Boy mom. It’s all I heard during my first, second, and third pregnancies. I never understood it – I don’t know what it is about me that says “boy mom” – and honestly, I never really wanted it. I always wanted children and I was just fine to have a boy in the mix but, all I ever wanted, for as long as I can remember, was a little girl. I think about that saying, “man plans and God laughs,” a lot when it comes to my small brood of boys. I always planned for a little girl; three boys later and God is laughing.
When my first was born and they announced I had a little boy, I was shocked. I can still see my husband’s mouth bubbling around the letter B. I remember staring at him blankly. A boy? That had to be wrong. What was I going to do with a boy? I was positive I was having a girl; I would know what to do with a girl; I’d mentally prepared for a girl and now I had to readjust my emotions, my expectations, and my nursery décor.
My next child came a quick 16 months later. Another healthy, beautiful baby boy; I was thrilled. I was also surprised…and a little disappointed. I’d tempered my expectations the second time around and announced at every opportunity that it was probably another boy, but quietly, I wished and prayed for my girl. God laughed again when baby boy #2 was born in January. He was absolutely perfect and I comforted myself with the knowledge that we would (more than likely) have a third. That’s when it would happen, I thought. It makes perfect sense: third time’s a charm; I’ll get my girl then.
Baby #3 came two weeks early. My husband and I were at dinner with some of his work colleagues. I’d been having contractions, sporadic and irregular, nothing to worry about. Braxton Hicks, for sure. We spent a lovely evening with lovely people and I took my sweet time eating everything. Crab salad? Yes, please. The duck confit? Definitely. And I’m pregnant, so can I add mashed potatoes to that order? Is there any more bread? Dessert? I’m glad you asked. That flourless chocolate torte looks delicious.
On the 15-minute ride back to our house, my contractions went from 25+ minutes apart to every 5 minutes. My husband – poor thing – was ready to go to the hospital immediately. I made us wait and time the contractions; we got to the hospital at 2am.
Matthew was born around 7:00 that morning. I pushed that baby out and held my breath, waiting for the nurses to tell me it was a girl. I had a name ready. I would see her and hold her and my family would be complete. It was my husband who finally got a glimpse of the goods and told me that I had another son…and I burst into tears. Another boy. A third boy. For one quick, irrational moment, I thought: no, it’s fine, there’s another baby in there and she’ll be out in a minute. Then they laid him on top of me. He immediately curled up, started sucking his fingers, and I fell completely in love. He was perfect, an absolutely beautiful baby boy.
The feelings lingered. The sadness, the disappointment, and the utter bemusement that I was now mother to three boys and zero girls. I could not understand. It never even crossed my mind that, when I got to have all my babies, they’d be boys. Most of the people I know have a mix of boys and girls; I assumed I’d be the same. And so, I cried and then I cried some more. And then I cried off and on for my entire first week home.
My husband couldn’t understand. Here we were, blessed with three beautiful, healthy children. I had healthy pregnancies. The boys were lively and energetic and intelligent. Why was I so upset? Why couldn’t I be happy with the family we had?
I am happy with the family we have, I told him. I don’t want to give any of the boys back. I wouldn’t trade any of my boys for a girl. Our boys are beautiful and they are happy and they are loved, but I spent my entire life thinking I would have a daughter and now, that isn’t something that will happen for me. After each baby, I comforted myself with the knowledge that we’d try again. With each pregnancy, we waited to find out what kind of bun was in my oven, so I had 9 months of exciting possibility. Now, our three children are birthed and here and (I hope) thriving and this dream, this expectation, that I’ve had my whole life is gone. It felt like a death, and I felt like I was mourning a whole life of things I’d never now never get to do. Some of it was superficial: the sweet clothes and precious nursery…ruffled bubbles and smocked dresses and coats and tights and bows.
The hardest part was emotional. It was letting go of something I’d wanted as long as I could remember, of something I’d always expected to have in my life. I look at my relationship with my mom which I treasure. It was a relationship I’d hoped to have a with my own daughter and now that wouldn’t happen for me. These feelings were heart wrenching and devastating in ways I’d never experienced before. I couldn’t work harder or take a class or save money to earn what I wanted. I was entirely at the mercy of God, fate, biology. “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.” Only I did pitch a fit, in my way. I cried; I mourned; and I put it away because really, what else can you do?
I adore my boys – their sweetness and energy, their big hearts and hilarious toddler commentary. I look at them and can’t believe they’re mine; my heart simply swells. My wild Washington trio humbles me and challenges me and fills me with joy.
I’m able to get my “girls fix” from nieces and goddaughters and children of friends and family who are generous enough to share their daughters with me. It helps, and those feelings of loss or “less than” have morphed into occasional aches…then one of my boys needs his mommy and the ache subsides.
8 thoughts on “#boymom”
Thank you for writing this. I so wanted a girl my first pregnancy and was devastated to find out we were having a boy. I had imagined our whole life ahead and what my relationship would be with my first child and it felt like that was all turned upside down when I found out I was having a boy instead of a girl. I’m not sure if I want another baby and I know if I do have one, I’m going to desperately want it to be a girl. I love my son dearly but I would love to have a relationship with a daughter like I do with my mom. There’s so much shame around gender disappointment. It doesn’t mean you love your children any less. And you’re allowed to mourn and grieve the life you thought you would have.
Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad what I wrote resonated with you and it means a lot to hear from others who have the same struggle. Like you said, I adore my boys, it was just so opposite of my expectations and personal and emotional prep and it took real adjustment. ❤
I always pictured myself as having one daughter, and that’s it. Now, like you, I have three boys. #2 & # 3 are fraternal twins; I was shocked and scared when I found out I was having twins, but I comforted myself by thinking that SURELY one of them would be the daughter I longed for. Nope! I did get sad (and sometimes I still do), but, on the bright side, they can share rooms, clothes, and toys very easily (or they will, I assume, once they learn to share – they are all toddlers still, so “share” isn’t in their vocabulary yet 🤣).
Daphne, thank you for sharing! I truly love hearing other moms experiencing the same feelings I had. Now that I’m 2 years into our 3rd boy, I am loving their energy and the dynamics of brothers. And it definitely cuts down on clothing costs 😉
I’m expecting boy #3. Found out baby’s gender 2 days ago. I can’t even look at my children without feeling sad. I wanted a girl since forever. And specially with my 2nd baby I never truly bonded. I feel lonely when I look at them and I’m supposed to put on a happy face! I’m scared I’ll always resent them for none of them being the girl I’ve always dreamed of, even though it’s not their fault. I always took comfort on the thought we would try again and next time would be it. Motherhood has suddenly turned into another exhausting task, a burden for life.
Ana, I’m so sorry. I know the emotions can be so tricky to navigate, especially since pregnancy and motherhood come with so many emotional (and hormonal!) ups-and-downs. I will say that once I wrote that post and was confronted those feelings I was struggling with, I felt better and was more at ease with my boys and our family. I am the absolute last person to tell you how you should be feeling but boys come with their own special gifts and wow, do they adore their mamas! I am sending love and good wishes and all the #boymomvibes. Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out if you want to talk. And congratulations on your 3rd baby! Give yourself grace and patience.
I am a Mom to 4 adult sons. I still long for a daughter, guess I always will. Thanks for your honesty.
K, thank you for reaching out. I appreciate your comment and definitely relate. It’s an odd thing, loving your children so much and still wanting something that may never happen.