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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 > Wanting same gender

Hello. My beautiful daughter was stillborn at 28 weeks almost a year ago now. We have 3 wonderful boys who we adore and cherish to the ends of the earth. I had never given it much thought until we found out we were having a girl, but I was so excited to experience having a daughter and all that comes with it. Especially the mother/daughter bond, as I am extremely close to my mom as well.

We are now trying to decide if we should try to conceive again. My head knows a healthy baby is all that matters (of course it does, after what we went through last year), but I am so terrified my heart will break if we don't have another little girl. Not because I think she will replace our first daughter, but because I never really thought about all the things I was missing out on by not having a daughter - until I had one and lost her. I am grieving my darling little girl terribly, but also grieving all the lost potential of what I saw in our future. And not just the superficial stuff, but just that strong relationship most mothers and daughters share. And I feel so horrible and selfish for thinking such thoughts since I have so much to be grateful for.

Part of me says we should just be happy with the 3 blessings we have and try to move forward as best we can. Part of me aches to hold one last baby, to end this chapter of our lives on a positive note. It's all just so confusing and I don't know if I'm even in a good frame of mind to be making this decision. But we can't afford to wait much longer due to our age. I know I am so fortunate to have 3 children, I really honestly am. I guess I'm just hoping someone else can relate and maybe offer some perspective? Thank you in advance.
February 16, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMDL
Hi MDL,

I've been having very similar thoughts. I have one living son and one daughter who passed away at birth. I've also had a history of pregnancy complications and am close to 40, so only one more baby can realistically happen. And I always wanted a daughter for all the reasons you list, so my loss was also the loss of an important dream.

I'm pregnant now and about to find out the gender. And it's going to be hard. I keep telling myself that if I loved a dead baby so much, then of course I'll be crazy about a living baby even if it's a boy. But in my mind it's a girl, and if it turns out not to be, I know the news will come with some extra grief.

I guess another way to think about it is that if you don't give it another shot then you lose the option of that mother-daughter bond for sure. A new baby will not change this if it's a boy. But yeah, somehow it's still hard.
February 17, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAna
We have two daughters and we lost our 15 month old son 14 months ago. I am almost 13 weeks pregnant and we will be finding out the gender in the next week if all goes well. I would love to have another boy, to have the opportunity to raise a son. My relationship with my son was different than the relationship I have with my daughters. It was very healing as I don't have the best relationship with my dad. While I would love a boy I think it is most likely I am having another girl. I love my girls and know I will love another one. Also, I try to remind myself that while I will grieve the inability to have a son, the baby will be a blessing no matter what and may be just what I need. I have also had two miscarriages since my son died so the desire to have a healthy child is more on my mind this time around. When I was pregnant two months after he died I was desperate for a boy but then I miscarried. I got pregnant again and it was a girl and I was equally devastated.

When I think about it what I want is my son back. That relationship was special and there is no guarantee I would have such a close relationship with another boy.
February 20, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDenise
Thank you both so much for sharing your insights and experience with me. And congratulations to you both on your pregnancies. I really hope you both get what your heart desires (you surely deserve it) and hope your babies bring you a little bit of healing as well. Wishing you very healthy pregnancies and much joy with your new little ones.
February 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMDL
On Friday we found out we are having a girl. My husband and I were both grateful that we have made it this far in the pregnancy but also horribly sad. Finding out the sex triggered our grief for our son in a way I couldn't imagine. It is a reminder that we cannot have anything similar to what we had before. Instead we will have something that is also wonderful but not similar. It is just another reminder of our reality, our son died, he isn't coming back, and the bond I had with him will not be replicated. Of course there are many wonderful possibilities with this baby, just don't know them yet. Our daughters are very happy and their joy helps us hold joy with the sadness. Now my mind goes to, will she look like our son? I am grasping at trying to recreate some connection to him.
February 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDenise
Hi- I saw this post and wanted to comment. I began a similar thread last year when I was pregnant. We lost our second boy, and all I wanted was another boy. Well we had a girl. The pregnancy was very hard from the moment we found out. I began seeing a therapist with some regularity at that point since I wasn't comfortable with how upset I was over the news. Something shifted in me around 30 weeks and I began to appreciate that she was her own little person and would bring something to our family completely different from what her brother, Luke, would have brought had he lived. I still miss my son, and the "mother of boys" experience that I thought I was going to have, but our family is different now, and really, without Luke it always would be. But I love my daughter every bit as much as her brothers. I am still sad that I will not have my "two boys in bunkbeds", and I still grieve for my living son there is a good chance he will not have the experience of having a living brother and that special same-sex bond, but he has something different now.

Hugs to you mamas... the pregnancy after loss experience is so hard.
February 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
Thank you for your response Abby. It is something different and special. I feel like my daughters' joy is what keeps a smile on my face but then I break down when they are not around. Pregnancy after loss is very hard. This is the 3rd time I have been pregnant since Asher died but the first time I made it far enough to know the sex without a miscarriage.
February 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDenise
Oh Denise, I'm so sorry to hear that. Of course a new baby is special and unique whatever the gender, but I completely understand the attempt to keep some of that bond going.

When my daughter died, a friend told me how her grandparents lost two little girls (one as a baby, one at age two) and how she just assumed that they were 'over it', partly because they gave two younger daughters the names of these older ones. And I thought, no, they were probably trying to capture some of that connection through a new child... in a way that was acceptable back then. It was only when on his deathbed her grandfather said he is happy about seeing his little girls again, that she realized he was carrying the weight of the loss his entire life.

I was lucky enough to learn that we are having a girl. I was completely prepared to be devastated by the news of a boy. Then I spent a few days being completely dazed. Luck really hasn't been on my side these last 5-6 years, especially when it comes to pregnancy, and it felt so strange to have some randomness align the right way for me.
February 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAna
I am so happy for you Ana. I know what you mean about luck not being on your side. I am slowly letting go of the vision of having a living boy. It isn't easy.
February 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDenise
Thank you all for your replies. I am so inspired by your bravery to even attempt another pregnancy after such devastating loss. I spoke with my ob and she suggested starting counseling now so that in the event we do decide to try again, I will be better prepared to handle all of the emotions that come with it. We are also starting to look into adoption as another route.

Ana - I am so happy for you. Wishing you a very happy and healthy pregnancy and joy with your new baby girl. Denise - I am happy for you as well and wish you a very safe pregnancy. I think you are approaching the news with such positivity, but I understand where you are coming from in that the future you saw for yourself and your family is forever altered and will not ever come close to what you had hoped for. But different isn't bad - it's just different. And like you said, she will change your family in her own, unique and special way.

Thank you again for sharing your stories with me. You have all helped me tremendously and I'm relieved I'm not the only one who feels this way. I'm just sorry so many can relate to my experience...
March 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMDL
I am so glad to find this thread and know that I am not alone in this thought process. I have two girls, ages 4 and 5, and lost my 10 month old son last year. We unexpectedly found out I was pregnant in December and I was suprised at how strongly I wanted it to be a boy. We have always waited until birth to find out our baby's sex and my husband and I began a conversation about whether we would wait again or if it would be better to know so we could process if it wasn't a boy. I felt a pretty strong sense of guilt about the fact that I would be disappointed with a girl, even though I knew we would love our baby immensely no matter what. Unfortunately, we don't have to make that decision now because I miscarried earlier this month but I hope to try again and know that I will have similar feelings in a new pregnancy.
March 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKristin
I am so sorry to hear about your miscarriage Kristin. I had two miscarriages after my son's death and it is really hard to have loss after loss. Keep going.
March 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDenise
I came back to let you know that even though I am still happy about it being a girl, there was definitely an aftershock to it. I am almost 2.5 years away from my loss and have been really well lately. But suddenly it hit me all over again, just a strongly as in the early days.

I think it has to do with the fact that being my daughter will no longer be unique to my stillborn child. Her having a different gender than my son gave me something based on which to imagine her. Now this will not be only hers, and it is getting harder to imagine who she would have been. She would have been different from her sister, of course, but in what way - I can never know.

In the long run it is still good news. But I just wanted to share how complex it all is.
March 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAna
Thanks Ana. I was wondering if you do end up with the same sex baby that there must be complicated feelings with that as well. I think that regardless of the sex once we know it it reinforces the fact that our children are gone. It further cements that reality. I also believe in the long run it will be great but I will always be horribly sad that my son is gone.
March 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDenise