that you come at you... it is totally understandable what you feel- losing the prospect of sisters, etc... very sad and it cycles right back to the loss of your daughter. i can feel the pain of it just thinking of it. i think sometimes this gender-topic is very underplayed and possibly censored because as loss parents, we are expected to just be grateful for anything after what we have lost. that is so minimizing though.

and as it turned out, our last baby was a girl. i am constantly surprised and awakened to the fact that each child is so different, regardless of gender or looks... my daughter that died, you know, because i never really knew her, over the years, i have created this idea of what she would have been like... and my living daughter is so unlike her sister... whatever dreams i had related to how i thought it would be to parent my daughter that died- as a girl- never match up to the reality of how i parent her living sister. what i am trying to say is that the dreams and fantasies and visions very often do not align with how reality follows thru.

you can't help how you feel, nor should you. i think you know you will love being the mom to your next baby... he will cause you to feel so much love and wonder and joy all on his own, regardless of his penis :)
all of these gender-related feelings are very fresh to you- nora died very recently, and all of that girl-energy is still all around you, with your two daughters, grieving the loss of nora, the dream of sisters, etc... it is ok to feel sad about that... but it will not taint your next baby nor will it change your parenting skills. and you know, it might not even disappear, this gender-loss, even when your son is born- but it isn't your son, or you... its not his fault, or your fault, if you still pine for another girl... as we all know, there are some things that cannot be made better, and we have to accommodate those losses into our new realities. i continue to miss my daughter deeply, as herself, as the girl i wonder who she would have grown into... i will never know that and i have had to learn to accept and cope with that fact- it continues to be difficult... having more babies does not ever make those losses magically go away or get better. not trying to be a downer, just reminding you that their is no point in minimizing a loss or hiding from how you feel- its ok.
March 31, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterss
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses and I'm so deeply and truly sorry for your losses. As I adjust to this news I'm trying to remind myself that I need to separate my grief for my daughter and what would have been if she lived, from the love I could have for my son or any other child I might have. That while they're related, because we wouldn't be having another child had Nora lived, they don't have to overlap. I just realize it's another "loss", another layer of something missing, and I have to grieve that too. This is all just so much work every day, sometimes I'm just so exhausted!! But it helps so much to find support here and to know other mothers are somehow surviving these unthinkable losses. I wish none of had to be doing this.
Many thanks again for sharing your thoughts and feelings on this issue, I really appreciate it so much.
Big hugs to you all,
Nora's Mom
March 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNora's mom
Wow, SS. I love your response.
March 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenise
I posted something similar a few months ago when I found out we were having a little girl. We have a living son, and lost our second baby boy last year. I was devastated, and made myself physically ill for about three days after getting the news we were having a girl. My husband was excited to have a girl (I don't think he really cared either way) which made me more angry and upset. (He also has a little sister so I think identifies with the older brother/younger sister dynamic). I was so excited to have two little boys running around. And then we lost Luke. And then I lost my dream of two little brothers close in age. Even writing this again makes me start bubbling with emotion over it.

I am 27 weeks right now, and handling it much better than I was 14 weeks ago when we got the news. Not fully "there" yet... I still miss my second boy, and my visions of what my two little boys would have been like together. I have been trying to spend more time looking at girly clothes, and paying attention to little girl babies more. Not sure if it is helping, but the anger at the (minor) injustice of this is settling down. I actually called a therapist the week I found out since I figured I needed to get my act together before the baby is born. Of course, I am hoping for a healthy baby and child, and I know that is the most important part, but I can't pretend the sex of the baby didn't matter to me.

I think you will feel better about it... feeling her squirming around helps. It's a reminder that she is her own person and regardless of whether she was a boy or a girl, it would not have been Luke.

Oh and one little piece of advice... I haven't told anyone the sex. I really don't want people to start giving me the excited face or start building up what this girl is going to be like, how wonderful girls are, etc. so I have to fake being really excited. I assume that when I meet her I will love her, and I don't want to have to pretend anything until then.
April 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAbby